Archive for weight loss

“I have had easy weight loss without being hungry or having to track any calories”

By: Sarah Gale

I’ve struggled with health and weight for all of my married life. I joined Weight Watchers in 2002 and lost the 35 pounds of extra weight I had put on, but it was very slow going, difficult to do, and I was hungry and unhappy all the time. It also made me feel obsessed with food. I began having periods of binge eating and then starving myself to try and compensate. Five years into marriage, I got pregnant, something I wanted more than anything I had ever wanted. However, I ended up miscarrying that baby, which was horribly devastating to me. I turned to food for comfort, and promptly gained back all the 35 pounds I had lost. A year later, I was able to get pregnant again, and this time, the pregnancy worked out. However, I gained 40 pounds! I went back to Weight Watchers, and lost a lot of the weight, but the old feelings of deprivation came back, and I ended up on a binge and starve cycle again.

With our second child, I gained 30 pounds. I tried exercise, got into P90X and did it faithfully every day for 3 rounds of 90 days. I got strong and felt great, but I only lost 5 pounds!

After another miscarriage, I got pregnant again fairly soon. However, somewhere around the 18th week, I started noticing that I was very short of breath. The doctors and specialists couldn’t figure it out. Finally, I got a blessing from my husband, and he said the doctors would be able to find what was wrong. I soon learned I had a very rare tracheal stenosis, which required have multiple surgeries, ending in an extremely intense resection surgery and a high dose of steroids, which led to a dramatic weight gain.

To get my weight under control, I decided to try to the latest and greatest thing, the low carb diet. This time, I actually got a little nagging feeling in the back of my brain that this was not a good diet, and not what the Word of Wisdom taught, but I brushed it off. After recovering from the surgery, I started low carb, and the pounds just melted off. I lost 65 pounds in about 8 months, and was back to a healthy weight. Then with a fourth pregnancy, I was 100 pounds overweight!

About a year ago, I started getting back to the point where I could think about getting my weight under control and my health back. I didn’t want to do low carb again. I told my husband I just didn’t think it was in harmony with the Word of Wisdom. He rolled his eyes and said that part was outdated, and I shouldn’t worry about it! I decided to count calories with the MyFitnessPal app on my phone. I told myself I would eat three meals per day and no snacks, because snacking seems to be my downfall for binge eating . . . like the potato chips advertise, you can’t have just one! It worked very well, and I lost 65 pounds! But, again, it got difficult to keep it up!

Read More→

“I didn’t want the foods that harm my body and defeat my spirit”

By: Julianne Kravetz

Determination, willpower and resolve are all characteristics that help define moral fiber. These qualities often serve us well in life, driving success as we pursue dreams and aspirations – except when they don’t. Despite our greatest desire, determination, our best efforts, and even all the willpower we can muster, we sometimes fail. And some of us fail again and again, leaving us feeling hopeless and alone in a barren desert of despair. This was the place where I eventually found myself.

When I was a young mother, a book was recommended to me written by Dr. John McDougall. He proposed a plant-based diet for ultimate health and weight loss. He claimed that disease, illness and suffering was not an inevitable result of aging. If that were true, we could live with health and vitality – our food choices could help us avoid needless pain. To me, this “diet” was the Word of Wisdom exemplified.

I recognized the evidence of poor food choices which resulted in obesity, complications of which is the leading cause of death in this country. And yet, this was my struggle. My recurring efforts to become a “McDougaller” were taken up, then abandoned again and again. I thought then that it was just too hard, too time consuming, too inconvenient. My never-ending trudging up and down over the dunes of struggle revealed a trail of short-lived success – then failure with pockets full of sand. What would cause people to succumb to a lifestyle that would eventually lead to preventable diseases? I knew I wouldn’t consciously choose that path, and yet there I was.

Read More→

“I am 110 pounds lighter”

By: Brad Clark

In March 2013 I was 43 years old, 281 pounds, eating the standard American diet, working long hours, and generally not taking care of myself. My wife and five kids (aged 5 to 15) were used to my low levels of energy and high levels of frustration. I had recently given up on yet another diet program sponsored by my work which “worked” because I’d lost 20 lbs on it, but it was also a failure because just like the dozens of times I’d tried to lose weight before I’d put the weight back on. And that is when I started to notice some discomfort when I’d try any activity more than casual walking.

At first I just thought it was a new low in my level of fitness and that if I stuck it out and got on a treadmill I could raise my fitness. But no, the pain persisted. It took more than a month for me to get the guts up to make an appointment with my primary care physician. The day I called to make the appointment the receptionist asked why I wanted to visit. The alarm in her voice as I explained my symptoms—and the fact that she made an appointment for me to see him the same day—scared me even more.

I worked in the middle of San Francisco, so leaving for the doctor mid-day meant having to walk almost a mile to the BART (transit) station. On the walk I was alarmed that the pain I had been hoping to brush under the rug was now intense enough that I was relieved each time I got to stop at the crosswalk. The reality of my situation was finally sinking in, and I knew I was in trouble. That was Wednesday, May 22, 2013. By that Friday I was on my cardiologist’s treadmill and though the official diagnosis took a little longer to receive, that Friday is also the last time I’ve eaten any animal products and the day I started on my return journey to health.

Having lost both parents to heart disease I had previously researched preventative programs. Years earlier I had even followed the Ornish program for about six months before falling off of it. But because of that experience, the day I was diagnosed with heart disease I knew exactly what I needed to do and was finally motivated enough to do it.

Read More→

“I have learned that our bodies are remarkable!”

Yessenia OrnelasBy: Yessenia Ornelas

My journey started when my husband and I were living in Provo, Utah. I was getting ready to finally bring my little premature baby home from the hospital four months after he was born. I remember wanting to take so many pictures of him, but I despised the idea of taking any pictures of myself with him because of how I felt about myself. I was very overweight, and I somehow felt that my being overweight and not healthy had played a hand in my preterm labor.

Like most people, I love eating out and trying new places. Growing up, I was told to eat all the food on my plate and not to be picky or wasteful. As a result, I ate as much as possible, and, as you can guess, the weight piled on quickly. I knew it was wrong for me to have such negative feelings about myself and that I needed to make changes if I wanted to see myself more positively. I became determined to do better. I wanted to only do this for health so I was not going to worry how fast or slow I got results.

I didn’t know much about eating healthy, just what you mostly hear, which is eating more vegetables. So I started there and then figured that perhaps I was eating too much meat and started to cut down my intake to only twice a week and just fish and chicken. My Pinterest board became filled with some vegetarian meals and lots of chicken and fish meals that I looked forward to each week. I was consistent with exercising and managed to lose 45 lbs with my own efforts.

During this time of learning about health, I talked with a good friend of mine, Olga Maletina, who was also living in student housing at BYU. I had heard she was a vegan and thought it was interesting so I was intrigued to learn why she had made a switch to that way of eating. She told me about her health benefits and how good she felt. At the time I felt that perhaps it would be too extreme for me and that I would continue to do what I was doing.

Read More→

“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.

Read More→

“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.

Read More→

“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.

Read More→

“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.

Read More→

“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.

Read More→