Archive for weight loss

“I am no longer obsessed about food or how much I weigh”

Doug WeberBy: Doug Weber

I’ve been studying nutrition and fitness as a hobby for about 20 years. During this time, my weight has been all over the map. I’ve been very thin at times—when serving in the Air Force, I was on a calorie-restricted diet and doing lots of running and got down to 150 lbs. I’ve been overweight most of the time—up to 230 lbs at one point.

My diet has also been all over the map. I’ve tried the good old calorie-restricted diet many times and succeeded in losing a lot of weight each time, only to gain it all back each time. I also saw success with the Shangri-La Diet (google it) but didn’t have the will power to stay on it indefinitely. I saw success with the Atkins Diet; however, I had the same problem, an inability to stay on it long term. The same with Nutrisystem—I did that for a year and lost 55 pounds, then gained it all back.

In late 2015, I decided to try the Ketogenic Diet where 75% of calories come from fat, 20% from protein, and only 5% from carbs. It is an extreme version of the Atkins diet. During this diet, I was eating a lot of meat, a lot of extra fat (bacon grease on everything!) and was checking my ketones each morning to try to hit the magic range of 2.0 to 3.0 mmol/L. My lab numbers all got better, but in hindsight I believe it was due to my no longer eating highly processed foods.

During this time, I was corresponding with my daughter and her husband in Provo. We had an on-going discussion about nutrition and fitness for a few years. My son-in-law challenged me on my interpretation of D&C 89:12-13. I interpreted verse 13 to mean it’s okay to eat meat sparingly all the time, not just during times of winter, cold, or famine. He forwarded an article to me that included a reference to Jane Birch’s book, Discovering the Word of Wisdom. I read her book and decided I was completely wrong. I now understand those verses to mean that it is pleasing to the Lord if we never eat meat unless we must in order to survive. I was inspired by Jane’s notion that she had eaten more meat during the first half of her life than would ever be pleasing unto the Lord, so she is committed to eating no meat the second half of her life to try to make up for the first half—that has become my desire as well.

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“It was as if the Lord himself was speaking directly to me”

april-harker-husbandBy: April Harker

I’ve struggled with my weight throughout my life. I’ve tried different pills and fad diets that never worked. I’d lose weight and gain it all back. Being overweight is just a depressing way to live. I hadn’t learned how to eat nutritiously, and I struggled with binge eating and severe food addiction.

In January of 2014 I was diagnosed with Hashimotos and PCOS (polycystic ovary syndrome). Within a year of diagnosis I gain over 100 lbs. I was sick, depressed, hungry, tired, and lethargic all the time. It took everything I had in me to just get out of bed in the morning.

On July 19, 2015 I decided to start a health journey and get my life back. I started out doing swimming at our local gym and did my best to change my eating habits. I lost a significant amount of weight, but I just wasn’t feeling good. I’m not sure how to describe it, but it was as if my body was trying to tell me something. I had become brainwashed by the health and fitness industries that I needed huge amounts of protein. I was consuming two whey protein shakes a day and two meals loaded with animal protein. Although the weight slowly started to come off, my diseases hadn’t gotten any better, and my body just felt miserable.

Fast forward a year to August 2016. My father ended up passing away due to 30+ years of battling food addiction and diet-related disease. I struggled losing him knowing he could have had a much more enriched life if he just would have been willing to make some changes. Losing him sparked a fire in me. I didn’t want to follow in his footsteps, and I was determined to break an unhealthy cycle in regards to food. I dove into nutritional research at home and school, and watched just about every food documentary I could find searching for answers. I felt similar to Joseph Smith searching for which church was true, except I was searching from truth in regards to nutrition.

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“It was like a huge light bulb going off in my head”

cheri-and-david-meinersBy: Cheri J. Meiners

When I was about six years old, it was determined that I had an allergy to wheat, chocolate, strawberries and several other foods. I broke out in hives when I ate them. It was hard to cheat since my mother was careful about eliminating those foods, and all the lunch ladies at school knew what I couldn’t have on my tray!

As a teenager, I tested positive for several environmental allergies, which required weekly shots. On my mission in Italy, I gave myself the weekly injections. After my mission, I saw an alternative doctor who recommended a diet that was very close to the Word of Wisdom. I eliminated processed foods and sugar, and I ate meat and cheese only as condiments. I also took various food supplements. With these changes, I felt that my health greatly improved.

I tried to live this lifestyle when I married and had my family of six children, although we had much more “junk food” in the house than I used to eat. My greatest health challenge was during a period of great stress in my life. People asked if I had been under a heat lamp because the skin on my face and upper body spontaneously burned and peeled. My eyes, especially, were often painfully swollen and burning, and during flare-ups it was difficult to maintain my rigorous schedule with six young children. During this time I was extremely diligent about following the eating regimen I had followed earlier. After several months, the condition eventually cleared up. I also lost 45 pounds and was at my goal weight.

As time passed and I felt better, I didn’t feel the urgency to be so strict with my diet. I gained back weight, and I started to have various joint and other aches that seemed to be a part of aging. At age 49, I began going to the gym 3-5 times a week to improve my health. I never lost weight over this seven-year period, but the exercise did stabilize my weight during this time.

In November 2014, I read an article by Jane Birch in Meridian Magazine. The first article I read was a bit shocking to me. Even though I had previously tried to avoid meat and dairy (and was allergic to eggs), I had never really considered it feasible or healthy to totally eliminate animal products, much less oil. The next time I read one of her articles, however, I was convinced by the logic, and it felt right. I decided to try it.

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“I am getting younger instead of older”

lily-sparksBy: Lily Sparks

In the late summer of 2010, I went onto the web to look up something to help me. I was overweight and obese, with high blood pressure, high triglycerides, and high cholesterol. My glucose blood test had inched out of the average range and into the prediabetes range. Everything hurt . . . my joints, my muscles. Getting out of bed in the morning hurt so bad if I did not take lots of grape seed. My knees were helped by glucosamine and chondroitin. I spent quite a bit of money every month buying the supplements so I would not hurt or at least reduce the aches and pain. I just accepted it as part of growing older even though it started in my late forties. I received enough relief with the supplements that my life just went on, and I accepted it.

Being overweight was the biggest fight. I had lost weight using Atkins, hCG, and counting calories. I would successfully lose weight, but those diets are not sustainable so when I went back to my regular eating, which always happened, I would gain the weight back and more. I tried to watch what I would eat, but I liked food and even after I ate a full meal I would be hungry in an hour and a half. I could not understand how I could be hungry again after a full meal. I think that happened because of the lack of good nutrition in the meal. I think my body was saying, “You gave me bulk but no nutrition.” Sometimes I just ate what I wanted because I was tired of fighting it.

I got so I would not weigh myself because I was afraid to know how much I weighed. I think I got to 220 lbs and wore a size 20 or 22.

I was not happy. Read More→

“I love food and it loves me back!”

Kurt DeGrawBy: Kurt DeGraw

I have never really enjoyed meat too much. I grew up on a small family farm. We raised chickens, pigs, ducks, geese and the occasional sheep or cow, and I was the main person to feed most of these animals. Without many other youth my age living near us, the animals became my friends. I had funny names for them based on how they looked or the quirks they had.

Two experiences really sealed my dislike for meat at an early age. The first experience was when we killed the chickens. We hung them upside down on the swing set using twine around their legs. There they were hanging and flapping occasionally when a knife to the throat let the blood run out. After a LOT of flapping and squawking, in about 5 minutes they were all still. I still remember not wanting to play on the swing set for a while after that, but more importantly to me, these were animals I had fed and spent time with. That night, we had chicken and mashed potatoes and gravy and corn. I just could not eat the chicken.

My second experience a few years later was when our pig was butchered. A mobile butcher drove to our house and took our pig from the pen—where I had fed, watered and named him—and took him into the back of his truck and an hour later out popped all these white butcher-paper packages with labels. For dinner that night we had pork chops and rice. Again, I just could not eat the pork chops.

We were a large family living on a public school teacher’s salary and whatever came from the small farm and the animals we raised was definitely needed to feed our family, but after those two experiences my desire for meat decreased dramatically.

My healthy journey started when I was in my mid 30’s. I had started to gain weight from a sedentary office work life style. I did (and continue to) mountain bike and walk multiple times a week and even lifted weights on occasion. But unlike when I was younger, the weight just kept sticking around and more of it started to stick around. I started to do my own research and started to use less white flour and white sugar in my cooking. This worked for a decade or so, but by my early 40’s, I was considered obese by national standards.

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“The doctor told him straight out that he was too young to die”

Kaylene and Ted HardyBy: Kaylene Hardy

There is an old saying, “When the student is ready the teacher will appear.” Several years ago I started looking for a way to lose some weight. My husband Ted also needed to lose weight and just didn’t feel good most of the time. We briefly tried eating a low-carb diet, but that just didn’t feel right to me. Even though I did lose a few pounds, physically, I did not feel healthy, and I kept thinking about the Word of Wisdom which tells us that grains are ordained for our use to be the staff of life. I wanted to find something that would help our family, something that would be sustainable for a lifetime, and something that was in line with gospel teachings. I happened to watch the movie Forks Over Knives, then I read the book Prevent & Reverse Heart Disease by Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn. The information made an impression on me, and I wanted to give it a try. Compared to other popular weight loss plans, it was the only one that seemed to be in line with the Word of Wisdom.

It was the beginning of an adventure that has a happy ending, but the road there was a little rocky. This story is not about me and just wanting to lose some weight. This is really my husband’s story and how we have been blessed with hope and a brighter future.

My husband Ted grew up in a family where food was an expression of love. He and his six siblings loved to eat. They ate plenty of salad and vegetables, but it was pretty much standard American fare. Three of his siblings later had bariatric surgery as adults and although they lost a lot of weight at first, they have all experienced various health problems as time passed.

Some years after we were married, when Ted was in his mid-thirties, we had a little scare which sent him to the emergency room with a concern for his heart. It turned out that his heart was fine, but it was enough to convince him that he needed to lose weight and take better care of himself. He was very successful and interestingly, he ate a very low-fat diet and this was years before we even heard of Dr. Esselstyn and whole food, plant-based (WFPB) eating. Ultimately, Ted lost a lot of weight and kept it off for quite a few years, but it was all about will power. He was very strict about the times he ate, what he ate, and how much he ate. Over the next twenty years, he gained a lot of the weight back.

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“I would never trade this peace for anything”

Brittney MooreBy: Brittney Moore

As long as I can remember, I have been interested in health and fitness. I remember doing aerobic videos in my living room when I was 12 years old. I got my degree at BYU in Health Promotion so I’ve always considered myself a healthy eater and regular exerciser. Health is a topic that I am fascinated with, and I continue to spend many hours reading the latest research, especially as it applies to the Word of Wisdom.

Most of the stories on the Discovering the Word of Wisdom site so far are about the physical changes that happen from following the Word of Wisdom. My story is more about the mental and emotional changes that have happened to me.

I started dieting after my first child was born in 1998. I’ve never been particularly heavy, but I always wanted to lose the last ten pounds, so I would follow whatever diet I found. Low carb, low fat, low calorie, I did them all. They all gave quick results, but then I’d start putting the pounds on again when I stopped following the diet perfectly. I felt like I was always trying to walk up a slippery slope, and I could never get to the top. The bathroom scale started ruling my life, and if I gained a pound or two, I would feel like a failure and start looking for a new diet that I could stick with. I felt like I couldn’t trust myself around food. I felt like my happiness each day depended on the number on the scale in the morning. I felt out of control and hopeless.

During this time I was an avid Crossfitter and was pressured to follow the Paleo diet, which is eating lots of meat, but no grains or potatoes or beans. I knew many LDS people who were eating this way, and I questioned them about following the Word of Wisdom. Most people just shrugged off my question or said they felt they were following the Word of Wisdom since they didn’t smoke or drink. I decided to try it for a month. I felt awful. I had no energy and wanted to lay down all day. I also had huge cravings for cookies, cakes, donuts and anything sweet because I wasn’t getting enough carbohydrates. By this time I had six children and didn’t have the energy to get through the day. This was a huge testimony to me that the Word of Wisdom is true. I would not give up my grains, potatoes and beans, because obviously they helped me “run and not be weary, and walk and not faint.”

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“The weight literally melted off”

Marla Radeke Before and AfterBy: Marla Radeke

I didn’t learn a lot about nutrition growing up. In my family, our weekly menu was pretty routine: meatloaf, spaghetti, pot roast, and usually some canned veggies on the side. And always chocolate cake.

After I moved away from home, I became much more body conscious. Many years of fad diets, exercise binges, and yo-yo dieting began. I now know that I was a normal girl who decided she was fat.

Eventually I married and had a daughter. After the marriage failed, some of the bad habits I had developed became extreme, and I developed an eating disorder, which I battled for the next eight years. During this time, because of my interest in the aging process and health studies, I worked as a nursing home administrator. I watched people age every day. I knew I was doing it all wrong, but I was young, time was on my side, and I considered myself healthy because, in my mind, healthy equaled skinny. As long as I didn’t go above a certain number on the scale, I thought I was “healthy.”

When I remarried, my husband wanted me to be healthy (instead of just thin) and encouraged me to make some real changes to break free of my eating disorder. I was no longer able to fall back on my old tricks, and my weight soon ballooned. My favorite breakfast food was chocolate doughnuts, which meant that I’d then skip lunch. I drank soda all day long. Dinner was usually a microwaved low-calorie meal. And, of course, there was always room for dessert!

My husband and I both steadily gained weight. We really had no of idea the power of food, for good or bad. My mother had been a diabetic and died at an early age from complications of the disease. I knew my risk of developing diabetes was higher than average, but I felt like I had no ability to control that outcome. One day, I took my daughter to an appointment with her pediatrician. She told me afterward that the doctor had asked if her mom had always been fat. That was motivation enough to get me to join a gym.

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“Here is the key to the ignition: STARCH!”

Val and Gayla JohnsonBy: Val Johnson

I was converted to the gospel as an inactive member in 1971 when I was 17. I served a mission in Ontario Canada where my mission president was M. Russell Ballard. The Word of Wisdom was one of the concepts that you end up talking about a lot. Even though we read it and referenced D&C 89 almost daily, health problems associated with poor diet were fairly common among the missionaries. I gained nearly 50 lbs of uncomfortable weight while on my mission.

When I got home and was physically active, my weight normalized. Being 6 feet tall, I felt strong at 190 lbs, though this put me in the pudgy range. Marriage started me into a life of working with my mental and not my physical faculties. I tend to be a workaholic and could easily work 85 hours a week as an average my whole life, until just a few years ago. My only activity for the most part was golfing as often as time would allow. I seemed to gradually put on weight and kind of plateaued around 245 for several years. By the mid 90’s I was even more wrapped up in work and even golfing became a thing of the past. My weight climbed to nearly 300 lbs and stayed at that level on and off until 6 months ago.

Throughout the 45 years of being around the Word of Wisdom I have periodically ventured into the realm of trying to understand what it teaches about nutrition. I read Back to Eden by Jethro Kloss in 1979 and tried to abide by what he taught. It worked for a while but left me always feeling like I was on a diet. I tried the Atkins diet several times with varied success and justified eating meat because “in the season thereof” had to allow meat, or at least I thought that must be OK. In 1988 or so I read Fit for Life by Harvey and Marilyn Diamond and was somewhat successful but again it felt like a diet, and it leaned on high water content foods which eventually became untenable for me.

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“Our health is in our hands”

Annalise Jones before and afterBy: Annalise Jones

I grew up in a health conscious family. We used natural health care as much as possible. We never had soda or sugary cereal; desserts were rare. For a family home evening treat we would have almonds or apple juice. Almonds were a treat because they’re too expensive to eat regularly (with a family of ten!), but that same economic factor also meant that we relied more on cheap processed dinner foods such as Ramen noodles, macaroni and cheese, and hot dogs.

Things changed when I was a teenager. My parents became better informed and decided to give up animal products. Our dinners switched to couscous, whole wheat veggie pizza, and potatoes. I don’t remember anyone complaining much, but there was always the back up option of PB&J.

I was familiar with my parents’ reasons for making this change; I even did a presentation on the dangers of dairy products for my speech class. However I did not have personal conversion to the Word of Wisdom at this time. Pretty soon I was sneaking foods away from home and, once I got my drivers license, stopping at fast food places as much as possible. I have always been a big food addict, you see, and freedom just opened up a big world of possibilities!

A word on my health at this point in my life: I had depression, chronic yeast infections, hypoglycemia, parasites, acne, and serious fatigue. I also had an impulsive problem picking my skin, and I was covered in open sores. I played on the tennis team but had trouble doing the drills, and would always come in last when we jogged for warm-up. I was also insecure about my weight. I was heavier than all the other girls. My best friends were super skinny, and my cousin teased me about having extra jiggle.

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