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It’s the first Monday In January and the first week of a brand new year. What will it bring? My own personal rhyming mantra, one that I create each year for fun on New Year’s Day, is “Be A Queen (or King) in 2015.” Though first spoken lightly with an image of Mary Engelbreit’s “Queen of Everything” in my head, after reading Wallace Goddard’s Meridian article The Failure of New Year’s Resolutions and Something Better, my little mantra has grown into something much dearer, much bigger, and much, much better.

Doomed New Year’s resolutions do come and go with an “um” and an “oh.” However, as we embrace the marvelous reality of our own royal births as sons and daughters of a living and loving God, then the ability to grow, change and improve with His personal plan for us is eternal. It is not relegated to be launched or completed within a day, a month, or even a new year! We are all born to be kings and queens not just in 2015, but into the far-reaching eternities.

Perhaps these thoughts are why I am so impressed with the weight management story of Rebecca Dooley, a Meridian reader who launches 2015 weighing 100 pounds less than she did on January 1, 2014. Her journey did not start on a January 1, rather it is a lifetime story, and the long years of being overweight are chapters of learning and growth that are just as important and dear as the past fifteen months where she has found the tools and strength she needs to become healthier. It wasn’t a new year, or a Monday, or thundering from Heaven that marked a perfect “starting day” and another “diet”. It was the simple inspiration of a friend and the whisperings of the Spirit that her own time had also arrived.
Being adopted, Meridian reader Rebecca Dooley, (49) of the Granby Ward, Monett Missouri Stake may not know a lot about her family history, but she knows plenty about her present and future. She knows that weight management and the health it brings is a personal decision based on the behaviors of one person alone: herself. Now down 150 pounds, 2015 beckons brightly with the promise that her goal of losing 200 pounds (more than half her starting weight of 372 pounds)  is well within her reach before January of 2016.

“I don’t have much family history or knowledge of my genetics to go on, ,” she says brightly in our phone interview on New Year’s Eve,”  I just remember that I was always overweight.  From kindergarten on, that is my memory.”

When she graduated from high school, at her full height of 5’7, she recalls being in the 180-190 pound range.  She married her husband Mike at age 20 and over the next several years, had three wonderful sons. With each pregnancy she gained, but did not lose, weight.  “It didn’t seem that it was that much with each of them, but things add up.”  While raising them, she also finished nursing school and became a psychiatric nurse, now working at the hospital in Joplin, Missouri.

As the years went by, her weight eventually crept to over 370 pounds. 
“I did try, on occasion, to lose it.  At one point I was quite successful with phentermine and lost 100 pounds.  But, you know how it goes.  And the weight came back.  I’ll never do weight loss drugs again.” “I’ve also tried pre-packaged food plans and lost some weight then too”

In 2013, a friend had gastric bypass surgery.  “Her experience was a turning point for me, and I knew it was time for me to get serious as a lifetime decision.”  She made an appointment in October of 2013 with the same medical group that had performed her friend’s surgery, and went in for the initial consultation.  Before the surgery could be performed, she was required to spend three months on their eating plan. It consisted of a common sense program that was very limited in carbs and fats and proteins, with lots of fruits and vegetables … and exercise!

“I got out my stationary bike and dusted it off.  I sat on it, and just plain got myself going.  I could only go 6-7 miles per hour, and at the end of 10-15 minutes, I was completely wiped out.  But I kept at it, and the eating plan too.”

When the medical office called three months later in early January to schedule her surgery, she said with a hearty laugh, “No way!  I’m down 50 pounds and I can see that I’m going to be able to do this without surgery!”

Rebecca Dooley Composite Jan. 2015 (1)

As the year progressed, she lost another 100 pounds and celebrated Christmas of 2014 with the life-giving gift of having lost a full 150 pounds since the start of her journey!

How has she done it?  By making the eating plan and exercise “just part of life – for now and for always.  I eat LOTS of veggies and fruit, and dearly love my roasted veggies.”

As a nurse, she often works nights and sleeps later.  “I’m not really a breakfast person anyway, so since I get up later, I jump on the stationary bike immediately, catching up on the news on TV or enjoying reading on my tablet. “I’m now up to about 16 mph and easily spend 30 minutes or more really flying! I do the bike for the 30 minutes, then go put veggies in the oven to roast while I finish my workout, which is toning and stretching with a kettle ball.  Monday to Friday are my true “work days” on the full eating and exercise program.  I relax – but just a bit – on the weekends.”  Becky is fortunate to have two little granddaughters nearby.  “Sometimes I’ll make a treat for them and have a cookie.  It’s important to me to know that how I’m living is for a lifetime and for it to feel “do-able.”

What else has been helpful?  “An app on my phone that tracks exercise time, calories consumed, etc., so I can see exactly where I am at a glance.  A year ago in January I also began using the herbal detox tea and weight loss products that are advertised here at Meridian.  They’ve been helpful too.”

“I am down about 4 sizes in clothing, and hope to lose 1 more size.” “I definitely have a lot more energy now, and can get down on the floor with my granddaughters to play, without feeling like a beached whale”. The speed I walk has definitely gotten faster, as I don’t feel short of breath.”

What else is gone … besides the weight?  “Oh, a lot of pain.  I have arthritis, and the pain is greatly diminished from that, knee and joint pain is so much better. The fasciitis in my feet is lessened as well. Best of all is knowing that I’m setting a good example for my family!  Not to mention that I’m a nurse and work at a hospital!  My little granddaughters see me exercise and want to get on the bike.  The entire family sees me eating healthfully.  I am inspiring others close to me to take their health seriously as well, and that just feels wonderful to know that I can help them in that way.”

In her own lovely realm, Becky’s royalty speaks for itself. Her greatest desire is to serve her family and inspire her personal friends, then the patients and work associates in her professional life. It’s remarkable to me that this is what increased personal health brings, a beautiful cycle of improving not just your own life, but the lives of those around you as well.

The royal crown, though figurative, is literal as well as improved health brings the attractive, appealing glow of increased peace, self-confidence and the fun of an improved appearance, all blessings for not just ourselves but for those we live with and who see us each day. (As a little side-note to prove my point, I recently complimented a new and flattering haircut on a dear sister in my ward who replied, “I’m not really into hair or appearances, but then I realized that I don’t see myself all day long – but my family does! I did it for them!”)

As I thought about Becky and queens and kings, it came to me that throughout the past 15 months, she has treated herself as a queen by making her health and the time it takes to exercise, shop, cook, eat and mentally/spiritually stay motivated a priority. She has put bad habits and regular consumption of non-nutritious foods behind her. She has treated her body as a temple, and her time with respect. Once again, although it has been taken on for herself personally, it has not been a selfish priority, but one that has and will bless all within her circle.

Her 15 months and 150 pounds works out to 10 pounds a month, or 2 to 2.5 pounds per week. This is not like clockwork, but as an overall average; it is safe and reasonable, allowing time for life-time habits to establish themselves. Now, with Brother Goddard’s article in mind, these past fifteen months have been 65 weeks to not only progress one day, one meal and one pound at a time, but they have also been 65 Sundays to partake of the Sacrament and draw close to the Savior while reporting on the past week.

Brother Goddard says:

The most important part of any change process should be the weekly fifteen-minute conversation we have with Jesus during the sacrament. We allow a sacrament hymn to soften our hearts. We invite sacred prayers to open our hearts. And, prepared with faith, we sit with Jesus and get sweet counsel. We repent of our faults and take assignments for the coming week.

Becky knows that her continuing journey to lose the last 50 pounds will not be easy. With this magnitude of a journey, weight loss typically slows down for the last 25%. It may take a year or more to reach her healthy weight goal. With peace and confidence, she knows without a shadow of a doubt that the time it may take is not important. There will be as many Sundays and Sacraments as she needs to be inspired and directed in reaching her goal.

With a wonderful new 2015 to embrace and kings, queens and eternity in view, is it possible that the Savior could be the most important weight loss friend we have ever had? And Sunday the most important weight loss meeting for the support and direction we need?

With Becky to inspire us, we can take these thoughts and our own needs to the Lord, and don the crowns of progress and change that are His alone to give.

Welcome 2015, where each of us can be a Queen or King. We’ll be keeping up with Becky throughout the year to celebrate her progress and inspire the rest of us.


Jane Birch Meridian Articles: “The Word of Wisdom Way To Weight Loss: My Yoke Is Easy”
All of Jane’s articles are excellent for weight management and health!

Wallace Goddard: “The Failure of New Year’s Resolutions and Something Better”
Meridian, January 2, 2015

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 at her website. 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 eight. They live in the Washington D.C. area where she is the Primary chorister and they team-teach Missionary Preparation for the Annandale Stake CES Institute program. 

Click HERE to learn more about them and the herbal detox product they share at Meridian!