Update from an Overweight Christian

In a previous post, I confessed my obesity and my desire for God to change my bad health habits. I felt my Christian witness was compromised by my gluttony. I also promised that my blog would not become a health and weight update on Rainer’s life, something that would both bore and frustrate my readers.

I have received, however, many requests in writing and in person for an update on my progress. So please bear with me as I use one of my posts to update my progress.

  • I have been on this journey 144 days.
  • My total weight loss to this point is 44 pounds.
  • My waist is five inches smaller.
  • According to body mass index (BMI) measurements, I am no longer obese, but I am still overweight. I still have a way to go.
  • I had the best report from my annual physical exam two weeks ago than I’ve had since I was in my early 30s (I’m 58 years old). All of my pertinent medical numbers are great.
  • I feel great; I have so much more energy.

Everyone who attempts to get in better physical shape has his or her own approach. I will share mine because many of you have asked, not because it’s the best way.

  • rainer-treadmillI begin most days with a prayer for strength and God’s wisdom in my eating habits and physical activity.
  • The treadmill is my primary exercise machine. I typically walk three miles each day on a pretty steep incline. I typically watch a documentary while I walk.
  • I keep a pocket pedometer to make certain I walk at least 10,000 steps a day.
  • I use the app called Weightbot to monitor my progress. My son recommends the MyFitnessPal app to log food intake and exercise.
  • My primary approach to eating is simply eating healthier foods and smaller portions. I found that the typical restaurant portion is three times the recommended portion.
  • I do not allow myself to get hungry. I eat a healthy snack, like a small orange, to curb my cravings.
  • I weigh daily. Most sources recommend against this approach. I need the daily accountability.
  • A few weeks ago, I hit a wall and stayed on a weight plateau for three weeks.
  • I moved off the plateau by adding strength exercises to my workout three days a week, and by eating a greater variety of healthy foods.
  • I also purchased a desk treadmill and put it in my study. Now, when I’m writing or doing emails, I do so on the treadmill. It amazed me how much time I was sitting on my large buttocks each day simply writing. The photo shows me on the desk treadmill.

Many of you are probably rolling your eyes at this post. I understand. It is self-centered and self-focused. And I don’t want to imply I have not had my moments of backsliding. Vanilla ice cream has seduced me more than once.

But I recently heard from someone who was diagnosed with early diabetes and warned about future heart problems by his physician. He told me that my first post on this topic “saved his life” (his words, not mine). He also told me that his witness and testimony have changed dramatically for the better because, like me, he was a perpetual sinner of gluttony.

Just a few stories like that make my self-focus worthwhile.

But I truly hope God takes the focus off me, because He deserves all the glory.


    • Thom Rainer says

      Thank you Andy. My prayer is for ongoing wisdom and strength for this journey for the rest of my life.

  1. says

    Thank you for your openness! In this Spirit many of us are blessed and in your journey in this I personally am more and more encouraged to listen even more than I already do to your insight on so any other subjects. I look forward to not only continually getting your daily blessed insights but your victory in the “44!”

  2. Nick Horton says

    Awesome! Glad at your success and a post to encourage others that it can be done is not self-centered. I recently started my own journey. It’s hard work! We don’t eat a lot of food and sit on our behinds because it’s hard work, that’s for sure. Thanks for this and all you write.

  3. Allen Lindholt says

    Great job! I had the same conviction recently (not to mention I am a youth and children’s pastor and need to keep up!) I joined a gym and am shedding pounds for Jesus! I see a difference in all areas of life. Well done and keep us updated!

  4. says

    Great Job! I have begun my own personal journey of weight loss for many of the same reasons you described. Your posts are encouraging if only to know someone else is seeking to Glorify God through their body as well.
    As for the desk treadmill, how in the world do you walk and type at the same time? I’m impressed with your coordination.

    • Thom Rainer says

      Billy: I had the same concerns about a desk treadmill. I bought a LifeSpan treadmill. I chose one of their lower lines since they can be expensive. There is no incline on this model, so I’m always walking on a level surface. It took me about 30 minutes to adjust to a slow walk and typing. Now it’s a piece of cake (bad metaphor for dieting). I walk at the slow pace of 2.1 mph. It’s more movement than aerobic exercise, but it’s better than sitting at a desk several hours a week.

  5. Mark Dance says

    Dr Rainer, thank you for humbly and courageously tackling issues that most evangelical bloggers avoid, such as physical and mental health. Jesus mentions both in the Great Commandment: “”Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your MIND, and with all your STRENGTH” (Mk 12:30). Thank you also for leading by example.

  6. Allen Calkins says

    Congratulations! You are showing the way! There is noting you did that virtually anyone could do….and if a person does not have a treadmill or access to one they can walk around the block and hum….

    • Thom Rainer says

      Thanks Allen. You are right. And as the weather warms, I will walk more outside than on the treadmill.

  7. Rich Smelser says

    Dr. Rainer. I have been searching for a church to serve in since I left my last church. I am a pastor and have struggled with weight issues my entire life. At one point I tipped the scale in excess of 411 lbs. After much prayer and several years, I came to the conclusion it was time to take action. I chose to have bariatric surgery. I’ve lost over 150lbs, no longer take any of the 3 blood pressure meds I was on, and no longer suffer with sleep apnea. I go to the gym 5 days a week faithfully (for 2 1/2 years now).

    I had been courted by a church for over four months, in the 3rd Skype interview, I was asked about my health. I explained my journey of taking control and giving it to God. Well, one person that committee had real issue with this. They were concerned I did not have the Biblical quality of temperance because I had surgery. Understand, at this point, they were making travel arrangements for me to come. I was told I was the only candidate that was being dealt with. I asked specifically to clarify.

    I was awaiting a call with travel arrangements. The call came. They had interviewed someone else, and now felt “led” in a different direction and were no longer interested in me as a candidate. I was devastated, as was my family. They lied to me… to us.

    I have appreciated your leadership, it has been a breath of fresh air to the SBC. However, your weight journey has never prevented you from service. We should all do our absolute best to be good stewards of all that God has given us, especially our health. It’s kind of obvious when we are not.

    I would encourage you to also write to churches to be careful what criteria they utilize to determine one’s ability to serve. Passing judgment on appearance alone is dangerous. Every person’s pilgrimage is different and my journey to where I am isn’t as simple as gluttony. There are also family history, genetics, views about food, self-esteem, etc. issues that have/are also being dealt with.

    I daily take up my cross. God has helped me make many positive changes in this area of my life. He is so good, and He has blessed me beyond my ability to articulate. I am qualified because He called me, I am NOT called because I am qualified. His calling IS my qualification!

  8. says

    Dr. Rainer, you are definitely one of my modern day heroes, but one of the things you said made me step back and then write a blog. You said your weight it hurting your witness. I would say your witness is more about what God is doing in you than what you are doing. The fact you feel led to take off the pounds gives you avenue to share, but the lost world isn’t looking at Christians and judging us for our weight, that is mostly other Christians. You can see my entire blog here:

    • says

      I don’t know if it hurts our witness, but I do believe that it damages our credibility – at least it has mine. For me the issue is not weight as much as it is health. If you knowingly make too many trips to the buffet line and then stand in the pulpit to point out other issues, it can lead to a lack of credibility for some. Yes, we are all sinful but for too many (me included) food had become an unknown idol in my life.

      I had to confess my gluttony before God and make changes. Yes, it is God through the Spirit that draws people to Himself, but as workers in the field, we can partner more with God through good health by having more energy, a clearer thinking mind and endurance for the long haul over feeling sluggish and tired all the time.

  9. says

    So excited for you Thom! We know this journey all too well and help many in the process you are in now. We believe God equipped us with AdvoCare to grow us in leadership and help change a nation challenged with taking their time, health and finances back. Your books have been a part of our change in mindset. Let us know if you’d like us to send you a free sample of a great preworkout mental focus Spark to add to your day – and we will encourage you and THANK YOU for being a voice to the reality of your health journey – transparently! You got this!

  10. Renee Kizziar says

    Thank you. I look at it as an issue of stewardship and gratefulness. God gave me this body. I need to be a responsible steward to illustrate my gratefulness to Him for the gift.

  11. Janet Dance says

    Good morning Dr Rainer and great progress! I would like to respond as a pastor’s wife who is also a Registered Dietitian. You are doing everything right! I agree with your son that keeping a food diary is a good idea. You are obviously successful without it but some people will need that personal accountability.

    Plateaus are normal. I mention this because many of your readers have reached that point, become frustrated and given up, gaining back the weight they lost. For most, this plateau is temporary.

    Weighing yourself is listed as a habit of successful “losers” on The National Weight Control Registry.

    I don’t see your update as selfish. Holding back the encouragement you can give others would be selfish. Thanks for sharing.

  12. says

    Very encouraging post thank you for your openness. I too, like many others , am on this journey. Our church is going to begin The Daniel Plan in a couple of weeks and I get to lead the women. Talk about accountability! Again thank you for your encouragement.

  13. says

    Keep up the good work.

    Don’t worry about splurging every once in a while. Just try to limit it to about once a week (a “cheat meal”) and you’ll be fine. As long as you are about 90% consistent you’ll be fine. 100% consistency is only needed if you are a bodybuilder or professional athlete training for some kind of elite competition.

  14. says

    Way to go! I can echo every sentiment. I am down nearly 30 pounds in 90 days due to changing my eating habits and actually beginning to exercise beyond normal daily movement. I am AMAZED at how much better I feel and the ENERGY available to better serve and love Christ, my family, and His church.

    Much of my transformation came from a direct call from God; however, our church is going through Rick Warren’s “The Daniel Plan”. This has been a great compliment to my personal goals and is actually helping us to elevate the conversation in our church about long term health choices not for our personal benefit rather for God’s glory. My challenge to our church through our Sunday School classes and other small groups has been to change just one thing and see how much better you can feel. If you eat food God created for the body He created, you are better equipped to be the hands and feet God uses to share good news. We have challenged our church to consider how God might better use us to grow the numerical size of heaven by seeking to decrease our waist size. My hopes is that our evangelism and missions efforts will more than double simply because people feel better and have more energy. That is my prayer.

    I’m so very thankful for the people God has put in my life to love and support me. I hope to be able to provide that same support to them and others who want to begin a journey of getting healthy.

  15. says

    A few other thoughts I have learned.

    You can’t exercise your way out of a bad diet nor can you take a magic pill/drink to do so either. Food choices and portion sizes matter.

    We eat over 2,000 times a year. Let that one sink in.

    Havard trained physician Dr. Dean Ornish 30 years ago provided scientific evidence that a better diet, reduced stress, exercise along with LOVE AND SUPPORT can actually reverse heart disease. Check out his website at

    He has essentially been promoting the benefits of community to improve physical health for years. Sounds very much like a small group/Sunday School class opportunity to not only impact spiritual and emotional health, but also physical.

  16. Ron Harvey says

    My wife and I are in our 6th week of the The Daniel Plan. We are eating and exercising better than ever in a long time. Would recommend this to anyone.

  17. Corby Bunting says

    Thank you so much for this post! I have been on a healthy journey for almost 2 years. I was amazed and convicted at how much of an idol food was to me and how rebellious my heart was in this area. Like you, I give all the glory to God for anything accomplished in my life in this area.

  18. Matthew says

    Thank you for sharing this. You should never be embarrassed about post like this. It’s part of your testimony and it blessed me greatly to read it.

  19. says

    Thom, congrats! Love it. Man, what similarities to what’s happened to me since Easter 2012. I went from 195 lbs. to 152 and tell the story here: I, too, have a “desk” across my treadmill … I put it in quotes because it’s a handsome 2″x12″ board secured to the handles where I write my blogs, respond to emails, and generally run the QBQ! business. Sure beats laying on the couch watching “Everybody Loves Raymond” reruns! (which I have done shamelessly!). Thanks, Thom!

  20. says

    Praise God! Very glad to read this, Dr. Rainer. It seems your efforts have quite clearly paid off already! It’s great to see all of the lifestyle changes you’ve made. I will be praying that God continues to strengthen you and give you perseverance in keeping up this healthier lifestyle. It is also my prayer that your testimony would challenge and encourage others who struggle with issues related to overeating or being overweight.

    By the way, I met Dr Lawless and Mr. Rainer at SEBTS last week. What great guys! But I’m sure you already know that. Thanks again for connecting us.

  21. says

    Last time I saw you I was concerned. So thankful you took the leadership that will inspire others. I suspect your boys are thankful. You’re too important to them and the kingdom. We need to keep you around longer. Thanks.

    • says

      Thom, this was a great post. There’s nothing wrong with inserting these here and there. It let’s us know you’re human. And I agree with Ron, wholeheartedly. Doing something positive about your weight issue is an amazing attribute of leadership. Others do notice that.

      I also agree about the testimony aspect of the weight gain. My wife and I adopted two babies from China. When we went to pick them up, nearly 90% of the American couples appeared to be obese. It was a bit humiliating when we all stood next to the international couples.

      I’ve often wondered what all the Chinese people thought about that.

      • Thom Rainer says

        Thank you Charles. For three decades of my life, I would have been just like those obese couples you mentioned. I spent much my life trying to be in denial about my problem.

  22. Mark Dance says

    I’ve noticed that the latest blogs by Dr Rainer have nudged us pastors towards improving our lives and ministries, not toward perfectionism or legalism. The subjects he has opened for us to consider and discuss are things that are within our control: better health, better grammar, better marriages and better time management.

    Thank you Dr Rainer for being a friend to pastors like me. Blog on!

  23. Jason Beedon says

    Hey Dr. Rainer! Thanks for the story. I had a ‘come to Jesus’ moment on the scale 8 years ago. I was 40 pounds over weight at 29 years old. I started to workout and watch what I eat for the next year and lost 40 pounds. Sine then I have lost another 15 pounds…run a marathon…and become much healthier. I also weigh myself daily and use the weight-bot App. Your story is inspiring. I met a student here at SBTS las week who has lost 160 pounds in a year. It was so inspiring taking to him about his journey. Have a great weekend and keep up the great work.

  24. says

    Hi Dr. Rainer. I was just checking out your website because I was considering your DVD series for my adult Sunday school class. Thank you for sharing information about your journey toward health. I have decided two things, after checking your site out:

    1. I’m going to get my husband and I on a track to better health and weight. As a writer by profession, I sit all day long!
    2. I’m buying your Bible study for my Sunday school.

    My thanks and may God continue to bless you are your family. Rebecca

  25. says

    As someone who has struggled with weight my entire life, and finally made a decision similar to yours 3 years ago, I’m so happy and excited for you. I’ve been keeping up with your progress, and I’m happy you have stuck with a sensible plan that produces long term results. So many get sucked into fad diets, and get thin quick schemes. It just take a little more movement, a little less (and more healthy) food intake and amazing results come forth.

    Thanks for sharing your story!

  26. Larry says

    Great encouragement! Keep up the good work and don’t worry about apologizing for this sort of post. It teaches & encourages us just like the rest!

  27. says

    Thank you for this post motivates me to get back to my weight loss! I was a three time marathon runner, but another kid (3 now total), the addition of a service at our mother campus, and an additional campus later I had become sedentary & 25 lbs heavier than I’d been just 2 years prior. I’m only 36 and want to stop this trend now. Thanks for being real…your real testimony, real journey, has ministered & motivated me.

  28. says

    On the same journey. I went to a standing desk full-time (with supportive shoes) and found not only did it help with the weight loss (35#), it is making my back and core stronger.

  29. Beau Hart says

    Thanks once again for the encouraging post. I too am trying to lose. Since January, i have lost 25 pounds. I have a lot more to go but feel like i am off to a good start.

    . Often we forget that gluttony is a sin. Looking at it from that point has really encouraged me.

    I too want to lose to be more effective in my ministry. God bless you brother. We can do it. Congratulations and keep it up. God’s got this!

  30. says

    Dr. Rainer,

    First, congratulations on your weight loss. Second, even though you see this post as self=centered and self-focused, I don’t feel it is. You have dealt with an issue that God’s Spirit convinced you needed addressing. And that is an encouragement to all of us.

    Thank you for your obedience to the Spirit’s urging. May is be so with all of us.

    And, I have just prayed that God will con’t to strengthen you in your journey and for continued use in his Kingdom.

  31. says

    Great post and one that needs to be addressed. Dr. Dobson said one time, years ago, gluttony is the one sin that pastors never preach on and the one they commit the most while they’re preaching on everyone else’s issues. Conviction is the only way true change happens. I’m currently seeing a christian doctor who’s helping me and my dad lose weight. My dad is down 50 and has to lose another 100 in order to have the back surgery he needs. I’m down 30 (not as strict on my eating as my dad) with another 30 to go.

    I do need some direction on another matter if you or some other’s reading this comment can help?

    The first pastor I worked for in full time ministry and later my best friend passed away a few weeks ago from lung cancer. (Never smoked).

    I have all of his sermon outlines (by permission) and would love to put together his sermon collection both in a book(s) as well as a digital copy that could be searchable. So something his family can have as a keep sake and yet something that can benefit other pastors. Most of his outlines are typed or digital, however, there are a few years worth that are handwritten on small 5×8 memo pad sized paper. He fought buying a computer for years, lol.

    I would love any recommendations on how to go about accomplishing this daunting task. So any resources or ideas you have would be so appreciated!

    Keep the weight updates coming! We all need the encouragement and I’m sure it helps you with accountability!

    Student Min Dir
    West FL A/G

  32. Tim Roberts says

    Thanks Dr. Rainer for sharing. You are encouraging me to stay on my plan to living a healthier life using the Daniel Plan by Rick Warren and company. You are leading by example.

  33. says

    Thank you for sharing, the encouragement and the pointers. I lost 55 lbs in 2013 on Weight Watchers. If anyone needs support, I would highly recommend it. I have changed my attitude toward food and have modified my behavior (on most days.) As a hospital chaplain, I see daily the effects of obesity, diabetes, and heart disease. I want to do my part….and truly put my life in God’s hands. It is hard to serve God if you are sick.

  34. says

    Dr. Rainer, Thank you for the update. I know I was one of the one’s who asked. I continue to pray weekly for you and your family. Your health and desire to honor God is one of the many things I include in those prayers. I continue to work on my own weight issues along side you and many others. Keep us posted whether it is in the ups or the downs. Amy

  35. says

    Thanks for your post, I have struggled with my weight all my life, I have lost and gained over a ton in my lifetime. I have been convicted lately for exactly what you talk about my loss of witness. I appreciate your candor and willingness to share. It has re-motivated me to just do better than I have in small steps with faith in God. Treadmill desk, who would have thunk it !?! May make a great 50th birthday present to myself. God Bless Carlton Paris, TN

  36. says

    Not boring or self-focused at all. Great post with great advice and motivation for others of us who are on the same journey, just not as far along as you!

  37. Scott says

    What a great testimony. As a pastor who has struggled with weight until recently after losing over 70 pounds and finding that I was unknowingly addicted wheat and sugar, this is of great encouragement to me and I’m sure many others. God bless you for your transparency and humility.

  38. Victoria says

    Good for you! You are just taking care of your temple and worshiping God with your moderation and honoring him with your responsibility with His creation. Rock on dude!

  39. Amanda says

    Wow, I think it is humble of you to not just admit this problem in the first place, but also to give an update on it. Personal testimonies impact most powerfully.
    Thank-you for sharing

  40. says

    I appreciate your two posts about your health, Thom. Congrats on the continued weight loss associated with your lifestyle change. Keep at it!!

    If pastors were taught and encouraged in seminary to create a culture of wellness in their churches, then there would be more church leaders and pastors who were in better health.

    Perhaps you would consider using the leverage you have to influence this.

    Hope you have a healthy 2015!

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