Monday, January 2, 2017

Priestfit and the 2017 Priestfit Presentation Challenge

 So, this has been a loooooong time coming! I've been waiting for a reboot after a transfer to become the Administrator of my former parish, Our Lady of the Sacred Heart in Springfield. This past year has been filled will blessings, including becoming a spin instructor! I can't tell you how amazing it feels to be able to train other people, let alone marathon runners and fitness models (I'm not either!) Lately, the stress of the holiday season, together with being in charge of the whole operation at the parish, has led to some overeating, those liquid calories from craft beer, and about 20lbs of weight gain.

I have been talking with a brother priest from Florida, Fr Casey Jones from the Diocese of Venice, for some time now about forming a ministry for priests who struggle with food, weight, and fitness. It pains me to see the trends among my brother priests, as I know the amount of stress that the institutional church can bring. It's my hope that advocacy in the church, especially with dioceses and bishops, might start to change the conversation for the multidisciplinary treatment these issues require. A support group is the first step.

Introducing Priestfit, and the 2017 Priestfit Presentation Challenge

We are a band of brother Catholic priests who wish to help each other while witnessing to others who struggle in the areas of health and fitness. 

The Presentation Challenge:
"Be eager to present yourself as acceptable to God, a workman who causes no disgrace, imparting the word of truth without deviation." 2 Tim 2:15
Jan 2-Feb 2, the Feast of the Presentation of the Lord. The prophet Malachi asks us, "who will endure the day of his coming? And who can stand when he appears?" As priests we are called to offer due sacrifice to the Lord. Desiring to better our health and fitness in the new year, let us be refined in the refiner's fire. Like Jesus, let us also be tested through what we suffer so that we will be able to help those who are also being tested. With the help of the Holy Family, we will become strong, and we will be more able to serve the King of Glory and his holy church.
The Presentation challenge is a check in with our brother priests on the following goals:
Start/end weight (not necessarily about loss, some may need to gain or maintain)
Eating clean
Physical Exercise
Spiritual exercise (sacrifice)
We will offer a daily reflection to help in this journey. The goals are to be presented with the Lord in a new way on this sacred feast and to ignite a community of brothers who wish to carry forth a message of wellness in our presbyterate.

Please like our fb page if you would like to follow our reflections. The support group is a closed fb group for priests.

I ask all of you to pray for this new endeavor. It's our hope that this develop into a much needed and amazing ministry in the church.

-Fr Ryan 

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Whole foods plant based Lent

Recently I made the decision with my sister, who is a huge proponent of the whole foods plant based diets espoused by "forks over knives" and "the engine 2 diet", to have a go at this kind of diet during Lent. It's perhaps not as religious an experience as being a vegan, but more a two for one "make a change" and fast from meat products during lent. Many Christians throughout the Eastern world are bound to fast from meat during Lent, and in this current ecumenical atmosphere, I'm adding on the intention in my prayers for unity. 
Along that track, I'm excited that an Orthodox student at the university has offered to teach me Byzantine chant! Practice is slow going, but I'm hoping I can be signing actual hymns in a couple months. Gotta learn my ni pa vous! 
To start Lent on Ash Wednesday, we got the port unity to #ashtag with the Pope. Ok, it's a cut out, but it was a fun way to get some of our students involved in a joyful start to Lent. Let's evangelize with the joy of the Gospel. Happy Lent! +:-)

Saturday, January 23, 2016

End of Holiday Challenge Report, and March for Life

The Hello, all! I realize that I never checked in on the result of the holiday challenge, which, I know, tapered off with some challenges in ministry. During the period of mid November to January 8th, I lost a total of 5lbs, which was 4lbs less than the goal, but still an amazing triumph over a different holiday schedule in a new assignment. I have endured a lot of personal change which has taken its toll emotionally, but I am so thankful that God saw me through things and kept me on track for maintainence and a little bit of weight loss. 

A week and a half ago I received some of the best news of this journey. I was approved by a plastic surgeon for an excess skin removal surgery! We have a goal of two surgeries, the first being a full abdominal lift around to the back, and a chest reconstruction. The second, at a later date, would address the legs and arms. I can't tell you how much an improvement this would be for my life, to feel comfortable in my own skin, to not have the worries in workouts, to not feels he excess weight which drags me down physically and emotionally, and to not have to worry about certain hygiene concerns. 

Unfortunately the surgery comes at a cost which insurance most likely will not cover. I am in the process of figuring out what they will cover, but it won't be an easy process. I opened a gofundme which I originally put out to friends and family on Facebook, not realizing the public impact it would have. Some found this request scandalous and troublesome, sighting concerns that priests would use their public platform for personal reasons, or even accusing me of vanity and narcissism. I can understand public perception. I will definitely, at the request of my Bishop, seek to always promote Christ, and keep in mind the concerns of my brother priests and struggling Diocese. After some tough conversations, I can't express the thanks I have for the people out there who have been my constant support and encouragement. 

That is why I am so passionate about this journey. I know I will face ridicule. But I know the huge amount of support from the people. I travelled down with a group of students to the March for Life in Washington yesterday. Arriving at the Mass at the Verizon Center, I met friends who hadn't seen me since the days of Steubenville or Seminary. I was so edified by their response. They were shocked at the new me, but they were inspired that something can be done to improve their own lives.  

I looked around the stadium seating, and watched heavy priest after heavy priest arrive to concelebrate. I looked and saw where I was years ago: zealous for the innocent life that has been lost by abortion, but not caring about my own life, which God desires to give to us in abundance. I get the kind of commitment that calls us priests on to a life of radical service. But I was amongst some of the perception in the crowd: why is it that we are ok with an obese clergy? Here we are dedicated to helping pregnant women who need help to deal with financial, emotional, and social oppression forcing them to make the hardest decisions in their life. Can we not look around the room and see men who have given their all to the Church, and yet are dealing with similar pressures from the Church and their eating addictions? 

I love my vocation, and I love my vocation even more now that God has brought me through this journey of recovery. I am not finished yet, as we are all on our road of spiritual perfection. I will not stop the call for the Church to realize that we need to do something for our priests. We can't just assume that crisis in our priests' lives is over. I hope one day to create a forum, to advocate for greater awareness of food addiction, and to support my brother priests in whatever way I can.  Being fit for ministry requires us to be ok with our priests being fit. Let's not put them down for desiring it. 

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Holiday Challenge: huge news!

I got one of the calls I've been waiting for!

Today at Planet Fitness, during a commitment to one of my goals to add in more strength training, I got a phone call from the plastic surgeon's office to schedule a consultation for excess skin removal surgery!
I am super stoked! 

The cost for the consult is $150 out of pocket, which is steep, but worth it. It's funny, actually, that the weight loss challenge at my gym was the same amount. This is accomplishing my goals, and I can't wait to see where this will go. People have been so supportive since I made the announcement, and I am glad, because this will be a significant investment for which I've been encouraged by many to crowd fund. 

Having had this news all day, I celebrated by getting pumped up for the new beginnings theme ride with Katie at Energia tonight. I put out 173 watts in 55 minutes. The class worked their butts off, but I had an extra push in my sprints, riding the high of this awesome news.

It certainly feels like even though there may be obstacles in the way in the future, with the rides that we do at energia, I can push through anything! 

Today I preached on something more amazing. It's not about our power to love, but the fact that God has loved us first. How is it that we can push through on our own? It's nearly impossible! I need a higher power, and really, most awesomely, it's that higher power that has first reached out to me! 

Monday, January 4, 2016

Holiday Challenge last week

It's so good to be done with the holidays, the parties, the overindulgence. As most of the world goes back to work today, many are deciding to start their New Year's resolutions. 

After a big staff party I somehow managed to get out of bed and get to spin class. I so needed it to be able to recover, but also as an indicator that I can push through anything if I want it bad enough. 150 watts in 45 min? I'll take that. 

Because finances are tough, I'm needing to cook at home a lot more, which is recommended anyway if you want to lose weight or maintain. Today I made a double portion for lunch and dinner:
Cajun buffalo burger with sautéed coconut curry kale and mushrooms. 594 calories, 71g protein. Lean meat, great tasting veggies, and a little fat added so macros get in balance. 

Tonight I'm watching the biggest loser on tv. I'm so glad Bob is talking about issues like food addiction, and sees the place like rehab. The sad thing is that these shows cut corners and push these people to lose too quickly with fad liquid diets and crazy all day workouts. I began my journey in a rehab and lost 100 lbs in 5 months, medically supervised, with the proper counseling, and no crazy crash diets. I'm a huge advocate for increasing programs like mine to help people to start the journey when they have been unsuccessful in the past. But I hope that not everyone believes they need to go on one of these shows to do it. 

Starting the journey is as easy as letting the past be the past, deciding at the start of the day that you are going to track your food, open up to someone, and taking that first step to exercise. If you need more than that, please reach out to me! 

Friday, January 1, 2016

Holiday Challenge reboot for new year

Hello again! As I've always said, it's all about getting back on track. After I was able to go for vacation down to Florida right before Christmas, I slipped into not posting daily, as I had resolved to do the week before. I've had some battles with food, with some holiday partying, but have come back strong. 

My weight has been in the maintenance phase for quite some time now, signaling to me that I might not need a weight loss challenge at the beginning of the year. I've been talking with friends and trainers and don't think I will be doing the challenge at my gym. Instead, I am creating some goals for 2016.

With that said, my weight is about 222 today, two pounds down from where I was mid November. I'm excited that I haven't gained over the holidays! Now, as the New Year starts, I want to hit the ground running towards these goals.

To complete my original challenge, I wanted to be at 215 for January 9th. Right now, being safely under 220 will be an excellent goal.

After consulting with Justin at Energia, we've calculated body fat percentage at 25% and believe that if I lose 10-15 lbs more, I should be within range for a post surgery body fat of 15 %..killer. So, goal for the entirety of 2016 is to get to 210 and maintain this, unless surgery is booked and this brings me below this number (hopefully between 190-195).

Another goal will be to become spin certified by the summer.

For the first workout of the New Year, I killed it at spin&strength. What a way to start out with intention, focus, resolve, and fun!

As the Church begins the year with the celebration of Mary, Mother of God, I preached about the help that both God and Mary give to our resolutions, even when we fall short. As resolved as we are to never sin again following a good confession, there might be mistakes and serious failures on the way. The important thing to keep in mind is that in the end, God's grace, a grace mediated by the motherhood of Mary through the birth of her Son, will pick us up and propel us forward.

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Holiday Challenge Day 24

Today I tried something new. My friend asked me to join in on a bike to barre class. It's an hour long half on bike half leg strengthening class using techniques from ballet. Seeing as though I could use some good stabilization techniques, and also promised some good coffee afterward, I decided to dismiss any sort of traditional masculine/feminine judgments and go with it. Heck, professional sports players swear by ballet exercises. 

It was fun and challenging! My legs are on fire. Thanks for the invite, Ryan! 

Afterwards I had a good discussion which further solidified my desire to keep pushing towards skin surgery and becoming spin certified. I've worked to hard to not do the things I love and feel uncomfortable in my own skin. 

I guess a moral of today would be shed the judgments of others. If God is for us, who can be against us? My counselor pout it this way today: this might be a challenging level in the video game of life, but you gotta figure it out to get to the end of the game. Cool things is, you have friends who are helping you to figure it out, and God is your hp!