Though our Heavenly Father has so many names, (I googled and found one site that listed more than 200 of them!), another one, I truly believe could be “Abundance.”  He exemplifies that name not with just the beauties of nature and the way in which every living thing is able to divinely reproduce its own kind, but in every aspect of living there are countless manifestations of the Lord’s fashion:  He does not skimp! 

One of the abundant measures I treasure most is the countless number of fresh starts the Lord allows. Like the sands of the sea, the number of seeds in a melon or cantaloupe, so are our opportunities, with each new sunrise, season and each renewed desire, to repent forgive ourselves and others, move on and start again.  Nowhere does this apply more than in how we care for our mortal bodies.

Last week gave me a couple of wonderful new fresh starts.  Physically I had a full sedation colonoscopy. Spiritually, we all experienced the fresh start of General Conference.  Both were within a couple of days of each other.  Both provided much to think about and share with you.

My dad died of colon cancer 21 years ago, so that’s carefully watched in my family.  The results of the colonoscopy were extremely positive, leaving me with a clean bill of health and a fresh new start for another five years. 

The results were not by accident.  The very small diverticula and the tiny polyp that was removed were indicative of many problems that could have been there had I not been doing what I have for the past several years.  (Though I love to eat and battle sugar constantly, my focus is lots of fruits and vegetables, lean protein, with limited dairy and red meat.  I drink the tonic at www.MyMiracleTea.com  and faithfully use the Kyani products [go to www.Kyani.info or contact Larry Barkdull at lwb224@gmail.com].)

That the polyp and diverticula were there at all was a wake-up call that I cannot take my body’s divine functioning for granted, nor can I take advantage of it as I get older.  In addition, the cleansing benefit of the procedure itself left me physically renewed and re-energized.  I urge you to not avoid a colonoscopy if your doctor is encouraging this!  It is the only way that certain cancer-preventative analysis testing can take place.

Secondly, is there anything more inspiring than General Conference weekend?  It’s always a wonderful fresh start!  As I listened and reflected on my life and the messages meant for me, it came to me with great understanding that the six months between October and April conferences are exactly the right time span to make great strides in personal progress.  

Of special interest to me were the many admonitions to be reading The Book of Mormon every day.  To me, it is no coincidence that The Book of Mormon is the entire subject for this month’s (October 2011) Ensign.

So I started it again on Monday after General Conference.  Is it not the most amazing book in the world?  How can we read its pages so many times, know its stories so well and still find things that we’ve never seen before and that change our lives for the better?  This is proof of its divinity for me!

As I began the first verses of Nephi I Chapter 3, Lehi has asked his sons to go back and get the plates from Laban.   In neon lights for me were Lehi’s words to Nephi .  Though I doubt that Nephi was any more excited about this treacherous mission than Laman and Lemuel, he was honorably obedient to his father’s request.

And Lehi says approvingly to Nephi:  “Therefore, go my son, and thou shalt be favored of the Lord because thou hast not murmured.”  (I Nephi 3: 6)

“Because thou hast not murmured …”  “Because thou hast not murmured …” The phrase repeated itself again and again in my mind throughout the day.   Nephi was tested in every possible way with this difficult mission: physically, spiritually, emotionally, socially with his relationships with his brothers and mentally with his own inner conscience as he killed Laban.  It was truly a refiner’s fire as he met one test after another. 

Yet, he was blessed and strengthened through this series of extremely harrowing experiences until he ultimately obtained the plates and returned safely to his father and grieving mother.  Historically speaking, obtaining these records were the prerequisite and foundation for this family and The Book of Mormon to continue.

Could Nephi have fulfilled this objective with a murmuring, complaining spirit?  What would have happened in the history of this family and The Book of Mormon if had he sulked and balked and refused?  

As I pondered this, I then likened it to myself.  As a parent, oh, don’t we appreciate the child who does not murmur when there’s a job to be done!  Personally speaking, what blessings and strengths do I withhold from myself with a complaining spirit?  What part of my own family’s future may I be limiting?

An immediate application came to mind with the challenges of healthy living.  The truth for many of us is that taking the time and making the effort to consistently shop for, prepare and eat healthy meals is a bore and a burden.   What’s healthy is not always popular with the entire family.  

It’s another challenge to be consistently cheerful about limiting yummy-tasting snacks and treats when we are constantly surrounded by too many.   When restaurant food arrives in portions large enough for two or three people, it’s a downer to eat only an appropriate share. 

The Halloween candy filling the stores sings a wicked song that’s hard to resist.  The diligence and effort it takes to detach from worthwhile activities in order to exercise regularly are undeniable.  Oh, we’re all in this together …

The Book of Mormon and Health Management

Enter The Book of Mormon as a truly great weight management tool.  Perhaps the words, “thou shalt be favored of the Lord [and put your name in here], because thou hast not murmured” are just what we need to change the paradigm from viewing healthy living as a challenge, to healthy living being a joyful blessing.  Who knows how we (our bodies and our spirits) may be strengthened in every way if we were able to follow Nephi’s example.

In a recent Relief Society lesson about obedience, a young mother shared a personal experience from her teenage years.  As a talented performer, she had looked forward with great anticipation to a big musical production within the community.  She was perfect for one of the major parts and had been approached to audition. 

That year rehearsals and some of the performances were scheduled for Sunday.  With great reluctance and sadness, she did not audition in order to honor the Sabbath.   She grieved for this lost opportunity and spent a great deal of time talking about it with anyone who would listen. 

One day a friend stopped her in mid-sentence and said, “Why didn’t you just go ahead and try out?  If you’re this unhappy about doing what in your mind was right, then it doesn’t count for much either to yourself or to God.


 

 

It stopped her short, and the message that the “gift without the giver is bare” came painfully to mind.

Back to being happy about healthy living:  “Easier said than done!” is what we all know and shout.  How does one change the food habits and desires of a lifetime that are comfortable and established?  How does one depart from what everyone else is eating without a second thought?  How does one let go and move forward consistently in healthy eating? 

A Six-Month Plan

As I mentioned earlier, I truly believe that the six-month period between General Conference sessions is the absolute perfect amount of time to make some measurable personal strides.  The Book of Mormon is so powerful and encouraging with every other aspect of our lives, why should it not be in how we care for our mortal bodies? 

 

Joseph declared that “a man would get nearer to God by abiding by its precepts, than by any other book.” Since there are many passages  about the mortal body and it’s importance within The Book of Mormon, who knows what inspiration we might find in discovering motivation to care for our own without murmuring!  It is my intention over the next six months to find more gems like today’s for myself and then share them with you.

To do so I have purchased a new composition book and listed my personal six-month goals inside the front cover.  Each day, from now until April Conference, I am (and will) record that I have read The Book of Mormon, exercised, and consciously made wise food choices.  My own personal desire is to find more health management inspirations, and to become closer to my Heavenly Father as I read and ponder.

I encourage you to do the same.  Wouldn’t it be amazing to see what happens before April Conference if we consistently and cheerfully did what we know is right for our bodies?  Every day is an abundant new opportunity!  Every day we can say, “My body is a miracle!  It is a joy to care for and nourish it with healthy foods.”

As we get started, here are 10 good tips for detouring cravings:

1. Avoid your triggers: “You crave what you eat, so if you switch what you’re eating, you can weaken your old cravings and strengthen new ones,” says Marcia Pelchat, PhD, of the Monell Center. This can happen pretty fast. For five days, her study volunteers drank bland dietary-supplement beverages. During that time, they craved fewer of their trigger foods. By the end of the study, the volunteers actually wanted the supplements instead. The first few days are always the hardest, and you probably can’t completely eliminate your old cravings. But the longer you avoid your trigger foods, the less likely you may be to want them. In fact, you’ll probably begin to crave the foods you eat, a real bonus if you’ve switched to fresh fruit.

2. Destroy temptation: If you’ve succumbed to a craving and bought a box of cookies or some other trigger food and start to feel bad while eating it, destroy it. “Don’t just throw it away; run water over it, ruin it. You’ll feel a sense of accomplishment that you’ve licked your binge,” says Caroline Apovian, MD, director, Nutrition and Weight Management Center at Boston Medical Center. Don’t think about the money you’re wasting. If the cookies don’t go into the garbage, they’re going straight to your hips.

3. Go nuts. Drink two glasses of water and eat an ounce of nuts (6 walnuts, 12 almonds or 20 peanuts). Within 20 minutes, this can extinguish your craving and dampen your appetite by changing your body chemistry, says Michael F. Roizen, MD.   

4.   Let it go. Since stress is a huge trigger for cravings, learning to deal with it could potentially save you hundreds of calories a day. This will take some practice. You can try deep breathing or visualizing a serene scene on your own, or you can speed things up by buying one of the many CDs that teach progressive muscle relaxation. A good one is Relaxation/Affirmation Techniques, by Nancy Hopps.

5. Take a power nap. Cravings sneak up when we’re tired. Focus on the fatigue: Shut the door, close your eyes, re-energize.

6.  Get minty fresh. Brush your teeth; gargle with mouthwash. “When you have a fresh, clean mouth, you don’t want to mess it up,” says Molly Gee, RD, of Baylor College of Medicine in Houston.  

7. Distract yourself. If only ice cream will do, it’s a craving, not hunger. “Cravings typically last ten minutes,” says John Foreyt, PhD, of Baylor College of Medicine. Recognize that and divert your mind: Call someone, listen to music, run an errand, meditate or exercise.   

8.  Indulge yourself — within limits. Once in a while, it’s OK to go ahead and have that ice cream. But buy a small cone, not a pint. Try 100-calorie CocoaVia chocolate bars and 100-calorie snack packs of cookies, peanuts or pretzel sticks. The trick is to buy only one pack at a time so you won’t be tempted to reach for more. And since even 100 extra calories can sabotage weight loss if you indulge daily, strike a bargain with yourself to work off the excess calories. A brisk 15-minute walk will burn 100 calories or so. My personal effort is to save sugar for one day of the week (Usually Sundays.)  

9. Plan or avoid. Vary your usual routine to avoid passing the bakery or pizzeria. If you know you’ll be face-to-face with irresistible birthday cake, allocate enough calories to fit it into your diet.

10. Get some outside help. Say a little prayer. Enlist a friend or family member. Asking God to help you to care for and bless your body with appropriate foods at appropriate times can be very good. Self-mastery is a virtue that He will help you with!   Asking a friend or family to chat or keep you busy for a few minutes while the cravings pass can also be very helpful.

We all love to be needed in simple ways. You will bless their lives to by allowing them to help you.

So what do you say!  Get a composition book and let’s get started.  Who knows what April will reveal!

Carolyn Allen has been providing weight loss inspiration since 1999 both online and in community venues in the Washington, D.C. area.  Her favorite food is steamed broccoli (lots of it!) with a little butter and lemon-pepper. Learn more about her herbal health tonic and colon cleanse at  www.MyMiracleTea.com