HOUSTON?The staff of Houston’s First Baptist Church is taking on America’s weight problem one person at a time.
Approximately 45 women and eight to 10 men on staff at the church have voluntarily entered the church’s health and weight-loss program “t1:Street w:st=”on”>First Place.”
Founded in 1981 by FBC church members who wanted to lose weight and live healthier lives, the program has helped more than 500,000 people in about 12,000 churches in the United States and worldwide.
“We’ve been working on getting First Place started with the staff for a while,” said Diane Bagby, executive assistant to Executive Pastor David Self.
She said the staff’s participation in First Place is part of a staff wellness program the church wants to promote.
“Because I work with the staff and was already a First Place leader, I wanted to do a group during business hours because many of our staff members don’t want to come back in the evening to participate in a meeting.”
Bagby, who is also a personal trainer and has worked in wellness intervention in the corporate world, said the staff First Place group is very diverse in age and in needs.
“In many other groups there is a strong emphasis on weight loss,” Bagby said. “We have some staff members who have struggled with eating disorders and others who are not overweight but who are trying to learn eating habits and God’s way for wellness.”
She said it is amazing to her how many people don’t understand what it means to eat healthily.
“Some are just trying to learn to eat the right foods in the right amounts,” Bagby said.
As of week five in the First Place program, the staff members had lost more than 89 pounds, Bagby said.
“Some gain, while others lose. This number includes results for those who are not necessarily trying to lose weight.”
Bagby said the leaders of the First Place groups sometimes offer incentives for not only losing weight but also keeping the nine commitments of the plan such as eating fruits and vegetables, drinking enough water and saying the week’s memory verse. She said she believes it’s amazing how much a sticker with the amount of pounds each person lost will motivate someone.
Bagby said the participants are very pleased with the program so far.
“They are enjoying the fellowship and the lunches.”
Bagby said staff members tell Self, the executive pastor, all the time how much the program is blessing them.
“Our biggest loser so far said she never really knew what it meant before to see her body as God’s temple.”