Q&A: Questions and Answers


Answers are intended for help and perspective, not as pronouncements of Church doctrine.

I have trouble with my weight. I’ve tried to get it off, but I can’t. I feel really uncomfortable around “skinny” people. They make me feel like a total blimp. How could I just feel normal around them?

New Era

This is a tough question because there isn’t one answer for everyone. Sometimes we feel if we could just change how we look, it would make things better, make us feel normal. But being “skinny” will not solve all your problems. Being an ideal weight will not make school easier or help you get friends or make you happy. Accepting ourselves for what we are, children of God, should be our goal. If you want to lose weight to be healthy and energetic, then there are sensible, safe ways to go about it.

Finding your best weight is not as easy as it may seem. We are bombarded with pictures of ideal human beings in magazines, in advertising, in movies, and on television. Somehow we think that if we do not look like the models or actors that we don’t look good. We must understand that no one looks as perfect as the people in ads—not even the models themselves. They have had makeup artists and professional photographers working their magic and improving on reality.

The dangers of extreme dieting include ruining your health or causing you to fall victim to eating disorders. If you try extreme diets, such as eating only one type of food or eating hardly anything at all, you may lose weight. But if your body is not getting adequate amounts of protein, carbohydrates, vitamins, and minerals, you may be damaging your muscles, including the most important muscle of all, your heart.

There are no magic pills or machines that will help us lose weight. There is, however, one extremely important thing that must be included in any diet—exercise. Choose an exercise routine such as walking or bicycling that you honestly like to do. Or choose several types of exercise and switch off. But stick with it.

As for a diet, follow one that includes the four basic food groups. Your doctor or health teacher can suggest a good, well-balanced diet that will make your food choices easier.

Gaining and losing weight is not as simple as eating or not eating. Some people will gain weight on a diet that others can lose on. Your body type and how you gain or lose is influenced by heredity. No matter what your genes have declared, you can work on feeling healthy and energetic. If you feel good, you’ll feel confident.

Eating also doesn’t always have a lot to do with being hungry. Sometimes food will offer comfort or fill in the boredom. One good way of avoiding eating unnecessary snacks is to have a list of things ready you enjoy doing instead. For instance, if you feel like eating half a dozen cookies, postpone your impulse and go listen to a favorite music tape or read a chapter of a new book or experiment with a new hairstyle. If you get busy doing something else, you can overcome your urge to snack. Or if you have a bad habit like eating while watching television, substitute something else to do with your hands like making something, doing puzzles, or building models. It’s a struggle to overcome bad eating habits, but you can do it.

Don’t be too hard on yourself. Your friends will like you for who you are. And new people you meet will like you if you are friendly, agreeable, and unselfish. They will be attracted to the happy, kind, caring person you can be no matter what you look like.

Readers

Quit comparing yourself to others. I have always found that when I compare myself to others, whether it be their achievements, looks, or whatever, that I always fall short, or seem to. Don’t be so hard on yourself. Every person on this earth has special qualities, things that if properly recognized, would often overshadow or outshine everything else.

MaryAnne Pilling Sherwood Park, Alberta, Canada

I felt the same way you do, but my situation is different. I’ve weighed 85 pounds all through high school. I used to feel really out of place around my friends because I felt that they would hold it against me that I was so skinny. So I tried every possible thing to gain weight but I just couldn’t. I realized that if my friends didn’t accept me because of my weight then they weren’t true friends.

Ginger Dimmick, 17 Pasadena, Texas

Be your own kind of beautiful. Be proud of who you are. If you feel you have to lose weight but just keep giving up, ask for help from Heavenly Father. I know he will help you.

Shannon Clark, 13 Kemmerer, Wyoming

When you start eating healthier, you’ll start to look better. Don’t try to lose 20 pounds at once. Take your time. Set a goal for one or two pounds a week. And don’t cheat. Believe in yourself.

Renaye Clark, 15 Midland, Michigan

Think to yourself, “I am a beautiful child of God.” What could make you feel more lovely? Chances are, if you think of yourself as beautiful, fun-loving, and a nice person, people will see this in you and most importantly, you will not worry as much about your weight. Once you are not so frustrated over your weight, it will slowly begin to shed. Always remember Heavenly Father loves you no matter how bony or how cuddly you are.

Jean Rossel-McGovern, 16 Adelong, NSW, Australia

The most you can do is be yourself. Many people will like you for what you are, not what you look like.

Krista Wilson, 19 Macomb, Illinois

I have tried hard to cover up my flaws by trying to dress well and keep my face and hair attractive. Also, I always remember that I am loved just as much as my “skinny” friends. We are all children of a Heavenly Father who loves us so much.

Allison Hinckley, 19 Salt Lake City, Utah

Gaining a testimony of the Lord’s love for you is the best way to feel “normal” around your friends. Try reading 1 Samuel 16:7. [1 Sam. 16:7] Remember everyone wants to feel accepted so reach out, forget yourself and your insecurities, and help them feel accepted by you.

Kim Dodds, 16 Twin Falls, Idaho

I too have a weight problem. I’m too skinny. “Normal” people can sometimes have trouble understanding what it means to have a weight problem. First of all realize that there is nothing wrong with you. Whether you’re overweight or underweight, the key to feeling comfortable lies in self-confidence. Try looking at the whole picture. I know the Lord can see your talents and abilities. Try trusting in his judgment.

Lisa Beadle, 17 Hamilton, Ontario, Canada

I used to be extremely overweight, so I realize the struggle that comes from wanting to be comfortable around those who might be thinner than we are. I have found to feel comfortable around others is to, first of all, realize that we are all sons and daughters of a loving Father in Heaven and that we truly have divine potential. When we gain this respect for ourselves, we will not have to worry about what others think of us or how we feel when we are around them because we will have a true sense of self-worth.

Elder Courtney Curtis, 20 Santa Rosa California Mission

Boy, can I relate! One solution is to eat good, healthy food and keep active and exercise every day.

Alisa Ellsworth, 17 Agoura Hills, California

This is a very touchy subject for me. I’m trying to change my attitude by “talking” to myself. I’ve found success where I’m more comfortable about being around “skinny” people. I keep telling myself that nothing changes overnight. You have to work at it and keep at it and not give up. If you’re happy and involved, others won’t care how you look. You have to lose weight for yourself and only yourself.

Name withheld

I have felt the same way most of my life. What did I do to keep myself from thinking about it? I kept myself busy doing things that would help me feel good about myself. I did things like volunteer work, pursuing interests, developing my God-given talents, and scripture study. As I put these things into practice in my life I began to feel good about my inner and spiritual self.

Sister Liberty Rice, 22 Canada Winnipeg Mission

[photo] Photography by Craig J. Moyer