I have been haranguing my religious leaders since my early 30s to consider devoting some time at the pulpit to discussions regarding health, diet, fitness and lifestyle. Many of my fellow congregants are quite hefty. And after all, if you believe in G-d then among tenets of my religion is the belief that (a) we are merely loaned out bodies, so the onus is on us to "take care of it" (b) gluttony is not celebrated nor is sloth (c) if you celebrate life, as we should, you cannot do so if your quality of life is impaired - and it is very much impaired, if you are not taking care of yourself. Also, one has to admit that how you care for yourself is at least in part, a reflection of how you feel about yourself. To date, I have had little success.
Well for some time church leaders nationwide have been dipping their toes in the discussion of weight loss and health. Now a megachurch leader, Pastor Rick Warren, has applied the "rules of health and healthier lifestyle" to himself, and he is not only tackling his own girth - he is trying to motivate his flock to follow suite. Why did he decide to tackle his own weight now? Apparently during a baptism ceremony about a year ago, he had some difficulty submerging members because they were too large and frankly he was encumbered by his own large size during the ceremony. He was fat. So recognizing that his once football size athletic body had grown and he was no longer working out as an athlete, hence the dramatic weight gain, he decided to change habits. He recruited Dr. Mehmet Oz, Dr. Mark Hyman, and Dr. Daniel Amen, a professor of psychiatry as his "go to" health team. Together they launched The Daniel Plan: God's Prescription for Your Health, named after a passage in the bible that references Daniel the prophet's refusal of "royal food and wine" from the King of Babylon, opting for water and vegetables instead.
The Pastor has shed 60 pounds to date, and more than 15,000 people have signed up and together have lost a total of 250,000 pounds. Dr. Amen has been rather direct and blunt, calling churches "places of illness." He feels there are way too many overweight and obese attendees at church. There have been noteworthy weight loss stories among church members and many of them credit the combination of better eating (and in some cases exercise) habits, plus the deep support of their religion. The church itself offers a support system that is invaluable when someone is trying to lose weight. Though some members did not want doctors who were not members of the church (or their faith) to be involved, Pastor Warren's position was that these doctors were "friending the church" to simply provide medical guidance and not to interfere with member beliefs or the church's spiritual agenda.
Dr. Warren, according to sources, is hoping to lose another 30 pounds and he is spreading the message to other churches.
Should religious leaders be takling the obesity crisis? Would you be motivated to lose weight under this type of motivational program? Let me know what you think!!
Published On: February 07, 2012