Megachurch pastor Rick Warren has been everywhere in the news lately talking about his new “Daniel Diet.”
Nearly three years ago, Pastor Rick Warren and his congregation began a weight-loss journey. In an exclusive interview, he talks about their success, his personal setbacks, and why he believes healthy living is an essential part of giving.
“Is there a mountain lion around the corner?” jokes Rick Warren, holding out his phone and pretending to peer cautiously into the distance. Warren, one of America’s best-known pastors and author of the smash best seller The Purpose Driven Life, is demonstrating to a handful of his congregation members how he used the light from his iPhone to navigate through the predawn darkness of the Santa Ana mountains on a brisk hike a few hours earlier.
The jovial pastor, looking trim in a black T-shirt and jeans, wasn’t always such an exercise evangelist. He and this group of six churchgoers are gathered on a Friday morning on the sprawling grounds of Warren’s Saddleback megachurch in Lake Forest, Calif., because they’re all believers in the faith-based, holistic wellness program Warren outlines in his new book, The Daniel Plan: 40 Days to a Healthier Life, out on Tuesday. (The main title refers to the prophet who championed healthy eating.) Each person’s story is different, but the results have changed their lives. One dropped 150 pounds. Another avoided back surgery. And another finally found relief from dramatic mood swings.
Four years ago, Warren had an epiphany, and not a heavenly one. He was midway through a mass baptism ceremony, lowering congregants into a pool of water and lifting them out again, when he realized: Man, we’re all fat.