I read St. Francis 2-3 weeks ago, and would have been better served had I thought to write about it then. Although it’s largely seeped away, through my porous neural network of a memory there does remain some residual. Chesterton’s portrayal of the child-like impetuous monk who began his quest for martyrdom by renouncing his family, stripping down to a hair shirt, and walking out into the wintry world did cause me to think how such actions would be perceived in today’s more modern era.
A few nights ago as I lay in bed, trying to sleep. I briefly fantasized about what it would be like to divest myself of everything and walk out into the world as did St. Francis, because I was intrigued by the argument that that is the only way to be truly free–to have nothing of worth that another might want–doing as St. Francis did; when begging for food, only accepting the lowest of offerings; when presented scraps for clothes, taking the scrappiest of scraps for yourself; if asked for anything you might happen to have, giving it up gladly, and so on.
My fantasy was not long-lived because what St. Francis did as a young man, without any dependents (that I know of) was not necessarily impractical for him, or any vocational person perhaps; however, for myself, with a job, family, obligations, it is decidedly impractical for me. So I will never be as free as St. Francis, but I will be much more comfortable.
I think that the idea of St. Francis, as a mirror of Christ, is beautiful, and lives on in his order. We need the saints, torches of bright fire lighting the darkness allowing us to see the way.
Although we can all approach the moral ideal of “to do good things” and lead a Christian life, we can’t all be saints. Someone has to pay the bills. What would the world be like if we all took a vow of poverty, or turned the other cheek. The fact is that there would always be someone who would not take that vow, or turn their cheek, and that would make our material, mortal world a very miserable place indeed.
So, we can admire the saints, look up to them, be inspired by their purity, but let us not delude ourselves into trusting others to behave as goodly as they. Like Reagen said, “trust, but verify,” and “peace, through strength.”
Sixty days ago, on a Saturday, I left the hospital with the plan to ride a well-known 25 mile loop home. As I was on call, I wanted to make sure there was nothing pressing in the ER since I’d be about 30 minutes out of range at the extreme end of my bike ride. I walked through the department, saw that it was quiet, and told the nurse, Jane that I was going to ‘make like Supertramp’ and take the long way home. This was in reference to one of the pop icon’s biggest hits in which the lyrics include, “take the long way home.”
Rather than describe what happened, which I’ve kind of done, ad-nauseum, already, on the blog and verbally to family and friends, I’d just refer you to the previous posts categorized as “Post Trauma Day.”
Which brings us to yesterday, my first time in the pool since my injury. I would have went sooner, but I had this scab, and I wasn’t sure how far away my recently debrided tibia was, or how impervious it would be to more than a few minutes under water. I stopped by Pak ‘N Ship on my way to the Y to mail off a crate of clothes, toys and souvenirs that my grand-daughter had left behind after spending three weeks with us. On my way, while listening to Charlie Sykes, I heard that he was going to play a clip of Paul Ryan from the previous night on Chris Matthews, so I listened to that before I went into Pak ‘N Ship.
When I got to the Y, I walked in, talked to the folks at the front desk, who welcomed me back. I walked into the locker room, picked out my customary locker in the second bay and sat on the stool to remove my ankle-immobilizer boot. As I tore apart the velcro straps, the back ground sound of the overhead music playing penetrated my consciousness.
What do you think was playing?
Supertramp,of course…”take the long way home.”
What are the odds?
Is there a God?
What’s my special purpose?
Consider someone fifty pounds overweight. Using the quick and dirty formula for caloric need (11 calories/pound), that amounts to 550 calories per day to maintain that excess fifty pounds. Now, considering nothing else than the first laws of thermodynamics (calories in=calories out), that someone will have to go on a “diet” that is 550 calories less than what they are currently consuming.
At the end of the “diet,” what would be the most logical maintenance mechanism? Continuing on the diet, of course, forever. If you go back to doing what you were before, there is only one outcome–regaining the weight commensurate with your caloric consumption and daily activity.
A problem arises when the “diet” is not valid long-term, which I allude to in the previous post. If you don’t have ownership of your diet, if it is foreign and not your own, then the risk of recidivism is much higher. This is why I think that you need to have a direct knowledge of the caloric content, carbohydrate and protein content of the foods you eat as opposed to a “system” that gets between you and your energy consumption.
Don’t forget that there are many variables; Diet Induced Thermogenesis, daily exercise (aerobic and resistance training) to elevate your BMI, the timing of meals, and other strategies addressed in the book, all of which will facilitate both weight-loss and maintenance; because, for all my grousing about calories in and calories out, it is obviously more complex than that.
A strategy, implied in the above, that would be helpful for maintenance would be the addition of lean muscle tissue (weight-lifting) to a significant extent, which will increase your basal metabolic rate. I exercise five to six hours a week, about half resistance based, and I’ve found that I maintain my goal weight within a fairly tight range, without having to specifically count calories.
After your “diet,” and by that I also mean your daily energy expenditure habits, becomes ingrained (your new normal), you will be able to do the same.
Your diet is temporary only in the sense that it lasts as long as it takes for you to follow it naturally, without having to count and keep track on a daily basis; and if you vary by more than 5% (like the Holidays), then you start keeping track again.
I would like to address a question, or concern posed by a reader in a comment under the “Getting Started” page/post. It is such an important concern that I didn’t want it languishing, relatively unseen, in a comment thread. The comment is copied below:
Your book and message made a difference in my approach. I did weight watchers and with the science, I took a different tact in my food choices (more protein, less bready carbs) and added in daily exercise. I’m now at BMI 24.5 and feeling great. However, I’ve been here before. The challenge is keeping it off. WW maintenance has never worked for me in the long run, one of the weaknesses of the program. Any advice that would make a difference? I need a different maintenance approach. Thanks.
First of all, congratulations, dear reader, for reaching your goal, which is an admirable achievement, and hard-earned I am sure. I too have reached a goal-weight in the past, only to let it slip away, sadly watching the numbers on the scale creep right back up to where I started at in the first place, and sometimes even higher.
First of all, dear reader, the thrust of my book, “The Relativity Diet,” is that the onus is on you, the reader, to utilize your newfound knowledge to choose the food types from the three groups of macro nutrients in a manner that you are comfortable with. Generally, this means managing your carbohydrates in regard to total volume (less than 120grams/day, and low-glycemic), concentrating on lower fat protein sources (poultry, fish), generally eating more protein at the expense of carbohydrate, and of course, managing your caloric intake (counting calories).
You see, all of the above isn’t a temporary “guide” to get to a special place. Nay, all of the above needs to become your new “normal.” On the Relativity Diet, when you get to your goal weight, nothing changes; in this case, “more protein, less bready carbs,” and “added daily exercise.” Why would you want to cease something that is so obviously beneficial?
This is the problem, as I see it, with many diets, including Weight Watchers with the points system. I think it is difficult to follow a “plan” for the rest of your life. That is why I think if your diet is based upon the choices you make, which is based on the science you have learned, then you take ownership of your diet, and it becomes your “usual food and drink,” which is actually the definition of “diet.” It is impossible for someone else’s diet, whether it be Jenny Craig, Nutrisystem, the points-based Weight-Watchers, or any other “plan” not your own to become your usual food and drink; it will be forever artificial, and thereby temporary.
There is no doubt that you will stray from your “diet” at some point. The important thing is to know that you are straying, that you stray not too much, and for not too long. As long as you return to your new normal of healthy eating and daily exercise, all will be well.
Thank you so much for your comment, and again congratulations.