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Today is Columbus Day, set apart to honor the man who sacrificed his all to pursue his God-given inspiration and foreordained calling to discover the Land of Promise in 1492. We owe him much.

Jacob Wasserman, in his book Columbus, the Don Quixote of the Seas, quotes the discoverer as saying: “The Lord was well disposed to my desire and he bestowed upon me courage and understanding; knowledge of seafaring he gave me in abundance . . . and of geometry and astronomy likewise . . . The Lord with provident hand unlocked my mind, sent me upon the sea, and gave me fire for the deed. Those who heard of my enterprise called it foolish, mocked me and laughed. But who can doubt that the Holy Ghost inspired me?” (New Brunswick: Rutgers University Press, 1959, pp. 19-20.)

“Fire for the deed” are powerful words that, for me, create power just in the reading of them! We need them to burn in our hearts in every righteous endeavor and every aspect of daily life here in the latter days. We need them to inspire not only staying true to our covenants and testimonies, but in finding peace the week after a shocking massacre in one of our own cities. We need fire for a whole lot of the deeds that make up our complicated lives here in 2017. I love those words and I would love to hear Brother Columbus say them out loud in a talk about his experiences.

Something else I love: Advice columns and weight loss transformation stories and pictures!

A perplexed mom in a column last week from nationally syndicated columnist Carolyn Hax rang lots of bells for me and is well worth sharing. Before I get to the letter and advice, let me preface it with the fact that I have vivid memories of compulsive eating starting at ages 11–12. I remember feeling very much out of sync with what the other girls my age were doing and wearing. I vividly remember my mother’s kind and understandable concern and help, as well as my not-so-kind feelings about a grandmother who offered me carrot sticks after making her decadent desserts for the family. Yes. It all comes back way too quickly.

(Please note, even though she’s another Carolyn, she’s not me.)

Dear Carolyn:

Ever since my now-tween daughter was a toddler, she has been a little chubby. I routinely found hidden food wrappers under her bed, under the couch cushions and shoved in her closet. Yes, at 3 she had the wherewithal to find food and hide her eating.

I read about appropriate food control and thought the most useful suggestion was to provide a ready plate of fresh fruit. It would be completely gone before her brother even knew it was available. It didn’t seem to matter what she was eating as long as she was eating.

As she got older I showed her how to read nutrition labels and find portion sizes. I showed her to measure food with a measuring cup. I even bought premeasured snack bags for her school lunch. Her weight continues to increase. She is 12 and 165 pounds.

Her doctor takes little notice and even chastised me for asking about it in front of my daughter. She will not discuss my concerns, falling back on a speech about children needing healthy nutrients and as long as she is growing height-wise then she is not concerned about her weight.

My daughter gets high marks and succeeds tremendously at her musical instrument. But now in middle school she is withdrawing socially. She says all she is interested in is her schoolwork but I wonder if it isn’t also that kids are more interested in sports, school dances and appearance. She has become frustrated when she points out a store where a friend shops only to realize they don’t carry her size.

This is another issue. It is very difficult to find clothing to fit a 165-pound 12-year-old that’s fashionable and age-appropriate, and I have to take the brunt of why we can’t shop at XYZ store. Not to mention the constant cost of new clothes as she grows out of them.

We have always been an active and involved family. Many of our vacations revolve around outdoor experiences. I learned how to cook from real foods at a young age and continue doing so for my family. We are not on an “American” diet of convenience foods. Our son is thin and active, I am a long-distance runner, and my husband gets out and does what he can at the gym. We’ve signed her up for various rec sports over the years but she gets frustrated and has no interest in being uncomfortable. At the same time, she feels left out and left behind.

I am so sad and worried for her. She gets out of breath quicker than she should, carries her weight bulkily, hates going shopping, and hides further and further in her schoolwork. What can I do for her? What can she do for herself? I am worried her mental health will suffer as much as her physical health. Do I have to watch idly as she self-destructs?

— Sad and Worried

It appears to me there’s one thing you haven’t yet tried: accepting her weight.

As a crucial element of accepting her.

As a crucial element of her accepting herself.

As a crucial element of not layering an emotional struggle on top of physical and societal ones.

In your careful and well-intentioned way, you have drawn thinness as the only path to a good life.

So what is your daughter to think when her body won’t take her there? Her life is bad?

Let’s take a moment to parse the idea of where her body “won’t” take her, too. There’s always someone ready to argue that any fat person can be a thin one through some set of choices or another. OK. Sure.

But bodies differ in the way they burn (or store) fuel. One person can drop weight doing X, but another has to do X, Y and Z to drop the same weight. So it’s not a matter of “I did X so she can do X too,” but instead of recognizing that you might have been her size at 12, too, if you’d had to fight yourself as hard as she does to be otherwise.

So stop fixing and start supporting. Find a pretty-clothes source and keep them coming. Internet (equal sign) no excuses. Teach your son about nutrition labels, too, and let your daughter see you do it. And learn what you’re really saying when you give your kids different messages — or when “you say that fat is sooo expensive/upsetting/terrible” this is your message your message to her, even unspoken.

Find a physical activity you can enjoy together; yoga via YouTube is free, private, and as good for heads as for hearts.

Enjoy your daughter’s company. Work harder to meet her where she is.

Talk privately with her doctor about your girl’s comprehensive health. Feelings, friends, food choices, activity levels. Doc was right to call you out: What “chubby” American needs another shaming message? From Mom?

And read Lindy West — copiously. Get thoroughly entertained as you rethink what you think you know about weight.

As I finished reading this article, I thought of my own wonderful Mom, who, even in her last years, wanted to be the victor of her eating habits and weight. Her mother was my grandmother who offered me the carrots after making the rich dessert for the others. Grandma’s approach to “helping” had caused a nightmare of body image emotions for my own Mom that never really ended, although she was never seriously overweight.

After finishing the advice column, I quickly googled “Lindy West” and easily found her. She is gorgeous! With an unforgettable smile, she has become a super-star in the acceptance of obesity and a champion for refuting the unhealthy body images that permeate the media. I relished the story of her wedding and choosing a wedding dress she loved, no matter the size or that it was not “flattering” according to …. Who? What a crying need there is in this old world, full of digs and shameful messages about what is “worthy” and “counts” as it relates to body weight and size, for simply loving ourselves and others as we are. With no strings attached – especially as it relates to weight, shape and size.

I know our Heavenly Father is pleased when we follow His counsel to look upon the heart.

But the LORD said unto Samuel, Look not on his countenance, or on the height of his stature; because I have refused him: for the LORD seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the LORD looketh on the heart.”.

Hooray for these courageous voices and people. Hooray for each of us exactly as we are TODAY.

But there’s one major over-riding (and seemingly overlooked) thought that concerns me … and that is the health risks that go with emotionally and socially accepting obesity as a personal choice. Can the serious health risks of obesity be ignored in the face of evidence of how obesity affects health?

Of course they can! It can all be ignored. We can eat and wear and live however we want and be happy! That is, until food and exercise choices catch up with you, your health, your life, and your family members’ lives. It has nothing to do with social acceptance or body size when poor health choices lead directly to poor health and illness.

I agree entirely with Carolyn Hax when she says: “Bodies differ in the way they burn (or store) fuel. One person can drop weight doing X, but another has to do X, Y and Z to drop the same weight. So it’s not a matter of “I did X so you can do X too!”

How true, which is why I so treasure Health transformations stories and pictures from many sources. Currently my favorite place to read them is at
www.ForksOverKnives.com and www.DiscoveringTheWordofWisdom.com. I highly encourage both places for weight loss and health inspiration and information. .

Bruce Roberts, age 75 of Centerville Utah is a new and featured story on Jane Birch’s amazing website http://www.DiscoveringTheWordofWisdom.com, a website where people (usually LDS) share their stories of how the principles of the Word of Wisdom have changed their health.

His story starts with an accident while fishing in the canyons that became a wake-up call. A badly broken ankle, and the difficulty of getting him to the ER led him to study the Word of Wisdom, and find Jane’s book. In his words:

We decided to dedicate one full year to the lifestyle change recommended in the book and see where it would take us. SURPRISE! Five days after we started the change, we were sitting watching April Conference 2016, Saturday afternoon session and I began to have all the signs of a heart attack. People have asked me since then, as they chuckle, “Really – during conference?” I tell them, “I think the talk was on repentance.” I had chest pains, pain down my arms, I started sweating, got nauseous, and Helen said, “Get out in the truck, you are having a heart attack we are going to the ER, it’s 5 min away!” Later the doctors got really firm with us and told us to always call 911. Don’t drive over!

In the ER, the doctors were running around crazy to save my life. When they finally got me on the table in the operating room, my body started to jump all over and I asked the doctor, what was wrong, he replied, “Your heart doesn’t like what we are doing to it,” and at that moment my heart stopped. I flat-lined. I then felt like I was floating off the table to the left and everything was gray, and it seemed like I was out there a long time. I know now it was only seconds. I then felt a jerk of my head and could see a little color and apparatus around me, but I didn’t know where I was, but I heard a voice that seemed a million miles away saying, “Hang in there Bruce, stay with us Bruce, fight it Bruce.”

I woke up in the hospital room sometime later. The nurse came in to see how I was doing and to bring me 6 medications. I told her I was feeling fine, but I would not take the medications. We discussed why, which had a lot to do with the awful side-effects. She talked me into taking them anyway so she wouldn’t get in trouble, and told me to talk to the doctor later, and then said, as she was leaving the room, “Good luck with the doctor!” Please! Do not get me wrong here. I was not trying to be disrespectful to the doctor. Thanks to his training and expertise, he saved my life. Without him I was dead!

It got interesting when the doctor came in later that evening. He told me everything looked very good. He had put a stent in an artery, and I should be fine. He wanted to see me again in three months. Then I said, “Oh, by the way, I am not taking those medications.” He looked firmly at me and replied, “THEN YOU DIE!” I then said, “Will you dicker with me?” He again replied, “I DON’T DICKER!” “Ok,” I said, “When I come back in three months, and I am healthier than I am now, will you take me off the medications?” He gave me a little poke in the stomach and replied, “Get rid of this (referring to my weight) and we will talk.”

We went home and took up the challenge because when he told me I had to take all those medications, and for the rest of my life, that took HOPE away from me. I was determined to not let that happen. Many people are dependent on drugs, and become addicted, and suffer from so many awful side- effects. They just don’t know how to get away from the drugs. They lose HOPE. My goal was to eat healthier, using the new lifestyle, and get my weight down 50 pounds when I walked into his office 3 months later. It worked!! I think a big reason it did was that Helen and I did it together. It’s hard, spiritually and physically, to go it yourself if both partners are not willing to do it together. That is true of a lot of life’s challenges. It is much easier to face challenges if someone is by your side to do it with you. I started losing weight, and we ate well. It was amazing, Helen ate the same food and amounts of food that I did but didn’t lose any weight. She didn’t need to lose weight, but her physical in September, a few months later, showed she was healthier than she has ever been. Her blood tests were great.

When I walked into the doctor’s office 3 months later he said, “Wow! You are looking good.” I replied, “Thank you, I have lost 50 pounds, now will you take me off the medications?” He smiled, and said, “Let me look at your tests.” He studied the computer and told me my blood looked great and my cholesterol was a combined 84. “We don’t see that very often. What have you been doing?” he asked. I replied, “I have chosen not to eat meat, dairy products, sugar, fats, oils or other refined products. Now will you take me off the medications?” He then had a huge smile and told me that he would take me off most of them but wanted to keep me on one and a half until February, my next appointment so he could be sure it was healed good around the stent, then from that point I could get by with just the baby aspirin. Now, I said, “The golden question. When you came to my room at the hospital you were very blunt about my refusing to take the medications, and you said, ‘THEN YOU WILL DIE!’ Now you seem to have changed your position, Why?” Now pay attention to his response. He said, “Because you were willing to change your ‘LIFE STYLE’. Most people lying in that bed won’t do that so they must take the medications, and I have to be firm about that.”

Just think, if you have a desire to be as healthy as God has intended you to be and promised to be in the Word of Wisdom, just change your “LIFESTYLE.” Learning and understanding that simple concept, even though it is a real challenge, was worth falling down the mountain and having the heart attack. Heavenly Father really does work in simple but mysterious ways in our behalf. There is a special spiritual lifestyle for us, as well as a special physical lifestyle for us if we want to be happy.

When February rolled around I was as “Nervous as a cat on a hot tin roof.” I so wanted my tests to be even better than they were in July, and they were. I was now down about 65 pounds and the doctors first comment was, “Hi skinny.” After reviewing my tests, he smiled and told me he still wanted me to take one of the medications one more month and then only a baby aspirin every day from then on. I have now completed that. As the doctor left the room he turned to me, smiled and said, “You are my model patient.” HOPE returned!

The next day I had set up an appointment with my family doctor for a complete physical. He looked at everything and said, “I see you had a heart attack back in April, what medications are you taking?” I replied,” In one month none.” He looked at me very concerned and said, “That can’t be right.” I said, “Ok, what do you see from all my tests to indicate that I need the medications?” He sat back in his chair, paused, and replied, “ I guess nothing. What have you been doing?” I told him about the past 11 months and the LIFESTYLE and he responded, “Maybe we better have you come and teach some nutrition classes.” I said we would be happy to.

The cardiologist asked me to come back in three months for another blood test and to see how I was doing without the medication. I did and he said the results of the tests were still great.

I believe that the direction which I set out to go several years ago, considering writing about the Word of Wisdom, was on track. The abstaining from coffee, tea, tobacco, and alcohol are very important and help us offer a sacrifice to become members of the Church, gain entrance into the Temple, and have great health benefits. The rest of the Word of Wisdom is the tough part—the use of our agency and choice. Wisdom comes in the righteous use of our agency and our ability to make wise decisions and choices. That is one of the reasons we came to this earth. I don’t think wisdom and understanding regarding our physical bodies comes if we are reluctant to follow God’s counsel (or suggestions), regarding the things we need to do in the Word of Wisdom to receive the full blessings of the Promise. It seems to be easy to just read the “words” and totally miss the “wisdom.” When we get a little lax it is easy to not think about His counsel and just live by our life’s habits.

If we want to enjoy the full and even greater blessings of the promise of good health, it is up to us, it’s our choice. We need to learn to live the complete Word of Wisdom, the DO’s, and the DON’TS. If we don’t, we will never recognize the warning in Section 89:4—

Behold, verily, thus saith the Lord unto you: In consequence of evils and designs which do and will exist in the hearts of conspiring men in the last days, I have warned you, and forewarn you, by giving unto you this word of wisdom by revelation.

How will we ever recognize these “evils and designs” if we only live part of the Word of Wisdom? To receive treasures of knowledge, even hidden treasures the promise refers to, we must choose to do more than we now do and understand more than we now understand. I do not believe God hides anything from us, but things stay hidden from us because we choose to not raise our faith and actions to the level that the hidden treasure is opened to us. God says, “Seek and ye shall find.” God loves us more than we can imagine. He wants us, and our families, to be both spiritually and physically healthy and happy. It’s our choice.

You can read his story and many others online at www.DiscoveringTheWordofWisdom.com

Back to Christopher Columbus: His expression “fire for the deed” can be a hidden treasure of strength and power when it comes to healthy living, be it physical, emotional, mental or with family matters.

Simply say the words, “Fire for the deed!” with enthusiasm, either quietly or out loud. It will open your heart and mind to choices and feelings that generate success and action.

These words can become an inspired mantra, a steadying influence, and most of all, a quick quiet prayer that invite the Spirit into our lives and choices.

Christopher Columbus’s prayerful trust of in the Lord can inspire our prayerful trust that no matter what choices others are making, our independent paths can be, and are blessed and inspired. We will NOT ever be alone.