The Word of Wisdom: For Our Day

Contributed By Chelsee Niebergall, Church News and Events

  • 19 July 2011

Denise Hill, 59, lost more than 150 pounds (68 kg), during the last year by incorporating Word of Wisdom principles into her lifestyle.

“Just like you need a recommend to go into the temple, food needs a recommend to go into your body. If it doesn’t fit the Lord’s criteria, it shouldn’t enter.” —Denise Hill, Church member who lost 150 pounds during the last year.

Denise Hill, 59, who has lost more than 150 pounds over the last year, has a newfound appreciation for the Word of Wisdom.

“It works! It really works,” she said. “If we just follow the principles outlined in the Word of Wisdom, it will work.”

She said that before her weight loss, she wasn’t aware of how the principles found in the Word of Wisdom can apply in our day. Now she can see the full blessings of following the Word of Wisdom in everyday life.

There Is No “Quick Fix”

As Sister Hill started having a family, she gained weight with each pregnancy. She tried to raise her children in the gospel the best she knew how, but admits to feeling like she never was doing it right. That discouragement—combined with the discouragement that came from comparing herself to other sisters in the ward—led her to gain additional weight, she said.

Sister Hill said she had tried to lose weight in the past, but because she wanted the fastest solution possible, she did crash diets followed by trying to eat nutritiously. “You name the diet, I’ve been on it,” she said. But those attempts never worked—she always gained the weight back.

Still overweight with her 60th birthday approaching, Sister Hill realized there wasn’t a quick fix. The best way to get healthy, she saw, was through exercise and healthy eating.

That’s when she decided to participate in a popular U.S. weight-loss reality television show. There she learned healthier eating and exercising habits—habits that she realized were in line with what the Lord has taught His people for more than 175 years in the Word of Wisdom.

She admits that the significant lifestyle change was overwhelming at times, but with the help of “prayer every day—a prayer to get me through everything” she said, she was able to make positive changes in her life.

Views of the Word of Wisdom before and after the Weight Loss

Although Sister hill had heard the phrase “your body is a temple” for years, she frequently made excuses about how she was treating her body. She would, for example, try to justify her eating habits by comparing them with other things she could be doing to her body, like smoking and drinking.

But now, Sister Hill said, she believes the Word of Wisdom is about everything we take into our bodies, including the food we eat.

“Just like you need a recommend to go into the temple, food needs a recommend to go into your body. If it doesn’t fit the Lord’s criteria, it shouldn’t enter,” Sister Hill said.

She also said that she has gained a new appreciation for Doctrine and Covenants 89’s relevance in our day.

Sister Hill said the Word of Wisdom taught her how she should be eating. Doctrine and Covenants 89:7-17 advises what foods should be eaten and what foods should be eaten sparingly. Sister Hill said she used those verses as guidelines for a new, healthy diet. She ate meat very sparingly and increased her intake of grains, fruits, and vegetables. Besides just eating healthy, she incorporated exercise into her weight loss journey. She also turned to prayer to ensure she was doing things the way the Lord wanted her to do them.

“I think studying the Word of Wisdom—and including prayer in your study—is very important,” Sister Hill said.

With her newly found understanding and healthier lifestyle, Sister Hill said she is grateful to know that her body truly is a temple, and that treating it that way will help her live as long as she can so she will be around for her grandchildren.

The Lord’s Way Is the Best Way

Now that Sister Hill has made changes for the better and reached her target weight goal, she sees that the changes have affected more than her physical health—they’ve increased her spirituality as well.

“Before I started making healthy decisions I would hide behind my weight. I knew I had the potential to be a strong, spiritual person, but my weight held me back. It hurt my spiritual life as well as my everyday life,” Sister Hill said.

Sister Hill said that if she had followed the Word of Wisdom all along, she never would have become 150 pounds overweight. She recognizes the power of Doctrine and Covenants 89—particularly the promise of “health in their navel and marrow to their bones” (verse 18) in her life.

“I went on a really long run the other day, and I wasn’t tired!” she said. “I realized that that was the blessings of the Word of Wisdom working in my life.” She said as she has seen the results of the Word of Wisdom in her life, she has come to know that the Lord keeps His promises.

“The promises are true; they are absolutely true!” she said. “You read and hear about it, but living it has really shown me how the Lord fulfills His promises. I feel better now than I have in 40 years.”