Rick Warren Creates the Daniel Plan to Inspire Weight Loss in his Congregation

Replacing the gym for church might be the key to health and weight loss success. In the last year, a movement started by famed pastor Rick Warren has lead to the loss of 250,000 pounds.

Warren, considered one of the most influential pastors in the U.S., is best known for his best-selling book The Purpose Driven Life. Recently Warren was struck by how overweight his congregation was, including himself. Warren admitted to gaining 90 pounds over the last 30 years and failing at various diets along the way.

This realization lead to the creation of the Daniel Plan. The Daniel Plan is a diet and lifestyle program that was devised at Warren’s church, Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, California and gets its vision and name from the story found in the book of Daniel in the Bible. In the story, Daniel and his friends refuse to eat royal food and wine. They only eat vegetables and water. In Daniel 1:15 it says, “they looked healthier and better nourished than any of the young men who ate the royal food.”

The plan was also devised with the aid of three medical professionals: Daniel Amen, a psychiatrist; Mark Hyman, a family doctor; and Mehmet Oz, a TV host and cardiac surgeon. Essentially, the plan advises healthy food choices, promotes workout routines, and urges participants to join a small group for support.

The small group element may be where the church shines as the perfect arena for successful weight loss. As in most churches, Saddleback already had a strong network of small groups. These groups were already formed and ready to tackle the challenge of the Daniel Plan together, a strategy that has been proven more successful than trying to lose weight alone.

The plan worked. Within a year’s time, Warren has lost 60 pounds. He gave up carbonated drinks, dairy and fast food, and he started working out twice a day. His congregation can boast as well. A year ago, 15,000 people registered for the Daniel Plan program and to date, 250,000 pounds have been lost.

The plan has been designed for other faith communities and the founders hope to spread it across the globe. Warren’s journey is inspirational and lends even more credit to the words he preaches. “The Father made your body, Jesus paid for your body, the Spirit lives in your body. You better take care of it.”

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