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It’s a new year, a time when folks make resolutions to do better, quit something or in the case of most Americans, lose weight. Many people will try Weight Watchers or Jenny Craig. A number will join a gym or a boot camp.Damian Stone, 39, is taking a more spiritual approach to getting healthy. He is participating in a three-week fast with the nine-member Brothers in Discipleship group at First Baptist Church in Glenarden.

“The number one reason I’m fasting is spiritually,” says Stone, who lives in Bowie. “Number two is physically. I found it’s a great opportunity to try to achieve some of my weight-control goals. It’s something I’ve always wanted to do.”
Like Stone, many African Americans in the region have made a pledge to get healthier this year. But they are looking for culturally relevant activities that appeal to them. Many want to do things with folks who look like them and have a shared sense of purpose.
This is the ninth year Edwige Desbhy is participating in her church’s fast. She attends the Gaithersburg satellite church of Bethel World Outreach in Silver Spring.
“It just helps to start my year out right, to be focused and prayerful and just looking toward a new year,” Desbhy says. “It just kind of focus my energy on God and God’s will for my life. It gives me an opportunity to pause.”
Though Desbhy, 35, primarily fasts for spiritual reasons, she says the health benefits are a by-product.
“You get thinner. You get slimmer because you’re not eating all the junk that you usually eat,” she says.
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