I have been MIA from this blog for a few months. Why’s that, Susan? you’re probably (not) asking yourself.
I guess it’s the same old blah-blah — consumed by other priorities, like work, family, the usual. But I sure have thought about writing. Post ideas and blog improvements constantly fly into my head, and then they fly right out again as I trudge ahead to some other “more important” thing, like getting the dishes put away or my kids put to bed.
What I’d most like to share with our longtime readers today is my latest attempt to get healthy and lose weight.
Time for a change
Back in November, I got pretty freaked out when I stepped on the scale for the first time in ages. The number was the highest I had ever seen when weighing myself. And the only reason I mustered the courage to get on in the first place? Excruciating lower back pain that rendered me immobile and blubbering like a baby to my mama. I knew I had to change how I was treating my body.
Step back for a moment and glimpse the weight rollercoaster I’ve been riding since I was a teenager. This chart plots out my weight by year, starting my freshman year of high school (1991). Yikes.
You’ll notice the overall trend upward, with huge dips when I joined Weight Watchers (1992), became a vegan (2000), followed the South Beach Diet before kid #1 (2006), started a weight-loss blog with my husband (2008) before having kid #2, and most recently began following a whole-foods, plant-based diet in late 2011.
Hobbling along the road to recovery
With my back in such bad shape last fall, I started seeing a new chiropractor (my third, who turned out to be, indeed, a charm!) He got me to a point where I could at least function, with a tolerable amount of pain. Then he sent me down the hall to physical therapy. Over the course of about eight weeks, I spent a few hours there each week, strengthening my badly neglected, flabulous body — particularly my core to help support my back. I got stronger, had a few chiro adjustments along the way, and “graduated” from PT. My back still felt fragile, but still better than since I’d given birth to James in 2009.
I finally decided to step on the scale and see how heavy I’d gotten. 250. Ouch. No wonder my back hurt so badly! All that excess weight was killing me.
Plants: They’re what’s for dinner (and lunch, and breakfast)
Enter my dear friend Karen, who’d been bugging me for months to watch some movie on Netflix called Fat, Sick, and Nearly Dead. I had resisted watching it, because, really, who wants to watch a movie with that title when you are, indeed, quite fat and sick (if not “nearly dead”)? Now I was ready. I watched it, and dang if that documentary didn’t get me thinking — maybe all the processed crap and animal products I’ve been stuffing in my piehole could actually be harmful to me.
Then I figured I’d better read the book Karen had also been nagging me to read (do you see a pattern here? Karen is the most loving, persistent person I know) called Eat to Live by Dr. Joel Fuhrman. It’s chock-full of facts and scientific data, with the takeaway that eating plants will help you achieve a healthy weight and live a long, healthy life.
Sounded good to me. Hard, but the smart thing to do, and I went for it.
I started spending almost my entire grocery trip in the produce section. I bought kale, collard greens, mustard greens, spinach, eggplant, zucchini, tomatoes, carrots, berries of every kind, pomegranates, melon, apples, oranges, raw nuts and seeds, cashew butter, tons of soy milk, tons of spices (making up for elimination of salt) … oh, the list could go on and on. I think in the first month of “eating to live,” I consumed more fruits and vegetables than I have in the last 10 years put together.
No more fast-food as family staple. No more Coke Zero or pots of coffee to get me through the day. As I detoxed my system, I became a crazy plant-eating lady, scanning labels for “organic” and “whole grain” and realizing that just about every damn processed food has too much sodium and sugar in it.
A family affair
My family was not happy about this. Hubs just about threw down at those first few meals, which lacked anything “edible,” in his opinion. (To be fair, I’m not the world’s best cook, and preparing healthy, plant-based meals is a challenge for me. But I’m getting better.) My 2-year-old was addicted to Pop-Tarts and freaked out when I said “No more, Pop-Pop, buddy — how about a nice banana instead?” My 5-year-old proclaimed every meal “disgusting” and wanted to know where all the meat went.
Stressful as the transition was, I stuck to my guns. We were going to eat plants, like it or not. And if Hubs wanted to drive himself to Taco Bell for a bagful of junk, he could do that. He’s an adult and makes his own choices about how to treat his body. But our kids? I never felt more strongly that I had to teach them how (and why) to eat healthy and fuel their growing bodies and brains with the best nutrition possible.
Movin’ and groovin’
Meantime, upon graduation from physical therapy, I reacquainted myself with my gym and personal trainer. We continued building my core strength up, while working the rest of my muscles and burning up some calories with good ol’ cardio. I even tried Zumba (another recommendation from Karen) and discovered I actually liked it. Who knew?
It’s now been about three months since I started eating plants and exercising regularly. I’ve lost 30 lbs, decreased my body fat by 3%, and dropped 18 inches overall. I went to my annual physical and the doctor declared my bloodwork”perfect.”
So far, so good
I’m proud of how I’m treating my body now. I have a lot more weight to lose (probably around 90 lbs to go), but I’m confident I can maintain this lifestyle because I believe in it. I watched a couple of other documentaries that helped solidify my passion for plants: Forks Over Knives and Food, Inc. Watch them both (they’re available for streaming on Netflix) and I promise you will think differently about how you eat.
And my kids! Wow, they’ve really come around. They like fruits and vegetables. James eats dates for a snack! Cassie prefers raspberries for dessert! I pack their lunches each day with love and excellent nutrition. I involve them in the grocery shopping, meal planning, and cooking (more Cassie than James, since he’s just 2).
Maybe, just maybe, in 30 years their weight charts won’t look the rollercoaster mine has become. I have high hopes they’ll develop healthy eating habits for life and avoid the pain and suffering of obesity, heart disease, cancer and other diseases that plague so many Americans.
Don’t worry — I’ll keep you posted as I make progress. This is just the first of what I hope to be many posts about my health journey. Along with all that other stuff working moms have going on. Whew!
33 thoughts on “Well, Hello There, Blog. It’s Been a While.”
You’re inspirational! I’ve gotten to a point that I’m SO READY to do something. This gives me lots of food for thought, so to speak. Well done Susan!!!
Thanks, lady. You’ve been my cheerleader since way back. I hope I can inspire you to eat a little greener. 🙂
Thanks for sharing, Susan, and congrats on the perfect bloodwork. I also loving hearing your kids like the fruits in their packed lunches! Continued good wishes o your journey.
Andi, you’re welcome. And yes, packed lunches have taken on much more importance to me since I started this thing. I want to get them those little bento lunch boxes soon. Those are so cute!
AWESOME! I just watched Food Inc. a few weeks ago and plan to watch Forks over Knives this week! I’ve decided to go Vegan and Plant Based and as raw as possible!
What so you send in your childs lunch if I may ask….at this point I am doing this but I haven’t implemented the diet on my son…who still eats crap! Would love some easy school lunch ideas! My son is not a picky eater. He is also super skiny but don’t want him to have to struggle with eating and weight and disease when he is older as we almost all do.
Jaki, awesome right back at ya!
I have been keeping it simple with the kids. PB&J on whole grain bread, veggie wraps, grapes, natural applesauce, soymilk, nut/seed mix, dates, cantaloupe.
Also, Larabars are these wonderful date-nut bars with only a few ingredients, including some yummy chocolate varieties. The kids think they’re a nice treat.
I am SO STINKING PROUD OF YOU! And proud to get to be on this journey together. I think feeling so darn good physically is a big help with this diet. Keep it up, girl. Love you to pieces!
Awww, gee. I’m proud of you, too. And very grateful to have such a friend as you.
Congrats to you! I just started this week and am really glad to read all the positive of E2L
Thanks, Joyce! Eat to Live is truly a remarkable program. I wish everyone would give it a try!
Good for you! Sounds like you’re on the right track. We went vegan last June. It’s been great. My husband has lost 60+ pounds, me… not so much. Ha.
One thing I wanted to recommend was to do your research on soy products. They are unavoidable, no doubt, but I try to avoid as much as I can. For instance, we use Almond milk for our cereal. Soy acts as an estrogen in our bodies, and we don’t need more estrogen. At least I don’t.
I am not an expert, but since I’m infertile, estrogen is something I am intimately familiar with, and I like to courteously warn/educate people about the effects.
Keep up the good work!
Lisa, thanks for the tip. I will look into the soy issue.
Good for you, Susan! We did a vegan challenge at my home, and my husband is still fully involved. I have added back a small amount of animal protein. Most important is that you feel great and make the decision that is best for yourself and your family. And you’re doing it! Good luck.
Thanks, Jennifer. I am not 100% animal-free, but pretty dang close. I do allow for a little flexibility. That’s just how I have to roll 🙂
I’ve watched your movies and started regularly doing juice fasts. It’s like electricity in my veins. Kick the caffeine habit and wake up energized. And then I go back to sandwiches. I do love me some turkey sandwiches. But I’ll be keeping with regular juice fasts. I love those too. Congrats on making yourself younger inside and out.
Peggy, rock on! I’m curious about the juice fast but not ready to try it. Maybe I will soon.
Congrats. My weight chart looks a lot like yours… Wow. I’ve read Eat to Live but haven’t made the jump… too many excuses. But my knees (not so much my back) are so pissed with me that I have to do something soon…
Thanks for the inspiration!
You’re welcome. Life is a journey, you know the drill. If pain is what motivates you to get healthy, so be it.
Wow…congrats on a very difficult and very important lifestyle change. I’m in the process of doing something similar with my family and your post was simply inspirational. I’m a stickler with my kids on high nutrition eating (not as much with myself) and my 3 year old loves fruits and veggies…people look at us like we’re crazy when we go out to eat b/c she eats what we eat while the rest of the kids around are eating fried junk food. It can be done and I wish more people knew that and didn’t buy into the concept of “kid food” versus healthy food. We’ve come a long way, but I am currently trying to lose 40 pounds of ill-gotten baby weight and I had a hard day today…your blog post was very timely. 🙂 I don’t usually post on blogs, but thank you for your candidness in sharing your journey!
Hermie, I’m so glad you decided to leave a comment! Yes, nutrition for our kids is even more important than for ourselves, in my opinion. Their little bodies and minds are FORMING, for Pete’s sake. It’s our job as parents to give them proper fuel, even when they whine about it. Just like they whine about brushing teeth, going to school, etc. etc.
Congratulations – you’re doing great! And I discovered I like Zumba, too! If you’re ever in my neighborhood, let’s do a class together.
Now, I’m off to eat a grapefruit. 🙂
Sara, I’d love to do Zumba with you. It’s the most fun I’ve had while exercising.
So….let me ask the most basic and dumbest questions ever: What do you eat? How do you manage when you aren’t in your own “home” environment? Does the book/movie give you recipe ideas and meal ideas?
Interested but no completely sold…
I do also believe that fruit and veggies do a body good but I’m just not sure how to completely change my lifestyle and I guess I should read/watch to help.
GREAT JOB Susan! What a journey!
Breakfast = fruit + whole-grain cereal or oatmeal
Lunch = soup, salad, piece of fruit
Dinner = big salad, veggie burger or some such thing, maybe fruit
It’s pretty simple. The hard part (for me) is figuring out how to make those combinations interesting and tasty, but not difficult to make. Fortunately, nature offers a lot of variety.
I also don’t stick to it 100% of the time. Sometimes I eat a snack, or even the occasional slice of totally non-healthy pizza.
But I try to mostly do the plants thing, and hope it will help me continue to lose pounds and get healthier.
Thanks for the encouragement!
Wow~ good for you! It is amazing that you have been able to stick with such a change! Believe me, I know how frustrating it is to get your husband on board for healthy eating, and then when he complains the kids complain. It takes a lot of strength to do what you did and do. We all really hope that you feel proud of yourself, you deserve it.
Stephanie, thank you. I truly appreciate your kind words.
Just a quick note to say it’s great to see so many people here are willing to pursue their own desires. Guilt is a truly useless emotion. All the best to all 🙂
How’s the Eat to Live thing going? Are you still plant based?
Kathy, I am still plant based but admittedly not as hard-core as I should be. I simply can’t let myself eat meat. Cheese is still a tough one to avoid and resist — even though I know how unhealthy it is.
Do you make your veggie burger homemade? What do you put in tjem?? Is it just as good to buy the frozen health food section ones in the stores? I think they’re black bean burgers called Morning glory or something I can’t remember? What’s your take on it?
Pam, I love homemade veggie burgers but some prepackaged ones are pretty tasty, too. Morningstar or Simple Truth (at Kroger).