A basketball injury sidelined 39-year-old pastor Kerwin Manning in fall 2004. At 210 pounds, he had a less than ideal diet heavy on fatty and fast foods. Instead of packing on more pounds, he decided to take some off, via a 40-day, water-only fast.
Although a fast is radical and potentially risky (it should be undertaken only while in a physician's care), the extreme measure was just the impetus Manning needed. He lost 50 pounds and gained a new appreciation for how a healthy body can have positive influences on other aspects of life. He's maintained a 30-pound weight loss, and he encourages his congregation at Pasadena Church to eat healthfully and exercise. The church also has a Body and Soul Health Ministry.
Life-changing moment: "After I injured my knee, I knew I was going to need to have a pretty good physical regimen going. I also realized that I wanted to be around for the church and the community as long as I could. It was a turning point for me." Knowing that some church members have diabetes and kidney problems, he wanted to model a healthy lifestyle.
"Our church has made many changes in terms of lifestyle -- at meetings and gatherings we cut out fried chicken and foods that really plague our people. We began to speak on health and wellness. We brought in a nutritionist to talk to our congregation on a Sunday morning, and we followed that with a 5K run/walk."
What worked: Manning's diet used to be heavy on bread, pasta, pork, pancakes, fast food and Peach Snapple (he had cases of it). "I haven't had pork since 2004, and rarely do I eat a lot of pasta and breads," he says. "Now it's more healthy carbs." The Snapple has been replaced with water.
He also didn't exercise much outside of an occasional basketball game. "Now," Manning says, "I try to work out at least five to six days a week, some form of cardio and weights."
Lessons learned: "I learned that my body is a big part of the equation. Many times in the faith community we elevate the spirit -- and there's nothing wrong with that -- but often to the neglect of the body and the soul. I learned that I can't get to the spiritual things and be all that I've been called and created to do and be without this temple that God has given me to live in."
Manning takes time for introspection as well: "I'm setting aside time now to think and create and read, to build my mind, because they're all connected in the whole man."
Tips and tricks: "I'll be the first to admit that there are times when I haven't won the battle [against cravings]. But even when you fall short of your goals, be aware of it and don't fall into despair."
He adds that it's OK to say no to some foods or ask for smaller portions. "You just learn and condition yourself and after a while it's second nature. You don't even have to think about it."
The lowdown: "I made a resolve in my heart and mind that I wasn't going back. I guess ultimately you can say you don't know if it's gone for good, but when I step on the scale and there's a few pounds added, I get back in there because I've got to stay true to what I've committed to."