A wise priest yesterday explained Laetare Sunday, or the 4th Sunday of Lent on the Christian calendar. It is the only other Sunday of the year, other than Gaudete Sunday, when Roman Catholic priests wear the color rose. The wise Father said yesterday in colloquial terms, "It's for all of us who haven't been so great at keeping our Lenten promises or who have found that the progress we wanted to make didn't quite happen and the sins that we wanted to overcome still get in our way. It's for all of us who get bogged down and would give up- it's a reminder that even with all of our weakness, mistakes and recurrent sins, we are still rejoicing because our Savior still rose for us to Redeem us all." It's a reminder to "Don't Give Up".
As I stared down the box of biscotti I saw today in the kitchen area of the clinic, I thought of those wise words. I thought of how we all fall, and get back up. I thought if I was thinking these thoughts, I should walk away. Why did I so want that Biscotti, I thought? For the same reason I enjoy chocolate and Starbucks and all matter of sugar and things that aren't really good for me. Now, I'm not a health nut- I still enjoy delicious, fatty and sweet food, but I'm trying to train my body to not just eat when I'm having a bad day. No, chocolate doesn't really make the fact that the day is stinking better. No, McDonalds doesn't solve the fact that I got scratched or had to deal with a cranky person. I'm not a person with a weight problem per say. I mean, I'm not a perfect weight, but that's not been important to me and I'm not overweight where I've ever had a doctor give me a lecture. I don't care about the number on the scale, but I am trying to be more introspective about what I eat and why.
I come from a family and ethnic traditions where food = love. Let me tell you- my Mom has always been good at showing her love with her cooking. Cakes, brie cheese, a whole plethora of gourmet wonders have been a part of my life since I was little. I went to college and ate donuts all the time and other convenience foods on the run. I also was an athlete, so I could pretty much get away with eating whatever I wanted to eat in whatever quantity I wanted to eat it. I went to veterinary school and this is where my 5 pound gain with big moments started to begin. In veterinary school, I sometimes had 20 hour days and was studying a lot, so convenience food and junk food with little exercise (other than wrangling a few cattle and sheep) added some pounds. Then, I did my internship. Five pounds in one year. When you are working a 5 pm - 10 am shift, you find out that the places that are open at 2 am mostly have fried foods. You also have clients and people bringing donuts, chocolates and other wonders in (this was when I had my first real Cannoli). Yep- 5 pounds in 1 year.
Then I trained for a marathon. Well, one would think you would lose weight when you are in the business of running over 15 miles a day. Apparently, I am not alone in learning that is not the desired effect. You gain muscle and you gain an insatiable appetite and the feeling, "I just ran 15 miles- I can definitely treat myself to that burger and fries."
Thanks to nausea during most of my pregnancy, I actually lost weight, but quickly made that back up when I started eating on the go and trying to get sugar highs to get me through the late nights with a baby and then toddler.
So you can see how through introspection I have found a theme through my relationship with eating. I can see this somewhat in my patients and their families' lives as well. It is interesting to look at weight histories and to see how dogs and cats too go up and down. Sometimes, its a medical reason, but oftentimes, it's whats going on in their owners lives. Owners who don't have as much time for them give them more treats. Owners who are unable to get out and take them for exercise is another example. Cats that lose a companion and begin eating more (more often it's when a companion who stole all their food passes and they can finally get uninhibited access to the food bowl) is yet another. Sometimes, pets eat out of boredom.
So while the above may be a conveyance of random thoughts and more than what you want to know about my relationship with food, I think we probably all have something in our lives that we kind of just fall into. Be it sin, or the easiness of eating chocolate a little more regularly than we should, it's easy to fall into habits. I'm realizing I fall into my habits when I'm stressed, annoyed or tired. While it would be better if I wasn't being stressed, annoyed or tired, I realize reality and I realize my weakness. Today, I had the strength to put that biscotti box back and think, "I will give up those empty calories that really aren't going to make my day go any better and I will celebrate Smore's Sunday with my family (I'll post more Friday about that). It's Lent after all, it's only 40 days. May God give you the strength to overcome your weaknesses and find the introspection you need to stare down your own biscotti and when all else fails, remember our Savior who died for all of our sins and failings.