I've always been a person who was concerned about what I ate, and how it affected my weight. From my first diet at age 11 (the AIDS candy diet), to counting calories as a teenager and ending up anorexic, to a quick foray into protein shakes that was very dangerous and scary - I then turned my attention to exercise to lose and maintain a lower weight. I spent most of my late 20's and 30's jogging, bicycling, and walking long distances. While my weight would fluctuate between 115-130 (depending on which diet I followed), I was generally fit and healthy.
Then, at age 38, I developed reflux (GERD) and was prescribed a long-term prescription medication to resolve it. But the medication didn't resolve, it just masked the symptoms, it didn't heal the problem or make it go away. After being on this medication for 5 years, and being told by my gastroenterologist that I would be on this medication for the rest of my life (and that there were NO side effects), I decided to educate myself on a "natural" way to resolve my condition.
The road to "natural" healing comes with many twists and turns: cleanses, protein shakes, apple cider vinegar, DGL, Hydrochloric Acid pills, Bovine extract supplements, digestive enzymes, probiotics, prebiotics, ginger tea, licorice tea - the list is very long! Yet, as I found "new" methods to try that were eventually discarded, I never lost my enthusiasm for trying to find the "perfect" solution.
In 2011, I was introduced to Whole Food Plant Based eating via Forks Over Knives. I decided to give this one a try. I committed to eating this way for 3 months and see if my digestive issues would resolve - AND - without taking supplementation or other things I had been using in the past. Over that winter, I found two things:
1. WFPB eating did indeed resolve my heartburn "reflux" issues - as long as I didn't eat too much food (quantity).
2. I lost weight quickly - but was ALWAYS hungry! (I found out later it was because I wasn’t eating enough Grains to sustain me – I thought Vegan meant “vegetables only”.)
After this experiment, I returned to my protein shakes and continued with them but felt guilty because I was using “processed” foods.
As I searched for the “perfect” plan for me, (realizing that my “perfect” is not what is necessarily going to be the best for others), I kept going back to the Whole Food Plant Based lifestyle as the best for me, but embracing a 90/10 ratio. What that looks like is this:
· Avoid highly processed foods (Packaged foods that have more than 5 ingredients, or ingredients that I can’t pronounce!)
· Eating more Greens, Vegetables, and Fruits
· Limit meats to 1-2 servings a week – and when I do eat meat it is organic, grass-fed or wild-caught
· Small servings of desserts are an occasional treat (not every day occurrence)
· Limiting Dairy to only Fermented Kefir
· Limit wine/beer to 1-2 glasses a week
I also take digestive enzymes, probiotics (in the form of Kefir), No Fried Foods! and not eating past 8pm at night. In addition to my eating plan, I “move” my body for at least 30 minutes daily – workout video’s and elliptical are my preferred indoor routines; walking, golfing and bicycling are my preferred outdoor routines.
I believe that my turning point was when I realized that I did have the power to change - and the power was in what I put on my fork and in my mouth. I realized that the power to change my personal health didn't have to do with the medication the doctors insisted I could take for the rest of my life - without side effects, but it had to do with everything that I put into my mouth, and the way that I was living my life (personal habits, outlook toward the future, goals, etc.).
My life before my “turning point” (for me that means before reflux) involved allot of late night eating (pizza, salad, beer), lots of ice cream, buttered popcorn, spicy burritos. I enjoyed being physically active, but carried an extra 10-15 pounds of weight. Before I got to my turning point, I enjoyed life, but let life carry me along its journey (eat what others ate, exercised if I felt like it, and tried a new diet every new year but not keeping it up).
Once I made the decision to change how I "viewed" my treatment of my reflux - and that a pill wasn't the answer - I started searching for a way to naturally eat/drink to resolve it. I was determined that if I had to eliminate certain foods from my life forever, that would be okay if I didn't have to experience heart burn ever again.
Many people have asked me why I didn’t continue with the protein shakes/cleanses as a way of life – but I knew that I had to make a change when I realized that my body couldn’t tolerate whey protein in large doses; which I proved to myself by using other types of protein shakes that don’t include whey protein. My other challenge in seeking something different is, and probably always will be, - I like to try new eating plans. I always think that there is something better out there, and that if I can "tweak" what I do - I might land upon the "secret". With Whole Food Plant Based eating, there have been many breakthroughs, cookbooks, kitchen gadgets, cooking classes and tools that help me work toward a full lifestyle that I don’t find myself seeking a “perfect” plan – just a fresh recipe, a new blender, or a new restaurant that serves food in this style.
Many people face obstacles to better health. My obstacles are: my family (I am the chief cook for my husband and my father whom I caregive). They don't eat the same way I do - so I end up cooking several meals at the same time. I try to resolve this by cooking a recipe of what I would eat, then adding a serving of organic meat to it which makes all family members happy. I am challenged when we eat at restaurants that are geared to seafood, steaks, or other meats – I work on being creative in how I overcome this hurdle so that everyone is happy!
I also have had victories! My victories are that I find some AWESOME recipes, and enjoy them allot! I like to cook, and I like to share what I cook with others. People are always telling me that they really like what I cook!
As your Health Coach – what I would share with you is this:
1. No eating plan is the "right one" for everyone. Bio-individuality is key.
2. I want to offer a support system and "be there" for you as you walk through the hills and valleys of your life.
3. Learning to be flexible – carve out time each day to pursue better eating, more physical movement, and a calmer, relaxed approach to life!
In short: I survived teenage anorexia, forays into MLM nutritional companies whose “one size fits all” mold doesn’t fit me, and turned my life around by eating whole natural foods lovingly cooked at home and that are raised organically. My health is the best it has ever been, my weight naturally stays balanced (as do my hormones), and I have abounding energy! My sleep is restful, my mind is at ease, and I don’t experience the highs and lows that I used to have.
I embrace holistic living, empowered through a close walk with God, and strive to share this with others through Brio Health Coaching, local cooking classes & demonstrations, retreats & lectures and educational classes.
I also offer shopping excursions, pantry makeovers, and in the summer guided bicycle rides and other activities (both group and individual) to enhance the wellness lifestyle.
With love to you,