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Program offers food for the spirit, tips to trim the waist


MILLERS -- Spiritual gain can result in some physical losses.

At least that was true for three county women who participated in Alesia Free Methodist's Tri-W Christian weight-loss program.

"One member lost 10 pounds, with the Lord's help," said Mona Busch, leader of the 12-week program.

This group of participants didn't want to be identified as having a weight problem, she said.

Classes included lectures on nutrition, health and exercise, covering topics such as stress reduction, cholesterol and aerobic vs. strength-building exercise. Participants also agreed to exercise three times a week and stick to a 1,200- to 1,500-calorie-a-day diet.

"This new edition came out in April 1989 and includes a lot of the most current health information," Busch said of the program, which originated in the mid-1970s. "From what I know about diet and exercise, it's right up there with the latest information."

Busch, wife of Alesia's pastor, Thomas W. Busch, said personal interest and success with the program made her want to bring it to her own congregation.

"Ten years ago, I went through the program and lost 22 pounds," Busch said, adding that she lost 17 pounds with a mini-course she took around Christmas. "I'm interested in anything that will help us have a healthier lifestyle and walk closer with the Lord."

She ordered the program's workbook from the denomination's headquarters and began working with the other two women, one of whom is not a member of Alesia Free Methodist.

"I had found it to be so successful, I thought I'd do it again," Busch said. "But this time, I thought I'd try to do it with more people than just myself."

In the program, spiritual growth is just as important as losing weight, Busch said. Participants study a list of Bible passages in class, then try to study on their own during the week. "Any goal we have to better ourselves has a spiritual component," Busch said. "The spiritual is the most important, but we do live in the real world and have to deal with such things as weight and diet."

Weekly Bible study follows the individual's interests, and the program recommends 15 minutes of study a day, she said.

"But it's kind of up to you," she said. "If you're way beyond that, you might challenge yourself to an hour, while a mom with kids under age 3 might squeeze 10 minutes per day in, and that would be great."

Busch said the list of Biblical passages they studied in class each week usually started with ones related to food and dieting. Farther down the list, readings expanded to include spiritual attitudes that related to other aspects of life.

"The Bible study could apply to a lot of different things," she said. "It dealt with a lot more than food and the exercise plan."

For example, one devotional titled "Faith, Focus and Food" started talking about temptations for food, expanded to discuss other temptations and finished with purifying one's thought. "I guess it's sort of an Oprah-ish kind of thing," Busch said.

Another study focuses on how Daniel was one of the first dieters in the Bible, refusing King Nebuchadnezzar's rich food because it was not prepared in accordance with Jewish tradition. Biblical history states that although he ate only vegetables for 10 days, Daniel looked healthier than the other children, who ate the king's food.

"It's not just the diet or the exercise or the devotionals," Busch said. "It's all of those areas and, ultimately, whatever we need to succeed in any of those areas is from the Lord."

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