I am receiving the most wonderful letters this week from a number of you who have joined MyWeightLossTeam.com. Several that have said that as much as they enjoyed my articles here, they weren’t really “doing anything” until joining there and becoming accountable in a most delightful way. If you’re interested, here’s the link again for your free membership at this LDS owned and operated web site.

Each of us is deeply saddened by the tragedy at Virginia Tech three weeks ago. It hit especially close to home for our family not only because Blacksburg is only a couple of hours from here, but because we have friends and neighbors who are students there. One of the victims, Leslie Sherman, was from West Springfield High School where our kids attend. She graduated in 2005, the year between our two missionaries, and her younger sister is a friend of Spencer’s.

How could this be? How could young lives, so full of joy, promise and so near adulthood be snuffed out with no warning at all? I hope you’ll find an increased desire to live healthfully with today’s story about how another mother with a similar heartache created beauty from ashes.

Today’s Quote : “The opportunity of a lifetime must be taken within the lifetime of the opportunity.” (Neal A. Maxwell)

I met her several years ago at an enormously popular outdoor craft show. Held on the hilly streets of a historic little Virginia town built on the banks of the Occoquan River, the event is a zero-calorie feast for the eyes and soul. Parking is limited, so we walk and walk. Often just getting out of the house and walking someplace different is an easy way take care of some calories.

Although the food at these events is decidedly not on the healthiest bill of fare, my daughter Kelly and I had found a stand with fresh apples and a caramel dipping sauce and decided to share one. As I ordered it (“just a little of the sauce, and on the side, please”) from the two very friendly, adult female vendors, I noticed a framed graduation picture of a truly gorgeous teen-aged girl on their counter.

“Whose pretty girl is this?” I asked.

One of the women gently withdrew while the other quietly explained.

“Our caramel apple stand today is a memorial for her 19-year-old daughter, Dana, who was killed in a car accident nearly a year ago. The apple stand was something they’d always thought would be fun to do, so here we are today. She’s our angel – watching, clapping and cheering from heaven.”

My eyes filled as Dana’s mom cut the apple and poured a bit of sauce on the side. I reached out to touch her hand. She let me, and with a mother’s tears that mirrored my own, she earnestly urged, “Just love your children every day. Every day! Do things and make memories worth remembering while you can!”

I hopefully responded, “Dana’s with you today. I just know it! She’s so tickled that you’re living your dream.” “Yes,” she answered. “I think so too!”

The apple was delicious and nutritious – and not just to my taste buds. It was delicious and nutritious to my heart and hopes as well. It made me wonder – are there things in my life that would bring joy to my dear ones? Something wonderful they deeply desire for me to achieve, not for them, but because they know how very much it would mean to me?

It’s not rocket science to accept that we can only lose weight for ourselves – not for anyone else – but if losing weight would open doors to achieving goals or making important, eternal memories for ourselves, then there’s rich soul-food for thought. It converts a casual want to lose weight” (or guilt-ridden and ineffective should lose weight”) into a burning, long lasting, life-changing “need to lose weight.”

Just as in caring for our homes, though we may want new carpeting, if we need a new roof, it’s the roof that we’ll take care of first. That burning need accompanied with a visualization of fulfilling dreams and making memories that are worth remembering easily translates into commitment, power and action.

Not too long ago I had a long conversation with a lovely woman, a mother and grandmother, who had lost over well over 200 pounds. (For more inspiration and many shared weight loss success stories and photos of people who have lost 100+ pounds, go to www.WWFamilyForum.com.) She herself had lost a son in a car accident when he was 15. Though very heavy before, she gained a great deal of weight afterwards.

What changed her health and life? It was a simple trip to the playground after her first two grandchildren were born. As she sat and watched them play, she realized what she had forfeited for her own kids with her food addiction, and recognized that it was being carried into the next generation.

“I regret not being able to play with my own kids at the playground when they were small,” she said. “In fact, there were a lot of things I couldn’t do! I can’t go back and change that. But now that the weight is gone, I can play with my grandkids on the swings and the slides. The look on my own kid’s faces as they watch me play with their kids is worth every smart choice it has taken to lose the weight and in some way makes up for what I couldn’t do with them.

“I have a whole new and wonderful life that wasn’t here for me when I carried the physical, emotional and spiritual burden of those extra pounds. Being able to play with my kids at the playground is what got me going! Now we can hike and be active in ways that I never dreamed possible. Every day and choice that helped create this new life was well worth the effort. In addition, it’s given me the courage and confidence to start my own skin care business. It’s thriving too!”

How well those of us who love the gospel know that it’s the little things in life that are the big things – little things like small healthy choices lovingly gathered together into the big thing of losing weight for a bigger purpose, blessing and joy.

Although we cannot circumvent life’s unknown peaks, valleys, joys and tragedies that arrive without warning, what we do have is now! It’s time to start humming “Today While the Sun Shines” as a personal guide for our food and exercise choices. After all, today is the opportunity of a lifetime.

Today’s Empowerment: “Since there is no tomorrow, but only today, I make it count with health choices that will bless and change the life of myself and my dear ones.”

Journal Prompt/Discussion Starters:

  1. What relationships, goals and activities is your weight holding you back from?
  2. What desires do your friends and dear ones have for you? Are they the same or different? Does your health and weight make a difference in how these dreams may be fulfilled?
  3. List special people you want to make lasting memories with. Do your health and weight make a difference in the creation of meaningful experiences and memories?

Today’s Recipe: Lemon Broccoli
(6 Servings at 25 Calories)

I love a cooked or steamed vegetable or salad late in the afternoon before dinner to tide me over. This one’s a winner! If it’s the little things that are the big things in life, then it’s simple recipes like these that make the biggest hit.

Use a dash of lemon on other vegetables for some new flavors to delight your taste buds without any extra calories.

1 pounds broccoli
1 tsp. grated lemon rind
Dash of salt and pepper

Trim off large leaves and remove rough ends of the stalk. Cut into spears. Steam the spears for 5 minutes, or until crisp-tender. Place on a platter and sprinkle with lemon rind, salt and pepper. Garnish with lemon rind curls.

(2. 3 g Dietary Fiber; 25 Calories; 0 g Fat;)