By Lonnie Wilkey
Editor, Baptist and Reflector
MILLINGTON — As a new year is set to begin, thousands upon thousands of people make that traditional New Year’s resolution to lose those extra pounds gained during the past year.
For most, it is easier said than done, says Willie McLaurin, special assistant to the executive director/treasurer of the Tennessee Baptist Convention.
McLaurin led a breakout during the November Summit at First Baptist Church, Millington, entitled “Fit for Life, Fit for Him.”
The TBC staffer speaks from experience. He once weighed 384 pounds, but over the past eight to nine years, he has lost 165 pounds and has maintained that weight loss.
McLaurin said his wake up call came when he went to a doctor for a physical and his doctor asked him, “Do you want to see your daughter graduate from high school?”
McLaurin began to lose weight and exercise. “I was determined to begin the journey one step at a time,” he recalled.
He began going to a local YMCA and started running. Before long he ran his first 5K race and admits he was struggling to finish. McLaurin persevered and today it is not uncommon for him to frequently run marathons (26.2 miles) and longer runs of 50 miles.
The most important aspect of what he did, in addition to getting physically fit, was that it enabled him to be better used by God for ministry. “I want to be healthier so I can have opportunity to minister to those I need to minister to, including my family,” he said.
“Being fit for life is being fit for Him,” he affirmed.
Unfortunately, statistics reveal that many Americans are not fit.
According to information supplied by The Governor’s Foundation for Health and Wellness in Tennessee, 64 percent of adults in the United States are overweight and 34 percent of those are obese.
Statistics reveal that 17 percent of children between ages 6-18 are obese.
In addition obesity is the second leading cause of unnecessary deaths, McLaurin reported.
He noted that data reveals that consumers spend $33 billion a year on the diet industry and that every year, eight million Americans sign up for weight loss programs.
“There are no quick fixes for weight loss,” McLaurin told those who attended his breakout session in Millington. “If there were, you would not be here.”
And, the news doesn’t get better, especially for Tennesseans.
Tennessee consistently ranks among the 10 least healthy states in the nation, McLaurin observed.
• Type 2 diabetes and hypertension are at near epidemic levels.
• The rate of obesity has increased from 10 percent to 34 percent since 1988.
• One in four adult Ten-nesseans smoke; one in five Tennessee high school students smoke.
• Children now have a shorter life expectancy than their parents.
• Tennessee spends an estimated $6 billion a year on treatment and cure of behavior-related diseases.
Statistics such as those show the great need for change in behaviors, McLaurin said.
People are not unhealthy because of a lack of information, he noted. The information is out there.
It’s time for Tennesseans to do what it takes to become healthier, McLaurin said.
He praised Randy C. Davis’ Chubby Challenge Initiative to lose 10 percent of your body weight in 2015 in order to become more physically fit.
McLaurin said that 48 people accepted the challenge online and together they lost 607 pounds. Plans are underway to extend that challenge once again in 2016, he said.
“All of us need a challenge to begin to do something,” he said.
McLaurin encourages those who want to lose weight to create an action plan which includes listing your goal, visualizing how to achieve the goal, writing the goal down with details, and reading it often.
Then, start doing it for your health and for Christ, he said.
“Create some healthy habits that put you in a place to be a better representative of the Lord,” McLaurin encouraged.