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Julius’ life dramatically changed after he received “The Daniel Plan” book as a gift.  By learning to incorporate the five Essentials: Faith, Food, Fitness, Focus, and Friends into his life, he experienced life-changing transformation. His story is an inspiration to all who feel stuck, controlled by old habits and an unhealthy lifestyle.


A Precious Gift

In January 2014, two friends who attend Saddleback Church gave me “The Daniel Plan” book. At the beginning of my journey, I weighed 240 pounds and was not concerned with eating a healthy diet or working out. I started reading the book and learning about the five Essentials of the program, which are Faith, Food, Fitness, Focus and Friends. I also visited Saddleback Church and listened to the “Transformed” message series Pastor Rick Warren was teaching. This series was based on Romans 12:2, which made a strong impression on my faith and me in God, was strengthened.


“Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.”


I realized deep inside that I was abusing the sacred body that God had given me. It was time to make a change.


First Steps

In the spring, I joined an athletic club and started taking classes such as cycling and a cardio/weight training class. I was greatly encouraged and motivated by my trainers, who checked on my progress and gave me tips and advice. It was so important for me to surround myself with friends who held me accountable during my health journey. I also changed my diet. This was difficult in the beginning because of my cravings for junk food, rice and soda. However, this is where the Faith essential really helped me. When I prayed for strength or for temptations to be removed, my prayers were answered. I was also blessed to receive tremendous support in living a healthy lifestyle from my Aunt Ruth and Uncle Jonas.


New Lifestyle Embraced

Through God’s grace The Daniel Plan has positively impacted my life. The Daniel Plan has rekindled my faith in God. I am now strong and confident in the Lord and determined as a child of God to strive for excellence in all that I do.


I have an unwavering desire to live a healthy lifestyle, by eating healthy foods and staying active. I know this is a continuous journey, but I firmly believe that with God and the people God has placed in my life, I will be able to overcome any obstacles that may arise.

I have lost over 50 pounds so far!

As a 10-year cancer survivor, I am grateful for the second chance God has given me. I believe that God led me to read The Daniel Plan so that I would begin taking care of his health. I am grateful for the transformation that has occurred in my life. I plan to continue relying on the 5 Essentials of The Daniel Plan to help me balance my life and maintain a healthy lifestyle.

By Mareya Ibrahim

You get to work.  No time to leave for lunch.  Stomach starts to rumble.  Get distracted.  Feel incredibly lethargic all of a sudden.  Start to yawn.  Chug a bunch of coffee or energy drinks.  Rub your eyes.  Desperation hits.  Grab a bag of chips from the vending machine. Reach into your desk drawer and fish out a bag of year-old Halloween candy you pillaged from your kids and proceed to go into a caffeinated sugar and salt coma in the middle of your manager’s meeting, then fall face first into your co-worker’s lunch.  Or maybe, just bite his head off and chew slowly. 

The hunger beast emerges.

How does the vicious cycle begin?  The idea of three ‘square meals’ a day was engrained in us from day one.  Snacks were something that would sabotage your diet and consisted of a lot of fried, sugary stuff.  The real scenario plays out like this…you skip a meal, like, say breakfast or lunch, the snacking goes awry and your hunger dominoes like a pack of rabid wolves that will do anything for survival, including picking off of carcasses, donuts, fries and any other office meeting remnants or infinite shelf life, processed items that might present themselves from behind a vending window with lots of buttons. Willpower is not your wingman that shoulders you on to good health when a sugar-and-fried-food-fest feels a lot more like a party.

The body loves routine in what it eats and when.  It wants to know it will receive energy on a regular basis to operate, just like a car.  If you let the tank run dry and keep trying to drive, you’ll probably have to hitch a ride home no matter where you are.  It just won’t go anymore.  Plus, it takes a lot more energy to get it running in tip top shape again and don’t even think about giving it the cheap gas, unless you want to gunk up the engine.

White flour, refined sweeteners, chemical additives and processed foods are perfectly designed to gunk up your engine.  

So, here’s my secret. The key to staving off hunger and managing blood sugar is to eat better, more often.  Food affects our mood, energy level, how we handle stress, our ability to sleep, how we deal with relationships, and ultimately, governs our decisions.  Have you ever seen the shirt that says ‘I’m sorry for what I said when I was hungry?’ 

Eating regularly seems like such an easy concept but one that’s not always given priority in our go, go, go lives.  As a health coach, I hear it all the time.  “I forgot to eat.” “I don’t always have time to go grocery shopping.”  “I’m on a diet, so I’m skipping lunch.”  The fact is, your body needs you to eat right, regularly.   Not eating right will come back to bite you in the derriere. You won’t just gain fat, you’ll also drag down your system, and just like that car, you will break down. 

You’re not only encouraged to eat often, choosing a combination of protein with slow burning carbohydrates and essential fatty acids can actually stoke your metabolic fire and help you burn more calories, even in your sleep.  Clean foods + smaller portions at regular intervals = higher metabolism.  If that doesn’t sound like a license to eat, I don’t know what more a fit foodie could ask for!

Quick meal ideas can help keep the hunger beast from rearing its ugly head.  Eat a few each day:

  • Nitrate-free turkey breast, arugula and tomato rolled in a whole grain tortilla
  • Oatmeal made with old fashioned oats, flax meal, fresh fruit and unsweetened nut milk
  • Sushi hand rolls made with toasted seaweed, vinegar-seasoned brown rice, avocado, seared tuna and cucumber

Smart snacks can also help you avoid a food emergency.  Eat a couple each day:

  • Protein shake made with high quality protein powder, spinach, coconut water and berries
  • Sprouted toast topped with almond butter and sliced apples
  • Homemade trail mix with unsalted cashews, dried cranberries and dark chocolate chips
  • Bell pepper, Jicama and cucumber sticks with avocado hummus
  • Crunchy chickpeas, baked with cumin (see recipe below)

A little bit of planning goes a long way.  Make sure you’ve got some meals prepped and snacks packed before heading into the week.  I like to keep a bag in my car that travels with me, full of transportable snacks like raw cashews, packs of wild-caught albacore tuna, coconut water, low sugar bars and apples with individual packets of nut butter so that I’m never seduced by the blinking lights of the fast food drive through.  I figure as long as I’m armed, I’ll never have to succumb to a food 911.

Try out this great, high protein snack that satiates your need to crunch.

Crunchy Cumin and Chili Chickpeas


4 cups   garbanzo beans, canned, rinsed

2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil

1 teaspoon ground cumin

1 teaspoon ground Chili powder

1/2-teaspoon cayenne pepper


1. Pre-heat the oven to 400°F and arrange a rack in the middle.

2. Place the chickpeas in a large bowl and toss with the remaining ingredients until evenly coated.

3. Spread the chickpeas in an even layer onto a rimmed baking sheet and bake until crisp, about 30 to 40 minutes.

4.  Package in individual portion sizes in paper bags to keep crunchy.


Mareya Ibrahim is one of The Daniel Plan Signature Chefs and is best know as The Fit Foodie.  She is an award-winning entrepreneur, television chef, author and inventor.  She is also the CEO and founder of Grow Green Industries, Inc. and co-creator of eatCleaner, the premier lifestyle destination for fit food information.  Her book “The Clean Eating Handbook” is touted as the ‘go-to’ guide for anyone looking to eat cleaner and get leaner.  She is a featured chef on ABC’s Emmy-nominated cooking show Recipe Rehab, eHow.com, Livestrong and the food expert for San Diego’s Channel 6 News.   She is also the creator of the Cleaner Plate Club – the only clean, balanced nutrition meal prep program that follows her proven formula for fat and weight loss.

By Dr. Mark Hyman

First, you have to prioritize sleep! I used to think that “MD” stood for “medical deity” and meant I didn’t have to follow the same sleep rules as every other human being. I stayed up late working long shifts in the emergency room, ignoring the demands of my body to rest. It wasn’t until I learned that shift work (like I did in when I worked in the emergency room) leads to a shortened life expectancy that I quit.


Unfortunately, our lives are infiltrated with stimuli – and we keep stimulated until the moment we get into bed. This is not the way to get restful sleep. Frankly, it’s no wonder we can’t sleep well when we eat late dinners, answer emails, surf the Internet, or do work, and then get right into bed and watch the evening news about all the disaster, pain, and suffering in the world.


Instead we must take a little “holiday” in the two hours before bed. Creating a sleep ritual – a special set of little things you do before bed to help ready your system physically and psychologically for sleep – can guide your body into a deep, healing sleep.


We all live with a little bit of post-traumatic stress syndrome (or, I should say, traumatic stress syndrome, because for many of us there is nothing “post” about it). Much research has been done on the effects of stress and traumatic experiences and images on sleep. If you follow my guidelines for restoring normal sleep below, your post-traumatic stress may become a thing of the past.


Here’s how restore your natural sleep rhythm. It may take weeks or months, but using these tools in a coordinated way will eventually reset your biological rhythms:


1. Practice the regular rhythms of sleep – go to bed and wake up at the same time each day


2. Use your bed for sleep and romance only – not reading or television


3. Create an aesthetic environment that encourages sleep – use serene and restful colors and eliminate clutter and distraction


4. Create total darkness and quiet – consider using eyeshades and earplugs


5. Avoid caffeine – it may seem to help you stay awake but actually makes your sleep worse


6. Avoid alcohol – it helps you get to sleep but causes interruptions in sleep and poor-quality sleep

7. Get regular exposure to daylight for at least 20 minutes daily – the light from the sun enters your eyes and triggers your brain to release specific chemicals and hormones like melatonin that are vital to healthy sleep, mood, and aging


8. Eat no later than three hours before bed – eating a heavy meal prior to bed will lead to a bad night’s sleep


9. Don’t exercise vigorously after dinner – it excites the body and makes it more difficult to get to sleep


10. Write your worries down – one hour before bed, write down the things that are causing you anxiety and make plans for what you might have to do the next day to reduce your worry. It will free up your mind and energy to move into deep and restful sleep


11. Take a hot salt/soda aromatherapy bath – raising your body temperature before bed helps to induce sleep. A hot bath also relaxes your muscles and reduces tension physically and psychically


12. By adding one-and-a-half to one cup of Epsom salt (magnesium sulfate) and one-and-a-half to one cup of baking soda (sodium bicarbonate) to your bath, you will gain the benefits of magnesium absorbed through your skin and the alkaline-balancing effects of the baking soda, both of which help with sleep


13. Get a massage or stretch before bed – this helps relax the body making it easier to fall asleep


14. Warm your middle – this raises your core temperature and helps trigger the proper chemistry

for sleep. Either a hot water bottle, heating pad, or warm body can do the trick


15. Avoid medications that interfere with sleep – these include sedatives (these are used to treat insomnia, but ultimately lead to dependence and disruption of normal sleep rhythms and architecture), antihistamines, stimulants, cold medication, steroids, and headache medication that contains caffeine (such as Fioricet)


16. Use herbal therapies – try passionflower, or 320 mg to 480 mg of valerian (valeriana officinalis) root extract standardized to 0.2 percent valerenic acid one hour before bed


17. Take 200 to 400 mg of magnesium citrate or glycinate before bed – this relaxes the nervous system and muscles.


18. Other supplements and herbs can be helpful in getting some shuteye – try calcium, theanine (an amino acid from green tea), GABA, 5-HTP, melatonin, and magnolia.


19. Try one to three mg of melatonin at night – melatonin helps stabilize your sleep rhythms.


20. Get a relaxation, meditation or guided imagery CD – any of these may help you get to sleep.


If you are still having trouble sleeping, you should be evaluated by your doctor for other problems that can interfere with sleep, including food sensitivities, thyroid problems, menopause, fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue syndrome, heavy metal toxicity, and, of course, stress and depression. Also, consider getting tested for a sleep disorder.


“Take your everyday, ordinary life — your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life — and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him.” (Romans 12:1 MSG)


The Daniel Plan integrates that which we tend to separate: food, friends, fitness, focus, and faith. Tackling the five essentials together actually makes them easier.


The Bible says to “take your everyday, ordinary life — your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life — and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him” (Romans 12:1 MSG).


In prayerful movements, our faith and fitness connect and strengthen one another, reminding us that in God, “we live and move and have our being” (Acts 17:28 NIV). He is the giver of life and breath.


When you take a walk, think of what it means to walk with God. When you get up to take a break from sitting, make a mental list of your blessings, or pray for the people in your home or workplace. These prayerful movements will help you focus your everyday activities on God and what he has done for you through the Daniel Plan.


Talk It Over

  1. What are three prayerful movements that you will engage in today? There’s no wrong way to do this — any movement is the right one!
  2. What do you understand more fully or notice for the first time about yourself as you engage in prayerful movement?
  3. What do you understand more fully or notice for the first time about God as you engage in prayerful movement?


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!

Posted by Jerelyn

Skip the fast food taco joints and make tastier, healthier tacos at home. Tacos are the perfect use for leftover shredded roast chicken. You could also use thinly sliced steak, small grilled shrimp, even seasoned and cooked ground beef or turkey. Tacos are so versatile!   

GF - 8 tacos

8 small organic corn tortillas

2 cups finely shredded green or red cabbage (or dark lettuce leaves)

2 large roma tomatoes, diced or slice thin

2 avocados, sliced into thin wedges

2 cups shredded roast chicken breast

2 ounces shredded jalapeno-jack cheese (optional)

Fresh cilantro (optional)

1-2 large limes cut into quarters

½ cup Creamy Chipotle-Lime Sauce (page xx)

1. Warm tortillas for about 30 seconds in the microwave wrapped in wax paper or in an oven-safe tortilla warmer, until they are soft and pliable.

2. Spread each tortilla with 1 tablespoon of sauce. Top with cabbage, tomato, avocado, chicken, cheese, and cilantro. Squeeze lime over the top.

Creamy Chipotle-Lime Sauce

Make your tacos sing with this fresh spicy sauce. It works well with any taco meat or toppings.

Makes ½ cup

¼ cup plain Greek yogurt

¼ cup organic or vegan mayonnaise

1 tablespoon lime juice

2 pinches Kosher or sea salt

1 pinch black pepper

1 garlic clove, minced

1/8 teaspoon ground chipotle powder (or cayenne)

1. Whisk yogurt through chipotle powder in a small bowl until smooth.

Based on The Daniel Plan book, The Daniel Plan Cookbook: 40 Days to a Healthier Life is a beautiful four-color cookbook filled with more than 100 delicious, Daniel Plan-approved recipes that offer an abundance of options to bring nutritious cooking into your kitchen to help transform your health in the best way imaginable—from the inside out.

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