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Beautiful Living with Dr Denton Weiss: On Fasting, Refreshing the Routine and Living Lent

By Dr Denton D. Weiss, MD
February 26th, 2012
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

Ash Wednesday began us on a forty day pilgrimage. We began with cleansing the soul, the mind, and - let us not forget - the body. All three a gift from our Lord, all three waiting for healing, for restarting, for new life! The point here is you are refreshing your life by a simple fast. Even on days when you eat three meals, keep the meals small: Simple fish at night for your protein and whole grain breads and water for your other meals. 

PORTSMOUTH,VA. (Catholic Online) - I am Back! After a wild 8 months - which included a daughter's Wedding and all that was involved in the final successful inspection of our Surgery Center - I am here to ask, "Did I just survive all of that?" Now, I need a new routine. So, with that being said, it is nice to be jumping back into the healthy side of beautiful living.

In our daily lives, the stresses of the days, weeks, and years just seem to engulf everything. As a surgeon I typically say "I can't do such and such .I've got to see the next patient". My lovely bride, when our girls were just girls, would say that I just can't find the time to. She was right.

In the end, we also let the body go. We do so to take care of the obligations that appear to be more important - and in many ways they are important. However, we miss the balance of life. Suddenly, we look at our bodies in the mirror and say "Wow where did I go?"

And, if I look like this on the outside what about the inside? Yikes! Take a look at a bucket of lard or grease, hardened after frying a Big steak. Not so pretty - that's called fat.

I am often questioned why I am a plastic surgeon and not an internist. Interestingly, when you ask most people if they would like to LOOK healthier they typically point to their eyelids and midsection. Both of which are classic representations of what is going on inside our bodies - and our minds.

If you don't believe me look at a President's picture before and after 4 years in the White House. Stress, eating on the move, fund raiser meals, and no time for exercise all lead to a diminished internal health which is seen on the outside.

What I love about plastic surgery is the ability to help both the inward and outward health of my patients. One cannot exist without the other. What we eat - and how we live - are represented in the health of the beautiful body which our Lord Jesus blessed us with.

Each year I long for Lent. I love the thought of fasting and balancing my life. Fasting is such an important part of bringing balance to a world of excess. In my fasting I become one with the world of poverty - and of wanting.

The physical fatigue I feel makes me wonder in awe at the men and women of this world who work a day on just one meal or no meal. I am ashamed of my excess pounds that came from my seeming inability to control my calorie intake - while others long for just a little. In fasting, I can become one with them and, in doing so, I start anew to make our world, not just my world, Beautiful.

A week ago I spoke about the healing found in human touch; today let us speak of the healing found in fasting together as One Church, One Faith, One People. We are Christians, We must be of Love, and that love must be for all, the poor in body, mind and soul are included.

When we fast we not only change spiritually but also metabolically. The stomach growls because we have stopped our usual routine and our brain is telling the stomach, "Hey, what about a little acid to fire up Dr Weiss? I want that donut in here!"

Once we get past the initial attack by our stomach and brain manipulation, a generalized fatigue will set in. The body was preparing for food, so a few gut enzymes and some insulin from the pancreas were released. As this floats through the body it is looking for some food = sugar to use for energy.

Surprise! No sugar and the brain slows down. At this point, the brain panics (Not Really but that sounds Good), and a signal is given to the body to release glucagon. This little baby starts pulling calories from our muscle and fat stores.

If you fast too long your breath will have a sickly sweet smell because of muscle breakdown. Ketones are made when we breakdown proteins for energy..muscle. An extreme example is a person with anorexia. They simply have burned their muscle to survive.

Remember this smell is not toxins coming off your body which is purported by many extreme fasting diets, but simply ketones from the muscle breaking down to feed you.

As we begin these 40 days of Lent let us celebrate the joy of new beginnings. As we reconcile our actions and thoughts, may we also begin a new healthy life. A kick start to any great event is a moment of peace and prayer. Before each surgery I begin with a prayer and meditation.

Ash Wednesday began us on a forty day pilgrimage. We began with cleansing the soul, the mind, and - let us not forget - the body. All three a gift from our Lord, all three waiting for healing, for restarting, for new life!

Ok, Here's my initial thoughts for a beautiful Lent

Ash Wednesday and every day after during Lent: wake-up 5 minutes early and in the shower or at your bedside give the Lord absolute Praise for giving us another day to make the world better. Now go make it better!

The first person you see. Reach out and touch them. Really Doc! Yes really. Shake their hand; give them a kiss, or just a big old hug. Remember last week... Touch someone - it's OK!

Next begin the usual day in the shower, bathroom you know the general stuff. Now Floss your Teeth. If you don't have floss then swish and spit with Listerine or scope. Don't have any? Alright brush again, your gums need a little extra and this will make your mouth feel NEW again.

The point here is you are refreshing your life by a simple fast. Even on days when you eat three meals, keep the meals small: Simple fish at night for your protein and whole grain breads and water for your other meals. 

The fish is an excellent source of Omega 3 fatty acids, your brains food! The bread should have grains you can literally see. The B vitamins and protein found in the grains will be great and the carbohydrates present will sustain your body's basic needs. The body is made up of many things mostly Water. So Drink!

When you get home - go for a walk. Don't change into work out gear, just get off the bus, out of your car, or off your motorcycle and walk in those clothes. If it is too cold then walk up and down a flight of stairs 4 times. IF YOU ARE NOT BREATHING DEEPLY AFTER THE WALK that was a stroll get back out there! Remember this is a new beginning!

Now sometime during the day you were honored with the placing of an Ash Cross upon your brow. This was the mark of a new beginning. Thank you Jesus for second chances! Be Blessed this most Holy of Seasons - and Begin Again. Beautiful Loving - Beautiful Living - Bella Vitae.

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Dr Denton D. Weiss, M.D. is board certified in both Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery and Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery. Dr. Weiss' approach to his medical practice flows from his convictions about the meaning of life which are deeply rooted in his Catholic Faith. He and his wife, Michelle strive for an integrated approach to life which recognizes the unity of the body, mind and soul. They call this approach "Bella Vitae" or "Beautiful Living". He, and Michelle, are contributing writers to Catholic Online.

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