First Sunday of Advent: Hope

Hope Peace Joy Love Advent Wreath

Advent is here! It is the season of anticipation before Christmas, as well as the start of the new liturgical year. Christians celebrate with Advent calendars, Advent wreaths, Jesse Trees, and – at least in my experience – many, many repetitions of “O come, O come, Emmanuel.”

In some churches, the four weeks of Advent are each given a theme: Hope, Peace, Joy, Love. This first week of Advent, we celebrate hope:

But this I call to mind,
and therefore I have hope:
The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases,
God’s mercies never come to an end;
they are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness.
“The Lord is my portion,” says my soul,
“therefore I will hope in the Lord.”

Lamentations 3:21-24

I need the Lord’s hope very much right now. Our world seems to be increasingly chaotic, frighteningly greedy, and profoundly unkind, and I sometimes wonder how much more we will stray from “loving our neighbor” as God commands. I see so much self-interest, so many people seeing anyone different from themselves as “other,” so little willingness to listen or to work together. Continue reading “First Sunday of Advent: Hope”

Watching my weight

Yes, ladies and gents, I have joined Weight Watchers after a 6-year hiatus.

It’s high time. I have not been at a healthy weight since pre-pregnancy days, for it is 15 years ago this month that I entered the hospital at 5 feet 3 inches tall and 203 lbs.*

(* not a healthy weight for my height)

I would prefer not to reach that weight again, so I decided to nip my bad habits in the bud. What are those bad habits, you ask?

  • Inactivity. I lost 30 lbs in six months when we were in Europe, eating anything I pleased. This was because we spent a huge part of each day walking. Even if we took public transit, we still walked back and forth from our apartment – to whatever church, cloister or museum we were visiting – and all around the town. It was awesome. We were comparing ourselves to a certain special family we know that walks all over Portland. We were that proud of ourselves. Then we came home. I returned to my desk job and completely stopped all forms of activity… and I have put almost all that weight back on.
  • Bad eating habits. I am like a “What Not to Do” of eating habits. I skip breakfast. I snack mindlessly. I eat candy whenever candy is available. I eat too many of my calories too close to bedtime.
  • Portion distortion. I have an evil obsession I call Food Fairness. If there is anything particularly tasty in the house, I believe that it should be shared equally among all members of the family… and I get a little testy if I feel that anyone is consuming more than their fair share. (Petty, isn’t it? I know. I’m not proud of it; I just know I do it.) But let’s face it: I am the smallest member of the family (or I ought to be). David is 6′ 6″; Quinland is rapidly approaching 5′ 9″. I shouldn’t get the exact same amounts they get. I need less, and I need to accept it.

Weight Watchers should help “cure” all these bad habits of mine. I will need to eat at regular times, weigh and measure my food, keep track of everything I eat and drink, and exercise regularly. I’m very excited by a new twist in the latest WW plan: all fruits (and most veggies) are zero points, Whoo hoo! This will make things a lot easier for me as I love fruit.

So that’s my story. My WW meetings are on Mondays, and I’ll try to keep you abreast of my fantastic success. I expect the next weigh in to be astounding; I spent this past weekend eating junk and drinking alcohol, so any improvement in my behavior has got to show on the scale!

To indulge, or not to indulge. That is the question.

Teatime
Photo by torekimi

I had a dream that this trip would be the impetus of a physical transformation for my family. We would walk everywhere, eat fresh healthy food, and return to the U.S. as happy shadows of our former selves.

So far? Not so much.

On the contrary, we are constantly surrounded by food temptation. We have tried, wherever possible, to cook fresh, healthy food at home and only eat at local restaurants once a day, tops. But even when you do all that… The drinks that you have to order! (By “drinks,” of course, I mean beer. It is Europe, after all. At home, we would just drink water, mostly because we are cheap, but as an added benefit, it’s healthy, too.) The pastries! The snacks we are offered when we visit or play games with people! The cool stuff you see in the supermarket and want to try! It is very hard to resist the temptation.

And, I ask myself, should we even try to resist? Food and drink are intrinsic parts of the culture that we are here to sample, after all. We can’t get them at home, so why not enjoy them while we are here?

Argh.

See, I believe that getting all three of us to the healthiest state possible is of utmost importance, so every time we indulge, I feel guilty. There’s nothing like trying to enjoy the cuisine of a foreign land while hating yourself for doing so, let me tell you.

David and Quinland are not burdened with this guilt. To be more specific, they are not burdened until I scream out “WHY do we keep DOING this?!” while we munch on stroopwafels while playing a board game. (True story. I scared Quinland half to death. You can always count on me to make family togetherness time a real pleasure.)

I keep reminding myself that this trip is a special case. Most people can go on vacation and overindulge for a week or two and think nothing of it. I, on the other hand, need to think something of it. I have been moaning to David about this dilemma, and in very excellent “Let’s solve this” style, he assures me that there are still two months left and we can mend our ways and get perfectly fit and healthy by eating nothing but protein and vegetables except for the pastries and beer that he still wants to sample in every country.

In other words, you will still be able to recognize us when we get home.

Daily Check-In:

I’m grateful for bike rentals. I get a little internet time while D and Q are out riding. Of course, most of it has to go to finding a place to stay in Paris, but I can pop in here and try to get something written. A little “Me Time,” you might say.