I have struggled with my weight most of my adult life. Like many dieters, I have lost hundreds of pounds, only to gain them back again. Being overweight has been one of the most disheartening parts of my life, a life that has been blessed in so many other ways.

It would be too embarrassing for me to tell you all the different ways I have tried to lose weight. I will confess that I have been susceptible to the latest fad diet on more than one occasion. And I have increased my exercising for a season, only to revert back to my more sedentary lifestyle.

I am a meat and potatoes guy. I really don’t like any green food unless it is lime sherbet. I have eaten poorly. I have eaten too much. And I have exercised too little. My obesity is but one indicator of the bad choices I have made with food and exercise.

A Point of Reckoning

About two months ago I was playing with one of my grandchildren. I was exhausted. I had no reason to be so tired. Well I did have one reason. I am obese. My lack of energy was the result of my terrible lifestyle. So I looked into the eyes of my grandchild. I wondered if I would be able to keep up with all of my grandchildren. Indeed I wondered if I would live to see them grow up.

I needed help. I needed God’s strength. So I made a decision then that my life had to change. Not with a fad diet. Not with a flurry-and-done exercise regime. But with prayer, obedience, and a reasonable diet and lifestyle.

A Point of Conviction

I am a Christian. Some may say I am a Christian leader. Some people look to me as an example. Frankly, I have been a poor example, a poor witness. I have had a lifestyle of sin of gluttony and slothfulness. I have no right to be a leader, if I am one, with the awful model that I am and have been.

Something had to change. So almost two months ago, I gave up. At least I gave up trying by myself. I needed God’s strength, His conviction, and His path. Indeed the path I travel is very slow for a goal-oriented person like me. It involves reasonable and healthy eating. It involves reasonable exercise. And it means that I am making a lifestyle change, not going on yet another crazy diet.

The progress is slow. I am still obese, but I am making progress. In God’s strength, and by giving myself to Him daily on this matter, I feel for the first time that there is really hope for change. It’s ironic. I say I trust Him in all matters, yet I have never really given him my sins of gluttony and slothfulness.

Until now.

A Point of Clarification

Allow me to be clear. I am not turning this blog into “Thom’s daily weight and health progress,” though you are free to ask me how I’m doing. You are free to hold me accountable. But I won’t bore you to death with the details of my health.

No, the reason I wrote this post is because some of you say you look to me as an example. I’m not sure why you do, but that’s what you tell me. Hear me clearly: I have been a lousy example in this key area of my life.

Obesity has become one of the leading contributing killers in America. And, at least by example, I have contributed to the malady. And, even more importantly, my Christian witness has been compromised by my selfish indulgences.

I must change. In God’s power, I must change.

And I am sufficiently selfish to tell you that I would greatly appreciate your prayers.

image via


  1. Justin Edgar says

    Thanks for sharing this Thom, as a pastor who struggles similarly, I’m thankful for your honesty & struggle. Prayed for you this morning.

  2. says

    Hi from Scotland,
    Well done Thom. You have taken the first step. I am aged 63 and until 2 years ago I had been a smoker for 40 years. Jesus enabled me to give up and at the same time gave the desire to take up cycling. Two years on I’m fitter, richer and have more time with the Lord on my daily cycle (10 miles).
    Best wishes,

    PS A piece of advice stop using the label ‘leader’…….try servant or slave of Christ !

    • says

      Wow… what an incredible blog! Thank you so much for sharing your heart! I would be honored if you would check out what I am doing in OKC about the obesity epidemic in the Church. It’s a city-wide weight loss challenge for the Church. We have 30 churches represented and seven churches competing for the main prizes. And it’s all about honoring God with our bodies and loving and serving others more effectively. Our website is and my email is if you would want to discuss it. Either way, thank you so much sharing this message!

  3. Michael says

    What a convicting, honest post Dr. Rainer. There is no magic in weight loss. Often, it’s changing a lifetime full of habits but it’s not at all different than those who struggle with various addictions and I think when you frame it within the context of addiction it comes closer to solving the problem.

  4. says

    I really appreciate your openness and honesty about your weight issues. I am a retired physical education teacher who currently travels the country (sometimes the world) to speak to other physical education teachers in public schools about how to increase physical activity to reduce obesity and type two diabetes. The activities I share are fun and keep student heart rates high. I help teachers because I have a passion to assist our young generation from experiencing what you are going through.

    My recommendation is to contact Dr. Nick Yphantides. He is great guy and a friend. At one time he weighed 469 pounds. In one year he lost 270 pounds. He told me his primary motivation was as a medical doctor he could no longer tell his patients to exercise and lose weight. Today he serves as the San Diego County chief medical officer. He loves Jesus and is the author of the book My Big Fat Greek Diet (Nelson Publishing, 2004). He teaches classes and counsels people on safe weight loss methods. Check out his web site and email him. He would love to help you in your journey.

    I want to thank you for what you do to strengthen the health of the church.

  5. says

    This is an awesome post Dr. Rainer. I am proud of you for taking this own…it’s a tough challenge, but I know you can handle it!

    I sent a DM via Twitter since I don’t want to share what I did there publicly here, but please know I’m praying for your success in this. (I wanted you to know since I didn’t know if the DM box of your twitter account got much monitoring — I’m sure you get a lot of random DM’s),

    Once you achieve your goal you will be utterly amazed at how much better you feel. I pray that you will play with your grandkids without feeling tired very soon and lead a very long, healthy life.

  6. Jon Odom says


    I’m a long time reader but have never previously commented. Just wanted to commend you on your transparency and cheer you on in your renewed efforts. I appreciate you!


    • Thom Rainer says

      Thanks for making your first comment on the blog Jon. I appreciate your being a part of this community.

  7. David Walker says


    Thanks for sharing. Have been struggling with the same conviction and dealing with this as a sin. I appreciate your willingness to be transparent and open.

    I am working this year to be less of a consumer of both food and other things. Believing that as a pastor I need to quit ignoring my problem with gluttony.

    I will be praying for you.


  8. Sue says

    Me too, for the same reasons. I am surrendering this to God and trusting that whatever causes me to choose poorly will be redeemed!

  9. Liam says


    I also have never commented, but your post was commendable! I just wanted to encourage you and thank you for your transparency. I have gained much from your wisdom over the last 6 months of reading. Thank you for your ministry!

  10. says

    Thom, I remember in another book you wrote, briefly discussing your weight struggles, you mentioned that the gradual weight surplus amounted to about the calories in an extra slice of bread a day. And weight loss can be just as simple. Amazing as it sounds, consuming two 20-ounce regular sodas a day can add a whopping 50 pounds to one’s frame at the end of a year’s time. And stopping such mindless calorie-consumption can remove 50 pounds!

    Many fail because they look at “dieting” as penance for their gluttonous sins, so they deprive themselves of all the foods they dearly love. But an “all-or-nothing approach is self defeating. Any plan that can’t be lived with day-in and day-out is doomed to fail. I’ve been involved (and led a group) with the Christian-based weight loss program, First Place 4 Health, which focuses on loving God with all out heart, soul, mind and strength (spiritually, mentally, emotionally and physically). Keeping these four components in harmony, along with a healthy eating (including limited portions of not-so-healthy delicacies) and exercise plan, and solid support-system of like-minded friends, can provide the impetus to permanent success. The group’s founder, Carole Lewis, has written “Give God a Year, Change Your Life Forever!”, and her premise is, that, at the end of the year, you will have lived 365 days, so why not commit a year to making the life change. Another resource that focuses on these four components and incorporates a brief daily Bible study to help one get on track and stay there is an older title called “Thoroughly Fit”…I highly recommend both these titles to add to your arsenal.

    And meat and potatoes are fine…just add some non-starchy veggies, fresh fruit, and glass of low-fat milk or other dairy to the table setting! I’ve read that “taste buds are malleable little fellas”…they’ll adapt to (and begin to desire) what they’re given. I’ve experienced that as well. (But I still enjoy a slice of cake with cream cheese icing from time to time, and don’t feel a bit guilty!) My prayers are with you.

  11. Steve M. says

    Thanks for this post. I too have struggled at various times with weight issues and know it can be very difficult. Slow and steady. Fifty or sixty years of habits aren’t going to change overnight. Sadly and honest to God it’s criminal but the complete junk and additives they put in food now should be banned. It is absolutely frightening but I would highly recommend simply googling food additives and those that are dangerous for you. The results should shock you and when you realize that part of the insidious nature of the food industry is to keep you hungry is also largely at fault. It is eye opening. I’m sure it sounds like a conspiracy but all of the gluten free, lactose intolerant, diabetic, hormonal problems in kids, and hundreds of other health issues can be traced right back to the garbage we’re feeding, no the food industry, is selling to us.

  12. says


    I admire you for coming to this conclusion. I had to come to this same conclusion myself and wrote a similar blog that may encourage you at For me, the battle is ongoing… every day… If I may, allow me a couple of suggestions? Get you a good smart-phone app such as MyFitnessPal or LoseIt. Tracking calories is more than just being on a “diet” – I consider it a part of my stewardship activities – stewarding the temple of the Holy Spirit by carefully stewarding what is going in. Also, look into a fitness tracker such as the FitBit Force. It is amazing how much encouragement and incentive comes simply from KNOWING how active (or inactive) you are. Please continue to keep us informed. As for me… since August of 2012, I have lost and kept off approximately 65 pounds, but I still have about 100 pounds to go… yes, at my peak in the summer of 2012 I weighed 360 pounds for which I am truly ashamed. Please read the blog as it might provide some insight. Thanks.

    • Thom Rainer says

      Your words are encouraging. I might give an occasional update. I just don’t want it to be all about me.

      • says

        Thanks, Thom, but in the end isn’t it all about Jesus anyway? He is the one who sets the captive free. Isn’t it amazing that even those of us who have been Christians for decades are still in need of grace and still in need of being set free! So don’t think of it as being about you. Think of it as bringing glory to the one who sets you (and me) free from the captivity of sin – in this case the sin of glutton.

  13. Beverly says

    I to am on the same journey. My prayers will include you, and many others, as we conquer and are delivered of this awful stronghold. Thank you for your humility, it is so encouraging to me!
    God will win this battle in us, we need not worry about that, only submit it to Him daily! Don’t forget David and Goliath… :)

  14. says

    The simplest and clearest “science of weight loss” is in a $4 e-book called “The Skinny Genes Diet.” It’s not hype, not fad, not fluff. Just simple and clear information for the price of a skinny latte. It might be one of the best (and cheapest) investments a person could make in their own health. It’s on Nook and Kindle; may be elsewhere too.

  15. Leon says

    I will add you to my prayer list re: this particular issue. May God bless you and may you enjoy those little ones for years to come.

  16. says

    Thom just wanted to say how much I appreciate your transparency in this blog. It is one of my favorite things about your writings. As one who has never had a weight problem this will help me minister to those in my congregation who do. It has also spurred me to address areas in my life that I need accountability in to become more like our Savior. Once again thank you for all that do for the cause of Christ. My prayers are with you and others who struggle in this way.

  17. Dave says

    Just a little over a year ago I started jogging/walking 1.5 miles about 3 days a week. I had been eating salads for lunch every day, but I became more serious about it then. Why? I can’t explain it, but I give God the glory and say that the Spirit’s the one that makes me change, motivates me, pushes me.

    Well, it’s been about 14 months and I’ve lost 15 inches. My girls can get their arms around my waist now. I’m running 4.5 miles 5-6 times a week and have had at least one 9 minute mile. And it’s having an impact on my kids. My two oldest kids are running 2 miles each day before school.

    You’re right. It’s a lifestyle, not a fad. We have to live healthier, and not just for ourselves but for those whom look to us as life examples. I keep running. Sometimes my legs hurt, sometimes it’s 11-12 minute miles, but I know that I can’t quit. For me, quitting means dying. And I don’t want my kids to learn how to quit, but how to keep on doing the right thing – even when it hurts and it’s hard and they don’t feel like it – because it’s the right thing to do.

    This thing you’ve begun, it’s not about you. It’s about Him in you and what He can do through you. Sure, you’ll have days that you might be disappointed, but it’s all in God’s time – not ours. And in His time He’ll glorify Himself in us.

    “Just keep swimming!” – Dora

  18. says

    Good for you! I am a nutritionist now, but 10 years ago I was incredibly unhealthy and ate the worst diet possible. I developed chronic health conditions that put me on the path to health and inspired me to become a nutritionist. I say that to say this: I know how hard it is to come the realization that a change needs to happen. I commend you for making changes in your life in a reasonable way. In my personal experience it is the change that lasts the longest! Best wishes to you and may 2014 be your healthiest year yet!

  19. says

    I too am an obese pastor. For several months I pursued health eating and regular exercise. I have carefully molded my diet around what I enjoy while trying to get what I need (veggies). I am working out 6 days a week and making sure I get 7-8 hours of sleep every night. Here are some things that I have learned:
    1. Because of the sedentary nature of pastoral work, my body burns far fewer calories than most people. This means to be healthy I either need to eat like a bird or get A LOT of activity.
    2. When I take 90 minutes a day to work out, I have a more productive day (even though I have less time available).
    3. When I sleep a full 8 hours, I am more mentally aware and more productive (even though I have less time).
    4. When I stay away from sugary foods, salty foods, and fried foods I feel better.
    5. When I eat enough veggies my energy levels are higher and last longer.
    6. When I care for my body through good diet, exercise, and sleep I am better equipped to resist sin and live for God – Physical health promotes spiritual health.
    The result of these last few months is that I have lost a lot of weight (I still have about 90 pound to lose). I am very slowly losing inches from my body. I am have more energy and less stress. People have started to notice that I look healthier (they don’t say thinner) and they tell me I seem more joyful.
    Every day I have to fight to maintain this healthy lifestyle. It is hard. The changes are SLOW. I often want to give up but I am enjoying the benefits much more than what I am missing. Two phrases I keep telling myself:
    1. I can suffer the pain of discipline or the pain of regret.
    2. Being overweight is much harder than being healthy.
    May God bless both our efforts to honor Him with our bodies,

  20. says

    Wow, I was blown away by this post, Dr. Rainer. I must say I am humbled and deeply appreciative of the honesty and courage it takes to write something like this. I have prayed for you and will continue to pray. I think that above all, your example in writing something like this should be followed by all Christians, especially our leaders. I know that God will be with you in your struggle in this area.

    “And He has said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.” Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me.” (2 Corinthians 12:9)

  21. says

    Wow, I was blown away by this post, Dr. Rainer. I must say I am humbled and deeply appreciative of the honesty and courage it takes to write something like this. I have prayed for you and will continue to pray. I think that above all, your example in writing something like this should be followed by all Christians, especially our leaders. I know that God will be with you in your struggle in this area.

    “And He has said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.” Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me.” (2 Corinthians 12:9)

  22. Larry says

    Thanks for the honesty, Thom.
    About 3 years ago I went on a personal journey to understand from the scriptures why certain sins such as drinking were such heavily targeted and unaccepted “sins”. I began to realize that the Bible speaks more loud and clear about gluttony than many other things we call “sin” and I was convicted. I simply began a ninety day exercise program which turned into a running program which turned into almost 35 pounds gone. 20-25 miles a week now and 3 half marathons later I finally feel that I’ve reached a healthy lifestyle.
    I feel it’s a lifestyle of worship and balance and I’ve given a great gift to my church family and especially to my own wife and children.
    blessings on your journey and remember, shoot for a lifestyle and not simply a “look” or amount.

  23. allen calkins says

    If your knees will let you run I would really encourage you to take up running. Begin running/walking a mile. And increase your distance till you can run a 5k. Running is very self motivating because of the endorphins created. I lost 40 lbs when I first took up running in seminary. It took 25 years to gain much of it back. But in 2013 I lost 25 in order to run a half marathon.

  24. Rachael Starke says

    Thom – *Thank you* for modeling godly repentance over one of the most unacknowledged, but painfully obvious, struggles many Christians, *especially* in ministry. My own conviction, repentance and change in eating and exercise came only after several years of deeper understanding of God’s purposes in making us eating, moving creatures in the first place. Food is our greatest earthly metaphor for understanding what it means to abide in Christ, and to abide in us. There is food that gives life (Jesus) and there is food that brings death (sin). The more deeply I studied the concept of God’s Word being spiritual food (as opposed the death-bringing words of the world), the more I began to see the implications for physical eating. Bear in mind, though, brother, that there is great freedom for Christians! Simply making changes in faith, regardless of how great or small the results, is what counts. You’ll be in my prayers! for Him

  25. Kim says

    This is exactly why we look to you as a leader – your humility, transparency and honesty. Your journey will inspire many.

  26. says

    Dr. Rainer, greeting from a former FBC of Mt. Washington member. Being over weight is tricky. I never had a weight problem until the last 8 yrs. but, in my family I knew it could be an issue. So, now I’m trying to lose the weight in a healthy way. As an RN I know the things to do, but it doesn’t make it easier. Howeve, that being said I’m determined to adopt this new life style. This new life style has to be realistic. So, I want to wish you well on your path but remember we would like to see updates on your progress. Please allow us to see how God works in you and through you, the ocassional post would we welcome. There are many out there who have fought this battle and are still fighting it and I believe Satan feeds on this problem also. So maybe as a community of believers , that if we band together on this, we will be successful. We can’t make each other lose weight but we can encourage and pray for each other. Blessings to you!

    • Thom Rainer says

      Hey Marcie. See my comment to Kim about my future posting on this topic. I will always be grateful to FBC for the time I spent as interim, and for giving Erin to our family. She’s one incredible daughter-in-law!

  27. Larry Elrod says

    Dear Thom,
    Thank you for your post. I will be praying for you. I ask that you pray for us, too, as my wife and I embark on The Daniel Plan and lead some others in our church to do likewise.
    I believe conviction from the Holy Spirit is the key to change just as is godly sorrow. That was true when I quit smoking thirty-five years ago and that was true when we did Nutri-System five years ago. Under the conviction of the Holy Spirit there was a power at work that made the change possible.
    This time we do not feel as convicted so we know it will be a greater struggle, but we still need to change our lifestyle.
    And that is where obedience and self-discipline become character traits of maturity. It is seems strange we can be mature in so many ways and so immature in some others, but it is true.
    So, we will pray with you as the Holy Spirit helps us mature and as we, out of our love for God, commit ourselves to changing how we approach our everyday lives.
    Love you brother,

  28. Allen Calkins says

    One way to look at your weight loss desire that may be more motivational than attacking obesity and slothfulness is seeing the issue more as a matter of life stewardship (something affecting the Kingdom of God) than personal health (something affecting mostly you). Recognize that adopting a healthier lifestyle will allow you to have the longest, largest and greatest impact you can have for the glory of God and the advancement of His kingdom through your speaking, preaching and consulting ministry. Poor health can cut your ministry short and reduce your availability for ministry assignments by forcing future travel to be restricted, etc. due to health concerns. But not having to deal with the chronic diseases of the obese will give you more time, energy and even financial resources to honor God with in your ministry for Him.

  29. Rick Mansfield says

    Kathy and I just started Rick Warren’s new Daniel Plan today. I know I needed to do something different, and this plan seemed very well-rounded. It also encourages doing it with others. Accountability can be a good thing.

    If only I can get to the point of craving fresh, home-prepared vegetables over Taco Bell–but that’s going to take the undoing of many years of bad habits!

  30. Garry Medford says

    Thank you so much Thom. As an obese person who has also struggled mightily for most of my life with weight issues, not eating right, and avoiding exercise like the plague, I too wonder if I will be around to see my children and grandchildren grow to maturity. I really appreciate your honesty and look forward to seeing your progress as I embark on my own goals of losing weight and becoming healthier.

  31. Darryl Willis says

    Thom, I so identify with your post. Over 25 years ago I was 30 lbs overweight–and I never met a vegetable I really liked! (Although the Paleo-diet folks would suggest that being a meat lover is the best way to go for weight-loss and health).

    You’ve got it. It’s about attitude. A little anecdote if I may: my father smoked for over 20 years–two packs a day, camel filter-less. One day he flushed two cartons of cigarettes and never picked them up again. Years later I asked him how on earth was he able to do it? His reply: “There is a difference between ‘will power’ and ‘want power’. Will power is when the Doctor says, ‘Quit or you’ll die.’ That’s the hardest way to quit. ‘Want power’ however makes it easy. Six months before I flushed those cigarettes I began to imagine what it was like to not smoke. I could taste what it was like to not smoke. I began to imagine the beauty of not smoking. Essentially, I quit six months before I really quit.”

    Just a story to think on!

    Blessings and hang in there!

  32. Rhonda Carroll says

    Hi Thom,
    I will be praying for you as well. I am a pastor’s wife and have struggled with the same things over the years. I have probably lost and gained more weight than I would care to know. I have tried every fad diet that came along only to have the weight return as soon as I started eating “normal” again. Finally, I became very convicted that my physical life needed to honor God just as I wanted my spiritual life to honor Him. Since then, I have lost 50 lbs. by following what God’s design for healthy living should . Who better to learn how to be healthy than from the creator Himself. The Bible has over 600 references on how we should be eating. That was just amazing to me! Since then, I have started a new ministry to help others find better health through scripture. I actually had an article published about my ministry in the Baptist and Reflector back in October. My blog is “From the Bible to the Table.” I could not have done it without God’s help and I hope to encourage and help others as well. Blessings!

  33. says

    Thank you Thom for this courageous post. I think it is obvious from these initial responses that God is using your weakness as a platform for His strength. “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness” (2 Cor 12:9 HCSB). You are a leader I admire even more after today.

  34. Steven Stutzman says

    If I may offer a piece of advice, one of the most helpful tools I use is thinking in advance. Meaning, don’t make food choices on the spot but make up your mind how you act before you get there. Even on the way home for dinner, you can say you’ll only have so much and push away. Going out to eat, most of know the menus, so decide before you’re lured away by fancy advertisements or manipulated by hunger pangs.

    I’ve found when I decide how I will act before the decision is upon me, I tend to stick to my conviction/prior decision and not be swept away by emotional/comfort food.

  35. says

    I appreciate your honesty. As you know all too well, this is our (evangelicals) acceptable sin. When I was a pastor, overeating and obesity was all too much a part of “ministry” — meals with people, potlucks, and the like. It came home to me at about age 58 that I was on a march to debilitation and senior years of no ministry capability due to poor health. And my wife and I began a journey toward health. But it occurred to me, how would we deal with a leader who stepped into the pulpit to lead and preach having overdone other “not so acceptable sins” — alcohol, tobacco, pain killers, and the like? There are so many issues: self-control, self-leadership, being an example, overall health, food as an anesthetic for pain in life. God’s blessing on you as you move ahead with new conviction!

  36. says

    Dr. Rainer,
    I have admired and appreciated your leadership since my days as an M.Div. student at SBTS. I was the beneficiary of the pilot program you developed for a “non-traditional” PhD as one of your final acts as the Dean of the Graham School (SBTS MDiv, 98; PhD, 2011). And, I am once again the beneficiary of your transparency and honesty about a struggle many of us face.
    In November 2003 I tipped the scales at just under 360 pounds. Through adjustments to my diet and exercise, I managed to lose 110 pounds in 7 months. I kept that weight off through much of my PhD program, but slowly let about half the weight creep back on. Not only did I let that happen, but one of the side effects of long term obesity is Type II Diabetes…I was diagnosed last year. I knew that 2014 was the year for me to make some significant changes. Your blog was an encouragement in that direction.
    I know you said that you didn’t want to make this a “Watch Thom Lose Weight” type blog. I agree with that. Considering, however, that a nerve has clearly been struck, I wonder if there is some way of creating an online community to make 2014 a year in which Less is Less. ;-) Although I may not resemble it right now, I do have some experience in this regard. At one point I represented a nation wide weight loss strategy on the Home Shopping Network and the Canadian Shopping Network. I would be very interested in a dialogue about a way to encourage and motivate others to take their physical health seriously.
    Again, thank you for being a leader we can look to.

  37. says

    Dear Thom
    Thanks for posting this, I know the struggle all to well with weight and obesity. I am 46 and all my life I’ve be this way, when I was old enough to remember the word “husky” I remember it coming from my grandmother and being only 9 years old you think it’s a compliment but at 40 you realize it was a nice way for your grandmother to say “your fat”, that’s ok I was and up to about 2 years ago I didn’t really understand even how to change that. I’m thankful for some insight from God and my doctor who is a great christian man to that I was on the same path that my uncle took 10 years ago and my grandfather took some 20 years ago….the grave.I now weigh 180 pounds, It took me a year to lose the 122 pounds that I now work daily to keep off, yes I was at 302+ pounds when I begin a life change. With help I changed my outlook on food, especially “sugar” ,starches and found out how to take “me” back by knowing what my real enemy was…what kind of foods that had put one foot in a early grave, I have been able to eliminate medicines for blood pressure, diabetes and arthritis. Exercise became a big part of my life, I run between 3-5 miles most days and for a guy who as a teenager wouldn’t even run for the cafeteria I’m doing well, I couldn’t even walk a mile when I started this late in 2012 but I use my time outside as time with God to draw closer to him, through talking with him and praying for others I’ve found such a deeper relationship with Jesus that I didn’t realize was out there. It has made me a better dad, husband, coworker and leader in church, there are so many people that need to know there is help out there for a better life, better quality, happier with themselves and others, so thank you for posting your struggles and what you’ve done and how you’ve come this far to change yourself, because each of us, we have the ability to help each other and sometimes we never even know. I had several mention to me over the last year and half…you have been a inspiration to me and it humbles me because truly I’m just trying to survive and live a longer healthy life for me, not knowing how others were watching what was going on. Thank You Brother and Prayers Your Way.

  38. Patsy Chacon says

    This is why I look so forward to your posts everyday. Thank you so much for your honesty. You like me and I’m sure so many others struggle with bad eating habits. This is a area that I have struggled with for years. I too have tried every diet imaginable and yoyo’ed up and down time and time again. I am also a leader that really doesn’t fill like anyone should be looking to me as an example because I fill I have so failed in properly showing how we should be taking care of our body. But I’m learning that through prayer, self-control and weight watchers eating plan I am learning that GOD will give me enough strength to overcome day to day. I will keep you in prayer every day as you continue and conquer your weight journey and if you could plse pray for me aswell. Thank you and GOD bless

  39. Dale Cunningham says

    Your blog is a constant encouragement to me in ministry. Thank you for your transparency concerning the need to lose weight. I, too, have battled the weight issue all my life. Three years ago, I was up to 267 lbs. Now, after a lifestyle change, I have lost 70 pounds and have maintained it. It is not an easy fix. No pills, just exercise, food choices and food intake. My wife and I split meals at home and at the restaurants. Also, the best bite of dessert is the first bite!
    Stay with it, brother! It will test you, but you will be so glad you did. You’ll feel better and enjoy life more as you are more useful for Christ!!

  40. Joshua Sharp says

    Awesome post Dr. Rainer!!!! I hear everything you said. I’m morbidly obese myself. So I find it encouraging hearing you open up about your struggle, and I will pray that the Lord will continue to strengthen you in your goals!!!!!

  41. says

    Really appreciate your transparency. With all of your required travel, it must be doubly hard to stay disciplined. Your article has encouraged me to get serious here in 2014. We have family, grandsons, and a church that is counting on us.

  42. Michelle McKey says

    Thom, I’m very inspired by your words and struggle. I’m not any sort of leader and am just now at the age of 60 trying to become a better server of Christ but I have struggled with my weight my entire life. The last 13 years have been the worst. I find it amazing that I pray for everyone and everything and expect God to do amazing things. I’ve always felt guilty for being overweight and for some unknown reason never turned it over to God. Truthfully, I may have been afraid He would help me fix it and I like to eat and enjoy my sweets. I have 10 grandbabies and one on the way and I have no energy to play with them and I’ve already had one health scare and am a prime candidate for many other issues. I want to be healthy but; like you; I want to set a good example and not feel like a hypocrite. I will pray for your success as I pray for mine. I know we can do this in Christ!!!

  43. says

    Wow Thom…I needed that.\
    I am walking the same road and right before Christmas, I made a decision to try and do something about it. But I never really approached it a spiritual issue…just something I needed to do. Yes, I know I am accountable to God for stewardship of the body He has given me. But you have put an entirely new perspective and thus some new light on the matter. Thanks. I believe now that I too can make some progress. Thanks for your honesty and putting me under conviction for my lack of self control. I am not far over the line of obesity so my first objective is simply to get to the “overweight” classification and then down to my good working weight. Please keep up informed about your progress. That will not be boring but could help inspire the rest of us. God Bless you.

  44. Haydee says

    I prayed for you. It is done. Wrong appetite is suppressed. All you need to do is to remember you’ve surrendered this area to God already and obey. The Holy Spirit is always that voice telling you to do what is right.

  45. Larry Michael says

    Hey Thom, great post. Very transparent. Gluttony is the one “deadly sin” that many believers laugh about, and yet I am not sure that God deems it a laughable matter. Your grandkids deserve to have your influence in their lives, and that motivation, along with all the others, should be instructive as you pursue your daily regimen of intake. I cannot remember the last time I heard a sermon on gluttony. That might be a consideration as you make your rounds on the speaking circuit. Blessings. –Larry

  46. says

    Thank you so much for sharing. Your transparent confessions are so refreshing from someone in a leadership position as yours. Thank you for being real.
    I know another pastor friend of mine who has lost over 50 pounds doing it the old fashion way – and through scriptural guidance.
    If you find scriptural guidance as you seek this adventure would you share as well?

    • Rhonda Carroll says

      We just finished a wonderful bible study at our church called “Treasures of Healthy Living.” It is a bible study about finding better health through scripture. You can find out more about it at http://WWW.designed healthy It is a study based on the book “What the Bible Says About Healthy Living.”

  47. Joe Godal says

    I am a certified biblical counselor & use a 60 program to work with addictions including food addictions. It is very Christ centered & a mentor is assigned to keep you accountable . Additional mentors such as the pastor/counselor may also be daily mentors (which I do with counselees ). I have used it myself & was g reatly helped by it. Check out . The gluttony program is called “The Lord’s Table.”

  48. says

    I was mistaken. Upon reading the title, I was convinced this was a guest post. I was incredibly shocked to find such humble transparency in someone so notable as yourself. I think this is the first time that I have ever seen this expressed by a Christian leader. I pray you will have incredible life change in this area of your life. Michael Hyatt’s Life Plan sure helps me keep areas of my life in check. Thank God for this post!

  49. says

    This post has certainly generated a lot of response. Thank you for sharing. I have struggled with weight most of my adult life. Around the age of 30, I had reached 370# and lost 170# through weight watchers. I kept it off for about 8 minutes. I am now back around 300. Ugh. Over the past year or so, I have been increasingly realizing the spiritual battle that is weight loss. Too often, I think we see it as just a math equation, calories in versus calories out. I think it is that, but for me, I know that it is a battle against the flesh, sloth, shame, etc. Thank you for sharing. It is deeply appreciated.

  50. Neo says

    The word “transparency” appears a lot in the comments.
    My suggestion would be to read Piper’s “Hunger for God”. It’s right on the mark.

  51. Steve Potter says

    Thanks for sharing this post. I’ve been coaching pastors for the last 8 years and have seen a major issue few pastors want to address, their health. It isn’t only about their witness, it’s about not dying younger than your contemporaries or before God’s done with you. Pastoring is a high stress vocation. Eating healthy, exercising, getting enough sleep, and practicing personal spiritual disciplines in a way that reduces stress will allow God to use you for many years.
    I’d like to add to the discussion that this journey ought not be taken alone. Make sure you have a partner walking with you who will help guide, encourage and hold you accountable to goals and for life style changes. It’s a major factor in long term success at weight loss and maintenance, or any other life style change. I’ll be praying for you and look forward to occasional progress reports without making your blog about obesity and weight loss. We all care about you, have learned much from you, and want the gift of your mentoring to continue.

  52. says

    God Bless You, my brother! I have walked the same pathway, and God has blessed me to become more healthy at age 66 than I was at 46!!! Keep the Faith, perseverance and discipline are the keys!!! My prayers are with you in all this!!!

    Yours in HIS Service,

  53. says

    What a article and request for prayer and encouragement. Your honesty and courage has encouraged me to write a similar article in our church quarterly newsletter on myself. The problems you have experienced along with those who replied blew my mind. They are so similar to mine. In the beginning of 2007 I weighed 702 lbs. Later on that spring because of sleep apnea, blood pressure, oxygen ( low O2 levels in my brain), and congestive heart problems I was on a ventilator for one week. Behind a miraculous recovery I dropped to 489 lbs I one year. It has been a battle since then. I have some good weeks and some bad weeks. Here lately I have been fighting depression and withdrawal because of it. But then the Lord put pen in your hand and a message in your heart that not only lifted me, but judging by the replies many others. Just as the Man of Steel had a problem with kyriptonite Men of the Scriptures have a problem with food. God bless you. You pray for me and I will pray for you., .

  54. says


    Thank you for posting this. It was brave, transparent, and authentic. Too many pastors and church leaders are struggling with this taboo subject. Your post knocked at the very door of my calling and what I’m pouring all my efforts into right now. I’d love for you to check out and let me know what you think and how I can be of encouragement to you personally. Keep blogging love your posts!

    Ricky Van Pay


  1. […] Confessions of an Obese Pastor A admire Thom Rainer even more after this: “I am a Christian. Some may say I am a Christian leader. Some people look to me as an example. Frankly, I have been a poor example, a poor witness. I have had a lifestyle of sin of gluttony and slothfulness. I have no right to be a leader, if I am one, with the awful model that I am and have been.” […]

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