Mission Weight Dynamics

As part of his weekly e-mail, my younger brother serving in Sweden mentioned that he has lost forty pounds! I think he’s been in "the field" for almost five months now. That’s nearly two pounds a week he’s been shaving off. I bring this up because, at least in my family (five of us kids having served missions), the mission weight dynamic has varying results.

I’m pretty sure all of us gained weight in the MTC. We’ve all heard the reasoning behind this one: sitting around with breaks only to sit around and eat, etc. But once we get out into the mission field, it’s anyone’s guess what happens. Again, working with my non-authoritative (but fun) limited sample size, I often wonder what all the contributing factors are and how they interplay with each other.

I, myself, gained weight in the MTC (I think around ten pounds) but lost it once in the field. I didn’t particularly lose much more, though. One of my sisters, on the other hand, who happened to serve in the same mission as me (right before me, she came home while I was in the MTC), gained quite a bit of weight in that same mission field (I think close to twenty pounds, probably the heaviest I’ve ever seen her).

I’m not sure where I’m going with this. I suppose I just find it intriguing that I rarely come across a returned missionary who was able to maintain the same weight level before, during, and/or after the mission. I guess it’s a big enough change in life that it’s probably uncontrollable to a certain degree.

In any event, let’s conduct one of those informal studies that don’t amount to much. All you returned missionaries out there, share your mission weight stories!


  1. No change in the MTC; however, Much of the latter portion of my mission was in a car. French pasteries + car = 5 lbs.

  2. Jonathan Green says:

    No anecdote to add, but it seems to me that mission weight gains are the Mormon equivalent of college weight gains. I had never heard of the ‘freshman 15’ until this year. I don’t remember anyone mentioning it while I was at BYU, but I heard much discussion of gaining weight while I was a missionary.

  3. I gained a bit of weight in the MTC (constant sitting, eating and unlimited chocolate milk will do that).

    Once I got to the mission field (Argentina), I discovered that in my mission, we ate one meal, lunch, with the members and did not get a dinner break. By the time we got home at 9:30 or 10:00, we were too exhausted to eat anything. We also walked everywhere (bikes being stolen too often) so I lost 20 or 30 pounds that summer. I didn’t think I had that much to lose.

    Another Elder in my group was very large in the MTC. I forget exactly how much he lost in the first two months, but it was a ridiculous amount (i.e. over 50 pounds).

  4. I entered the MTC at 160ish, I left the MTC at 180ish, I left the mission field at 140ish. The kindhearted office elders in my mission put together a photo montage of my weight loss over the course of my mission in my last mission newsletter.

  5. I guess I’m one of those rarities, Bob. 165 sophomore year in HS. 165 Freshman in college. 165 MTC. 165 in the mission (Guatemala). 165 in college. 165 right now. There’s nothing I can do to change this.

  6. Bob Caswell says:

    Rusty, do you mind if we plug you into a machine and run a bunch of tests? Seriously, though, if you had some sort of immitable secret, you could be the next big breakthrough.

  7. MTC weight: 135
    Returned from mission: 130
    On my wedding day, two years later: 145
    By age 28: 165
    Today, age 33: 185

    I do not like this trend. Rusty, I could eat almost anything I wanted and not gain weight for most of my life. I put some weight on between my mission and marriage, but not a lot and most of it needed. Then I turned 27 and it was as if some cosmic force decided to tinker with my metabolism. I hate that.

  8. I think the key is wearing blue shirts to church, have a beard and occasionally watch R-rated movies. That seems to stablilze my weight.

    Does that help?

  9. john fowles says:

    Rusty, I’m with you on this one. Like you, there seems to be nothing I can do to change this (I thought it was funny how you mentioned your sophomore year in HS, since that’s always the starting point for me when I have to talk about my weight):

    10th grade: 135.
    day entered MTC: 135.
    halfway through mission: 135.
    end of mission: 135.
    wedding day: 135.
    age 28: 135.

  10. john fowles says:

    which also means that Rusty’s theory of why this has been his experience is deeply flawed.

  11. Bob Caswell says:

    John Fowles,

    Let’s hear your theory.

  12. I went in to the MTC at about 160, left at about 165. In Thailand, I generally stayed the same, until I got food poisoning and went to the hospital for a week. I lost over 20 pounds that week that I never gained back while a missionary. I returned home at about 140. It took me a year of drinking whole milk and purposely trying to gain weight to get back to 160. 14 years later and I’m now about 185. I rode a bike for all but two months of my mission. In my mission, most Elders lost a little weight and most Sisters gained quite a bit. I noticed that Elders tended to ride their bikes almost like a workout; as fast and as hard as possible, while most Sisters rode very slowly. I think the exercise was the difference. That’s my theory and I’m sticking to it.

  13. Rusty’s right on.

    High school: 145
    Freshman year: 155 (intro to weight training)
    MTC: 155
    Mission: 165, ending at 140 (illness)
    Married, age 24: 155
    Now, age 33: 145 (lean & mean)

  14. You’re not getting real numbers. My current weight is “x”.

    High school: x+15
    College: x+20
    MTC: x+10 (lost 10lbs in MTC due to yucky food)
    Mission: x (lost another 10 lbs)
    Age 23: x+10
    Age 33: x

    So I’m at my mission weight over ten years after being home. I liked my mission weight. We did lots of walking, and public transportation. We also ate a lot of vegetables. I told people who wanted to feed us that I was allergic to dairy products and was a vegetarian. Neither is true, but meat and milk were just about toxic in the Ukraine, so I wanted to avoid getting deathly ill, or just grossed out by what they wanted me to eat.

  15. lyle stamps says:

    i hope your systems keep it up; i too had a perfect non-weight gain no matter what you do/didn’t do; that is…until I hit 30. Now I actually exercise and no longer fit a size 28 pant. :(

  16. meat and milk were just about toxic in the Ukraine, so I wanted to avoid getting deathly ill, or just grossed out by what they wanted me to eat.

    Woo hoo! Let’s hear it for post-Soviet radioactive milk.

    Thank you, this threadjack has been brought to you by Chernobyl dairies, fine purveyors of warm milk in little plastic baggies.

  17. john fowles says:

    Bob, I haven’t got an alternative theory, but I haven’t got a beard, don’t wear blue shirts to church, and haven’t really watched R-rated movies since I got married (1998). That’s why I guess that, even in the absence of an alternative theory, it doesn’t look like Rusty’s theory works as a universal rule. But I am willing to admit it might have worked for him.

  18. cathleen says:

    i was a ballet dancer through high school and college. I went regularly to aerobics at the MTC (do they still do those there?) so I maintained when I was there, but after ten months in England, I’d put on 40 pounds. It wasn’t that there was good food. There wasn’t. I can only say that riding bikes and hopping on and off buses and slogging up and down slippery cobblestone and slippery pavement in the rain don’t give you the calorie burn that I was used to. When I got back, I was too stiff to get back to where I’d been in ballet (plus a ripped muscle was causing problems). I took up running, which took off 20 pounds, and there I have stayed. I lost a lot of muscle, though, so I probably look like I’ve gained more than 20 pounds.

  19. cathleen says:

    i was a ballet dancer through high school and college. I went regularly to aerobics at the MTC (do they still do those there?) so I maintained when I was there, but after ten months in England, I’d put on 40 pounds. It wasn’t that there was good food. There wasn’t. I can only say that riding bikes and hopping on and off buses and slogging up and down slippery cobblestone and slippery pavement in the rain don’t give you the calorie burn that I was used to. When I got back, I was too stiff to get back to where I’d been in ballet (plus a ripped muscle was causing problems). I took up running, which took off 20 pounds, and there I have stayed. I lost a lot of muscle, though, so I probably look like I’ve gained more than 20 pounds.

  20. Pre-MTC: 165
    Post-MTC: 155 (Postum and exercise)
    Post-mission: 130
    Age 29: 172

  21. Mark B. says:

    Entered Mission Home: 175 (informal weight training program–working construction)

    Returned from Japan: 135 (my wife,who was in my home ward, said I looked like the POWs who were returning from Vietnam about the same time)

    (I had one companion who, after a month, had punched three or four new holes in his belt, and his pants ballooned out like a clown’s around his severely diminished derriere.)

    Law school (2 years after mission): 155

    Millenium (1/1/2000): 165

    Now: 180

    What hit Chris Williams at 27 seems to have hit me about at about 47. I guess it’s right living–at least until 4 years ago!

  22. Bob Caswell says:

    John Fowles,

    Don’t take me (or Rusty) so seriously! I’m still interested in your theory, but no pressure if you’re not in the mood for making up something witty.

  23. Bob Caswell says:

    Ah, Chernobyl, that’s what we blamed for the weirdest looking cow-dogs in our mission.

  24. Aaron Brown says:

    In my mission (Argentina), most elders gained at least a little weight, while most sisters gained a lot. There were exceptions of course. Personally, I lost a LOT of weight. By the time I came off my mission, I weighed 170 lbs., and I am 6’5″ tall. In pictures of me at my thinnest, I seriously looked like a concentration camp survivor (albeit better dressed). It really is scary. Now I weight 255 lbs, and I’m not happy about it at all. My metabolism changed in my early to mid-twenties, and I’ve been groaning about it ever since.

    It was always fun to observe how weight gain and loss affected the sister missionaries. One sister, who I’ll call Hermana “D”, was a little bit on the plump side (but not much), and was generally really neurotic. Once she arrived in Argentina, she started to gain a little more weight (but not much). All the members would refer to her as the “gordita” (“little fat girl”), and she found this horribly offensive, and would fret about it constantly. But in Latin American culture, this is not considered inappropriate. Such was her life.

  25. Mark B.,

    I’m glad to know that I’m in good company. But I’m bitter that I’ve been denied 20 years of worry-free eating.

  26. Tanya S. says:

    I gained 8 to 10 pounds in the MTC, lost it all in the first month in the mission plus about another 10 pounds (walking area), but then regained that extra 10 pounds lost over the rest of the mission (car areas). So I came home the same weight I left.

  27. pre-mission: 270
    Home from Mission (Argentina): 225
    Marriage: 250
    Now (33): the scale only goes to 300

  28. Ah yes – a weight thread – this is something I can get involved with!

    My weight gain and loss has recently been document for the world to see on the incredibly goofy “Biggest Loser”. Here’s my history:

    sophmore year – wrestled at a pudgy 172
    enter MTC – 210
    6 months into mission in beautiful Minnesota – 240
    12 months into mission – 260
    18 months – 280
    end of mission – 208.
    I joined Weight Watchers with six months left in my mission and stuck to it for six months and lost over 70 lbs. I HAD to look good for the ladies when I got back to the BYU. Going to Weight Wathchers in the basement of small church in St. Peter MN (population 4,500) with my skinny companion was very entertaining. Most people thought we were pretty strange at first. After going every week we got to know all the pudgy ladies in town very well and taught many discussion to the other Weight Watchers, and had many heathly dinner appointments. It turned out to be a great way to find people to teach. My companion was also incredibly supportive of my weight loss. He was the first person that could tell me to eat right and i didn’t want to throw him out a window. He had a way about him that was supportive and not annoying to an overweight person. Thanks Elder Strong – wherever you are!

    got married – 215
    one year of marriage – 225
    second year of marriage – 240
    third year of marriage – 255
    fourth year – then divorced! – 265
    after 5 years of being single – 300
    get married again – 300
    two years of second marriage – 330
    six months of reality TV – 208
    now – 240

    I killed myself the last week of the show and lost about 25 lbs of water weight – which i didn’t know was possible until i talked to my doctor. I gained about 30lbs in the six days after the final show.

    If anyone is curious – check out my site at http://www.ryancbenson.com (shameless plug)

  29. HL Rogers says:

    pre-mission: 155
    post-mtc: 160
    3 months into mission: 150
    close to end of mission: 165
    end of mission after food poisoning: 145
    now (7 years later): 150

  30. Ryan, do you think you’re about stable at 240? just curious.

  31. I want to live somewhere between 210 and 220. I’m 6’1″ with a fairly large frame. So 210 – 220 would be a good weight for me. I’m still working out a lot trying to get to that weight – this time I’ll do it a little slower (1-2 lbs./week) which the experts always say is a much healthier way to lose.

  32. I went in being a very skinny 6’4″ 175 lbs. I came back a nearly invisible 6’4″ 140 lbs.

  33. Aaron Brown says:

    Another sister missionary weight story:

    Sister “J” was very overweight before her mission. She also dressed in all black, wore pasty white make-up, and carried a broadsword under her robe. Kind of scary. I didn’t know her personally, but I remember seeing her at BYU my freshman year. She was kind of hard to miss.

    In the mission field, Sister H lost a ton of weight, while all the other sisters were gaining. In addition, since she was a white, American girl in Argentina, she was considered at least twice as attractive as she would have been back home, even controlling for her weight. But once you take the weight loss into consideration, she was probably at least 10 times as attractive as she’d ever been before. The result was that she had tons of male suitors in Argentina pursuing her, and she had no experience dealing with this kind of thing. Every area she moved to, the locals hit on her, and she was so flattered, she couldn’t help but invite the attention. This always became a problem for the DLs or ZLs (though, in fairness, I don’t think anything unseemly ever happened).

    After the mission, I would run into her at the Y now and again. She had put back on much of her weight (though not all of it), and no longer had the “I’m an American girl in Argentina” thing going for her.

    I have often thought about this sister over the years because of what I see as the terrible unfairness of her dilemma. The one time in her life that she had a full plate of male suitors was the one time she couldn’t officially do anything about it. Life is unfair.

    Aaron B

  34. Aaron, that tale of woe is sad indeed, but I am laughing my butt off. Classic!

  35. Not a great trend here:

    High school — 170 or so.
    Mission — didn’t really gain or lose, came home around 170.
    Married, age 22. 180ish, I think.
    Through college — still in the 180’s.
    Law school — starting to climb, it might have hit 190.
    After 4 years in a job where I sit in a chair in an office all day for long hours, order client-paid-for chinese food delivery for dinner (and sit at the desk and eat it as I work on a brief), and go to firm-paid lunches at NYC’s best restaurants to try to woo summer associates to the firm: 210.

    Yeah, I need to get in better shape.

  36. Capt Jack says:


    As the Argies would say about Sis H, ‘Dios le da pan al que no tiene dientes y le da vista al que no sabe mirar’.

  37. Rosalynde says:

    Steve, I absolutely cannot imagine *you* at 165!

    I lost a little weight overall on my mission, I think I came home probably about five pounds under, but I gained some of that back during early married life. The best weight loss program I’ve ever experienced has been chidlbirth, though: I’ve lost a permanent five pounds with each kid, and am now living at a comfy 127.

    On the “flaca” “gordita” thing–yeah, every companionship of sisters gets divided and labeled, one the skinny one and one the fat one. I had some companions who were probably close to my weight, but because I am not heavy-breasted, I was always *always* the skinny one. Nice for me, but kind of sucked for my companions.

  38. Rosalynde says:

    (Sorry, I should have said a permanent five pounds after *both* kids; I’m just vain enough not to want the bloggernacle public picturing me at 137 before kids.)

  39. Interesting, Rosalynde. Kathryn lost weight with both kids as well. Nice gene pool.

  40. I used to be with Rusty and John F.

    Weight at 16: 135-140
    Weight in MTC: 135-140
    Weight during mission: 135-140
    Weight upon return home: 135-140
    Weight at age 28: 135-140

    Then the shocker!

    Weight at age 30: 160+

    Not that weight at age 30 has anything to do with the MTC or mission weight gain dynamics. But during my time as a summer associate I gained about 20 pounds! And now I’m stuck with it.

  41. I went on my mission slightly underweight; too little money and too little food the two years I was a BYU student beforehand. During my mission, I got a severe case of dengue fever and nearly died. I lost about thirty pounds during that episode and didn’t manage to get the weight back on until well after I got home.

    So that’s my patented weight-loss program. Get a fever and nearly die.

  42. Brother Joseph says:

    6th grade: 160
    10th grade: 160
    Graduated HS: 160
    Discovered bodybuilding at college: 195 (< 7% bodyfat) 3 weeks in MTC: 185 (losing muscle) Peak SoCal mission weight at 18 months: 215 (chubby) Mission end: 190 (Last companion was trying to slim down, so we worked on it together) Married: 190 3rd anniversary: chubby 220 3 months later: 200 lean I recently renewed my interest in bodybuilding after a long hiatus, and my wife is working out with me. My goal is a lean 215. Ideally, I'm going to be healthy and active with my children and grandchildren.

  43. I don’t think I put on any weight on my mission (I never really paid any attention to my weight before or during my mission, but I think I was probably 165-170 or so). Lots of bike riding.

    I put on 15 pounds shortly after getting married, and put on another 3-4 pounds a year during the holidays, until I reached 207 or so. A couple of years ago I managed to get back down to 180, but Kristen’s recent pregnancy has led me to put on sympathy weight to my current 197 or so (Kristen gets really bad nausea/food aversions during pregnancy, leaving the rest of us to fend for ourselves — we don’t eat very healthily during pregnancies at our house).

  44. It seems like there is a pattern here with food poisoning and missionary illnesses. Frankly, it is amazing that more missionaries aren’t killed by some of the member meals.

  45. Bob Caswell says:


    Believe it or not, I’ve never heard of the fat/skinny sister missionary dichotomy. I’m intrigued, especially with your bit about “had some companions who were probably close to my weight, but because I am not heavy-breasted, I was always *always* the skinny one. Nice for me, but kind of sucked for my companions.”

    Pardon me if I venture into the inappropriate, but I never imagined breasts to be the defining factor of whether or not someone was considered fat or skinny, let alone the idea that it “sucked” for those with the bigger breasts. Maybe if they were gargantious, but someone close to the same weight as you having slightly bigger breasts? That sucks for them? I suppose it’s just that I wouldn’t have guessed it if you hadn’t told me.

    And kudos to you for maintaining the coveted below 130 weight (my wife hovers right around 130 and loves it when she hits anywhere in the 120s; apparently we just need some kids and she’ll be a perma-under-130).

  46. Bob Caswell says:

    “sympathy weight”

    I’ll have to keep that one in my bag of tricks.

  47. Pre-mission (and for most of my teenage years): 150
    MTC: 165
    First area: 180
    Second area: 195
    Third area: 210
    Got home: 210
    Wedding day: 195
    1st anniversary: 225
    Moved to Lethbridge: 195
    1 year later: 150
    1 more year later: 205
    13 years after I left on my mission (today): hovering between 205 and 210.

  48. My wife would be literally skin and bones if she was under 130.

  49. john fowles says:

    Bob, the skinny/fat dichotomy is common in “Latin” cultures, for whatever reason. Hence, “la gordita” is an extremely common appelation for a woman, even if that woman is only slightly chubby, in Latin America, including Mexico, and apparently in Portugal too.

    I don’t know about Bulgaria, but in Germany, England, Holland, or Denmark, even though the people there are generally far more blunt than the average American, people wouldn’t use this dichotomy as a means of identification or replace a sister’s given name with such a nickname.

  50. Greg Call says:

    I gained ten pounds or so as a missionary as a result of nightly member meals and being in a car most of the time. I probably weigh the same now as I did in high school (155), but I’m not really sure because we haven’t had a scale in the house since we were married. My wife hates them and refuses to have one, even though she’s thin. I like that.

  51. Kim, do tell-what accounts for you dropping 40 lbs in a year after you moved to Lethbridge?

  52. Bob-

    In my mission the members always labeled each sister in a companionship as either “la gordita” or “la flaca,” primarily so that they could distinguish between all the seemingly identical blonde girls that passed through. Like Rosalynde, I was usually the thinner companion, so my poor companeras (who were NOT overweight) were always called la gordita.

    One of my companions, who was quite beautiful and not overweight in any sense of the word, developed quite a complex about the whole thing, and implemented what she called “the two tortilla rule.” When the members would try to make her take a second helping, she would refuse, saying that she hated their nickname for her and that she had a two tortilla limit. They would just laugh in amusement, keep calling her gordita, and I’d finish up both her second helping and mine. Ahh…those were the days.

    You have to understand, however, that being called gordita in Mexican culture is actually a compliment–I can’t tell you how many times well-meaning members would say things to me like “It’s such a shame that you’re so thin, you’d be a very pretty girl if you’d put on some weight.” If they could only see me now–they’d think I was gorgeous!

  53. Also–about the breast thing. At least in my experience, the larger the breasts you have, the heavier you look, regardless of your actual clothing size or weight. Take what would otherwise be a 120 pound girl, and slap some double Ds on her, and voila, she looks like she probably weighs 140 or more upon first glance.

    I think this is because people tend to see a woman’s chest before they see about anything else on her body (and that’s not just men leering at boobs, but everyone, because the chest is on the front of the body and right below the face you’re talking to) and if your breasts are big the snap judgment is usually that the rest of you is big, too.

    Like many women whose weight goes up and down, whenever I lose weight the first place I lose it is from the breasts. I’ll still be wearing the same pant size, yet everyone will start commenting that it looks like I’ve lost weight. I tell ya, it’s all about the boobs.

  54. Bob Caswell says:

    I should clarify that the “coveted below 130” is more of something that I’ve seen from personal experience (wife, sisters, friends, etc.) and thus, it should not be taken as any sort of real standard. I probably shouldn’t have brought it up.

  55. In my experience, Maria’s right, and not just about Mexico–this is a cultural miscommunication issue. “Flaco/flaca” is often a negative, rather than a positive in many parts of Latin America. Such a person may well be seen as unattractive. American women are often put off when someone says to them, “Hey, you’ve gained some weight! That’s great!” But they mean to be paying a compliment.

    One Dominican sister in my mission started as roughly the embodiment of American standards of beauty. During her mission, she gained about 80 pounds–which had been her goal. Dominican elders told me she was much prettier with the extra weight, although that was certainly not true to my American eyes.

  56. Bob Caswell says:

    Thanks for the info, John Fowles and Maria.

  57. Mark B. says:

    “I tell ya, it’s all about the boobs.”

    It’s amazing how much discourse in the Bloggernacle can be explained with this simple 8-word phrase.

  58. I think the primary factor in weight loss/gain is probably the food available. I lost weight in Brazil until I moved into an area where a guy sold these big luscious hot dogs, stuffed with goodness, on the street for 50 cents. I had two every night.

  59. Or when I was in grad school and the McDonald’s next to the institute building sold 2 Big Macs for $2. Mmmmmm. Hey, Is it a crime to have two Big Macs every day for lunch? I never did understand why I gained all that weight in grad school though…

  60. HL Rogers says:

    it was those exact street side vendor hot dogs that gave me food poinsoning. I had to go to the hosptial–never fun in Brasi–and lost a lot of weight. I tell you though, to this day, it was completely worth it. Those hot dogs were a little slice of heaven.

  61. N Miller says:

    270 Pre MTC
    282 End of MTC
    222 End of Mission – Best shape I was in and loved it. Have since flucuated as high as 270 and as low as 240. It seems every kid we have, I gain an extra ten to fifteen irremovable pounds of sympathy weight. In any given week I can bounce around 10 pounds, up or down. Unfortunatly I can’t do it two weeks in a row on the downward trend. But I am trying!!

    I am 6’6 so most people don’t look at me as fat, but according to BMI index, and all other weight/healthy measures, I guess I am way too big to just be considered fat, some went as far as to say I was obese – the nerve.

  62. I personally helped two rather overweight companions shed serious poundage in the first weeks of their mission — one dropped 22 pounds in the first two weeks (then asked and was allowed to go home-and lest you think it was me, he had repeatedly tried to go home in the MTC, prompting my President to tell me when I got him that he didn’t want to hear about anything but sore feet and fatigue from him or it was my head) and the other, my last companion, lost 30 in our first month together (which had been my goal when I first saw him).

    I had at least two other companions that entered the mission at 220 and were at a very trim 160 as my companions. I was in El Salvador and the food was greasy, but not necessarily plentiful and we walked everywhere. There was a huge emphasis on work — if you didn’t make your greenie’s legs burn in his first month, you weren’t working hard enough.

    My first real weight gain came after marriage, though I think puberty finally kicking in and overcoming the effects of high school wrestling also had something to do with the change.

    High school, wrestled 119, 125, and 130
    Mission — weighed about 145
    Post mission — 145
    Marriage — 135 (very poor and very stressed)
    Now — about 170

    I’m with you, Jordan. I have never quite been able to shed that weight gained from my summer as a summer associate — put on about 10 pounds that I’ve never managed to leave.

  63. john fowles says:

    I did lose weight once. I think I probably went down from 135 to 134 or so when I got food poisoning at a French cafe in Oxford. So I guess there is some fluctuation there, after all.

  64. It’s hard not to gain weight as a summer associate- with all the wining and dining, free soda on every floor, and sitting all day.

  65. I just remembered another funny gordita/flaca story that illustrates how truly relative the labeling was–Hermana P (who was about 40 pounds overweight) found out that she was being transferred to be with Hermana H (who was literally about 100 pounds overweight). When Hermana P heard about the transfer she shouted for joy: “Finally! Now I get to be la flaca!” And it was true, all the members in that ward called her la flaca. :)

  66. William Morris says:

    I gained 12 pounds in the MTC because of weight training.

    I probably gained another 3-4 pounds my first four months in Romania because of an investigator who insisted on feeding us three times a week (most of my mission, however, I didn’t have many dinner invites).

    Then I lost all that I had gained.

    Two words: bad pork.

  67. Let’s get back to the Ukraine/radioactive food discussion. I can’t speak for the milk, being more revolted by the 100 degree weather that it sat outside in all day while being sold than I was by the scant 45 miles to Chernobyl, but I never had any problems with the meat as long as it was cooked well. Or at least I should say, I haven’t yet had any problems. To me, the vegetables and grains were at least as potentially threatening, being grown in the contaminated soil and nourished by the contaminated water. At least with the beef you had the extra step of having the grain go through the cow first. This didn’t stop me from eating vegetables either, but anyway.

    As I see it, a lot of the weight loss I had (185 pre-mission, 150 post-mission, 200 now…better start running I guess) was due to eating foods without artificial preservatives. Most of my mission I ate farm-grown vegetables, meat, and eggs. The Elders that bought the imported western food all seemed to gain weight.

    Then there was the one missionary who, everytime he had a bad day, would go and buy 20 snickers bars and eat them in one sitting.

  68. Seth Rogers says:

    Entering the MTC, I was around 180 (5’11”) fresh off of lettering in high school swim team (so I assume I was close to “optimal,” whatever that is).

    I never weighed myself in the MTC because I considered America’s obsession with weight ridiculous (muscle weighs more than fat, etc.). However, I certainly didn’t feel completely right.

    Part of that might have been due to the Captain Crunch dispensers in the cafeteria (which were available for breakfast, lunch, and dinner). The sedentary lifestyle didn’t bug me half as much as it bugged my more active companion (who developed back troubles). But that may be because I was fairly sedentary before the MTC (with the exception of swim team).

    In any case, my waistline didn’t change appreciably.

    During my mission, I actually lost about 10 pounds. Although I was living in Japan, a first world country, my diet wasn’t very good (despite the best efforts of various “branch mothers”). I remember living off of a bag of potatoes, a box of mandarin oranges, some pancacke mix, and cool aid for two weeks. Ramen was a staple.

    When my parents came to the mission home to pick me up, my mom was shocked. She said I had a gaunt kind of look like you see on old photos of World War II soldiers in the Ardennes (although I’m confident that I wasn’t getting shot at). I’ve looked at my late mission photos and there’s no question. I do have a malnourished look about me.

    That’s what happens when you send young men out there with no clue how to take care of themselves.

  69. …was due to eating foods without artificial preservatives.

    As the bloggernacle’s resident food chemist, I have to advise you that you are free to believe this, but that it is demonstrably false.

  70. J. Stapley: Way to preach the science, brother. Hallelujah, amen!

  71. Kristine says:

    I love this thread! Although I think I outweighed John Fowles in the MTC, I now weigh less than all of you :) Nyah, nyah, nyah, nyah, nyah!

  72. You know that’s not necessarily a good thing, Kris!

  73. Nyah, nyah, nyah, nyah, nyah!

    Yes, that’s how I always said it too. But kids here in Arizona say “Nanny nanny boo boo!”. What’s the deal with that? I thought the only proper way to tease another was a hearty “Nyah, nyah, nyah, nyah, nyah, nyah!” (With the proper six nyahs)…

  74. …but that it is demonstrably false.

    Yes, maybe for now; but, if the current thread at Millenial Star has anything to say about it, maybe what now is true will someday be false.

  75. I would like to point out that I am a trend-setter. I started the juvenile antics in this thread on comment #70–well before Kristine got into the action on #71!

    Hah. Okay, I think I should quit while I’m far, far behind…

  76. I love the fact that even though we haven’t seen Kristine’s name appear in a long time, she breaks the silence to tell us how thin she is. We love you Kristine.

  77. Kristine says:

    Hey, Rusty, I figure now that the bloggernacle is populated with so many interesting and smart women’s voices, my only hope is the cute dumb blonde role. Alas, it turns out to be difficult to brand oneself as cute and dumb in cyberspace :)

  78. Seth —

    You mean to say you never discovered the instant goodness of the boil-in-the-bag curry packs? Man, I miss those things.

  79. Yeebrah says:

    Not to introduce a thread of seriousness, but have any of you encountered, or know of people who have, problems trying to go on, or while on a mission due to their weight?

    The brother of a really close friend of mine was recently denied a mission call until he lost some weight. Personally, if that was me, I don’t think I would have had the heart or desire to lose the weight required to serve. I wonder what impact that has had and will have on him in the gospel in the future…

  80. Yeebrah-

    serving a mission requires some level of physical and mental fitness. If a person is horribly overweight, they will not be as effective in the mission field. It does not mean they aren’t good, righteous people, just that their spiritual talents may be more effective in other ways of serving, until the desired level of fitness is achieved.

  81. There was a letter sent around with weight limits as a funtion of height. I know a Stake President who has had to have a couple of young men diet to recieve their calls.

  82. Seth Rogers says:

    RE: Bryce

    No doubt. Those curry packs were great!

    Problem is, that month I didn’t budget well and blew a good deal of my alottment on activities for my twice-weekly English classes I was teaching. I don’t know what we would have done if one of the members hadn’t brought that crate of mini-oranges along.

  83. Katie,

    Actually, it was 45 pounds at it was over a period of three months. I have no idea what happened, but my body fat was at 4.7%. I have my suspicions that it had to do with stress working at a job I loathingly hated, but I cannot say with any certainty what the cause was.

  84. a random John says:


    An individual on my mission had great difficulty because of weight/fitness issues. This missionary could not climb two flights of stairs without getting extremely winded. Given that the companionship lived in on the third floor of an apartment building, this was a serious problem. The ability to make distant appointments was compromised as was the ability to tract.

    In our mission we had neither cars nor bikes and coul rarely afford to use the bus. I could imagine that this wouldn’t be a problem in other areas, perhaps where missionaries had cars and there were always elevators (or only one story dwellings). In general however, missionary work requires at least some level of fitness.

  85. Yeebrah says:

    I appreciate the responses so far, but just to be clear (and stick with the original thread), I’m an RM in my early 30s and about 25-30lbs heavier than when I got home. I did manage to more or less maintain my weight in the field. (I’ll publicly admit I have a ‘man gut’).

    I fully realize the health (and liability) issues that the church must take into consideration, but I was and am concerned about the young men (and women) that might not go on a mission simply because they were ‘too heavy’.

  86. Eagle Scout! says:

    Can we do a topic on singles ward weight dynamics? Now that would be interesting…

  87. Languatron says:

    You want to talk about poop?

  88. pre-mission: 200
    6 months out: 230
    18 months out:240
    going home: 200 (I wanted to date)
    marriage day: 210
    married 5 years: 270
    married 9 years: 195 Holding steady for three years

    I think I can take it on and off at will. Watch that food consumption

  89. I was in Bulgaria too. I didn’t gain any weight in the MTC, which was good. When I got in country the nurse assuered me I would be fat by the end of my term. I lost 20 lbs the first few months and continued the whole mission. I attribute it to the fact that we walked everywhere, and ate a heavlily vegitarian diet and refused to eat fat sandwiches.