We are having a great time in Hawaii!
We asked people last week to tell us what the hardest part of becoming plant-strong was and how they got past it, we wanted to share Janet’s story with you today.
My Plant-Life Journey
“It was about two years ago when I was at work teaching a new class of technical support agents when I began to feel dizzy. The dizziness was followed by blurred vision and a numbness in my arm. I called out to the trainer in the next room and asked that he take over the remainder of my class while I attempted to reach my husband. What followed was a rapid series of tests, all of which would uncover one physical ailment after the other.
The battery of tests revealed that I was basically falling apart; sarcoidosis in my lungs, a blocked carotid artery, dangerously high cholesterol, nerve and disc compression in my back and neck and it was likely that the dizziness and numbness revealed that I had suffered a minor TIA (transient ischemic attack), or stroke.
Fast forward to this past December, we had just crossed three months of ‘playing’ with a vegetarian diet so that I could lose weight followed by the completion of the 21-Day Vegan Quickstart with PCRM (Physician Council for Responsible Medicine) just to see what a vegan diet was like. At the end of the 21 days I was feeling good and wanted to see if the changes in my diet had helped with my conditions. The results were amazing. My cholesterol numbers had improved by almost 50% and the blockage in my carotid artery was gone. Additionally, I had lost 15 pounds and was feeling incredible. Good enough to address the issues with my failing back.
Even with these great results, we didn’t jump right in to a Plant-based diet. In fact, our entire journey has been cautious. You see, my husband was raised on a 40,000 acre cattle ranch in Montana and I was raised in a typical suburban home with a diet like most modern Americans. Additionally, my husband, Larry, is a Type 1 diabetic and we both believed that he could only eat a high-protein (meaning animal protein), low carbohydrate diet. So we were a bit scared and suspicious that this new way of eating would not work for us.
We had watched several documentaries that began to open our eyes including; Food Inc, Food Matters and finally Forks Over Knives. It was FOK that really got our attention. Yet, the fear of jumping in was preventing us from fully engaging. At this point, we had successfully cut out all soda, all meat and most cheese but making the final leap and fully embracing a Plant-Based, No Processed Foods, No Oil and No Cheese diet was met with fear on both of our parts. What if Larry’s blood sugar levels go through the roof? What if they plummet? What will our friends and family think? What if we find that we miss our ‘old’ way of eating and we fail?
Our final documentary was Engine 2 Kitchen Rescue. I immediately downloaded the e-book and read it the next day. I announced to Larry that I was going to start the 28 day plan the following Monday. To my surprise, he agreed to join in with me.
As with most fears, none of them were realized. In fact, we have been amazed at how quickly we have adapted to the new way of eating. Larry’s A1C (average blood sugar levels) have actually improved by 30%. He wakes up most mornings with normal levels. Something he hasn’t ever experienced before. It is nothing short of miraculous in our minds.
The hardest transition for us was to give up cheese and oil. I had always considered myself a proper ‘foodie’ and ALL good cooks include Olive Oil as part of their recipes, don’t they? And cheese? Isn’t that a staple of the diet? We transitioned slowly. With the oil, we started by limiting dishes to small amounts of oil in baking and no added oil in stove top dishes. Eventually, we were able to incorporate some of the tips provided by Engine 2 and other plant loving sites and said our final farewell to oil.
Saying goodbye to cheese was the hardest thing for me. It was not unusual for me to snack on morsels all day long and add it to every dish (if it wasn’t the main dish). So, the process of letting go was very slow. When I learned about casomorphines, that was it for me. I had just stopped taking about five medications in an effort to live a drug-free life and cheese was my final drug of choice that had to go.
Today, the thought of adding greasy fatty cheese to my beautiful plate of vegetables is nearly nauseating. I’m thankful for that. I’m also thankful for the Engine 2 diet and the tools that help us succeed every day. We are still in the early days of our new life but the future is so bright. We truly believe that our lives have been extended and the quality of our lives has improved ten-fold.
My advice to anyone considering a plant-based diet is to be good to yourself. Allow yourself to have and ask questions. There are plenty of resources out there and people committed to your success. Do your research and then take the plunge. There will be times in the early days when you question your decision but if you hang in there, play with menu choices and experiment with new foods, you will love your choice – and so will your heart.
Here’s to living Plant Strong!”
What did you have a hard time giving up?