La Vita WeaverAfter years of yo-yo dieting and struggling with her weight, La Vita Weaver added gospel music to her exercise routine for motivation. Soon she was inspired to recite hymns and Bible verses. She found that celebrating her faith energized her workouts-she was losing weight and sticking to her routine. These workout sessions were the genesis of Weaver's "Hallelujah! Aerobics," a series of videos that incorporates Bible verses and hymns into an exercise routine (Watch a video clip.) and her eight-week "Fit for God" program, which combines prayer, exercise, and nutrition advice in a holistic approach to a healthy lifestyle. Now an ordained minister and fitness instructor, Weaver spoke with Beliefnet about her fitness philosophy.

What does it mean to be "fit for God"?

Basically being "fit for God" is being totally fit in your spirit, your soul, and your body. And acknowledging God in everything you do, including your fitness program.

1st Thessalonians 5:23 says, "Now may the God of peace himself sanctify you wholly and may your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ." That's one of the scriptures that God led me to place in my heart when he gave me this vision for this book. And the second Scripture is 1st Corinthians 10:31, "Therefore, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God." I realized that I could not maintain control over my eating habits, until I included God in my fitness program.

There are so many diet plans out there-even some faith-based plans-and so many different fads and trends. What do you think makes your plan different?

I think what makes my plan different, number one, is my personal experience. I know what it feels like to have no control over your eating habits. I know what it feels like to be obese. I know what it feels like to be ashamed of your body. To think everyone is looking at you because of your weight. I know how it feels to not want to live, to be in a severe, depressed state. I have been there. I lived it.

Many of the plans out there may talk about the spiritual component, or they may talk about just the diet, but I think my plan is complete in that I talk about the spiritual issues in addition to giving advice about eating right. And I believe in exercise. I don't believe you just pray the weight off. God gave us this great gift of exercise to relieve stress, to reduce the risk of illness. And a lot of the other spiritual plans that I have read do not necessarily include the exercise component.

So nutrition and exercise is not enough to be completely whole. And "Fit for God" is about complete wellness.

Studies indicate that America is the fattest country in the world-25 percent of us are considered not just overweight but obese. Do you think this may be a symptom of something deeper, like a widespread spiritual hunger?

I have trained Indian or Asian clients and they told me when they first came to this country, they were thin. And they said that once they stayed here over a period of time, they gained a significant amount of weight. So number one, I definitely believe it's fast foods, and it's our diet in America.

But I also feel that because we're so opportunist and we believe in the American dream-obtaining as much power and money and success as you can-I think that is what sometimes can drive that spiritual hunger as well. Because we're trying to fill a void with power, with wealth, with education.

Some would say God doesn't care if you're fat, but you believe it's ok to care about the way you look. Can you talk a little bit about why you feel that way?

Well I do believe that God specifically does not care about the way you look. I believe in my heart that God loves each and every one of his children the way they are. There is a scripture in the Book of First Samuel, when Samuel was going to anoint the next king over Israel and God told Samuel, "Do not look at his appearance." Because God doesn't see as man sees. Man looks at the outward appearance, but God searches the heart. He cares about whether you have a relationship with him and the way you're treating others.

I think there's nothing wrong with wanting to look fit or being neat in your clothes. I don't think there's anything wrong with that as long as that fitness does not become your God.

In reality, I do care about the way I look. Most women I meet, and men, care about the way they look. I mean, who wants to have rolls and cellulite on their thighs? So instead of me being so spiritual, I'm also being a realist in that it's ok to want to be fit, to want to be healthy-and to look fit and healthy.

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