If you've watched TV lately you've probably noticed the bombardment of diet commercials. With the new year rolling around the diet industry recognizes it as the opportune time to attack, and Utah county has proved to be a prime spot to do so. Did you know Utah county has more diet/ plastic surgery/ beauty billboards than any other county in Utah? As you drive from up north or from down south notice how the billboards change from alcohol and other ads to diet ads about trimming down this and fixing that. You know the ones I'm talking about, the ones that depict an illusion of a perfect blissful life with the loss of some fat cells.
Did you also know that the diet industry really doesn't care about you or your health? Yep, they just want your money. They are a 60 billion dollar a year industry that thrives off of you feeling bad about yourself and selling you products that don't even work. If they worked they would put themselves right out of business. Isn't it a little ironic that the diet industry revenue has sky rocketed while at the same time so has the rate of obesity in America.
For some it may be a good and worthy goal to "lose weight" this year. But are we sacrificing our health to do so? Are we giving in to the fad diet craze? In our innocent efforts to be healthy are we doing things that in actuality really aren't good for our bodies? Fact is, fad diets don't work long term and aren't truly "healthy". There really is no substitute for a healthy lifestyle of balanced nutrition and exercise.
So lets take our focus off of weight and put it on taking care of our bodies. We have been told time & time again by general authorities how sacred our bodies are and how important it is for us to take care of them because how we treat them truly affects our spirits. President Boyd K. Packer refers to your body as the "Instrument of your Mind & the Foundation of your character." Our bodies are a gift from god and it is our individual responsibility to care for them. Not in the worldly way of flat abs and lean thighs but in the Lords way. When we care for our bodies our minds are more alert, we are more in tune with the spirit, we are better able to fulfill our responsibilities and give of ourselves, we feel better about ourselves, and Richard G. Scott tells us when we are taking care of our bodies we are more inclined to receive personal revelation.
THAT is why it is so important to take care of our bodies. Not to be skinny. We are all built differently and that is beautiful. Instead of comparing ourselves to other women, lets strive to be our best selves. So this year lets cross out the goal to
I want to share with you part of an amazing talk by Elder Holland, it is so so good!...
"May I Plead with you young women to please be more accepting of yourselves, including your body shape and style, with a little less longing to look like someone else. We are all different. Some are tall and some are short. Some are round, and some are thin. And almost everyone at some time or other wants to be something they are not! But as one adviser to teenage girls said: "You can't live your life worrying that the world is staring at you. When you let people's opinions make you self conscious you give away your power... The key to feeling confident is to always listen to your inner self- the real you. And in the Kingdom of God the real you is more precious than rubies. (proverbs 3:15)
Every Young Women is a child of destiny and every adult woman a powerful force for good. I mention adult women because, sisters, you are our greatest examples and resource for these young women. And if you are obsessing over being a size 2, you won't be very surprised when your daughter or the mia maid in your class does the same and makes herself physically ill trying to accomplish it. We should all be as fit as we can be- that's good Word of Wisdom doctrine. That means eating right and exercising and helping our bodies function at their optimum strength. We could probably all do better in that regard. But I speak here of optimum health; there is no universal optimum size.
Frankly, the world has been brutal with you in this regard. You are bombarded in movies, television, fashion magazines, and advertisements with the message that looks are everything! The pitch is "If your looks are good enough, your life will be glamorous and you will be happy and popular." That kind of pressure is immense in the teenage years, to say nothing of later womanhood. In too many cases too much is being done to the human body to meet just such a fictional (to say nothing of superficial) standard. In terms of preoccupation with self and fixation on the physical, this is more than social insanity, it is spiritually destructive, and it accounts for much of the unhappiness women face in the modern world. And if adults are preoccupied with appearance- tucking and nipping and implanting and remodeling everything that can be remodeled- those pressures and anxieties will certainly seep through to children. At some point the problem becomes what the Book of Mormon calls "Vain Imaginations" (1 Nephi 12:18) And in secular society both vanity and imagination run wild. One would truely need a great and spacious makeup kit to compete with beauty as portrayed in media all around us. Yet at the end of the day there would still be those "in the attitude of mocking and pointing fingers" as lehi saw. Because however much one tries in the world of glamour and fashion, it will never be glamorous enough.
For you to fully claim Heavenly Father's blessings and protection, we ask you to stay true to the standards of the gospel of Jesus Christ and not slavishly follow the whims of fads and fashions. I want you to be proud you are a woman. I want you to feel the reality of what that means, to know who you truly are. You are literally a spirit daughter of heavenly parents with a divine nature and an eternal destiny. That surpassing truth should be fixed deep in your soul and be fundamental to every decision you make as you grow into mature womanhood. There could never be a greater authentication of your dignity, your worth, your privileges, and your promise. Your Father in Heaven knows your name and knows your circumstances. He hears your prayers. He knows your hopes and dreams, including your fears and frustrations, And he knows what you can become through FAITH in him.
BE A WOMAN OF CHRIST. Cherish your esteemed place in the sight of god. He needs you. This church needs you. The world needs you. A woman's abiding trust in God and unfailing devotion to things of the spirit have always been an anchor when the wind and the waves of life were fiercest.
("To Mothers and Daughters" By Jeffery R. Holland was originally published as "To Young Women" in Ensign, November 2005)