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Group Hike to Health: "We Are Having a Blast!"


The Daniel Plan received this email from Deborah Miller, a member of the Parker Small Group, who says, "we are having a blast" hiking together. But there's more to this story, as you will find out, to learn from and gain encouragement.

Hiking has enriched our journey together as a small group. The Daniel Plan has impacted our lives on so many levels. Two of our members have lost more than 10 pounds, and the biggest improvements is our fitness levels, the conscious choices we make about eating and getting more sleep.

First, here's a little background:

Our small group has been meeting for about seven years and there are 10 of us in our group. We are quite a diverse group with singles and married couples, young parents through grand parents.

When Pastor Rick introduced The Daniel Plan, we jumped on board and have incorporated it into our daily living. It has always been important in our group to understand that we are all on a personal journey and to lovingly encourage and support that process and our successes. We aren't always in the same place at the same time, but we all gather on Tuesdays to "reset" that thinking and stay on track by sharing tips with each other of what we are doing during the week to keep with the program.

The Beginning: Taking Action Together

In the beginning, we partnered-up to support each other by email. Our fearless leaders, John and Denee Parker, have been inspirational and motivational. Our group started by taking the 30 day challenge to "detox" and give up sugar, caffeine, processed foods and alcohol. Now when we meet, the cookies, coffee, breads and spreads are gone. In their place are varieties of fresh fruit, raw veggies, hummus, greek yogurt and organic treats.

We have a trifecta of health champions for our group, including Claudio, Sharon and I. Claudio rallies the great nutritional and fitness advice, while Sharon has been super plugged in to all the meetings and seminars. One week Sharon purchased several of The Daniel Plan entrees from the Refinery and presented them along with the menu to show what is now available on the Church campus, it was absolutely delicious!

The seminars have been so incredibly informative! We love Dr. Hyman's saying, "eat food that is is grown on a plant, not made in a plant!"

We also purchased Dr. Amen and Dr. Hyman's recipe books so we could have small group potluck nights. It has been an amazing way to grow closer as a group, closer to God and thankful for the many blessings we have been provided while nourishing our bodies with delicious salmon, asparagus, salad and berries for dessert that were prepared lovingly together as a small group!

The Hiking Benefits

About March, we decided to add hiking into our group activities. Matt, Christy and their wonderdog Oliver found an awesome trail in Aliso Viejo. Now our group hiking is one of our favorite things! We have met in Aliso Viejo and in Laguna Beach and we hike into the Canyons. It has been incredibly empowering. We started small, and have built up our endurance, and in our last hike we accomplished eight miles! Seriously! Praise God!

John and Denee now wear pedometers daily to be sure they are getting 10,000 steps daily, and we did more than that in our hike alone that day.

On our hikes, we feel God's blessings on us as we enjoy the beautiful weather, the fellowship and opportunity to grow closer to God! The quality of our time as a small group is growing as the food we now share is thoughtfully planned to honor each other, our bodies and God. And, the time we take outside to physically strengthen our bodies enables us to grow God's kingdom. We want each other to be the best we can be!

Group Hiking Tips

Before each hike, we pray for God's guidance and safety and for the Holy Spirit to be with us and for Him to use us in any way. We have met many people on the trails and given blessings and are constantly amazed at the beauty of what God created for us.

  • Start with easy trails with wide paths. Many of the local trails have trail maps you can download so you can get an idea of how far you want to go.
  • Start early to avoid the heat of the day.
  • Bring lots of water.
  • Wear sunscreen and a hat to protect from the sun
  • Always hike in groups, it's safe and way more fun!
  • Wear good support shoes (hiking shoes or athletic shoes) and socks that are high enough to cover your ankles to calves to protect you from burrs and dirt etc.
  • Nominate one person in the group to be the "first-aid monitor" to carry bandaids, aspirin, Neosporin,etc.
  • Don't forget a camera! When you are in God's country with your small group, you will see some of the most amazing things, and you will want to capture it! On our last hike we saw a bobcat!

My Story

For me personally, I was very sick at the beginning of the year and when we took our measurements and learned our blood pressure, I had numbers that fell below safe ranges, so I went to my doctor to follow up with a blood test and physical. I never would done this without the encouragement of The Daniel Plan. I just thought I was tired. I kept trying to take care of the problems I was feeling myself.

It was discovered that I was profoundly anemic with bleeding ulcers. I was hospitalized and had two blood transfusions. After I was released, thanks to the diet plan, the vitamins that I am taking from Dr. Amen, my hemoglobin is back to normal and my ulcers are no longer active. I feel healthier, stronger and more energetic than I have in years.

In December, I would get dizzy and out of breath going up the two flights of stairs to my bedroom, now I am chartering 8 mile hikes for my small group and also preparing to go on mission to Rwanda with the Clean Water Initiative on June 15.

The Faith and Fitness Connection

The Daniel Plan has created vitality in our group that is such a breath of life figuratively and literally. It also has provided clearer thinking when we study the Bible. This opens up the mind and the heart to hear God's words and understand his wisdom and what He wants from us and for us. As we are growing in our relationship with our Father, He wants us to be as "present" as possible.

When you feel good, rested, nourished, it just seems like in those moments God is blessing you. He strengthens us because we are honoring the gifts He gave us, our bodies. In this infancy of the Decade of Destiny, where we are really learning to build a strong foundation in ourselves so we can be in the best health to be the best service to God, is resonating as we hit the halfway mark of the year.

Thank you Pastor Rick and the incredible team of the Doctors and many volunteers that are doing an amazing job to keep the momentum going on The Daniel Plan. This is enriching and saving lives in ways you may never know. We are eternally grateful!


The Parker Small Group

 The Parker Small Group
(from left)
Denee Parker, Claudio Nunez, Christy Obermayer, Deborah Miller, Sharon Tayler, John Parker and Jake