We reported extensively about the weight loss efforts at Christ Temple church in Huntington, W.Va., after that city had been tabbed as the unhealthiest in the United States by the Centers for Disease Control.
The first stage of the megachurch’s Above and Beyond Challenge has produced welcomed results.
Since initiating the challenge in January, the congregation has collectively lost 1,609 pounds.
In a competition between the choir and the overall congregation both teams lost five percent of their collective body weight.
Two of the “biggest losers” won a one-year membership to the local YMCA. One man lost 50 pounds and another woman lost 18 pounds but never missed an exercise class.
The next phase, the Spring Sprint, extends from last Sunday to June 14th, with the winner earning a 3-day vacation to a Gatlinburg, Tenn., condo.
The church is opening a new health center in August and is planning on having another “sprint” over the summer to keep motivation high until it opens.
The church secretary featured in an ABC News “Nightline” piece about the challenge, Michelle Isenberg, has dropped 38 pounds and eight sizes.
“‘Nothing tastes as good as healthy feels’ is my new motto,” she said.
Church member Kristie Hughes also submitted a blog series to Everyday Christian on her experiences.
Pastor Chuck Lawrence said the best aspect of the challenge to date has been seeing congregants work toward going beyond basic weight loss.
“The greatest challenge is the fact that the weight loss can be a flash in the pan,” Lawrence said. “I’ve seen where on (NBC’s) ‘Biggest Loser’ they have tracked people after they left the show and they’ve gained the weight back.
“The neatest thing we’re seeing is the lifestyle changes that make the weight loss permanent. Eating smaller portions, developing new patterns of exercise; these are some of the changes we’re seeing. As a pastor you hate to see people lose their destiny that God has created for them by what they’re eating.”
Lawrence also shared a story of an elderly man who lost 30 pounds, and with every 10 pounds of incremental loss he was able to lose a prescription.
“A few years ago we had a similar challenge where we asked people to look at their finances and credit cards and challenged them about what they really needed,” he said. “By the same token we don’t need to stretch our stomachs and just accept that is how it has to be.”
Christ Temple should be commended for following through on working to improve Huntington’s unwanted status.
Having known many friends and relatives, including myself, who have tangled with weight issues, there can be a huge gap between planning and execution of goals. It’s a positive example anyone who has ever frowned at their waistline can draw from.