For years, people have been asking me for advice on how to pray, what to eat, what to read, how to exercise, etc. So, to make it easy, I thought I’d put a list together. I’ll keep adding to it as time goes on.
Here are some ideas and resources for you to try:
As I’m typing these words, we are in the midst of a world-wide pandemic, and it sounds like it will be with us for some time to come. As the news reports began to speak about the seriousness of COVID-19, a common theme kept coming up. The majority of those who became seriously ill or died of the virus had a “underlying health issue.” Guess what? Those issues were, for the most part, the chronic illnesses I have been writing about since I began this website. We’re told by experts that about 80% of all chronic illnesses are caused by lifestyle choices. I could go on and on… But for now, here’s some resources for those who need to make changes NOW:
Obesity- While I was in the midst of writing my dissertation, my doctoral reader was pouring over Jason Fung’s book The Obesity Code. At the time, Fung’s work was controversial and I was concerned that emphasizing his work would shift the focus on where I wanted my audience to go. Now, Fung’s work is more mainstream, mainly because the methods he proposes, although difficult, work. His more recent book is The Diabetes Code. If you are dealing with either of these to health issues, or both (a lot of people are in this boat), then get these books. Dr. Fung also has some great you tube videos which present his work in an accessible way.
Diabetes- Right after I received my diagnosis of Type II diabetes, I began a desperate search for resources. The first book I bought was Dr. Neal Barnard’s Program For Reversing Diabetes.
When the book arrived, I immediately got into it. And then… Vegan. Yes, Dr. Barnard, along with many others, promotes going vegan in order to reverse diabetes. I quickly pushed the book aside, since I had no desire to give up meat/dairy/cheese. But after a few months of struggle, I decided to try it for a time. And within weeks, the weight started to come off and my glucose levels began to normalize. If you are really trying to reverse diabetes without drugs, read this book.
Taking Control of Your Diabetes is written by Dr. Steven Edelman, a diabetic himself. His book follows contemporary thought regarding diabetes care, but he places a great emphasis, hence the title, on the need for you to get this life-limiting disease under control. We have to take responsibility for our health!
When I was moving towards the ten year anniversary of my diabetes diagnosis, I felt like needed to find a doctor who really knows this disease, someone who could assess where I was and help set me on a path of diabetes control in the years to come. I found Dr. Thomas Donner from Johns Hopkins to be one of the best physicians I’ve ever met. He co-authored a really insightful book, Diabetes Head To Toe.
As you’ve probably already gathered from other pages on this site, My prayer is rooted in Catholic practices and Ignatian Spirituality.
Basic Catholic Prayers:
The Catholic Prayer Book by William Buckley
Loyola Press’ Ignatian Spirituality website is loaded with great content. It’s a perfect place to start learning the many aspects of this 500 year old way of praying and relating to God.
Books to check out:
The Pilgrim’s Journey– The Autobiography of St. Ignatius of Loyola.
What Is Ignatian Spirituality? by David Fleming, SJ. This was one of the first books I read when I began learning about the spirituality which flowed out of the lived experience of St. Ignatius. A wonderful primer and an easy read.
Draw Me Into Your Friendship– by David Fleming, SJ. The Spiritual Exercise of St. Ignatius originated from his written notes documenting his own conversion experience, and he shared these notes with others. The Spiritual Exercises are not meant to be done by a person just reading through them. They are meant to be shared with a retreatant by a knowledgeable guide/director/companion. In this edition of the Spiritual Exercises, Fr. Fleming gives both a literal translation and a contemporary reading. He notes in the preface that this book represents his “attempt to find a way of reading that easily allows us to enter the Ignatian text and let God take over.” I still have an use my copy, given to me in 2009 by the person who took me through the Exercises. Tattered, marked up, and well worn, its a constant companion.
Ignatius of Loyola– The Spiritual Exercises and Selected Works- Edited by George Ganss, SJ. Fr. Ganss was one of the great Ignatian scholars of the 20th century.
Inner Compass– This book, written by Margaret Silf, was what I took with me on my first Ignatian retreat. When it was first published, Publisher Weekly called it “a hauntingly gorgeous quilt of meditation on prayer.” I read and re-read my copy throughout the early days of my own spiritual transformation.
Always Discerning: An Ignatian Spirituality for the New Millennium– by Joseph Tetlow, SJ. Discernment is one of the key spiritual practices flowing from Ignatian Spirituality. Humans have been discerning from the beginning, but we don’t always do it right. Over the last few years, I’ve had the blessing to attend some of Fr. Tetlow’s conferences. He’s the real deal, and a true master in the ways of St. Ignatius.
The Examen Prayer– by Timothy Gallagher, OMV. Fr. Gallagher has written a number of books on practices drawn from Ignatian Spirituality, all of which you can find on Amazon. This book on the Examen will be helpful to anyone who wants to enrich their prayer life. Using daily self reflection as a method of recognizing God’s presence in our lives, the Examen prayer begins with gratitude. We are blessed in so many ways, even in difficult situations and spiritually dry seasons. The Examen reminds us that no matter what happened in my life today, good or bad, tomorrow allows for a fresh start.
In the summer of 2019, I met with a nutritionist at the Johns Hopkins Diabetes Center. After a lengthy and wide-ranging conversation, he suggested I move to a keto diet. Basically, a Ketogenic diet is a low-carb, high fat diet. I was a bit skeptical at first, but then I came across something remarkable and it helped convince me to give it a try. Way back in the late 1800’s, one of the founding doctors of Johns Hopkins Hospital recommended a low carb diet to people with diabetes. Dr. William Osler called diabetes a “disorder of nutrition” and immediately removed most carbs from his patient’s diets. Remember, at this time there were no medicines created yet to treat this illness.
So, I tied what my nutritionist said to what Dr. Osler wrote, and I began looking for resources. When I began implementing the diet, the results were amazing. I’ve lost quite a bit of weight and my glucose numbers have normalized. Here are a few resources which might help you in your own search.
The Complete Ketogenic Diet for Beginners by Amy Ramos.
Keto Diet for Dummies by Rami and Vicky Abrams
Beyond Simply Keto by Suzanne Ryan
Prayer Walking: A Simple Path to Body and Soul Fitness by Linus Mundy. Sadly, you can only get this book used, but copies are cheap and I highly recommend it for your library. I use Mundy’s methods found in this book when I do walking exercises for my retreat groups. It fits so well with St. Ignatius’s concept of “finding God in all things.”
Walking the Walk: Getting Fit with Faith A thirty-day, faith based walking program by the world’s #1 Walking Expert Leslie Sansone
Walking: A Complete Guide to the Complete Exercise by Casey Meyers. Another older book, but well worth a read. Just about everyone can begin a walking routine (after checking with your doctor first!).