Archive for weight loss – Page 2

“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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“I love eating this way. It makes life so simple.”

Perpetue RobertBy: Perpetue Robert Pardieu

All my life my legs and feet have felt really heavy, sometimes swollen, but I never knew why. I remember ten years ago I was praying and asking the Lord for help and He sent me to D&C 89. At that time I learned that meat was to be eaten sparingly, during winter and famine. It was summer, and it was difficult, so I did not follow it. So, I remained with my swollen feet.

In January 2012, I was hit by a car and my kneecap, tibia and femur broke. I had three surgeries and still was having inflammation even though I was taking anti-inflammatory medication. I hit my head during the accident, and I was having panic attacks and anxiety. I felt depressed and overwhelmed often. So, I started doing research because I did not want to be taking pills and become dependent. This is how I heard about alkaline and acid food. I started researching and changed my diet by eating more alkaline, non-hybrid foods. But I got so anxious about everything I was eating that I could not sleep. So, I went to the Lord with that and felt that that kind of anxious spirit doesn’t come from him.

By researching on the Internet, I discovered Jane Birch and the Word of Wisdom diet she writes about. When I read this, I remembered that ten years earlier the Lord had sent me to D&C 89. I automatically knew that what she was saying was a confirmation of what the Lord had told me ten years ago. I stopped eating meat, dairy, eggs, sugar, and most processed food. I now eat extremely little fish and use only a tiny bit of olive or coconut oil once in awhile. Now, the spirit I feel is one of peace instead of being anxious or stressed about food.

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“The most horrible, wonderful experiences of our lives”

Randy and Olga CamporaBy: Randy Campora

Dat, dat…, da dat dat dat – dat daa dat dat dat daaaa dat.

That is the opening phrase of Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker ballet. As the bass trombonist in the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra for the past thirty years I have heard those violin notes hundreds of times, and in December 2014, the notes were the same as always. We were playing in the orchestra pit of the Lyric Theater in Baltimore for an entire week of Nutcrackers with the ballet corps of the Baltimore School for the Arts.

But this year, those notes did not sound the same. Or I should say, my mind as it heard those notes was not the same.

This year, I had cancer. My mind struggled to focus, though the familiar music and setting were a nice distraction for me. But as soon as the music stopped the thought came immediately back: I had esophageal cancer, stage yet to be determined.

I was fifty-three years old, at least a hundred pounds overweight, a recent inductee of the Type II Diabetes Club. I was also the possessor of more blessings from God than I knew what to do with: Olga, my wonderful yoga teaching wife; Dominik, our trumpet playing oldest son on a mission in Poland; and Raffi, our math wiz youngest son with the dry sense of humor. I was a member of the best ward in the church. I had a job I liked, with great health insurance. The complete list would assault you with its length.

That September I had choked on a piece of food at dinner. My wife had just completed a CPR course, so she successfully executed the Heimlich two-step and I could breathe. But a few minutes later I realized that something was stuck down near the stomach because I could not drink or eat anything. A trip to the ER took care of the problem: Dr. Solaiman removed the piece of chicken stuck in the valve at the top of the stomach.

He was surprised to find Barrett’s Esophagus—a pre-cancerous condition usually caused by chronic acid reflux that changes the tissue to something more resembling an intestine. He performed biopsies, which came back clear. He wanted to be sure nothing was hiding there, so another round of biopsies was done three months later. This time the cancer cells were found, along with some aggressive markers.

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“I had the sweet feeling that this new baby was a special gift”

Joy and Jane BarryBy: Joy Barry

I was blessed to be raised on a diet healthier than the standard American variety. In the 1970s when most kids were living on toaster pastries, Twinkies, and Wonder Bread, we were grinding our own wheat to make whole wheat bread and cracked wheat porridge. When we made cookies or Kool-Aid, my father insisted on using half the sugar that the recipe called for. As I grew older and moved away from home, I continued to cook most things from scratch, the way I was brought up. I wasn’t too concerned about health or a balanced diet, it was more about saving money and making homemade food that tasted better. Besides, I never had to worry about losing weight as I was always trim and thin as a child and young adult. I never even exercised.

When I hit my mid-20s, I started to put on a little bit of weight. It concerned me enough that I started exercising to try to get in shape. But all my bike-riding just left me worn out and discouraged. It never occurred to me that my diet was to blame. I thought I was doing just fine.

I married at age 29 and had my first child when I was 30. My new role as a wife and mother made me more concerned about healthy eating. It was not just about me anymore, I had a family to feed. The responsibility to not just feed my family, but to feed them well, rested heavy on my conscience. I read everything online that I could find about healthy diets and worried much about how to best feed my family a balanced diet.

Although I read many conflicting opinions from various “experts,” I felt blessed to have the Word of Wisdom as my foundation. If I read anything that said to eat lots of meat and avoid grains, I dismissed it immediately. However, I always wished that the Word of Wisdom had more specifics. I thought it was too vague and didn’t cover all the food groups. I knew it said to eat meat sparingly, and I tried to follow that advice, but what about eggs and dairy products? I also worried much about what kind of oils were the healthy ones, and other hotly debated topics.

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“The doctor was giddy about my results.”

Dave and Petra HansenBy: Dave Hansen

Having been raised in Idaho in a family that has always been very active in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, I was taught about the Word of Wisdom. I was taught that the use of tobacco, drinking of alcoholic beverages as well as coffee and black tea was prohibited. I was aware that other substances were ordained for the use of man by God including fruits in their season, vegetables, and grains. I had been raised to believe that since meat was ordained for the use of man, it was also good to consume. In addition our family took pride in the dairy business that they were involved in, even though my father chose another path of employment shortly after my birth. We believed the commercials that milk “does a body good.”

After getting married and being on my own, I never allowed margarine on my dinner table, only the finest butter. Ice cream was purchased by the gallons and always readily available, as well as cheese. I reveled in some of my specialty dishes; my three egg ham and cheese omelets were a favorite of my family, as well as my pecan pie, grilled New York Steak, and my award winning chili (which was always more carne than beans). In the United States, the LDS culture is immersed in the Western diet that I was so accustomed to. Potlucks, barbeques, funerals, ice cream socials, and all other social gatherings within the Church are centered on a diet of meat and dairy.

On a Sunday morning in the spring of 2013 I woke to a nagging pressure in my chest with radiating pain in my neck and left arm, deep inside. This is a symptom that had been slowly getting worse over the previous two years. At first it was only noticeable when I was involved in extreme exercise, but it gradually showed up when I simply walked up a flight of stairs. This morning I was not doing anything, but it was there. I thought about skipping Church that day and resting, thinking that I may have just overdid it the day before on our motorcycle ride. I was reminded of a talk that I had heard at some conference in the past that if we didn’t want to do something the Lord wanted us to do, then we should really do it because there was something that we were supposed to learn from it, so I got ready for Church with my wife and we went.

During Sacrament meeting one of the speakers relayed a recent experience he had endured when he had a heart attack, so afterward I felt inspired to ask him about the symptoms. He asked me why, and I relayed to him what I was feeling. He told me to go immediately to the emergency room, and to not attend the following Sunday School or Priesthood meetings. Well I, being the stubborn soul that I am, attended Sunday School anyways; however, the pressure in my chest was not getting better, so afterward I told my wife that maybe we should go to the emergency room so they could rule out my heart as the culprit.

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“As a radiologist, I had seen fatty plaque clogging critical arteries”

Chad Harston familyBy: Chad Harston, MD

Our C-130 transport plane touched down in the middle of the night at Joint Base Balad in Iraq. It was 2010, and I had been deployed to Iraq to take part in Operation New Dawn ordered by President Obama. I was part of the crew responsible to keep the base hospital operational during the orderly withdrawal of US Forces. After a few hours of sleep I rolled out of my bunk, put on my battle dress uniform and made my way to the hospital in the 120 degree July heat for my first day of work. An NCO issued me a firearm and another checked my gas mask and chemical protection gear. I sat down to start reading radiographs, CT scans, and ultrasounds generated from combat traumas as well as routine cases like twisted ankles, kidney stones, and pneumonias. At first I only had to work 12 hour shifts 7 days per week. The base was large with over 30,000 military troops and contractors when I arrived, but most of the soldiers were healthy and combat injuries were diminishing every month as more and more troops were sent home.

When the trauma work was light in the middle of the night I finally had time to myself. The frantic demands on my time that I had been dealing with for nearly 20 years came to a sudden halt. After all those years of working and studying 80 – 100+ hours per week, suddenly I found that I had time to ponder life and study whatever interested me. I also wanted to use some of my free time to get in better shape. Fortunately, the Iraqi army had left a swimming pool when they turned over the base to the US Air Force, and the base commander had made it a priority to acquire gym equipment for the troops. After a night shift I enjoyed going to pool or the gym for a morning workout. The only inconvenience was the frequent C-RAM siren indicating incoming rockets and mortars. This required us to jump out of the pool and run for cover. I planned out an ambitious exercise regimen, but as the weeks went on I didn’t lose weight or feel stronger. In fact, I felt progressively worse. I was following the usual fitness precepts: alternating weight lifting and cardio while eating large amounts of protein — mostly meat, eggs, and dairy. Yet somehow my weight was going up while my stamina was going down.

Finally, my frustration reached a peak one night when I couldn’t even jog a slow mile on the lonely treadmill in the hospital basement without feeling exhausted. I walked back through the dark empty halls to my office and opened my scriptures to a well-known passage: Doctrine and Covenants Section 89. Read More→

“Even the least of us can do it!”

Jim and Carol LindseyBy: Carol Lindsey

When I was 12 years old, we went to visit my grandparents. As we were traveling, just before our stop for dinner, I realized it had been days since I’d felt hunger pangs. This was a memorable “ah-ha” moment. It was the first of many times over the next 50 plus years that I noticed I was eating for reasons other than hunger.

I’ve always loved food, and I loved to eat, especially sweets. Weight was never a problem . . . until I had my first baby. After my daughter was born, my son came one year later, and for the next 47 years I carried more than 50 extra pounds on my 5’4″ frame. That’s not to say I didn’t try to lose the weight, and sometimes I was even successful, but it never stayed off. No matter how hard I tried, the weight would always creep back on. You could probably say in my whole adult life I was either dieting or gaining weight. Rarely did I ever maintain my weight, and if I did, it was for a very short period of time. My food choices were anything sweet, salty, fried or on a bun. Chocolate, butter and ice cream were their own food groups in my book, and least I leave out the meat, I loved rare steak, prime rib, and any seafood you could dip in butter.

I was so obsessed with my weight that to this day I can tell you how much I weighed at every important event that ever occurred in my life. Food was a drug to me. I used it to dull emotional pain and feelings of failure. In the first nine months after our son passed away, I tried to deal with the grief by stuffing myself. It didn’t work. Once again I went on a diet. This time I lost 30 pounds and figured that was the best I could do . . . after all a woman in her 60’s can’t expect to be skinny. I managed to maintain that weight loss for about a year, but then, just like all the other times, the weight began to creep on again.

We left home in March of 2014 to serve an 18-month mission for the LDS Church. We spent the first six months at Martin’s Cove, Wyoming. Next we were given a six-month assignment to Rosebud, South Dakota where we lived on the Sioux Indian Reservation and taught an addiction recovery program. In April of 2015 we were transferred from Rosebud back to Martin’s Cove.

I had assumed that because the work we did on our mission was very physical that I would easily lose weight, but instead once again I found myself gaining. We missionaries had a funny saying: “No one has starved at Martin’s Cove since 1856.” We made sure of that with wonderful dinners, desserts, and movie nights with treats and BBQ’s and trough dinners and the list goes on. With all that great food, I decided I was through with deprivation. No more diets for me! I’d eat what I wanted and just be happy. After all there are more important things in life than the size of your body!

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“The Gospel is not weight. It is wings!”

The Gospel is not weight—it is wingsToday I’d like to share the story of one Mormon mother. This person represents many others: good, faithful members of the Church who live with a certain misery and despair over their weight, their health, and the impact it is having on their families. Almost weekly, I hear from such a person seeking for help and wondering if there is still hope.

I’ve received permission from this person to share excerpts from her emails to me last year. I have left out some details to protect her identity and shorten the story. (Note that I responded to every email she sent me, but I do not include my emails to her.)

I hope her amazing story of transformation will inspire everyone who reads this!

August 26, 2015

Dear Jane,

I have been following your comments on Meridian Magazine for some time now. I am writing to you in a bit of desperation. I am over 60 years old, about 5 feet tall, and about 100 pounds overweight. I have always been active in the church, have a strong testimony, love the Gospel with all my heart. I am only saying these things to help you understand my situation a little better. I was usually a little chubby, but since my marriage, I just got bigger and bigger and bigger. I have not been good at serving healthy, nutritious meals, as the cheaper “casseroles with cream of soups” were always my go-to. I love cake, cookies, brownies, candy, homemade ice cream, chips and dip, homemade bread, etc. Sadly, I raised my children the same way, and now some of them struggle with weight issues. One day a while ago, my daughter said to me that she felt that I didn’t understand the atonement, because I tried so hard to live every law perfectly, and repent for the tiniest mistake, yet in some areas (I know she meant weight) I was not following the commandments. Though it was a bit painful, it was truly a needed wake-up call, but still I have not taken the steps to change.

One day a few months ago in my personal prayers, I said that I really wanted to get my life in order, but I just could NOT be obedient to healthy eating. I knew I was sinning because of my refusal to humble myself and control my eating. I have felt badly since admitting to the Lord that I just wouldn’t do that, but I really believed it was true! It makes me disgusted to think that terrible food means more to me than eternal life with God! And in reality, it doesn’t, but I knew I couldn’t lie to Him, when I wasn’t willing to change.

Two years ago, I had been eating more healthy for quite a while and had lost some 66 or so pounds, though I was still at least 50 pounds overweight. But I went on a trip, and we celebrated with foods I hadn’t tasted in a long, long time. Coming back home, I just went wild and eventually gained almost 45 of those pounds back. It has now been two years, and I am still here, almost 45 pounds heavier, and just hopeless. I really am huge, and it’s terribly noticeable being so short. I know through the years it’s been awful for my husband to drag around a gigantic wife, and it has been extremely embarrassing for my children. What is wrong with me!!!! I honestly sometimes wonder if it is just too late for me—kind of the mentality that this is who I am, who I’ve always been, who I always will be, and that there is just no hope for me. I KNOW that is evil thinking, but I honestly feel so overwhelmed at this point in life that I don’t know if I even want to change. How could I really give up the foods I really like—FOREVER?

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“I can’t really explain the excitement I felt”

Alena JohnsonBy: Alena Johnson

For the past 10 years or so, I have had a hard time maintaining or losing weight. I tried a lot of different methods, but didn’t have much success. I have always been good about exercising, but I couldn’t seem to find the right eating plan. In January of 2013, my sister found a diet that seemed fairly healthy, so my husband and I tried it. We were both able to lose weight, but we didn’t feel like we could live that way. Also, I didn’t like eating the amount of meat that it included, and I always felt less than satisfied because of the lower carb content.

Once in a while I would look through the Word of Wisdom to see if I could pick out something that I had missed before. When I would do this, I would often end up feeling discouraged. I could see that it said to eat meat sparingly and that grains should be the main part of our diets. But I felt like I had to choose between eating that way and being in a healthy weight range. It made me sad. Also, I felt like I didn’t know what to cook for meals that would fit into those guidelines.

In December of 2013 my husband and I were looking at returning to the diet that my sister found that had worked for us. I’m sure my husband wasn’t looking forward to it and started looking online for alternatives. On December 23, he sent me a link to an article by Jane Birch with the words, “This seems like the right approach.”

I read the article and immediately wanted to learn more. I can’t really explain the excitement I felt over learning how I could possibly eat like the Word of Wisdom suggests, lose weight, and avoid a wide range of disease, all at the same time! I didn’t want to wait to get Jane’s book in the mail so I ordered the ebook version of Discovering the Word of Wisdom. I couldn’t put it down. My husband and I decided to give it a try. Through the holidays we tried a few recipes here and there. On January 14, 2015, we went 100% (at least as far as we had learned at that point).

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