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Catholic Wellness Book – In Progress!!

April 10, 2015

I mentioned this book idea several years ago. It’s always been on my mind, I just haven’t been very proactive with it…. Then the Holy Spirit sent me a little message to get cracking on it, and so it’s rolling. Here I’d like to present the opening chapter; the focus of the book. I’m not sure when it will be completed, but it is my primary focus these days. Comments are welcome! (Disclaimer – This article isn’t medical advice, nor a substitute for consulting with your medical practitioner.)

Do you reflect and ponder on your intended actions or do you just jump in head first? Does it depend on the action? There is a lot to think about and do to become healthy. It is a lifetime activity! It’s a mindset. It’s a way of life. And as with all activities, we need to build up to them. We can’t start at the end and we definitely can’t do all of the steps at once, that is a recipe for disaster.

We’ve all tried various diets and programs to get healthy and lose weight, but most of the time we end up going back to our old ways and our efforts were for naught. What we really need is to discover a new way of living. But I’m comfortable right now you might say. Are you really? We need to shake things up. We are a work in progress. Jesus came into the world not to affirm what the people of that day were doing, but rather, to go against the status quo. We, too, must go against the status quo, in our diet and lifestyle, in our mindset, in our spiritual journey. We need to break our complacent attitude! We don’t want to be stagnant like scummy pond water! We need to refresh ourselves; body, mind and soul!

We train and take classes for our job. We do maintenance on our cars and houses. We practice our tennis serve or golf swing. We spend time building relationships with the people around us. But how much time do we really spend nurturing our body, mind, and soul? The unit, our wholeness, our completeness. Like I always tell my dad, who’s on dialysis, he’s more than a kidney. We are much more than just our parts, and we are more than just physical parts.

We are physical and spiritual beings. We are in the world but not of the world. We are rational beings, unlike our animal brothers and sisters who live by instinct. We have to be reasonable in our decisions and actions and not just go with the flow, otherwise we might just get washed away. Our mind, body and soul are usually treated as separate entities. We feed our bodies and exercise. We study and work to use our minds. And we go to church on Sunday to nourish our soul. But really they are all interconnected.

If you’re stressed at work or home, you might be drawn to overeating to help deal with your problems. If you eat too much junk food, it can aggravate your mental state and make you hyper or lethargic. If you get too sick it can make you disinterested in attending church or praying. If you dabble in the occult it can drag your whole person down such that you wonder what’s wrong with you. We’re a tightly coupled being. We need to be totally holistic in our care of self. And since our potential or actual health problems can get so wound up in layers of twisted illnesses it is best to start out at the beginning and take baby steps to a new way of living. Yes, it just might be time to reinvent the wheel. The old wheel is broken. The treads are bare, the lug nuts are stripped or lost, and the car needs a front end alignment. We really want to have a smooth ride, but the old wheels keep jerking us around.

We aren’t cars though. We can’t just get a new set of tires and a front end alignment and be back in business. We need to start slow, take those baby steps. Take preliminary actions and reflect on what we are doing and what we should be doing and consider why we do what we do and why we might not want to change our ways. Our ways are set by our belief systems. Yes, religious beliefs, but also beliefs about what we think sickness and health is, beliefs about the integratedness of all of our life’s activities, beliefs about our interactions with others, and on and on. Our beliefs drive our choices and actions. What is it that we are doing and do we like it? If we don’t like it, then something has to change. And you can change it!

Before you get into the reflections and actions that follow, take a moment and document where you are at today. Get a journal or a notebook and just start writing. What is it about your life that attracted you to this book in the first place? What are you hoping to learn? Then write about everything else in your life right now. Your aches and pains, your hopes and joys, your concerns, your body appearance: thin and trim or fat and puffy. Do you have puffy eyes or blotchy skin, do your nails have ridges, is your skin dry and itchy, do you have flutterings or allergies. What foods do you usually eat, how much water do you drink? What about your attitude? Write about your anxieties, sadness, worries, accomplishments. How much do you laugh? How do you relate to your family and friends, your coworkers, strangers in the grocery store? What irritates you, what gives you joy, who do you admire, what do you want to change? What’s on your mind lately? What is your religious practice, do you attend church, pray privately, volunteer? What are your perceptions of food and life choices and how have they changed over time. This is a snap shot of you today, before you embark on this journey to wellness. Keep this journal handy. You’re going to regularly update it as you progress through your journey. Keep track of the reflections and actions that you try. How long did you do them, how are they working for you, how do you like them, are they growing on you? Will you have slip-ups? Probably. That’s okay. We’re human. We were all born with original sin. We fall. Getting back up is the key. We need to look for help. Don’t try to do it all alone.

Next, as you work your way through this book, don’t make it a marathon. And don’t discard it because one reflection or action just doesn’t sit right with you. You may not be ready for it, or it just might not be for you. Some things may need to ferment in your subconscious for a while, come back to them when you are ready. If something is “duh!”, then skip over it. Take your time. Know that we are all unique individuals. If you and a friend do this book together, know that at the get-go you will each gravitate to different things and make different progress. That’s okay! The world is a very diverse place for the diversity of its inhabitants. That’s why there are so many different diet options, so many different house styles, so many different spiritualities in the Church. Our bodies respond differently to the same things, our experiences make us cope with life differently. You need to find what’s right for you, and you can’t know what’s right for you unless you try different things. Yes, everybody needs to eat more vegetables, so get that one out of your head! Work through this book with a friend if you want to, but do not compare your progress to theirs. Your person will react in a different way and order than theirs. Be at peace with your progress.

Reflect and act at a steady pace. If you need to back track that’s fine too. This whole exercise is about reinventing yourself as you journey to wellness. Again, it’s not just physical wellness, but a holistic wellness, all of you: body, mind and soul. You may say I only need to lose weight. Okay. But you’ll be surprised as you move along and realize that being overweight goes deeper than the roll on your belly. Similar, but different, I remember the first time I went to see a chiropractor. My research told me that my diagnosed atrial fibrillation could be maintained/corrected by spinal adjustments instead of high blood pressure pills, which I didn’t want to take. I discovered that my whole spine was out of whack. I was under the false impression that I had good posture, when in fact I was downright crooked. Overtime I felt myself getting taller as the compressions were relaxed and the tilts were straightened! Compressions in all aspects of our life happen slowly over time and they become our “normal”. We need to discover our true normal.

And remember the journey part. This isn’t a marathon in more ways than one. It’s not about who gets there first, or even the finish line, it’s about the journey and staying on the narrow path. If our wellness journey ends, either we give up and fall back to illness or we die.

This journey won’t be easy. It may be unpleasant at times. But when you get that first, wow, this is how I should feel moment, it makes it all worthwhile! When you see that you can get rid of your puffy eyelids without surgery, there is great joy. Typically we just eat what’s in front of us because that is what we’re used to, all the while we’re miserable, either consciously or subconsciously. We don’t want to be miserable anymore! Are we striving for perfection? Of course! Will we get to perfection? Probably not. But whatever we do achieve is much better than where we were at. Does all this cautionary text make you want to say why bother? I’m sorry if it does. It’s not meant to. I just don’t want you do think there are all these promises attached to the reflections and actions of the book. They require effort and persistence on your part.

They also require patience. So many diets and plans offer quick weight loss or quick this or that. Quick weight loss is quickly refound. Let us progress through these steps slowly. One a day may sound reasonable, but two or three per week is better. You have to get used to the idea and the living with it. Too much at once and you’ll just throw in the towel. Give yourself time. Personally, I read about this stuff for years, my brain became immersed in it. I convinced myself that it would be good for me, and then I tried this and that. It was still difficult staying on the wagon, but I was convinced that I needed to get back on. Try a few steps per week, okay?

All we need is time, patience, persistence, an open mind, and a willingness to change. You have all that, right?! So. Are you ready?! It’ll all be worth it! Come on!!

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