Losing weight requires counting calories, a strict exercise regimen, and choosing nutritious foods. For Toni Hofman of First Christian Reformed Church in Waupun, Wisc., Bible study and prayer are an important part of striving for a healthier lifestyle. Hofman uses principles from a nationwide nonprofit organization, First Place 4 Health, to encourage a small group of women ranging in age from 30 to 70 to lose weight.
The group, which is open to church members and people of the community, meets for 90 minutes one night week at First CRC. Attendees begin by recording their weight and turning in a food diary. Then they talk about eating healthy using common practices such as following the USDA food pyramid. “I learned that God cares about what I put in my mouth. What we eat is not too trivial for him,” said Hofman.
The core part of the meeting is studying the Bible and memorizing specific verses. Hofman finds it important to have a verse to mediate on all week long. “I will start reciting them and usually about the fifth day—[I think], that’s what it means!” said Hofman.
The women also share prayer requests and pray specifically for an assigned prayer partner. Prayer partners find creative ways to encourage one another throughout the week between meetings. “What I found even better than the weight loss is the Bible study. This is my priority: I am going to meet the Lord first thing,” said Hofman.
Hofman successfully lost 30 pounds through the program. She said she is “yo-yo dieter” and at times has gained the weight back. “When I started this program a year ago, it really hit home. I need a Christ-centered support network to keep my focus on Christ,” she said.
Each session is 12 weeks; Hofman plans to begin another session in January. She continues to advertise this ministry to the local community and invite neighbors to participate.