Growing Up in Time To Grow Old with Grace

Magnificent Obesity Cover

Welcome to Magnificent Obesity, a blog for people of all shapes and sizes who are familiar with at least one of the topics listed below: addiction, agnosticism, aging and anxiety. I’ve created a fifth category called All Else to accommodate any other issues that might serve as raw material for personal growth. Just click on the topic of your choice to see the latest post.

This blog is not about obesity. It’s about letting the light within you shine.

Whatever you consider to be your most vulnerable trait or least desirable feature, say it, spell it out. Name it, own it. Whether you choose to keep this trait and transform your attitude or let it go and transform your whole self, your choosing can be the moment when your journey begins: the sad and lonely, defiant, liberated, magnificent leap toward new life.

Following a mild heart attack at age 54, I quit tobacco cold turkey and started tackling my other addictive behaviors and the demons that fed them. Health, wellness and nutrition took center stage in my life, but not without a struggle. Because emotional eating remains my chief addiction, this category will lean toward the search for a healthy relationship with food. However, the struggle between addressing emotional cravings and achieving a fit and balanced lifestyle should resonate with anyone unhappily engaged in self-destructive behaviors. The hunger behind most addictions is the same; the machinery is the same. I’m hoping I can help.
When he was in his late fifties, my father often pointed to elderly people on the street as the very example of what he did not wish to be. In his youth he had been an outstanding athlete, captain of the Harvard football team and on the verge of signing with the Cleveland Browns when an injury on the field cut short his dream. He was also a brilliant man with a zest for news and knowledge. Maybe as he approached late middle age, he could not face the prospect of his athlete’s body turning feeble and frail or his bright brain growing dim. All I know is that he escaped dementia and physical decrepitude by dying of heart failure at age 65. I was with him when he died. I was almost 40 and only just beginning to understand what growing older might mean. Now I am nearly the age my father was when he escaped longevity. All I know is that I want to live to be 100. And beyond.
I don’t know. Do you? One day I’m a believer, ecstatic and awed, the next day I’m a barking mad atheist. I have lived my whole life in a holding pattern, caught between sublime insights and the void, between making joyful noises and whistling in the dark. I have waged all-out war with God over the trauma of non-being. I suffer from an obsessive fear and loathing of death. I despise God because death was his idea. If he exists. Which he probably does not. Which is what makes death intolerable. My priest once told me that he had never met anyone who wanted so much to believe.
According to the National Institute for Mental Health, 40 million Americans aged 18 and older are affected by anxiety disorders, which makes anxiety the reigning mental illness in the United States and Xanax one of its most commonly prescribed drugs. With no recognized single cause or cure, anxiety disorders appear to be an unhappy mix of genetic, biological and environmental factors involving different therapies for different people. It has been suggested that I can never eradicate the panic disorder that interferes with my life; I can only learn how to manage it. Anxiety is the granddaddy of all my fears, phobias, addictions and doubts. Or the result of them, I’m not sure which. Or an early warning system goading me to pay attention whenever I start off in the wrong direction. Apparently the prospect of cold sweat, the shakes and heart palpitations is not all bad. Toward the end of the last century psychologist Rollo May celebrated the fact that living in an age of anxiety forces us to be aware of ourselves.
This category catches any other topics that might appeal to those of us who are: • Rewriting our stories, reinventing ourselves or preparing for the second act of life; • Seeking personal transformation or the fulfillment of a dream; • Looking for a good story and a chance to share. It’s simple. I tell you my story. You tell me yours. Welcome to my website. Welcome to my world. Welcome to the world we make together.
Addiction
Aging
Agnosticism
Anxiety
All Else

All Else »

Yes, There is a Magic Pill

July 15, 2015 – 6:11 pm |

ebdc55f10f02d540ab45d523363ed44eEvery time I walk into the Cardiac-Pulmonary Rehab Department at the local hospital to work out on my choice of treadmills, elliptical machines, rowing machines, stair masters, recumbent steppers and stationary bikes, a back and white flyer on the door reminds me of why I am there, regardless of my enthusiasm level that day, and why I remain faithful to a weekly routine of cardio activity, strength training, swimming, yoga and tai chi.

 

Beyond this door is a pill, a marvel of modern medicine that will regulate gene transcription throughout your body and help prevent heart disease, stroke, diabetes, obesity and 12 kinds of cancer. Also, gallstones and diverticulitis.

You can expect this pill to improve your strength and balance as well as your cholesterol. Your bones will become stronger. You will grow new capillaries in your heart, in your skeletal muscles and in your brain, which will increase blood flow and the delivery of oxygen and nutrients.

Your attention span will increase. If you have arthritis, your symptoms will improve. This pill will help you regulate your appetite; you may find that you even prefer healthier food. You will feel better, you will feel younger and you will test younger according to a variety of physiologic measures.

Your blood volume will increase and you’ll burn fats better. Even your immune system will be stimulated. Best of all, this pill is FREE!

All you have to do is: MOVE!

Move any way you can. Dance, walk, run, stretch, garden, swim or bike. Choose activities you enjoy and will be most likely to maintain. Even 10-minute intervals throughout the day will produce positive changes to your body, mind and mood.

Regular exercise:

  • Improves blood sugar utilization
  • Reduces risk for cardiovascular disease
  • Prevents & reverses muscle loss
  • Improves body composition
  • Develops muscle tone & function
  • Boosts mood
  • Enhances vigor and vitality

And that’s as good as it gets.

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Awakening in Nothingness

March 4, 2015 – 1:32 pm |

There is supposed to be awakening in the realization of our nothingness.
St. Augustine stated that it’s only in the face of death that man’s self is born.
Michel de Montaigne recommended that one’s writing studio should …

Despite My Unbelief

January 10, 2015 – 4:21 pm |

 
Despite my unbelief, I attend services every Sunday at St. Michael’s Episcopal Church. Why? What compels me to participate in a God-centered liturgy and faith-based community when I consider myself an atheist? (Most of the …

25 Healthy Holiday Choices

December 14, 2014 – 2:24 pm |

While I scramble to finish my latest post, I would like to use this article as a place card. Author Sue Redfearn offers advice on how to stay ahead of the season’s food temptations. …

I Hate Halloween

October 28, 2014 – 5:45 pm | 2 Comments
candy corn

I hate Halloween. Not only because I think it’s genuinely creepy – I have no taste for the macabre, effigies of ax murder victims on people’s front lawns or adult friends exhibiting bizarre behavior …

Alone But Not Alone

October 28, 2014 – 5:22 pm |
Congregation

 
Last week I finally heeded numerous doctors’ recommendations to undergo an ablation at the Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center in hopes of correcting my benign SVT tachycardia (periodic rapid heart rate).
I had been spending too much time …

Seven Reasons for Writing a Memoir

September 15, 2014 – 5:35 pm |

 
I had always maintained that the Smith College Alumnae Lives update never found me completing a postdoctoral fellowship or building a school for girls in Afghanistan because even after my graduation in 1994 as a …

A Lifetime of Reading

August 26, 2014 – 11:15 am |

With these pictures I observe and honor the release date – today – of my book.
A lifetime of reading:

Another lifetime of reading:

(Artists: Jessie Willcox Smith, Rembrandt and Norman Rockwell.)
Sarah Hudon, Lifestyle Educator and Nutritionist at …

Healing Hands

August 24, 2014 – 4:35 pm |

Every Sunday at church the parishioners at St. Michael’s Episcopal have an opportunity to step forth during Communion and receive sacramental healing from an extensively trained layperson. I never miss the opportunity. If I’m in …

Don’t Be Afraid to Buy This Book

July 27, 2014 – 3:42 pm |
Rubens

When I tell people I have a book coming out at the end of the summer, they naturally ask, “What’s it called?” I have learned to brace myself before answering.
“Magnificent Obesity,” I say with a …

God is Not a Christian

July 12, 2014 – 10:48 pm |

In the Biblical story of Pentecost, as the Twelve Apostles receive the Holy Spirit, they begin to speak in other languages. “And there were dwelling at Jerusalem Jews, devout men, out of every nation under …