How an Engine 2 Retreat Impacted My Life

At the Esselstyn Farm
At the Esselstyn Farm/Plant-Stock

If you’ve been to an Engine 2 Retreat, you know that it is like going to camp for adults. As I look back to my own experience some five years ago, there are two distinct things in my mind. One, is that Rip was ever-present and truly wanted everyone to benefit from a plant-strong diet. The other is that, Rip’s mom, Ann Crile Esselstyn and his sister, Jane Esselstyn, RN were the constant in the week-long event, their cooking classes were so exciting!

At my retreat, when I knew that Ann and Jane would be teaching a cooking class, I’d arrive early to the location of their class so that I could sit in the front row. I just didn’t want to miss a thing. And, to speak candidly, everything I know about shopping and cooking in a plant-strong manner, I learned from Ann and Jane. I took copious notes. When I arrived home from the retreat, I had lists and lists of things that Ann and Jane taught their eager students. If I stumbled over a concept, I’d say to myself, “What would Ann do?”

As the Engine 2 Retreats have continued, Rip’s team has assembled an impressive roster of speakers—sort of like the “Who’s Who in the Plant-Based World.” If you’ve read a book about plant-based eating, chances are that author will be sitting next to you at dinner. The Retreats are always a very “up close and personal” experience. And, I’ll be honest, the first time Rip’s dad, Caldwell B. Esselstyn, Jr., MD, sat next to me at dinner, I could barely speak. I’d read every page of his best-seller, The Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease, (Avery, 2009), and there he was, the author, seated to my left. This was so different from any other workshop series I’d ever been to. There is no dais, and there is no “reserved table” for speakers. An Engine 2 experience is designed with the attendee in mind. It is a warm and caring environment where learning and growing are the two most important goals for your success.

A few weeks ago, someone asked me why I thought they should attend an Engine 2 Retreat. Without any hesitation, I said, “Well, if you want to define that moment in your life where you are re-routed to embrace a healthier life, the Engine 2 Retreat is that “moment.” Five years ago, that was my experience.

Before Engine 2, I was a serial yo-yo dieter. I could follow any diet for a short period of time, lose some weight, then return to the Standard American Diet (SAD). It is what I knew and how I directed my life. And, it was driving me crazy. The many pillars of Engine 2 all made sense to me. Food as medicine was an easy concept to grasp. If you’re tired of eating bad food, taking meds, and feeling just lousy, I’d suggest heading to an Engine 2 Retreat.

Plant-Stock has to be my favorite place on earth. With the backdrop of the beautiful Catskill Mountains in Columbia County, NY, this “summer camp” is better than any experience you could dream of. Fabulous speakers—and the most delicious, plant-strong food. Everything you have ever read comes to life. It all makes sense. It resets where you are today. For me, my Engine 2 Retreat remains a beacon of growth and redirection—five years later.

Plus, if you attend Plant-Stock, you can see Ann’s beautiful kale garden for yourself.