As the deadline for submitting my last Meridian article (scheduled for June 2) came and went, I found myself technologically paralyzed andunable to send even the briefest e-mail or make the shortest phone call to contact Meridian with my completed document … all due to the lack of electricity from the freak storm that wrecked havoc where we live in the Washington, D.C. area on June 30.

What a wake-up call this experience was in countless ways!

We were relaxing at home late in the evening when suddenly the power flickered off-on-off-on-OFF!   Immediately thunder boomed, lightning flashed and a hard rain that sounded like bullets commenced. We rushed to see through the front windows, then watched through flashes of lightning as maniacal windsripped off huge tree limbs and tossed them onto our neighbor’s car. It lasted for 20 minutes, perhaps a bit longer, and then just rained and rained. We were extremely grateful for candles and flashlights that were prepared and ready.

For the next two days one could not deny the frightening, ominous feeling that pervaded everything, as if we were all actors in some strange movie together. Great stretches of densely traveled, main roadway systems were without traffic lights. Huge shopping centers were closed for the entire weekend or longer. All the neighborhoods in our area were completely dark on Saturday night. There were no services in our chapel that Sunday.  

Thankfully our power was on by Sunday afternoon. The $500 bill for damage to our own roof was miniscule compared to the losses of many of our neighbors, including the deaths of three people in neighborhoods so close to us that we drive through them each and every day.  And of course, it could have been much, much worse, as the residents of Joplin, Missouri can easily report from their tornado last summer.

As strange weather, bizarre natural disasters like this along the fires in Colorado take the media’s center stage at this very early part of the summer, it leaves one humbly grateful for something more than the TV for important and life-saving information.

Sharing that thought was the beginning of a fascinating conversation with Meridian reader Melody Barber of Spanish Fork, Utah. She is a returned missionary, wife, mother of eight, home school teacher, blogger, Ward preparedness coordinator, and oh, by the way, has kept off 40 pounds for over 25 years with what she calls “the best weight loss and health plan ever …. The Word of Wisdom.”

Melody BarberMelody reached a healthy weight of 140 (she’s 5′ 6″) in her teenage years, growing up in Meridian, Idaho. “I was very athletic and busy, and just stayed at that weight, it seems. There wasn’t a problem.”

Her weight challenges began as a missionary in Argentina. “Our main meal of the day was provided by a woman of Italian descent, which is very common in South America. Each day she would prepare massive amounts of pasta with rich cream sauces for my companion and me. We had been told not to offend our hosts and those who helped us, so I just ate plate after plate – every day. Then there were the desserts! Cakes, treats and an amazing thing called dulce deleche, it is like really thick caramel. I wouldn’t say it was a dessert but a sauce, and it was spread on everything.Often I was almost ill from so much food.

My companion was a tall, lean young woman who didn’t gain a pound. I, on the other hand, gained 40 pounds in the first four months and my clothes no longer fit. Through prayer, I realized I had to do what was right for me. I politely told our cook that I would eat only one plate of food and no dessert. Interestingly, she started serving fruit for dessert.

That helped, but even so, I returned home with that 40 pounds, and spent the next six months losing it. I turned to the Word of Wisdom for guidance, and learned at this young age how this inspired health plan works for me! It set the stage for years of fascinating study and a foundation for how I would raise my family.”

She married at a healthy 140 pounds. As she and her husband, began their family, they quickly added eight children in fourteen years: a girl (now 24 and married) followed by five boys, and then finished with a set of twin girls, now aged 10.

“Nearly 20years ago, when it was it became time for our oldest daughter to start kindergarten, it was just the right thing to do to homeschool. It wasn’t something I’d dreamed of or planned, or even now consider myself an expert in, but it was right for us, although some of the boys have chosen to attend high school at some point or another. It’s important for them to make choices as well.”

“It’s an interesting thing about homeschool families, I’ve observed that as a community, many of us home schoolersare much more inclined to 1) take healthy eating and living quite seriously and 2) become politically active. That has sure happened with us!”

At about the same time they started kindergarten with their oldest daughter, they decided to become vegetarians, i.e., follow a primarily plant-based diet.

“There are lots of variations on becoming vegetarian, but as I continued to study the Word of Wisdom and did more reading, it was just right for us. I did have some “token” meat available for my husband every now and then, as I had thought this was his preference, but I quickly learned that he was perfectly happy without it, just like rest of us.

How do they manage social eating?

“It’s been interesting! We know what we prefer to eat at home, and we also know that much of it is often in stark contrast to what our friends eat and what is served at almost every event, even at Church. Early on, I found myself becoming quite judgmental and critical. I knew this wasn’t right or good for anyone! Through prayer realized that I had to either stop attending these events, or to go and have a good time and be pleasant, without judging or being overly observant of what was being served or what others were eating. That’s provided a lot of peace.

“We encourage our kids to eat healthfully outside our home, but let them choose for themselves.
But honestly, the kids don’t know any different, so they’re fine with it. They do enjoy meat whenever we do have meat. Unless we’re at someone else’s house for holidays, we continue to eat like we do. We’ll have turkey on Thanksgiving if it’s at our house, and now with married children that might be something we’ll start doing. We’re not big into Jello and things like that, so the rest of the meal would be salads and other plant-based dishes.”

Even with this strong testimony of the Word of Wisdom philosophy and excellent habits in place, by January of 2012, Melody had slowly acquired extra 20 pounds from “too much time at a computer and not enough on my feet. I’m a snacker, and it had caught up to me! I was so uncomfortable with 20 extra pounds.

I’m also well aware that health challenges related to weight take time to appear. I wanted it GONE before I had any!”

When some friends in her ward and community launched a Facebook “Biggest Loser” competition on January 1, 2012she was ready!

“I knew I couldn’t win, as many of them had far more than 20 pounds to lose, and two of them had just had babies, but the challenge was just right for me.” She was soon to learn even more about the value of the Word of Wisdom for her.

“At the beginning of the contest, I was watching the things that some of the women were writing about what they were doing, like comparing brands of protein drinks and saying that they were drinking these for one or two meals a day. I had tried protein drinks in the past, but I never could make myself take them for very long, because they just clogged up my system. The ingredient labels read like a chemical soup and I never felt like they could be very good for me, and the taste wasn’t ever anything I enjoyed, either. For awhile, I tried counting calories, but that’s hard to keep up with, since I was always running to the computer to figure it out. Finally, I got the idea to return to the Word of Wisdom and follow that as best I could. I decided that, win or lose, I’d do it the Lord’s way (as I understand it).

“They also talked and wrote about how they were killing themselves exercising at the gym and about how far they had jogged that day. As for exercising, I had never enjoyed it and I knew I’d never be able to make myself go to the gym. (None of this is meant to cast aspersions on anyone who does these things; I just couldn’t do them.) I liked to play sports and I like to dance, but neither of those activities happens often enough to be able to call them exercise. That’s when I got the idea to dance to fun music while I did housework, so nearly every day I’d put on the pedometer and keep moving until I got it up to 10,000 steps. Occasionally, I’d do some light weights or bounce on my mini-tramp, but dancing to housework was the majority of my exercise during this time.”

She also purchased the detox herbal product that I share at “The Word of Wisdom eating plan has a lot of fiber in it, and I knew I wasn’t processing it all. I also knew that herbs for health are in keeping with the Word of Wisdom. Though I surely wouldn’t say that this product was the most important part of my success I know it helped and continues to help, especially at the beginning with a blockage.”

For Melody, the weight “Just fell off! Within a few months I had returned to my comfortable weight of 140. Through my studies, I found some fascinating scientific approaches and medical doctors that all provided documentation for the Word of Wisdom. (See links below for sites and doctors.)

Melody has a wealth of information at her own website, a true treasure! It is packed with recipes, her own observation, wit and wisdom and excellent resources.
Her non-judgmental, practical, delightful approach to living by the Word of Wisdom is evident throughout.


“We do enjoy a little meat now and then – I guess you could use the word sparingly’!’ but it’s more as a condiment and for a little flavor. It’s amazing how the most nutritious foods on the planet have practically 0 calories! You can eat as much as you want, and when you do, your body is satisfied. The cravings for sugar and junk just are GONE.


Recently Melody has had an opportunity to share her weight management and study of the Word of Wisdom and the Prophets with her Relief Society sisters.


Her impressive powerpoint is available for Meridian readers at: (The link is also provided at the end of the article.)


It has an extensive collection of quotes by the prophets on health matters, along with ideas for family meals. The beautifully done graphics and information would make a truly wonderful and inspirational Relief Society special meeting or even a 5th Sunday lesson when Priesthood and Relief Societies often meet together for a special topic.


As I concluded my conversation with Melody, I hung up the phone and said, “Wow for this marvelous truth seeker and her family! Wow for the Word of Wisdom and wow for us to be able to understand and apply it better through her generosity.   And most of all, Wow that our Heavenly Father has blessed us all with the opportunity to experience mortal life with our miraculous bodies, and provided divinely inspired instructions for how to care for them. After all, it’s these mortal bodies (and we each only get one!) that are what are going to get us through the challenging times to which we’ve been born.


Melody’s Links


The Powerpoint Presentation


Her Blog


Her Favorite Medical Doctors/Authors (Dr. Joel Fuhrman) (Dr. John McDougall – her favorite to align with Word of Wisdom principles)  (Dr. Neal Barnard) – the detox tea that cleared her blockage and now keeps all the fiber moving naturally.