As published on the MormonChannel.org
I lived for MANY years struggling with my weight. I wasn’t excessively overweight as a child, but I was heavier compared to most. I definitely knew what it felt like to be teased about being fat. One that I can still hear kids saying is “April the Good Year Blimp.” That one hurt for sure. I was overweight because of poor eating habits, emotional eating from my parents’ divorce, and eating too much. Then as an adult it escalated from having children, eating to comfort myself, and just eating for enjoyment.
When I began my journey to lose 100 pounds, it wasn’t like I woke up one day, looked in the mirror, and went, “What happened?” Like many people, I struggled for years trying to lose the weight only to gain it all back and more. I’m pretty sure I tried nearly every diet in the book.
In October 2011, I began the journey of weight loss that will forever change my life.
I was an active member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. But I’d never considered how I ate to be tied to my faith. Boy, did I learn a thing or two.
In talking about the promises in the Word of Wisdom in Doctrine and Covenants 89:19 it says, “And shall find wisdom and great treasures of knowledge, even hidden treasures.” I mention great treasures of knowledge because when I decided it was time to finally get my health under control, I hadn’t even considered the principles in the Word of Wisdom. I just decided to be a kind of vegetarian. I was obeying God’s law without really knowing it. This in itself was a hidden treasure.
We live in a meat-consuming world. Animal protein is the star of the show and especially in regards to weight loss. We’re told we should consume it several times a day to lose weight. I began to consume it maybe once a week. I have gained comfort in this quote from Elder Russell M. Nelson when people scoff my lack of meat consumption: “We will be careful about which counsel we heed. Many so-called experts give advice for the body—without thought for the spirit. Anyone who accepts direction contrary to the Word of Wisdom, for example, forsakes a law revealed to bring both physical and spiritual blessings” (“We Are Children of God,” October 1998 general conference).
One of my main struggles then and even now is over consumption. This even includes over consuming good foods. I’ve often looked at my issue with food as an addiction. President Dieter F. Uchtdorf said: “Addictions often begin subtly. Addictions are thin threads of repeated action that weave themselves into thick bonds of habit. … These binding chains of addiction can have many forms, like … food” (“Are You Sleeping through the Restoration?” April 2014 general conference). Food?!
It didn’t happen all at once. I made small changes to begin with. I began accounting for all the food I consumed with an app on my phone.
I learned that I could get so much more bang for my buck when eating whole foods like fruits, veggies, whole grains, and legumes.
I added into my daily routine going to the gym. This sounds like a natural progression, but it was hard for me at first.
My house was usually a mess, and the strength it took to close the door behind me and resolve to clean it later was difficult. I quickly learned that I actually had more energy and was happier if I just went and exercised and dealt with the rest later.
After living this lifestyle for six months or so, it occurred to me that I was living the Word of Wisdom.
It wasn’t easy. It was hard. But most things that are worth it are hard, especially at first. Change is hard, but it has been SO WORTH IT!
I have compassion, empathy, and love for those who share my struggle. I understand how it feels to be 100 pounds overweight, 50 pounds overweight, how difficult it is to lose that last 10 pounds, AND to maintain it.
I have a firm testimony of the do’s in the Word of Wisdom! It’s an awesome thing to feel energetic, happy, and strong! I’m so grateful for the Word of Wisdom and for the Atonement.
We can use the Atonement to heal our bodies and to forgive and love ourselves.
The beautiful thing about the Word of Wisdom is that it’s a principle. Each child of God is able to prayerfully consider how to personally apply it.
There is a war on our bodies. These are the last days. So much work needs to be done, and we have been told that the Lord is hastening the work. We MUST be strong and healthy and teach our children the same.
These are the treasures of great knowledge that I have learned in my journey. My testimony has grown in so many areas by leaps and bounds. Our Heavenly Father guided me toward His goal, without me really knowing it. All the experience I’ve gained through my life has prepared me to be here with others, cheering them on, understanding them, and loving them.