Lainey Greer is a speaker and author with a zeal for Christian theology and healthy living. With a Ph.D. in systematic theology and a bachelor’s in exercise science, she has spent the past 15 years serving in ministry and also as a nutrition consultant and personal trainer. In this interview, she spends some time with us diving into the heart of why she does what she does.
Let’s start with the foundation of what you do. What led you to Christ and your passion for healthy living?
I grew up in the Bible Belt where everyone went to church as a way of life. The Lord used that upbringing to save me at eight years old. I understood that my sin separated me from God in this life and for eternity. But thankfully, through Jesus Christ’s perfect life and atoning death, I no longer faced God’s wrath and didn’t have to live as a slave to sin.
As I got older, my personal relationship with God grew, however, later in high school, I recognized my tendency towards perfectionism was based on my own pride rather than a desire to honor God. That shift really strengthened my faith, laying important foundations for years of trials and difficulties that would soon follow. In response to those trials, I became anorexic and depressed, but the Lord graciously persevered and fortified my trust in him, giving me victory over both in my latter 20s. Today, I use those experiences, along with my ministry experience, and education to help others.
You’ve earned three advanced degrees from theological seminaries. How did you decide the path you wanted your career to go?
I’ll be totally honest. I never liked school and definitely didn’t intend on getting anything past a two-year associate’s degree. I just wanted to be a personal trainer and read theology. School got in the way, especially because there was nothing that I knew to pursue that combined my two passions. Little did I know the Lord had much greater plans than my finite mind had dreamed up! When I was 20, I realized the most religious states are also the most obese states and was floored. It was at that moment that the Lord started putting the puzzle pieces together that have led me where I am today.
Why is it so important for people to see their health as more than just numbers on a scale?
Being “healthy” is a combination of things like what type of food you eat, how much you exercise, what your stress level is, your sleep and rest habits, and even things like getting regular checkups. It also might include things like staying on top of your blood pressure, blood sugar, and cholesterol. You may be the weight you want according to the scale, but if you’ve starved yourself and over-exercised to achieve that weight, then you aren’t actually healthy and probably don’t feel great either. I’ve learned this lesson the hard way, and am still learning and growing in this area. Only recently have I learned that pushing my body in the gym, even through injury, is not God-honoring stewardship of my body.
Additionally, muscle weighs more than fat, but muscle mass is a good thing. Second, skinny fat is a reality. Being skinny fat means you may not weigh a lot, but you have too much body fat compared to muscle mass. Oftentimes, this fat surrounds vital organs, which can cause significant health issues. I’ve also found that many women — though eating disorders aren’t limited to women — engage in disordered eating in order to lose weight. Although not considered a full-blown eating disorder, these are behaviors that could lead to one if not recognized or kept in check.
Talk to us about your recently-launched weight loss program, Understand Healthy.
I wanted to develop a program that combats all the conflicting information available regarding weight loss, health, and fad diets. Understand Healthy is an 8-month course that combines basic health practices (i.e. nutrition, exercise, rest) with the development of disciplined living. For so long I’ve had a passion for helping people understand why their body is important. This program does that, while also equipping them with the basics of how to care for it, regardless of their weight, activity level, or limitations. People can learn more about my Understand Healthy program on my website.
What can you tell us about your recently-published minibook, Be Well: Learning to Steward Your Health?
I’m super excited about this resource, intended to provide guidance on why your body is important and then equip you with the basics of caring for it. I begin by laying that biblical, theological foundation for physical existence. Then, I unfold various practical aspects of body stewardship like nutrition, exercise, stress management, and rest. I also share some of my own journey throughout, as I strive to help the reader learn from my mistakes.
Can you share a few words about how Duran Kinst Strategies has been able to support the important work that you’re doing?
I’ve been blown away by the services DKS offers. They exceeded my expectations and the vision I had for my company. Upon hiring them, I already had a website that I thought was sufficient. With patience and understanding, they graciously explained why a new website would be beneficial. The result is so much better than anything I ever envisioned. I’m beyond grateful for their advice and expertise!
Thank you, Lainey, for taking the time to chat with us and allowing us to advance your vision of helping all of us steward our bodies well. It’s a privilege working with you!