Remember in October of 2012 when President Monson announced the age change that would allow missionaries to serve at a younger age? Young men were permitted to serve at age 18, and young women at...
“Know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own?” 1 Corinthians 6:19
“Your health and safety are of great importance. Maintain your health so that you can serve with all your heart, might, mind, and strength.” - Missionary Handbook 50
One of the biggest worries of future missionaries is that they will gain weight on their missions. It was definitely one of mine, and I did in fact gain weight. However, after learning the hard way and through some great companions, I finally learned how to avoid gaining weight and live healthily in the field.
The diet you maintain while serving has a significant impact on your health. The best way to avoid gaining weight on your mission is to watch what you eat. It is much easier to slip into an unhealthy diet without your parents’ supervision, so remember all they’ve taught you about eating well.
On your mission you will often be fed by members and investigators which means you will not always be able to choose what you eat. That being said, never leave food on your plate. Many cultures take offense when a meal is not finished, so do everything to never offend your hosts. If they offer you seconds, feel free to take some! Taking seconds assures the host that you like the meal they have prepared. However, if it gets to the point where you can no longer take another bite (it will happen), politely refuse a second helping.
Abide by the following passage from the Missionary Handbook:
“When eating meals with or otherwise visiting members or nonmembers, always act in harmony with the highest standards of consideration and courtesy, observing local customs of etiquette and the common practices of the culture. Be thoughtful by not eating too much if food is in short supply. Always express your thanks. Follow the host or hostess in the use of utensils, and chew food with a closed mouth.”
Because you have no control over what is served with members and investigators, it is important to heavily monitor what you eat on your own time. Be sure have a balanced diet of dairy, grains, fruits, and vegetables. When purchasing your groceries for the week, be sure to include a healthy amount of fruits and vegetables.
It is important that you eat a good breakfast that sustains and energizes you, so eat one relatively light but still fills you up. Eating one too heavy, or going without breakfast entirely will leave you tired and distracted during your morning studies. Keep the serving size fairly small.
Suggested breakfast formula:
- 1 form of carbohydrate
- 1 fruit
- 1 protein
Fried egg on toast
1 fruit (apple, banana, berries, etc.)
1 bowl of granola based cereal with sliced banana or strawberries on top
1 hard boiled egg
You will usually eat lunch before you begin the bulk of your work, so make lunch your biggest meal of the day. Eat a hearty and filling meal that will sustain you as you work.
Suggested lunch formula:
- 1 form of carbohydrate/grain
- 1-2 vegetables or fruits
- 1 protein
Rice bowl with sautéed onions, peppers, broccoli, & chicken
Turkey sandwich on wheat bread
1 fruit (orange, apple, berries, etc.)
Contrary to popular belief, it is better to eat a lighter dinner. The reason is because the later you eat, the less active your metabolism is. Much of the sugar in the food that you eat during the day is converted to energy while the sugar consumed in the evening is more likely to be converted into fat, resulting in a much larger possibility of gaining unwanted weight. Eating lightly in the evening will prevent this.
Suggested dinner formula:
- 3-4 fruits/vegetables
- optional grain or carbohydrate
The examples given are simple just suggestions. I am not a nutritionist, and have still a lot to learn about eating well. I am just sharing what helped me while I served. There are endless meal options, so get creative! Don’t be afraid to switch things up and experiment with different foods. So be healthy and have fun!
6:30 a.m. : Arise, pray, exercise (30 minutes), and prepare for the day
There are no programs or plans suggested or required in the Missionary Handbook, so you are on your own to decide and plan on how to exercise. This freedom should not be taken for granted, nor does it mean that your daily exercise is of little importance. In fact, it is quite the contrary. Your daily exercise determines your entire work day. The more effort and energy you invest in your exercises, the greater your desire to work and serve diligently.
During my first transfer in the field, a multi zone conference was held with Elder Patrick Kearon of the Seventy. During that conference, the importance of morning exercises was stressed and reiterated. Shortly after the conference our mission president and other leaders of the mission developed a new initiative that would get us motivated for the day. We called it MANGOS.
Here's what it was:
Make a choice - Make the choice to work hard and be diligent.
Accelerate to full - Go hard! Exercise with all your might!
No drag - Don’t let anything hold you back.
Gang up - Work with your companion.
Offer a prayer - You need that divine aid.
Smile - It makes all the difference.
After this initiative was presented and carried out, the mission changed. Each companionship became determined to make the most out of their morning exercises. We called and texted each other to encourage and motivate. We pushed ourselves further and further. After those thirty minutes we felt energized and excited to work the rest of the day. As we worked, we contacted more people on the street, and taught to our fullest. Many miracles followed.
This is just success story of effective morning exercises, and I’m sure there are many more. If you have one yourself or know of any, please share! We’d love to hear it.
So make the most of your daily exercise! Be creative, work hard, and have fun!
You are to be healthy on the mission because it is your responsibility to preach the gospel. Neglecting to take care of your body opens many doors to potential illnesses as well as catching a dangerous disease, thus preventing you from serving with a full heart, might, mind, and strength. However, you are not expected to be a health nut on your mission. You are allowed to treat yourself and enjoy your mission’s specialties. As a missionary in France it would have been wrong to deny myself the joys of a pain au chocolat or tarte aux pommes. Not to mention, you deserve to indulge every now and then. After all, serving a mission is hard! Just don’t make indulging a daily habit.
The same goes for exercise. Your morning exercise can make or break your day, but remember that you are not expected to be a bodybuilder. Exercise according to your ability. Push yourself, but don’t become obsessed with your fitness. Never let anything overshadow or distract you from your missionary purpose.
In conclusion, do everything in moderation. No one is expecting you to lose a large amount of weight, nor become an Olympic athlete. Eating a balanced diet and exercising regularly will keep you healthy and able to do the Lord’s work.