by Garrett McGowan
At Mount Angel Seminary, seminarian Kurt Zelkie from the Archdiocese of Portland in Oregon has decided to fight obesity here on the hilltop. Kurt, a former army medic, has started a weight loss group at the seminary called “He Must Increase, But I Must Decrease,” for which he won the seminary’s Saint Michael the Archangel Award this year. The Saint Michael the Archangel Award is given to a member of the seminary community who establishes something new for the benefit of the seminary.
The main focus of this group is to get seminarians to change their lifestyle, to change what they eat, and to also get into an exercise routine. Members write out a plan on how they will lose weight and hand it in to Kurt to help them with their routines. Weekly meetings are held every Friday afternoon. Seminarians step on the scale and record their weight in a logbook as soon as they get in. Kurt does blood pressure tests and blood glucose tests. There is a tape measure available to check waist sizes.
At the meetings, discussions are held on weight loss tips. Kurt shares information on food and diets, and other seminarians are welcome to share information. Kurt said, “If God made it, eat lots of it; if man made it, eat less.” Some of the members have already lost over twenty pounds with the help of the new group.
The seminarians hold each other accountable by sitting together at meals and looking at one another’s plates. If something doesn’t look good the member will be told to rethink his decision. Chad Hill from the Archdiocese of Seattle said, “One of the main focuses of the group is making a lifestyle change, not just going on a diet. This is so that you won’t just lose the weight and then gain it back when you go off the diet."
There are no requirements to join the group; anyone is welcome. This is not just a group for those who need to lose weight; it is also for those who may be thin and yet have diabetes or high cholesterol. If there is a health problem caused by certain foods, this group is dedicated to helping seminarians get on the right track.