The Daily Beet

14 Jul Finding Engine 2

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We all have a back story to the beginning of our own plant-strong-journey. Mine began in a Whole Foods Market when I saw a copy of The Engine 2 Diet sitting on a bookshelf through the corner of my eye. Always desperate for a quick fix and an easy diet, I remember thinking, “Gee, maybe this is worth a try.” I was a serial dieter, and nothing ever seemed to work for me.

But, I stopped dead in my tracks, because the first time I picked up Rip’s book, I saw that you couldn’t eat chicken. I had convinced myself that chicken was the perfect diet food, and how on earth could anyone lose weight without eating chicken? Several weeks later, I saw Rip appear on the Today Show. I remember thinking, “Mm, that’s the guy from the red book at Whole Foods Market.” But, I still wasn’t moved enough to even think about living a plant-strong diet.

Several weeks later, I attended a media-training conference. One of the videos highlighted for study was, yes, Rip. My small study group had a conversation about a plant-based, whole foods diet. But I still wasn’t even slightly swayed to give up food as I knew it.

The “seal the deal” moment came in September 2009 when I then went to a meeting. The morning speaker was raving about The Engine 2 Diet. He spoke about the improvement in his overall health and well-being, but frankly, I remember thinking, “Whatever he has, I want.” So, on my way home, I stopped at a bookstore (remember those?) and got my copy of Engine 2.

I was willing to try anything. I was almost 60 years old and knew that my,then, way of eating was a lethal prescription. With a family history of heart disease and cancer, a part of me thought that I was pre-disposed to an unhealthy life. Tipping the scale at nearly 300 pounds, I was tired of convincing myself that I had really big bones.

I was on board for a 28 day challenge. As the E2 diet days were crossed off the calendar, I made a list that I called “Day 29.” It was a developing list with fattening, animal-based meals, sweets and treats. But something really crazy happened. On the tenth day of being “plant-strong,” I got out of bed without any arthritic aches and pains. Could it be that “this plant-strong thing” was working? From that very moment, I have never looked back and have never had any foods that contain animal products, oil, or refined sugars.

I also received the amazing gift of attending the inaugural Engine 2 Retreat (then called an immersion) in March 2010. And it was exactly that, a true gift. I met Rip, his father, Dr. Caldwell B. Esselstyn, Jr., his mom, Ann Crile Esselstyn, and sister, Jane Esselstyn. When I returned home, I was empowered and my commitment to a plant-based, whole foods diet was a solid.

There are many benefits to being plant-strong. For example, today, a visit to the dentist had me filling out a new medical information sheet. When I returned the form, the receptionist said, “Ms. Nolan, you forgot to fill out the medication sheet.” And, I love when I say, “So sorry, I do not take any medication, that’s why it is left blank.” I practice yoga, ride a bike, I am one busy lady, and I do not mind telling people that I will be 65 this coming November. Being plant-strong affords me the luxury of excellent health.

So, what’s your back story to becoming plant-strong? Was there a tipping-point that planted a seed for you? The sense of well-being and the positive state of good health is all I need to help me stay plant-strong. What’s your story?

You. Can. Do. This. Words from Rip that motivate me everyday.

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Char Nolan for Engine 2
Char Nolan

Char Nolan is a blog contributor and Engine 2 Extra Coach. She's been plant-strong for almost five years. From Philadelphia, she works in the plant-based whole foods arena, and is also the "vegan features writer," for the "Town Dish." She's lost a great deal of weight from being plant-strong, practices yoga, and is always dabbling in her kitchen to create new, plant-strong recipes. Armed with a degree in public health, Char also holds a certificate in plant-based nutrition from e-Cornell.

  • Yvonne
    Posted at 13:50h, 14 July

    Thank you for such an inspiring story Char. I started down this path because I got sick. I was at the endocrinologist for my thyroid and he threatened me with a diabetes diagnosis. It wasn’t even why I was there but it was enough to send me in the right direction (even though I have struggled with the pleasure trap). After 2 years I can’t really stick with junk food long term – I was at a workshop this weekend and after a couple of days of poor eating and no breakfast before the flight by the time I landed I was really famished and craving something, anything healthy. I found a restaurant (Midori Fresh) right next to the hotel that had lentil soup (with no oil, meat or dairy) and a whole wheat wrap that had brown rice, beans and their super vegetable mix (which had chard in it!!). I couldn’t believe I found a fast food establishment that served chard. It was delicious and very satisfying (unlike the junk I ate in the morning and the few days before). I guess our bodies acclimate and crave the right foods when they’ve eaten them long enough. It was like the cells of my body were screaming, thank heavens she came to our senses. And I agree – it’s nice not to be on meds.

  • PJ Fox
    Posted at 14:22h, 14 July

    So our Char is back??? 🙂

  • Maria
    Posted at 04:50h, 15 July

    How about when one are too skinny? How to put on weight with Engine2Diet? Eat avocados and nuts?

  • Dawn Marcotte
    Posted at 10:33h, 15 July

    What a great article – I am not familiar with this diet, but I wanted to tell you that I also have lost the arthritis stiffness and soreness (after over 20 years of suffering)

    I am on the Mayo clinic diet and eating mostly fruits, vegetables, lean meats and whole grains. I eliminate sugar and processed foods – it isn’t quite all plant, but close. If you are interested in seeing the details check out my website http://www.justloseitmom.com.

    I must say it is the first ‘diet’ I have ever done that has eliminated my arthritis and that is the most motivating factor for staying with it. Every time I look at something sweet I think – is it work the pain? Nope.

    Thanks again for sharing your inspiring story.

  • Penny
    Posted at 12:46h, 15 July

    I love a happy beginning, as your journey will carry on for many years to come!

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