Ten women who attend the church Hispanos Unidos won this year’s Village HeartBEAT competition, with a combined weight loss of 80.9 pounds.
The women told Qcitymetro they won by eating more fruits and vegetables, eating smaller portions, and by giving up some of their traditional foods.
“No tacos, no tortillas, said Maria Lourdes.
Village HeartBEAT, which completed its third year, is a Mecklenburg County Health Department program designed to promote better heart health through an outreach program that extends into African American and Hispanic churches. Last year’s competition was also won by a Hispanic congregation, Camino del Rey Ministry.
Although the 16-week competition emphasizes weight loss — congregations this year lost a combined 393.06 pounds — the teams also compete in other health-related areas, such as blood pressure reduction, exercise participation and journaling.
Sixteen congregations took part in this year’s competition, which also saw nine participants give up cigarettes and tobacco products.
An estimated 500 people attended an awards ceremony on Friday at the Oasis Shriners Auditorium in University City, where congregations and individuals were recognized for health-related achievements.
The Rev. Jerry Boyd of Rockwell AME Zion Church took home the Pastor of the Year award. He later told Qcitymetro he tries each Sunday to incorporate some aspect of wellness into his worship service.
“In my first church, I saw the impact of diabetes on people whose lifestyle, eating habits and sedentary ways helped contribute to a very harsh and painful suffering that could have been avoided,” he said. “So I take it very seriously and as a part of my ministry.
“I believe that when God talks about life and life more abundantly, it’s not something that falls out of the sky,” Boyd added. “It’s something that we have to work at. These bodies, these temples that we have been given, are not meant to run automatically though any kind of conditions. They require great care. If we care for our bodies they will take care of us.”
Boyd, who battles hypertension, said his father suffered from heart disease and died at age 56.
Dr. Marcus Plescia, Mecklenburg County’s health director, said Village HeartBEAT will return next year, bigger and better.
“It gets people out and the community involved,” he said. “It gets people supporting each other, doing thing to make each other more healthy, and that’s something that really works.
“It’s gonna be around,” he added. “It’s gonna get bigger and bigger. We like to say that we’re eventually going to have to book the coliseum.”