This is me (and Sylar, a good friend) in early August 2011, at 295 lbs.:









And this is me, January 8, 2012, at 235 lbs.:











I have a friend in ministry named Mike. (Actually, I have a BUNCH of friends in ministry named Mike. It seems to be a popular name for ministers.) He asked me:

“Not to get nosey, but just wondering how you lost the weight. I’m at 295 and really need to lose. Have lost about 15 lbs but seem stuck. Besides just eating less and exercise more, any tips?  Thanks”

He said I could share my answer with you.  Here it is:

Mike, I use the MediFast program (  One of my physicians got me started.  I strongly recommend it.  Yes, it costs – – you have to purchase their foodstuffs. But the cost fit into our budget, because it’s less than the combined costs of grocery shopping and eating out that we’d been doing for years. And most of the food choices are adequately tasty, with a good number of them being downright good. For instance, the chocolate mint crunch bars taste amazingly like the chocolate mint cookies sold by the girls in the green-and-brown scouting outfits, except that they also crunch.

But for someone not wanting to use a program where you have to pay for particular prepped foodstuffs (don’t know if that’s you), I’d make the following recommendations, based on what has worked for me:

Never drink liquid sugar, in any form (sodas, sugar added to coffee or tea; cut way back, if not completely, on milk and fruit juices. There’s a huge amount of natural sugars in fruit juices.)

Never eat any white starches – – white flour products, potatoes, etc.  Also, cut waaaaaay back on starchy vegetables (like corn, carrots, peas) and other high starch foods.

Use the Glycemic Index to govern your food choices. Stay in the low half of the index. Follow it strictly.

Drink at least 8 cups (64 oz.) of water every stinkin’ day. Even when you don’t want to. Which is most days, for me. I hate drinking water. Drink it cold, and drop just a little sugar-free flavor/color into it, and it’s easier. But I still hate it.

Switch to decaf everything. Caffeine carries water out of your body – – you need the water far more than you need the caffeine.

Get a solid 8-9 hours of sleep every night possible. Mike, you’ll be stunned at the huge difference the water and the sleep can make.  When I have eaten and drunk properly on a given day, and I get good sleep, I’ll wake up two pounds lighter than when I went to bed.  On nights when I don’t sleep well, I don’t lose hardly anything, IF anything, overnight.

I’d also recommend establishing a free account on, and use it to establish and track your daily calorie/nutrient intake. It’s a great web site for helping you do that.

Here’s the most important thing for me – – put yourself under the accountability of someone else. Give someone else the permission and the regular opportunity to ask you direct and difficult questions, to say hard things to you, to fuss at you, to make you justify everything you put into your mouth. It has to be someone you’ll listen to, someone you’ll allow to have that much power in your life. If I hadn’t done that, this would absolutely not have worked for me.

Mike, this was and continues to be one of the hardest things I’ve ever done, and ever hope to do. It is a daily struggle. Back when I lived in St. Louis, I was working overnight shifts a lot. One Sunday morning, I was visiting a church where they pass out both communion emblems and hold onto them until they all partake at the same time. I had worked overnight for three nights, and hadn’t been to bed yet that morning, so I was massively tired. I found that I had to consciously choose to focus on holding onto the little cup of juice. I knew that the moment I thought about anything else, I’d drop it. And it happened – – my mind drifted for just a second or two, and the cup was suddenly on the floor.

That’s how I have to approach this. I have to decide every day, every hour, every time I think about it, on choosing to bypass the pantry, the snack drawer, the fast food restaurant.  And it’s hard. I have to make what seems like minute-to-minute decisions that I want the weight loss and health more than I want THAT THING RIGHT THERE RIGHT NOW. I’ve never ever ever been good at that.

But I have to be. And forcing that discipline on myself has given me the conviction that I REALLY CAN DO THAT!  And it has bled over into significant areas of ministry as well. Folks at church have been paying attention. It has helped push some of them to begin to do similar things – – not just food, but other disciplines. I always knew that when I was teaching or preaching on discipline, and disciplines, I was walking on extremely thin ice, given my own failure to be disciplined in my eating.  But as I’ve done this, I’ve also found better discipline in exercise, in daily Bible consumption, in preaching prep, in other areas where discipline has been lacking. It’s been very, very good for me in far more ways than losing some pounds.

Give it a good run, Mike. Throw yourself into it, and make it work.  God can do great things through a minister – – even through that minister’s weight loss efforts.

Blessings on you, Mike.  You can do it.


And YOU can do it, too. Please scroll down to the comments section, and tell me of your resolve, your disappointments, and your successes in this kind of effort. I’d love to hear from you.

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