You have picked up a very special book. A rare gem in a vast, gray landscape. Let me tell you about that landscape and this gem.

I am the pastor of a church that calls a large fitness center our home. Every day at the office I see people stream in and out the doors to attend a class, or run on a treadmill, or swim in the pool, or lift weights. I am also the husband of a personal trainer—a fitness professional and hobby triathlete. Every day I see her planning PT sessions, or reading the latest fitness magazines, or training for her next event. Fitness is of ever-increasing importance in our culture, especially as we battle back against the forces of obesity, diabe¬tes, and heart disease—to name a few. There is a growing fitness movement across our communities and it is exciting to see!

But there is something much more subtle that has caught my eye. Of all the people pursuing greater fitness, some seem to attain something more—something deeper, something more life-changing than just a trim¬mer waste line. Rather than just greater fitness, some people find true health.

Ashley Darkenwald knows about finding true health. She knows about the deeper, life-changing aspects of fitness. And in this book she will take you there.

Living Wellness is a gem in the vast landscape of fitness literature and quick-fix philosophies. The market is cluttered with approaches that address one aspect of health. There are a myriad of books on fitness, and some are effective in telling you what to do to lose weight. But many miss the why and how to get you there for the long haul. Ashley will take you from fitness to wellness, from nutrition to wholeness, and from health all the way to life!

The spiritual element of your health may or may not be something you have thought about very much. Wherever you are in your faith journey, do not hesitate to read on. This is not a Christian book dressed up in fitness lingo. This is a fitness book with a spiritual foundation. Nothing here is over-spiritualized. And yet nothing is overlooked or dismissed. What you will find here is wholeness and balance.

This wholistic approach to Living Wellness reminds me of something . . . Jesus was once asked, “What is the greatest commandment?” Quoting words from the Old Testament he answered, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind” (Luke 10:27). To love God might easily be considered just a soul issue, or maybe a heart issue. But Jesus also saw it as something to be done with all your strength and with all your mind. He blew the regular categories out of the water and saw you and I as whole people created in the image of God. What if we applied the same lesson to fitness and nutrition? What if we invited the soul and the mind into this conversation about the body? Living Wellness has.

As profound as Living Wellness will be for you, it is remarkably straightforward and easy to grasp. In these pages you will find out why you need certain nutrients to be fit and healthy, and why others harm your body. You will see illustrated step-by-step workouts and stretching pages. And you will read about the hon¬est need we all have for spiritual health.

In a world where we are bombarded with fast workouts and fad diets, this book shines. You have discov¬ered a gem. Read it and live it. Be blessed!

Bjorn Dixon, MDiv,