Posted on : Monday June 4, 2012

By Sharon Mager, BCM/D Correspondence

Olney, MD–Olney Baptist Church recently completed a 12-week “Losing to Live program, combining weight loss and Bible study. Nineteen people participated, many from the community. The “biggest loser” lost 29 pounds. Olney church member Dee Burnett, who coordinates the program, said that along with the weight loss, the program builds strong relationships in the church and has attracted several people in the community.

Barnett participated in the program at another church twice before bringing the program to Olney. At the prior sessions, Barnett was the “biggest loser.” She was happy with the steady, consistent weight loss. Now she enjoys leading others through the program.

“I like the idea of helping people eat better, and take care of themselves,” Barnett said.

Losing to Live was founded by Steve Reynolds, senior pastor of Capital Baptist Church in Annandale, Virginia. He is the author of “Bod4God:Four Keys to Weight Loss.”

The program emphasizes honoring God with your body; motivating yourself for change; managing your habits, and building a circle of support.

Reynolds designed the program. He had been overweight all his life and even weighed 100 pounds in the first grade. After losing 100 pounds, Reynolds shared his weight loss plan, which stresses committing your body to God’s glory. He developed a plan that helps individuals craft their own personal plans that they follow for a lifetime.

Barnett invited guest speakers to meetings. She showed videos and had “snack nights,”  a show and taste time featuring healthy snacks. They had games and prizes. The fun helped the group bond, and promoted accountability.

Church members who participated grew closer in fellowship with one another and visitors, some unchurched, heard and read scripture.

“Every week there is a scripture that goes with the chapter study and there are spiritual questions to think about. One chapter that comes to mind is the one on dedication–dedicating our hands because they carry the food to our mouths, or our feet, that carry us to the refrigerator when we don’t need to be there, or our eyes, what we see is what we want, We are the body of Christ and need to be reminded that our body is a temple.“

Barnett said there was also an emphasis on seeking help from the Holy Spirit, asking for strength to exercise and to persevere when exercising and asking the Holy Spirit to intervene when we’re tempted and to help us to take care of our bodies.

Two people have attended the church as a result of participating in the weight loss program.

“One girl walked in at the last minute after seeing the sign on the front of the lawn. She didn’t have a church,” Barnett said.  “She was very encouraged and enjoyed the fellowship. Now she is trying to encourage her parents to come with her to church.”

The participants at the church have collectively lost more than 242 pounds since beginning the program.

Barnett said that’s something to celebrate, but ultimately, the program is about honoring God.