If so, how are you doing? If you made a resolution and quit because you either broke it or slipped up, I have great news for you. The year is not over and you still have four months to keep your promise.
I made several resolutions this year. Losing weight and getting fit were among them. I’m just getting started on that. I know that losing weight is hard to do. It’s stressful. That’s why I put it off. I didn’t want to make a bunch of life changes at once. Instead I picked the low hanging fruit and started building small successes.
A couple weeks ago my wife Sandy and I committed our family to participating in The Daniel Plan. It’s more than a weight loss plan; it’s a lifestyle plan. Weight loss and fitness are at the heart of it but as byproducts, not the focus. The Daniel Plan originated with pastor Rick Warren at Saddleback Church in California. Realizing that he and many in his congregation needed to lose weight he embarked on a journey to find the best way to do it.
The result is laid out in the book “The Daniel Plan: 40 Days to a Healthier Life” that Warren co-authored with Dr. Daniel Amen and Dr. Mark Hyman.
According to the website (www.danielplan.com), “The Daniel Plan is a groundbreaking healthy lifestyle program founded on biblical principles and focused on The Essentials: Faith, Food, Fitness, Focus and Friends. The program offers an innovative approach to achieving a healthy lifestyle where people get better together by optimizing their health in each of these life areas.”
Although the areas of faith, focus and friends are vitally important to the program I want to keep food and fitness in the limelight here. I have listened to the audiobook version of “The Daniel Plan: 40 Days to a Healthier Life” and I have to say that it has a powerful message about food, or the stuff most Americans eat in place of real food.
I never realized just how much poison I was consuming under the guise of food. At the time of this writing I’m near the end of a two-week detox from gluten (basically wheat) and refined and artificial sugars. The only sweeteners I’ve allowed myself are raw honey and the sugars found naturally in fruit.
One of the mantras of The Daniel Plan is to eat more things that grow on a plant and fewer (or none) of the things made in a plant. Our bodies were made to consume whole, natural, organic foods. We were not designed to digest all the chemicals and processed foodstuffs that make up such a large portion of the American diet. Eating fake foods leads to numerous diseases, chief among them being obesity and diabetes.
I am admittedly obese. I suffer from chronic fatigue, brain fog and depression. Back in 2009-2010 I tipped the scales at 260 pounds. (I lost 30 pounds in a clinical study but have stayed in the 220-230 range for the past five years.) My body mass index (BMI) is in the mid 30s. It should be no higher than the low 20s. All of these ailments are a direct result of what I have put into my body.
I used to drink about two or three diet colas a day thinking it was OK because they had no calories. What they have in their place are toxins that poison the brain and trick the body and cause you to crave more food. Since beginning this detox about all I have had to drink are black coffee and water.
As you consider the purchase and consumption of food, whether in the grocery store or at a restaurant, you need to consider the ingredients. If it contains high fructose corn syrup, put it back. Treat it like the venomous snake it is. If sugar of any kind or chemicals are in the first five items on the ingredient list, don’t buy it or eat it. As you look at the ingredient list, ask yourself if your great-grandmother would recognize it or would have cooked with it. If the answer is no, then that should be your answer to consuming it.
While The Daniel Plan is big on vegetables, fruits, nuts, beans and other organic plant products, it also allows for consumption of meats. The key is lean, organic meat. Poultry is better than beef, which is better than pork. Trust me, it is cheaper and healthier to buy ground turkey than it is to buy ground beef. It’s not that beef it bad for you; it’s that beef isn’t as good for you as poultry. By all means, if you want beef, eat beef. Just make it lean and in moderation.
When it comes to breads, think whole grain. Eliminate all white flour from your diet. All white bread and donuts and almost all bagels, chips, crackers, breakfast cereals, pasta, etc. should be eliminated from your diet or eaten in very small amounts on rare occasions.
I could go on for a long time about the food aspect, but I think you get the point.
The fitness side has me scared. I have lived a very sedentary life for the past 20 years. Every occasional attempt at exercise or every extended physical exertion I have made has ended in a great deal of pain. I have put off doing any rigorous exercise until my body adjusts to the new diet. I am hopeful that having good, healthy, nutritious foods in my system will help my body recover better from exercise and reduce the pain. It should, because a lot of the stuff I have been eating causes inflammation.
Clearly, our bodies were not designed to sit for hours on end. Unfortunately that is one of the pitfalls of my profession. I have been forcing myself to get up once or twice an hour and stretch and walk around. In a couple weeks I hope to begin a more formal exercise regimen.
As I go through this process, I have to look at my father for inspiration. Although he is not formally on The Daniel Plan, he has been doing something almost identical. He has lost more than 80 pounds in the last year on his goal to lose 100. He is slimmer, fitter and much happier than I have seen him in decades (although I think his new wife has a lot to do with that). If he can do that in his 70s, I can do it in my 50s.
As I evaluate my progress so far, I must confess that I am miserable. At this stage I am at the height of withdrawal symptoms and I have a strong craving for donuts, cheeseburgers, pizza, ice cream and all the other stuff I’ve given up. Fortunately I can feel the change taking place in my body. I’m slowly getting more energy. I’m starting to feel better. I’ve already dropped about five pounds. This is good and I can do it!
You can do it, too. I encourage you to get the book and/or find The Daniel Plan online. Remember, it’s not a diet plan but rather a lifestyle plan. It’s meant to change your life, not just your eating habits. It’s made to be done with family and friends. It is faith-based and helps you on your spiritual journey as well. I’ve talked about the diet here but that’s just the hook. You really need to get into it yourself to discover the benefits. But don’t do it alone, include close family and friends. Trust me, it will be worth the effort.
By the way, if you can do the 40-day plan you’ll still have plenty of time left in the rest of the year to reach your New Years goal of losing weight and getting fit. Now get out there and do it!