In its fourth year, the Body and Soul and the Blues Community Challenge, a partnership between Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan and the American Cancer Society, involves 15 churches in the Grand Rapids area. The challenge incentivizes the faith communities through a health and wellness competition to adopt healthier lifestyles. Participants gain points for physical activity and at the conclusion, BCBSM awards winning churches with grants to support healthy efforts.
One of the participants, Tenisa Frye, recently talked with us about her journey to better health, how it has impacted her son Darnell, and why this challenge is good for her church community.
Kristin Coppens: Describe your role with your church.
Tenisa Frye: I currently serve as the Health Coordinator at Tachanuwnah International Ministries (formerly known as Earnest Prayer). I record each participant’s exercise activity online through the Walking Works website. I also encourage the participants to set weekly health goals. As they accomplish these goals, Darnell and I journal all the transformations of each member, like weight loss, blood pressure improvements, cutting sugar intake, and more. I also try to keep the participants motivated and hold events that encourage healthier living, like outdoor Zumba, nutrition classes, walking outings, and more. I encourage members to bring healthier options rather than high fat foods when we hold events that have food.
KC: Why did you want to get involved with Body and Soul and the Blues Community Challenge?
TF: In 2009 when Body and Soul first began, it was a time where I was evaluating my health and lifestyle. As I began my journey, the opportunity to participate became available and it was perfect timing! Since that time I have lost about 50lbs, at my heaviest I was a size 32 and now I’m down to a size 16-18. My journey is still ongoing, so Body and Soul gives me the opportunity to stay focused. It’s a great source of accountability and support for living a healthier lifestyle.
KC: What motivated Darnell to get involved?
TF: As Darnell says, he originally got involved because he wanted to support his church. He figured it was a team effort. Also, at the time he was the only one of his siblings who was old enough to participate, and that notion was cool! By the second year, his involvement increased by creating ideas and working with all of the other youth involved. He is very competitive, so he comes up with ideas like using flashlights to go on a nighttime walk, earning some extra activity for the day. His motivation really inspires me.
KC: What changes have you and Darnell made to your lifestyle?
TF: Darnell and I have both become more aware of the importance of consistent exercise. When a lazy day hits us, we usually make a decision right before bedtime to do an activity together, like push-ups, crunches, running the stairs, etc. With regards to eating, we pay close attention to serving sizes. I bought measuring cups for more accuracy. Darnell even chooses his snack based on serving size, so if a graham cracker’s serving size is one full cracker, he might choose a different cracker that gives him more but has less calories. He’s very wise!
KC: What results have you seen?
TF: The results are wonderful. I am more health conscious and have lost 50lbs so far! We have really learned to think before putting certain foods into our bodies and learned moderation is key. Our results have been physical, but have also been educational and mental. We have seen our members be taken off prescribed medications. In fact, our senior pastor, Dr. Jehaziel, has lost over 100lbs. and has taken a stand to encourage our other members.
KC: Why do you think the challenge is important for the community?
TF: The challenge is important because it serves as a great source of accountability and support to anyone who wants to take on a healthier lifestyle. It provides resources and information to accomplish your goals. The challenge supports us as a church in teaching our members to live healthy spiritually, as well. By partaking in this challenge and utilizing the resources available, it causes us to do just that: be prosperous and in good health!