Different Paths, Same Journey
When I think about comparing our two journeys, it's like comparing apples and oranges. They have been very different paths. Even our goals and starting points were so different that it really isn't realistic to compare them. That was the beauty of this whole process. Because our journeys were so different, I think it gives a better picture of different scenarios missionary women face on furlough.
I think Kristine and I set realistic individual goals when we took a look at the situations we would be facing on furlough. For example, I knew I would have a lot of control over what I ate for much of furlough, because I knew we would be staying in prophet's chambers instead of people's homes. I also knew our schedule would allow for some opportunities for going to the gym while on the road. Many of the hotels we stayed in had fitness centers too. With these things in mind, I knew I could set very ambitious goals. I still faced (and am facing) roadblocks, but I am learning how to work around each one of those.
What encouraged me the most was that Kristine and I had the same main goal. We both want to glorify God in our bodies and in our spirits. That made us a team even though our goals and paths were so different. She helped me to keep a balanced focus on what I was doing. I must admit, she helped me keep a check on my motives!
Before leaving for furlough last April, I worked hard to lose nine pounds. Despite rigorous exercise once we arrived in America, the scale started to creep back up until I regained most of the weight. I was very interested in doing this challenge with Charity, because I knew that the accountability would help me to finish strong.
I was already exercising religiously, so I knew that the main changes would have to take place in my diet. But because we were constantly in people's homes, it was difficult for me to follow the eating plan that I knew would help me to lose weight the quickest. Instead, I had to rely on moderation and skipping carbs wherever possible. I determined to stick to my plan anytime I was in a restaurant or had control over my food and then just took small portions of main dishes and loaded up with veggies while in people's homes. To be honest, I indulged once in every American treat that I missed-- ice cream, Chick-Fil-A, fried pickles, Cheetos, etc. The key was to go right back on plan after I enjoyed my treat. I could enjoy certain foods as long as they did not become part of my regular diet. I also made sure to create time and opportunity to exercise faithfully. I would have liked to have lost more weight like Charity did, and I believe if I had been in a prophet's chamber with a kitchen, I could have. Eventually, however, I had to content myself with breaking even on the scale. I just did not have enough control over my environment to actually lose more than the seven pounds that I had gained. Since I could exercise, I did at least see improvement in my fitness level and tone.
Furlough is challenging. It is hard to live out of a suitcase for months at a time. Even more difficult is maintaining a sweet spirit while living with other people (often strangers) for weeks on end. The two things that helped me immensely were exercise and self control with food. Exercise relieved stress and tension, got my blood flowing so I felt healthy, helped me to stay regular, and gave me something in my environment that I could control. Overall it made me more cheerful and optimistic. Eating healthy helped me to avoid grumpiness caused by sugar and carb overload and helped me to be able to fit into my clothes. Nothing makes me feel worse than my clothes not fitting! Whether you use your furlough to lose 40 pounds like Charity, or just want to break even like I did, remember that exercise and self control are key!