By: 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.