Gwen Shamblin Lara

Gwen Shamblin Lara
Lara in 2018
Lara in 2018
Born(1955-02-18)February 18, 1955
Memphis, Tennessee, U.S.
DiedMay 29, 2021(2021-05-29) (aged 66)
Percy Priest Lake, Tennessee, U.S.
  • Author
  • dietitian
EducationUniversity of Tennessee
Memphis State University
David Shamblin
(m. 1978; div. 2018)

(m. 2018; died 2021)

Gwen Shamblin Lara (February 18, 1955 – May 29, 2021) was an American author and founder of the Christian diet program The Weigh Down Workshop and founder of the Remnant Fellowship Church. The distinctive aspect of her writing is the development of Christian weight loss programs.

Early life

Lara earned an undergraduate degree in dietetics from University of Tennessee, in Knoxville[3] and then her master's degree in food and nutrition[4] from Memphis State University. She was a registered dietitian,[5] consultant, and was a faculty member at Memphis State University for five years.[6] She also worked in the state's health department[4] for an additional five years.

Personal life

Lara was raised in a Church of Christ family.[7][8] She had two children and seven grandchildren.[9][10] As of March 1996, she lived with her family in Ashlawn, a historic mansion in Brentwood, Tennessee, that was built in 1838.[11][12] In 2018, she married Joe Lara.[13]

On May 29, 2021, Lara died alongside six other church leaders, including her husband Joe and son-in-law Brandon Hannah,[14] when N66BK,[15] [16] her 1982 Cessna Citation 501 private jet, bound for Palm Beach, Florida, crashed into Percy Priest Lake near Smyrna, Tennessee, shortly after takeoff.[17]

Ministry career

Weigh Down Workshop

Lara began her consulting practice in the area of weight control in 1980.[6] She had struggled with her weight while attending school.[18] She became "convinced that genetics, metabolism and behavior modification alone couldn't explain why some people were thin and others battled the bulge."[19] In 1986, Lara founded the Weigh Down Workshop,[20][21] a weight loss program which has “no forbidden foods, exercise regimen or weigh-ins,”[22] and avoids "calorie counting".[23] The Tennessean said the program lacks "some basic elements" like exercise and guidance on food selection, as recommended by the American Dietetic Association.[24] According to The Philadelphia Inquirer, “the Weigh Down Workshop attempts to help participants develop the discipline to eat only when they are hungry and to stop eating when they are full.”[25]

Lara developed the program while working on her master's degree at Memphis State University.[26] As part of a counseling center,[27] she held the first class in a mall in Memphis, Tennessee;[28] the program was initially only offered as small classes in similar retail[29] and other non-religious settings.[30] In 1991[20][21] or 1992, she began hosting the program at Bellevue Baptist Church located in the Memphis area.[31] The program consists of twelve-week seminars guided by video and audio tapes featuring Gwen.[32] The meetings consist of a group viewing of one of her videos, along with prayer and discussion.[33] By 1994, the program quickly spread as far away as Europe and was offered in about 600 churches in at least 35 US States.[19]

According to the Associated Press, by January 1995, the program could be found in over 1,000 churches in 49 US states, as well as at locations in Britain and Canada;[22] but by July 1996, the workshop was at about 5,000 churches, with close to ten percent located in Lara's home-state of Tennessee.[34] As many as eight churches in Britain were hosting workshops by December 1996.[35] Some participants in the US would also host meetings in their private homes.[20]

In 1996, Weigh Down, which consisted of a forty-person staff, began building a headquarters in Franklin, Tennessee.[21] The same year, Gwen Shamblin Lara and Weigh Down began hosting an annual summer convention, known as Desert Oasis, in the Nashville area.[21][36]

By August 1998, Weigh Down was holding more than 21,000 classes with over 250,000 reported participants worldwide.[37] Weigh Down Workshop classes would eventually spread to all fifty US states[21] and every continent,[38] becoming "one of the most popular weight-loss programs in the world" by mid-2000.[39] Lara also traveled to other cities as part of the 'Rebuilding the Wall' tour.[40]

Other dieticians have questioned the soundness of Lara's diet advice, which focuses on faith instead of healthy eating habits or exercise.[41][42] In the book Born Again Bodies: Flesh and Spirit in American Christianity, author Marie Griffith, a Princeton University associate professor of religion, examines the trend of religion-based dieting. Although critical of Lara for using the Christianity label while building her business, Griffith credits her for the new wave of interest in creating "a more holy body", and substantial sections of the work examine Shamblin's movement.[43] Griffith notes, "In Shamblin's world, people who don't lose weight often feel like failures. If they don't lose weight, it's a failure of discipline; it's a failure of obedience."[44] At the same time, Griffith's work places Shamblin's movement squarely within a historical tradition of perfecting one's body in order to be more Christ-like, or fasting and dieting in order to feel closer to God.[43]

In 2001, NewsChannel 5, a local Nashville news station, aired a story entitled "Is it a ministry or just big business?", looking into how Weigh Down Workshop's money was spent. Towards the end of the interview, Lara states that "half of [the money] goes to the government, the other half goes to keep it going so someone else can be helped." According to the news report, "She says she would sell her belongings to keep the ministry going."[45]

Remnant Fellowship Church

Lara founded the Remnant Fellowship Church in 1999, which at first was a small gathering at the back of the Weigh Down building in Franklin, TN in the shipping department.[10] In 2002, the Shamblins purchased 40 acres of land in Brentwood, Tennessee, where construction of the church building took place.[10][46] The building was completed in 2004.[47]


Gwen Shamblin Lara is the author of The Weigh Down Diet.[48] First published in March 1997, this diet “advises using spirituality to avoid overeating and has sold more than 1.2 million copies.”[49] The publisher Doubleday reported selling 400,000 copies in less than a year.[31] In the book, Lara expounds on her theory that there are two very different needs in each person: a need for food and an emotional need. According to her, people should only eat when they feel real, physical hunger and stop when full; prayer and Bible reading will fill emotional needs instead of food. Overeating is equated with greed. A core principle of The Weigh Down Diet, when people feel an urge to snack but are not experiencing physiological hunger, Lara encourages participants to read the Bible instead.[50]

After the release of her first book, Lara wrote a number of books including Rise Above[51] and a self-published devotional book titled Exodus.[52]

Controversy arose when Lara began to teach that the doctrine of the Trinity was not biblical. She stated that she believes Jesus Christ is not God but rather God's son.[53] This led Thomas Nelson Publishers to cancel the publication of Exodus, her next work.[7] In a letter to her followers sent to clarify her position on the Trinity, Lara wrote: "The reason all of this is important is that if you do not understand that God is the clear authority and that Jesus was under God's authority, then you will not have a clear picture of what it means to be Christ like. Jesus suffered, obeyed, submitted, denied his will, and made it his food to do the will of the Father." Later she wrote: "I believe that Jesus and God are two separate beings." She also said that she did not believe that Jesus and God are equal in power and glory.[54]

Television, magazine and news media appearances

The popularity of Lara's teachings resulted in appearances on BBC,[55] 20/20,[36] A Current Affair,[9] The View,[56][57] and Dateline (Australia)[58] as well as in such magazines as Family Circle,[39] Good Housekeeping,[59] Woman's Day,[19] and many newspaper articles.[28][33][37] She was featured on The Today Show,[60] CNN's Larry King Live,[9][36] DaySide,[61] and The Early Show.[62] Participants from the Weigh Down Workshop have been featured on the cover of Good Housekeeping,[63] in the Ladies' Home Journal,[64] in People Magazine,[65] First magazine,[66] Quick and Simple,[67] and in numerous newspaper articles. In 2007, The Tyra Banks Show devoted an hour-long program to Gwen, the Weigh Down Diet,[68] the Fellowship and participants from Weigh Down programs.

In 2009, Gwen and Weigh Down were featured on such television programs as WeTV's Secret Lives of Women[69] and CBS’s The Insider.[citation needed] In late 2011, she began producing a live Internet show, titled You Can Overcome.[70]

Selected works


  • The Weigh Down Diet. Doubleday. 1997. ISBN 9780385487627.

Other media

  • Exodus out of Egypt: weigh down workshop, Weigh Down Workshop, 1992, OCLC 42869110
  • Rising above: the magnetic pull of the refrigerator, Weigh Down Workshop, Inc., 1992, OCLC 42414509
  • Exodus from strongholds, Weigh Down Workshop, 1998, ISBN 1892729075, OCLC 51290468
  • Weigh down at home, Weigh Down Workshop, 1999, OCLC 843098377


  1. ^ "".
  2. ^ "".
  3. ^ "Williamson County Local Authors". Williamson County Library. Archived from the original on January 31, 2006. Retrieved April 25, 2007.
  4. ^ a b Thorp, Lori Frazer (January 8, 1998). "Frazee woman shares personal weight loss story". Frazee Forum.
  5. ^ Gang, Christine Arpe (April 13, 1988). "Unorthodox diet plan targeted at teens". Longview News-Journal. p. 4C. Retrieved July 5, 2017.
  6. ^ a b "Heart & Soul: An interview with Gwen Shamblin, founder of the Weigh Down Workshop". Murfreesboro Matters. 1 (3). February 1999. p. 3.
  7. ^ a b Kennedy, John W. (September 11, 2000). "Thomas Nelson pulls plug on Gwen Shamblin's book". Retrieved July 22, 2019.
  8. ^ White, Gaule (March 31, 1997). "Dieting religiously". Democrat and Chronicle. p. 3C. Retrieved July 5, 2017.
  9. ^ a b c Ieron, Julie-Allyson (January 2000). "Women of the Year: Gwen Shamblin". Clarity Magazine.
  10. ^ a b c "". September 17, 2020.
  11. ^ McCampbell, Candy (March 11, 1996). "You could've had it, for $2.3 million". The Tennessean. p. 1E. Retrieved July 5, 2017.
  12. ^ "Ashlawn". City of Brentwood. Archived from the original on June 21, 2010. Retrieved August 11, 2011.
  13. ^ "About - Gwen Shamblin". Gwen Shamblin. Retrieved August 28, 2018.
  14. ^ "Plane crashes into Percy Priest Lake; Christian diet guru Gwen Shamblin Lara, 6 others on board, church says". WTVF-TV. May 29, 2021. Retrieved May 29, 2021.
  15. ^ "N66BK FAA tail number registration". Retrieved May 30, 2021.
  16. ^ "Christian diet guru and 'Tarzan' actor are among 7 presumed dead in plane crash near Nashville". CNN. June 1, 2021. Retrieved June 1, 2021.
  17. ^ Romero, Dennis (May 30, 2021). "Diet guru Gwen Lara, husband actor Joe Lara among seven killed in plane crash". NBC News.
  18. ^ Hull, Dana (May 17, 1997). "Dieters putting their faith in sustenance of the spirit". The Washington Post. ISSN 0190-8286. Retrieved July 5, 2017.
  19. ^ a b c Spencer, Paula (November 22, 1994). "Divine Intervention". Woman's Day. pp. 76, 78.
  20. ^ a b c Waddle, Ray (February 27, 1994). "Churchgoers leaning on God to shed their unwanted pounds". The Tennessean. p. 2A. Retrieved July 5, 2017.
  21. ^ a b c d e Waddle, Ray (July 3, 1996). "Weigh Down transfers love for food into love for God". The Tennessean. pp. 1B–2B. Retrieved July 5, 2017.
  22. ^ a b Associated Press (January 3, 1995). "God is focus of weight-loss program". Battle Creek Enquirer. p. 4A. Retrieved July 5, 2017.
  23. ^ Whyche, Stephanie (October 9, 1995). "The Weigh to the Lite". The News Journal. pp. C1, C4. Retrieved July 5, 2017.
  24. ^ Quigley, Linda (March 1, 1997). "Praying away the pounds". The Tennessean. pp. 1D, 4D. Retrieved July 5, 2017.
  25. ^ Holmes, Kristin E. (May 6, 1996). "Christian dieters saying faith can defeat fat". The Philadelphia Inquirer. pp. B1, B3. Retrieved July 5, 2017.
  26. ^ Kleczynski, Jennifer Coleridge (April 21, 1995). "Program helps dieters succeed". Strictly Hunterdon. The Courier-News. p. 5. Retrieved July 5, 2017.
  27. ^ "Dieters seek help in religion". The News Journal. April 13, 1997. pp. J1, J7. Retrieved July 5, 2017.
  28. ^ a b Bell, Bill (June 17, 1998). "The wages of thin: By putting grace before meals, Christian diet programs are reshaping lives". New York Daily News. Retrieved July 5, 2017.
  29. ^ Graham, Jennifer (December 7, 1994). "Weight-loss disciples are shedding the extra pounds through prayer". Democrat and Chronicle. pp. 1C, 6C. Retrieved July 5, 2017.
  30. ^ Wells, Valerie (May 6, 1995). "Weighty matters". Herald and Review. Retrieved July 5, 2017.
  31. ^ a b Hill, Laura (February 10, 1998). "In God's own image". The Tennessean. Retrieved July 5, 2017.
  32. ^ Johnson II, Lucas L. (July 18, 1996). "Faith helps some people lower weight way down". Greensboro News & Record. Associated Press. Retrieved July 5, 2017.
  33. ^ a b Rosenfeld, Megan (January 23, 1995). "Dieting with Jesus". The Washington Post. Retrieved July 5, 2017.
  34. ^ Associated Press (July 26, 1996). "Program urges people to turn to God to shed pounds". The Daily Spectrum. Retrieved July 5, 2017.
  35. ^ Brooks, Richard (December 29, 1996). "The divine diet". The Observer. Retrieved July 5, 2017.
  36. ^ a b c De La Cruz, Jessi (March 19, 1999). "Heavenly help". Lansing State Journal. Retrieved July 5, 2017.
  37. ^ a b Lauerman, Connie (August 20, 1998). "Christian Diet Programs: Nourishing The Spirit Is The Key To Slimming Down The Body". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved July 5, 2017.
  38. ^ "Random House". Retrieved February 11, 2010.
  39. ^ a b Long, Marion (May 2000). "The Power to Change". Family Circle. pp. 58–59.
  40. ^ Kennedy, John W. (December 9, 2002). "New Sect: Weigh Down guru Gwen Shamblin's Remnant Fellowship grows". Christianity Today. Retrieved July 5, 2017.
  41. ^ Morning News, Dallas (April 14, 2006). "God is Their Weight-Loss Guru". The Dallas Morning News. Retrieved April 9, 2007.
  42. ^ "Gwen Shamblin's Weigh Down Workshop". Archived from the original on September 27, 2007. Retrieved May 23, 2007.
  43. ^ a b Griffith, R. Marie (October 4, 2004). Born Again Bodies: Flesh and Spirit in American Christianity. University of California Press. ISBN 9780520938113.
  44. ^ Allen, Patricia (January 27, 2005). "Religion professor examines 'salvation by diet' phenomenon". News@Princeton. Retrieved May 23, 2007.
  45. ^ "Part 1: Is it a ministry or just big business?". July 1, 2001. Archived from the original on February 24, 2012.
  46. ^ "Gwen Shamblin on the Remnant Fellowship Church Construction". Unknown parameter |duplicate_title= ignored (help)
  47. ^ "Gwen Shamblin on the Remnant Fellowship Church Construction". Unknown parameter |duplicate_title= ignored (help)
  48. ^ Booth, Claire (March 14, 1997). "Dietitian says God, not food fills void". The Times. Shreveport, Louisiana. p. 2D. Retrieved July 5, 2017.
  49. ^ Stein, Joel (October 24, 1999). "The Low-Carb Diet Craze". Time. ISSN 0040-781X. Retrieved July 5, 2017.
  50. ^ Mulrine, Anna (April 27, 1997). "A Godly Approach to Weight Loss". U.S. News & World Report. Archived from the original on February 5, 2013. Retrieved April 6, 2007.
  51. ^ Shamblin, Gwen (2000). Rise Above: God Can Set You Free from Your Weight Problems Forever. T. Nelson. ISBN 9780785268765.
  52. ^ Shamblin, Gwen (September 1, 1998). Exodus: Daily Devotional. Weigh Down Workshop. ISBN 9781892729002.
  53. ^ Controversy, Trinity. "Home". Retrieved July 20, 2018.
  54. ^ Veenker, Jody (September 1, 2000). "The Weigh Is Narrow". Christianity Today. Retrieved April 9, 2007.
  55. ^ "BBC Features Gwen Shamblin and Weigh Down". Retrieved April 29, 2019.
  56. ^ "Profile: Weigh Down Workshop/ Remnant Fellowship" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on October 20, 2016. Retrieved April 29, 2019.
  57. ^ "Founder of Weigh Down Workshop to hold seminar at Great Hall". Germantown News. April 6, 2011. p. 7B. Gwen Shamblin and the Weigh Down Workshop was featured on such shows as 20/20, Larry King Live, and The View, as well as in such magazines as Good Housekeeping and Woman's Day
  58. ^ "This week on Dateline: Slim for Him". News. Retrieved July 8, 2017.
  59. ^ Torgovnick, Kate (January 31, 2008). "Lose the Weight for Good!". Good Housekeeping. Retrieved July 8, 2017.
  60. ^ "The Today Show's Matt Lauer Interviews Gwen Shamblin Weigh Down Founder". Retrieved April 29, 2019.
  61. ^ "Can Praying Help You Lose Weight?". Fox News. June 14, 2004.
  62. ^ "The Early Show". CBS.
  63. ^ Bollinger, Caroline (April 2007). "Slim-Down Secrets". Good House Keeping. pp. 158–160.
  64. ^ Cherry, Rona (January 2007). "Diet help from on high?". Ladies' Home Journal.
  65. ^ Williams, Ashley (January 14, 2008). "Incredible Shrinking Couple". People Magazine. 69 (1). Retrieved July 8, 2017.
  66. ^ "I stopped thinking about food and the fat fell off!". First Magazine. April 11, 2005.
  67. ^ "How I Prayed Off the Pounds". Quick & Simple. May 29, 2007. pp. 8–9.
  68. ^ "The Tyra Show: Season 2, Episode 143 Church of Thin". TV Guide. May 10, 2007. Retrieved July 8, 2017.
  69. ^ "Extreme Diets: God's Diet". WE tv. Retrieved July 8, 2017.
  70. ^ "You Can Overcome Show Archives - Remnant Fellowship TV". Remnant Fellowship TV. Retrieved July 8, 2017.

External links


Article Gwen Shamblin Lara in English Wikipedia took following places in local popularity ranking:

Presented content of the Wikipedia article was extracted in 2021-06-13 based on