Last Saturday I was blessed to speak with a Relief Society Special Interest Group focusing on losing weight and healthy living. These women gather each Saturday morning to step on the scales, record it in a binder, and talk about their week. They often exercise as well.

Talk about provident living! There are no meeting fees, and friendships are gained as pounds are lost.

As we gathered, each with a copy of my book in their laps and my recent Meridian column, “Seek Ye Earnestly“, as a the launching point for our discussion and private journaling time, we laughed and even cried a little bit over the joys and woes of health management.

For those of us who share this challenge, healthy living is so much more than a weight loss meeting or a weigh-in: Healthy living through wise eating and exercise is opportunity that defines and enriches Heavenly Father’s greatest gifts to us – our physical bodies and free agency.

In the heat of the summer, they’ve decided they’ll still meet each Saturday morning with whoever can attend. Their example is a good one: They’ve determined they won’t quit … even in summer.

Today’s Quote: ” Integrity is so perishable in the summer months of success.” (V. Redgrave)

Have you had President Kimball’s lesson on Provident Living in Relief Society or Priesthood yet? (Lesson 15: Provident Living: Applying Principles of Self-Reliance and Preparedness). If not, I encourage you to read it now in the context of the benefits that healthy living brings both now and in the future. This lesson brings to mind Aesop’s fable of the hardworking ant and the foolish grasshopper. Our family’s storybook has an especially delightful version where the grasshopper (wearing a bright plaid vest with gold buttons and a party hat, no less) scoffs in rhyme to the diligent ant:

“Winter is so far away, I think I’d rather go and play!”

Sound familiar? Of course! Who doesn’t want to play all day? For those of us reading this column, playing means letting responsible eating and journaling go until September. After all, it’s so hot outside, and the summer is often a mish-mash of people coming and going, holidays, and interrupted schedules where no two weeks, or even days, feel the same. Isn’t it just too much trouble?

Nevertheless, the piper must always be paid, summer ends, and the end of the story always comes. The starving grasshopper suffered in the snow while the wise and diligent little ant was fed, safe, warm and cozy as could be in his own little house.

For us, summertime play in the form of casual eating can be just as deadly as the grasshopper’s short-sighted vision of the value of summertime labors. Constant grazing, picnic and convenience store goodies, too many vacation splurges of ice cream treats and restaurant fare, sugar-laden soft drinks and lounging at home or at the pool, instead of exercising and doing some laps, turn into the sad September day when work clothes don’t fit and fitted pants that have no way of zipping up.

(I don’t know about you, but I remember these autumn tears at the closet all too well.)

The key word here is ” diligent .” The ant seems to have been naturally diligent. For the grasshopper well – well, without the grasshopper there wouldn’t be a story!

The dictionary definition of diligent is, “a conscientiousness in paying proper attention to a task; giving the degree of care required in a given situation:” But wait! Just like the infomercials on late night TV, there’s more!

Jack Rose, a CES administrator and tremendous teacher in our area, opened up the word “diligence” in a recent talk given to Seminary students and parents in our stake. He explained that the root of “diligence” is “diligere,” which means “to value highly, love, choose.” So diligence means not necessarily trying harder, but loving more! It means making the more valued, love-filled choice, whether it’s from how we treat the people in our lives who challenge us, to how we treat our bodies, which challenge us. It means that we choose a certain path every single moment of our day. This requires us to observe our emotions, thoughts, words and deeds, and to choose the higher way.

It may not be easy to make the shift to living a diligent life – but when we do we will find that we are constantly expressing our divine nature – more easily and more effectively.

In the last, terrible chapters of the Book of Mormon, where depravity and wickedness have caused the once righteous Nephites to forget who they are, Mormon writes to his son Moroni. He tells him that his beloved people’s hearts have become so hardened that they will no longer listen to either him or the whisperings of the spirit. Though no doubt discouraged both personally by his inability to influence them and by their losses to the Lamanites, he writes with passion:

And now, my beloved son, notwithstanding their hardness, let us labor diligently ; for if we should cease to labor, we should be brought under condemnation; for we have a labor to perform whilst in this tabernacle of clay, that we may conquer the enemy of all righteousness , and rest our souls in the kingdom of God (Moroni 9:6).

In short: no matter the season, no matter what others are doing, no matter the failures that may surround us , it is a CHOICE to labor and to perform in order to conquer : It is a CHOICE to separate ourselves from what everyone else is doing. It is a CHOICE to master the flesh through healthy choices of appropriate foods in appropriate amounts. Furthermore it is a CHOICE to do so with love, affection and a cheerful heart to exemplify the true meaning of diligence
Back to our story: By the next summer, the foolish grasshopper had learned his lesson. As he worked and prepared for the winter ahead, he donned work overalls instead of his party vest and while he worked he sang:

“Summertime work is slow and steady, but when winter comes, I’ll be ready!”

 

Well, that can be our song today too. And oh, how glad we’ll be when we zip up those smaller pants on a nippy fall day that will be here in about eight weeks.

Once again, here’s the most important decision of the summer: Though you may be wearing loose-fitting clothing to manage the heat, a pair of fitted slacks or jeans is a summertime essential. Try them on at least once each week to measure your diligence!

Have a great day, and enjoy a sugar-free Popsicle while pretending we’re sitting and chatting on my front porch together!

Today’s Empowerment:
“Summertime work is slow and steady, but when winter comes, I’ll be ready!”

Journal Prompt/Discussion Starters:

  1. Enjoy a sneak peek of your summertime labors! Write or describe in vivid detail how you feel and look eight weeks from now as you have lived healthfully through July and August.
  2. Using Moroni’s counsel to his son, what are the areas of healthy living where it’s most important for you to be diligent?

 


Today’s Recipe
Roast Beef Wraps
(Serves 1 at 185 cal.


)

Here’s an easy, cool summertime lunch or no-fuss supper. 

1 6″ flour tortilla
2 tsp. steaks sauce, (i.e. A-1)
1 tsp. low-fat mayonnaise
1 oz lean roast from the deli section of the grocery store sliced thin
1 leaf Romaine lettuce
1 dill pickle spear

Spread mayonnaise and steak sauce on tortilla.  Arrange roast beef on top. Place pickle spear and lettuce on one side and roll-up! Secure with toothpicks if desired.

(1 g Dietary Fiber; 190 calories; 5 g Fat; 19 g Carb)