Pastor Rick Warren of Saddleback Church in California released "The Daniel Plan: 40 Days to a Healthier Life," his faith-based diet and lifestyle plan, today. The pastor developed the diet with three doctors two years ago, and it proved to helped him lose significant weight. The plan centers on faith and friends, along with diet and exercise.
Rick Warren, known to many as a "father in the faith," was able to successfully lose 65 pounds in 2011 by using simple concepts like eating fresh foods, spending more intentional time praying and reading the Bible, and gathering support from community. The 6'3"pastor, now 59 years old, told USA Today that he was inspired to write the book after noticing that many of the parishioners that he had baptized were overweight.
"I'm fat, too. I'm as out of shape as everyone else is," joked Warren - he later confessed to his congregation that he needed to lose weight, and encouraged them to join him on his diet plan. That day, 12,000 of his congregants signed up and lost over 250,000 pounds collectively.
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Warren co-wrote the book with doctors Mark Hyman and Daniel Amen, who had originally helped him develop the plan. It focuses on food, fitness, focus, faith, and friends - a "lifestyle program" based on medical research and Biblical principles. Although the diet does not consist strictly of vegetables as found in the book of Daniel, it does contain fresh, more natural foods. Warren says his motto is, "No snacks, no sweets, no seconds." The diet discourages all processed foods, fried foods, and artificial sweeteners - instead, it recommends organic foods and natural sweeteners like stevia.
Pastor Warren works out with an accountability partner, doing a variety of activities like hiking, swimming, weight-training, and the treadmill. In The Daniel Plan, he advocates improving sleeping habits, increasing brain activity, and intentionally focusing on God's love instead of on pain or disappointment. "It's not just what you eat that makes you unhealthy, it's about what's eating you," says Warren.
The Daniel Plan is designed to be done in community, the "special sauce" that Warren says makes this diet unique. He believes that the encouragement and prayer received from others in home groups is one of the main reasons why the plan is successful.
Faith is also an important component of the lifestyle plan, says Warren. He encourages prayer for health and spending time in God's word. An online devotional from Warren highlights using the Bible as the source of true encouragement, instead of turning to food for comfort.
"Are you down in the dumps?" asks Warren - "Put down the chocolate cake. Don't have a pity party. Pick up your Bible instead."
"The more you read God's Word when you're down, the more He lifts you up," says Warren, citing Romans 5:14:
"For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through the endurance taught in the Scriptures and the encouragement they provide we might have hope" (NIV).
Warren says he gained some weight while mourning the loss of his son Matthew in May of this year, but has asked the Lord and his community to help him get back to a healthy lifestyle.