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Black balloons mark some fortieth birthday celebrations. But when Luke Skelton hit the middle-age milestone, he reflected on years of excellent health and looked forward to a future filled with more of the same.

The Scottsdale, Arizona, resident never strayed far from his faith or his commitment to physical and mental health. However, in 1990 Skelton started developing a new approach. “I’ve learned that some abrupt changes are good,” he says. “But in general, the most beneficial and long-lasting come from a gradual and consistent journey toward better health choices.”

Skelton’s slow reformation in the diet area began after he studied the first chapter of Daniel. “The king instructed Daniel to eat what was put on his plate,” Skelton says. “But Daniel didn’t want to defile or disappoint God, so he ate vegetables. And that seemed to lead to his greater wisdom.”

In order to become a modern-day version of his Bible hero, Skelton cut out pork and shellfish. Then he nixed red meat. Chicken, fish, and dairy ultimately followed.

Shelving those foods could have meant sacrificing taste. But along the way he and his wife, Susan, discovered replacement recipes with flavor. For instance, the couple makes a spreadable cheese from cashews and roasted peppers, which add both color and flavor. They also use a cheese substitute to make a meatless whole-grain lasagna.

Fuel That Gets Us Through the Day

“I like it better,” Skelton says. “It’s interesting how your taste buds change. And it’s important. What we put into our bodies is the fuel that will get us through the day, the year, our lives.”

His growing health awareness also altered his fitness routine. Others might have considered Skelton a role model before. The man visited the gym four or five days a week and spent 90 minutes to two hours lifting weights and cycling. “But at the gym, my only purpose was to get fit,” he said.

Skelton now tries more practical methods. That doesn’t mean he’s given up on working out. But these days he puts more muscle into yard work and other chores.

These decisions over the past 15 years have stacked up to exemplary health for Skelton—something he shares as he leads the health and wellness program at his church, Camelback Seventh-day Adventist in Phoenix, Arizona.

But the core of his enhanced diet and fitness commitments remains spiritually rooted. Skelton views the human mind and body as the temple of the Holy Spirit, a vessel worthy of all-around good lifestyle choices. Those choices for him, begin at the top of the day when he rolls out of bed and drops to his knees to pray. “That way, I spend time thinking about God, praising Him and asking Him to lead me before the busyness of life starts,” Skelton says.

He then opens the Bible for a time of personal devotions. He also regularly participates in a small group Bible study. “Prayer is my opportunity to talk to God. Devotions are God’s opportunity to talk to me. And Bible studies are our opportunity to encourage and hold each other accountable,” he explains. “Without all three (praise, prayer, and study), you can become spiritually dry or unbalanced.”

Growing stronger mentally and physically takes time, he says. To further develop his overall well-being, Luke Skelton has drastically cut his hours of TV watching and Internet surfing. He says he’s happier and healthier for it.

He has learned the secret of living a stress-reduced life: working mind and body together to create an atmosphere of good health.

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By Pam Mellskog. Reprinted with permission from Vibrant Life July/August 2006. Copyright © 2011 by GraceNotes. All rights reserved. Use of this material is subject to usage guidelines.

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