By Katti Gray, Special to CNN
Memphis, Tennessee (CNN) – Diagnosed last year with diabetes, the Rev. Dan Henley point-blank refused the medicine his physician initially suggested to regulate his out-of-whack blood sugar.
“When I got the diagnosis, I said ‘I don’t receive that.’ My doctor said, ‘I don’t care if you receive or not, you’ve got diabetes. … I’ll give you 90 days to control it on your own,” recounts Henley, 50, pastor of Journey Christian Church in Memphis, Tennessee.
The city is home to more obese people than any other American city, according to the Gallup Well-Being Index.
At the start of that 90-day countdown, Henley, his two daughters and, marginally, his wife devised their own “biggest loser” contest. They nixed a whole slew of comparatively high-calorie, low-nutrient favorite foods from their grocery list, ramped up their exercise – and started talking, more candidly than ever, about how overconsumption of certain fare causes illness, injury and premature death.
“I used to have this slogan: ‘I’m 280 pounds of cornbread-, collard green-eating man,’” says the 6-foot-2 Henley. “And the bigger I got, the more I laughed it off. Then, I got this wake-up call.”
Now 27 pounds lighter than he was a year ago – and with his blood sugar levels now normal – Henley also is founder and lead facilitator of Church Developers Network, one in an arsenal of organizations immersed in a community-wide campaign to move Memphis out of that notorious No. 1 slot.