Combining Lenten Fast with Weight Loss

Hi Everyone, Lent is starting early this year, so wanted to get a head start.

I need to lose weight for health reasons, so why not combine my weight loss efforts with my Lenten sacrifice? Is anyone else doing this or have you done so successfully in the past? Any thoughts/ideas/advice?

I am doing this for Lent.

I did it last year and lost between 5-10 lbs. I did not fast on Sundays of Lent. I am hoping the good habits I form over Lent will stick this time. At least, I am planning to work harder to make them stick. Easter, with all of its candy and feasting, was my downfall. :stuck_out_tongue:

Honestly I would not think about it this way. You want Lent to be about Jesus, not about you. Weight loss might be a side effect, but if you are going to fast, make the motivation be about the Cross. If Jesus can die on the Cross for you, you can surely forgo this donut in self-sacrifice. Etc.

My FIL was in the seminary for several years in the 50s, and apparently there was a very strict Lenten diet, down to the number of ounces of food you could eat. You might want to look into that tradition as a spiritual practice. Not sure where that information would be?

I do not think either one of us said it would not be about Christ. Without having given any details of my fast, It’d have been nicer if you had asked how Jesus fits into my Lenten sacrifice rather than straight off assuming a selfishness on my part. :frowning:

Well, it never worked for me for a few reasons…

First of all, I lose weight when I eat more frequently. I lost easily and steadily when I eat every 2-3 hours, which is incredibly hard to do when I work, and I work 12+ hour days. Even if it’s an apple with a cheesestick, or carrots/crackers, so I tend to gain when I fast. Research shows that eating more frequently is healtheir and safer and makes you lose weight because it steadies your blood glucose levels. In addition, one is more likely to binge-eat when they fast because they’s sooo hungry by the time they sit down for a meal. So if I were you, and you’re going to fast, try to start out with something that will fill out up (like a salad, or an apple, or something) so that when you start really eating, you don’t overeat. I have access to farm-fresh milk as well, so cereal with milk makes a good nutrient dense meal.

Also remember to stay hydrated. I don’t know about you, but I never ever restrict water. Some people do, I won’t.

Also, people tend to replace their meat with high calorie alternatives, like too much cheese and cream. So watch that and try to replace your meat with healthier alternatives like fish (not fried) and beans, lentils, etc.

You said it was combining the two into one action, I was just suggesting keeping the fasting purely spiritually-focused and forgetting about the weight loss.

this is a perfect time as long as you don’t let your weight loss goals take away from your penitence and Christ centered lent season

Last year I gave up , meat(other than fish/seafood) beer, chocolate and deserts also anything with partially hydrogenated oil, and I lost quite a few pounds and it was hard especially the chocolate but it was a good experience.

as long as you keep your mind on what Lent is all about, go for it Catya

1 Corinthians 6:19 Do you not know that your body is a temple of the holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own?

Healthy body , Healthy soul :smiley:

Speaking personally, I’ve given up all sweets for the last several years (not easy in my case), and seen at least no weight gain in any of the years, perhaps even a small weight loss in some of them.

As to whether the expectation of some non-spiritual benefit reduces the worthiness of the sacrifice, I disagree with that notion. There are many fruits to be had through our faithfulness to Jesus; some are temporal, others are eternal. I see no harm in planning a sacrifice that will bring extra blessings.

Since it is not Lent yet, and I am not fasting yet, I do not have an issue discussing that a benefit of fasting would be losing weight. This does not mean that when Lent comes, I will not be focused on the Lord. I see this as being no different from someone saying they are going to give up cigarettes for Lent because they want to quit smoking. Giving up smoking would be good for their body. After all, we are the stewards of our bodies, and our bodies are temples of the Lord.

*"In our own day, fasting seems to have lost something of its spiritual meaning, and has taken on, in a culture characterized by the search for material well-being, a therapeutic value for the care of one’s body. Fasting certainly bring benefits to physical well-being, but for believers, it is, in the first place, a “therapy” to heal all that prevents them from conformity to the will of God. In the Apostolic Constitution Pænitemini of 1966, the Servant of God Paul VI saw the need to present fasting within the call of every Christian to “no longer live for himself, but for Him who loves him and gave himself for him … he will also have to live for his brethren“ (cf. Ch. I). Lent could be a propitious time to present again the norms contained in the Apostolic Constitution, so that the authentic and perennial significance of this long held practice may be rediscovered, and thus assist us to mortify our egoism and open our heart to love of God and neighbor, the first and greatest Commandment of the new Law and compendium of the entire Gospel (cf. Mt 22, 34-40).

The faithful practice of fasting contributes, moreover, to conferring unity to the whole person, body and soul, helping to avoid sin and grow in intimacy with the Lord. Saint Augustine, who knew all too well his own negative impulses, defining them as “twisted and tangled knottiness” (Confessions, II, 10.18), writes: “I will certainly impose privation, but it is so that he will forgive me, to be pleasing in his eyes, that I may enjoy his delightfulness” (Sermo 400, 3, 3: PL 40, 708). Denying material food, which nourishes our body, nurtures an interior disposition to listen to Christ and be fed by His saving word. Through fasting and praying, we allow Him to come and satisfy the deepest hunger that we experience in the depths of our being: the hunger and thirst for God."*

An excerpt from the Message of His Holiness Benedict XVI for Lent 2009

I think both your inclination and your concerns are excellent. I’d encourage you to use the link cited to read our Holy Father’s reflections on the subject. With that as your guide, I would think that both your body and your soul will benefit, your soul most of all.

That’s why I don’t think quitting smoking for Lent is a good thing either. There is a medical physical problem with nicotine addiction that must be addressed in a self-centered way. It’s not compatible with prayerful self denial.

Thanks for the link, EasterJoy! I bookmarked it.

All fasting should be done with the mindset of improving youself (hence why the Fathers say, “fast first from sin”). If you struggle with weight and gluttony, the Great Fast (lent) can be the perfect time to really begin to amend your eating habits. For example, cut out entirely the foods you know you struggle with (such as sugar) with the idea that when the fast is over, you introduce them slowly. Just be sure to keep it always with a spiritual focus, losing control of our eating, eating ‘junk’ and failing to care for our bodies can also be damaging spiritually because we lose the idea of moderation and can easily begin to allow food to distract us from what is truly important. I know when I ‘binge’ (frequently if I am stressed), it is quickly followed by feelings of sloth and neglect of my responsibilities.
Aim for simplicity in what you eat. That is where the Eastern concept of fasting come in (strict fast would be no meat, dairy, olive oil, wine, fish). Obviously you do not have to go that far, but just keep simplicity always in the back of your mind. Eat to live, don’t live to eat.
Good luck!

I’ve had success with fasting and weight loss. I’m Byzantine and really started to follow the fasting rules/guidelines this past year with the Nativity Fast and then continuing on wednesdays and fridays. It was hard the first 2 weeks then I started to see some results…not just with my physical appearance but also with my spiritual outlook. I started to really look forward to Christmas and really contemplate the Fast. So it was a great tool to help my both physically and spiritually. I took greater care of my body. I think that if you take it from that standpoint then there is nothing wrong with using it as a weightloss tool as well. However fasting without prayer is useless and is a great way to fail so always increase your praying :slight_smile:

I’m looking forward to Great Lent and continuing on my weight loss/get healthy journey as well as deepening my spiritual relationship with God. Fasting helps me really appreciate the Feast that is to come…in this case, Pascha :slight_smile:

As a PP said, the Eastern fast is rather rigorous and I found that I couldn’t do the strictest form of it (I fast from all the things mentioned except for boiled, plain chicken breast…the plainest tasting, blandest thing ever but it helps me get enough protein to function and take care of my kids lol! I would stick to shellfish but can’t afford it everyday )

I have given up fast food/eating out for Lent and lost weight. But,

  1. I gave up eating fast food because I like fries and burgers, etc.
  2. I gave up eating fast food because it’s more fun to eat out than to cook for myself.
  3. I gave up TV because it was something I enjoyed.

The benefits of losing weight and saving money were not why I did it, but fringe benefits. The reason I did it was to fast along with Christ for 40 days and then, come Easter, celebrate. This doesn’t mean I have to go back to bad habits or not maintain new ones but after Easter I’m not fasting anymore.

BTW, I gave up TV for Lent a few years ago; I cancelled cable and everything and haven’t gone back. At first is was hard, and I had to figure out what to do with that time I spent in front of the TV and I was constantly reminded of why I was doing it.

Last year I gave up reading for pleasure and only allowed myself to only read Catholic books on faith, spirituality or whatever. It was harder than I thought it would be because I had several books already on my bookshelf that I wanted to read. I plan on doing it again because I was both a huge sacrifce and helped me focus on Jesus’ sacrifice.

Last year I gave up meat for lent and plan on doing the same this year:)

I think you’re wrong about that. I had a friend who said he did not realize how his smoking owned him until he gave it up for Lent. If your appetites own you, that is at least partly a spiritual problem.

The need to address the one’s spiritual condition in a non-self-centered way when addressing addiction is a big reason that AA works. Throwing off the slavery that is addiction is a spiritual journey, even more than a physical one. In fact, you could easily take the 12 Steps, insert “sin” wherever it says “addiction”, and you’d get a good picture of the road of repentance and the acceptance of salvation:

  1. We admitted we were powerless over our sins—that our lives had become

  2. Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to

  3. Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we
    understood Him.

  4. Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.

  5. Admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature
    of our wrongs.

  6. Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.

  7. Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings.

  8. Made a list of all persons we had harmed, and became willing to make
    amends to them all.

  9. Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do
    so would injure them or others.

  10. Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly
    admitted it.

  11. Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with
    God, as we understood Him, praying only for knowledge of His will for us
    and the power to carry that out.

  12. Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these Steps, we tried to carry this message to other sinners, and to practice these principles in all our affairs.

What is not spiritual about that? The truth is, it works because the physical aspect is put in second place to the spiritual. That is what fasting is all about.

I agree with Easter Joy, and I would add that I always gave up smoking for Lent until I finally gave it up for good. Even as a child, I understood that the promise I made for a Lenten sacrifice was a solemn promise to God Himself, and thus no mere New Year resolution. I was promising Him that I would improve something about myself, at least during Lent. I have yet to break a Lenten promise, and I was a child long ago.

However, my approach has not changed from the approach and attitude I had as a child. There is nothing wrong with coming to our Savior as little children.

This discussion makes me somewhat uncomfortable; I think it is bad form to question the spiritual efficacy or sincerity of another’s Lenten sacrifice.

It made me uncomfortable as well. Being new here, I’m learning to navigate the feel of this place. I’ll certainly be cautious about what I post in the future. :confused:


You might want to try a “Daniel Fast”. I have never read the book (to be honest I have mostly heard of this in the context of protestant communities). But it could be altered for the entire lenten season and used in conjunction with Catholic devotionals. If you do a search on “Daniel Fast” you should be able to find links to the eating plan. From what I have read about the fast, it is mostly a vegetarian lifestyle with some modifications–vegetarian is a healthy eating plan as long it is done right; and, the restrictions associated with vegetarianism will mimic the kind of sacrifices people make during lent.

I have never done a Daniel Fast because I am already Raw Vegan which is even more restrictive. Good Luck!! :thumbsup:

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