Body, Mind & Spirit

By Todd Outcalt

Like most pastors in our new Indiana Conference, I recently received a phone call from my "health coach" - a wonderful women in Houston who speaks in a distinctive Texas drawl. She called me on my cell phone to encourage me in my exercise, diet and health goals. I suppose our insurance provider has arrived at the conclusion that it is less expensive to help us stay healthy than it is to cure us when we are ill. Hence, the reason for my health coach.

Conversing with my health coach has been interesting and, at times, entertaining. Or, at least I hope I've entertained her.

The first time I talked to my coach, she asked me to rate my own health in comparison to my peers. "You mean, the other pastors in the conference?" I asked. "Yes, them." she said. "I'd say I could out run most of them," I told her, "especially if I were being chased by a bear."

She asked me about my intake of fruits and vegetables. I was shocked to learn that donuts are not a distinct food group. "Do lemon-filled or blueberry-filled donuts count as a fruit?" I asked. She assured me they did not. But I promised to eat more broccoli. She gave me permission to smother it in cheese sauce.

"How often do you exercise?" she asked.

"Every day," I assured her. "I often have to bolt out of the house to meet a need. I run to my car. I scurry from meeting to meeting. I fly from house to house in accordance with the Discipline."

"But do you exercise regularly?" she pressed.

"Oh, yes! I spar with my son almost daily. I wrestle with my daughter over college tuition. My wife and I often go a few rounds every week."

"How are you handling stress?" she asked.

"I don't let it bother me," I said as I rolled down my window to yell at another motorist. "Believe me, after you've attended five church committees in a single day, the rest of life is a cake walk."

"Are you always this candid?"

"Yes," I said, "and I need to lose some weight."

"Fantastic. Let's set a goal!"

"Okay," I said. "The next time you call, I'll weigh five pounds less." I didn't tell her that I was carrying lead shot in my suit pocket at the time.

"And how is your cholesterol?"

"About 170," I told her. "But my last report said my 'good cholesterol' count was too low."

"Eat more nuts," she told me. "Use more olive oil."

"Would a nut-covered donut count?" I asked.

"No. And the next time I call, I want to hear that you've been eating your green veggies. I want to be talking to a lighter, thinner, you. I want to hear a lilt in your voice."

"Absolutely," I assured her. "You can count on me."

Afterwards, I wasn't sure if I'd been talking to my health coach or my mother. The only difference, as far as I could tell, is that my health coach didn't ask me if I was wearing new underwear.

Todd Outcalt serves as senior pastor of Calvary UMC in Brownsburg, Ind. His blog is and some of his latest writing can be found in digital form on