In 2010, a week after I reached my healthy weight, I flew to Houston, Texas, to attend my first Summit. Each year, FP4H hosts this two-day event with success stories, breakout sessions on leadership, nutrition, spiritual growth, and a keynote speaker to inspire us. I marveled at the vast size of the facilities at Houston’s First Baptist Church. I’d never been in a mega-church before. It resembled a community college, and I needed a map to find my way around the campus. Even though I attended one of the largest churches in Pittsburgh, PA, it was dwarfed by this 4,000-seat worship center.
In 2010, starstruck, I met leaders and teachers I’d watched on the DVDs and read about in books. The speakers challenged my perspective:
- Vicki Heath, then associate director, shared: “If you do not quit, you will succeed.”
- Becky Turner, emcee and breakout session speaker, said: “Say ‘no’ so you can say ‘yes’ to a greater yes.”
- Joyce Ainsworth, networking leader, and breakout session speaker shared: “Learn to choose well. Don’t focus on good and bad, but the best choice.”
- Carole Lewis, then the national director added: “We are better together. The hard work of change is easier with a friend.”
The fellowship filled my soul. I met others who would encourage and sustain me on my new maintenance journey. I sat next to Jennifer Krogh from Kewaunee, Wisconsin. We discovered many similarities in our lives: mothers of two sons, long-lasting marriages, spouses who loved us regardless of our physical sizes, each of us memorized Psalm 139, and both blessed “big losers.” Jenn had maintained a 165-pound loss for more than four years. I’d hit my 116 pounds lost only days before.
As Summit wrapped up, Carole Lewis challenged everyone: “Find an accountability partner before you leave.” Convinced that God ordained our chance meeting, Jenn and I exchanged contact information and scheduled a follow-up video conference.
During our first meeting, we set the parameters for the future. We would meet for one hour every two weeks and end each session with prayer. Jenn planned to sit for the American Council on Exercise (ACE) certification for Personal Fitness Trainer in 2011. She suggested that I help her stay on track with her study schedule. I needed her help to navigate the next phase in my journey: maintaining my healthy weight.
Fast forward nine years later, I am still meeting with Jenn. We have since shared intimate details of our lives, and our friendship deepened. We’ve laughed, we’ve cried, and we’ve challenged each other. No matter the circumstance, we are there for each other.
I’ve returned to Summit every year since 2010. I’m inspired and encouraged each year. There isn’t anything like it. Join us, August 16-17, 2019. When you get to Summit, come find me and tell me you are at Summit because you are “Worth It”.
Helen Baratta Director of Development for First Place for Health. She is the author of My Place for Leadership included in the My Place Leader’s Kit and Restored! Embracing Weight Loss God’s way available at our online bookstore.