For several years Hopkinsville resident Rose Thorpe has been interested in weight loss and eating better.

When she heard about a health and wellness program for teenagers being offered by another local organization, Thorpe hoped to spearhead a similar program at St. John United Methodist Church.

After speaking with her pastor, the Rev. Janet L. Carden, and other church members, the "Food, Faith and Fitness" group started meeting at 10 a.m. Wednesdays at the church activities building.

"The class is called 'Food, Faith and Fitness', but we like to say 'F to the Third Power' because God is in charge of everything," Thorpe said. "Anyone who is interested in taking care of their bodies, improving their health and eating habits, come in to exercise, to mediate with God and talk about nutrition."

Food

Registered dietitian Linda Atkins leads group discussions on eating healthy, portion control, metabolism and other food topics each Wednesday morning.

She advises participants to visit ChooseMyPlate.gov to follow a 2,000-calorie daily food plan for better nutrition options.

"I think that's a terrific goal to start with," she said. "Start with the basics."

Daily recommended servings on the website include the following:

2 ½ cups vegetables - 1 cup of raw or cooked vegetables or vegetable juice, 2 cups leafy salad greens.

2 cups fruits - 1 cup raw or cooked fruit or 100 percent fruit juice; ½ cup dried fruit.

6 ounces grains - 1 slice of bread, ½ cup cooked rice, cereal or pasta; 1 ounce of ready-to-eat cereal.

3 cups dairy - 1 cup of milk, yogurt or fortified soy milk; 1 1/5 ounces natural or 2 ounces processed cheese.

5 ½ ounces protein foods - 1 ounce of lean meat, poultry or fish; 1 egg; 1 Tablespoon peanut butter; ½ ounce nuts or seeds; ¼ cup beans or peas.

"There's so many misconceptions about nutrition out there, I feel like a lot of my job is to tell people the real truth," Atkins said. "For instance, is it better to eat butter or margarine? Most people are surprised when I tell them that margarine is better for them to eat … even though butter is a 'natural' product … 'natural' does not always mean better."

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faith

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Faith

The "Food, Faith and Fitness" group points to God's Word in the devotional time of their meetings.

"Don't you know that you yourselves are God's temple and that God's Spirit dwells in your midst." - 1 Corinthians 3:16-17.

"God created us in his image and he expects us to take care of ourselves," Atkins said. "It's our responsibility to take care of ourselves."

"So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God." - 1 Corinthians 10:31.

"If you are doing everything else right and not eating healthy, you've really missed a big component of health," Atkins said. "That is just the foundation of health - eating correctly. You're missing a huge part of health and I think a huge part of your faith."

Fitness

"For physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come." - 1 Timothy 4:8.

Donna Williams, lay pastor and member of St. John, leads participants in an easy fitness program each week.

"I feel like God has given me this energy and this body that isn't a size 3, but is a functioning size and I can get out and do his work," she said.

The Wednesday morning group starts with a five-minute, one-quarter mile meditative walk, followed by 20 minutes of Tai Chi exercises.

"If you do five exercises on a daily basis, that's going to help you," Williams said. "My goal is to encourage the class to take five minutes a day and do these exercises because it's going to loosen up your joints. It's going to help with your balance. It's going to help with your mental coordination as well."

St. John member and "Food, Faith and Fitness" participant Rhona Lamirande said she's been exercising at home and is "feeling better."

"I just love these people. They're not just my church family. I love these girls," she said.

Williams said she enjoys her Tai Chi workout with the group.

"It's a lot more fun to do it with your friends than doing it by yourself," she said.

Although a few women have attended "Food, Faith and Fitness" thus far, the group hopes more ladies and gentlemen from St. John, other churches and the community will join them for the 45 minutes of fun and fellowship.

Carden said she's excited about her church offering "Food, Faith and Fitness."

"All of this combined together is a discipline," she said. "I think it's important for us, not only to take time for ourselves, but to take care of ourselves. And, I love the fellowship with those who come."

Reach Michele Vowell at 270-887-3242 or mvowell@kentuckynewera.com.

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