Home > General, Nutrition > Trappist Monks Ruined My Diet… (OK – Not really…)

Trappist Monks Ruined My Diet… (OK – Not really…)

August 5, 2012

The Abbey at the Monastery of the Holy Spirit

So yesterday was the first day I’ve had since I’ve really had my head back in the diet and exercise game that the wheels kind of came off the bus. I went with a group from my church to visit the Monastery of the Holy Spirit in Conyers, Georgia, just outside of Atlanta. This is a lovely, pastoral place where a community of trappist monks has lived a contemplative, cloistered life, praying for the outside world, since the 1940’s. They were so welcoming and friendly, and I thank God they were praying for me yesterday, because I needed it…

Friday was my third weekly weigh in, and I made really good progress! My weight was 250.0 pounds!!! That’s down 8.6 pounds from when I began this second phase of my journey three weeks ago, 3.1 pounds since last Friday, and 65 pounds total from my estimated highest weight almost three years ago! I am very pleased!

Nutrition for me is very mechanical Monday through Friday. I have

one of two options for Breakfast, pretty much the same lunch and afternoon snack everyday, and I enjoy some variety at dinner, but try to eat pretty cleanly. I eat cleanly on the weekends, too, but the schedule isn’t as rigid. I usually sleep until about 9 on weekend mornings instead of my weekday 7 or 7:30, and when I make plans, they usually don’t start until late morning/early afternoon. My nutrition is good, but it takes a little more planning than during the week.

This Saturday, I was taking the trip to the monastery, and my mom was going with me. She drove in from the suburbs to meet me at my apartment around 8:45, and we were out the door by 9 to go meet our group at the church. It was almost 10:30, and we were just a few miles away from the monastery before I realized I had forgotten to eat breakfast. No biggie, I thought, I’ll be okay to wait until lunch.

We toured the monks’ bonsai greenhouse, garden shop, and then attended a noonday prayer service in the spectacular abbey they built by hand in the 1950’s and 60’s. But first, we went into the shop that sells the amazing things they bake in their bakery. Peach bread, apple bread, pecan cinnamon raisin

Freshly baked bread from the monks’ bakery.

bread, blueberry bread, and an amazing fruitcake that’s soaked in peach brandy. My. Mouth. Was. Watering. But I didn’t indulge – at least not yet.

As we left the noonday prayer service and walked back to the monastery cafe for lunch, I could have eaten one of the monk’s arms, and I was kicking myself for not having thought about breakfast. Lunch were box lunches from Honeybaked Ham, and I ate my sandwich, left the chips behind, and bought myself a delicious cup of homemade butternut squash and apple soup. Not too bad, right? Well somebody also snuck a moist and delicious, doughy, chocolate chunk cookie into that damn box, too. As hungry as I was, I rationalized eating the cookie by my not having had breakfast that morning. All in all, not terrible, and had I stopped there, it wouldn’t have been a total loss for the day.

We toured the museum on the grounds in the afternoon, and when we came back to the bakery shop, I was able to keep myself from buying an entire loaf of bread or fruitcake, but I did buy myself a slice of the fruitcake (at 310 calories) to take home. The thing is, when you skip a meal, you never get truly full the rest of the day. So the fruitcake was eaten as soon as I arrived home, followed a couple of hours later by a sensible snack of an apple and low fat cheese.

Then came dinner at a wonderful, trendy Atlanta outpost of NYC’s Cucina Asellina. I ordered pretty well, a green salad, and a pasta dish. Their serving sizes are what I would call gourmet, so a pasta, sauce and all, is only about one cup. BUT…they also had Peroni on draft, and in my mind I was thinking, “I’ve already screwed up the day, so I might as well have the beer.” Which I did. But then we went out for after dinner drinks, and another beer and a couple of sugary cocktails later, I had blown the day.

Bonsai Garden at the Monastery of the Holy Spirit

So…three lessons here. Learn from my mistakes. Do as I say, not as I do. 1) Don’t let one lapse (in this case missing breakfast), lead to a series of lapses; 2) Plan ahead. Think about your nutrition for the next day the day before, including any changes to your schedule/diet; and 3) Be gentle with yourself. My nutrition was off yesterday. Today, I’m back to normal. It’s not a death blow to my efforts, just a little pothole in the road. It doesn’t happen everyday or even every week or month, so in the scheme of things, no biggie.

Oh, and there was a fourth lesson, too. I’m much too loud and slightly ADD-prone to be a trappist monk, but they were pretty cool guys who care pretty deeply about us all (and make a damn good fruitcake).

  1. Susan
    August 5, 2012 at 4:00 PM

    Ok, Chad, Make me feel even worse! I too, ate more than I wanted to yesterday. I weigh every morning before drinking my cup of tea, as Dr. Oz. says that is your true weight. Yikes, the vanilla wafers and wine crept onto the scales. So, today, I’m eating fruit and other “healthy’ foods. Ok, so I mistepped today with some wine…..

    I think if Larry would have a dinner of just veggies, I would do alright, but I haven’t convinced him that it would help his Humpty Dumpty pudge around his stomach. He calls it his love handles; I call it his Love Lumps. I know that you must think that you are overweight, but, with your size, you do not look it. But, I know how your feel. My weight seems to travel all over but shows up the worse on the scales. Hang in, there, as you are WINNING!!!

    • August 5, 2012 at 11:34 PM

      Thanks, Susan! I really appreciate that. You and Larry look great, by the way, and it was nice to spend some time with y’all on the trip Saturday!

  2. Ellen
    August 8, 2012 at 8:06 AM

    Loved the post! The trip to the monastery was great. I just didn’t know it would be a temptation for sinning! [but the fruitcake is great – this is from someone who took home a whole fruitcake]

  1. August 7, 2012 at 10:32 PM
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