Starting a faith-based weight loss health program is one of the most rewarding ways of giving back to your community — but it can be a daunting task if the program is to be well-designed and effective. There is no doubt that combining the spirit with the body is necessary for long-term, sustainable weight loss, which is research supported.
As a medical school student, I designed a faith-based weight loss health program called Don’t Weight to Lose. It was held at Franklin Avenue Baptist Church in New Orleans, Louisiana. The program ran for 3 years including 7 total sessions. Here are the Program Results from an early session to show the effectiveness of the design: Program Results. Here is also a video of me lecturing about How to Start a Faith-Based Health Program.
First things are first. You must do your research. To save you the time, I have included a few articles that were instrumental in the design of this program:
Dr. Gourmet.com Weight Loss Myths – Dr. Gourmet is a great site you can refer to to build the nutrition aspect of your program.
Developing Effective Health Programs – A must read basic article.
Outline – Develop a Local Health Ministry Program – A beautiful article that I outlined while designing Don’t Weight to Lose.
CDC – Eating Fruits and Vegetables for Weight Loss – Can’t get much better than information from the CDC.
Once you do your research, you have to determine the need in your community. Of absolute, utmost importance is the Needs Assessment. Included is the one that I designed and implemented in my faith-based weight loss health program.
Now you must design your program. I have to tell you that you will continually tweak this design. It is an ongoing process and will change with each population that you help. Here is the Counselor Operations Manual, which outlines the design of the program very well:
Then, you must train your volunteers — the backbone of your program. A faith-based weight loss health program is only as good as its volunteers!
You will need to design a Program Manual to give your clients. It should be designed to include information for those who may not have internet access. It should provide basic information on exercise and nutrition. Here is the one used in Don’t Weight to Lose:
Kieran Stober, M.D., also designed a Fruit and Vegetable Calendar, which actually became the highlight of our faith-based weight loss program. It is simple — you write down the number of fruits and vegetables you ate per day, minutes of exercise and steps walked. The month can easily be changed.
A workout log is also useful for feedback. Over the years, I developed a very simple log that seemed to work well:
If you decide to include health screenings in your faith-based weight loss program, here are materials that may be helpful:
Of course, in your program design, you will need to include lectures or presentations:
Finally, you will need to analyze your data. I recommend asking your local university or Public Health School to get involved.
I hope this information helps you design your own faith-based weight loss program! Don’t Weight to Lose was definitely a highlight in my life, and I hope these materials can help you fulfill your dream to help others improve health 🙂 Please feel free to contact me with questions or feedback.
I also (cough, cough…) recommend using material from my eBook The Exercise Blueprint, or other information from this site!