“I have now lost 163 pounds”

Carol WolfBy: Carol Wolf

Four years ago it was getting progressively hard for me to get around. Something as simple as getting in and out of the tub became a safety issue.
 I had my bathroom remodeled and the tub removed. Safety bars were installed in the shower.

When shopping, I had to decide which side of the grocery store to shop as I couldn’t cover the entire store in one visit. I gave up my Sam’s Club membership and stopped shopping at Wal-Mart. I obtained a handicapped parking permit and started using a cane.

I had very low energy and stamina. Just the act of showering and getting dressed wore me out for the day. I never got a second wind. I learned to shower the night before for an activity the following day.

I told myself that I was feeling the effect of polio from when I was a child. There is such a thing as post-polio syndrome. Both my sister and my cousin have it, so it wasn’t a long stretch for me to think I had it too.

The one thing that set me apart from them was my weight. I decided it was time to eliminate weight from the equation. Then if I still had the symptoms I would go from there. My problem was the “how to.” I had already tried weight loss programs, yo-yo’ing through different diets, as well as starving. I fit the definition of insanity: repeating the same mistakes and expecting different results. I knew it had to be a lifestyle change.

I picked up my scriptures. I turned to Section 89 of the Doctrine of Covenants and whispered softly, “Help me to understand what this is really telling me.” With those words things were about to change.

In the second and third verse I read:

To be sent greeting; not by commandment or constraint, but by revelation and the word of wisdom, showing forth the order and will of God in the temporal salvation of all saints in the last days— Given for a principle with promise, adapted to the capacity of the weak and the weakest of all saints, who are or can be called saints. (D&C 89:2–3)

I certainly fit the criteria of being the weakest.

To a devout member of the church, the Word of Wisdom is a revelation from God. Just think: a revelation from God! I soon realized that I’d been pretty lax with my belief. I lived the basic principles, but I hadn’t absorbed the overall message. I knew it was a health code, but I hadn’t internalized it. Until this moment.

Over time each verse, each word, took on new meaning. It’s so sacred that it’s a question on the temple recommend interview. That should tell us something about its importance.

The revelation given through a prophet became a “personal revelation” for me as I felt knowledge and light flowing into my being. Beginning with verse 10, I started taking notes. This is where He starts listing the “dos.” The “can haves.”

And again, verily I say unto you, all wholesome herbs God hath ordained for the constitution, nature, and use of man—Every herb in the season thereof, and every fruit in the season thereof; all these to be used with prudence and thanksgiving. (D&C 89:10–11)

Verse 16 states:

All grain is good for the food of man; as also the fruit of the vine; that which yieldeth fruit, whether in the ground or above the ground.

Mindset and lifestyle change became my top priority. I set a realistic goal of losing 50 pounds in 50 weeks. I quit eating fast food. I figured out how many calories I could eat each day in order to lose. I kept track of my calories and nutrients. I researched the health benefits of everything I ate.

At that time my neighbors were sharing their evening meal with me. It was delivered to my door hot and ready to eat. In exchange I contributed to their food budget. It was a sweet deal. When they learned I was trying to lose weight, they worked with me. They controlled my portions. They served rice, beans, and vegetables without a lot of fat and oils. Their salads were fresh, crisp and filled with beautiful color. They used lean meat, sparingly; it wasn’t an every night occurrence, and the portion size was small. They gave me a weekly menu so I knew how to plan each day. They became my cheerleaders. At 50 weeks they celebrated when I lost 75 pounds. (I will admit though that on occasion I made an exception for Sarah’s carrot cake.)

When they moved I promised them I wouldn’t return to fast food. Since I don’t cook much, I turned to large smoothies as a way to get my daily calories and nutrients. I added oatmeal, tofu, honey, and a different variety of seeds each day. I quickly learned I simply got more bang for my buck by eating fruits and vegetables than by eating higher calorie foods. There are so many varieties. They are filling. They satisfy. Fruits, vegetables, berries, nuts, herbs, and whole grains are simply loaded with all the good things a body needs to be healthy.

I was blessed with thoughts and ideas coming into my mind. My body seemed to know what it needed. I felt satisfied. I had no cravings. Food I used to eat and enjoy lost its appeal. By the next year I had lost over half my body weight, 150 pounds, 10 dress sizes; an average of 6.5 pounds per month. I reached my goal in just over 23 months.

Now I pick and choose from vegetarian, vegan, raw, plant-based, and juicing. The Word of Wisdom is my standard. If the lifestyle isn’t supported by it then I don’t embrace it. In verse 12 we learn,

Yea, flesh also of beasts and of the fowls of the air, I, the Lord, have ordained for the use of man with thanksgiving; nevertheless they are to be used sparingly;

And in Verse 13 we read:

And it is pleasing unto me that they should not be used, only in times of winter, or of cold, or famine.

As I tweak and change my eating habits I notice that I gear my foods around eating to live not living to eat. I basically eat only fruits and vegetables, including beans, whole grain, nuts and seeds, herbs and berries. I try to eat the colors of the rainbow every day. I have no cravings.

Have I given up foods I like? Absolutely. Has it been hard? Yes and no. Giving up the habit has been harder than giving up the food. I want to treat my body as the temple that it is.

I feel healthy. My metabolism is stabilized. I no longer have blood sugar spikes when I’m hungry. I take no prescriptions or over-the-counter products, vitamins or ibuprofen. I am rarely sick, and I can’t remember the last time I had a headache. My eye doctor told me that my eyes are very healthy. My hairdresser makes the same comment about my hair. I can walk and stand for longer periods. I still have slowness and stiffness in my joints, but I’m better than I was. I need a railing for climbing steps, but I can now walk across the parking lot and the whole store.

March 2010

March 2010

I never really liked to cook, but I’m excited about the whole food, plant-based diet way of eating and find it fairly easy and fun to prepare beautiful and healthy foods. I have now lost 163 pounds total and have maintained this weight loss for 20 months.

I am most grateful to a loving Heavenly Father who heard my simple plea and gave me understanding and insight of the Word of Wisdom beyond my own. I testify that I know the Word of Wisdom is a revelation. It is a guide for the general population and a personal guide, adapted to the weak and the weakest; to all saints, not just some. I know that the Word of Wisdom can change lives.

 

Carol Wolf will be 70 years old in November. In addition to reading, she enjoys attending theatrical performances. She’s an avid Utah Jazz fan, a board member with the Springville Senior Center, and the secretary/treasurer of her local DUP (Daughter of Utah Pioneers). Many of the activities she does now were impossible for her to do just 3 1/2 years ago.

Note: A version of Carol’s story was also published in the Ensign (August 2016), “Physical Health: Weight Loss and the Word of Wisdom.”

Comments

  1. You are inspiring!!! You look wonderful, too! You were so fortunate to have such wonderful, caring cheerleaders. Thanks for sharing your story. Each time I read one of these testimonials, I re-commit to stick with it. Although I stick with it, sometimes I feel pretty out there around people. Then I think, wait a minute, it’s not out there to follow the Word of God. It’s not out there to eat the most delicious foods on the planet.

    No, I don’t eat cookies and pastries like I used to do, but a nice bowl of uncooked rolled oats with oat milk and some fruit after dinner gives me a similar desert satisfaction. It was a Dr. Esselstyn suggestion. Weird, I know. But like you I never want to be sick again.

  2. Beautifully written and so inspiring. I keep trying, but it is hard w. Ken and Michael around. I can at least show them this, and see if I can get support.

  3. This is such an inspiring testimonial! I love that you learned from the Word of Wisdom and came to appreciate the tastes and health benefits of all the plants Heavenly Father has given us! Congratulations on your weight loss and maintenance!!

  4. What a great story, and very inspiring for me, too! I am over 50 and lately I feel like I am more closer to 80! But I look forward to losing weight and regaining my health. Thanks for your testimonial.

  5. Loved your article, Sister Wolf. I am still a “work in progress”, but my epiphany came much as yours did. I was up against 15% kidney function, 30 years of diabetes, and so much more, with my nephrologist telling me I would be on dialysis by June 2013 if things didn’t improve. I was so scared. I just got down on my knees and admitted to the Lord that I didn’t know what I was doing, but I knew He knew what I should do. The rest will be in a story sometime in the future when I write it all down. But as of today, a year and 1/3 later, I no longer qualify for dialysis, nor for kidney transplant because my kidneys are improving dramatically on a WFPB diet. I am so grateful for the Word of Wisdom and for the many doctors and others out there who are being influenced by the Lord and His plan for health and are producing the science to support the spiritual laws the Lord has given us in the Word of Wisdom. I just shared this post with my sister. I know she’ll be inspired by it, too! We are in this together!

  6. I really especially appreciated the following which you wrote, but actually your entire message was very impressive and touching:

    “As I tweak and change my eating habits I notice that I gear my foods around eating to live not living to eat. I basically eat only fruits and vegetables, including beans, whole grain, nuts and seeds, herbs and berries. I try to eat the colors of the rainbow every day. I have no cravings.

    Have I given up foods I like? Absolutely. Has it been hard? Yes and no. Giving up the habit has been harder than giving up the food. I want to treat my body as the temple that it is.”

    Reading about others who eat like I’ve been blessed to do because of the blessed words of the Word of Wisdom make me want to literally shout for joy! Neil Birch, Jane’s Dad

  7. Carol – I just loved your story. What an inspiration you are. At an age when others are slowing down you are just increasing and reaching your potential. I love it! It just shows that if you care for your body it will reward you and you are living proof. May Heavenly Father continue to bless you and yours … Kevin

  8. Wow! What an inspiration you are. I am going to give it my all now that I have read your story. I am told in my Patriarcle blessing that I am suppose to PREACH the word of wisdom. And a second time it says ” you shall bear witness to them who keep strictly the word of wisdom shall be protected. The destroying angel shall pass them by, and even your life will be spared in times of bodily stress for having kept this great commandment.” Sorry to say, that has not happened yet. I was always hung up on the strictly, and how can I preach when I do not live it to the fullest? I feel I have found the answer to strictly by having read Jane’s book. And thank you for your inspiration. We can do this with the Lord’s help. Mary Ann

    • Mary Ann, thank you for your comment and for sharing such a sacred part of your blessing. The Word of Wisdom truly is revelation. And it works. I know that you, too, will have success. I certainly support you and wish you the very best in your journey. I look forward to reading your story.

      Best of luck!

      Carol

  9. You are amazing! I really like your interpretation of the Word of Wisdom and that you see that meat was meant to be eaten in times of famine and cold, so most of us don’t need it, especially in the summer months.

  10. Carol,
    I know someone who is terribly over-weight and who was impressed by your story in a recent ENSIGN, who acknowledges her problem but who is unable to maintain a commitment to making healthy permanent changes. What is termed “comfort eating” is the source of her difficulty – can you give any recommendations to try to get started and overcome this inertia? (She has been through the Church’s ARP twice!)
    Richard

    • Richard,

      I wish I had an answer that would help your friend. So much of successful weight loss is mindset and the battle of overcoming the natural man. Sometimes the natural man likes to indulge in comfort foods. Finding a substitute for the comfort food may work. Again, it goes back to mindset. Until the mindset is in place, weight loss will not happen. Many times the craving of a food is from the mind and not from the body. If she can stop herself before indulging and ask herself why she is indulging; i.e. hunger, pain, loneliness, need to medicate, boredom, habit, and then attempt to fill that need with something wholesome: a drink of water, a fruit, a good book, sitting in the sunshine, going for a walk, making a phone call. That way, she is making a conscience choice rather than mindless eating and then self-loathing.

      Something that helped me was to think of the food in question, in my case sugar, as a drug and against the word of wisdom, in the same category as strong drinks and tobacco. That way the decision was made once. I didn’t have to stop and think each time a temptation came along because I had already made the decision not to eat it. Again, mindset.

      For me it was humbling myself enough to realize that I could not lose the weight on my own. I had tried. Reading the Word of Wisdom, really reading it, pondering and praying about it, my eyes were opened and insight given me as to what I needed to give up and the good foods I needed to eat. I truly believe that personal revelation is there for each person who asks. Allowing the Lord’s atonement to work in this area of life is an amazing journey.

      Good luck to you and your friend,

      Carol

    • P.S.

      Another thing to try, is the act of giving thanks for everything that is eaten. It’s hard to binge and give thanks at the same time.

      Carol

  11. Hi! I am following this conversation. I love it! I recently have been eating mostly whole plant foods no oils etc. And lost 20 lbs in the last 5 weeks. Yay! I still need to write my full story out but I learned about wfpb way of eating since 2011 when I watched Forks Over Knives, but I had no support and flirted with the diet with stretches of obedience and stretched of total disregard, succumbing to my tendencies to overeat and indulge in sweets and any type of junk foods.
    I agree that unhealthy food is like a drug. I was about to find a 12 step program for overeaters to join when I read Jane’s book and watched a youtube video with a speech explaining animal cruelty. I was done with animal foods after that. Plus I have a sister who went vegan 3 months before this who inspired me as well.
    The why and the how all came together for me. Jane’s book was like everything I had researched on health in the last 5 yrs rolled into one concise message with an LDS perspective through the lens of the Word of Wisdom. God has been so merciful and patient with me on my journey. He has led me despite my disobedience at times. I am so grateful for His grace and the wonderful Word of Wisdom. How timely and critical it is!
    Even knowing what I should eat all these years. Knowing it is good for the environment and the animals and people etc. and still being pulled by the food addiction drove me to research food addiction and food psychology. I lost all my excess weight 5 yrs ago and then gained it back and more when I slowly slipped back into old habits. My why was to lose weight. It was almost harder to eat well when I was in shape. But I said never again will I yo yo. I wanted to get to the bottom of it.
    So I kind of gave up for a while, but in the meantime continued to study nutrition. Mostly enlightening and some confusing. When I moved to Provo a year and a half ago I found this website and the discovering the word of wisdom youtube videos and the facebook group and i was reading Joel Fuhrman’s “The End of Dieting.” I knew wfpb was how I wanted to eat but I also knew I would need a support group. It took years and research and practice. I had to learn to cook and how to eat. And sift through the false diet information. Jane’s book is truly a light through the darkness.
    Then this early summer my husband and I had a weight loss contest together and I found “Bright Line Eating” the night before we started and I knew it couldn’t be a coincidence. She shows how the flour and sugar blocks the full feeling etc. She advocates eating 3 meals, no snacking, and eating no sugar or flour and strict portion control including making sure you get enough fruits and vegetables grains and legumes etc. You can do her program on a wfpb diet. Her weekly vlog is great. She is amazing and I am looking forward to her book coming out in March 2017. For those with a strong susceptibility to addictive foods I highly recommend her free online info. She has a quiz so you can see where you are on the susceptibility scale and that is enlightening. To know how strict it is necessary to be in order to stay on track.
    I didn’t end up losing the weight or adopting Susan’s advice then or even quite yet. Wfpb Word of Wisdom eating has helped me a ton with food craving as well. Thanks for sharing your journey with us!! Blessings all around!:)

Leave a Reply