Body by God: The Owners Manual for Maximized Living

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Mike hurried us into a sleek, spacious SUV, then slipped behind the wheel and began droning into the tiny headset clipped to his ear.

Body By God, the Owner's Manual For Maximized Living

As we navigated the streets of downtown Winnipeg, Lerner simultaneously played with his daughter, riffled through a pile of papers, and looked up occasionally to answer my questions. He can switch from doctor to dad to husband to author. He wrote his book in minute chunks, once a day. Some people would take 15 minutes just to warm up.

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I found Lerner's most impressive trait his ability to stay on message—he smoothly avoided almost all my attempts to get beyond his stage persona. When we talked about his past, I heard the same scripted story I'd read in his books and heard in his speeches. What Lerner doesn't write or preach about—but what he told me later, back at his hotel—is that his conversion to Christianity came fairly recently.

Benjamin Solomon Lerner was born in Queens in As he describes it, his childhood sounds like something right out of a Woody Allen movie. The culture I came from was high-stress and panicked—people always worrying about success and making money—and it was killing my family members quick. The men in Lerner's extended family—including his father, Marvin, who died of a heart attack at 52—were overweight and suffered from high blood pressure and high cholesterol. Ben's mother, Dorothy, now 62, predicted that Ben, too, would become obese by the time he hit his late twenties.

When Ben was four, the family moved to Ohio, and he grew up in Cleveland and Columbus, where he attended synagogue and had a bar mitzvah. In high school, Lerner discovered wrestling.


But during his freshman year at the State University of New York at Albany, he realized he would never make the varsity team with a body plagued by constant injury and illness. Seeking relief from shoulder and back pain, Lerner first saw a chiropractor in That visit, he likes to say, was "a revelation"; his health improved immediately, and he began to turn his life around. Lerner transferred to Life University, a chiropractic college in Marietta, Georgia, during his sophomore year. By the time he was 30, in , he had graduated with degrees in nutrition and chiropractic and settled in central Florida.

He married his first wife in , divorcing a year later. He was serving as the official chiropractor for the U.

Olympic wrestling team and running one of the largest chiropractic clinics in the world—the Lerner Family Chiropractic Center, in Kissimmee. His health was good. He was fit.

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Yet he didn't feel settled. Given his strict Jewish upbringing, Lerner saw flirting with Christianity as "stabbing my family in the back. In , Lerner was baptized at South Side Christian. Two years later, he married Sheri Schatzenbach, a Christian chiropractor he'd met at a professional seminar in Atlanta.

And when he decided to write the fitness book he'd been thinking about for several years, he infused it with a strong dose of religion. We have record obesity numbers. Most diseases are at their all-time high. Sounds like what any fitness maven would say. But Lerner is always careful not to let the physical overwhelm the spiritual, emphasizing that it's possible to put too much focus on the body. Almost immediately, a sound engineer rushed in and began wiring Lerner with a tie-clip microphone. Several women whisked Skylar and Nicole off to the daycare center, just down the hall from the congregation's full-service espresso bar.

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Moments later, Pastor Fontaine and Lerner headed for the massive sanctuary, where several thousand congregants were clapping hands and belting out the words to "History Maker," a rock anthem by the Christian group Delirious. Some took turns wading into a giant Jacuzzi that also serves as the church's baptismal pool.

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As Lerner emerged on the stage, the crowd grew quiet. The audience laughed. But Lerner—his face now projected onto three giant video screens—grew serious as he explained our duty to get in shape. He says the Body by God program is the one God "intended" because it follows the basic laws of Scripture, along with nature, nutritional science, and God-given common sense.

Indeed, while Lerner's presentation maybe groundbreaking, his exercise and eating principles—a diet low in saturated fat, regular sessions of moderate. We're doing a terrible job of educating people about fitness and nutrition in this country. Sometimes people need to hear the same message in different ways. Perhaps more than anything, Lerner's timing has been right. Carol Showalter, 68, a book publicist based in Orleans, Massachusetts, who founded the popular "3D" Christian diet movement "Diet, Discipline, and Discipleship" in the seventies, thinks he's tapped into an emerging trend to connect fitness and spirituality.

For Christians, that means reaching for God. But Showalter is also skeptical.

Body by God

Food issues very often stem from other problems in life that have to be resolved. And if 'God's plan' doesn't work for someone, they may end up feeling that he loves them even less. He keeps in shape by running or biking, works out in a home gym, and adheres to the Body by God diet. In the time I spent with him, I found Lerner to be disciplined, driven, and focused. I also found him to be motivated by a sincere wish to share his healthy lifestyle with others.

If he has a flaw, it may be his all-consuming self-confidence—which at times borders on hubris. Lerner is so convinced of his ability to help fellow Christians that he often passes off his own teachings as God's. Still, it's safe to say that Dr. Ben will find more followers in as he rolls out new components of his growing empire. In a move designed to increase his presence in the secular world, Lerner plans to publish a few books that leave words like "God" and "Bible" out of their titles. Generation XL Excel , for example, a kids' self-help book about obesity that Lerner co-wrote with Chicago-based osteopath Joseph Mercola, is due out this spring.

Lerner has already been booked as keynote speaker at the National Parent Teacher Association convention, to be held in Phoenix this June. Next fall, to serve Lerner's Christian fan base, Thomas Nelson Publishers will release The Maximized Living Bible , an annotated Bible linking various passages to fitness, health, inner peace, and financial well-being. Lerner will continue to build his consulting business and speak at some of the Body by God Extreme Makeover Challenges already on the calendar, in cities from Colorado Springs to Chicago.

Ultimately, the best measure of Lerner's success may be the long-term fitness of his followers. Two-thirds of the original participants in the Broken Arrow Makeover Challenge stuck with it through the end, Lerner reports.

And he believes faith will help them hold on to their healthy habits. Now, his second novel departs from Leaving the Atocha Station's exquisite ironies in order to explore new territories of thought and feeling. In the last year, the narrator of has enjoyed unexpected literary success, has been diagnosed with a potentially fatal heart condition, and has been asked by his best friend to help her conceive a child, despite his dating a rising star in the visual arts.

In a New York of increasingly frequent super storms and political unrest, he must reckon with his biological mortality, the possibility of a literary afterlife, and the prospect of unconventional fatherhood in a city that might soon be under water. In prose that Jonathan Franzen has called "hilarious. Exploring sex, friendship, medicine, memory, art, and politics, is both a riveting work of fiction and a brilliant examination of the role fiction plays in our lives" Library Journal honored Lerner's debut volume as a "Book of the Year.

Outlines a spiritual approach to achieving fitness, arguing that the God-created human body contains everything necessary for optimal health while presenting a plan that covers five areas including nutrition, exercise, stress management, time management, and success. Adam Gordon is a brilliant, if highly unreliable, young American poet on a prestigious fellowship in Madrid, struggling to establish his sense of self and his relationship to art.

Instead of following the dictates of his fellowship, Adam's 'research' becomes a meditation on the possibility of the genuine in the arts and beyond: are his relationships with the people he meets in Spain as fraudulent as he fears his poems are? Is poetry an essential art form, or merely a screen for the reader's projections? A witness to the Madrid train bombings and their aftermath, does he participate in historic events or merely watch them pass him by?