Catholic Book Spotlight - Weightless

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Today, we celebrate the publication of Weightless, a beautiful book by CatholicMom.com contributor and friend Kate Wicker. In my endorsement of this wonderful book, I wrote:

With striking honesty and a sincerity that shows the beauty of her soul, Kate Wicker’s words in Weightless point readers to the true formula for health of body, mind and spirit. By sharing her own story and providing fodder for mediation, reflection and discussion, Kate has created a resource that will support and uplift women of any age, vocation or station in life. I can’t wait to share Weightless with my friends and loved ones and to employ it in my personal pursuit of spiritual, emotional and physical well-being.

Today, I’m so happy to share my interview with Kate Wicker and urge you to read Weightless for yourself and also to read it along with special women in your life — those sisters, girlfriends and neighbors who mean so much to you.

Q: Congratulations Kate on the awaiting the birth of your newest family member and on the wonderful publication of your very first book! What a blessed time in your life! Would you please briefly introduce yourself and your family to our readers? 

Thank you so much, Lisa. You’re right: This is a very exciting, blessed, and busy time in my life. I’m incredibly honored to have the opportunity to have my book featured here at Catholic Mom. Your site was one of the first I discovered when I made the transition from primarily writing for secular publications to exploring Catholic media and the online outlets available to me as a Catholic mother and writer. Thanks for all you do the support Catholic moms in their vocations.

Just to give your readers a rundown of who I am and what I’m all about, I’m a wife to an amazing man (who finds me pretty even when there’s a streak of diaper ointment in my hair), a mom to three littles ones 6 and under with a new baby set to arrive any day now, and a sometimes-writer.

I have a degree in journalism and before becoming an at-home mom, I worked on the editorial staff of a regional parenting publication. I also freelance wrote for a variety of publications and did a lot of medical and health writing early on.

These days I’m blessed to have the opportunity to write about two of my greatest life passions: motherhood and my Catholic faith. I’m a senior writer and health columnist for Faith & Family, and I also occasionally contribute to other publications. Since I keep very busy as a wife and mother, I don’t devote as much time to freelancing, but blogging has proven to be a wonderful outlet. Not only do I get to ramble on about whatever is on mind (and display only the most flattering photos, of course, of my precious progeny) :-), but I’ve also met many wonderful women via the Blogosphere; some who have become lifelong friends and some whom I’ve even had a chance to meet in-person.

Q: We at CatholicMom.com and your blog readers have been treated to your writing for years! How did the Weightless project come about and why write this book at this time in your life? How did the task of writing a book compare for you to the daily routine of blogging?

Servant Books approached me about two years ago about writing a book on the topic of beauty, body image, food, etc. after seeing that I had mentioned wanting to write a book that examined topics like these from a spiritual perspective. Although I’d always dreamed of writing a book, I balked at first. I was just recovering from an unexpected and clinically diagnosed case of postpartum depression after the birth of my third child. I was struggling and didn’t feel qualified to write a book. Not to mention, the logistics of finding the time to write it with a husband in residency and three children 5 and under at the time seemed daunting. But my publisher was persistent. So was God. Every time I wrote about food or beauty or body image on my blog or elsewhere, women of all ages would email me and say they, too, had struggles and that my words had slipped into their souls and helped them a bit. Maybe the Holy Spirit was at work. Maybe if I listened to God and followed His will, He would gift me with the time and the right words to get this book out there.

This book would not have come to fruition without the support of my family, blog readers, as well as a dear friend named Cathy Adamkiewicz and Cindy Cavnar, the original editor who reached out to me. Both of these women really encouraged me. Servant also was very generous with my deadline and gave me more time than is standard.

I really enjoyed the writing process and simply squeezed in writing when I could, sometimes late at night or early in the morning. There were also times when inspiration would strike when I was nursing or changing a stinky diaper. I’d jot down my thoughts in a journal I usually kept close by. I was also blessed to have family nearby to help. My father-in-law came over to play with my daughters for several hours almost every Wednesday for many months. This freed up uninterrupted time to write, and I was able to turn the manuscript in a month before my official deadline. Who says miracles are obsolete in today’s world? 🙂

As for the topic, I feel like there’s a great need for a book that tackles body image, food, and women’s struggles with their appearance from a faith perspective. I know far too many beautiful women (on the inside and out) who don’t like what they see in the mirror. Likewise, so many of us attempt to fill the empty places in our soul with food. We walk away from our plates with little satisfaction but plenty of guilt. We’ve forgotten that we are God’s creation and have value simply because we are – not because we do anything spectacular or look a certain way.

Q: For readers who haven’t had a peek yet at Weightless, can you give us an overview of the book?

Weightless is written from a Catholic-Christian perspective and deals with a wide range of topics such as applying temperance to eating, aging, an exploration of how motherhood changes the way we see our bodies, the media’s influence on body image versus what the Church teaches us about our bodies, eating disorders, body image, aging, raising healthy daughters, and beauty.

Each chapter features an anecdotal exploration of the topic at hand.  In addition, there’s a “Soul Food” section, which provides the reader with inspiring quotes, spiritual and practical tools, and tips to encourage, edify and help women overcome their own struggles with food, their bodies, or they way they look. A meditation that offers imagery— something visual other than your own reflection—to focus on and a prayer conclude the chapters. There are also discussion questions for personal use and/or group study. Jennifer Fulwiler of Conversion Diary wrote the book’s foreword.

Over the years, I’ve been stockpiling spiritual tools, if you will, to help keep me healthy and grounded in God’s definition of beauty. I wanted to share these tools with others to not only help women overcome their body angst, fear of aging, and/or struggles with food but also to help all of us reach out to young women. As a mom to three daughters, I’m very passionate about raising girls who are healthy and recognize their true worth comes from the fact that they are children of God. I pray Weightless might minister to woman in all walks of life.

Q: You share a great deal of personal history in this book, which truly helped me in connecting with the material and hearing your voice shine through. Was there any pain or difficulty involved in opening up your own story so fully for readers?

Definitely. It’s never easy to expose our brokenness (especially if you’re a perfectionist like I am), and like I said earlier, in many ways I didn’t (and still don’t) feel qualified to write a book about making peace with your body, especially when I still occasionally struggle with my body image or when I sometimes have difficulty applying the virtue of temperance to my eating habits. In writing the book, I was forced to face some of the relics of my eating disordered past, but I also was gifted with the opportunity to share glimpses of hope and redemption.

It was also difficult to relive some painful moments in my life. For example, I was teased a lot as young child for being chubby. Miss Piggy was one of my nicknames, and boys sometimes oinked at me. No one likes to remember the hurt.

Likewise, dredging up the abuse I inflicted upon my body when I was suffering from a clinical eating disorder wasn’t fun, but it was worth it because I also saw how God had never left my side even at my darkest moments. In fact, it wasn’t until I turned to God and the principles of my Christian faith that the real healing began. And it’s still unfolding. It’s constantly evolving, and there will always be that dark, shady place in the garden of my soul that tempts me to turn to the scale or to food for comfort or for a validation of my self-worth, but I have the power, with God’s abounding grace, to not wander over there and to bask the dappled-with-sunshine place of contentment and joy.

Q: How can one’s faith life be a tool for finding both spiritual and physical healing?

I don’t believe we can really find true physical or emotional healing from our struggles with food, weight, aging, etc. until we turn to God for spiritual balm. This isn’t to say if you pray hard enough you can overcome your eating disorder or food addiction. Oftentimes, we do need professional help to fight our inner demons and to put an end to destructive habits.  On the same hand,  a preoccupation with our weight, appearance, exercise, food or anything worldly can be a sign that something is off-kilter in our spiritual life. A soul that loves God and accepts His unconditional love in return has little room for such vanities. I’m working on having that kind of soul. When I am more focused on God and recognize my value and affirmation come from His love for me, I find I’m at a more healthful place physically as well. Not that I don’t still struggle, but the good news is God never gives up on us. Fill up on Jesus first. Find your satisfaction in Him, and you’ll likely find spiritual and physical healing.

Q: As a mother of daughters, what steps are you taking in your home to raise emotionally, physically, and spiritually healthy daughters?

I could write about raising healthy daughters all day and, in fact, there is a chapter of my book devoted to raising healthy young women.  My wonderful 90-year-old nana recently asked if there was much of an audience for a book on body image. This shows you what a different world we live in today with the onslaught of unrealistic media images and societal pressures on women. We live in a society where girls are constantly at risk of sacrificing their true selves – whether they try to find love in the arms of a boy who doesn’t really care about them, wear immodest clothing to get attention, or turn themselves into a shiny, pretty package using extreme dieting or obsessive exercising. Our daughters face a lot of pressures today, but with our guidance, prayers, and the grace of God we can help fight back against a culture that undermines their worth as women and help them hold onto their true selves.

My oldest is only 6, but I’m already trying to be very conscious of what I say in reference to food or our bodies. Even if I’m having an “ugly” day, I don’t voice any of this aloud. I try not to talk about weight or my body at all. Likewise, food isn’t bad or good in our home. Some of it may not be as healthy for our bodies, but eating a Reese Peanut Butter Cup is not a sin. I encourage my daughters to listen to their bodies and to eat by their stomachs rather than by the clock. This can be challenging as a mom because I sometimes feel like I’m constantly plying children with food; however, little ones eat so intentionally and don’t clean their plate or ignore their hunger pangs unless we teach them to start doing that.

I also let my girls be girls. I used to balk at the idea of a 2-year-old wanting to try on my fancy shoes or pretend to put makeup on with my blush brush, but then I realized  they weren’t wanting to do any of this out of vanity. My middle daughter is especially drawn to girly things, and I want her to see the tremendous value in femininity. Women were created to be drawn to beautiful things; there is nothing wrong with that. Similarly, accentuating our God-given beauty isn’t something we have to teach our children to avoid. We just need to remind them that their true value runs much deeper than their rose-colored lipstick or the size of their jeans.

In addition, I make an effort to teach my children to take care of their bodies by moving them physically. We enjoy being active and celebrate the fact that our legs allow us to skip and run.

Finally, I make it a habit to at least weekly look into each of my daughter’s eyes and say this simple affirmation: “I love you just the way you are.” It’s important for our girls to know that we love them as they are not because they perform well in school or look a certain way. Remind them, too, that God loves them with an even deeper, more personal, and unconditional kind of love.

Q: For busy moms who struggle to maintain a healthy balance in life, what are some pointers you can share to help build physical activity and healthy eating into a life spent serving everyone else?

I admit. I used to be a very active exerciser. I even trained for marathons. There’s no way I could squeeze in those kind of workouts into my life anymore. But I still make fitness a priority, and I believe most moms can do the same. My workouts now sometimes consist of living room dance parties with my kids. We turn on some lively music, and we bust some serious moves (and work up a sweat). I enjoy being active with my kids – playing in the yard, chasing them when they ride their bikes on our driveway, and going on evening walks together.

I also have a diverse collection of workout DVDs. It’s a library I’ve slowly built over many years. Some of the DVDs I can even do with my kids. I bought them tiny 1-pound weights, and they love to exercise with Mommy. (My oldest sometimes talks some trash, however. “Mommy, why are you stopping? Can’t you keep up with them?”) After our baby arrives, I have plans to occasionally get up early and go on morning walks with my little one in a baby carrier and with our dog.

Finally, my husband recently bought the P90x program, which we’d both been hearing a lot of positive feedback about. We both enjoy fitness and plan on slowly easing into the program as part of our at-home date nights after our baby makes his or her big debut.

Some moms I know have a running buddy who they meet for early morning runs. Other moms squeeze in three shorter 10-minute workouts into their busy days. Whatever you can do to get yourself moving, do it. If you haven’t worked out in awhile, start slow. Don’t give up if you initially feel sore or winded. This means you’re pushing yourself physically. Be patient, and pursue fitness more for how it makes you feel than how it makes you look.

As for healthy eating, Katie Kimball, a contributor to Catholic Mom, always encourages moms to take baby steps. I agree. Making big, sweeping changes to what you put into your mouth (and your family’s) probably isn’t a good idea. Make smaller, more achievable goals. For instance, if you’re big meat eaters, start by eating a vegetarian meal once a week. Or start even smaller. When I make tacos, for example, I use about half the normal serving of ground turkey and bulk up the filling with black beans. If your family is eating only refined carbs, start serving oatmeal for breakfast or baking using half white flour and half whole wheat flour.

Listen to your body. Or eat like young children. As I previously mentioned, they eat far more intuitively than we adults do. Savor an ice cream cone rather than cramming it down while you’re in the car waiting for soccer practice to be over, and don’t feel guilty about it either. Enjoy food and the fellowship that often comes with it, but don’t be afraid to leave some food behind on your plate or put your fork down before you feel like you’re going to burst out of your seams. I could probably write an entire book on learning to eat in a healthful, mindful manner, but I do address eating and how to have a more realistic and healthy attitude toward food in Weightless.

Q: What did the writing of Weightless teach you about your own life that you hope others will grasp in reading the book?

It was interesting because I wrote a lot of the book when I was at a healthy place at least in terms of my body image. When I received one of the proofs, I was pregnant with my fourth child and had been struggling to accept my softer form (and disappearing ankles!). I was at a stage of my life when things felt a little out of control, and I found myself wishing I could return to the scale to steady myself and to give myself the illusion of being in control by losing weight. Of course, the baby’s health took precedence, so I avoided stepping on the scale. Yet, I admit I was struggling. Well, when I started reading what I’d written, it was crazy because it felt like someone else had penned those words. It was as if I’d forgotten what true beauty was really about and what a sublime gift motherhood is even when it leaves you feeling bloated or just blah.

When my editor and I were working on developing a more formal book proposal, I remember telling her how I wanted this book to have something like a “Soul Food” section for women to return to again and again. I didn’t want the book the be read and forgotten because I think that in the society we live in where beauty (as defined by People magazine), thinness, and youth are exalted, it’s so easy to forget that we are God’s handiwork and don’t have to buy into any of that junk.

Writing the book was another form of therapy for me. Really. It reminded me to hold onto the truths of my faith and to enjoy food without guilt or without allowing what I’d eaten (or hadn’t eaten) to control me or my moods. It reminded me how important it is to hand our anxieties over our bodies, what we eat, what the scale says, and anything we’re stressed out about over to God.

I know a lot of women probably don’t share the same struggles I did (or do), but that many of us are not happy with some aspect of our looks, or maybe we’re chronically on a diet, or maybe we hate that we feel younger than we look. What can we do to combat these negative feelings? What can we do to raise girls to be strong, balanced women who exercise to give God glory rather than to look like supermodels? While I don’t have all the answers to these tough questions, writing Weightless most definitely helped me to continue in the right direction toward wholeness and accepting myself. I pray it will do the same for at least a few readers out there as well.

Q: Are there any additional thoughts or comments you would like to share with our readers?

No, I’ve rambled on too long already. I do just want to thank you, Lisa, and all Catholic Mom readers for your support and prayers. I really do feel “weightless” at this beautiful, fruitful stage of my life!

Order Weightless and support CatholicMom.com with your purchase:

 

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About Author

Lisa M. Hendey is the founder and editor of CatholicMom.com and the bestselling author of the Chime Travelers children's fiction series, The Grace of Yes, The Handbook for Catholic Moms and A Book of Saints for Catholic Moms. As a board member and frequent host on KNXT Catholic Television, Lisa has produced and hosted multiple programs and has appeared on EWTN and CatholicTV. Hendey hosted “Catholic Moments” on Radio Maria and is the technology contributor for EWTN’s SonRise Morning Show. Lisa's articles have appeared in Catholic Digest, National Catholic Register, and Our Sunday Visitor. Hendey travels internationally giving workshops on faith, family, and Catholic technology and communications topics. She was selected as an Elizabeth Egan Journalism Fellow, attended the Vatican Bloggers Meeting, the “Bishops and Bloggers” meeting and has written internationally on the work of Catholic Relief Services and Unbound. Hendey lives with her family in the Archdiocese of Los Angeles. Visit Lisa at www.LisaHendey.com for information on her speaking schedule or to invite her to visit your group, parish or organization.

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