Samir Becic, 4 times Number 1 Fitness Trainer in the world and his Health Fitness Revolution team created a list that is the first of its kind- the 10 Fittest Religious Leaders in the U.S. HFR believes that spiritual health is a key component of total body health. We also believe that spiritual leaders cannot achieve their full potential without being physically fit. Healthy body = Healthy Spirit. This is why we are bringing you the list of the Fittest Spiritual Leaders in America.
This list was difficult to create considering that there is not much data available. We screened several hundred religious leaders, narrowed it down to 100, then 50, 25, and ultimately these 10. We took into consideration their fitness levels, their nutritional diets, their own struggles with health issues, their ages, and the amount health and fitness awareness that they promote to within congregations.
Pastor Joel Osteen
The 50-year-old preacher made headlines a couple years ago when he was pictured in Hawaii with 6-pack abs, which is a testament in itself to how much he exercises. Osteen frequently posts diet and fitness advice on his website, encouraging people “to take care of your temple. Don’t put things in that you know shouldn’t be in. Limit the sugars. Limit the caffeine. Drink more water. Eat more fruits and vegetables and don’t live off of these packaged lunch meats,” Osteen advises. “Eat more organic when you can. More baked and less fried.” He cares so much about the health of his congregation that he even appointed one of the top fitness experts in the world, Health Fitness Revolution founder Samir Becic to be in charge of Health and Fitness at his mega-church, Lakewood in Houston, TX. We wrote about it in an article here. Samir says “Joel Osteen makes me laugh so hard that sometimes I have a sore stomach, laughter is a key component of health.” Joel Osteen also made our list of Top 10 Fittest Christian Leaders in America.
This spiritual leader, new thought minister, and best selling author wrote the book “A Course in Weightloss: 21 spiritual lessons for surrendering your weight forever.” In her book, she says that in truth, our weight problems are caused by our minds and in particular, caused by the fear inside our minds- and until we spiritually rid ourselves of certain thoughts and fears- we will “yo-yo diet”. She says our fears will express itself in unhealthy eating habits or resistance to exercise. Put simply, Marianne’s course aims to take you through a series of 21 spiritual lessons that will help heal the ‘inner’ you, so that the ‘outer’ you will follow naturally. Marianne has said “When people are ‘missing’ something emotionally or spiritually, they tend to overeat or avoid exercise.” Marianne believes the reason obesity is such an epidemic in the Western world is partly because of the food we’re eating. “I certainly know there’s an epidemic in the US. I think one of the problems we have in the US is so much of diet is from processed foods. If your ancestors didn’t eat it, then your body doesn’t recognize it,” she says. “It’s like the digestive tract is saying – what is this? I don’t recognise this. It recognises cumquats, but not the macaroni and cheese.
ShiFu Shi Yan Ming
ShiFu Shi Yan Ming is a Chan Master, Founder and abbot of the USA Shaolin Temple. A 34th generation Shaolin Warrior monk from China’s Shaolin Temple–the birthplace of Chan Buddhism and the mecca of all martial arts–Yan Ming teaches the students at his New York Shaolin Temple a rigorous program of kung fu for getting the body and mind into warrior condition. He even wrote a book called “The Shaolin Workout: 28 Days to Transforming Your Body and Soul the Warrior’s Way” which is highly ranked by readers on Amazon.
Tom cruise has been the public spokesperson for Scientology since 2004. Although he is not the official head of the church, he received their Freedom Medal of Valor from the International Association of Scientologists– the first such medal ever awarded. Since he is an actor, his workout routine varies from role to role but he is known for having a vigorous workout routine. When he is in training, he follows a prescription designed for him by world-class soccer player David Beckham: sticks to a strict and balanced nutritional diet, lifts weights, does calisthenic exercises and engages in a lot of fun type physical activities like jogging, hiking, playing tennis and other things to keep his body moving. He is a great example of healthy living for his scientologist community. Tom Cruise also made our list of Top 10 Fittest Hollywood Actors, Top 10 Fittest Hollywood Celebrities, and Who are the Fittest Hollywood Celebrities of 2014?
Rabbi Levi Brackman
The self-proclaimed “Crossfit Rabbi” works out four to five times a week and is health conscious. As a contributing writer in the Denver Post, he parallels fitness and spirituality: “To become fit either spiritually or physically takes dedication and effort. While it may not be fun initially, if you stay with it the benefits will become self evident. It always amazes me when people are able to see this clearly with regard to their physical fitness, but are blind to it when it comes to spirituality. “
His Grace Gadadhara Pandit Dasa
His Grace Gadadhara Pandit Dasa is a lecturer and Hindu chaplain at Columbia University, New York University, and Union Theological Seminary in addition to being a contributing writer for the Huffington Post. He practices yoga and follows the true meaning of the term- which is to try and reconnect with the divine. He has written on the yoga of eating an entirely vegetarian diet because “when an individual consumes this offered or “karma-free” food, one’s mind, senses and consciousness get purified of such tendencies as greed, anger, envy and selfishness. One comes simultaneously closer to the divine.” By following a vegetarian diet, many hindu’s eat diets that tend to be higher in fiber and protective phytonutrients and lower in saturated fat than the typical American diet. This healthier diet helps explain why vegetarians tend to have less cardiovascular disease, Type 2 diabetes, hypertension and fewer weight problems than their meat-loving counterparts. Pandit wrote about being an urban monk in his book “Urban Monk: Exploring Karma, Consciousness, and the Divine”.
Abuhena Saifulislam is the first Muslim appointed as an imam chaplain in the United States military. In the Navy his rank is Lieutenant Commander and he is popularly known as Chaplain Saif. This Lieutenant Commander in the navy must be fit in order to fulfill his roles and duties, and the Navy considers a physically fit body as important as a sound mind. Those in the navy must develop stamina, endurance and improve overall physical condition so they can meet demanding physical fitness requirements of their jobs. Men in the navy cannot have body fat over 22% and must maintain fit throughout their active duty. Abuhena Saifulislam is a great example to muslims in maintaining a physically fit body while still practicing their faith.
Pastor Heather Lindsey
Heather knows what it takes to stay healthy and fit after working as a TV show host in the entertainment industry. In 2012 she founded The Pinky Promise, an organization that promotes honoring God with your life & body. She also penned a book “The Perfect Recipe” which she calls an invitation for women who desire to get closer to Christ, eat healthier and feel better. Heather is a vegetarian and follows a healthy nutritional diet which helps her maintain her vibrant and youthful looks. We feel she is a great example for women in the Christian community who leads by example. Heather also made our list of Top 10 Fittest Christian Leaders in America.
Pastor Chris Townsend
This Lutheran pastor is so committed to fitness that he’s now working out while delivering his sermon. In a creative and eye catching way, Chris Townsend is aiming to inspire his congregation by showing them that you truly can make time to be fit by brining stationary bikes, treadmills, and yoga balls to the pulpit! So far he’s lost 35 pounds, 5 inches off his waist, and built muscle in other areas. But his main message is to be physically and spiritually fit. Leading by example, Townsend is hopeful others will join him in transforming their mind and body. “Hopefully it will inspire, prayerfully inspire, people to get fit. Not just physically fit, but spiritually fit working on the spiritual muscle that’s the core muscle for us,” said Townsend. The pastor still wants to lose another 25 to 30 pounds to reach his goal weight. In addition to exercise, Townsend has also completely cut out caffeine and changed his diet. Chris also made our list of Top 10 Fittest Christian Leaders in America.
Pastor Rick Warren
This mega-church pastor had an epiphany one day while he was baptizing 858 people. After dipping the 500th body into the water, Warren’s aching arms led him to conclude, “We’re all fat.” He concedes that it wasn’t a very spiritual thought for a pastor to have, but he also thought, “I’m fat, too. I’m as out of shape as everyone else is.” From this moment, he decided to create a health program with leading experts such as Dr. Oz, that Christians could follow by writing a book named the “Daniel Plan.” Although the pastor himself has struggled with his own weight for a very long time, we put him on this list because he found leading experts in the health and fitness fields and wrote a book with them that has helped millions get healthier. His book is a lifestyle program that helped Warren lose 65 pounds in 2011 and aided members of his congregation to get healthier by dropping more than 250,000 pounds collectively that year. Rick Warren also made our list of Top 10 Fittest Christian Leaders in America.
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