AND WELLNESS TEAM
Loving God with Your Body: Q&A with Mary Cay Oyler
BY HOPEANDHEALING.ORG EDITORS
Mary Cay Oyler, manager of Wellness Education and Nutrition Programs at the Church Health Center in Memphis, Tenn., talked with HopeandHealing.org about the role faith can play in personal health. Ms. Oyler holds a degree in Education with a concentration in Fitness Management and has worked in different capacities of wellness including, commercial fitness, hospital prevention and wellness and community programming. She belongs to Our Lady of Perpetual Help Catholic Church in Germantown, Tenn.
How is being a healthy person connected to being a faithful person or vice versa?
Taking care of the body God gave you is very important. A lot of times -- aesthetically -- we think our body might not look the way we want. But we have wonderful, magnificent bodies that God has given us that we can do wonderful things with. When we take care of that body, we feel healthy and strong. Our body works for us. We’re able to get more done and to serve God for our purpose of being here. You can’t separate the body and spirit. Our physical side affects our spiritual side and mental side, too.
We hear a lot about people using food, alcohol, or other unhealthy behaviors as a way to cope. I relate that to worshipping false gods. When we turn to unhealthy things to deal with our emotions or stress, it’s like honoring a false god. We’re all broken in some respect. We need to cope by praying, by practicing healthy behaviors, and by taking a day of rest when we need it. God even took a day of rest. We are taking care of God-given bodies by getting the sleep that we need, by eating in moderation, and by exercising.
How do you balance inspiring people without making them feel guilty for who they are or for the habits or behaviors that they have acquired?
A lot of times people feel like they are being punished. They think: “I contracted a disease because I’m being punished” or “I have diabetes because I’m being punished.” There’s also the mindset: “If God wants me to be healthy, then God will take care of me.” A lot of people feel that they don’t have a part in the outcome.
In our classes, we often tell the story about a person stranded in a flood. The person goes out on their roof to meet someone on a boat who says, “I’m here to save you.” The person says, “No, God’s going to save me.” Then, someone else comes by on a helicopter and says, “Hop in, we’re lowering the rope, get in,” and the person says, “No, I’m fine. God’s going to save me.” The flood gets higher and goes over the roof. The person dies and goes to heaven. The person asks God why he wasn’t there for them, and he says he was there in a boat and in a helicopter.
In our classes, we try to convey that help is there. But it’s the decision of each individual to practice good health behaviors and make changes and live healthier lives.
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