Lindsay Fullerman, founder of Fit From Faith, shared her story about becoming fit in mind, body and spirit with the First Friday Club of Cleveland during its Jan. 6 lunchtime program. Her topic was “The Catholic Call the Health.”
“God gifted us with our bodies,” she said, acknowledging that many people – including herself – struggle with body image and their identity. Her struggle continued until she realized that wellness involves an integrated approach to health focusing on the whole person.
Her struggle began in middle school, and after several years, Fullerman said she sought help from the Church, appealing to a priest in search of a Catholic resource. “There was nothing,” she said. “I wanted more than just a prayer.”
Her disappointment led to a commitment to develop a tangible resource showing God’s role in health and wellness.
“Few of us talk to God about our health, but he wants to hear about it,” she said. “We all want to be healthy. We have an innate desire for it.”
Fullerman said Fit From Faith is meant to inspire everyone – Catholic seminarians, priests, religious and lay people – to achieve personal wellness transformations in mind, body and soul. She works with seminarians at Borromeo and Saint Mary seminaries and offers sessions for men and women. Pope St. John Paul II, one of her favorite saints, is the patron saint of the program. She said he talked about how he urged people not to be afraid of the truth of who they are.
“We are chosen. We are called to be a great gift to all,” she said, adding we also should turn to the Lord for answers about who we are.
She asked attendees to think about whether they are connected to their body. In earlier times, there was a separation of body and spirit, which changed over time, she explained. Theology of the Body looks at the physical aspects of wellness and reminds us to look at our bodies with wonder and awe because our body is a gift, she said.
In Genesis, Fullerman said God created man in his image and noted “he is very good.”
She also explained that when we reject our body – a gift from God – we reject God. “God wants us to recognize the good and to be in awe,” she added. “We can’t leave God out of the plan to be healthy. He is an important part of it.
On the flip side, Fullerman said the enemy (devil) doesn’t want us to feel good. “He’s under attack when I care for my body. Health, wealth and order come from God, vs death, disease and disorder,” she added.
Fullerman said our bodies are theological. “We are like walking sacraments and our bodies are an icon pointing to a greater reality – God. We must stay rooted in the truth of who we are. The Word was made flesh in Scripture,” she said, noting the incarnation means that God took on flesh. She asked the group to consider what Jesus’ physical appearance might have been, pointing out he walked a great deal and was a carpenter by trade, so he did physical work.
“Christ teaches us to model healthy living,” she said.
Healing also was central to Jesus, she noted, citing stories in the Bible like the paralyzed man who was lowered through the roof of a building to Jesus, who healed him. However, before healing his body, Jesus told the man his sins were forgiven. “He heals spiritually, then physically,” she said.
Fullerman said she could help people lose weight, but unless they achieve inner healing, they likely will regain the weight. We need to examine the ways we were raised and how we learned to eat, she said, in order to understand and change things.
Virtuous living matters, she said, as do habits. The more you do something, the more it becomes a part of you.
“Catechism teaches that body and soul are one. Jesus teaches us to flourish in both body and spirit but don’t forget that he was human, too,” she said.
When adopting a diet/exercise plan, Fullerman said it’s important to take a hard look to determine if it’s “slavery or freedom leading to flourishing. We must be in dialogue with the Lord,” she added. “Moderation and virtue are good; excess is bad.”
Fullerman said we have freedom for excellence and the Church calls us to that, disciplining ourselves with healthy habits. It’s best to focus on one thing at a time, mastering one habit or making one small change before moving on. That one small change leads to a healthier lifestyle.
She outlined a process of discipline/consistency, growth in virtue (ease) and maturity in freedom (joy). “The process must look like the cross. You may need to start over more than once and it will be hard, but Jesus is there to help,” she said, explaining that this process is an encounter with the Lord. We should ask God to help us see ourselves the way he does and to honor what God is communicating to us about ourselves, Fullerman said, reinforcing that the desire for healthier living is in each of us.
Click here for more information on Fit From Faith.
The 62nd annual Bishop’s Luncheon begins with registration at 11:15 a.m., lunch and speaker at noon at Windows on the River, FirstEnergy Powerhouse, 2000 Sycamore St., Cleveland. Bishop Edward Malesic is the keynote speaker and Auxiliary Bishop emeritus Roger Gries will receive the First Friday Club’s inaugural Heart of a Servant Award in recognition of his many years of service to the club. Click here for reservations – at $30 each – and more information on the program.