• The Daniel Plan Café

    • Recipes

By Joel Guerra

Pastor Rick teaches us not to seek the good life, but the better life.  Eight years ago, I thought I was living the good life.  I was happily married (and still am) with two great kids and a good career.  Life was pretty good.  There was one big problem, though.  At close to 300 pounds, I was leading a sedentary lifestyle that probably would have robbed me of many years of life.  On March 3, 2007, I went to church like any other day.   I didn’t know that God was about to send me on the adventure of my life.  Pastor Rick challenged those of us who were carrying around a few extra pounds to set a weight loss goal.  I committed to lose 25 pounds by Christmas.   I didn’t have any special feeling or excitement when I made that commitment.  I figured it would be like every other time in my life I said I would lose weight … and didn’t.    God needed me to step out in faith that day in order to go to work on me.  And He did go to work on me.  By Christmas, I had lost 65 pounds and finally gained control over my life-long battle with my weight. 

I had personal evidence that God works in ways that we will never understand.  He led me to sign up for my first triathlon.  This was amusing to me because I didn’t know how to swim, didn’t like to run and didn’t own a decent bike.   I thought people who did that amount of exercise voluntarily were crazy.  When God calls you to do something, He equips you with the tools for the job.  He led me through my first race and unleashed a passion in me that I never knew existed.   From that race in 2008 until 2013, I completed many more triathlons, as well as cycling and running events.   In November 2013, I achieved my ultimate triathlon goal.  I completed Ironman Arizona - a 2.4-mile swim, followed by a 112-mile bike and a full marathon, 26.2 miles.  God led me from the couch to the Ironman finish line.   Crossing that finish line was one of the greatest experiences of my life. My plan was to bask in that personal victory for a while.  But God had a different plan.

Shortly after the race, I came to the realization that God did not deliver me from being an overweight 36 year old to a 43-year-old Ironman finisher so I could bask in my own glory.  He is the one who deserves the glory.  So, I asked God what he wanted me to do with this gift he had given me.  He told me that I needed to start a triathlon ministry at Saddleback Church.  The two most dangerous (and rewarding) words we can say to God are “use me”.  I reached out to my friend Heather, a fellow Ironman finisher and Saddleback member to see if she would be willing to help.   God had used the sport of triathlon in both our lives to grow us and make us better vessels of the Holy Spirit.    We prayed that God would transform others’ lives like he transformed ours through the sport of triathlon.  In April and May of 2014, we held Triathlon 101 informational meetings not knowing if anyone would even show up.  Close to 100 people showed up.  Only God knew this many people would want to learn about this crazy sport.  The Saddleback Triathlon Team was born shortly thereafter.   We did not know how to coach and lead this many people.  Where God guides you, he provides for you.  He brought us six wonderful coaches with servants’ hearts to help lead our new team.  

God has woven together a very diverse group of people to create our team.  There are people of all different ages, shapes and sizes and life experiences.  God has used every single team member to create a team that glorifies Him and His transformative powers.  We prayed that He would changes lives and He has. Not only have the lives our team members been transformed, but each of them has been a living testimony to the people they know.  Nearly 100 people have raced with us since the team was started.  Many more lives have been changed because of those 100 people.    On race day, we wear our team jerseys with Philippians 4:13 proudly displayed on the back.  “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”   Through running, biking and swimming, we have the privilege of sharing the good news of Jesus.  Our team continues to grow with incredible people.  I am excited to see where God leads us.

I thank God every day that He has led me on this journey.  I am so happy that I was willing to be led and that I listened and continue to listen to Him.  God only works on us when we are out of our comfort zone.  I have been out of my comfort zone a lot over the last eight years.  He has done amazing things in my life and the lives of others.   I am living the better life, the life God wants me to live, because I am using what he has given me to serve others.  Fitness has been the tool that God has used to change my life and the lives of my teammates.

Posted by Jerelyn

Kara Douglass Thom - Experience Life

No matter your current fitness level, completing a 5K is both doable and fun. Here’s how to get yourself to the starting line — and across the finish.

When Alan Ali toed the line of his first 5K in July 2010 — the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure in Raleigh, N.C. — he weighed more than 400 pounds. “I imagined 5Ks were events that only fit people took part in,” Ali says. “As someone who is overweight, I never really thought I would fit in that type of environment.”

After a year of clean eating and exercise, Ali had already lost 50 pounds, from a starting weight of 480. His long-term approach to health was slow and methodical. He simply set small goals for himself, met each one and moved to the next. One of those goals was to walk a 5K.

“That race was difficult for me to sign up for,” remembers the 32-year-old, who now weighs 340 pounds and is still losing. “When I showed up the day of the event, I was almost in shock at the amount of people who were participating. I felt extremely out of place. I felt like I was the biggest person there.”

Once the race started, though, Ali could feel the crowd’s infectious enthusiasm and positive energy. That’s when, he says, “I knew I belonged.”

Ali also recalls being relieved to see so many other participants walking. “Deep down, I had a fear that I would be the only person not running and end up being the last person to finish the race.”
Crossing the finish line, he says, came with an amazing feeling: “Being overweight most of my life has caused me to put up walls around myself. That day, one of those walls came down.”

Like Ali, many people struggle to envision themselves “belonging” at a race. The thought of signing up for a 5K can be intimidating, and the idea of finishing one may seem insurmountable.
As Ali learned, though, no matter your fitness level, finishing a 5K is an accessible and realistic goal for almost everyone. And the rewards, both mental and physical, go way beyond earning a finisher’s T-shirt.

Here’s what you need to know (and do) to check that first 5K off your to-do list and feel the satisfaction of putting that finish line behind you.


Most beginners, whether they’re starting from straight off the couch or have achieved a modest fitness base, already have the ability to walk, walk-jog or run a 5K. After all, it’s just a tiny bit over three miles — about an hour’s walk at a moderate pace. What they lack is the self-confidence to sign up for one.

Sara Vander Lugt, a resident of Shakopee, Minn., was a devoted walker and had even finished a 60-mile Susan G. Komen 3-Day walk. Still, she quietly dreamed of becoming a runner.
“Over the years, I tried to run,” the 50-year-old says. “The drill usually went something like this: Buy a new pair of running shoes, go out, try to run, get discouraged, give up.”

With two young daughters to raise, Vander Lugt started to think that running was not only an inspiring goal, but it would maximize the time she had to work out. Before committing, though, Vander Lugt says she had to quiet her inner skeptic — the one that said things like You can’t be a runner, You have bad knees, or You aren’t the athletic type.

“I have four older brothers who were all runners in high school, and I come from a family where girls’ athletics weren’t encouraged,” Vander Lugt says, explaining one of the roots of her subconscious doubt. “I needed to prove, mostly to myself, that I could do this.”

Last May, Vander Lugt downloaded the popular fitness app Couch-to-5K onto her smartphone (http://j.mp/ZERlDE) and embarked on a nine-week training regimen, with the intention of finishing a 5K that coming fall. But while she dutifully followed her fitness routines, she didn’t actually sign up for a run. Yet.

“I looked into a number of runs, many of which were local, but none really grabbed me,” Vander Lugt recalls. Then she comes clean: “More likely, I was procrastinating.”

In hindsight, Vander Lugt says her reluctance was rooted in unfounded insecurities. Mentally, she knew she could handle 3.1 miles, but she still couldn’t envision herself as a runner: “I think there was some underlying feeling that if I signed up and couldn’t actually run the whole way, I would have failed.”

Vander Lugt is far from alone. Countless people, no matter their body shape, are disinclined to call themselves “a runner.” Even the great Joan Benoit Samuelson, winner of the first Olympic women’s marathon in 1984, once reflected, “When I first started running, I was so embarrassed, I’d walk when cars passed me. I’d pretend I was looking at the flowers.”

Kristen Dieffenbach, PhD, an athletic coach and professor of athletic-coaching education at West Virginia University, says the anxieties, worries and concerns about entering an athletic “competition” vary from person to person and from event to event. The most common concerns include not knowing what to expect, not knowing anyone and not fitting in. And, as was the case for Vander Lugt, personal baggage can get in the way.  “For some people, negative experiences with physical exercise or activity can also influence the anxiety,” Dieffenbach says.

Vander Lugt ultimately registered for the Buckshot Run in Eau Claire, Wis., where she was spending Labor Day weekend 2012 with family. “After I registered, I realized it was a two-mile run, not a 5K, and that seemed more doable,” she says. Still, she suffered from race-day anxiety to the point that she insisted her husband drop her off at the park entrance. “I wouldn’t even let my family come along.”

Vander Lugt says going forward and registering was “infinitely more difficult” than finishing the race. “The run itself was awesome. It was a beautiful, sunny day and it felt so good to be there, actually running,” she says. “I loved it, even despite being passed by a young kid in a wheelchair — twice! Those two miles really changed how I felt about my ability to run.”

Following the Labor Day race, Vander Lugt went on to finish a Turkey Day Trot later that fall and a 5K this past spring. She plans to sign up for a 10K later this summer. “I’ve even convinced my 8-year-old to try running with me,” she says.


The number of people who finish road races in the United States has grown to a record 13.9 million in 2011 from 5.2 million in 1991, according to statistics provided by Running USA. Of those races, 5Ks are the most popular, claiming 38 percent of finishers. And it’s a good guess that a lot of these folks initially experienced anxiety about the idea of lining up at the starting line.

So how did they do it? Well, many of them probably came to realize that instead of allowing their fear to immobilize them, they could leverage their fear to inspire forward motion.

Kate Hanley, author of The Anywhere, Anytime Chill Guide, says there are two good ways to inspire action when the action feels scary.

“One way is to get present to the pain of not taking action,” she says. “It’s painful to disappoint yourself repeatedly, to continually talk yourself out of your dream.” In other words, at some point, you may find that not taking the steps to fulfill your goal of finishing a 5K is worse than whatever physical discomfort you might experience by actually walking or running those 3.1 miles.

The second (and perhaps more fun) way is to give yourself an inspiring vision of what will be different when you do finish the 5K. “This is more than the ‘Yes!’ moment of crossing the finish line,” Hanley says. It’s a matter of spinning your fear into a positive outcome, proving to yourself that you can get yourself over that mental hurdle. It’s calling on your inner strength, feeling part of a community of people who prioritize fitness, and trusting yourself to go after your goals.

Once you’ve overcome the fear of signing up, harness any remaining fear to get off the couch and on the move. Each time you walk or run a little bit farther — acknowledging your fear or desire to quit, and doing it anyway — you’ll find your self-confidence growing and your anxiety shrinking away.


One great way to get yourself ready for an athletic event is to embark on a good training program — one that gives you time to prepare both mentally and physically for the challenge you’ve chosen.
You can choose from solo or group training programs. “If you choose to train in a group, look for one with other beginners so you have runners of your pace to train with,” says Rebekah Mayer, USATF, RRCA, National Training Manager, Life Time Run. “A group that also has more-experienced runners can help you learn more about the sport, and [those runners] may become future training partners as you increase your pace and distance.”

Even if you prefer exercising alone, consider surrounding yourself with other people who are being active — whether at a gym or on a well-traveled outdoor trail. Or look for a supportive community online.

Seeking out like-minded, positive compatriots, ideally others, who may be working toward similar goals, can be a powerful motivator. If you’re struggling with seeing yourself as a runner or believing you can cross that finish line, you’re more likely to be positively influenced by peers who are at the same level.

Encouragement from, and camaraderie with, a cadre of peers helped Denny Reid finish his first 5K. In all of his 68 years he had never competed in an athletic event. That’s not to say he wasn’t fit. Reid, from Raleigh, N.C., had worked himself up to running five miles on a treadmill over five years. In 2012 a personal trainer he was working with suggested he sign up for a 5K.

“I’ve been working out to stay healthy and had never really thought about entering a race,” Reid says. He chose the Life Time Commitment Day 5K on Jan. 1, 2013, because the event offered training and it was a fun run. “I knew people were going to be walking. It wasn’t a strict competition, so there was no anxiety about coming in last.”

Reid knew that he could cover the distance, but felt he needed the guidance of a training group. “After running inside all of the time on a treadmill, it’s a lot different when you hit the street,” Reid says. There’s varying terrain and elevation, along with the unpredictability of weather.

The once-a-week group training prepared him for that, and also taught him about pacing and running hills. “Intervals were a real challenge,” he remembers. “I did things I had never tried before and had a lot of fun. I found partners who were running my speed. There were nights it was cold, rainy and dark; I had never run in those conditions before and it reinforced my confidence.”

Dieffenbach says positive energy is a common side effect of group training. “Setting out and accomplishing a physical task with other people and sharing the struggle or the journey can be quite a bonding experience for many people,” she says, adding that the sense of group identity and co-motivation is palpable. “Even though they’re all physically completing the task on their own, they are psychologically helping each other.”

While some people join training groups to primarily build their fitness confidence, others are drawn as much or more to the social benefits. “For these folks, seeking out the support and camaraderie of others is a very important part of the experience,” Dieffenbach says.

Being connected with a group can also ease the anxiety on race day. And after the event, you can replay the experience with people who have been through it with you, step-by-step, and understand what you’ve accomplished.


The emotional surge we feel after completing one event serves as both a reward for our lead-up efforts and an impetus for committing to the next big thing.

“You have a great time, you make connections, and you increase the likelihood you’ll keep going because participating in the event was intrinsically rewarding,” says Gary Barber, a running coach in British Columbia and author of Sports Psychology for Runners (Trafford, 2006).

That’s what Denny Reid found. He ran in the middle of the pack during his first 5K but, thanks to his training, finished faster than he expected. “I felt quite a sense of accomplishment,” he says. Since then, athletic events have become a regular part of his fitness program, and he continues to go to his club’s Tuesday night fun run. Later this year, he plans to join another 5K training program and hopes to sign up for an indoor triathlon in October.

Reid is quick to point out that if he can do his first race at age 68, almost anyone can finish a 5K.
“There’s nothing to be afraid of. It’s lots of fun; families are out there; people are walking and running,” he says. “You’re going to make it. Find a friend. Go finish. Have some fun.”

Experience Life is an award-winning, whole-life health and fitness magazine that aims to empower people to live their best, most authentic lives, and challenges the conventions of hype, gimmicks, and superficiality in favor of a discerning, whole-person perspective. Visit ExperienceLife.com to learn more.

Posted by Jerelyn

By Sean Foy

Daniel Strong = "A pursuit of excellence in body, mind, and spirit for God’s glory."

We all want to be healthy, fit and happy…but it can be challenging to achieve with our hectic lives. Follow these ten steps from Daniel Plan Fitness Coach Sean Foy to help you become Daniel Strong and make a fitness plan that will work for you. Here are Sean’s tips to help you start and stick with your fitness plan:

1. You can do it!!     The first step in reaching your health and fitness goals of an active, physically fit, Daniel Strong lifestyle, is to begin by believing that you can change. Forget about yesterday - no matter what your previous experiences or attempts to change your fitness habits in the past have been….today is a new day and with God’s help and strength you can do it - one day at a time!

2. Take Fitness Baby Steps One of the best ways to “ease” back into a regular fitness program is to “start small”. Set small realistic goals allowing you the opportunity to “fit” exercise into your daily schedule-as well as increasing your confidence as you accomplish small measurable goals.

3. Select exercises you enjoy I get asked all the time, “What is the best exercise to help me lose weight, get in shape or improve my health? And my answer is always the same -  “The best exercise to help you get fit and stay fit is THE ONE YOU WILL DO!” In other words, choose activities you enjoy - not exercises you find to be boring or drudgery.  Begin with exercises or movements which bring a smile to your face. Whatever brings joy to your heart and soul, you are much more apt to continue.

4. Get in touch with your “fitness personality”… Ask yourself: Do I like to exercise outside, inside, on machines, with others or by myself? Do I like to do other activities when exercising such as reading, praying, worshiping, watching TV, and listening to music? Do I prefer exercising at home or at a gym? Do I like to compete when I exercise (e.g. playing a sport or training for an event)? By asking yourself these questions, you’ll get a better sense of what your “fitness personality” is all about.

5. Forgive!! Be aware of statements that produce self-blame, shame or guilt. “Oh, there you go again missed another exercise session!!” or “You will never change!” Typically, self-blame can spiral into a demoralizing way of thinking that can sabotage even your best efforts. If you miss an exercise session or were inactive for a short period of time, which will happen, don't beat yourself up! Simply assess your lifestyle at the time and plan to get back into your new Daniel Strong active lifestyle. Maintaining an active healthy lifestyle requires patience, persistence and most importantly forgiveness.

You don't have to be perfect to be physically fit and Daniel Strong!

6. Take Charge!!"Responsibility can be defined as the ability to choose your response". Individuals who begin and maintain a Daniel Strong lifestyle recognize their ability and the freedom to choose their response in any situation. But remember, taking personal responsibility for your health and fitness does not imply that you have to do it alone. In fact, taking responsibility for your health and fitness should encourage you to proactively build a support team of good friends around you to encourage, assist and support you along your journey.

7. Plan your exercise before your week begins good exercise habits happen because we make them happen. Take a few minutes before your week begins and plan out your week. Schedule “non-negotiable” appointments with yourself - jotting down on your phone or calendar the exact day and time you are committing to move your body. Soon enough, your regular exercise program will be something you cherish, protect and look forward to!

8.  Increase your training slowly to help your body become Daniel Strong, slowly and incrementally begin to increase your training by 5-10% every week or every other week, based upon how you are feeling. Progression of your exercise routine is the key to getting into Daniel Strong shape. There are a number of ways to progress your workout such as:

  • - Changing the number of repetitions
  • - Increasing the duration of exercise
  • - Increase the speed of exercise
  • - Increase the number of exercises performed
  • - Increase the number of sets performed
  • - Increase the intensity of exercise-increase the elevation, RPM’s revolutions per minute.
  • - Changing equipment or apparatus
  • - Decreasing your rest interval
  • - Change your position
  • - Going from bilateral to unilateral –training one arm or leg at a time vs. both at the same time
  • - Add a balance factor-when exercising such as using a ball, BOSU or foam roller.

9. Track your progress Use a small notebook or your mobile device to keep track of your exercise duration, number of exercises, sets, repetitions and weight completed. Also, make note of how you feel before during and after your activities or workouts. If you want to simplify your tracking, check off the day you completed your exercise-and give yourself a pat on the back!

10. Fitness and Friends: Get a workout buddy who is at your level! Getting back into shape and becoming Daniel Strong is always easier with a friend who is at a similar or higher fitness level to you. Enlist the help of friends, family members (even your dog) who you know will be consistent and faithful to exercise with you….this will help you progress together as well as encourage you and keep you accountable.

It doesn’t matter where you begin – what matters is taking that first step and discovering the exercise you enjoy. Start small and make it a regular part of your life.
Just remember to take it one step at a time and win today!

God bless,
Coach Sean

Sean Foy is an internationally renowned authority on fitness, weight management and healthy living. As an author, exercise physiologist, behavioral coach and speaker, Sean has earned the reputation as America’s Fast Fitness Expert. With an upbeat and sensible approach to making fitness happen, he’s taken the message of “simple moves” fitness all over the world. Sean is the author of Fitness That Works, Walking 4 Wellness, The Burst Workout and a contributing author The Daniel Plan.
Posted by Jerelyn


Physical training is good, but training for godliness is much better, promising benefits in this life and in the life to come. 1 Timothy 4:8 (NLT)

One of the ways we train for godliness is by maintaining our physical health. The truth is, your body was not designed for inactivity. God created you to be active. Even a daily walk will make a difference in your physical well-being and your spiritual well-being. 

One thing I have noticed is that most of us are convinced but not committed. We know that exercise is good for us. We are convinced of that, but that doesn’t mean we are committed to exercise.
What is the common excuse?  ‘I don't have the time.’

Let me ask, do you have time to be sick? If you don't make time for exercise, you'll probably be forced to make time for an illness. Is that how you want to spend your time?

What is the common mistake?  We overdo it at the start. We’ve been looking at how physical health will help us reach our destiny during the next decade. Some of you might have already said, “I'm going to get in shape if it kills me!"

We have the philosophy that if something is good, then more is better. We’ve been out of shape for several years, but then we try to get in shape in one week! And so we work ourselves to death, get totally exhausted and, as a result, we wear out quickly and give up. 

The key is training not straining.  If you want to get in shape fast, exercise longer, not harder. And that will help you stay committed to a consistent, regular exercise program.

Pastor Rick Warren's radio teaching and daily devotional, Daily Hope, is offered across America and designed for your daily quiet time.  Love, learn, and LIVE the Word everyday with Daily Hope!  Subscribe to the free Daily Hope Devotional or listen to today’s radio broadcast!

Untitled Document

By Daniel Plan Signature Chef, Sally Cameron

These Asian lettuce wraps (or lettuce cups) feature ground turkey with ginger and garlic for appetizing game-day eats or an easy weeknight dinner that is serve-yourself. Chopped snow peas and carrots add vegetables, crunch and color. Spoon filling into crisp Romaine leaves and enjoy with a spoonful of sauce drizzled over the top. Note – do not add salt to this dish as tamari, even low sodium, is salty enough.

Serving 4 as a main course




  • 1/3 cup low-sodium tamari (wheat-free soy sauce)
  • 1-2 teaspoons ginger puree (from a jar, or fresh finely grated or chopped)
  • 2 tablespoons Mirin
  • 1 tablespoons unseasoned rice vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 1/2 tablespoon mild honey
  • pinch of red pepper flakes 

Turkey Filling

  • 4 ounces snow peas (1 huge handful)
  • 1 1/2 tablespoon coconut oil
  • 1 cup finely chopped onion
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped or grated carrot
  •  1 1/2 tablespoons organic ginger puree (from a jar, or fresh finely grated or chopped)
  • 3-4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1 1/4 pounds lean ground turkey (10%-15% fat)
  • 1 tablespoon low-sodium tamari (wheat-free soy sauce)
  • 1/4 teaspoon found black pepper
  • 1-2 pinches crushed red pepper
  • 1/4 cup chopped green onion
  • 1 package Romaine hearts (usually 3 heads), trimmed to about 6?-7?
  • Black and white sesame seeds for garnish (optional)


  • Whisk together sauce ingredients and reserve for serving.
  • Remove strings from snow peas by grasping the top and pulling string down the side. Leave snow
  • peas whole. Thinly slice crosswise.

Heat coconut oil in a large fry or sauté pan over medium heat. Add onion, snow peas and carrots the pan and cook, stirring, until vegetables are soft. Add the ginger and garlic and cook 1 minute.

  • Add ground turkey to the pan and cook until no longer pink, breaking it up with a wooden spatula or spoon.

Add tamari, black and red pepper, and green onion. Stir together and serve in trimmed Romaine leaves. Drizzle with a  little of the sauce and sprinkle with sesame seeds (optional).


For more healthy & delicious recipes, check out Sally's blog A Food Centric Life

Sally Cameron is a professional chef, author, recipe developer, educator, certified health coach and one of the contributors to The Daniel Plan Cookbook. Sally’s passion is to inspire people to create great tasting meals at home using healthy ingredients and easy techniques. Sally is the publisher of the popular food blog, A Food Centric Life. Sally works with clients, including professional athletes and public figures, to help them achieve their individual health goals through optimum food choices and culinary and nutritional coaching. She holds a culinary degree from The Art Institute and health coaching certification from The Institute for Integrative Nutrition.

Pastors & Leaders
Get The Book
Track Your Progress - Update Your Measurements
Daniel Plan - FAQs

Latest Tweet

Follow On Twitter

Tell Us Your Story

How are you doing on The Daniel Plan? We want your story to be an encouragement for others. Share with us your trials and successes.

  • First Name:
  • Last Name:
  • Email:
  • Phone:
  • Upload your Before photo:
  • Tell us why you are starting The Daniel Plan and what you hope to accomplish:
  • I give Saddleback Church permission to publish my story through any Saddleback publications or websites designed to encourage others.