PITTSBURGH - At a church in the North Hills, they're using the power of prayer to get fit with a weight loss plan as ancient as Babylon.
The Daniel Plan was developed in Southern California but it has its roots in the Old Testament Book of Daniel.
“He was allowed to eat at the king’s table. Daniel said ‘that's not healthy,’” explained Pastor Don Swingle of North Hills Christian Church.
Instead Daniel eats "vegetables and water" to honor God and becomes much healthier.
“We are an obese nation. We are not healthy. Our life choices are not healthy. We need to address this from a biblical perspective," he explained.
Swingle believes the diet used by Hebrew slaves 2,000 years ago is just as important today.
The main idea is like that of other diets -- exercise, eat fresh fruits, vegetables and lean meats and avoid processed food and sugars. But what sets this healthy living plan apart is the religious element.
The Daniel plan is a 7-week program that is part bible study: part weight loss support group, part prayer meeting and part weigh in.
John Balbach believes in the plan.
“I not only went for seconds, I went for thirds,” he said of his eating habits. "Now I am satisfied with just my regular portions.”
On the day we visited his kitchen, Balbach was using his juicer-- something that was demonstrated at a recent meeting. He also uses his exercise machine while watching TV.
He credits the Daniel Plan for helping him drop 5 pounds in four weeks, but more importantly, he says it's been a lifestyle change.
“I have nine grandchildren. Being 65, I want to be around to see them do certain things,” Balbach said.
Dr. Dawn Wang leads the weekly sessions at North Hills Christian Church. She thinks the combination of physical and spiritual is the key to the program's success.
“You feel some strength behind it,” she said, “The strength of the scripture and also the community.”
The plan advocates a weight loss of one to two pounds a week, and Swingle said he has lost 15 pounds following it since the beginning of the year.
However, Swingle said losing weight is just part of the program. He said the Daniel Plan is more about making a lifestyle change to live healthier both physically and spiritually.
The group will have its final weigh-in Wednesday evening.