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Religion/Spiritualit
y and healthy living - are they connected?

Monday, December 02, 2013

I have asked myself this question many times and it came back to my mind when I saw this week's issue of the Parade magazine which has a picture of Rick Warren, the famous pastor and author of the book "The purpose-driven life" on it. Inside is the story of Rick Warren's latest project, a transformation of the church he pastors to a healthy life-style.
His new book, "The Daniel Plan - 40 Days to a healthier Life" is coming out this Tuesday and may put a different spin on the diet and exercise formula for success that has been preached for so long.
It makes sense that any project, incl. moving towards healthier living, can be made easier in a supportive community, which could be a church or spiritual group or any other group.
My question, however, goes a little beyond that.
I am curious whether a spiritual life, prayer, meditation, other spiritual disciplines are helpful for individuals, even apart from the community aspect in living a healthy life style, being more active and eating better.
If motivation is considered an important aspect for maintaining a healthy life style then I can see how our spiritual lives could play an important role.
For instance the belief in a God that loves us and wants us to love ourselves and those around us could be encouraging us to take better care of our own health and that of our family members. Faith could give us hope that there is an answer and a purpose to what we are doing even in the absence of (short-term) progress.
On the other hand spiritual communities can also be role models, for better or for worse. If the church potluck only has unhealthy foods then we are more likely to eat those than we may be at home because of social pressure.
What is your experience?
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  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

OOLALA53 12/5/2013 2:13PM

    Just for the heck of it, I googled "spirituality and longevity" and found contradictory results. Seems as decent a motivation as any. But it can easily turn into fundamentalist practices as well.

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PASTAFARIAN 12/2/2013 9:45PM

    There have been a lot of studies trying to determine if there's a correlation between weight, nutrition, and various faiths. As I recall, most studies reported no correlation or in a few studies, inverse correlations (Christians correlated with overweight). It's been years since I read these so more studies may have been done but from what I read at the time, it seemed like there were better ways toward weight control.

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DOVESEYES 12/2/2013 7:27PM

    I love a blog that makes you think.
My weight started to drop when I realized I had to do it for me with no outside influence if I was doing it for the family or a group or any other reason I would always sabotage my self. Once I made myself accountable it started the losses.

As a Christian woman I am so greatful for the Lord in my life and the strength He gives me. I think it is a huge factor in the lives we live. As far as any influence on others I think that people want to emulate the ones who achieve goals they have.

But also they want to know that there are the bad days the wrong choices the sad days that we acknowledge and that the small steps will bring change.

Great blog thanks fgor the chance to share my views.

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JSTETSER 12/2/2013 1:32PM

    My faith certainly is a BIG part of my healthy regime.
Keeping my mind filled with the knowledge that God is working in my life.
I know that God gives me wisdom and strength.
My body is God's temple. I need to treat it right.
I take time every morning for some simple calesthetics in front of the TV with Bible verses and nice scenery.
It all helps, and it is all good for me.

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SIRIUS2014 12/2/2013 11:31AM

    Thanks for sharing your blog. i don't have any experience, but I believe a vibrant hands on group would certainly be a plus for some.

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ERIN1957 12/2/2013 9:22AM

    We use faith for all areas of our lives, why not diet as well. Easier to bring Him in before we need to beg Him to save us. Kind of like fixing the roof on a sunny day before the rain comes pouring down.
I truly think if you are spiritual the question never came about to begin with. But if your not than perhaps you might actually become. Obviously if what your doing is working fine alone, than you probable wouldn't even be here commenting.
God is in all of my life, not just part time. I have a full time God and a full time life with Him.

I think if you are involved in a community, you would be more likely to join a weight and health team, whether at a church, gym, school or work place. INVOLVED is the key word here.

I do not think their plan is strict at all, I found it almost to liberal. But then again that is just me. I am a strict NO grain person, organic as well. But hey they had to start somewhere.
Dr. Amen and Dr. Hyman are both co-authors and are good doctors of health and faith.

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PMRUNNER 12/2/2013 5:51AM

    Interesting blog, and comments too. I think that there is some self discipline that can carry over between the two. Both discourage selfish excess. The purpose and motivation may have a different focus, but that is ok.

Thanks for sharing! Looking forward to hearing more of your thoughts on the book after you get it.

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DIANE7786 12/2/2013 3:17AM

    I think individuals would benefit without a group. Google "Danielís Plan" for recipes, food lists and other information. There will be an app soon that sounds similar to Sparks. The food plan seems pretty strict. It was developed by Dr Oz and two other well-known doctors. It would be great if this encouraged people to get in shape. Iíll buy the book and try it alone.

The members of Rick Warrenís church have been doing this diet for a year. As a group they lost a lot of weight. Healthier choices replaced junk in vending machines. People are encouraged to take healthy foods to potlucks. It sounds like the group is 6 weeks. I attended a 6-week class for The Purpose Driven and learned a lot more than I did from reading the book.

My concern about a group is that some people struggle with weight loss for years for a variety of reasons. Will they think God doesnít love them if they canít lose weight on this strict diet?

Comment edited on: 12/2/2013 3:19:15 AM

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CINDYTW 12/2/2013 1:33AM

  I think a spiritual element can help people, like prayer and meditation. As far as church, I don't think it would be much different because one has to have it within themselves. Support helps, but you won't get too far doing things because the pastor said so.

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HISTORYRUNNER 12/2/2013 1:31AM

    This goes right to an issue I've thought about and blogged about before, which is - what's the greater purpose for getting healthy/living healthily, besides the "selfish" ones of feeling better, looking better, having fewer medical bills, and so on. I read the same Parade article and I think Rick Warren put it well when he said (assuming that our calling is to love God and love other people) "you can't love if you don't have the energy to love. If you go home every night and lie on the couch because you're exhausted because you're not eating right and your blood pressure is too high, well, how can you make a difference? I'm interested in helping my people be well so that they can make a difference."

In other words, ultimately it's not all about us. But we need to make our health a top priority so that we can get out of the way of ourselves and start loving/giving back/paying forward to others. In that sense, I can see the role of prayer and meditation to keep our focus, find our inspiration, and draw our strength from after our own self-control gives out, which usually doesn't take too long. I also see the role of a spiritual community. Of course community doesn't have to be spiritually based to be effective, but I think that in the best cases spiritual communities have a particular set of values, beliefs, and (for those who believe) spiritual power that can make them especially effective to support and build up their members.

Comment edited on: 12/2/2013 1:33:20 AM

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GRANDMABABA 12/2/2013 12:51AM

    I agree with the potluck thing. We need to do a better job of encouraging healthy living choices in our faith communities. Ideally, our lives integrate good things in all aspects of who we are. We can do this!

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BJPENNY70 12/2/2013 12:49AM

    Yes it is! I wasn't until I realized it, that I was able to successful lose weight. During prayer I ask the LORD to lead me and help me to get the right frame of mind to live healthy. As I was going through the Bible the LORD lead me to that verse I Corinthians 6:19. He reminded me that my body was not my own, but it was bought with a price. My body is the temple of the HOLY SPIRIT. I practice prayer and Bible study to help me with guidance for my day. I try to treat my body with respect, feeding it nutritional food, Exercise, and meditation.

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