(Photo: Saddleback Church)
Recent “Biggest Loser” show participant Austin Andrews is joining Saddleback Church in celebrating the combined weight loss of more than 200,000 pounds from its members participating in the church’s year-long Daniel Plan health program.
Andrews will make an appearance at the Lake Forest, Calif., church’s Daniel Plan Fun Walk & Run on Saturday. The event marks the halfway point of Pastor Rick Warren’s vision for a physically healthier church.
The plan includes a curriculum for small groups and an interactive website with healthy menus, exercise tips, and inspirational stories.
Andrews competed in the 11th season of NBC reality show “Biggest Loser,” which ended in May. He did not win the competition, but lost 174 pounds. Andrews’ father is the senior pastor at Pasadena Christian Center.
“I want to share my story with believers and nonbelievers alike,” Andrews states in a recent article posted on the Daniel Plan Website. “We are called to be caregivers of both the earth that we inherited and our bodies that should be treated as temples. I want to ignite change and help give people the hope that change is possible.”
Andrews, who said he is excited to meet Saddleback Church members participating in the event on Saturday, began struggling with excessive weight at 10 years old. He now wants to be a health advocate for children.
“I want to be a catalyst to help change how educators and parents of school-age children approach health, fitness, and wellness,” he said. “I also want to help children become aware of the benefits of being healthy.”
Andrews recently visited Saddleback to meet with Warren and help promote the health event. Warren said that he has lost 36 pounds and is “heading for the 40 mark."
"I'm excited about many who lost even more. I've talked to several men who've lost more than 50 pounds,” Warren said in a video message that marks June as the halfway point.
Author and UCI professor Dr. Daniel Amen will also be at the Fun Run & Walk. Amen is part of a team of three doctors and health experts that are helping the church with the program. Dr. Mark Hyman, an expert in metabolism, and cardiac surgeon and TV host Dr. Mehmet Oz are featured along with Amen extensively as resources for the congregation.
“There’s verses in the Bible that refer to the body as the temple of the Holy Spirit,” Amen told The Christian Post. “Unfortunately, a lot of churches haven’t taken this seriously.”
Amen’s wife and daughter plan to be at the event, which also includes a health expo, to give a cooking demonstration for a “brain-healthy” dessert.
“This is another event that is consistent with the outreach to the Saddleback community to get physically healthy. Exercise is one of the pillars of good health,” Amen commented. “If we exercise as a group together, that’s really a positive message that we get better in community. We get better together.”
Website manager David Jahr said he looks forward to congratulating as many of the "biggest losers" he can meet. “We have our own biggest loser list and have one lady who has lost 61 pounds,” he said. “Several members are over the 50-pound weight-loss mark and numerous people have lost more than 30 pounds since January. There has been amazing progress made and many life-changing experiences.”
Dee Eastman, director of the Daniel Plan, said she hopes the event will provide momentum and encouragement for people of the community as well as church members.
“I’m hoping that the community feels welcome at the Saddleback Fun Walk and Run, and that people come to know that our church addresses their real needs,” Eastman said.