It’s stated in the Bible that the body is a temple. For Pastor Robert Welty, this summer’s winner of the first Frederick Wellness Challenge, that temple had an extreme makeover this year.

Welty, who leads the Boonsboro Bible Church, found himself in a precarious position. Once a man of a healthy weight, he started to gain, and that led to further health problems.

Complicating matters, the pastor’s love of running was slowed by joint pain and as the running lessened, he began to pack on even more weight.

Topping the scales at 335 pounds, Welty’s joint pain worsened. “It seemed the more I hurt, the more I ate. The more I ate, the more I got depressed.”

He sought medical treatment last August, and was given a prescription for Vicodin to help ease the pain. Shortly after, he found himself addicted to the narcotic. He also needed medication to help lower his blood pressure, which was hovering at a dangerous 165 over 115.

Dr. Ken Williams, a local chiropractor, is a member of Welty’s congregation and suggested he come in for an evaluation. Williams at the time was working for the Mid-Atlantic Center for Chiropractic in Frederick. He has since opened his own practice in Hagerstown.

In January, Welty was introduced to the Creating Wellness program, a comprehensive plan that seeks to improve the overall health and well-being of a person, through Mid-Atlantic. He began using the meal plan offered by the program, and incorporated walking into his daily routine.

“It wasn’t long before I noticed I started to drop the weight and start feeling better,” Welty said. This feeling of wellness gave him the courage to quit taking the narcotics. The walk turned into a jog, then the jog to into a run. Welty said he worked up to running 10 miles a day.

With his health issues improving, Welty said he still battled with depression and low self-esteem. “As I continued on the wellness program, it seemed to help. I looked at myself in a more positive way and began to feel more confident,” he said.

The challenge — part 2

Through the chiropractor’s office, Welty learned about the first Frederick Wellness Challenge and was eager to sign up. The challenge was a 12-week program that ran from June through August in which participants were placed in teams, had weekly group sessions with a personal trainer, and weekly workouts or challenges as a larger group.

Prior to the challenge, Welty had dropped 80 pounds. While that is a feat in itself, he said a greater challenge was wrapping his mind around the idea that he can eat so much food and still lose weight. Welty was eating 2,700 calories of healthy, well-balanced meals — a vast contrast from the fried, fat-laden foods that he used to eat. He also broke his habit of drinking 10 to 12 diet drinks a day.

Welty credits fresh fruit and vegetable as a major help throughout his journey to good health. His wife, Kathy, also played a major role — she prepared all of his food and kept him on track, he said.

On Sept. 26, in front of a number of contestants in the Wellness Challenge, Welty was named as the winner and received a check for $5,000. Welty, as noted by Dr. Amir Rashidian and his wife, Brandi, of Mid-Atlantic, had the most significant improvement in his overall health out of all competitors over the 12 weeks of the challenge.

Brandi Rashidian said that Welty is determined, but as he struggled with health issues, she believed he needed a little assistance to make lifestyle changes. She said the program and the challenge benefited him in that regard.

“He is probably one of the most committed people that I have ever met when it comes to his health,” Brandi Rashidian said. Determination is important, she noted, but too much determination can lead to extremes and imbalances. Welty continues to work with the Rashidians to ensure that balance as well as maintain accountability, she said.

The team aspect also created an aspect of accountability for the challenge, and it was that aspect that was a real draw for Welty. “We encouraged one another,” he said.

Martha Herman was the team trainer for Welty’s group, which was sponsored by Mid-Arlantic Center for Chiropractic. “He’s what I like to call a hard worker,” Herman said. “When he (trained) he did it really hard, with effort and commitment.”

“I would guess that a lot of people in the group ended up admiring him. He worked hard to do what he did,” said Herman. “Having him in the group likely did help the rest of the group work harder, even if they didn’t say it out loud.”

Today, Welty weighs in at 213 and continues his exercise regime of running, weight lifting and learning mixed martial arts. His body fat percentage dropped from 41.97 percent in January to 15.82 percent in September.

For Welty, it was a change in mindset that changed his life. “I know the bad health I was in, and if you set your mind to (making a change), it can be accomplished. You can get your life turned around and in better health, better shape, and it’s well worth it.”

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