Christian Retailing

‘What would Daniel do?’ Print Email
Written by Natalie Gillespie   
Tuesday, 24 December 2013 08:54 AM America/New_York

Key health and fitness titles find example in Old Testament figure

DestinyImage-TheMakersDietRevolutionMany Christians are waking up to the reality that church fellowship may need to occur minus the usual rich food. To that end, Christian publishers say health and fitness books are becoming more popular, and the New Year is the best time for Christian retailers to recommend them to their customers.

In November, Gallup-Healthways recently reported that the American adult obesity rate in 2013 was up to 27.2%, one full percent higher than 2012. That number surpassed all annual average obesity rates since the pollsters began tracking in 2008. The same week in November, the American Heart Association announced that it takes children 90 seconds longer to run a mile than their counterparts did 30 years ago. Heart-related fitness has declined 5% per decade since 1975 for children ages 9 to 17. 

“We are seeing a rise in health and fitness topics from Christian authors in our own company, and I believe it is because Christians and especially charismatic believers are seeing the need to not only seek healing in their lives, but also their health,” said Kristen Adams, public relations and media liaison for Nori Media Group, parent company of Destiny Image. “They can’t pray for a miracle and eat a piece of cake!”

Zondervan’s Annette Bourland agreed on the trend.Siloam-Jumpstart

“I think we see the pendulum swinging from, ‘Give me a cholesterol pill or ADHD pill to treat my symptoms,’ back to trying to decrease the amount of medicines individuals and children are taking and back to holistic ways of living that will help better than medications,” said Bourland, senior vice president and publisher at Zondervan. “We have also seen quite a rise in people wanting to cook at home again instead of always wanting to be out and about. They are conscientiously planning meals at home, so we are excited about offering ideas to people through cookbooks and health and fitness books. They are perennial. Everyone wants to find that book that helps them be the best person they can be.”



The Old Testament book of Daniel has become the focus of many fasting and food-fitness books with health-focused Christians seemingly asking a newThomasNelson-LeanBodyFatWallet question, “What would Daniel do?” Based on two passages in Daniel where the prophet outlines food and drinks he stayed away from for 21 days as he sought the Lord, “Daniel fasting” has caught on in churches around the world.

Tyndale House Publishers released The Daniel Fast by author and blogger Susan Gregory in January 2010, and it has since sold more than 100,000 copies. Gregory continues to blog on the subject, and her blog has received more than 9 million hits. Now, Zondervan has released her new book, The Daniel Cure, co-written with Richard J. Bloomer. The book aims to help readers focus on the health benefits of the Daniel fast in order to convert the temporary changes into a new way of life. In November, Gregory also released The Daniel Fast Workbook from Tyndale, a follow-up companion to The Daniel Fast.

In January, Charisma House Book Group’s Siloam imprint releases a revised edition of The Daniel Fast Made Delicious by John and Ann Marie Cavazos. The updated edition includes spiritual application and perspectives on fasting plus more than 175 recipes, many of which are gluten- and dairy-free.

Perhaps the biggest health and fitness title for 2014 is Zondervan’s The Daniel Plan: 40 Days to a Healthier Life by Rick Warren, Dr. Daniel Amen and Dr. Mark Hyman. Warren and his California megachurch, Saddleback, worked with Drs. Amen and Hyman to develop a healthier lifestyle plan that would benefit the congregation. Founded on five principles—faith, food, fitness, focus and friends—The Daniel Plan encourages readers to change not only their eating andTyndaleHouse-TheDanielFastWorkbook exercise habits, but also to strengthen their faith, transform their thought life and to do it all in community. At Saddleback, 15,000 people collectively lost 250,000 pounds in one year.

The Daniel Plan book, DVD curriculum, study guide and journal released in December (see Christian Retailing’s cover story that month), and The Daniel Plan Cookbook is scheduled to release in April.

“We featured Rick’s new book in a full-page ad in our December catalog,” said Kirk Blank, president of the Florida-based Munce Group of stores. “Yes, we have high hopes for this.”

“There are a lot of Daniel-fast books out there, but the one we’re bringing in the most heavily is The Daniel Plan,” said Rebecca Collins, book buyer for Christian Supply in Spartanburg, N.C. “We’ll have all the products for that, and it’s the one we’ll be pushing the most.”


STAY TRUE TO THE WORDZonderkidz-TheUltimateGirlsBodyBook

The difference in Christian health and fitness books compared to diet and exercise books shoppers can get anywhere is that they take into account the whole person—body, mind and spirit—publishers say. They encourage readers to go beyond looking to lose 15 pounds or tighten their abs. Rather, they show Christians how to change bad habits for a lifetime and treat their bodies like they belong to God.

“Many people fail to make the connection between our physical bodies and our spiritual health,” said Marcos Perez, vice president of sales, Charisma House. “Being healthy is biblical, as God’s design for us is to live abundantly healthy lives. It’s a natural fit for the Christian market.”

Charisma House’s Siloam imprint has seen significant sales success with many of its health-related titles, including the “Bible Cure” series by Dr. Don Colbert and titles by “The Juice Lady,” Cherie Calbom. New titles for 2014 include Calbom’s The Juice Lady’s Remedies for Stress and Adrenal Fatigue and Jumpstart! 21 Days From Natural to Supernatural Health by David Herzog (both January).

Destiny Image also has several new health releases, including 1 Minute a Day to a Healthier You by Dr. Bob DeMaria (November 2013) and yoga-alternativeZondervan-TheDanielPlan DVD/book 40 Days to Fit and Fabulous by Laurette Willis (November 2013); The Maker’s Diet Revolution: The 10-Day Diet to Detoxifying Your Body, Mind and Spirit by Jordan Rubin (December 2013); The Maker’s Diet Transformation Curriculum by Rubin (December 2013) and The Maker’s Diet Meals by Rubin and Josh Axe (March 2014); and Living Beyond Your Chronic Pain by Joseph Christiano (fall 2014).

“Health is simply having a body, mind and spirit in balance,” Adams said. “Christian health authors and speakers offer that complete balance to readers. Whereas secular health experts focus on the body and mind, Christian health experts know there is more to us than just what we see. They tie in having a healthy (balanced) spirit and soul into every aspect of nutrition and exercise, and it is that complete picture that makes all the difference for many people.”

For Munce Group, health and fitness books will have a big presence in its catalogs and promotions to kick off the New Year.

The Maker’s Diet, The 40 Day Soul Fast, Remedies, the Daniel Fast Plan and Jumpstart! are all diet and healthy living books that we will be featuring in a major way through aggressive sale prices, in-store positioning and an oversized postcard,” Blank said. “This promotion will also feature starting the New Year out with Bible study and Bible reading and a new project from Capitol called The Christian Workout Power Pack [on CD].”

Thomas Nelson authors Ellie Kay and Danna Demetre are connecting the dots between finances, faith and fitness in Lean Body, Fat Wallet: Discover the Powerful Connection to Help You Lose Weight, Dump Debt, and Save Money (December). Kay said she and Demetre discovered that poor spending habits and unhealthy eating habits often go hand-in-hand, so they decided to write a book that would help women make lasting changes in both areas.

“What’s good for body is good for the bank,” Kay said. “Our message is that you are what you think, and that you can change habits by changing your thinking, by consistently focusing on new messages.”

Kay pointed out that one way to make lasting changes is to use “3-D” thinking to overcome temptation.

“Determine you’re going to stay on your new eating or spending plan; distract yourself from sweets or that new purse you want; and then delay—walk away from that cake or that purse for a while,” she said.

Kids aren’t left out of the health trend as Zonderkidz recently released Dr. Walt Larimore and Dr. Amaryllis Sanchez Wohlever’s The Ultimate Girls’ Body Book (December), the follow-up to Larimore’s The Ultimate Guys’ Body Book. The new book for tween girls focuses on the changing body and how to stay healthy. In April, teen surfer and author Bethany Hamilton releases Body and Soul: A Girl’s Guide to a Fit, Fun and Fabulous Life with Karen Bokram, editor of Girls’ Life magazine.

One health and fitness program that continues to see success is First Place 4 Health, but the product line is undergoing some major changes in 2014. Retailers formerly placed First Place orders through Gospel Light, but the two companies ended their contract in November. First Place now distributes its own products and is selling direct to churches and consumers—for now. However, retailers can expect to see a new launch that will include them this year.

“We’re going to have lots of exciting changes,” said Carole Lewis, national director, First Place 4 Health. “We believe that God is up to something really big, and we’re so grateful to Gospel Light for allowing us to have our contract back.”

Gospel Light Director Stan Jantz said the company has no plans to publish any books in the health and fitness category because it is returning to its core mission: to know Christ and make him known.

“Like all publishers in these challenging times, where the consumer has unlimited choice but limited resources, we are emphasizing what we do well, which is publishing books, curriculum and other resources that help disciples make disciples, whether that happens in a church or in a small group,” Jantz said.



Retailers can capture sales as the New Year begins by making the health category the center of attention. Combine workout videos, top titles and small group curriculum in a prominent display. 

Contact churches in the local area to see which ones offer exercise classes, cooking classes or diet programs. Partner with them by offering discounts on curriculum and ancillary products like workbooks or journals. Stores can also start a support group, cooking class or small group study, if space permits. 

Challenge frontliners to review new health titles, and blog about them. Or email customers and ask for their testimonies, posting their success stories. Retailers who partner with a group or create an in-store group that meets its health and/or weight goals can contact radio and television stations to interview members of the group that meets in your store.

“I see a steady growth of these books in CBA,” Bourland said. “I see lots more books being published with a Christian angle to them. One of the biggest aha moments for me was when I realized that studies show there are as many people suffering from the results of overeating as there are from malnutrition. The church has focused a lot on the effects of hunger; now we are also looking at the effects of overeating.”