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In mid-October our family arrived home from the annual Alert Academy Family Camp in Big Sandy, Texas. The camp has lots of fun activities for all ages, such as volleyball, pickleball, Ultimate Frisbee tournaments, archery, fishing and a rodeo. Each evening is rounded out with a camp meeting and an inspiring message! We have been going to family events held in Big Sandy for many years, and we had a wonderful time again this year!
When we got back from Big Sandy, I stepped on the scale (after eating a double Sonic cheeseburger and large fry and drinking a large cherry limeade on the drive home) and, to my shock, I weighed 232 pounds. This was the most I had ever weighed. I’m fairly tall, just over 6ft, but I wasn’t in shape and I knew this wasn’t a healthy weight for me. Most of the pounds were right in front of me hanging over my belt.
Over the past decade and a half, I have made some unhealthy food choices. We’ve traveled quite a bit as a family, and it was easy to eat a lot of fast food. While it was convenient, it wasn’t good for me. When I would weigh myself at the end of each year, I’d have put on another pound or two.
Growing up I had always been super skinny. I could eat about anything and everything and not gain any weight. It was about the time I got elected to be an Arkansas State Representative, in my early 30’s, that I went from being very active, to sitting around a lot in various meetings and no longer burning the amount of calories I was consuming. I went from wearing 29” W x 36” L jeans when I got married, to a tight-fitting 36” W x 29” L.
I love all kinds of food. How it smells, how it tastes, and the full feeling after eating a big meal. Of course then topping it off with a big dessert! Plus, my wife and kids are excellent cooks which makes it even harder. With more than 60 people in our family now, it seems like every week we are celebrating birthdays or anniversaries, and most of the time with cake and ice cream!
I knew I liked food more than working to be fit. I had gone through seasons of trying to lose weight, but my schedule was busy and it was hard to be consistent. Food was comforting, especially if I was in the middle of a stressful situation. At times I would work hard at dieting and exercising for a few weeks and lose a few pounds, but then I’d gain it back again in one or two days. It was discouraging.
After we got back from Family Camp, I mentioned to my wife Michelle that I felt I should probably fast from food for a few days. I had a few challenges, outside of the numbers on the scale, that I was working through. There were some important decisions that I needed to pray about, so I felt like this would be good for me on many different levels, both spiritually and physically. Jesus taught that some problems are only solved by prayer and fasting (Matthew 17:21).
Our church has a yearly “February Fast,”where they accumulate a list of prayer requests, and throughout the month church members volunteer to pray and fast for a day or two about those requests. It has been amazing seeing how God has answered a lot of those prayer requests.
Over the years I have seen many spiritual benefits of fasting that Jesus talked about. Whether I’m giving up food for a few meals or even a few days, it’s a time to draw near to the Lord and to seek out His guidance in prayer. Many times I have seen God give clear direction and answer those prayers. Sometimes God answers, “Yes”, sometimes “No”, and sometimes “Not right now”. Sometimes He shows later why He answered a prayer in a different way than I thought it would be answered.
And I’ve also seen physical benefits from fasting. I don’t particularly like fasting, as I don’t like denying myself the food that I want to eat. But I have seen the good of choosing to do things that I sometimes don’t want to do in the moment for the long-term benefits.
The morning of October 17th, I told Michelle that I was going to fast for a day or two, only drinking some Zipfizz (which has natural green tea extract, vitamin B12, and other vitamins to help with hydration and energy). Michelle asked if I would also like to have some beef bone broth (not beef broth, but beef bone broth). Bone broth is made from boiling beef bones which extracts rich nutrients. I agreed, and this was the start of what I’m now calling my “bone broth fast.” I discovered that beef bone broth contains collagen and 36g of protein, and that it can satiate the appetite and make you feel full.
I was only planning to do this for 1-3 days, but after I got started, it was so easy that I decided to do it for 5 days! Then 7 days, then 10 days, then 2 weeks, then 3 weeks, then 4 weeks, then 5 weeks. Now my end goal is 40 days. Two weeks into my bone broth fast, Michelle joined me. We have both lost about a pound a day. By day 35, I had lost 35 pounds.
I really have not been very hungry, except when my kids are popping popcorn, or friends and family are eating a delicious meal right in front of me. In those times I just heat up a quart of broth and start sipping on it, and the other food desires fade away. I tell myself it is like drinking a juicy steak or delicious beef stew.
We buy our bone broth at the grocery store in rectangular quart-sized boxes. It is under $3. Sometimes I fill a large thermos of warm broth to carry along when I am out and about. I drink anywhere from 1-4 quarts of bone broth a day. I also drink lots of water, which helps to flush out the toxins that are being cleansed. This is essentially a liquid Keto diet, as it puts the body in fat-burning ketosis.
I have felt great, and went from 232lbs. to 197lbs. in 35 days. My plan is to transition to vegetables and other healthy foods after 40 days and start doing some daily exercise. Then I will purpose to steer away from white flour, sugar, and unhealthy fats as much as I can in the future. I may also use the bone broth fast (Michelle likes chicken bone broth) for a meal replacement once or twice a day on occasion to help keep my weight in check over a longer period of time.
I am committed to making it through 40 days, even though the 40th day is the day after Thanksgiving. This will be the first time I have not eaten a meal on Thanksgiving Day! But by then, I believe I will have lost close to 40 pounds in 40 days.
About three weeks before I started this fast, I looked in the mirror and asked God to help me find a way to lose weight. I knew I didn’t have the will power I needed in this area. I’m thankful for my wife having this idea and how well it has worked for us. It was an answer to prayer. The physical and spiritual benefits have been many. I have had many special times of prayer over these weeks, and have seen many prayers answered.
I have no medical training, am not a doctor, and I am not giving medical advice. This is simply my own personal story of how I have lost weight. Please consult your doctor about what kind of weight loss program might be best for you based upon your own health conditions.
Jim Bob Duggar
Read more about bone broth fasts: https://www.drthomasvolck.com/post/7-benefits-of-a-bone-broth-fast-stronger-gut-skin-more-1