Long-time Saddleback Church member Joel Guerra recently shared his testimony of weight loss and growth in the Lord while participating in Rick Warren's faith-based diet and lifestyle plan, "The Daniel Plan: 40 Days to a Healthier Life."
Joel Guerra weighed 288 lbs at the age of 36. He had tried to lose weight in years past, but it was to no avail; he failed time and again, and became discouraged. It wasn't until March 2007 that his pastor, Rick Warren, challenged the congregation to join him in a weight-loss, faith-boosting challenge, to be done in community. "The Daniel Plan," as he called it, helps participants focus on God instead of food, and encourages eating more all-natural foods, exercise, and accountability. Guerra was hopeful that God would help him shed some weight, and committed to losing 25 pounds that spring.
The following morning, Guerra felt that God had begun to move in his heart and was changing his desires for food and for fitness - "My life-long battle with my weight changed that day because God grabbed a hold of me and changed my heart," he says. After six years of physical, mental, and spiritual fitness, Guerra has shed much more weight than he had originally hoped to lose. Now 70 pounds lighter, Guerra is a passionate athlete and has competed in nearly 30 triathlons since 2007. He gives all the glory to God, Who has given him the desire and the ability to be fit - "I have never felt more alive and passionate than I feel right now," he says.
What's more, Guerra has grown spiritually since partaking in the lifestyle plan. He now feels called and empowered to serve others. "I have grown immensely on the inside, and have shrunk on the outside," he jokes.
"Only God knew that the fat guy sitting in church six years ago was about to embark on a life-changing adventure," Guerra says - "I could not and would not have done any of this on my own."