“Science has discovered that what we eat exerts the strongest influence on our gene expression, next to exercise.” These words from Dr. John Kelly caught my attention. Dr. Kelly from Lifestyle Health Education, along with Dr. Greg Steinke and a team of medical assistants, would be leading us and eight other AFM staff through a 10-day lifestyle immersion program.
This lifestyle health program was a welcome blessing to us. As field directors, we experience high levels of stress that often take a toll on our health. Also, mission service can greatly limit our food choices, especially when we are traveling. Even with the best intentions, our usual vegan diet isn’t always possible. It is easy to rationalize unhealthful habits until the bathroom scale or an illness provides a wakeup call. The lifestyle immersion program was an opportunity for us to learn or re-learn a better way to care for our bodies. We enjoyed whole foods that were deliciously prepared and served on an early time-restricted feeding plan that has been scientifically proven to control weight and reverse diabetes and metabolic syndrome.
We started with a blood draw and fitness assessment to establish our baselines. There were classroom presentations and videos. Personnel from the Physical Therapy Department at Andrews University gave us personalized exercises designed to keep us active. Massage therapists, hydrotherapists and other volunteers helped to fill our days with health-promoting natural remedies we can continue to use at home and in the mission field. I felt very pampered with foot baths, steam baths, contrast showers and fomentations. We also learned simple interventions and how to make charcoal compresses.
The lab results of a second blood draw at the end of the first eight days confirmed the amazing benefits of this health program. The mind-body connection became clear to us as well. Mental health issues like depression, anger or unforgiveness all have a direct bearing on physical and spiritual health, and we understood more clearly the beauty of God’s ideal plan to promote optimal vitality.
“Beloved, I pray that in every way you may succeed and prosper and be in good health [physically], just as [I know] your soul prospers [spiritually]” (3 John 1:2 AMP)