Thursday, June 2, 2011

The Exercise Awakening

An Exercise awakening, movement, revival, whatever you want to call it is taking place right now.  Where?  Right here at our Samaritan's Purse office in Liberia...How did this happen?  Let me explain...

A couple of weeks ago I asked Kendell if I could do devotions (we have staff devotions for 30 min before the day starts).  He asked me what I wanted to talk about- I stated "I want to talk about what the Bible says about our health, exercise, and diet." There were many small and big things that led me want to share this topic with our staff.  First-I am not one that likes or feels comfortable leading devotions, but in the past few months I really felt I wanted to share something on this topic.  You see, we have had many staff who have been sick, with everything from high blood pressure, to type II diabetes. What really hit home for all of us was a recent death of one of our staff from complications with his type II diabetes.  He was only diagnosed recently not even really giving him time to adjust his diet-but even if did have time would he know HOW he could adjust it?  Or the benefits of exercise to help his condition?  I don't know.  I wanted our staff to know-I care and love our staff and wanted to at least share with them some simple steps to help with their health.

Well...what a week!!! To give a quick summary I started with the amazingness of our bodies that God has created-the intricacies and complexities that work together to help us function each day.  Day 2-3 we talked about how to figure out how many calories your body needs-depending on your weight, sex, and level of activity; this was coupled with a list of main Liberian foods how many calories they contain.  Trying to explain that if your body needs 2000 calories daily-and you take in 2500 and don't exercise you are going to gain weight-was difficult but it was like a self realization was taking place!  I want to thank our Health experts here at SP Aimee Ashoff and Rosanna Schaak for helping me explain all of this!  The last two days were spent on explaining that food cannot become your god and at the same time your body cannot become your god-we need to balance between being good stewards of our bodies that God has created, but also have a healthy perspective of food and our body image.  I then introduced some easy exercise and diet 'plans'  IF people wanted to do they could.

I started to notice something...after work-there were more SP staff walking around campus, at lunch people were out walking, people came to my office after every devotion to ask questions or to pick up an exercise plan.  The great exercise awakening had started!  To my surprise-one of our staff members was sharing what he had learnt to some of his friends who work at ELWA radio-they asked if I would be willing to come and talk on the radio on this topic.  So every MWF from 10-1030am for the month of June I am on the show "Facts you should Know"-HA! 

BUT the awakening was just starting...and now it is in full swing!  On August 28th there is a 10km and marathon race in Monrovia.  Myself and some of our ex-pat staff have signed up for the 10km race-even bossman (Kendell)!!! During the week of devotions I mentioned the race and how bossman and others were training for it.  Yesterday-Kendell came home and handed me a small piece of paper with 23 names of our SP staff.  I asked him what it was-and he stated "It's everyone who wants to register for the 10km race in Aug.!"  James Hooper one of our ex-pat staff members, said that yesterday he was filling out the registration form and some of our staff saw him and wanted to register too-next thing you know 23 names...

This morning I shared in devotions as a 'follow up' to last week-it was a great time to hear how people have made small adjustments to their lifestyle to include exercise and small changes in their diet to help their overall health.  I also shared the 3 "D's" for training for the 10km-I can't take credit for these-after one of his 5km walks Kendell came in and announced that he was going to write a book for bigger people to loose weight!  He said the first D is Determination-being determined to just start-get up early and just get your body used to a schedule.  The second D is diet.  Little changes like no snacking after 7pm...not easy-oh!  And the last D-discipline-probably the hardest one, staying discipline to your schedule, even when you are tired and don't want to,this is where the rubber meets the road for exercise!  So thanks to bossman for the 3 D's!!!

Afterwards, we had more people sign up for the race-here is a picture of the majority of them!!!

What a great bunch!  We are missing some like Joni, Alisa, Taya and others who were up country or in meetings...

I had no intention of having people sign up for the 10km in Aug.  All I wanted to do was to share with our staff about the benefits of healthy living-and how simple it can be.  One of the highlites for me last week was interviewing Marie-who used to cook for our office.  Marie had to resign about 18 months ago because she was diagnosed with type II diabetes and was too sick to work . Recently, Marie has come back to SP-when I first saw her I was shocked!!! As they say here in Liberia she had reduced (aka lost weight) and looked GREAT!  She shared with our staff how she started walking around her house and jumping rope-and how she started to eat healthier foods like bulgar wheat instead of big helpings of rice everyday.  When Marie went for her follow up Dr.'s appointment -after the tests were done he told her that she no longer had to be on medication...Marie has a self testing blood kit to help her stay on track-but she has kept up her exercise and diet-and is back to work! 

I cannot put into words how proud I am of our staff-all of them.  During the marathon they were on my gratitude band-and all of their faces floated through my mind.  They are another reason why I ran and continue to do so.  I can't wait for Aug 28th-to line up with my SP brothers and sisters all 25+ of them and run 10km.  But more importantly I can't wait for them to experience the "Hey, I can do this" and then the "I DID IT!" sense of accomplishment.  What an honour to not only work with them but run with them!!!

You can still give to our projects up until the end of June-many of the future blog entries will follow the journey of our staff as they train and run in Aug.  I am hoping that we can do some sort of fund raiser through it for a specific project. So our staff can also experience running with a purpose... I will keep you updated!

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