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One of the wards in our stake has a Relief Society Special Interest Group focusing on weight management 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. There are no meeting fees, and friendships are gained as pounds are lost as sisterhood, health, and self-confidence are gained. The most important thing they seek to gain is a strong testimony that healthy living through wise eating and exercise is a personal to explore Heavenly Father’s greatest gifts to each of 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.
One of their meetings focused on President Kimball’s lesson on Provident Living: Provident Living: Applying Principles of Self-Reliance and Preparedness), in terms of health for now and the future. It all 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 (sporting a bright plaid vest with gold buttons and a party hat,) scoffs in rhyme to the diligent, simply-clothed 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 accountability go until September. After all, it’s so hot (or rainy) 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? Can’t we just eat whatever tastes good and figure it all out in September?
Nevertheless, the piper must always be paid, summer ends, and the story concludes. In the months to come, 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. Our illustrated version shows that he is now wearing the jaunty outfit, playing his fiddle by the fireplace while his children dance around him.)
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 –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.
The ant said it best:
“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, and celebrate our health, energy and peace on a nippy fall day that will be here in about eight weeks.
Carolyn Allen is the Author of 60 Seconds to Weight Loss Success, One Minute Inspirations to Change Your Thinking, Your Weight and Your Life, available HERE.
She has been providing mental and spiritual approaches for weight loss success both online and in the Washington, DC community since 1999 presenting for Weight Watchers, First Class, Fairfax County Adult Education and other community groups. She and her husband Bob are the parents of five children and grandparents of eight. They live in the Washington D.C. area where she is the Primary chorister and they team-teach Missionary Preparation for the Annandale Stake CES Institute program.
Click HERE to learn more about them and the herbal detox product they share at Meridian.