Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Prosper, Be In Health (The Mind-Body and God Connection)

Scripture tells us we are the Temple of the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 3:16). Furthermore, God desires we “prosper and be in health, even as our soul prospers” (3 John 1:2). So, the importance of the mind-body connection is right there from the start.

With that said, however, taking care of our souls and our temples, seems to be one of the greatest challenges, especially for those of us who struggle with food, weight, body image and exercise issues.

In my book, “Thin Enough: My Spiritual Journey Through the Living Death of an Eating Disorder,” I chronicle my struggles with disordered eating and harmful mindsets, including anorexia, bulimia and binge eating. I viewed food and exercise through dangerous extremes. I either ate nothing or everything; I either did no exercise whatsoever or I punished myself with six grueling hours of it every day. There was no moderation, no healthy approach, just torment, fear, guilt, desperation and hopelessness.

Years later, into my recovery, my challenge, therefore, has been to live a healthy lifestyle. So, besides my Christian faith and ongoing recovery, part of my process has been to study of the mind-body connection concerning the eating disorder issue. And that’s led me to research which indicates there may actually be an “eating disorder brain.”

Scientifically, eating disorders are classified as a mental illness. It’s not just about the physical body. There does seem to be a mind-body connection- or disruption- when it comes to disordered eating.

Recent studies show how, in some individuals, serotonin (the neurotransmitter which is vital in appetite regulation, mood and impulse control) cannot effectively bind to certain brain receptors, creating an environment for disordered eating patterns to thrive. (1)

In certain individuals, therefore, a predisposition to disordered eating could exist, perhaps, even resembling that of a predisposition to addictions, certain cancers or heart disease.

Furthermore, disordered eating issues are not a vanity or a teenage girl thing. In fact, statistics show both genders are affected.

“It is estimated that 8 million Americans have an eating disorder – seven million women and one million men.” (2)

That’s disturbing enough. But, again, looking at it from a mental illness vantage point, the stakes of eating disorders, left untreated, are life and death matters.

“Eating disorders have the highest mortality rate of any mental illness.”

“20% of people suffering from anorexia will prematurely die from complications related to their eating disorder, including suicide and heart problems.” (2)

Looking at the “eating disorder brain” is critical. But it’s only one aspect of mind-body health. Indeed, we also need to look at the body.

Recently, I met a vibrant personal trainer, DJ White. We had the chance to briefly speak about her approach to health, food and fitness. Since she operates from a Christian perspective in her training, I, therefore, thought her advice on this challenging body issue could be of tremendous benefit. No one, unfortunately, is immune from unhealthy self-image, food and exercise issues. We could all use some help here.

Therefore, I asked DJ a few questions. She was most gracious with her responses.

SC: What made you decide to become a personal trainer?

DJW: I originally went to college to become a physical therapist.  A severe allergic reaction to physics landed me in a computer class that was easy.  Long story short, after 8 years of corporate America, I realized that being active was something I loved! I became certified and left corporate America to support the health and wellness of those who chose or had to stay in that environment.

SC: What Christian faith principles do you incorporate with your clients concerning their fitness programs?

DJW: The name of my business is P & P Journey’s, LLC.  P & P stands for Personal and Professional Journey’s.  The logo has a diamond in the rough (soil) with three leaves representing mind, body, and spirit.  As spirit beings trying to master the human experience, I include nutrition, activity, and leisure in my training with my clients.  In connecting these areas the spirit gets the attention it needs to heal, grow, and contribute in the way God intended.

SC: What advice do you give to someone who wants a Godly, effective fitness regimen?

DJW: I encourage my clients to pray and/or meditate, with study in the morning along with their exercise routine and proper nutrition to energize the body.  Before they begin their day “in the world,” they have done the following:  1) given thanks and gratitude, 2) created a space for greater wisdom, 3) engaged their physical body in a manner that encourages and connects physical and mental strength and discipline, 4) and they have given it the nutrients to fuel them for the day.  They have succeeded in taking care of themselves so they can now fulfill their role and purpose in the world.

SC: What advice do you have for those of us who have struggled with disordered eating and/or food or exercise addictions?

DJW: In scripture when you read about your Temple, you gain the awareness, knowledge, wisdom, and peace that this earthly vessel is on loan for you to fulfill your purpose.  Holding tight to these scriptures can and will see you through these challenges.

SC: What motivates you in your own health/fitness choices?

DJW: The absence of dis-ease motivates me.  My family history of different cancers over three generations was a cycle I declared would end.  My practice is my commitment.

SC: What advice would you give to someone concerning the temptation issue?

DJW: Every time you are tempted 1) acknowledge it, 2) make a CONSCIOUS CHOICE to overcome it  3) acknowledge the benefits of your choice, 4) once that choice is made take swift action,      5) Celebrate the choice, be responsible and accountable for it. This is definitely more challenging acting on the temptation, yet if you REALLY REWARD YOUR SUCCESS, you can do it!

SC: What would you tell someone who wishes to embark upon a healthier lifestyle?

DJW: Practice breathing from you diaphragm and listen to your body.  Body awareness must be a priority for success.  Your body will tell you what it needs if you listen to it.  Use warm and cold or what feels good and not so good (I don’t use the word bad).  Your body (spirit) will ALWAYS TELL YOU.  I tell my clients, I am the expert on how the body works.  They are the experts of their body.

SC: What would you tell someone who has had setbacks in their pursuit of a healthier lifestyle?

DJW: Every day is a new day.  You are ALIVE!  Celebrate that and begin!  It’s not beginning again.  Just begin.  Have the best day today, then repeat that when you awaken.  It will become a habit sooner than you realize!

SC: What would you tell someone who believes it’s “too late?”

DJW: It’s never too late.  I became a personal trainer at 33 and did my first body building show at 35 years old!  My role model is 73 and she still competes and practices a healthy lifestyle.  Just BEGIN!
Indeed, beginning our awareness of the mind-body connection is critical concerning eating disorders, food, weight and body image issues. God, however, has not desired for us to merely stop there; He wants us to thrive as well.

“Beloved, I wish above all things that thou mayest prosper and be in health, even as thy soul prospereth.”

3 John 1:2

Therefore, let’s have respect and acceptance for that truth! Let’s prosper and be in health when it comes to both our minds and our bodies!

Citations Listed:

(1)   “Alterations In Brain Activity Linked To Bulimia” 4 Therapy, http://www.4therapy.com/news/also-news/alterations-brain-activity-linked-bulimia-2387)

(2)    South Carolina Department of Mental Health, www.state.sc.us/dmh


DJ White’s credentials listed as follows:

National Strength and Conditioning Certified Personal Training Certification, CHEK Corrective Exercise Specialist, CHEK Level 1 Practitioner, and CHEK Certified Golf Biomechanic.   Athletic Performance Inc. Caveman Training, TRX Suspension and Group Training Certification along with the Wellness Coaching Program with Wellcoaches and Level I Peak Pilates Instructor.


Professional recognition has included:


Ebony Magazines ‘Speaking of People’ feature in July, 1991; 1990-1991 Inaugural Mondale Policy Fellow at the Hubert Humphrey Institute; Hostess to Maya Angelou at the Honeywell Women’s Leadership Conference 1991; Chairperson of the Honeywell Women’s Council, 1990-1991; numerous Most Valuable Trainer Awards at Life Time Fitness and speaking/workshop engagements:


KARE 11, and FOX 9 NEWS  in Minneapolis/St. Paul, Minnesota, the Minnesota Spokesman Recorder and Black Twin Cities Magazine and closing speaker of Baraza! A Black Woman’s Health Gathering! October, 2012.


D J White
CEO, P & P Journeys, LLC
"Where fitness on the outside begins on the inside.  We make people feel good."

DJ White’s Blog:  http://debradjwhite.com

Copyright © 2016 by Sheryle Cruse


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