Catholic Health and Wellness

The path to Hell is paved with good intentions. I don’t get that. It seems to me that good intentions ought to be worth more than a ticket to Hell.

Having said that, I definitely get that the good intentions I have for any number of things can always be a hellish path.

Exercise comes immediately to mind. As does dieting and just keeping fit and well at 53 years old. I am filled with good intentions, but turning those passive good intentions into successful achievements is another story.

I suppose this also falls under the Scriptural category of the-spirit-is-willing-but-the-flesh-is-weak. So maybe the whole path-to-Hell-is-paved-with-good-intentions does make more sense than I am willing to admit.

Either way, I have come to realize that while the initial good intention is a necessary first step to health and wellness, a viable course of action must accompany it—preferably something not too painful, boring, or time-consuming.

My goal this year has been to find the right-for-me, realistic balance of health and wellness while accommodating the real demands on my life as a wife, mother, author and speaker—all the while making my spiritual life a top priority.

I know, I know, I don’t want much, right?!

My efforts towards this goal actually began at Lent when I gave up Facebook in an effort to give more time to God and to my own journey towards Heaven. I never went back to Facebook—or any of the other online social outlets that had begun to take up too much of my time. I pretty much stopped writing articles and even put a book I was writing on hold.

I needed to get a handle on things. Big time.

Since then, I have continued to use the time I once gave to online activities to the things that now contribute to my newfound wholeness.

The time away from it all allowed me to sort through what I needed and wanted in terms of my spiritual and physical well-being. I was able to set priorities and developed a spiritual life that has really blessed me. I found a spiritual director and attended a retreat where I learned about Ignatius discernment. Ultimately, and not coincidentally, this all slowly turned my good intentions into a reality.

Maybe that is the key to success: taking the time necessary to pray and discern and truly understand who you are as a person created in the image and likeness of God—and how to tend to that unique person in the physical and spiritual sense.

With the New Year fast approaching, many people will begin making resolutions with good intentions. To help turn those good intentions into reality—and not become a path to Hell—I wanted to share some valuable resources that truly address the wholeness and holiness we all seek…

Kate Wicker is a delightful young mom whose writing I have always enjoyed. She has a nice balance of wit and reality—of reverence and candor. Kate has a new book out titled Weightless: Making Peace With Your BodyWeightless  is the sort of book that should be on every woman’s nightstand. And I don’t say that lightly (pun intended); I promise there are passages in it that will be highlighted and will be returned to frequently! Although  begins with the oft-trotted-out warning about media messages — and maybe rightfully so — Kate really hits her stride in the chapters that follow.

(I know many women whose bad body images have nothing to do with media messages but was very much affected by things said to them while they were young; so while I can understand the influence of media messages, I really would like to see someone explore more in-depth how susceptible young girls are to ALL messages. I believe in Wicker’s capable hands, this could be an issue more fully explored and understood. My own interest in helping girls “vaccinate” themselves against bad body image at a young age is behind my work on the tween book Mirror, Mirror on the Wall…What is Beauty, After All?)

I absolutely loved when Wicker wrote about why we exercise; her insight and wisdom here is worth the price of the book. I also found her encouragement to see ourselves through the eyes of our family as truly words we ought to take to heart. They jumped off the page at me. Wicker’s Weightless combines just enough real-world statistics with Scripture to make it the ideal sort of book to be a background to whatever health and wellness you seek as a Catholic.

This is why Weightless is first on my list of resources; Weightless is a book that women should give themselves and give their friends. Now, since I know that most women would worry about why their friend has given them such a book—but because I also think this book should be a gift given to every Sister-in-the-Lord—I ask that if you receive the book, you receive it with the spirit in which it was given—love! I highly recommend Weightless as the foundational piece for the health and exercise program you seek as a Christian woman.

The next two books I recommend are actually listed in Wicker’s Weightless book: The Rosary Workout by Peggy Bowes and Fit for Eternal Life by Kevin Vost. Working with Peggy on her book a few years ago, I truly began to see how my Catholic faith and my interest in physical health could be combined. Peggy is one of the most interesting women I have ever met and her understanding of wholeness and holiness is something I truly admire. Her book, The Rosary Workout, isn’t just about walking and saying the Rosary. Bowes’ book is about understanding the ways in which our bodies work—and when they are working well how we can more fully live out our vocations. Bowes flew planes for the Air Force and is a certified health and fitness instructor. Her knowledge of health and passion for her Catholic faith are beautifully shared in The Rosary Workout.

When I first read Fit for Eternal Life a couple of years ago, I was taken by Vost’s ability to draw from Scripture while explaining how to get the most out of my strength training. I found his book to be the perfect complement to the aerobic training I was being introduced to in The Rosary Workout. Since then I’ve been able to combine the two into what has become my routine. More importantly, each day, because of the works of Vost and Bowes, I am able to view my body in a more wholesome and holy way.

Since the work of Vost and Bowes became so important to me, I invited them to write a devotional—which they did and which it has been my delight to publish! Kevin Vost and Peggy Bowes teamed up with with Shane Kapler (he followed Vost’s advice in Fit for Eternal Life and lost 40 pounds!). Kapler is the author of The God Who is Love: Explaining Christianity From Its Center and is also an occasional Catholic Lane contributor. The three recently released Tending the Temple: 365 days of spiritual and physical devotions. I’ve got to admit, for a daily dose of encouragement, nothing beats what these three authors offer in Tending the Temple!

The other resource I want to mention for the Catholic health and fitness enthusiast—or the enthusiast in the making—is the book and DVD by Michael Carrera, The Catholic Workout. Like Wicker, Vost, Bowes, and Kapler, Carrera’s great passion helps us see the whole self as a temple to be cared for and whose purpose of serving God is best accomplished through its loving care. Although simply made, the DVD does offer something new for anyone seeking a Catholic bent on their exercise routine.

(I’d actually like to see some entity or production company or person with great vision to use the talents of all these excellent, knowledgeable and creative authors and explore what can be brought to bear in the way of a Catholic Health and Fitness television or radio program—or a DVD series or something!)

In the meantime, wherever the Holy Spirit is taking you in terms of your physical and spiritual journey, I am sure that you will be greatly blessed by any—or all—of these resources so that your good intentions become actions. You will be more fully equipped, with knowledge obtained through their passions and expertise, to better serve God who created you.

  (© 2011 Cheryl Dickow)

Cheryl Dickow is a Catholic wife, mother, author and speaker. Cheryl’s newest book is Miriam: Repentance and Redemption in Rome. It is the sequel to her first fiction book Elizabeth: A Holy Land Pilgrimage. Both are available in paperback, Kindle, or Nook format. Her company is Bezalel Books where her goal is to publish great Catholic books for families and classrooms that entertain while uplifting the Catholic faith and is located at www.BezalelBooks.com. To invite Cheryl to speak at your event, write her at Cheryl@BezalelBooks.com or phone her at 248.917.3865.