Carson Springs camp manager offers tips on being physically and spiritually fit
By Lonnie Wilkey
Editor, Baptist and Reflector
BRENTWOOD — Being fit involves more than eating healthy and exercising, says Kevin Perrigan.
In the world’s eyes, fitness is more about maintaining a certain body shape or weight, observed Perrigan, manager of Carson Springs Baptist Conference Center in Newport.
From the Christian perspective, the reason to be totally fit is to “fulfill God’s purpose for your life,” said Perrigan who teaches a course entitled “Balance Fit” at First Baptist Church, Dandridge, where he is a member.
Christ needs to be “our balance scale in which He gives us the strength to balance our lives in a manner that pleases Him. The balance beam on the scale may be loaded with elements in our lives such as fitness, nutrition, relationships, family, work, and ministry.
“Our walk with Christ on paper could look very complex but with a healthy walk with the Lord, every element comes into balance. That’s why a person’s spiritual life is so important to living a healthy life. We may know what God expects from us in our ministry and family but what does He expect from us in the area of how we take care of our bodies or the stresses in our lives,” he continued.
Perrigan observed “we are not the creator of our own bodies but only the maintainers of them. But the creator made our bodies with great care and perfection. We should pay attention to the differences and uniqueness of each of us. We have different shapes and sizes but even if we are not happy with the way we look, God was pleased with His design of us (Genesis 1:31).
“God, in His infinite knowledge, knew at the moment of the stirring of the dust of the earth and the reshaping of a rib that, one day the Holy Spirit would be dwelling in His children. If God created us in the way that He did then it is our responsibility to take care of what He has created,” he said.
The Bristol native noted that life is short. “I want to be the best I can be for my Lord until my time (on earth) is over,” he said.
That’s why taking care of one’s health is so important, he stressed. “Your overall health affects all areas of our lives,” Perrigan maintained.
Poor nutrition and lack of exercise bleed over into other areas of a person’s life and can lead to a poor self image, a lack of sleep, and increased stress, among other things, he said.
“A poor self image affects our relationships and our ministry. We feel inadequate to do His ministry. Many times the way we think of ourselves effects what we allow God to do through us, directly as well as indirectly,” Perrigan said.
Perrigan practices what he teaches. A former high school athlete Perrigan began running after high school and has continued to do so. Now in his 50s, Perrigan has run marathons and even an ultra-marathon. Recently, he has focused more on shorter distances such as half marathons (13.1 miles).
Running has helped Perrigan to relieve stress as well as providing other positive health benefits. Most importantly, he said, running is his way of spending time with his Savior.
“Running is like a sanctuary. I can spend time talking with the Lord as I run,” he said. “It’s a worship time for me.”
Though he is a “serious” runner, Perrigan is able to relate to people who attend his classes who are in different phases of their life, from those who are serious about being physically fit, to those who are looking to begin an exercise plan, to those who just want to learn to eat better.
Perrigan’s classes involve a variety of topics, but spending time with God, nutrition, and exercise are the key components.
A personal, quiet time with God is essential, he stressed. “We can’t be balanced in any area of our life unless we have a daily relationship with Christ. This helps us keep our eyes on our purpose,” he maintained.
For those who attend his class looking to lose weight, Perrigan stresses the importance of good nutrition. He encourages people to avoid processed and fried foods and sugar and to manage their appropriate meal portion size to control calorie intake. “What you put in your body does matter,” said Perrigan, who would also advise anyone contemplating a diet or exercise plan to first consult his or her physician.
Along with good nutrition, exercise is important. For those who do not like or want to run, he suggested that individuals start slowly. Walk for 10 minutes daily and increase it each week. Join an exercise class or walk with a group in your community. This can provide an opportunity for you to share your faith with someone that doesn’t know Christ, he suggested.
Perrigan suggests that people set realistic goals for themselves in all areas of their life and to make time for those goals. Don’t get so busy that you neglect your health, he advised. “Your health is important.”
Ultimately, everything centers around “our relationship with God. Part of being created in His image is God’s expectation for us to live an overall healthy life that pleases Him,” Perrigan said.