Are the Virtues a Path to Weight Loss?
Ok, I’m about to say that thing you’re never supposed to say. You ready?
Losing baby weight is tough.
Since I’m finally feeling better after being sick for the first two months of Pete’s life, I thought it’d be fun to have some family pictures taken for our Christmas card. When the photographer sent me the email with the pictures, I had to take a deep breath. Maybe I’d just been avoiding mirrors, but I honestly had no idea I was that large! I’ve always been a pretty small person and seeing these pictures of myself was really, really jarring. I texted my best friend some of the pictures, complaining that maybe it was the lighting or the way we were positioned that was unflattering, and she said to me, in the most loving way possible, you just don’t have the same body you did before Peter.
They were hard words to hear, but I really needed to hear them.
Since then, I’ve been working on getting to the gym, which is hard when you have a 3 month old who laughs in the face of schedules. Babies are unpredictable and they make getting out of the house alone challenging. Add in the cold weather, limited hours of daylight and looming treats of the holiday season and you’ve got a recipe for massive weight gain, not weight loss!
And so, as I’ve thought about it (when I should have just gotten on my feet and worked out), I’ve come to a few conclusions. First of all, like most difficult things in life, losing weight just has to be about cultivating the virtues. It doesn’t really matter what you feel like doing, the virtue of diligence and discipline mean acknowledging what is healthy for you and doing it no matter how you might feel. If we let feelings dictate our lives, we’d all be 500 pounds and completely unhappy. It also means doing it every day, not just the day you happen to get psyched up looking at your exercise inspiration board on Pinterest. I think being persistent is the hardest part because it requires constant diligence, not just momentary passion.
Another virtue, that of temperance, is essential when it comes to eating habits. The other day I went for an amazing run and was starving afterwards, so I went right for the rest of the pecan pie hiding in the fridge. If you have discipline to work out, that alone probably won’t be enough, you’ll also need the temperance and self control to moderate what you’re eating.
Charity and patience also happen to be virtues. Hating on yourself and expecting all of the weight to come off after one work out isn’t a super productive philosophy and it won’t get you far. My mom likes to say, be patient with yourself. I think that phrase alone has made me a much more peaceful person. I also like to make goals for myself that reward hard work. I think I’ll indulge in a super cute (but unnecessarily pricey) Lululemon work out shirt if I reach my pre-pregnancy weight. John and I have a running joke that we’ll buy a new couch once I reach the Air Force’s standards for physical fitness. We’ll see if that ends up happening!
Eventually, at least in my case, having a baby just ends up being an excuse for not working hard. Well, excuses are great at placating, but they don’t achieve much else.God gave us bodies to take care of… not to abuse with gluttony. Ultimately, losing weight is just another way to cultivate the virtues. It’s not the exercise or the denying of food that’s hard, in and of itself, but really mastering how to control our base desires and becoming more ruled by reason and intellect. The process of losing weight should be not only about the physical aspects, but also about learning how to reign in our passions and therefore becoming better servants of God.