by Brooke Curtis   |   comments
<h1><a href="/blog/get-real-get-fit">Get Real, Get Fit!</a></h1>

Before you jump into trying to live a healthier lifestyle, start by preparing yourself mentally. Get real, and recognize that you cannot just achieve everything in a day because it will only set you up for a quick failure when things get hard. Too many people set unattainable health goals like wanting to go from inactivity and a McDonald’s diet to working out five days a week with completely healthy eating habits. Be realistic! It doesn’t work this way.

Start by setting a long-term goal, and then set weekly small goals that will point you in the direction to achieve the long-term goal, and write these goals down some place that is visible to you every day. For example, if I want to reach the point where I’m working out five days a week for an hour and only eating organic foods, then I would probably want to start off slowly with working out three times a week for twenty minutes and eating a salad each day. Know that every little bit counts! It may not seem like a lot at first, but the last thing that you want to do is to overwhelm yourself by trying to do everything at once. Being overwhelmed and frustrated is what causes people to give up, and associate living a healthy lifestyle with something that is hard and stressful when it isn’t.

You can do it! Here are some tips for healthy eating habits. Remember that a healthy lifestyle is realistic when you are realistic with yourself.

Brooke Curtis is currently a sophomore attending DePauw University with an intended biology major. She is serving as an intern for NEHM in January 2011.

by Brooke Curtis   |   comments
<h1><a href="/blog/walk-to-ireland-in-memory-of-father-larry">"Walk to Ireland" in Memory of Father Larry</a></h1>

If you exercise or are trying to get in the habit of it, I have good news for you! You don’t have to be in the gym lifting weights or doing an obsessive amount of cardio. All you need to do is walk! Walking uses nearly 200 muscles, reduces stress, gives you more energy, and helps tone muscles.

The University of Indianapolis Nursing Students, Holy Cross Health Ministries, and St. Francis Hospital started a health initiative called “Walk to Ireland.” The program not only focuses on improving health and spirituality, but it also commemorates Father Larry Voelker. Father Larry was “a priest, counselor, friend, and a person who understood the message of social justice and how we must be God’s presence to His people living in physical and spiritual poverty."

“Walk to Ireland” is similar to NEHM’s “Walk to Anywhere”, except instead of walking the mileage that Mary and Joseph walked to Bethlehem, you will walk to Ireland! I bet you’re wondering, why Ireland? Well, Father Larry was of Irish decent and he loved the openness of the county. Also, in the 1830’s German and Irish immigrants founded the first Holy Cross Church in Indianapolis.

Check out this link to see how the students personalized the walk to honor Father Larry. It's a wonderful way to offer add some special meaning to a wellness program. Why not use NEHM's own Walk to Anywhere program and give it a personal touch for your parish?

If you don't like to walk, then there are other activity points that can be earned doing other things. Initiatives like “Walk to Ireland” give people a challenge that focuses on improving their spirituality and health with the support of others. So go ahead, and take that first step to a better you!

Brooke Curtis is currently a sophomore attending DePauw University with an intended biology major. She is serving as an intern for NEHM in January 2011.

by Brooke Curtis   |   comments
<h1><a href="/blog/lets-move">The First Lady Launches Let's Move! Toolkit for Faith Communities</a></h1>

The New Year has everyone focusing on health and First Lady Michelle Obama is no exception. She has set out to do something much larger than my personal goal of working out five days a week with her initiative to solve the challenge of childhood obesity with a program called “Let’s Move!”  In a recent blog post, Joshua DuBois, the Executive Director of the Center for Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships, stated that “the First Lady emphasized the critical role that faith-based and neighborhood leaders play in ending childhood obesity in their communities. She also recognized that many faith and community organizations have been leading the way, whether through innovative health ministries or summer nutrition programs.”

The First Lady has even provided a Toolkit for Faith Communities with helpful tips and creative ways to promote healthy eating and fitness within your community or congregation.The toolkit is based on the four pillars of Let's Move!:

  1. Healthy Choices
  2. Healthy Schools
  3. Physical Activity
  4. Affordable and Accessible Food

The first step has been taken, so now the question is, are you up for the challenge? If so, please read DuBois’ blog post to see the commitments that others have made, and also email partnerships@hhs.gov or collaborate@usda.gov with your goals and ideas. So, “Let’s Move!” to fight childhood obesity!

Brooke Curtis is currently a sophomore attending DePauw University with an intended biology major. She is serving as an intern for NEHM in January 2011.

by Brooke Curtis   |   comments

Remember the saying “sharing is caring”? I do, but I don't recall it applying to healthcare insurance. Recently, I ran across an article about “sharing ministries” that would beg to differ. In sharing ministries, "members pay premiums as they would with a typical insurance plan, but the money goes directly to the health care bills of other members."

I just recently received a hospital bill for $16,057 for a one night hospital stay after undergoing surgery, and luckily I have healthcare insurance that will cover the majority of these costs. But after running across this article, it made me question how a sharing ministry works in comparison to insurance companies.

Of course it sounds like a bargain to have other people paying towards your health care bills, but is it really that simple? Based on Jason Roberson’s article posted on December 28th in The Dallas Morning News, it isn’t. They’re “not promising to pay anyone’s bill. It’s more of a step of faith. Trust in the Lord.” However, these medical-sharing systems stray from the harshness of insurance companies by offering a religious support system for their members. Similar to insurance companies, there is competition among sharing ministries because some are exclusive based on your health background, while others are more inclusive. Even though they make no promise to pay medical bills, they are recognized as an acceptable alternative to health insurance because they are exempt from the health insurance mandate.

Do you have experience with these sharing ministries? I'd like your thoughts on this unique approach to paying for health care bills. 

Brooke Curtis is currently a sophomore attending DePauw University with an intended biology major. She is serving as an intern for NEHM in January 2011.

by Matthew Ellis   |   comments
<h1><a href="/blog/do-the-right-thing">Do the Right Thing</a></h1>

My friends at the Church Health Center in Memphis, TN recently posted a link to a blog by Dr. Scott Morris entitled 'Wisdom for 2011: Just do the next right thing'. In the post, Dr. Morris writes:

Dr. Nash said to me for no particular reason, "Every morning I pray for one thing."
"What is that?" I asked.
"Courage," he said. "I pray for courage to do the next right thing in the eyes of God."

This brought to mind the most frequent advice I have when discussing truly difficult issues with friends and loved ones. It is a slightly distilled version of the above: "Do the right thing." 

Where did I first hear this? I cannot remember. It may have been a piece of sage advice from a book that went on to detail all the ways in which this statement can impact your life. That's possible, but unlikely. I think I probably picked this phrase up from Spike Lee's 1989 movie of the same name. Although I didn't actually see the movie until years later, I suspect I stowed it away in my subconscious somewhere and then spent the last 20 years or so chewing on it, probing it, looking for a flaw in its reasoning. I have yet to find one. 

Do the right thing. It sounds so simple, yet it is anything but simple.

This advice can completely redirect our lives if we are open to its possibilities. I believe that deep down, if we allow ourselves to be still and listen, we usually know what the 'right thing' is regardless of the situation. Isn't that what New Year's resolutions are mostly about, pledging to do the right thing more often?

  • Eat less
  • Exercise more
  • Spend more time with our families
  • Be a better partner/spouse
  • Be more present with God
  • Watch less television
  • Have more patience

We all know that these things will enhance our lives, that they are the right thing to do.


What about the big decisions, those that can alter one's life irreversibly? I believe we have the opportunity when faced with temptation or difficult choices to simply hear God say 'Do the right thing.' If we listen, the choice is usually clear. If the choice is not clear (and we have truly listened), then perhaps there is no 'right thing'. In these instances, there is probably no 'wrong thing' either. We weigh our choices as best we can and once we are at peace with our decision, we move on. 

Most of the time, simply asking ourselves to do the right thing will yield a clear path. The hard part is remembering to ask ourselves every day to do the right thing. I believe that if I can find the will to even ask this question daily, I will stay focused on the important things. I will make the choices that lead to a life of which I can be proud.  I will do all of those things listed above that will result in me being healthier and developing deeper, more rewarding relationships. It sounds so simple, yet it can be so difficult.

Do the right thing.

Matthew Ellis serves as executive director of National Episcopal Health Ministries.