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Learning NOT to love chicken-fried steak

Texas preacher and wife focus on eating better and exercising more.

WACO, Texas — When Jordan and Debbie Hubbard married nearly 13 years ago, they shared a love for tasty, high-calorie foods.

Think Texas-sized chicken-fried steaks.

“We were both fat and happy,” said Jordan Hubbard, 42, who at one time weighed close to 320 pounds.

“We ate a lot of good meals together,” agreed Debbie Hubbard, 41, who said she “always was just defined as a ‘big build’ girl.”

But three years ago, the couple — who met when he served as youth minister and she as children’s minister for the Central Church of Christ in Amarillo, Texas — decided something had to change.

Jordan and Debbie Hubbard on their wedding day.

The parents of three children — Jenae, 10; Avery, 8; and Jarrett, 5 — committed to eat better, exercise more and pay closer attention to the physical bodies God gave them.

“We were both uncomfortable. We were just at a spot where we said, ‘Let’s do this,’” said Jordan Hubbard, minister of the Word for the 650-member Crestview Church of Christ in Waco — a city of 130,000 about halfway between Dallas and Austin. “For me, I found that the commitment to exercise and diet was really a spiritual discipline as well.”

For Debbie Hubbard, too, working up a sweat while doing jumping jacks or exploring the zoo with her son and two daughters helps with “body and soul” — as does choosing a grilled-chicken salad instead of a half-pound cheeseburger.

“We pay better attention to how we are spending our money. We parent better,” she said. “I think, too, in our service and ministry and prayer life, everything gets sharper for us when that one component is dialed in.”

In the past, food often served as a coping mechanism.

Jordan and Debbie Hubbard in a recent photo.

“I don’t know what it’s like to struggle with alcohol addiction … but I do feel like I’m a food addict,” Jordan Hubbard said. “I’m happy, so let’s go eat. I’m bored, so let’s go eat. I’ve got a day off, so let’s go eat.”

The Hubbards have had to learn to say no to brownies and ice cream at members’ homes and speak fast when invited out to eat — so they can suggest a place with diet-friendly options.

At the same time, they don’t judge anyone else.

“It’s fine,” Debbie Hubbard will reply if a friend apologizes for what’s on her plate. “It’s your choice.”

Jordan and Debbie Hubbard used to eat red meat every day. Now, they consume a lot of chicken, fish and venison — plus vegetables such as asparagus, squash and zucchini. They limit red meat to once every few weeks.

Between them, the Hubbards have shed 150 pounds.

Chicken-fried steak is off-limits for the Hubbards. (PHOTO VIA WIKIMEDIA COMMONS)

But they face constant temptation — from the dozens of doughnuts church leaders set out each Sunday morning to the pizza, fried chicken and chips-and-queso common at church potlucks.

Yes, they occasionally succumb.

But that’s OK: A healthy balance is what’s key, Jordan Hubbard said.

“One meal is not going to wreck your life,” he said. “It definitely is a journey that we talk about being on.”

However, there is one place the Hubbards believe that journey never, ever should lead.

Chicken-fried steak is — to this preacher and his wife — a cliff off which they don’t want to jump.

“If you eat a chicken-fried steak,” Jordan Hubbard said with a chuckle, “you’ve crossed the line.”

Filed under: fitness National

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