Category Archives: Weight Loss

20 Pounds (Less) Later . . . Pastor, You can too!

by Robert Earl Houston

LEFT: February 6, 2015; RIGHT: February 14, 2015

LEFT: February 6, 2015; RIGHT: February 14, 2015


At the General Association of Baptists in Kentucky, Wednesday, February 10, 2015.

On Friday I reached a milestone. I completed the first full week of my medically supervised diet. I’m now (unofficially) approximately 20 pounds lighter. Praise God! I’ve received a lot of emails, texts and tweets asking me to post how I was able to do so.

First, I have to say it’s all by the grace of the Lord. Any diet is difficult and for me, impossible without the Lord on my side. This is not my first diet, but this is the most successful one I’ve been on. I’m at my lowest weight in about two years.

My endocrinologist recommended that I check out Health Management Resources. They work in conjunction with the University of Kentucky Hospital in Lexington, Kentucky (and they have locations throughout the country). My doctor told me that their average results were 50 to 75 pounds and I frankly didn’t believe it. I went to their orientation and heard their program. Of course, asked a few questions, and decided this is for me.

Here’s the program:  All outside foods – from the store, on the shelf, restaurants, church dinners, home cooked meals, no fresh fruit or vegetables, no beef, no chicken, no fried fish, no soul food – done. Finis. Over. No more fast food on the fly. No more interrupting my phone calls with: “Hold on . . . Yeah, let me have some hot wings, some wedges, and a large diet drink.”

I’m on the 3+2 plan – three milkshakes (they provide the base for it, which you can make with water or a diet soda and you can add sugar-free jello. And then there are two meal entrees, pre-packaged and pre-prepared which only take one minute to microwave (and don’t require prior refrigeration). These are minimums. Plus you take two vitamin tablets a day and yes, drink a lot of water or soda (64 ounces per day). You are required to do some exercise (I choose walking, which I do about 30 minutes each day). They want you to be full – and if your 3+2 daily minimum turns into 5+2 or 3+5 – it’s okay.

The food runs about $100 a week. That sounds like a lot, but when you consider take-out and sit-down meals, it balances out. Also, when you consider the cost of insulin, pills, etc.  I’ve been able to reduce my insulin from the max of 80 units of Lantus at night and already I’m at just 15 units. I have gone down on my with-meal insulin from 30 units to 5 units. No more Invokana.  I’m off of two other medications.

I went to the General Association of Baptists in Kentucky Pastors’ Conference last week in Louisville and actually I saved money because I wasn’t dining out and when I was hanging out with ministers in the restaurant after hours – they had food and I was content with being there, drinking water and a diet drink. No pretzels. No chips. No chicken fingers. No fries.

My health is important to me. I spent the week speaking privately to some preachers and sharing my story with them. As I’m approaching my 55th birthday this year I owe it to my wife, my family, my congregation, and most importantly, the Lord to do my best to live in good health (longevity is up to the Lord). My goal is simple: to lose about 100 pounds (yes, a whole other person) and then maintain the weight from that point on.

Here’s what was cool. To be at the General Association and wearing a suit that I packed (by accident) and hadn’t been able to wear in two years and being able to wear it with joy.

Interestingly, I’ll be celebrating my Sixth Pastoral Anniversary here at First Baptist Church. The committee has been planning and I’ll be in the closing stages of Phase One (which is a 15 week program). While those who choose to join us to dine will be on the selected meal, I’ll be there with my meal, my shake and some water.

We’ve all been to national baptist conventions and seen walking train-wrecks. Ministers who have allowed pastoral stress to send them headfirst into food. Ministers who preach and eat. Ministers who go to late night service and eat at 1 or 2 a.m. after worship and their health is jeopardized by lack of exercise, eating right, and sleep.

Pray for me on this journey. Pastors – I beg you! Please consider this.  Members – I beg you! Please consider and support your pastor in living in good health.


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The Last Supper (for a while)

Photo on 2-4-15 at 1.40 PM

Robert Earl Houston February 4, 2015

by Robert Earl Houston

Baked Potato.
Arnold Palmer.

And tonight, my wife Jessica and I observed the last supper. As of tomorrow evening, I will be undergoing a medically supervised diet. I will be sharing my journey here on The Wire to help encourage someone who has been struggling, as I have, with weight and weight-related complications.

I’ve seen preachers . . . no . . . GREAT preachers, OUTSTANDING preachers, PROLIFIC preachers, only to see their lives cut short by obesity. When I started in ministry in 1978, preaching my first sermon, I wore a size 28 suit. Today, I wear a size 48. It’s time for a change.

I’ve been a diabetic since I was 23 (I’m 54 now). I’ve had high blood pressure issues, physical issues, etc. especially in the last 3 years. I don’t have anyone to blame but myself – and that church pastor dining lifestyle that has claimed and shortened the life of many a pastor.

Late night eating.
Fast food eating.
Church dinners heavy in cooking oil.
Soda pop, soda pop, soda pop.
Sweet potato pies and cakes.
Luncheon meetings.
Dinner meetings.
Breakfast meetings.

So, as of tomorrow, I am becoming proactive about my health – with the support of my wife, family, church family, and extended family and friends. With a combination of medical supervision and exercise (in stages). One of my best friends, Pastor Christopher Waters, pastor of the Thankful Baptist Church in Augusta, GA, has been on a journey of good health in the last year. He has lost 60 pounds and has a goal of losing another 40 pounds this year. He’s challenged many of his friends (me included) to begin a regimen of healthy living.

I’ve tried the diets, cut back on sweets, stopped the soda. So now I take the next step, a physician-supervised regimen based in Lexington, KY provided by Health Management Resources. It means I will be exclusively dining on their shakes, foods, health bars, and vitamins, for the next 15 weeks.

If all goes well, I will lose somewhere between 60-100 pounds.

I shared my plan with the wonderful people of First Baptist Church. After church they were so encouraging. One member in particular said: “Pastor, I am so proud of you. We want you around for many years.”  That’s the goal.

The good news is that as this process starts, after meeting with the physician today, I’m already off of three medications and a serious reduction in my insulin medications (by at least half). Tomorrow I have my first extensive session and education – a four hour intensive.

So by the time I hit 55 on May 16, 2015, I will experiencing great health!  Your prayers and support are appreciated!  I encourage other pastors and preachers to join me in a journey toward good health – and church members, I encourage you to encourage your pastor on a journey as well.


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by Pastor Robert Earl Houston

H.B. Charles Jr.

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