By: 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.
The weight wasn’t the only problem though. In the last couple of years his feet and hands started tingling. He had difficulty breathing, and he was always exhausted. His hands would crack and bleed, and he developed a sore on his ankle that would not heal. I tried not to nag too much, but by this time we did know about the WFPB way of life, so I would bring up the idea on occasion. Well . . . I probably did mention it too often, because what I was seeing made me scared.
This did lead to several small changes. I started making all our bread: whole-wheat, no sugar, and no oil. Ted was very happy with that change. We switched to plant-based milk, which took a little more getting used to. We also had more meatless meals, which was another easy switch.
However, it wasn’t enough. Ted was feeling worse and finally went to the doctor. The doctor scheduled blood work, and gave him something for the sore on his ankle. After some additional blood work, to verify the results, my husband was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. His A1c was 9.9. He had high blood pressure, and his cholesterol was elevated. The doctor told him straight out that he was too young to die. Ted was given a prescription for Metformin and Lisinopril. The only nutrition advice he received was to eat “low-carb.” We were to come back for a checkup in 3 months.
At first there was some disbelief (my husband had been tested for diabetes a number of times previously and told he was fine), and some disappointment (it was Christmas time and all the traditional treats were now taboo). It took about a month of feeling sick to his stomach while getting used to the medications to convince him to give WFPB eating a try. His motivation became getting off all the pills.
So we jumped in with both feet, going almost 100% from the start. I say “almost” because there is a bit of a learning curve, and you have to find recipes and resources that work for your family. That research led me to the Facebook group for Discovering the Word of Wisdom. I read Jane Birch’s article about the Word of Wisdom and Food Addiction. It was a defining moment where everything I had read and studied earlier connected. It just felt so right to me. Now . . . I wonder how I missed so much when studying the Word of Wisdom in the past.
My husband started seeing results very quickly. That became the motivation to continue, and at his 3-month check-up his A1c was 6.2. He agreed to continue the medication another 3 months. During this time, Ted became completely convinced that WFPB is the right way to eat. He was so pleased by the results and how much of a difference it made in how he felt. We both know that there is no return to the SAD way of eating.
I had never before seen Ted excited for a doctor visit, but he really looked forward to that next check-up. Six months after being diagnosed, and five months of being WFPB his A1c was 5.5, his blood pressure was great, and he had lost 50 lbs. The doctor was amazed and took him OFF all medication!!!!
We are both loving this wonderful way of living. It is so easy to follow! We are free to eat all sorts of delicious things without guilt. There is no going back or desire for fake food. It’s true that “Nothing tastes better than feeling good feels.”
Oh, and as for me, a menopausal female who felt she had all strikes against her losing weight. I lost 22 pounds in those same five months. But the true joy is in seeing my husband look forward to the future.
We had to get to a pretty desperate situation to be ready for the lesson, but the teacher did indeed appear and our lives have been blessed. It is amazing to me what a huge difference one decision and a few months can make. One decision, to be fully obedient to the counsel given in D&C 89, has brought hope and peace to our lives. We truly feel the destroying angel has passed us by. How grateful we are to have the Word of Wisdom as our guide to good health!
Ted and Kaylene Hardy live in the beautiful White Mountains of Arizona. They have three grown sons, two are married to their sweet daughter-in-laws. They have four grandsons, one granddaughter, and another on the way! Both are former schoolteachers. Ted is retired and Kaylene has started a creative sewing business where purchases help benefit other teachers. They love to take walks, enjoy gardening and being of service to those around them.