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!
Then one day in early June, I was working alongside a sister who was just a tiny little thing, and she started talking about how she’d gained weight after going through menopause. She talked about a book called Eat to Live by Dr. Joel Fuhrman. That afternoon when we returned to our motor home I got on-line and ordered the book. I spent the next two weeks reading the book and realizing what I had been doing to my body, the body that was a gift from my Heavenly Father. I had spent much of my life abusing it. I felt like an ungrateful daughter of God.
Dr. Fuhrman’s book changed my life and on July 1, 2015 I went cold turkey whole food, plant-based (WFPB). It took work. We were extremely busy as missionaries, but within days I began to feel a difference. Within a week trekking those 7 miles started to become easier. A major change was that I started loving my food again. I was excited to eat. My huge salads were so delicious and fruit was wonderful. Corn on the cob without butter never tasted so good. I would finish a meal and literally feel happy in my heart. Even though before I’d been eating all sorts of things I considered yummy (cakes, cookies and the likes), I would find the taste never met my expectations, and I would end up being unhappy after meals, so this was a real change for me.
The weight began to fall off and people began to notice. Over the next two months I lost over 40 pounds. Within a few weeks of returning home I’d lost 50 pounds and, without dieting, I’m still losing!
In the middle of August I saw my missionary friend, Susan Cluff Meier, reading Jane Birch’s book Discovering the Word of Wisdom. I asked if I could borrow it. Dr. Fuhrman’s book changed my life, but Jane’s book changed my heart. When I first started eating WFPB we had one beautiful rib-eye steak left in our freezer that we’d purchased in South Dakota. We decided to save it for our anniversary on September 10 when I would share it with my husband in celebration. By the time the anniversary rolled around, I no longer desired the meat. I took one bite and told my husband, “I’m sorry, but this doesn’t taste good to me.” My baked potato, corn on the cob, and salad were delicious to my taste buds and to my soul.
When I first started eating WFPB it was all about being on another diet, a way to lose weight. It quickly became much more than that. I’ve always been a “glass is half full” kind of person, but I truly have never been as happy as I am today. It is hard to explain to people that my food makes me so happy.
An added bonus is that in December my husband, who had watched me change, decided to join me in eating WFPB after seeing Dr. Fuhrman explain the health benefits of eating this way on PBS. Before he joined me he had given up sweets and lost about 30 pounds, and since going WFPB, he is continuing to lose weight and no longer needs medication for his type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, or cholesterol.
The most amazing thing to me is that I eat delicious food in amounts that satisfy me, and I maintain a healthy weight. I used to wonder why Heavenly Father made it so difficult for women to do just that, and now I know that through the Word of Wisdom he actually made it so simple even the least of us can do it.
Carol (67) and Jim (71) Lindsey live in Salt Lake City, Utah. They have been married 22 1/2 years. They have a blended family of seven children and 11 perfect grandchildren. Carol retired from LDS Food Service working as a supervisor in the Church Office Building Cafeteria. Since serving their mission they are spending their time visiting the children and grandchildren who are living all over the country. They love to travel, hike, and snowshoe and are looking forward to learning to play Pickleball. They ride motorcycles with the Temple Riders. Carol has a Goldwing trike and Jim rides a Goldwing bike.