Tonight on Rock Center with Brian Williams, Chelsea Clinton interviews Pastor Rick Warren on a matter quite different than his usual subject. No, he’s not talking about his bestselling devotional The Purpose Driven Life or how he leads a congregation of more than 20,000, instead he describes his newest project. It’s a diet called The Daniel Plan.
Warren has led Saddleback Church, a megachurch in California, for more than 30 years, and as his congregation has flourished so did his weight.
“I was blessed with an abundance of energy, and since I didn’t care about how I looked and I really had relatively few health problems, I paid no attention to my health,” Warren explains to Clinton.
He describes a moment two years ago when he realized things needed to change. The pastor was baptizing hundreds of converts, and began to see a trend: most of them were overweight.
“As I’m putting people under the water, I’m lifting 867 people, along about number 500, I had a thought. It wasn’t a very spiritual thought. It was, ‘Good night, we’re all overweight.’ And I thought, but I’m overweight. And I can’t expect people to get in shape unless I’m in shape,” Warren relates.
From there, Warren embarked on a journey to reach a healthier weight through a diet and exercise plan. He consulted with leading physicians Mehmet Oz, Daniel Amen, and Mark Hyman to structure a diet he calls “The Daniel Plan,” based off a passage in the Bible. The passage centers on Daniel, a man in the ancient Babylonian court who refuses the king’s rich food and wine in favor of vegetables and water, and after ten days is stronger and healthier than others who ate at the king’s table.
Warren then stood up in front of his congregation and explained that during the more than 30 years as senior pastor of Saddleback he had gained three pounds annually, meaning he needed to lose 90 pounds. He committed to the task and asked his flock to join him.
Almost two years later, Saddleback church as a whole has lost nearly 270,000 pounds, and Warren has lost 60 himself. He credits the transformation to a very simple diet consisting mainly of whole, unprocessed foods, a commitment to daily fitness, and a holistic approach to weight loss that includes the spiritual realm. All of the components of The Daniel Plan are prefaced by a Bible verse, and copies of the plan available for other churches or individuals to use have a format similar to a Bible study, incorporating mind, body, and spirit.
Rock Center with Brian Williams airs Thursdays at 10/9 CST, with this segment airing December 20. Warren’s diet can be accessed free at danielplan.com.
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image via @RickWarren