Wednesday, April 07, 2010

R.I.P. Lent 2010, or The Diet of Champions, Free of Charge

Now that Lent is over, the ashes can be cleaned from the fireplace, and the fast can be been broken, and it might be permissible to talk about those Lenten experiences.
Matthew 6:16-18 "And whenever you fast, do not look dismal, like the hypocrites, for they disfigure their faces so as to show others that they are fasting. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward. But when you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face, so that your fasting may be seen not by others but by your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you."
At the onset of the 2010 Lenten season back in February, I was still listening for direction as to the disciplines intended for me. Within the first week, the message was clear that I should not only fast and pray, but exercise the body as well. The end result has been the loss of eight pounds of excess baggage, increased physical and spiritual endurance, and a closer relationship with God. This was not something I came up with on my own as a self improvement program. I credit the Lord for drawing up the plan and accomplishing these results. I see now that the Lord knew how to prepare me for a new life after Easter.

Here is the plan and how it worked.

Anyone wishing to duplicate these results should first consult with their Great Physician.

I would not advise this particular plan for anyone else because of its highly personalized nature and risk to persons with diabetes.

Beginning with prayer for help, daily readings from the lectionary, regular worship, daily Bible study with the support of FCD (see right hand column), thirty minute periods of silence, my spiritual life was strengthened, and I found myself spending more quality time with the Lord.

Having experience with fasting, and exercise, but never the combination of the two, I was led to begin the fast by studying up on weight loss. Examining my daily caloric expenditures and the caloric content of a pound of fat was a good place to start. It appears that a pound of fat contains 3500 calories. In order to lose a pound of fat a week I needed to run a caloric deficit of 500 calories a day. A few clicks of the mouse will tell you that it is hard to increase your caloric expenditures by 500 calories a day by exercise without spending most of your day at the gym. I knew that I usually can only engage in vigorous exercise every other day, and it was sobering to find out using the Fit Day calculator that this probably only burned an extra 300 calories on those days and perhaps 128 extra calories burned daily when averaged out over a week. More disheartening was the fact that I was already exercising at least twice a week prior to Lent, so one added day of exercise each week would only increase my average daily energy burned by 28 calories.

In order to have put on 8 pounds in the past year, despite exercising off and on to one degree or another (mostly off for a month prior to Lent due to an extended case of bronchitis), I must have been taking in an average of just 77 extra calories a day over and above my basic needs.

So, I  needed to either cut 577 calories from my usual daily intake while maintaining a stable level of exercise, or I needed to cut about 472 calories a day if I could push myself to increase the frequency of my strenuous exercise. The latter was where I was directed towards, so I dusted off the running shoes and cleared away all the stuff that was hanging from the weights, and set additional aside time for working out the body.

My fasting was from dawn to dusk, but I could consume water, or on occasion some fresh green leafy vegetables (with no salad dressing) so as to not be completely antisocial (eating together is a very social behavior). While fasting is an important spiritual activity, people had told me that this is not an effective means of weight reduction because of overeating after dusk. This is when I had to be most careful about watching my caloric intake as I had developed a habit of snacking after supper for the past few years.

As it turned out, hunger did not occur.  I did notice a flavor of ketones late in the afternoons that told me that my body was mobilizing fat for energy (one of the byproducts of fat metabolism is ketones which can be dangerous at high levels, and can be detected either by their odor or by a diabetic urinary test strip). I also noticed an increase in a general restlessness around 6 p.m. each evening. This restlessness might manifest itself by an impulsive walking around the kitchen or difficulty staying seated and completing an evil Sodoku puzzle. Sitting down and practicing piano (yes the Pewster is a 3rd month piano student) usually took care of the restlessness, burned a few extra calories, but tended to scare away the cook (an added bonus that decreased the available number of calories available for consumption). The potentially most dangerous times of this plan occurred when strenuous exercise was performed before the evening refueling. Running while mildly ketotic is not something I had planned on doing, but due to the constraints of time, it was unavoidable. I had not expected to encounter Christ during my runs, but there were several occasions where I felt that He was leading me, always ahead, far enough away that I could not tell if He was wearing sandals or not.

Now that Lent is over, I do see the world in a different light, as though I have been born again...and I don't think that is just because of a little acetone floating in my blood stream. Prayer throughout Lent, regular worship, daily scripture reading, and the support of the Lord were the keys to this rebirth. There were times when running up my personal "heartbreak hill" that I found myself repeating "Lord have mercy" in perfect rhythm with my labored breathing. I did not experience hunger nor pain, and that was a daily reminder to give thanks to God. I now realize that I stayed free of illness and injury as well, for which I am grateful that the Lord so blessed me. I just hope He doesn't make me do it again next year.

And for the rest of the good news, this amazing diet plan is available for an unlimited time free of monetary charge. You may obtain a personalized plan by contacting your manufacturer.


  1. Good job.

    Off topic: I didn't know you painted your toenails.


  2. Anonymous8:13 PM

    You might look into the Orthodox fasting rules. No meat, no dairy (incl eggs) no oil or wine. (I could not do without dairy for various reasons.) Much healthier to have something for breakfast -- peanut butter toast perhaps. Also, shellfish are not "meat" -- although I'm pretty tired of shrimp!