Lent and fasting

We did Lent last year, and partway through it, my doctor was about to order me to stop it. My blood sugars were running too high, and I was getting physically weak – my muscles were giving out at inopportune times, and that kind of think makes driving(among other things) dangerous. I wanted to continue with the Lenten fast, though, and so my doctor reluctantly agreed. I was sure glad when it was over, though.

Fasting rules

We’re Western Rite, and can have fish during fasts and abstinence, and Sundays are feast days, so we had meat then–how awful it would have been not to have had any meat for 40 days! I’m sure if we hadn’t been able to eat meat on Sundays, and to have fish every day during Lent, I would have passed out from weakness.

Earlier this year, I complained on facebook about not being able to get full on days we eat fish. If I don’t eat meat, it doesn’t matter how much I eat, I feel hungry again within minutes of finishing a meal. Our priest commented that I’m not supposed to get full.

That gave me pause.

I’m not supposed to get full? That was just about as foreign and apalling an idea to me as saying we should desecrate the altar. Do WHAT??? You have GOT to be kidding me. Only I could tell he wasn’t.

Being hungry

Hunger, where I come from, is a bad thing. A very bad thing. To be avoided at just about all costs. Being hungry means I could die. And here he was telling me that it’s actually a good thing?! I had a hard time wrapping my head around that one. Of course, I believed that he knew what he was talking about, so that helped. Otherwise I would have dismissed his comment as pure insanity.

Everyone in America knows that being hungry is bad. We fight hunger around the world, sending money to “Feed the Children” types of programs. And anyone can see that not many Americans go hungry or even deny themselves loads of food: just look at the obesity rates. I mean airplanes can hardly stay in the sky for all the fat tails on them. Being hungry is bad, and everyone knows it. 😉

Metabolic syndrome

After I thought about it for a while, I decided that I was just going to be hungry every day for the rest of my life. I might as well just learn to live with it. Because if I eat enough–at any time–to stop feeling hungry, I gain weight.

My body is messed up from both genetics and from multiple episodes of near starvation when I was a child (where I got my belief that going hungry meant I could die). A specialist once explained to me what metabolic syndrome means, what my body does: it treats 500 calories as if it is 2,000 calories. It defies the laws of physics, but it does it.

What this means is that if I eat “normally,” I get fat. He said to get used to one of two things: being hungry all the time, or being overweight. Even if I worked out all day long, he said, I’d never be able to weigh what I “should” weigh.

Feel better

My hunger is like a roaring lion. It might be due to the diabetes, or to some other issue. There are some medical conditions that make a person feel hungry all the time, and diabetes is just one of them. I hate feeling hungry. I hate feeling awful, too, being exhausted and sick all the time, taking three different meds just for the diabetes, not to mention a handful of other pills, multiple times a day… NO THANK YOU.

I had already been wanting to lose weight and to get healthier before Father Michael said we’re not supposed to get full. I started looking ahead to Lent, and thought if I’m going to be hungry all the time, I might as well embrace it, and start now, and just be hungry all the time.

Have more energy

So I cut my food intake down to about 40% of what I had been eating. Sure enough, I was hungry every minute of every day that week. But I noticed that I had some more energy at the end of that week. Huh! Who would have thought that cutting my intake like that would give me energy?!

I didn’t notice any changes in my size or anything at that point, but I was happy for the energy boost. When you live life as a Spoonie–someone with chronic pain and fatique–you’re thankful for every ounce of energy you can get.

I hope Lent this year is better than it was last year. I don’t want my doc ordering me to stop it. Our priest told us to do it three days a week instead of six. I’m pretty confident we can do that, and not have any problems. I will do my best not to complain about it, either. After all, I’m already getting used to being hungry all the time, and it’s not killing me – just the opposite, in fact, as you’ll see in the next post.