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Courage For a Cowardly Lion
By Carolyn Allen

Welcome, November … and let the games begin:  I ask sincerely and kindly, is this really any time of the year to focus on healthy living?

Why do I ask? Because as prophesied by all who know the calendar, the first days of November mean Halloween candy literally surrounding us.  Our kids eat it, play with it, count and categorize it for school assignments, hide it, horde it, then abandon it in bags, drawers, closets and on the floor. Co-workers bring it into work trying to get it out of their own homes. Then we add tempting holiday recipes and photos on magazine covers and spectacular TV advertising to jumpstart our thoughts and appetites for holiday feasts.  On top of it all, the calorie-laden traditional family food and goodies that in many ways almost define who we are will soon make their appearance as well.

With all those landmines for healthy living and weight management lurking everywhere in November and December, I have been savoring the words of Elder Henry B. Eyring on Sunday Morning at our most recent General Conference: 

“The restored gospel of Jesus Christ is that we can and must expect to become better as long as we live.  Love is the motivating principle by which the Lord leads us along the way towards becoming like Him, our perfect example. Our way of life, hour by hour, must be filled with the love of God and love for others.”

Is it a strange thought to think that striving to control our physical attributes and taking a firm stand on our personal health choices is a Christ like quality of love?  While some may disagree, one needs only consider the temptations of Christ where Lucifer offered the bread to the fasting Savior to recognize that physically disciplining our carnal desires is, in very deed, “trying to be like Jesus.”

So, with Halloween candy and the holidays ahead:  I ask once again, is this really anytime to consider taking a firm grip on weight management? 

You know the answer as well as I do:  In God’s eyes, these things are timeless, and Suzette Whiting of Coeur d’Alene Idaho is proof that it can be done – and even started!  – in November as the holiday season approaches.

Down 100 Pounds In One Year

She is down nearly 100 pounds since getting really serious about her own health exactly a year ago, in November of 2008. She tells me now that she went through both Thanksgiving and Christmas without any (I repeat:  any!) detours or fattening goodies.  She did not think of it as a punishment or deprivation. In her mind was how she would look and feel this year!  And it has come to pass. “I’ve been fat and I’m done!  It’s a decision to determine what feels good.  And I’ve decided that I feel good making the necessary choices to live life as a thin, healthy, energetic person.”

We almost called this article “Been There, Done That!” But on second thought, Suzette decided upon “Courage for a Cowardly Lion”  Indeed, the best part of this story is the courage she found to accept what had to be done, courage to learn new life-management and personal communication skills, courage to face past fears, courage to try new things, courage to spend a little money on new programs and nutritious fresh foods.

It’s a wonderful journey, in many ways both an end and a beginning.  A good place to start is the letter I received from her several weeks ago in mid-September. 

September 2009:

Hi Carolyn:

I’m not sure if you remember me but you sent me your “60 Seconds To Weight Loss Success” book and one to my sister last year…or the year before.  It helped me start thinking about losing weight.  You also talked to me on the phone once.  I was feeling pretty negative and full of excuses at the time.  I live in N. Idaho and I am a single mom. 

Well guess what?  I have now lost almost 100 pounds and I have gotten my life back!  Yea!  I still have 30 pounds to lose but at least the momentum is there. I’ve included a picture of the new smiling me!  Just thought I would drop you a line and say thank you for all your positive thoughts.  They really started me on the path to weight loss!
Look at me now!  I still have 30 pounds to go, but I know I’ll get there! 

I’ve spent some time with Suzette on the phone and e-mailing back and forth to create this article.  She has generously provided a wealth of amazing information  including family pleasing recipes, support and information links, more pictures, personal contact information and favorite quotes:  CLICK HERE)

Suzette Tells Her Story:

I am the 2nd of 10 children, and when I look back, I was always big.  Just plain big: tall, big-boned, etc.  As an adult, I’m 5’10”, so I’m just not a petite person, and never was.

My mom was a great cook and we drank fresh milk, straight from the cow, with the cream stirred in every morning for breakfast and throughout the day.  My parents always had a side of beef in the freezer or other meat.  My mom was a great cook and always had treats and delicious homemade food for us.  During my teenage years, when things were stressful for my parents, raising a family of ten kids, I would eat food for comfort.  It was an escape from the stressful household of ten kids, plus my mom took care of 3-4 daycare kids. 

When I went on my mission (to Arizona 1988-89), I knew I had to be healthier, so I lost 50 pounds and served at a healthy weight.  I got married very quickly after my return, to another missionary, and was able to maintain that healthy weight for quite awhile.

Our first child (a sweet daughter we named Courtney) was born when we had been married about 18 months, and I was able to lose all but about 30 pounds after having her. During this time I completed my bachelor’s degree at BYU in Elementary Education. 

Another three years passed before we had our 2nd (a son we named Jeremy) and 3rd (another darling daughter named Miranda.)  They were only 14 months apart, and life started getting stressful.  We moved and my husband started chiropractic school.  I did day care at home to supplement our income.  I was not able to lose the weight from the two pregnancies so close together, and the old familiar ways of eating returned, along with the pounds that had been such a familiar part of my growing up years.

After my husband graduated from school, we moved to Washington State to be closer to his family.  I cooked for my family as my own mother had.

It was during this time that a number of family and personal issues became extremely difficult.  I became very depressed, and could really not do anything.  I was taking medication that left me extremely apathetic, and I felt as though I were living in a fog.

As the many issues compounded, we eventually divorced.  If I had it to do over, there are things I would have done differently, but at the time, that was the only way to cope.


Our youngest child had not started school, and, although I knew I needed to go to work, I stayed home to be with her until she started kindergarten.

My weight was sky high, well over 100-120 pounds overweight.  It all compounded in a great deal of pain in my back and just moving was very difficult.  I could not bend, twist or lift and started seeing a chiropractor regularly. 

When Miranda started school, at the bishop’s recommendation, I started working at Deseret Industries, which is an excellent place to enter the workplace.  I found that I liked it very much.  Within two weeks, I was asked to join the administrative staff as an aid to the Vocational Rehabilitation Counselor. 

To my great delight, I found I had a strong aptitude for this field.  With his encouragement and mentorship, I returned to school (most of it through online and computer classes) for a Master’s Degree in Rehabilitation Counseling.

One of the few classes that required us to be physically present on campus was a course on recognizing and managing personal issues in counseling.  Of course, that required that I take a careful look at my own history, as was the purpose of the class, so that we could help those we would be working with.

As my own personal challenges went under the microscope, I bawled my way through three days of that course, but at the end, was able to wisely identify where my weaknesses were, but more importantly, discovered that I could learn and use new tools to deal with them! I was so empowered! 

I graduated from the program and was quickly hired by the State of Idaho.  It felt great to go to work! 

Diabetes Concerns For Her Children
and a Teenage Daughter Loses and Keeps Off 50 Pounds

During that time, my husband had remarried and was coping with his own serious health issues.
Also 100 pounds overweight, he had been diagnosed with diabetes.  This was no surprise since nearly everyone in his family was diabetic.  When his father passed away in his early 60’s as the result of a diabetic shock, the dangers were magnified and became very real.  He went on Dr. Fuhrmans’ “Eat to Live” program and eventually lost the weight

This program makes a lot of sense, and is quite similar to the “Fit for Life” that Carolyn recommends and many people find so helpful. 

My own back problems continued to the point where I could not really even take care of my home.  More important than me personally (or so it seemed) was the genuine concern for my children who were also overweight, and off course, predisposed for diabetes from their Dad.

During this period, I was strongly spiritually prompted to leave my home, fairly close to my own family, and move north with the children to be closer to their father.  This has been a great blessing for them and allowed us to work out a great many things in harmony for everyone’s benefit.  It took a lot of courage to uproot and leave, but I’m so glad I followed those promptings!

It was at about this time that I sat everyone down (Courtney was 14, the others 11 and 12) and had them watch some DVDs from Dr. John McDougall that I purchased based on information I learned from my husband’s study as a chiropractor.  (The link to these is included in Suzette’s special webpage CLICK HERE).  They watched in graphic detail what a high-fat diet, refined carbs and too much dairy do to the human body.  I told them about the health genes they had inherited and told them we were going to make some important changes, as their Dad had. 

They were very receptive after being educated. I started cooking and shopping differently!  The children’s father and I worked together to create a healthy eating lifestyle at both homes.  With all our efforts and support they all did beautifully.  Courtney, my 14 year old, eventually lost nearly 50 pounds, which she has kept off for 4 years.  I am so proud of her. She has just received a full-scholarship to BYU Idaho and being at a trim/healthy weight makes such a difference for young people. The others lost 10-15 pounds.  Best of all, they all LOVE eating healthy and can quickly tell when they are not, simply because they do not feel well.

As for myself.  Well, it was very frustrating, because I could prepare the food and shop and take care of them, but I could NOT get myself motivated!

The Turning Point
 
My first Christmas living closer to my kid’s dad was a particularly low time as my children spent the holiday with their Dad.  Over that lonely time, I realized that “I had to be OK with me” – and that my children were growing up and would eventually be moving on.  Also, I watched other singles in my ward who were having fun dating and felt like I was missing out on something.  In my heart I knew that becoming thin would not win me friends, but I also knew that it would give me the confidence and energy I needed to have more fun.

Somewhere during all of this, I discovered T-Tapp an excellent form of exercise that tightens and tones.  (The link to these is included in Suzette’s special webpage CLICK HERE)

I bought the DVDs and began doing them.  Even though I wasn’t really losing weight, everyone thought I was because of how it somehow “sucks” everything in!  Best of all, it helped my back tremendously.  At last, I was out of pain, could clean my house and stop seeing the
chiropractor!

I began searching online for support and ways to lose weight.  Most were far too expensive for a single mom.  Eventually I found a naturopath in my own community who was very helpful, and at last, I began to lose the weight.  That was a year ago and
I am moving forward each and every day!

It has been a time of great discovery.  One of my most important discoveries is my need for a power smoothie every morning.    I buy my raw organic spinach at Costco every week, and blend it with some berries from the Costco frozen berry blend mix.  I add some water, stevia and blend it all up and presto:  instant energy!  I have a very special Green Smoothie website that is also at my webpage CLICK HERE

In a huge way, I am DONE with being overweight.  Yes, indeed,  “Been there, done that!”   In my heart and mind I am already thin, taking breaks from losing to practice maintaining and mentally establishing the fact that I am healthy and trim.

Though I have another 30 pounds to go, I have no doubt that I will make it, and like my daughter, be able to maintain it for the rest of my life.  I have actually created a cookbook of recipes my family loves.  I also love to invent healthy recipes like my ice cream that I make with frozen fruit, soy milk and stevia.  My kids love it.

I want to live my life, not watch it go by.  The journey begins and ends with the power I have to make choices for myself.

I love quotes, and put them in special places to keep me inspired!  Carolyn’s little packet of quotes from her book was especially fun.  My favorites are at the webpage, and Carolyn has created a PDF for you to print them out.


Thomas Merton, “You are your hope.  For as is your hope, so is your will.  As is your will, so is your deed.  As is your deed, so is your destiny.”

Caroyn again … Isn’t her story exciting and inspiring?  When Suzette reaches her goal weight, we’ll do an update and post pictures for all to see.

Bring on November!  Together we’ll weather the eating and health challenges that are only as big as we let them become.

 

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