News Archives

CNN features United Methodist pastor on ‘get-fit’ program

 


CNN features United Methodist pastor on ‘get-fit’ program

LINK: Click to open full size version of image
The Rev. Leigh Ann Raynor
Jan. 18, 2005

By Alice M. Smith*

ATLANTA (UMNS) — The Rev. Leigh Ann Raynor, senior pastor of the 1,200-member Thomasville First United Methodist Church, is used to being in the limelight within her congregation, but now she is taking center stage on a much larger platform – the worldwide cable network of CNN.

Raynor is one of five people selected to participate in the "New You Revolution," a project of CNN senior medical correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta to help people get fit and manage their health situations. Some 4,000 people applied by writing a letter to cnn.com.

Raynor, 49, has an unusual heart problem in that she needs to keep her heart rate slow, while the goal of most heart patients is to get their heart rate up. She suffers from hypertrophic obstructive cardiomyopathy, an excessive thickening of the septum, which separates the two chambers of the heart.

She’s struggled with the problem since her first appointment in 1981, but it was misdiagnosed, first as stress and then acid reflux. She suffered from dizziness and recurrent pain, and a year ago, the pain became constant. Her doctor finally uncovered the real cause.

Raynor subsequently underwent surgery, and while she is still at risk, she is pain-free. "I don’t know if the progression has been stopped, but I feel 100 percent better," she says.

As part of the CNN program, a crew filmed her every move for three days in December for an introductory "before" segment.

"It was embarrassing," she says. "They filmed me at a buffet and what I was putting on my plate, going through the drive-through at Dairy Queen (for a salad) and preaching at both the contemporary and traditional worship services."

All that for a two-minute segment that aired Jan. 18 on CNN’s "American Morning." For eight weeks, she will work with a personal trainer, attend 36 sessions of cardiac rehab, work with a hypnotist to stop smoking, and learn from a nutritionist – all at no charge and in her hometown. Her progress will be charted and updated each week on "American Morning."

Her long-term goal, she says, "is to live long enough to retire in 2019. The way I’m going now, I won’t live that long.

"My short-term goal is to have a shape other than SpongeBob," she added, referring to the cartoon character SpongeBob SquarePants. She wants to lose 50 pounds.

At Thomasville First, everyone is excited and supportive, she says.

"I have a real advantage in that so many people love me and want to take care of me," she says. "I’ve had many people say how much they love me just the way I am, whether (or not) I lose the weight. It’s touching."

*Smith is editor of the Wesleyan Christian Advocate, the newspaper of the North and South Georgia annual conferences.

News media contact: Tim Tanton, Nashville, Tenn., (615) 742-5470 or newsdesk@umcom.org.

Ask Now

This will not reach a local church, district or conference office. InfoServ* staff will answer your question, or direct it to someone who can provide information and/or resources.

First Name:*
Last Name:*
Email:*
ZIP/Postal Code:*
Question:*

*InfoServ ( about ) is a service of United Methodist Communications located in Nashville, Tennessee, USA. 1-800-251-8140

Not receiving a reply?
Your Spam Blocker might not recognize our email address. Add this address to your list of approved senders.

Would you like to ask any questions about this story?ASK US NOW


Contact Us

This will not reach a local church, district or conference office. InfoServ* staff will answer your question, or direct it to someone who can provide information and/or resources.

Phone
(optional)

*InfoServ ( about ) is a ministry of United Methodist Communications located in Nashville, Tennessee, USA. 1-800-251-8140

Not receiving a reply?
Your Spam Blocker might not recognize our email address. Add InfoServ@umcom.org to your list of approved senders.