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Faith, fitness correlate more than I thought

HICKAM AIR FORCE BASE, Hawaii -- While working the night shift during the ORI, I started thinking about the relationship of fitness to faith, especially since I am a chaplain. I perused the internet and found the book, "Faith and Fitness: Diet and Exercise for a Better World," by Tom Hafer. I was intrigued, so I ordered 15 copies of the book and decided to see if others were interested in reading the book with me.

I ran an announcement in our chapel publications and the base e-notes that I would offer a four-week discussion of the book, "Faith and Fitness." Fourteen people signed up to attend the class, and I had several inquiries from people who could not attend, but who had an interest in attending in the future if I would offer it again.

"Faith and Fitness" literally changed my life! Hafer looks at diet and exercise being for the sake of the community. He suggests that our motivation for keeping in shape needs to be motivated from an internal source - not the external of "passing the PT test" or looking good. He suggests that our internal motivation is a response to our relationship with God. He also describes our American obsession with losing weight. 17% of the GNP goes toward food production in this country, which equals an average of 3,500 calories per person per day! Hafer suggests changing the paradigm from being obsessed with losing weight to working toward feeding others - those in the world who do not have enough to eat. He advocates healthier diets - including fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean protein. The book offers lots of practical advice as well as spiritual food for thought.

I now look at my exercise routine as a source of not only physical, but spiritual strength. When I run, I focus on the gift of physical health and well-being so that I am strengthened to serve others. I see food as the gift of "daily bread" to help on that journey. Being "created in the image of the creator" helps me to focus my diet and exercise as a response of thanksgiving for the good gifts I have been given by God.

Participants enjoyed having the chance to talk about diet and exercise in light of their own faith journeys and to make commitments to change unhealthy habits and encouraged each other in establishing new, healthier habits.

I am looking forward to collaborating with the H-PARC in April and will be leading the discussion on Mondays, 6, 13, and 20 April from 1130 to 1230 in the H-PARC conference Room. To participate, call the Chapel Center at 449-1754.

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