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FIRST-PERSON: The better health challenge

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP)–At this year’s Southern Baptist Convention in St. Louis, Annuity Board President O.S. Hawkins challenged pastors and messengers “to begin taking the issue of wellness to heart.” He said, “During 2001 at least one-half of the medical claims paid out were for preventable diseases. As a whole, we are overweight and do not exercise enough.”

This was a powerful challenge to leaders and churches to take serious their health and the impact that poor health has on ministry. When we are stressed, sick, overweight, tired, undisciplined and lack focus we are not the proper testimony that God desires for us to be in a lost world. As believers we must establish lifestyles that honor God in every area, including our physical condition.

Good health is much more than just the absence of disease or properly managing a disease with medication. Good health stems from an attitude that chooses to honor God by properly caring for the bodies He gave us to live in. Being more active and choosing to eat more healthful foods has benefits for every area of our lives. When we are physically fit we manage stressful times more effectively, have the energy, strength and endurance to complete assigned tasks, function at a higher level, and are better prepared for the unexpected things that happen in life.

Are you physically prepared to handle any situation or event that may come your way each day? I’m sure on Sept. 11, no one planned to run from a burning, collapsing building or began training months in advance to carry a co-worker down 50 flights of stairs. Yet, when the tragic events happened that day, some were physically prepared and others were not. Ministry opportunities that require physical strength and endurance could happen at any time. It is not our job to anticipate these opportunities and prepare for them, but to be ready to act and minister when they occur.

Are you ready to accept the challenge to improve your health, increase your energy level, and honor God with your body? If so, begin with one or more of these simple steps that will put you on the road toward better health.

1. In prayer share your struggles and frustrations with God. Ask for His guidance as you begin to make small lifestyle changes that will impact your health. You can rely on His strength. (Philippians 4:13).

2. See your doctor for a complete physical. Involve your medical professional in your wellness plan and follow his advice in beginning a healthier lifestyle. If necessary, ask him to recommend a nutritional consultant or dietitian that can analyze your eating habits and help you take steps to improve them.

3. Educate yourself on better nutrition and fitness options. Fit 4: A LifeWay Christian Wellness Plan is designed to help individuals develop a wellness plan that involves better food choices and increased physical activity. Consider beginning classes in your church to encourage members to also honor God with their bodies.

4. Think differently about your food intake. Do not “go on a diet.” Diets tend to be short-lived and difficult to follow. Instead, simply shift the focus in your choices. Select fruit and vegetables first when planning what you will eat. Then, build the rest of your meal around these choices. Increasing the amount of fruit and vegetables you eat each day will fill you up on better nutrition with fewer calories. The Fit 4 Nutrition Study is a great way to learn helpful information and develop a healthier eating plan without the restrictions of a “diet.”

5. Get physically active. If you do not currently have a fitness plan in place for targeted exercise time and your doctor has given you the go ahead to exercise, begin with a simple walking plan. Simply walk 10 minutes one way and 10 minutes back. Begin at a slower and comfortable pace and gradually increase your speed as you get more fit. Don’t worry about how far you go. Simply target the time as your goal. The Fit 4 Fitness study can help you further develop an active lifestyle that includes a balanced exercise plan.

6. Get support and accountability from others. Enlist a team of two or three other people to encourage and pray for you. Let those in your family know what you are doing and why. Enlist their support as well. You need other people to walk through these changes with you.

So, what are you waiting for? It’s never to early or too late to begin a plan to improve your health and lower the cost of your medical insurance. Are you up for the challenge to be healthier? Visit www.fit4.com for more information or to find a Fit 4 class near you. If you would like more information about Fit 4, e-mail your request to [email protected].
Polk is a certified personal trainer and Fit 4 coordinator at LifeWay Christian Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention in Nashville, Tenn. Information about the resources mentioned in this article can be obtained by calling 1-800-458-2772 or visiting www.fit4.com on the Internet.

    About the Author

  • Branda Polk