By: Lily Sparks
In the late summer of 2010, I went onto the web to look up something to help me. I was overweight and obese, with high blood pressure, high triglycerides, and high cholesterol. My glucose blood test had inched out of the average range and into the prediabetes range. Everything hurt . . . my joints, my muscles. Getting out of bed in the morning hurt so bad if I did not take lots of grape seed. My knees were helped by glucosamine and chondroitin. I spent quite a bit of money every month buying the supplements so I would not hurt or at least reduce the aches and pain. I just accepted it as part of growing older even though it started in my late forties. I received enough relief with the supplements that my life just went on, and I accepted it.
Being overweight was the biggest fight. I had lost weight using Atkins, hCG, and counting calories. I would successfully lose weight, but those diets are not sustainable so when I went back to my regular eating, which always happened, I would gain the weight back and more. I tried to watch what I would eat, but I liked food and even after I ate a full meal I would be hungry in an hour and a half. I could not understand how I could be hungry again after a full meal. I think that happened because of the lack of good nutrition in the meal. I think my body was saying, “You gave me bulk but no nutrition.” Sometimes I just ate what I wanted because I was tired of fighting it.
I got so I would not weigh myself because I was afraid to know how much I weighed. I think I got to 220 lbs and wore a size 20 or 22.
I was not happy. I decided that the Word of Wisdom must somehow have the answers, although when I read it I did not quite get it. So, after praying, I went to the Internet in summer 2010 and googled “Word of Wisdom diet.” I was hoping for another diet plan more in line with the Word of Wisdom. I read an article about not eating meat and the author said the prophets from early church history ate a simple diet with little or no meat. This article reverberated with me as a place to start. I felt the Spirit was telling me to go in this direction. Giving up meat was the first baby steps I made . . . I still ate cheese, eggs and dairy because I did not yet understand the health aspects of avoiding all animal products. This was the beginning of my journey. I still avoided grains and carbs because of my Atkins diet history so I ate lots of veggies but that left me hungry a lot. I learned which veggies are the most filling. I ate lots of fruit. I gave up sugar.
I was a good cook in that I knew how to prepare very delicious and tasty foods—lots of cheese and meat and pasta and cream, etc. I had to come up with all new recipes because the way I had cooked my whole life was now needing to go in a different direction. My good husband ate what I prepared and never complained, but he had burgers with his co-workers at lunch.
My husband was also developing health issues and was overweight. We both accepted that as you get older you will have health issues. We were both 54 yrs old. My husband had a health issue that could be corrected with surgery or he could stay on medications. He chose to have the surgery and five weeks later, April 2011, he died because of an infection they did not know about as a result of the surgery. My best friend and lover was gone. His health issues, as I look back, were directly related to our diet. I was traumatized and half of me was missing.
My husband died about eight months after I started my journey to eat healthier, so now I only had myself to cook for as all the kids were grown and gone. I continued the journey and learned about plant-based eating. I read The China Study and watched the Forks over Knives documentary. I read the book Original Fast Foods by James and Colleen Simmons. I found Green Smoothie Girl and Eat to Live by Joel Fuhrman. I ate lots of raw food and green smoothies and experimented with recipes. I bought plant-based cookbooks. As the years have passed I have come to have favorite plant-based things to eat. I still like to try new recipes.
As my journey started I had a lot to learn. I had a lot of weight to lose. I learned precept upon precept. I did hCG several times and lost about 10 lbs each time. It is what I knew at the time. The difference is that I never gained the weight back when I went back to my “regular” way of eating, which was plant-based now. I have maintained my 65 lb weight loss for many years now. I admit that hCG may not have been the healthiest way to lose weight, but it was what I knew in that part of my journey, and it worked for me. The plant-based diet has allowed me to maintain my new weight.
I get blood work done every year, and I can see improvement. No more high triglycerides or cholesterol. I am no longer pre-diabetic and no longer take high blood pressure medicine. No more pain in my joints or muscles. I save money because I no longer buy the supplements or prescription medicines. My eyes have improved three major prescription strengths. Every time I go in for an eye exam I am pleased to find that my eyes have improved. In 2011 I started out as a -450 and now, in 2016, I am -375. I am hoping that one day I will not have to wear glasses at all. My kidney function test, GFR, went from a 70 in 2011 to an 84 in 2016. I suppose there are other parts of my body that are healing. I am getting younger instead of older. My skin looks younger.
My sugar and salt addictions are gone. I feel healthy and strong and am told I look younger than I am. I will be 60 yrs old in 3 months. I am so grateful to God for answering my prayers that day when I went to the Internet to look for Word of Wisdom recipes. The Spirit told me this was the direction I needed to go, and it has been a journey with a lot to learn. I feel blessed and grateful to God for leading me to where I am at.
Lily Sparks is 59 years old and lives in Syracuse, Utah. She and her husband raised five children and have eleven grandchildren. Lily works for the State of Utah. She enjoys bike riding, making cards, swimming, golfing, hiking, dancing, family history, cooking, eating, gardening and being a grandmother.