When Jim and Melanie Black received a letter from Melanie’s picture-of-health dad encouraging them to get their out-of-control lives in shape, they were ready to hear it. That letter began a search for ways to improve their health that ultimately led them to The Daniel Plan, just as it was kicking off in January 2011.
Six months fully in, Melanie was down more than 30 pounds and Jim over 50. More than that, Jim had been off all medication for his diabetes, sleep apnea and GERD since early spring of that year.
Profiled and followed by Daniel Plan watchers last year as two of the Plan’s “biggest losers,” the Blacks remain sure and steady evangelists for this God-designed way of living. We caught up with them in August, 2012, to talk about challenges, new goals, and how to recharge your commitment.
Now that you’re more than a year-and-a-half into the Daniel Plan, where do things stand for you today?
Jim: I’m down about 90 pounds but have been at the same weight for the last six months. I’ve hit a plateau. I’m thinner, my clothes are fitting looser, but I’ve put on a lot of muscle by exercising five days a week. We’ve both been devoted to the exercise.
We’d become quite regimented and routine, so now we’re hoping that making some small changes will help us reach our goals. For me, I’ve changed my focus from weight loss to the goal of a changed lifestyle. I think that’s a healthier way of looking at it. The side effect then is weight loss. My initial goal was 210 lbs. I’m still around 240.
Melanie: Recently at a Daniel Plan Health workshop, we learned that your body can go into starvation mode, so you have to make small changes and be consistent.
“I lost 40 lbs, but put 10 back on. My pattern is to slip back into my old ways. I can’t do that.”
Being a face for The Daniel Plan helps Melanie realize she can’t tell others what she should be doing!
“At the workshop we learned that you need to be accountable to someone—someone who’ll say, ‘How are you doing? What’s your goal?’ I learned, for example, that journaling what I eat makes me accountable to myself.
“I’m really excited about Daniel Plan 2.0! It’s about the balance of faith, food, fitness, focus, and friends. I learned I’m putting too much pressure on myself and when I let go and give it to God and follow what I know I need to be doing, it turns around. I started slipping, but I caught myself. I’m realistic — I didn’t put this weight on in a year and I’m not going to take it off in a year or two. I want to be authentic about the process and The Daniel Plan is as close to perfect as it comes, but we can still slip.
“Before we can really be effective, to “love your neighbor as yourself," we must first truly love ourselves!
“I’m excited about all we do with Walk & Worship, plus Authentic Therapeutix on Tuesday evenings.”
Jim: I do Pump & Praise on Saturdays with Tom Wilson, plus I’m a runner. I run 2-3 miles before Walk & Worship.
What would you say to people who are struggling and might be thinking, “This is too hard! I don’t want to do it anymore”? Or, “This isn’t working? What am I doing wrong?”
Jim: Be a part of a group of people with mutual goals and interests. That’s what’s kept me coming. When you try to do it on your own you get sidetracked and you are done.
Melanie: We all need coaches and cheerleaders. I have a friend that we text back and forth, “Are you drinking enough water?” Or the word “water.” Sounds silly but it works. It reminds you that somebody has your back.
Jim: It’s taken about a year and a half to get all my labs normal, but I was off all prescription medications within two months and now all my labs are within normal range. That takes dedication and focus.
Melanie: Now we have our shopping down. We know where we’re going and what to get there. It becomes a routine.
Jim: “The Daniel Plan really has become our life.”
Jim and Melanie want readers to know that Walk & Worship is now on Facebook. Also, there is a Walk & Worship Daniel Plan recipes blog.