Connecting Columbia Union Seventh-day Adventists

Cardio Conversion

Although kids, work and just plain ignorance once kept these five members from staying fit, they all finally determined, “No. More. Excuses!” They traded in apology for action and not only improved their own heath, but helped give others more motivation to move.

Story by Tanisha Greenidge

“I Found Balance in My Life”

Richard Reinhardt, a member at Chesapeake Conference’s Triadelphia church in Columbia, Md., was always active but never considered himself an athlete. That includes his time as a member of the Acro-Aires, a tumbling and stunting team at Washington Adventist University in Takoma Park, Md. “I always did well, but not because it came naturally. I learned how to tumble and base [pyramids] mostly on sheer will power,” he says, but notes that it didn’t improve his cardio endurance.

Richard Reinhardt recently finished the Boston Marathon in just over three hours. “I think that qualifying so young was a special gift that allowed me to be more visible and speak about my beliefs with other runners and show that following God doesn’t mean not fulfilling  your dreams,” he says. Richard Reinhardt recently finished the Boston Marathon in just over three hours. “I think that qualifying so young was a special gift that allowed me to be more visible and speak about my beliefs with other runners and show that following God doesn’t mean not fulfilling
your dreams,” he says.

Turning Point: It was his wife, Melissa, who inspired him to participate in triathlons. “I knew that I would rather be out there with her than sitting on the sidelines,” he admits. As he worked to join her on the course—improving his swimming and running techniques—his health focus intensified. He credits running further in a shorter time to having the right balance in his life.

“It is easier to listen to God when you don’t have daily distractions getting in the way,” says Reinhardt, who listens to sermon podcasts during long runs. “You need time for worship, time for family and friends, time for work and time for rest.”

Passing it On: His passion led him to create a Facebook group in 2010 called Adventist Athletes, which now claims 30 members who encourage each other. Reinhardt also meets weekly with a running group to train and fellowship. “I envision that there should be a larger community of Adventists encouraging each other with positive feedback on how they can be shining beacons of our health message,” he says. “If we exercise and eat right, then we should shine above others, like Daniel and his friends did.”

Click to the next page for "I Helped Start a Running Ministry"

“I Helped Start a Running Ministry”

Although Anelise Antunes grew up in an active family and played volleyball through most of her education, she stopped exercising when she became a busy, working adult. But, she wasn’t happy with her health and wanted to make a change.

Turning Point: Four years ago, Antunes transferred her membership to Allegheny East Conference’s Capitol Hill church in Washington, D.C. There she discovered a church filled with athletes, including a surprising number of runners. Although a friend had previously introduced her to running, she had trouble maintaining a schedule.

 Marlon Ming CHARM members—including Armand Davila, leader Anelise Antunes, Lincoln Liburd, Karen Hayes and Max Maurice—regularly pass the running bug onto neighbors, friends and family members.
Photo credit: Marlon Ming

“I started noticing that other brothers and sisters, like myself, would start a walking and/or running routine, but were not sure how to do it,” she notes. That led her and a few other church members to form the Capitol Hill Area Runner’s Movement (CHARM), a ministry she now leads.

Passing it On: Today there are more than 90 CHARM members who hail from neighboring churches or the church’s neighborhood. They meet every Sunday to run or walk and generally to encourage each other to better health. CHARM members also promote Adventist health reform, including the eight natural remedies, to the local community and other professional runners. They also typically train and participate in several races throughout the year. But, Antunes says the group has seen more than thinner waistlines. Some have also been able to reduce their number of prescribed medications.

“We pray, we plan, we train and give God the glory in all that we do!” exclaims Antunes. For those who want to start a similar group, she refers them to one of her favorite Bible verses, Habakkuk 2:2-3. She says it explains the importance of writing down a clear vision statement and dedicating it to the Lord.

“We Shaped up as a Family”

Andrew and Jennifer Nichols of Chesapeake Conference’s Frederick (Md.) church once exemplified those parents who fondly recall the free time they used to enjoy “before kids,” especially when it came to fitness. “After kids, working out at the gym stopped,” notes Jennifer.

Turning Point: After the kids, Olivia and Colton, got a bit older, the pair felt a resurge of determination to make exercise a regular part of their lives. First, they signed up for a half marathon to get back on track. Then earlier this year, they conquered P90X3, a third installment in the popular high-intensity DVD workout series. “We began exercising together as a way to motivate each other and hold each other accountable,” explains Andrew.

Passing it On: As they hoped, their increased activity drew the interests of their children. “We want our kids to understand that physical exercise has so many benefits, many of which we don’t always actually see,” says Jennifer. These days family time includes bike rides, walks or hikes, ice skating or skiing.

 Brad Barnwell Photo credit: Brad Barnwell

There have also been benefits the couple didn’t foresee. “Recently we had a death in our family, and the kids used bike and walk time as a chance to ask questions about death, heaven and the second coming,” says Jennifer. The family especially enjoys their Sabbath walks. “It’s a great opportunity to do something together and talk about what [the kids] learned in Sabbath School,” says Andrew. “When we make exercise a priority, we find that we feel better about ourselves, and we have a sense of accomplishment.”

“I’m Beating My Family History”

Growing up, Wilona Karimabadi considered herself chubby. During her elementary and high school years, she noticed that many girls her age were active and played sports. However, the women she more closely resembled within her Indian family and community did not exercise at all.

Turning Point: “I knew that many of them were unhappy with how they looked, and I didn’t want to grow up that way,” recalls Karimabadi, who is a member at Potomac Conference’s Southern Asian church in Silver Spring, Md. Additional motivation came from the knowledge that her family health history includes diabetes, depression and high blood pressure. The final situation that confirmed her decision was her father’s heart attack during her sophomore year in high school. “With all of those conditions sort of lying in wait for me, to not make fitness a priority in my life would have been irresponsible,” she says.

 Houshyar Karimabadi Wilona Karimabadi uses her new certification as a personal trainer to help friends and family—like her daughter, Mia—get fit. “Resolve in your mind that you can do it," she tells them.
Photo credit: Houshyar Karimabadi

“I absolutely believe that having a fit mind and body are what God wants for us,” says Karimabadi, who now takes a balanced approach to health with her husband and two children. “By paying more attention to my diet and exercising, I’ve really noticed a difference in my mood and energy. It makes me feel better about myself,” she says.

Passing it On: Karimabadi isn’t keeping the good vibes to herself. Earlier this year, she became a certified personal trainer and now happily gives quick workout ideas to friends, family members and anyone else who needs it. She reminds others that God doesn’t want them to be sickly, weak, tired or depressed.

“He wants you to live your best life. Throw your fears aside and get started!” she encourages.



“I’m Not Letting Age Define My Health”

Although she maintained a consistent fitness routine for years, after turning 50, Sheila Case began to notice changes in her body and mood. “I take very seriously the idea that my body is the temple of God, and I have tried to honor that the best I can through healthful practices,” she says. “Unfortunately, as we age, it takes twice the effort to accomplish what [we] would when younger.”

 Mary Wyar Sheila Case encourages others to set goals and suggests, "Use exercise as an outlet to achieve your dreams. It isn't easy, but the rewards are tremendous."
Photo Credit: Mary Wyar

Turning Point: Since Case, a member at Ohio Conference’s Toledo First church turned 60 in March, she has become more intentional about setting goals and living a balanced life. Five or six times a week she either runs, hikes or participates in a local fitness class. Besides the endorphins and clearer thinking she gains from workouts, she says she sleeps better at night and enjoys a stronger relationship with God.

“I am always amazed at how miraculously God has made our bodies. I feel younger, more nimble and eager to tackle things that life throws at me,” Case notes. She adds, “There have been times of great stress in my life, but exercise, especially running … [allows] me the time to clear my head and talk to God.” She has run in numerous marathons, but next plans to complete a two-day, bike ride fundraiser for multiple sclerosis, where she will cycle 50 miles each day.

Passing it On: Earlier this year, Case encouraged five fellow church members to run the Glass City Marathon as a relay—where they medaled. “It’s fun to see people strive toward something that they didn’t know they could do,” she says. Through Fitbit, she also encourages a group of church members to hold each other accountable.

Read more from the August 2014 Visitor:


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