Wednesday Night Special

Meet two women who got their whole church to lighten up.

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- Posted on Oct 18, 2014

Jackie and Diane in aprons at a healthy church supper

Every week a bunch of us have dinner. Not at the food court or the local steak house, but at church. For a few nights, at least, everyone eats healthy. That can be a struggle, as my daughter, Diane, and I know a little better than most. But we found a solution.

Flash back five years. I weighed 250 pounds. Diane was over 350. She couldn't even use a normal scale.

When I met my husband, Brett, in college, I had been a svelte 127. But I would think nothing of eating fast food every day. I never exercised and eventually my metabolism couldn't keep up with my appetite.

Diane copied my eating and exercise habits. She'd just graduated college heavier than I had ever been. How was she going to have a normal life?

That summer the three of us moved from Michigan to Kentucky for Brett's new job. Lexington was wonderful. We joined the church choir, made new friends. But my weight caused some embarrassing situations. Like when I visited the DMV to get a Kentucky license.

"Age?" The woman asked. "Forty-seven," I replied. "Height?" "Five-two." "Weight?" I stared at the ground. "One-seventy-five," I mumbled. The woman gave me a look but didn't say anything. I knew what she was thinking: yeah right!

I told Brett what had happened. "Maybe now is the perfect time for all of us to go on a diet," Brett said. We'd tried all the diets before: the Zone, Sugar Busters. We didn't need a diet; we needed a miracle.

In church that week I prayed, God, please help me and Diane lose weight. Please let it be different this time. Soon as I finished, a thought jumped into my head. What will you do different this time? Why had all our diets failed? Why had we?

I hit the books. I found out it all seemed to come down to two things: calories and exercise. We burn about 1,800 calories a day; if you eat fewer calories than you burn, you lose weight. Simple.

Most diets cut too many calories. We're starving! That's not healthy. The key was making smart food choices.

Diane and I started cooking our own calorie-conscious meals. We studied nutrition labels on every package. We walked. Whenever one of us was tempted to wolf down a bag of chips, we had the other to keep us in line.

We were losing weight slowly and steadily. Eventually I'd lost almost a hundred pounds. Diane had lost nearly 200!

"You guys look great!" our choir buddy David told Brett one morning after church. Then he turned serious. "I wish I could lose weight. The doctor says I'm at risk for another stroke. I've been praying for a miracle." The same miracle I prayed for.

I called him up. "We're making dinner tonight," I said. "Why don't you and your wife, Jackie, join us?"

We started cooking and eating meals with David and Jackie. They lost weight. Soon other people in the choir were asking, "Hey, can we join you guys too?"

That's how our dinners got started. We'd cook healthy meals and serve them at church five days a week. Chicken simmered in a honey-mustard glaze. Creamy orzo pilaf and roasted asparagus. Soon everyone got involved.

Later we took over the regular dinners before Wednesday night services for the whole congregation. Not only were we eating better but we were encouraging one another in good habits. Just what a church should do.

The minister himself came up to thank me. "My wife lost 65 pounds! She's so happy, confident, full of energy. We're all eating healthier."

We put together a cookbook so everyone can make healthy meals at home. Maybe some eating education will help people change their lives, like it did ours.

Diane just got married to a wonderful guy. I don't need to fib about my weight anymore. God gave us good food to eat, we just have to make the right choices.

Try Jackie and Diane's Honey-Mustard Chicken for yourself!

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