God Thinks You Could Stand to Lose a Few Pounds

Illustration for article titled God Thinks You Could Stand to Lose a Few Pounds

Have you ever thought about whether God thinks you're fat? Well, maybe you should start. At least that's what Pastor Rick Warren — bestselling author and pastor at one of the largest megachurches in the nation — thinks. He's got a new diet plan that he's pulled from scripture, and he's poised to lead his whole congregation to the promised land where everyone has a healthy body mass index and no one eats too many carbs. You know, just like in the Bible.


Paster Warren, who leads the Saddleback Church in California, was called on this latest mission while baptizing members of his congregation in a pool. He was in the midst of baptizing 858 people (!), and he realized they were all fat. Not only that, he was fat. He thought to himself, "I'm a terrible model of this. I can't expect our people to get in shape unless I do." And so he did.

He gave up soda, dairy, and fast food, and he works out twice a day with a trainer. So far he's lost 60 pounds since January of last year. This diet Warren has devised is called the Daniel Plan, after Daniel from, where else, the Bible:

In the story, Daniel and his friends, who are Israelites living in Babylon, refuse to consume royal food and wine. By eating vegetables and water, "they looked healthier and better nourished than any of the young men who ate the royal food.

Fortunately, his diet isn't quite as restrictive as just vegetables and water. To help craft his plan, Warren recruited three doctors: psychiatrist Daniel Amen (are you kidding me?), a family doctor named Mark Hyman (oh, come on), and TV host Dr. Oz (naturally).

Warren began spreading the gospel of the Daniel Plan at Saddleback Church last January by teaching people how to eat better, urging people to work out, and having people participate in small groups that offer support and education. In the first year, about 15,000 people joined the program. A total of 250,000 pounds were shed. And now it's probably only a matter of time before Warren has slimmed down the country's entire population of Evangelical Christians.

He certainly has the backing of his congregation. Julie McGough, an 18-year member of Saddleback Church who lost 28 pounds, said of the program, "This is what we should be doing. I am far more able to serve God because I'm healthy." This reminds me of that thing where people think God is up in Heaven rooting for various sports teams. You really have to wonder if He has a detailed chart keeping track of everyone's weight. Does he get pissed and send an errant lightning bolt your way if you slip and have a doughnut instead of an egg-white omelet for breakfast one morning?

Of course, it's great that people are getting healthy, even if it takes the fear of God to get them there. And, according to Warren the stakes are pretty high, "The Father made your body, Jesus paid for your body, the Spirit lives in your body. You better take care of it." Well in that case, we'd better ask ourselves "What would Jesus do?" And the answer, I'm guessing, is cut back on the McDonald's and hit the treadmill.


Rick Warren and church tackle obesity [CNN]


Ari Schwartz: Dark Lord of the Snark

This is actually an interesting case of how the community can be a driving force in achieving individual action. Whether or not you agree with this guy's religious proclivities or the goal itself is immaterial to the fact that he served as a focal point for helping a fairly large number of people to achieve a goal.

The fact that it's couched in an ostensibly positive message (do it for your faith) is probably a positive as well, if you ask me. I know a lot of folks on Gawker and similar sites disdain religion and the notion that they might be part of a group (Internet group site hipsters forever!), but this is what it takes to get people to do things en masse.

Again, before the commentariat comes out to blast me, I am not saying the following:

1. That this is necessarily the right goal

2. That it is good that it is coming from him

I'm only saying that this is an interesting example of how people can be encouraged to accomplish goals in group settings.