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If Easter candy and feasting over the weekend are lingering in your thoughts and body, take heart. “Rejoice and renew” is the message that even the returning robins seem to call as the inspiring messages of Easter and General Conference echo in our minds and hearts. Yet, when we are overweight, obsessed with unhealthy food and depressed, it all seems in vain. How easy it is to despair about our weight and health! How easy it is to let the unhealthy foods of our day and our culture of overeating become the adversary’s way of controlling our thoughts, spiking unhealthy cravings along with resistance to action, all which ultimately sap not only our physical strength, but our ability and motivation to serve, be good to our families and be valiant.
Easter, however and season of spring itself tell us that the physical body, with its limitations and carnal desires, can be overcome! Leaning upon the Savior’s death and resurrection assure us that there is life after death, and that the joining of the body and spirit at that time is joyous and eternally essential. And until that undetermined time? Leaning upon Him for help in controlling physical passions (i.e. getting over too much Easter chocolate!) and finding self-discipline is what His sacred Atonement is all about … in a very literal, every-day way.
I have recently reviewed one of my favorite true and inspiring stories of finding a change of weight through a change of attitude and leaning upon the scriptures and the Savior. I hope it will inspire you as it inspires me:
Aleta Goodman had no physical reason for being overweight, she just liked to eat. As she thought about her situation, she realized that she would never pierce her body, use recreational drugs or violate the laws of chastity. But she ate far too much, far too often, and much of it was deliberate, eating foods she knew were not good for her body. She was either eating to “self-medicate” to relieve feelings of frustration or depression, or using any time spent with someone else as an occasion for “recreational” eating. She reluctantly came to know that food can be almost anything a person wants it to be: a drug, companion, defense, shield or comforter.
She knew it was self-abuse that caused more than her clothing to be tight, as it was harming her body and spirit. Self-loathing created depression and despair. Overeating caused long naps, from which she awoke with headaches and sore joints, experiencing not only stupor of thought, but guilt over lack of productive use of her time. “Fat pictures” on the refrigerator did not help herself feel good or stop eating, they only served to reinforce bad feelings about herself, which led to more overeating.
As she quit looking in mirrors because of her weight, she quit wearing make-up, attractive clothing and fixing her hair, opting for sloppy jeans and sweatshirts. She eventually spent much of her day in her pajamas. Sundays were the most difficult days of the week as she had to actually get dressed. She often left for Church in tears, with a heap of dresses flung on the bed. Sometimes she didn’t even go to Church, but defiantly put her pajamas back on.
She felt ill much of the time, and stopped attending the temple, then stopped going places unless it was absolutely necessary. Eventually her main source of contact with others was the phone. “Locked in my house and my prison of excess flesh, I even quit praying. There was nothing I wanted to say to or hear from anybody on earth or in heaven!”
President Ezra Taft Benson says:
“The condition of the physical body can affect the spirit. That’s why the Lord gave us the Word of Wisdom. He also said that we should retire to our beds early and arise early (see D&C 88:124), that we should not run faster than we have strength (see D&C 10:4) and that we should use moderation in all good things … Food can affect the mind, and deficiencies of certain elements in the body can promote mental depression … Rest and physical exercise are essential, and a walk in the fresh air can refresh the spirit. Wholesome recreation is part of our religion and is a necessary change of pace; even its anticipation can lift the spirit.” (President Ezra Taft Benson, “Do Not Despair,” Ensign October 1986.”
Power of Deliverance
Aleta needed help badly, and she knew it. She says:
“One night I started reading the Book of Mormon again at the beginning because it had been so long since I’d read it I couldn’t remember where my place was. I knew all about Nephi and his goodly parents, and my eyes flew mindlessly over the page while my hand kept buttered popcorn in my mouth. However, my preoccupation with my snack ended when I came to 1 Nephi 1:20 “But behold, I, Nephi, will show unto you that the tender mercies of the Lord are over all those whom he hath chosen, because of their faith, to make them mighty even unto the power of deliverance.” I read the verse again, lingering over “even unto the power of deliverance.” Could my faith in the Lord help deliver me from my food addictions and consequent suffering? I had to believe it could.”
She came to know that Satan had very much wanted her to stay bound in self-hate and self-indulgence.
To ward off his influences, she took the fat pictures off the fridge and replaced them with cards with inspiring scriptures and quotes. She fasted for help to overcome her appetites and passions, she recognized that anytime she had problems with a difficult child, she would eat a “fluffy” book, while eating a “fluffy” snack and then take a “fluffy” nap” as a foolish attempt to escape problems that seemed to difficult to manage.
With a new attitude, she resolved to get off the couch and get her body in motion, at least in some small way every day. She decided to get dressed and go outside for a walk, getting fresh air and some natural sunlight. She joked that she was trading the sofa for the sidewalk, and felt renewed.
As she studied Doctrine and Covenants 88 and 89, she found guidance on overcoming both sloth and gluttony. She began organizing her home, clearing clutter and stocking her kitchen with healthy foods for home-prepared meals instead of takeout. She disciplined herself to do just one unpleasant household task each day and her home began to be a place of peace, order and happiness. The Word of Wisdom became a source of education, and she stopped overindulging in breads and cereal, making course corrections with fruits and vegetables. Much to her delight, her headaches went away as she abandoned sugar, and then realized one day that she hadn’t taken an afternoon nap or a pain reliever in two weeks! She was was able to “run” and not be weary for the first time in years.
Clothing and taking time to become attractive became a possibility, and she began attending church and the temple again, praying and fasting regularly. She learned to find comfort in the Holy Ghost, the true comforter, instead of food. She put her trust in Nephi’s message, her faith I the Lord and his power of deliverance. You can read more about her experience by clicking here.
Spring and Easter are the perfect time to embrace these life-changing truths!
They are also, with the colors of spring beginning to emerge, a perfect reminder that the Lord loves color, not only in flowers, but in foods! The most healthful are literally the most colorful. Here’s why:
Dr. Heber David, in his book “What Color Is Your Diet” says that if most of our food is “brown or beige you’re in deep trouble.” That is, brown and beige as in steaks and French fries. He says there is convincing evidence that populations that eat more produce have lower rates of chronic diseases and scientists are learning what makes fruits and veggies so beneficial.
Phytochemicals, the hundreds of different compounds produced by plants that protect THEM from oxygen, sunlight, bad weather, insects and others sources of harm – can provide protection to HUMANS too!
Color enters the picture because some phytochemicals are responsible for the pigments in fruits and veggies. In other words, the substances that make a blackberry blue and a tomato red are antioxidants that have been linked to lower rates of cancer as well as decreased rates of heart disease. Scientists believe that phytochemicals work in combination with one another. So it’s not enough to just eat red or blue. The idea is to redesign your plate with a variety of brightly colored fruits and vegetables with beige (as in whole grains) as an accent color. While it may seem like a gimmick, throw in on every single color you can think of as you walk around the salad bar! These are easy ways you can get a of a variety of protective substances.
Well, I hope you’ll join me in getting excited about healthy living as a new opportunity this Spring! As the days grow longer and warmer, it’s easier to get outside for those walks and to make the most of the light of the sun, and the light of the Son in our every day health choices.
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!