Growing up I was fascinated by the appearance of fitness models and always desired to look like one because they radiated strength, confidence, independence, and beauty. I was determined to do whatever it took to alter the appearance of my body through diet and exercise at the young age of sixteen.
After six years of competing in fitness model competitions it left me feeling worthless and empty. Through dieting I became obsessed with my body and found my worth in how well I placed in a show, or how I looked for a photoshoot. During this time, I also started to work as a personal trainer and strength and conditioning coach. My approach with clients was always the same – follow a nutrition plan and workout regimen. You’re sure to see results!
Over an eleven-year journey of coaching clients there was a thread that integrated each one. All of them had a desire to look better and most clients placed their worth in their physical appearance. I knew that feeling all too well. It dawned on me – clients thought they would like themselves more after reaching a certain body weight. However, when they reached their goal body weight, they were still unhappy with some aspect and would eventually return to old habits with nutrition and exercise resulting in weight gain.
I had an “Aha” moment during the Theology of the Body I: a Head and Heart Immersion Course. I was striving to look a certain way but never once stopped to realize my body as a gift nor how the Lord desired my body to look. I failed to acknowledge how sacred my body is and how it is the most precious gift. God created ME as a unique individual in His image and likeness. There is no one else like me or you in the world. We all have the capacity to share in similar emotions, but God created everyone with different physiologies. It was at this moment at TOB I realized that I could never help a client in the same way again and I needed to shift my perspective with health and wellness. I had to live by example so that I could be a sincere gift of self to my clients and help them be a sincere gift to others.
We weren’t made to follow a restrictive diet plan. Our bodies were not created for others to idolize, and the body certainly was not created for you to glorify. My body and your body were created for God, by God as an expression of His love. Our bodies are sacred temples that house the living God and fueling them nutritiously is our duty.
The Lord eventually shifted my mentality with my approach towards health and wellness from the head to heart. Thus, I created the Fit from Faith Wellness Ministry (www.fitfromfaith.com) and my journey truly began. I no longer felt called to give clients a restrictive nutrition plan and workout regimen. This new approach shifted to a permanent spirit led lifestyle transformation that integrates all parts of the human being resulting in transformation in mind (emotional wellness), body (nutrition and exercise), and spirit (relationship with the Lord) — not just body. In order to fully live as Christ calls us to, we must be balanced in mind, body, and spirit in order to be fit instruments for the Lord’s Kingdom on earth.
Through working with seminarians, clergy, and lay people I’ve come to realize that transformation in mind, body, and spirit is not easy. At the first sight of resistance, we want to run the other way and give into our flesh. Yet, if we surrender ourselves completely to the Lord and allow him to take over while moving through the resistance, we are capable of achieving a balanced lifestyle and making it a habit. We must be willing to open and receive the Lord’s grace and see our bodies as a gift no matter the current state.
Lindsay Fullerman is the Director of Athletics at Our Lady of the Elms High School in Akron, Ohio. She graduated from Kent State University with a Bachelor of Science degree in Kinesiology and also holds Strength and Conditioning and Nutrition Certifications. She is the creator of the Fit from Faith Wellness Ministry teaching clergy, seminarians, and lay people how to be fit in mind, body, and spirit. When not working, you can find Lindsay at St. Mary Seminary in Wickliffe, Ohio where she is working on her Masters of Arts degree in Theology, or in the gym lifting weights and working up a good sweat.