Losing weight, gaining faith

Woman turns focus from food to God

For years, Cherri MacPherson lived in bondage, a prisoner of her own obsession with food.

The Brier woman worried about what she ate and fretted about exercise. She collected low-fat cookbooks, trying to learn a new way to eat after a childhood of hearty farm fare. She tried one diet after another.

The pounds slipped off and then back on no matter what she tried.

“Jogging, the treadmill, aerobics; I was the aerobics queen,” MacPherson said. She’d be at the gym “5:30 in the morning religiously.”

“It was bondage, and I was in a prison. If went on a vacation, I’d be afraid to eat.”

After the birth of her fourth child, the weight came on with a vengeance. MacPherson, 5 feet, 4 inches tall, weighed 175 pounds at her heaviest.

For a while, she tried to be satisfied with her new larger self.

“Deep down, it was hard to be happy,” she said.

Then in 1997 a friend gave her a set of tapes from a Bible-based weight-loss program. It was the beginning of a transformation for MacPherson, outside and in. She would lose more than 50 pounds, strengthen her faith and develop “a beautiful new way of looking at it all.”

The program MacPherson used, the Weigh Down Diet, sounds too good to be true: no dieting or exercise, no supplements, pills or surgery, no forbidden foods.

Instead, participants are advised to eat only when hungry and to stop eating when satisfied. And, more importantly, MacPherson said, they’re encouraged to replace a fixation on food with a passion for God.

Too often, people eat to fill up a void in their hearts rather than nourish their bodies, MacPherson said, and that is a distortion of what God intended for humans.

“Instead of eating for comfort, we should be letting God take care of our heart,” MacPherson said.

Participants are encouraged to read Scripture if they are tempted to overeat. Listening to God’s will and not her own was difficult in the beginning, MacPherson said. When she’d falter and eat more than she should, “I’d pick myself up, say ‘I’m sorry’ to the Lord.”

MacPherson found other benefits besides a shrinking waistline. She said she felt happier, more patient. Life is better now, not just because she is thin but because she developed “a deeper relationship with God,” she said.

Gwen Shamblin

Theologically, Gwen Shamblin’s ministries are considered cults of Christianity, due to their rejection of key doctrines of the Christian faith. Sociologically, Shamblin’s Remnant Fellowship has cultic characteristics as well.

Official site: Remnant Fellowship (not endorsed, nor recommended by ReligionNewsBlog.com)

Official Site: Weigh Down Workshop (not endorsed, nor recommended by ReligionNewsBlog.com)

The Weigh Down Diet isn’t new. Gwen Shamblin, a registered dietician from Nashville, Tenn., began taking her program to churches in 1992. It is not the only diet program to connect faith and weight loss but it’s one of the most prominent.

In 1997 Shamblin published a best-selling book outlining the plan, “The Weigh Down Diet.” Today, the program continues to grow, with more than 30,000 Weigh Down Workshop locations in all 50 states, Canada and overseas.

An eight-week session costs about $125, which includes materials and weekly support meetings. Members typically take more than one session with later sessions offered at a reduced price, MacPherson said.

She believes in the program so strongly, she now volunteers to lead sessions of the program as a coordinator, a position she receives no compensation for. She stopped attending her church and went to a local group connected to the same Tennessee-based Christian fellowship that the diet’s founder attends.

“I just know what it has done for me,” she said. “It’s changed my life.”

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(Listed if other than Religion News Blog, or if not shown above)
HeraldNet, USA
Oct. 25, 2005
Debra Smith

Religion News Blog posted this on Wednesday October 26, 2005.
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