As my “conference to conference” study of the Book of Mormon for healthy living continues, I am amazed to see the January 2012 Ensign devoted to the reading of the Book of Mormon with many personal accounts of how it has changed lives in every way, including one woman’s account of overcoming her addiction to food. (See Jan. 2012 Ensign page 47.) My own recent reading has led me to Alma 13:29 “Call on his holy name, and watch and pray continually, that ye may not be tempted above that which ye can bear … (could this include FOOD and the desire to put off EXERCISE and PLANNING???) having faith on the Lord …that ye may be lifted up at the last day and enter into his rest.”
Lifted up. They could be our most important words this year …
How to Gain 100 Pounds
“Hi! We’re new in the ward so I looked on the online ward roster to see pictures of my home teaching families. But, I guess there’s a mistake??? “
“No, that’s me.” Says Ben Edgell of the Springfield Ward, Annandale Virginia Stake. “You don’t recognize me because I’ve lost 100 pounds.”
There are a lot of people, even those that have known him for years that don’t recognize him these days. Down 100 pounds and known at the gym where he lifts weights, even his two year old doesn’t recognize the man who is in her newborn pictures as her daddy.
Losing 100 pounds, especially after having tried unsuccessfully many times over many years changes a man.
“I come from a big family,” says Ben, the father of nearly four year old Natalie and two-year old Samantha. “Seven kids! My mom always fixed plenty of food, but you just had to eat fast to make sure you got your share! Somebody once set a timer for how long it took us to eat. From sit down to finish it was 9 minutes – for that many kids and two parents! My Dad was a big guy, but so active and strong that nobody ever thought of him as being overweight. He could run faster and beat any of us at any game, even as teenagers.”
Ben was only seven when he discovered the power of food to comfort him. “We moved to Florida. It was just a temporary move, but distressing for me. Every day I’d sit in the car and cry, not wanting to go into school. Somehow I figured out that Little Debbie Oatmeal Pies had a way of helping me feel better.” When we returned after that short move, I had become “the fat little kid”.
“It seems like I was 180 pounds from 10th grade through age 21 when I returned from my mission in Argentina. I was active in high school, playing a lot of soccer and I was just a big guy. There was really no conscious thought about eating healthy,” he says while relaxing at home with his wife just before Christmas.
“I loved my mission in Argentina. My weight stayed stable because we walked so much every day, and ate pretty much just one large meal in the middle of the day. There was very little processed or fast food there, so I did well. I didn’t even think about food, really.”
Ben came home from his mission in March of 2000. He was hired by the same government contracting company his dad worked for. “We spent a lot of time together. I loved being back in the States and began eating all the fast food that hadn’t been available for two years, but of course I wasn’t exercising, so I started to gain.”
Ben’s Dad Passes Away at Age 45
July 29, just four short months later, changed the Edgell family forever. “Dad had gone with the all the youth to Summer Youth Conference. They’d played games in the evening, and he was carrying the sports equipment back to the car. In the parking lot he had a heart attack. Though there was medical care quickly available, he died in the ambulance on the way to the hospital. He was only 45.
Yes, he was overweight and not very mindful of his diet. But he was just so strong and so active that it’s hard to imagine that anything like this was in the forecast for him. I still had brothers and sisters at home. It was a very tough thing for all of us.”
The death of his father so soon after returning from his mission thrust life into a different gear. “I just ate anything and everything without thought for a very long time. In fact for about five years I used food to drown absolutely any feeling. Late night Pringles and lots of pudding were my constant companions, along with countless trips to McDonalds”
It was during this time, in fact at the funeral of his father, that he first met his future wife, Diana. She had also grown up in the area. Six years younger, she was good friends with his younger brother and had attended the Youth Conference where Brother Edgell had died.
A Gift For His Bride
By January of 2005 he had gained 85 pounds. “Hey man, remember your Dad!” his friends would say as they watched his weight soar. It didn’t matter. He ate whatever he wanted until January of 2005 when a weight loss contest with a $250 prize caught his attention. He got focused and quickly lost 50 pounds and won the contest hands down. It was a wonderful gift to his bride when he married Diana in the Mount Timpanogos, Utah Temple on May 28, 2005.
“I was so proud of him,” Diana says about the weight he’d lost before their marriage. She’d had her own difficulties with his weight. “We were always right for each other, even though I was so young. I’d grown up in an active, healthy family where no one struggles with their weight. I did competitive gymnastics and cheerleading in high school. When I started dating Ben, not only was my family upset about our age difference, but my mom and sisters were really hard on me with his health. ‘Diana! He’s already overweight! His Dad died at age 45! Can’t you see how likely it is that this will happen to him as well? Do you want to be a widow and raise your kids alone?”
The first six months of their marriage were filled with healthy bliss.