Our Journey to a Plant-Based Lifestyle

 

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I created this blog so that I could journal my (our) transformation to a thoughtful, plant powered life. My only hope is that it will be read with an open mind. This is really my story, about finding a healthy lifestyle for the second half of my life with the love of my life.

Three years ago I fell deeply in love with my best friend, now husband. We spent the past few years working hard, eating out, and relishing every minute we were able to spend together. Along with the joy and happiness I found with him I had also managed to acquire a host of seemingly disconnected nagging health issues. These resulted in an additional 20 pounds and feeling as though I was drowning in stress.

How could it be that I was living a beautiful dream, waking up every day with my love and partner, yet physically and emotionally I was falling apart? From arthritis and chronic constipation to aphthous ulcers (aka canker sores) constant fatigue and sleepless nights? So stressed that the most simple of tasks would leave me exhausted on the couch watching episodes of Chopped and the Biggest Loser. It made absolutely no sense to me! I also watched as my husband gained weight, with the weight came reflux and fatigue. 2015 was going to be the year that I figured it out.

There is something pretty powerful about finding your soul mate later in life. You begin to realize that you don’t have forever together; the hours and days are limited. We felt as though the world was our oyster, we loved to travel and exercise, and take off on sailing adventures; but how long could we keep this up if we were slowly falling apart? I needed to keep us healthy, strong and vibrant so that we can enjoy whatever amount of time we have left together.

3 Things clicked that started the transformation.

1 I read a book called , The Shift: How I Finally Lost Weight and Discovered a Happier Life by Tory Johnson. From her book I learned that obtaining and maintaining a healthy lifestyle would take a serious shift in attitude. I had to want it more than I wanted another nighttime cuddle with Ben & Jerry. It had to become my primary focus and I had to be very selfish with my wants/needs/desires. My husband is a sweetheart, and he knew I was struggling, however, his attempts to help me were to take me out for a nice meal, or to our favorite burger and beer joint. I knew, down to my core, if I was going to make serious changes that our lifestyle had to change. I had to make the shift for our future together and myself. What I loved best about Tory’s book is that she does not give you a step-by-step plan, she empowers you to find what works for you.

Unfortunately, I had no idea what would work for me. I had tried, and temporarily succeeded but ultimately failed Weight Watchers, Lose It, Juicing, the Zone, South Beach, Slim Fast, and the Clean Eating Diet. I did learn a lot along the way with these plans. From Weight Watchers I learned what a portion size looked like, from the Zone and South Beach I learned that I felt better if I included protein in each of my meals. From the Clean Eating diet I learned the beauty of eating unprocessed foods.

I was even tempted to try Optifast. If I “broke up with food” and drank shakes for days on end could I develop a healthier relationship with it? I needed to find a way to combine all of these ideas together: fix my relationship with food, control my portions and eat enough protein, but I couldn’t quite put it all together.

Around this time I had made an appointment with a psychiatrist; I was feeling extraordinarily stressed and it was not going away. This was the kind of stress that kept me awake for half the night, made simple tasks seem exhausting, left me with dark circles under my eyes and zero patience for anything or anyone. Fortunately my appointment with my doctor kept getting moved or cancelled, either because of a blizzard or a mistake in her schedule. Three times I had to reschedule and every time it got cancelled I would just fall apart and cry; I was so desperate to feel better. You know the old saying about unanswered prayers? Well, I was never meant to go on medication for stress.

I surfed the Internet, certainly someone smarter than me had figured out how to eat right, feel better and live a long and healthy life. I was so thrilled to come across the next guiding light along my path

2. Lauren Slayton’s Little Book of Thin FoodtrainersTM Plan-It-to-Lose-It Solutions for Every Diet Dilemma. Common sense, down to earth and easily doable, it clicked for me. Her list of rules at the beginning of the book was a life changer in so many ways. There is no counting, no measuring, just some very simple changes to the way we were eat. I jumped in with both feet. There are three big changes that we made when I read this book.

1) We closed the kitchen after dinner, yikes, that definitely kept Ben & Jerry off of my couch.

2) Following her advice we also gave much more room on our plate to veggies, actually a LOT more room to veggies.

3) There was not any pasta or bread to be found.

Two weeks after following her rules I noticed enormous changes in my life. First, my stress level had dramatically decreased and 6 out of 7 nights I was sleeping like a baby. Nothing else in my life had changed. I had absolutely no clue that food could have such a significant impact on my mood. I was no longer awake from 2-4 am, while a train of worries circled the track. Taking advice from Foodtrainers I added vitamin D and probiotics to my life. For the first time in years, seriously, years! I did not have a mouth full of aphthous ulcers and I was regularly visiting the bathroom. I mean this was nothing short of a miracle; I was doing a happy dance down the hall. I also started to see the extra pounds slowly melt away! Thank you Lauren!

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I haven’t yet talked about another huge influence in my life, my baby brother. A successful business owner, fabulous father, loving husband and most excellent uncle who also happens to run marathons in his spare time all powered by plants. He is also one of my best friends and he led me to the third life-changing event. After about two weeks of feeling wonderful I was chatting with him about giving up gluten and how absolutely fantastic I was feeling when he sent me a text saying that I needed to listen to a podcast. I think he saw my post about Bullet coffee or something along those lines. I am sure( in the divine picture) it was no coincidence I learned of the podcast the day before my husband I were making the hour drive to Boston

3. Rich Roll’s podcast #128 was the final step in transitioning to plant power. We listened to Rich Roll on the way up to Boston and on the way home. We were captivated, enthralled and excited. It became crystal clear that we needed to consider a totally plant based diet. We had slowly been adding more plants into our lives and we were eating meat-free at least two or three nights a week. Giving up animal protein in all forms seemed like a natural next step on the way to wellness. As great as I was feeling after eliminating gluten I still had a chronic runny nose and a cough, maybe this would help. My brother further recommended we watch the movie Forks over Knives. We watched the movie and the decision was cemented! That was it; we were in!

We have now been eating plant based for a week. It was scary, tough and liberating. Now that we knew what we were cutting out, I had to figure out what we could eat. I knew if it didn’t taste incredible we wouldn’t be able to sustain this lifestyle. I really think of us as plant based, not vegan. An Oreo cookie is vegan, but it certainly does not have a place in a plant-based diet.

We cleaned out the cupboards and I returned once again to the Internet for new recipes. I was able to find a lot of great websites with recipes dedicated to the plant-based lifestyle, but we had also eliminated gluten, which makes it a little trickier. A huge thanks to the Oh She Glows (www.ohsheglows.com) website and Nutrition Stripped (www.nutritionstripped.com) website; their recipes and photography gave me the courage to revamp our pantry and our lifestyle.

This is the beginning of the journey; this blog is my accountability to my husband, my family and myself. It is a way of keeping track of the sources of inspiration that I find along the way. I hope that I can provide a blueprint for anyone who wants to transform their life.

There are so many other things to write about:

The spiritual guidance I found

How we negotiate social situations

How we begin to add exercise back to our lives

How Rich Roll’s podcasts keep me going

A day in the life of a convert to a plant based diet

What happened when I gave up bread

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More than three weeks into the process and I have lost 7 pounds! But more importantly I have never been hungry, have gained a tremendous amount of energy and have slept like a baby.

I would love to hear your thoughts about lifestyle changes. Have you made one? What helped? Have you sustained it?