January goals
January goals

A new year is already here and my goals for the year (healthwise anyway) are all set. Before the previous year ended I went in for my so-called annual visit (that never occurs annually!!!). A couple of days later I got a phone call from my doctor wanting to put me on cholesterol medication. I asked for more time and told him that I had already lost two dress sizes before the holiday season hit and that I could do better. He gave me six months. So, I now have an added goal of getting my cholesterol under 200 by June. I had originally planned to just work on my diet until Spring and then add exercise when the weather warmed up. So much for those plans because the best way to really improve cholesterol numbers is with exercise.

I was all set to start exercising last week and then caught my little one’s nasty chest cold so I mostly laid around and then passed it on to my poor husband. Yesterday was my first workout of the year. I even took the kids for a walk outside after lunch. We had to bundle up since it was only 28 degrees!

I’m starting the year at 175 pounds. I gained just two pounds between Thanksgiving and Christmas (I’m calling that a win). I’ve set myself the goal of losing just five ponds a month. I wasn’t sure that I was ready to go for two pounds a week…yet. I also measured my waist, chest, thigh, and hips. I’ll post those measurements every month along with my weight. I am looking forward to placing five stickers in the jar on February first!!!

Fasting (I promised to share my findings on this back in November)

When I faithfully practiced Catholicism I fasted according to church law…and never asked why. Lately, I’ve began to wonder about fasting and how it relates to my Christian faith. I especially wondered how I am to enjoy feasts at Thanksgiving, Christmas, Easter, birthday parties and other occasions if I never fast? Really, what is the point of a feast without a fast?

Here are the verses I turned to:

Matthew 6: 16-18, Matthew 9:14-15, (same teaching Mark 2: 18-20, Luke 5:33-35) Acts13:3, Acts 14:23 and Matthew 4:4.

Matthew six is from the Sermon on the Mount when Jesus teaches the Beatitudes. He is telling us what a Christian life should look like. He shows us a parallel. First the practice of the  hypocrite or worldly-minded person and then the practice of a true believer. In this verse it is our motivation for fasting that matters.  So am I fasting (and praying, tithing, and participating in church) because I want others to see me as a “good Christian” or am I seeking a more intimate relationship with God within these activities?

In Matthew four I learned why to fast…because “It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.” I understand this to mean that I need God. In the practice of fasting I am more aware of my dependence on God and realize the true strength of the spirit over physical limits and worldly cares.

From my time in the monastery I remember studying the sermons of St Augustine. He wrote that for our prayers to fly faster to God we should send them on two wings…fasting and charitable giving (I cannot remember the exact quote). Other early Christians also wrote about fasting including Clement of Rome, John Chrysostom, Peter Chrysologus, and Jerome. In the early church fasting was a part of prayer and almsgiving.

The practice of fasting helps us to be more aware of our need for God. It helps us have more compassion for those who suffer. Fasting teaches us greater awareness of selfishness in this “all about me” consumer mentality in which our culture is immersed.