Rick Warren Q&A on Daniel Plan; New Book Media Tour Includes 'Piers Morgan Live'

Rick Warren, founding pastor of Saddleback Church and best-selling author of The Purpose Driven Life, and renowned Drs. Daniel Amen and Mark Hyman are making their way around the TV talk show circuit this week. The trio is being interviewed about "The Daniel Plan: 40 Days to a Healthier Life," the book they co-authored that was released Monday from Zondervan.

Warren and the two doctors are scheduled to appear on "Piers Morgan Live" Wednesday evening. Earlier on Wednesday, the Southern California megachurch pastor was interviewed on the "CBS This Morning" show.

The Daniel Plan details a healthy lifestyle program based on five essential principles of faith, food, fitness, focus and friends. The program was developed and originated at Saddleback Church in 2011 and within the first year more than 15,000 church members lost a collective of more than 250,000 pounds while experiencing decreases in health issues and stress and increases in spiritual growth and energy.

"The Daniel Plan is far more than a diet; it is about living a healthier life based on biblical principles," said Warren. "While all five essentials are necessary, it is the components of faith and friends that I believe are the secret sauce that make the plan so effective. When you have God and a group helping you stay on track, you have far more than willpower driving you to make positive changes and you are far more likely to stay consistent."

Below is a Q&A style interview with Warren provided by A. Larry Ross Communications prior to the book tour this week.

"The Daniel Plan" Q&A with Pastor Rick Warren

Q. What is The Daniel Plan as outlined in "The Daniel Plan: 40 Days to a Healthier Life"?

A. The Daniel Plan is about abundance, not deprivation. That's why the program is both transformational and sustainable. It's not an interim diet plan; it's a practical lifestyle program that allows you to take a step at a time in the right direction. You simply incorporate healthy choices into your current lifestyle. As you start to feel better physically, you become motivated to make changes in other areas of your life.

The Daniel Plan is a healthy lifestyle program founded on biblical principles and focused on the essentials of faith, food, fitness, focus and friends. The program offers a comprehensive approach to achieving a healthy lifestyle where individuals get better together by restoring health in each of these life areas. The beauty is that each essential supports and influences the others, offering a practical step-by-step approach that anyone [can] follow.

The essentials of faith and friends are what we call the "secret sauce" that makes The Daniel Plan so effective. The program benefits are accelerated when done in a supportive community of friends because God designed us to thrive in relationships. With the support of God and a group, individuals have far more than willpower helping them to make positive changes so they can be consistent and sustain a new healthy lifestyle.

Q. What makes The Daniel Plan different than other diet and exercise books?

A. The Daniel Plan isn't about counting calories; it is about approaching health in terms of the whole person. Where most programs focus on food and fitness, The Daniel Plan teaches about three other vital components, faith, focus and friends.

Q. Can you explain the five essentials of "The Daniel Plan"?

A. Faith – As I practice the faith essential, it's all about coming before God. It's a practice of being quiet before Him. I schedule time for this and mediate on his Word. Each day, before I get out of bed, I dedicate my life to God and ask Him what He wants from me that day. I live out and prioritize God's plans, not my own.

Food – I love the goal the doctors gave us – to eat food grown on a plant, not made in a plant – although I don't always achieve it, I am moving in that direction. I enjoy growing and cultivating food from my garden. It brings me great pleasure and it's healthy for me and my family. I grow all kinds of fruits and vegetables – even last year, as a busy pastor I grew 58 kinds of vegetables, in addition to 10 varieties of fruit trees.

One of my favorite things to do is to gather my family and cook for them – preparing the fresh fruit and veggies from my garden and grilling meat on the BBQ. It's a time when I can nurture my family and spend quality time with my kids and my grandkids.

Fitness – The two things that are most important are to have an accountability partner who encourages and inspires you and having your fitness scheduled on the calendar each week. The thing I like most is variety. Whatever I plan, I make it easy and close to home, so I know I will do it.

For example, I do swim workouts in my pool; I have a treadmill in my garage, incorporating weights and bands. I also really like to incorporate movement I enjoy – for me would be hiking – enjoying the variety of trails in Southern California.

Focus – Romans 12:2 has been such a foundational part of The Daniel Plan. It is such a life giving principle – we are transformed by the renewing of our mind. It's the foundation for all behavior change. In fact it is so important I am teaching an entire campaign in Jan 2014 – emphasizing the transformation message.

Friends – The friend factor of The Daniel Plan has been a significant part of Saddleback from day one. We are not only better together spiritually, we also broad improvements in our health in community. Just as the Bible teaches us in Ecclesiastes 4:9-10, "Two are better than one." We are always better together.

This plays out in the fact that people who do The Daniel Plan together lose twice as much weight as those doing it on their own.

This better together philosophy is a core part of my teaching, and it's God's answer to loneliness, fatigue, defeat and despair. With the ups and downs of making long lasting changes, community has been the "secret sauce" of The Daniel Plan.

Q. From where did the idea for The Daniel Plan come?

A. This goes back to an afternoon when I was baptizing over 800 people over a four-hour period. As I lifted each person in and out of the water, I realized that so many people are overweight, including me! If I wasn't prioritizing my health, how could I ask my congregation to do it? I decided to do something about it. I stood in front of my congregation the next Sunday and confessed I had been a poor steward of my health and asked for forgiveness. Although I only gained two to three pounds a year, I had been their pastor for 30 years! I invited people join me and get healthy. I thought maybe a couple hundred people would respond – but was blown away when over 12,000 people signed up on that very day!

I knew I needed a practical, scalable plan that people could easily follow. I recruited three nationally known doctors – Dr. Daniel Amen, Dr. Mark Hyman and Dr. Mehmet Oz – to coach me in getting healthy and help design The Daniel Plan program for the church to follow. All three doctors generously offered their time and expertise for free. You know why? They all are passionate about transforming health in America and around the world.

Q. What type of success did Saddleback Church members see when the plan was implemented in 2011?

A. The initial results were amazing – over the first year of The Daniel Plan, over 15,000 people collectively lost more 250,000 pounds. Beyond my church congregation, people from over 190 countries participated online. I believe the response was so large because The Daniel Plan provides you with all you need to become healthier in body, mind, and spirit. Beyond food and fitness, you are offered as gracious approach to health along with practical resources to get well spiritually, in your relationships, and in your mind – mentally and emotionally.

Q. Why does "The Daniel Plan" begin with faith?

A. The part that can be most refreshing for people is that the program is built on a foundation of faith. Being reminded about the incredible power of God's love and living as He intended, is the most powerful motivation to change. The prayer from Ephesians 3:17-19 sums this up best.

"I pray that Christ will be more and more at home in your hearts as you trust in him. May your roots go down deep into the soil of God's marvelous love; and may you have the power to understand, as all God's people should, how WIDE, how LONG, how HIGH, and how DEEP his love really is. May you experience the love of Christ, though it is so great that you will never fully understand it."

When I teach on the subject, I like to highlight:
• God's love is wide enough to be everywhere
• God's love is enough to last forever
• God's love is deep enough to handle anything
• God's love is high enough to overcome anything

Q. How did the death of your son, Matthew, affect your overall health and Daniel Plan lifestyle?

A. Faith is the foundation of The Daniel Plan and faith is the foundation of my life. Transformation is a process, and as life happens there are tons of ups and downs. It's a journey of discovery – there are moments on mountaintops and moments in deep valleys of despair. I entered into one of the deepest valleys of my life with the loss of my youngest son Matthew. I am in the process of going through the stages of grief that everyone goes through: shock, sorrow, struggle, surrender, sanctification (God bringing good out of bad, the process of becoming more like Christ), and ultimately service.

During my four-month sabbatical, a time of profound grief and loss, I wasn't up for following a fitness plan. During my days of deepest grief, in all of my shock, sorrow and struggle I sat at the feet of God. I literally spent hours each day reading God's word, meditating on scripture and praying. I intentionally spent a significant amount of time being still before God.

You know when life doesn't make sense, we can still have peace. When everything on earth is broken, we can still have joy -- Isaiah 43:2: "When you go through deep waters, I will be with you! When you pass through rivers of difficulty, you will not drown! When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned up; it will NOT consume you!"

It is through the restoration of my inner life – that I know have the fuel to address my physical health. The foundation of "The Daniel Plan" is faith – and it's what I am building my life upon. My hope and prayer is that others, with their own setbacks that they face, will take the courage and accept God's invitation to be renewed spiritually and begin again.

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