Testimony Tuesday with Rev. Donna Olivia Owusu-Ansah

Testimony Tuesday is the time for inspirational stories. During this time, the My Faith and Fitness Blog will feature the good health and fitness stories of others. Readers will also have the opportunity to their share good health, fitness and weight loss journeys so that others may be encouraged.

If you are interested in submitting your story, please complete the form on the Contact page. Today, Rev. Donna Olivia Owusu-Ansah is sharing her story. Donna is the author of the From Time to Time Blog. She and I attended Drew Theological School together. I pray that you are blessed and encouraged by her story.

I have been writing this submission in my head for eight months. Eight months ago I reached my goal weight of 180 pounds. I was hesitant to write my testimony eight months ago because I was afraid I was not going to be able to maintain that weight. It seems my fears have manifest. Allow me to introduce myself: Hello, my name is Rev. Donna and I am a serial yo-yo dieter. Although I have re-gained thirty of the fifty pounds that I lost, I still have a testimony to share.
God be praised, this time around, I am not berating myself about my weight. In fact, I realize that when my focus is on the relationship between faith and fitness, the numbers on the scale aren’t as important. Each day, I try to make better choices to honor the temple that God has entrusted into my care. For example, at night after putting my 16 month old daughter to bed, I take out a fresh set of workout clothes and place them in the bathroom. In the morning, after greeting God in prayer and greeting my husband with a kiss, I take a shower and put on the clothes I laid out the night before. After dropping baby girl off at daycare, I head to the gym for a class (body works/yoga/Zumba) or to the park for a run. On Saturday, I join the ladies in my local chapter of Black Girls RUN! at the park for a run. On Sundays, I honor the Sabbath by resting from formal exercise, but between worship and playing with baby girl I burn a ton of calories!
Growing up, I was always a heavy girl. My uncle nicknamed me “Big Bertha” and many in my family teased me about my weight. I was not athletic and would use every excuse in the book to get out of gym class. In my twenties, and early thirties, I was engaged in a vicious cycle of binge eating/gaining weight and excessive exercise/losing weight. My heart longed for balance, but my behaviors were extreme.
I share my history because God has brought me a mighty long way. This non-athlete has become a running enthusiast! I began running in 2006 to lose weight for a friend’s wedding. I stopped a year later when I broke up with my then boyfriend (who is now my husband, but that’s another testimony for another day–glory to God). Donna5KI began running again in September 2009 to help mend my broken heart during my last year of Seminary. I stopped in August 2010 when I was a newly married, newly ordained minister commuting two hours daily to work as an Assistant to the Pastor at the Bethesda Baptist Church in New Rochelle, NY. I started running again in February 2013, nine months after the birth of my daughter. In April, I ran my first 5K in three years. I beat my personal best and finished the race in less than 40 minutes. These days, I am training for my first 10K race in November.
This time around, I am running for me—not to impress people or self-soothe—and it feels good! My body feels strong and fit, despite the extra pounds. My stamina and stability are better than ever. And both my primary care doctor and my ob/gyn are pleased with my blood pressure, cholesterol, etc. (the numbers that really count).
Working out, specifically running, has become a form of devotion for me. When I am active, I am keenly aware that I am embodied spirit created in the image of God. When I am active, I am thankful for my beating heart and strong legs that are fearfully and wonderfully made. When I am active, my cares and worries pour away like sweat and I become lighter and freer with each step. When I am active, I am reliant on my breath—the inspiration of the Holy Spirit—to keep me going. When I am active, my spirit is open to hearing from God and my mind is poised to listen. And herein lies my testimony: I have been delivered from the bondage of skewed body image and excessive exercise into the freedom of walking—better yet, running—as an act of obedience to and honor of God. Thanks be to God!
Many thanks to My Faith and Fitness for being a source of inspiration and encouragement for the body of Christ to be healthy and whole.
Rev. Donna Olivia Owusu-Ansah
twitter: @ddotolivia