NOTE FROM CAROLYN: Happy New Year! For those of you who love our herbal detox, or who have been waiting to give it a try, we hope you’ll take advantage of our January Fresh Start 10% Off Sale. Ends this Friday. CLICK HERE

As the Church turns to the Book of Mormon, starting with 1 Nephi as its course of study for 2016, we will all journey again with Nephi and his family. No matter how well we know the journey or the characters, there is always more to learn about them, about ourselves, about God .. about journeys both real and symbolic. Thanks to the great preparation of the Church’s publications and Meridian articles, for me it’s impossible not to get excited once again about their legendary/actual journey, and our own as both individuals and as Latter Day Saints.

As the year begins, my husband and I are concluding the last several chapters of another incredibly well-known yet ever-ever revealing journey: the story of the Willey and Martin handcart companies as told by the beloved LDS author, Gerald Lund in his book “The Fire and The Covenant.” (If your family is needing a spell-binding read aloud for 12 and above, this is an excellent consideration. The historical saga is masterfully portrayed in novel/story fashion through both actual and fictional characters. The documented research notes at the end of each chapter are as interesting as the story itself.)

Both of these journeys are historic, epic and actual. They belong to other people at another time. Yet the door is wide open for us to adopt Nephi and the handcart pioneers as trail blazers for our own journeys. Their magnificent example of faith, fortitude, and endurance can be symbolic and personal in countless ways as we each embrace and face our own journeys. For me, this is the grand adventure with each new reading of I Nephi: With every reading, I’m at a different point in my own life’s journey, greatly in need of both fresh perspectives and proven reminders on how to manage and progress.

Think about it! Starting 1 Nephi is the equivalent of celebrating the start of a new year! With our own specific goals and journey consciously defined, re-reading 1 Nephi is also January 1, with a New Year’s perspective on looking back on the past and looking forward to the future. Whatever our individual journeys may be (or were the last time we read it), we can prayerfully study and adopt their management tactics for improving our lives with this year’s new reading. These dynamic and powerful stories and characters are rich fodder to arm ourselves for our own journeys and private battles. We can prayerfully and symbolically don their spirit of adventure and faith, their never-ending courage to go and do.

What are your difficult journeys this year? Each individual and family has their own. It is the Lord’s way and the path of mortality, with our bodies as the vehicles through which we steer our mortal experience. Even as it is the vehicle, it’s also a journey in and of itself, as our freedom of choice regarding food, diet and exercise greatly influences how well that precious vehicle operates. How we manage that freedom of choice has a great bearing on not only our sense of self-mastery, but ultimately how healthy we physically are.

As this bright new year begins, we can choose to make a healthy lifestyle both a spiritual and actual journey. I am delighted to report on the journey of Meridian Reader Rebecca Dooley. In January of 2015, I reported on how she had lost over 150 pounds with faith, optimism and the right tools. In 2016, her beautiful journey, (and that’s what she calls it) she valiantly continues!

R Dooley 2016 I have gained a few pounds (not many) but am determined to continue on my journey, and never return to being as overweight/unhealthy as I had let myself get 2 years ago!  2 new grand babies are expected this year (in early Apr and early May)! Just more reasons for me to want to be at my best and healthier self for them!! I again thank-you for the opportunity, help and motivation to become a healthier, more profitable servant, and to treat my body with the respect and love that God would want me to!

(You can read her story from 2015 here)

As the first month and 1 Nephi are now at hand, I hope you’ll consider and label the health journey ahead of you. Maybe it is to lose some weight, or to find an exercise that’s fun and fits your schedule. Perhaps it’s to set an example for your family or friends who aren’t ready for anything themselves. Perhaps its letting go of soda, sugar, or dairy.

Whatever it is, the ancient Nephites and early Pioneers depended on the Lord to help them figure out where they needed to go.   So make it a matter of prayer and study. The best place around for that inspiration is, I believe, Meridian writer Jane Birch’s powerful website, I encourage you to spend some time reading the stories and feeling the spirit there, reading her articles here at Meridian, then say a prayer, as Nephi and the pioneers did to be both inspired and directed as to which direction the Lord would love to see you head towards.

While there may be no ultimate arrival point i.e. a “Promised Land” a Salt Lake City where health is concerned, we can never forget that the Promised Land and Salt Lake City were the beginnings of exciting and new chapters began. Did Nephi and the pioneers look back and regret venturing forth? Will you on your health journey? The only way to know is to get started, and start planning now for a healthy January 1, 2017 that is thrilling to both you and the Lord.

Happy 1 Nephi! Happy New Year!

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 ten. They are now happy empty nesters in Jackson, Tennessee, close to Memphis where they center their online business; a very helpful herbal detox in keeping with the Word of Wisdom.