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Small Groups are Good for the Health and Soul


The secret sauce to success with adopting a healthy lifestyle is...group support.

By Lisa Griffin

David and Terra

Quick stats:

  • Hosts David and Terra Dominguez
  • Group Location: Foothill Ranch
  • Group size: Six people--three married couples.

What progress can you report from you and your group from being on The Daniel Plan?

David: Everybody in the group has done well in losing weight. My wife has lost 15 pounds and one of the other couples; his wife lost 16 pounds. Her husband lost about 12 pounds. Myself, I've lost 15 pounds. I'm finding it interesting how changing your diet does play a big role in your weight. The third couple they're not so much focused on the weight but the nutrition side, so the biggest thing they've been getting out of this is, is taking a look at product labels.

My wife is now consistent in walking. She tries to walk everyday and is now involved in the Saturday morning Pump and Praise. The other couple walks and then she's also teamed up with my wife one night a week to walk. Her husband has been walking in the evenings consistently. For myself I ride a bike three to four times during the week in the morning. I'm doing about 15 miles a day. I call it my "Dog patrol" because I'm leaving pretty early. I clean up and then go to work. That's the most consistent time for me to get exercise in.

Terra: I think as a group we've done really well. I've never tried to lose weight and I've lost 15 pounds since January 16. I think the big thing is preparing your kids so they're not addicted to corn syrup.

What has been challenging on The Daniel Plan?

David: The challenging part--buying food and staying within a budget. As time has gone on-- its gotten better. Bringing that budget back in; also we're mixing it up between Henry's and Whole Foods and now trying a Farmers Market in Irvine called Garden of Eden. We want to make Farmers Market shopping part of our routine.

Terra: We probably can't say anymore we can't find time to exercise. Some days it's 30 minutes other days its 45 minutes. Some days it's only 15 minutes on the stairs. Somehow we're working it in. Also, how do you find the time to put food on the table? I work full-time. Have kids. We're a working family. That was our cop-out we had to eat out three or four times during the week and bring it home because lack of time, you know, the professional generation. And then to hear other professionals get up there and say you can do this—eat this—it was like—ahhh. Another paradigm shift. When you see other people do it—you think you can do it too.

Tell us about your Farmers Market experience:

David: There's a co-op farmer who comes out and puts up a vegetable stand with produce in Irvine and you can a buy whole boxes of produce for 20 bucks. There's a variety of fruits and vegetables and they give you recipes and suggestions on how to prepare it. Every week it's kind of interesting. Something different. Oh! There's even grass feed beef! I guess cattle start off in Arizona and they bring them down here, and the cattle graze in Santiago Canyon. He sells at the market. My wife found out about this. http://www.goeorganics.com/index.html

Terra: I'm the health champion of the group—and I thought it would be cheaper to try a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) membership I think people buy too much at grocery stores so I think purchasing through a CSA membership would save money. The nutrient content is so much higher when it's fresh instead of sitting on the shelves.

Favorite post Daniel Plan food experiment:

David: Collared greens. It's a heavy leaf and you can use it for a wrap for tacos to replace flour or corn tortillas. On a side note--it does energize you! You don't really want to have that for dinner but maybe for an early dinner, but it's perfect for a lunch and it gives you that boost to help get past the afternoon lull. We're also experimenting with barely. It has the same consistency as brown rice. Another alternative. My son likes it as a cereal; barley with apples and cinnamon.

Terra: Chicken tenders breaded with almond meal. And it's chicken nuggets to the kids! There's no corn syrup or batter. It's easy: Cup of bread crumbs, cup of almond meal in a skillet with about a tablespoon of coconut oil. It brings out the flavor of the almonds. Dip it in egg. Dip in brown rice flour.

The kids now beg for smoothies (five year old twins) I make a banana, yogurt, chocolate smoothie. It's easy. Freeze a bad banana that I would not otherwise eat and buy Coco beans—which tastes bad on its own but mixed it together with the banana and yogurt—they die for it. Love it.

Oh! We had a small group gathering—a Smoothie Night and we all brought food and everyone shared a new recipe.

How has the group been beneficial?

David: I think just seeing the other group members participating—to see the effort and encouragement of one another. One couple in the group after the seminar emptied out almost all their pantry! They were gung-ho! That's the part about being in a group—you think--whoa-- maybe we should clean out our pantry too! The group definitely helps. Someone in the group might come up with a new recipe or if there is an exercise opportunity that someone would like to try out together.

Terra: I feel really strongly about The Daniel Plan and I think if you didn't have the support I think it would be harder. Because you know when I start doing poorly and someone in my small group and I go out and do a walk and when she tells me she's lost another pound and a half…I'm like..Oh, man, come on--up this extra hill! It pushes you on! It's been good. I've enjoyed it.

Dominguez Small Group
(From the top of the stairs to the bottom) Tom Robershaw, Kim Robershaw, Samantha Suzuki,
Scott Suzuki, Terra Dominguez, David Dominguez