Why would I stop drinking something so great, something I loves, something that has truly changed my health for the better? Well, that part is much harder to share. I hope that those who don't share my same understanding will read with an open mind and respect. I pray that hearts will be softened and non-judgmental. I need to share what I have learned for the sake of my own integrity and because I believe that we have a duty to share light and truth within our sphere, on matter how difficult or uncomfortable.
My reasons for discontinuing Shakeology have nothing to do with the cost or the company or some other disillusionment. On the contrary, I have great feelings about Beachbody as a whole and the financial structure as a Beachbody coach make the cost of little concern to me.
It has everything to do with being a Mormon.
Now, hold up.... I know the vast majority of the Beachbody coaches in my circle are also LDS. Yes, I also know that some chief officers in the company are Mormon. I realize all of these people drink and swear by Shakeology. Ok, if not all then certainly seems like all. Why do you think this is so hard to write? I know it will not be easily accepted by many. I'm not going to try and tell you other members of my faith that you shouldn't drink Shakeology either. That's your decision to make. I do ask that you keep an open mind and heart as you read my explanation and that, if you find you are able, you pray with a sincere and humble heart to know for yourself. Your answer may be different than mine. It may not. You have to be open to either possibility.
It started a few months ago. I was slowly coming to grips with acknowledging I had not involved my Heavenly Father in my weight loss journey as I knew I needed to and that the times I had seen the most success were the times I did involve Him. I felt a continual push that I needed to search the Word of Wisdom for answers and clues as to how I should be feeding my body. I had this feeling that if I would just follow the Word of Wisdom then the Lord would bless my body to function properly (and thus lose the weight it should have by now). So I began to study talks and lessons in addition to D&C 89. I developed an idea that I should create an eating plan based on this (more on that later) and I realized the clear emphasis to really add more fruits and vegetables and reduce overall meat consumption. I had ideas and understandings like all these and more. I was still struggling to cohesively put it all together and to implement it. I felt a little like I was missing something in it. Something I just wasn't quite catching. I started praying for humility and guidance to know what to do. I knew I needed to submit my will to His more anyway, but it was scary nonetheless.
Fast forward a bit to Ward Conference. We have a phenomenal Stake President whom I greatly admire and respect. We had one of those amazing Sacrament meetings that just seemed to touch my soul and hit on things that had been on my mind. In Relief Society, our Stake President held a Q&A session. We'd had the opportunity to anonymously write him questions on a piece of paper prior to his visit. Someone had asked a question about caffeine, such as Coca-Cola, and thus the discussion on the Word of Wisdom began.
Now, before you get all up in arms or start debating different points of the Word of Wisdom and interpretations of it, just hear me out. This was the first I'd heard it explained this way and the spirit was so strong in that room, there could have been a light shining directly down. My friend who was sitting next to me is someone whom I consider a very spiritual person and even she sat agape saying "I never thought of it that way! It makes total sense!" I couldn't agree more and there was no questioning of the authority felt in that room. Trust me, I have tried to question and doubt it many times since as I wasn't sure I liked what it meant for me or how it felt with the beliefs I had at the time. I simply cannot.
I hope that I can explain this similar to how he did so that you can follow along and understand....
First the why....
Now this is the part that really got to me.
Consider the very last verse of the Word of Wisdom:
"And I, the Lord, give unto them a promise, that the
adestroying angel shall bpass by them, as the children of Israel, and not slay them."
Now this from Exodus 12:
For the will
apass through to smite the Egyptians; and when he seeth the blood upon the lintel, and on the two side posts, the will bpass over the door, and will not csuffer the ddestroyer to come in unto your houses to smite
Anyone who has seen the classic movie The Ten Commandments probably has a good visual of the 'destroying angel'. Think of this... what was significant about this? What did they do but place a mark above their doors to differentiate themselves from the others? They merely distinguished themselves as followers of the God that Moses was trying to preach about.
Now, consider this...
When you travel or go somewhere new or meet a new person and ask them what they know about Mormons, what answer do you get 9 times out of 10? Something along the lines of "they don't smoke...they don't drink... they don't drink coffee...". All these things are ways that we stand out and are identified and differentiated. All these things are because of the Word of Wisdom. Do you see what I'm getting at? No, it's not like these people never die or suffer. But they were a marked people and set apart as being choice and different, just as we.
Does this change how you view the Word of Wisdom? Because it sure did for me.
As for the what and Shakeology...
So of course the tea question came up. We have had it revealed and clarified that the term 'hot drink' refers to coffee and tea (you have to remember the time at which the revelation was given and the customs and verbage of the day). In fact, I really love this quote from Elder Packer from this talk:
"I found in the Word of Wisdom a principle with a promise. The principle: Care for your body; avoid habit-forming stimulants, tea, coffee, tobacco, liquor, and drugs (see D&C 89:3–9). Such addictive things do little more than relieve a craving which they caused in the first place."
Tea is sometimes misleading because it is also a method of preparation for herbs and such. When you steep herbs to make a tea, that is different than the tea that has been referred to in the scripture. What we are to avoid consumption of is tea itself....as in the tea plant (as well as those other items listed above). We are not taught to avoid them only in certain preparations or quantities. You do not have coffee whether it is iced, an ingredient in something (I confess I love mocha ice cream but now I've got to double check those ingredients), or brewed. The same is true of tea.... of the tea plant.
Did you know that green tea and black tea are from the exact same plant? They are the same! The difference is only in the preparation of the leaf. Seriously. Check out this wikipedia article about the plant. I do not access the internet during church, but I confess I looked this one up right then and there because I could scarcely believe it when he said they were from the same plant.
So here's the thing.... Green tea is definitely full of many health properties. I'm certainly not going to argue that. I will, however, point out that the same can be said of many of those other substances we choose to avoid when we follow the Word of Wisdom. Have you read a recent study touting the heart benefits of a daily glass of wine? So are you going to start drinking it? It seems to me that any statements about it being okay because of the health benefits or because of the difference in preparation would be rationalizing against something we have been taught. That is how it feels to me anyway. This is the battle I have waged within myself. 'But just look at all the health benefits I've received.' 'But look at how all those other people who are drinking it are being blessed. They must be living their lives righteously.' 'Why would God have led me to this if it wasn't okay?' Oh yah, that one was a doozy.
What I've come to the conclusion of is this... When we know better we do better. We learn line upon line and precept on precept. I can accept that I needed to experience the health benefits of Shakeology (which contains green tea if you haven't figured that one out yet) so that I could see and learn for myself how food can impact my body and how I have the power to affect it for good. Like the milk before the meat, this was how I needed to move forward in my journey. A loving Heavenly Father saw that and led me there. Sure, it's also possible that I talked myself into it because I was desperate for that challenge group (that He most definitely gave me answer that I needed to be a part of). Honestly, it doesn't really matter. What matters is that I need my Savior's help to overcome my food addiction. I need His help to live authentically and whole. I need to have my very nature changed, and only He can do that. He can only do that when I am willing to submit my will to His. I simply cannot go back on what I learned and how I felt. Believe me, I wanted to. When other Beachbody coaches got up in arms about not being able to be a successful coach if you aren't drinking Shakeology yourself (because you aren't being a product of the product then), I saw my dreams of financial freedom and having my husband solely working from home floating away. At that very same instance, however, I felt that the Lord would bless me with what it was that I really needed and sufficient for the life I desired. Maybe it won't happen in the way that I imagined and could see, but it will happen. Thing is, I do still absolutely love Shakeology. If they ever come out with a version that doesn't contain green tea, then you bet your dollar I'll be first in line for it. I'm not telling you whether you should or shouldn't consume it yourself. If you aren't LDS and don't share the beliefs that I do, then absolutely have it! That is definitely not a choice I can and should make for you. My job is to give information and tools so that you can decide for yourself. For all I know, you'll be given a different answer than I.... and I do still fully support the product. If you are LDS and do continue to use Shakeology, be assured that I most definitely won't judge you. I, too, plan to continually be prayerful about it.
Besides, Beachbody is so much more than just Shakeology. It is phenomenal fitness programs and a commitment to overall healthy living that I can absolutely stand by and promote. It is also (and you probably didn't even know this) a really fabulous skin care line that I love and am so grateful to have found, since I'm not allergic to it! So I'll be darned if someone says I can't be successful because I choose to not consume a product containing green tea. Maybe my definition of success is different.