Church leader vows to exercise religiously

Ten professionals and 10 teams are competing in the 2014 Get Fit Challenge, a spinoff of IB’s popular Fittest Executive Challenge. Who will earn the healthiest marks? Follow along on Facebook and then find out at the In Business Expo & Conference on Oct. 22. This week, IB checks in with Brett Christensen, director of youth and family ministry at Our Savior’s Lutheran Church, who is competing in the individual challenge.

Hello friends, I am Brett Christensen, one of the male contestants for the 2014 IB Get Fit Challenge. I was honored to be chosen to participate in this experience. I decided to submit an entry for this challenge for a couple of reasons. For the past nine years I have been the director of youth and family ministry at Our Savior’s Lutheran Church in Sun Prairie. This is the first job I have had that requires weekday desk hours. Suffice to say that in the past nine years, that desk time and the unpredictable nature of church work have taken a toll on my fitness regimen, as I have gained about 50 pounds.

In those nine years, I have watched my two wonderful children become adults. I have found it increasingly difficult to keep up with them and enjoy the same activities they do. I realized I needed to make a conscious effort to take care of my health. This challenge has given me the opportunity to purposefully evaluate my health and set goals for becoming healthier. I have done this in several ways.

Each of us contestants has a sponsoring gym and trainer. I have partnered with the Dane County YMCA. With the help of my trainer, Janelle Van Erem, I have set some lofty but doable goals. I want to lose around 50 pounds and then become educated and implement healthy eating habits. I used to love to run when my children were very young. I would love to get into shape again so that running becomes a lifelong activity for maintaining a healthy lifestyle. Part of my exercise plan involves walking with my wife on non-running days.

Like many people, I need an incentive to maintain a healthy regimen and get healthy in general. My wife found two great apps for me to use that so far have helped me stay focused. The first is called My Fitness Pal. It helps you track your food intake and log your exercise activities. Each day I can track caloric intake, which helps me set good eating habits. The second app is called C25K free. It is a couch-to-5K-race app. Over the span of eight weeks, by simply following a 30-minute walking and running regimen, I will build up strength and stamina to run consistently enough to run a 5K race if I wish. Janelle has given me other core exercises to help me safely tone up.



I have encountered two challenges in the six weeks I have been on this exercise program. The first is my crazy schedule. My normal days off are Fridays and Saturday, but that typically happens twice a month. Sometimes I work a typical eight- to nine-hour day, but if there are special events happening at the church, I might put in 16 hours. That has made it difficult to keep an exercise routine. I have found myself thinking about exercise a week in advance and for a week at a time. This has helped me plan ahead.

The second challenge I have faced is a sore shoulder. I am not sure how this injury (yet undetermined) occurred, but it has hindered me somewhat. I am working with Janelle to find alternate activities that do not aggravate my shoulder. I have a doctor’s appointment in the near future and hope to get some answers then.

So far this entire experience has been really fun, as I have gotten to meet some new people and have begun to learn how to maintain a healthy lifestyle. I look forward to blogging more about that in the future. I will take time to share with you more health updates, exercise plans, and goals.

In conclusion, I want to share that the best thing I have learned so far is to forgive myself when I do not meet each daily or weekly goal. This is a lifelong journey, and I realize there will be highs and lows along the way. Thanks for joining me on this journey.

Meet all of the competitors here, and see who wins at the In Business Expo & Conference

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