Daniella Palmiotto ’13 J.D. – Originally Published in the University of Notre Dame Trailblazer Series
There are two parts to the story of how God has transformed my life. The first part has been allowing Jesus to heal me. The second part has been for me to accept my brokenness as a place where I can find and live the mission that God has given to me. This transformation is a lifelong process and requires me to wake up each day and to dedicate my thoughts, actions, and words to Jesus and Mary.
I’m a perfectionist, and I struggle with the desire to control the circumstances in my life. As the oldest of five children and the only girl, I felt a lot of pressure to do everything right and to excel. Some of the pressure came from family and some of it was self-imposed. This desire for control transformed into an eating disorder.
In my quest for validation and self-worth, I demanded perfection from myself, and I projected this expectation on my eating patterns. Food and my body became a fixation in my mind—food was a reward and a friend, but it was also my enemy. By God’s grace and providence, I realized there is more for me than low self-esteem and an unhealthy relationship with food.
Last year, I discovered SoulCore, which combines the Rosary with physical movement. The focus is on the prayers of the rosary, specifically meditating on the virtues of each Mysteries, so we fill our minds with the lives of Jesus and Mary and pray for an increase of those virtues in our own hearts. The physical movement is intended to enhance the prayer experience by uniting body and soul in prayer.
By combining meditation on the Rosary with exercise, I have experienced so much inner peace and a greater understanding of how virtue leads to freedom. My prayer every day is for an increase in the virtues of temperance, moderation, and self-control, and it has led to freedom from obsessing over my body and food.
The Lord has redeemed the brokenness in my heart so that I can see food for what it is—a blessing and a gift from a good Father. It is not meant to control my mind and thoughts and I do not have to fear it. It is physical sustenance, but my most important sustenance is Jesus. He satisfies and fills me and his living water never runs dry.
Healing does not mean that I never struggle. I take up my cross every day. Some days I am tempted and unfortunately, some days I fail, but I pray for the Holy Spirit to strengthen me and I turn to Scripture and prayer during those times. When I do fail, I remember that God’s mercies are new every morning.
It has been only recently that I have started to share this part of my brokenness with others as it is not comfortable for me to be so vulnerable. I have felt a calling to be open about it, though, because I have encountered others who have had similar struggles and have not known where to turn for help. After all, it is not just my story, but a story of how God turns brokenness into beauty.
As a SoulCore Leader I offer weekly classes at my home parish and I am the Lead Content Contributor for the SoulFULL Living blog, which focuses on faith, nutrition, movement, and overall wellness. I am also working towards a nutrition certification in order to develop a workshop to offer in parishes to help people learn how to overcome the strongholds of food fixation, with God’s grace, so they can experience the freedom that Jesus offers.
The mission to which God has called me arose out of my wounds and brokenness. God has shown me how to more fully surrender, how to be more sensitive to the promptings of the Holy Spirit, and how to be consecrated to Jesus through the Blessed Mother. I’ve been given gifts, talents, and a passion to serve God’s people and to build the kingdom. Prayer has taught me the importance of living the calling that I have been given because I’m the only one who can bring it to the world.
“For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do” (Ephesians 2:10).
Daniella writes about physical and spiritual wellness for the SoulFull Living blog