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Weight Loss For The Lord


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:rolleyes: Well Pham I've considered bringing up this topic for some time but finally decided to do it. Last year i was discerning with a community and one of the things they told me was that if i wanted to enter the community I would have to lose weight. Now, I understand the point of this because they can't be responsible for say, a million dollar plus quadruple bipass surgery. But at the same time, thin people have those too.
Once on EWTN I saw a young woman who entered OLAM and she was about my size, very stout. It was awesome to see her slowly shrink over time.
My question is this, since someone would lose weight while living the religious life(most likely), should communities make this an absolute bar against entering.
I hate (don't hate, appreciate) to even ask it, but is it possible that there is some bias there (if not by one community specifically then perhaps in general)? I mean there have been many fat saints, most notably of course, St. Thomas Aquinas.
Your thoughts please!!
Love!
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When I was discerning, some communities did makean issue of it, if one was carrying excess weight, under the banner of concern for good health. Other communities would just ask about health and I would always say that I struggle with my weight but that I am active and healthy, and some communities would leave it at that or offer that their sisters were encouraged to observe healthy diet or exercise and would be supportive that way. One poor clare abbess just crassly told me to come back after losing weight- she was very mean (not unlike most people in the US who feel that it is quite justified for thenm to make mean, derogatory remarks to fat people. I think it's the last acceptable bigotry).

So, like many other areas, it varied from community to community, in my experience. I was looking mostly at contemplative communities and so I wondered about how I would be able to exercise and follow a weight loss diet while in community. It seemed like it might be good to lose some of it before entering. I was almost getting to the point where I would want to make sure that the monastery had a treadmill somewhere in the house!

I'm PMing you also.

Pax et bonum-
Graciela

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Yes, it is the last allowed bigotry. I'm someone who was very large at one time, and has lost a lot of weight. It's one of the hardest things I've ever faced in my life. There is a perception that if you are overweight, you aren't professional. When you are overweight, you wear your weakness on the outside. A religious vocation is hard enough, so they may feel that the stress may lead to more weight gain. They may feel like you're entering because you can't get a date because you're overweight. They may have concerns about added medical expenses. They may be afraid that they won't be able to get insurance on you, or it will be more expensive. There are a multitude of potential reasons why they may turn you down about your weight. What you need to know is that you can conquer the weight if you are willing to change how you view and use food. You can also continue to look around for an order that doesn't care. Being turned down never feels good.

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One nun I know of lost weight when she entered the monastery because she was eating on a regular schedule and was offered a variety of foods.

Our proposed charisms will have gyms, and every religious will have mandatory work-out times. Water is never to be restricted as either a penance or a punishment. "Mega mugs" will be brought to the convent with the postulant.

One of the best treatments for depression is regular workouts and additional protein (coming primarily from the protein smoothies they offer at most gyms).

Of course, check with one's physician before starting any kind of routine. An underactive thyroid can cause obesity.

HTH.

Blessings,
Gemma

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[quote]One poor clare abbess just crassly told me to come back after losing weight- she was very mean (not unlike most people in the US who feel that it is quite justified for thenm to make mean, derogatory remarks to fat people. I think it's the last acceptable bigotry).[/quote]
I was corresponding once with a Poor Clare abbess who was very nice and encouraging until I sent her a photo then made a rude comment about my weight.
I had fairly serious illness at the end of February and after that decided to take my health more seriously. Since then I've lost forty pounds. I can already tell a huge difference in my energy level and health ( I don't get sick as often).

edit: Please note-We are NOT bashing Poor Clare Abbesses! We love them!!

Edited by Saint Therese
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I've noticed with those communties who keep blogs or show their new entrants that if a woman is overweight when she enters, she won't be overweight for long. The regulation - and probably the lack of snacking opportunities etc seems to make the weight shed pretty quickly.

Considering some of our chubby saints and popes I think it's a mistake to judge a candidate by her size...but then again, yes, it IS the last acceptable prejudice.

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Glad you brought this one up, and yep there is a very big prejudice about weight. It is not only in society, but can be brought up rather nastily in communities. I have heard some rather nasty remarks myself made by religious. It will be a community by community search for a place that will accept you, or at least give you a try. Not to pick on any community, but some are quite bad about allowing one to even apply to an aspirancy if the least bit heavy. And most will loose weight when following the life for any time, no snacking, no napping the day away. Certainly one must be concerned about the health status of an applicant, but some want only a perfect specimen(and I mean perfect in every way)

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[quote name='Saint Therese' post='1561516' date='Jun 6 2008, 07:15 PM']I mean there have been many fat saints, most notably of course, St. Thomas Aquinas.[/quote]
St. Thomas Aquinas, I thought, was very bulky and kinda chubby. I didn't think he was so much "fat" and "big".

[quote name='DameAgnes' post='1561964' date='Jun 6 2008, 11:33 PM']I've noticed with those communties who keep blogs or show their new entrants that if a woman is overweight when she enters, she won't be overweight for long. The regulation - and probably the lack of snacking opportunities etc seems to make the weight shed pretty quickly.

Considering some of our chubby saints and popes I think it's a mistake to judge a candidate by her size...but then again, yes, it IS the last acceptable prejudice.[/quote]
I figured most sisters would reduce in size, however, I have known several "round" sisters in my day. ^_^ They're precious as can be... but it does make me question just how true it would be in general that a girl would lose weight after entering.

I think it makes sense to be healthy when you enter. I do not, however, think it makes sense to ask every girl who enters to be a certain size.

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[quote name='Gemma' post='1561730' date='Jun 6 2008, 10:30 PM']One nun I know of lost weight when she entered the monastery because she was eating on a regular schedule and was offered a variety of foods.

Our proposed charisms will have gyms, and every religious will have mandatory work-out times. Water is never to be restricted as either a penance or a punishment. "Mega mugs" will be brought to the convent with the postulant.

One of the best treatments for depression is regular workouts and additional protein (coming primarily from the protein smoothies they offer at most gyms).

Of course, check with one's physician before starting any kind of routine. An underactive thyroid can cause obesity.

HTH.

Blessings,
Gemma[/quote]

Just wanted to tell you that I think that's really really cool, Gemma. :)

Edited by Alycin
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I can see how weight is a concern ( both for being [u]overweight[/u] and [u]underweight[/u])

Blood pressure, heart problems, mobility, energy, diabetes,..all of those are affected by eating habits and being overweight. Would my mom still be here if she had watched what she ate? More than likely. She was a diabetic who was careless-the diabetes probably would have been controlled without insulin if she had just opted for a better and healthier lifestyle. Instead Ilost her way too young.

So as crass and mean as it sounds coming from these Sisters, all they want is for you to be your best so you can give God your best.

It's not about dieting-forget that! Don't even look at the scales ( put them away!) Slowly change your eating habits and your health habits. Do allow yourself yummy stuff-mine was chocolate but not too much. Re-arrange your eating times so you don't snack at night. Grab fruit instead of the chips, take that morning walk around the block with Fido. Push away from the computer and get involved with others. Most of all figure out why you emotionally eat/binge ( **if that's what any of you do. This part is the hardest)

Even though I'm not considering a religious vocation I lost 60 pounds and I am in my mid-40s so I know others here can do it! (waving my pom-poms)

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St. Thomas Aquinas was called "The Dumb Ox", and not just for his quiet nature.

I feel the same about people being overweight and having a vocation and older vocations. If a person really has a vocation, then God already has a place for them.
Of course when I speak of being overweight I'm NOT talking about someone who cant function on a daily basis or someone even who is in denial about their situation (to me that would raise A LOT of red flags).

Edited by Saint Therese
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Ah, a subject dear to my heart, as it is in my medical field and also (too) close to my own weight problem. I am at the top of the ‘overweight’ category, nuzzling (too) close to the OBESE category! AAugh!!.

Having gotten this off my expanding chest, I have noticed that a number of the ‘older’ vocations in the so-called ‘updated’ communities are obese, some morbidly obese ; morbid obesity has a definition, a BMI of 40 or more, or 35 or more in the presence of significant co-morbidities.

The concept and definition of BMI is here:

[url="http://www.nhlbisupport.com/bmi/"]http://www.nhlbisupport.com/bmi/[/url]

This is a very useful website with the BMI tables and other useful links. Note that there is a RANGE of normal weight and overweight to allow for age and different body types.

There is no question that it’s dangerous to be obese. Yes, there really is an increased incidence of the co-morbidities, or diseases related to obesity, such as diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, asthma, degenerative joint disease, reflux--the list goes on and on, enough to give any mother superior pause.

If I were evaluating a candidate, I think that I would mention this issue and what it means to our community and inquire whether the potential candidate has made serious attempts at weight loss. Not to do so would imply to me poor self control, which is essential in a religious.

Having said this, obese women appear to be entering religious life, at least some communities. However, I have noticed for some time now that NO ONE in the Nashville Dominicans and the DMME is obese and that no one in many of the structured -cloistered -habited -communities, of the sort that Phatmassers love, is obese, either.

I personally think that it would be tough to enter obese and have to restrict the food along with all the other adjustments to monastery life. While one would be busy, one would also be at prayer, listening to one's stomach. Getting at least some of the weight off beforehand might also help one get into a desired community. There is also the problem of learning to control one's weight, snacks, portions and desserts before entering, in that many communities might turn out to have access to a high-calorie diet with a lot of feast-day/birthday/anniversary cakes and treats, and, if they do a lot of hosting or retreats, bake and serve a lot of home-baked desserts and snacks of the type that I, for one, find very hard to resist.

One way to search might be in the community photos, to see if there are any obese members. One of my favorite communities, the Poor Clares of Greenville, SC, who have just built a new monastery ( I notice that you’ve talked to a Poor Clare abbess, so you might be interested) contains several members who are--er--chunky, and that they have addressed this problem with exercise machines donated to them! (They have a nice video showing them working out and lots of pix on the website). They are a ‘modernized’ community, but appear to be devoted and no nonsense and you might give them a look. They also have postulants.

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TeresaBenedicta

I'm not sure how... realistic? the concept of BMI is... Take myself for an example. I'm an athlete, so I train and lift weights and play sports all year round. I'm 5'2 and 160lbs. Which puts me at the high end of the over-weight almost obese end of the scale. Now, I could probably loose a bit around the middle section, but honestly, I don't have all that much fat on me. (Take a look at my profile picture, I'm a bit over-weight but no where near obese). It's mostly muscle. And I'm in good shape. I can squat twice my weight and can run a mile in less than 9 minutes. Yet, BMI tells me I'm nearing obesity.

As for communities judging a candidate based off of weight alone... I don't know. Yes, living a healthy life-style is important, but so is responding to God's call. People are different sizes, plain and simple. So long as a person is able to keep the daily routine of the community and does not pose extraordinary health problems on the community, I don't understand what the problem would be. I can see perhaps asking an over-weight or obese candidate to be able to stick to a certain meal-schedule/routine that is similar to the communities for a few months before entering, just so the community and the candidate can discern whether or not the candidate possess the self-control and will-power to live the life-style that may otherwise be difficult for someone of their weight. But if that pans out, I don't think it should be a barring factor. I think communities may need to take some extra discerning time with an over-weight or obese candidate for the above reasons, but I do not think it should be a reason to completely dismiss a candidate.

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