The Daniel Plan kicks off with enthusiasm and rock-solid commitment

If one thing was evident on Saturday morning, it was that people are ready to get healthy and change their lives for good! 8,100 people either logged on to their computers to watch or physically showed up at one of our Saddleback campuses to learn what it will take to break old, unhealthy habits and start living new, healthier lifestyles – and the motivation to do so was echoed in a variety of ways from attendees.

Annika and Paul, a young married couple from Sweden, have been attending Saddleback for three years now. They have realized over the last few months since having a baby that taking care of themselves is even more crucial now. They are motivated to be a part of The Daniel Plan by understanding the impacts of unhealthy habits.

“Now that we have the baby, I just want to live long and see her grow up and just be able to play with her and run around,” explained Paul. “The main thing it that God wants us to take care of our bodies; being reminded of that again and again keeps me most motivated,” said Annika.

Josh heard about The Daniel Plan from his dad, a doctor at Mission Hospital and wanted him to take notes for him. He brought his girlfriend Christina along with him so that they could learn a few things as well in training for their upcoming half-marathon.

The Daniel Plan is more structured. It’s not just about losing weight next week or tomorrow; you have a plan to follow and people are doing the same things with you, so you get the support you need, said Josh. “I was encouraged that I can make simple changes every day,” Christina explained.

Not any old health plan

Vowing to lose 90 pounds himself, Pastor Rick hosted the event with guest speakers and world-renowned medical leaders – Dr. Mark Hyman, an expert in metabolism, and best-selling author Dr. Daniel Amen, an assistant clinical professor of psychiatry and human behavior at UC Irvine, and a video appearance by Dr. Mehmet Oz, a cardiac surgeon and host of the Dr. Oz Show.

“These men have not only agreed to teach today, but to work together to put together this plan and monitor your progress all year,” said Pastor Rick.

During his lecture, Dr. Amen used his findings from years of medical research and his expertise on brain health and presented that information with a biblical foundation to explain how pivotal healthy habits are. He asked the audience to find a deeper motivation to join the program, noting that one of his motivations for staying healthy is his newborn grandson.

“He is more likely to go to heaven if he sees his grandfather is a man of God who can touch his life for a long period of time,” said Amen. “If you get healthy, you’ll be able to serve your family, your loved ones, the body of Christ in a more effective way – not just for 10 pounds, but to get healthy for the rest of your life.”

Dr. Hyman spoke about a “whole-systems approach” to health, a combination of nutritional eating, exercise and stress management used to bring the body back into balance.

“Good things for the health of a person are proper foods, nutrients, light, water, air, movement, sleep, rhythm, relaxation, love, community, meaning and connection,” Dr. Hyman said. “By controlling these factors, you can create health by controlling gene expression and the body’s responses.”

Speaking to the crowd from a video message, Dr. Oz talked about the five adjustments that people need to make in order to live more abundant, healthier lives. These include: controlling blood pressure, stopping smoking, exercising for 30 minutes a day, eating healthy, and managing stress.

This is only the beginning

After the seminar, participants went out to the stations set up around the campus to get their measurements taken and all the information they need to set up their online profiles. They also were also able to pick-up the six-week Daniel Plan curriculum that they can do with others in a small group, offering further support and encouragement.

“I have the best, most supportive small group, so we’re all going to do it together,” said attendee and Saddleback member, Tammy. “I am volunteering to be our fitness champion!”

“Seeing the possibilities that you can have for a changed life, even at 50+, inspires me,” said attendee Lauren. “The thought of having a whole world where we’re not dependent on drugs and medicines and we can get rid of some of these diseases is mind-boggling.”

And it’s not too late to get started! All small group materials and information can be found at, including the entire video of the seminar (which will be archived later this week). Even better? We will have another seminar on March 19 and a live Webcast with the doctors on January 25.

How has your first weekend been on the Daniel Plan? If you haven’t started yet, the time is NOW!