Catholic weight-loss program focuses on faith, fellowship

  • Written by Morningstar Stevenson
  • Published in Local
Participants in Light Weigh One King take time for reflection and prayer using materials provided by the program. Photo: Courtesy Rebecca Anderson Participants in Light Weigh One King take time for reflection and prayer using materials provided by the program. Photo: Courtesy Rebecca Anderson

OLYMPIA – Nancy Parker’s efforts to lose weight have included all kinds of diets and supplements, and even the thought of surgery. Now the St. Michael parishioner is finding success with Light Weigh One King, a Catholic Bible study program that is helping her find peace with food.

“It is a life-changing process to deepen your faith and get a better understanding of faith,” Parker said of the program that she discovered at her Olympia parish last fall. Light Weigh has helped Parker pay attention to her body, while teaching her to “trust in the Lord and he will provide,” she said.

Participants sign up for a 12-week session. During weekly meetings held at the parish, the coordinator leads a short Bible study and shows a short video. (There are no weigh-ins.) The rest of the week, participants are expected to follow their workbooks, write in their journals, and listen to an audio program.

Light Weigh is about so much more than losing weight, said Rebecca Anderson, who has been coordinating the program at her parish, St. Mark in Shoreline, for two years. The “One King” in the title refers to the Catholic call to serve the one God, she explained.

“This program is about being the best version of myself,” Anderson said. For her, that means not only viewing food differently, but also attending daily Mass, which she does more often since becoming involved in the program.

Even an archbishop has tried it

Light Weigh One King is “not a diet, but participants can learn to make peace with food and can lose the weight,” said Suzanne Fowler, a resident of the Archdiocese of Kansas City, Kansas, who founded the program in 1998. Even Kansas City Archbishop Joseph Naumann tried the program with a small group of priests and wrote about it in his archdiocesan paper.

“It’s a spiritual practice using our bodies as God intended,” said Trisha Gosciewski, a St. Michael parishioner who is co-coordinator of her parish’s Light Weigh program.

Light Weigh participantsSt. Michael parishioners Michelle Underwood, left, Cara Barkis, Trisha Gosciewski, Nancy Parker, Shirley Mischel, Julia Tolletson and Leigh Phillips meet weekly for the Light Weigh One King Bible study weight-loss program. Photo: Courtesy Trisha Gosciewski

More parishioners are seeking programs that combine faith formation and issues they struggle with, such as weight loss or finances, said Elizabeth Lyons, St. Michael’s steward for sacramental preparation and adult discipleship. Light Weigh One King achieves this balance by encouraging participants to “act in accordance with Scripture and act with what God’s plan is for us, in this case health,” Lyons said.

St. Michael’s offers three sessions a year, typically with six to 12 participants. At St. Mark’s, sessions are offered year-round, drawing up to seven people each session. The program costs about $12 a week, which Anderson said is comparable to other weight-loss programs.

Becoming ‘better stewards of our bodies’

“For those who have tried dieting and other weight-loss methods, it’s a mental adjustment to stop counting calories,” said Gosciewski, who has lost weight by following the program. The program helps her with portion control, listening to hunger cues and not overeating.

Besides losing weight, Gosciewski said her relationship with God has gotten stronger by studying the Bible and meeting others. “The insights of our Bible study are about life, not just food,” she said.

Parker said she never kept a journal before, but finds that the self-reflection in journaling at home and the support of her fellow parishioners at meetings helps keep her accountable and on track.

As Archbishop Naumann wrote, Light Weigh is “shining the light of our faith on the decisions that we make every day about what and how much we eat. … Light Weigh is a great resource to become better stewards of our bodies.”