From the time I could put the letters together into words in the first grade, I have been a voracious reader and fascinated by stories of people and their problems. My mother says I discovered “Dear Abby”, the newspaper advice columnist, as early as the 2nd or 3rd grade. Though well-aware of the adult content, she decided that that since it was almost impossible to stop me from reading the Deseret News, that Dear Abby was as safe a place as any to learn about life and people.
Not much has changed for me! I still love Dear Abby and any source that provides human dramas, families, hardships and opportunities that both entertain and give birth to inspiration and perspective on how to approach my own life story. Of course, the key element to any story’s plot is the conflict, or limits, imposed by circumstance or nature upon the character or characters. That being so, One of my favorite scriptures has always been D&C 78:18
”Ye cannot bear all things now; nevertheless, be of good cheer, for I will lead you along.”
Today I’d like to share three stories I have recently discovered that may lead you along, as they have for me, in more fully and cheerfully embracing and doing what is required to physically care for ourselves through healthy eating.
Story 1: Parley P. Pratt: “All Were Very Cheerful and Happy”
With Pioneer Day coming right up, and the terrible heat many of us are experiencing this summer, this gem, recently shared by my husband at dinner, is especially refreshing and inspiring:
”The Colesville Branch was organized in October 1830 and included the first settlers of the members of the Church in Missouri. Though often ill, at this time Parley Pratt was actively engaged in many activities to build the kingdom. He reports:
Many of the members had arrived late in the summer and cut some hay for their cattle, sowed a little grain and prepared some ground for cultivation and were engaged during the fall and winter in building log cabins, etc. The winter was cold and for a time about 10 families lived in one log cabin, which was open and unfinished, while the frozen ground served for a floor. Our food consisted of beef and a little bread made of corn, which had been grated into coarse meal by rubbing the ears on a tin grater. This was rather an inconvenient way of living for a sick person; but it was for the gospel’s sake, and all were very cheerful and happy. (Autobiography of Parley P, Pratt page. 72)
All were cheerful and happy – can you imagine living like this? And cheerfully accepting your lot and discomforts for an indefinite period of time?
In comparison: With the physical discomforts they experienced 24-7, choosing the right foods correct portions is well within reach of our abilities. The physical discomforts that may come as we address the cravings for foods and portions we are used to are nothing in comparison to what our early saints cheerfully embraced for a better future. It is a blessing to follow their enthusiastic example for our own healthy futures.
Story 2: Gabriel Adams, Kaysville Utah: “I Can Do It With a Smile On My Face”
If you have not seen the video of this precious little 8-year old boy, adopted by an amazing LDS family with 11 children of their own, then put everything aside and spend the three minutes it will take to renew your own ability to accept and expand your own limits, life and challenges. Born in South America without arms or legs, he had been abandoned in a hospital until the Adams family learned of him and were able to adopt him as an infant. Now he does everything, including climbing stairs, swimming, diving and break dancing! His motto is “I can do it with a smile on my face.”
In comparison: Few of us have the extreme physical limitations that Gabe experiences constantly. With his example, we can embrace the opportunity to exercise and move not only our bodies to burn the fat and exercise, but our hands and arms as they reach for foods that truly build, rather than just entertain our bodies and appetites.
Story 3: Jared Fogle: Author of Jared The Subway Guy “I Lost 24 Pounds — Life Is An Adventure – For The Adventurer!”
This book hopped off the library shelf and into my hands a couple of weeks ago.
It is the personal biography of a young man you may have either seen on TV or in photos at the Subway Sandwich franchises throughout the world. It’s a quick read … delightful and fascinating!
He tells of growing up in a family with normal weight parents and siblings. His father, a physician, was greatly concerned about his eating and weight gain from 2nd grade forward. By 6th grade (age 12) he was over 200 pounds. His high school years were a nightmare with food being his only and constant friends. At a doctor’s appointment during his sophomore year in college, he was shocked to learn that he weighed 425 pounds. With the doctor’s stern words about the health risks he was facing immediately, he tried several weight loss reduction plans before striking on the one that worked (and still works) for him: Two subway sandwiches each day, one for lunch, one for dinner. Both loaded with fresh vegetables – the lunchtime one with lean turkey the dinner time one without. Neither with oil, mayonnaise or cheese. Over the course of 11 months, he lost 245 pounds. He now travels around the world sharing his story and his 13 lessons for turning life around. (I’ve listed them for you at the bottom, although you really need to read the whole book! By the way: I am not necessarily recommending his plan, which he created himself, and then was approved by his physician father.)
In comparison: Whether you have 2, 20 or over 200 pounds to lose, as Jared did, we have the additional light of the gospel to guide our attitudes and perspectives.
It’s All About Limits: A Cheerful Vision
Story 1: The early saints were limited in living space – but not in cheer and a happy eternal perspective!
Story 2: Gabe Adams is extremely limited without arms, hands, legs and feet – but not in cheer, optimism and determination!
Story 3: Jared Fogle was extremely limited by the size of his body and his addiction to food, then chose an extremely limited food plan – but he was limited not in his vision of a vastly improved physical comfort level and future.
What about you? What are your limits?
Whether your limit is just not caring or being motivated to do what you know is best for your body, or not knowing what is best and finding a pathway that will lead to health, a family or living circumstances that are not conducive to healthy eating, or whatever! We each have limits and we each have the opportunity to acknowledge these limits, then with cheer and determination to expand them into health, energy and peace.
If your limit is not knowing what to do, , I am in whole-hearted agreement with all of Dr. Gardner’s articles. It’s a big leap for many of us to eat the way he proposes. Whether you’re ready (and/or have already jumped in) 100%, or are taking the conversion to his plan in baby steps, your health and your future will be blessed for following his counsel.
For motivation and extra support: Here are Jared’s 13 Lessons for changing your life:
1. Open your eyes: Admitting that you have a problem is the first curial step toward making big changes.
2. Do something: When you’re stuck in a rut, try something, anything, to get yourself out of it. Be willing to risk failure.
3. Reach for the stars: Set your sights high. Ambitious goals cannot be ignored.
4. Find your personal spark: Take a good hard look at your worst fears, then turn them inside out and make them work for you. (For him, one spark was the fear of diabetes that was quickly manifesting itself in his ankles with edema – the abnormal accumulation of fluids beneath the skin)
5. One size doesn’t fit all: Analyze your problem and create a plan of action that will work for you! Think outside the box.
6. Change your mind to change your life: Get rid of preconceived notions like “Feeling occasional hunger pains is physically dangerous. ”
7. Don’t tell anyone: You’re doing this for yourself, not the rest of the world.
8. See the big picture: Don’t micromanage your situation by weighing every day and obsessing.
9. Throw out conventional wisdom: Follow the path that works for you.
10. Fill the void: Find distractions that will keep you from falling back into old patterns and habits.
There is no law that says a movie can’t be enjoyed without a bucket of popcorn and an extra large soda.
11. Change is for life: Achieving your goal is not the end, it’s the beginning of a new life.
12. Move on with your life: Embrace the change, don’t look back.
Life is an adventure – for the adventurer!
13. The harder you work the luckier you get. You have to work hard and make your own luck.