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Lighten Up – – July 2010

March 25, 2011Articles




Vivienne Heath exchanged her obsession with food for godly balance: ‘I don’t want to count calories, I want my life to count!’


Vivienne Heath and Retha Redelinghuys from Pretoria are two inspiring women who decided to stop counting calories and start counting their intake of spiritual food. Coming from two completely different backgrounds, they are the hearts behind the 40-day journey, ‘Lighten Up’, of which there is also an Afrikaans version, ‘Leef Lig’. This out-of-the-ordinary program will upgrade your health status by shifting the focus from strict dieting to nurturing your spirit-connection with God.


God directed these two women’s steps to meet many years ago: Retha has been the administrator of the ministry ‘Fit for Praise’ for over 12 years – a praise and worship fitness concept that Vivienne started 18 years ago (now that sounds like my kind of exercise!) They believe that their life experiences, failures and victories, qualify them more than any course on nutrition they have ever done.

It is in fact Vivienne’s daughter, 23-year old Jess, who inspired ‘Lighten Up’. In 2006, Jess came home from London with 9 extra kilograms and a few health challenges that she wanted to shed! She approached her mother with a desperate heart: ‘Mommy, can you help me?’

Prompted by God, Vivienne asked Jess to give her 40 days of obedience… Here were 40 opportunities to say something to Jess that could change her life. During this time she daily emailed Jess lessons she had learned from her own struggles with health and wellness, and as messages were sent from her computer to her daughter’s, Jess stepped into the life of abundance God planned for us. “For my yoke is easy and my burden is light” (Matt 11:30).


If you desire a fresh start, put on your comfy shoes and walk along. ‘Lighten Up’ assists you in taking the weight off your body, soul and spirit. You can participate even if you are not interested in losing weight, but are longing for spiritual rejuvenation: there are separate sections for those who want to shed the unwelcome holiday kilos!

‘Lighten Up’ includes a manual, a 40-day journal, as well as a gift pack, which contains, amongst other motivational goodies, a pedometer – yes, ladies: you are going to get moving! Here it is certainly not about being thin, but about having godly balance in your life. Vivienne is convinced that the enemy wants to keep us obsessed with anything other than the life-changing person of Jesus.

Here is a journey you will not have to endeavour alone. For the 40 days you set apart, Vivienne and Retha will be praying for you each day and they will be available via email to ‘coach’ you en-route. Commit to three days of preparation before the 40-day journey and spending a minimum of 20 private minutes with God each day for the 40 days.


During this time you will also learn how fasting can bring godly balance and release into your life. Retha explains that ‘fasting is the biblical discipline that humbles our flesh and gives our spirits a chance to rise up and interface with God’. According to Vivienne, ‘starving is about you, but fasting is about co-labouring with God to see His Kingdom come’.

We should not dread fasting but see it as an opportunity to deny ourselves for a higher cause. God schools us in ‘baby steps’: you can, for example, only fast rusks for a day – don’t be a hero and fast that soft, warm bread for life! With each small step comes God’s grace to obey and obedience results in freedom.


Vivienne’s daughter, Jess, enjoys her newly found freedom: ‘I lost 9 kilograms and I have renewed zest. I love that it is more about time with Jesus than fixating on what you eat, when you exercise and what your weight is.’ The Scriptures teach us that we have died to the basic principles of this world: so “why, as though [we] still belonged to it, do [we] submit to its rules: ‘Do not handle! Do not taste! Do not touch!’?” (Col 2: 20-23)

‘Lighten Up’ turns the focus from self to Him. “Let your roots grow down into Him, and draw up nourishment from Him.” (Col 2:7) We need to feed our spirits first and from this will come freedom: it will not come from man’s own willpower.

I have had a peek into the 40-day journal, and let me tell you: this journey will not be boring! The pages are filled with cute icons, interesting facts on nutrition, intimate devotions with God and the most refreshing and inspiring photos. Go for it: ‘Lighten Up’ and get your spirit into shape!


Five simple and affordable power foods:

* Green apples
* Oats
* Eggs
* Tuna
* Bananas

Five foods that will fail you:

* Sugar
* Transfatty acids (found in most commercially baked goodies)
* Preservatives (eat what God made!)
* Lean/sugar-free” products that are artificially sweetened
* Colourants (if you can’t pronounce it – don’t eat it!)

Five ways to increase your activity levels:

* Get a puppy and a leash.
* Arrange to meet the girls at the Mall for a serious group-walk.
* Do a daily prayer walk in your area.
* Get a skipping rope if your area is not safe for lone-walking.
* Avoid lifts and escalators.

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