Wednesday, February 27, 2013

On changing everything and finding myself again

My friend Carol and me out on a ski at dusk.  It was about 10 degrees
that evening. I think I had that giddy smile on my face most of the weekend!
I just got back from a fantastic weekend with friends.  We spent our time crosscountry skiing, enjoying the hottub, sharing stories and eating deliciously healthy food.  We did this same trip last year, but I didn't go skiing and the food was delicious, but different.  I enjoyed the trip last year, but this year I felt almost giddy the entire time.  I went skiing! Last year, I didn't think I could keep up, so I didn't ski. This time,  my skis gave me a serious workout, not because I am not fit, but because I don't weigh enough for them to work right.  No kick.  I borrowed my friend's extra skis for the last 2 outings and loved it. In many ways this weekend, I felt like my old self and could finally admit out loud, that being overweight was crappy.  I don't like to wallow in self pity, so I couldn't even admit it to myself before.  I just kept moving forward, trying to find the answer and the energy to make things different.

I feel like I have been moving this direction for a long time, but there were many other pressing issues: motherhood, miscarriages, more babies, homeschooling, moving, planning a house, 7 years of sleep deprivation, etc, etc.  By March of last year, I had been logging calories online and exercising and had managed to lose 4 pounds.  In two months.  Not exactly big progress.  I started thinking that maybe it is not as simple as calories in/calories out. Thankfully, a pivotal moment came at the end of March. I was sitting on the couch with a fever, watching my kids play outside with their dad.  I decided to watch a movie on Netflix called Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead.  I wouldn't necessarily recommend this movie, but it was the arrow that pointed toward the rabbit hole.  A man goes on a road trip around the Lower 48 while juicing fruits and vegetables   He doesn't eat any solids, meat or dairy.  He loses a bunch of weight and heals many of his health issues. I was intrigued.

The movie was inspiring, but I wasn't willing to juice for 60 days.  I am a parent, a homeschooling parent too.  My kids are with me nearly 24 hours a day.  I consider myself a role model to them in every way.  I have to be what I want for them.  So, I have never talked about my weight in front of them, I never degrade myself out loud about the way I look, I have never gone on a fad diet, and have strived to put what I believed to be healthy food on our plates every day.   Juicing was not an option I was willing to do in front of my kids.

I googled "most nutritious way to lose weight."  At the time, the second item was to Dr. Fuhrman's website.  I checked it out, I was skeptical so googled him some more, found blogs of people who had read his book, read reviews on Amazon and within a few days ordered 2 books- Eat to Live and Engine 2 Diet.  While I had that fever, I quit caffeine and dairy.  A day later, I decided I had eaten my last turkey sandwich.

I began reading Eat to Live by Dr. Fuhrman.  Based on a significant amount of research, he advocates for a nutrient-dense diet, focusing on a whole-foods, plant-based menu.  I decided to give it 100 percent for the first 6 weeks, during which I lost 15 pounds, without adding exercise.  Then I decided to give it another 6 weeks, then I was on board until I lost all the weight I wanted to lose.  In the meantime, I fell in love with all the wonderful foods I was eating every day; so many veggies and delicious summer fruits and trying new recipes with the kids.  I also read The China Study and learned more about why it is such a healthy way to eat. I was busy doing activities with the kids, but I was not exercising in a vigorous way, just my usual outdoor adventuring, but I felt so much better about it.

From Thanksgiving through January, my weight loss plateaued (not a pound gained or lost over that time), which is an accomplishment in itself. I made a few adjustments recently, and began losing weight again. Since starting last March, I have lost 60 pounds without counting calories, being hungry, excessive exercise, or compromising my health.  Rather, I have dramatically improved my health and my life.  I am working on losing another 25 pounds and have recently started exercising without my kids because I want to, not because I think I need to.

All three friends that went on this weekend trip, eat like I do.  I am so excited that I helped inspire them to make a change for health too.  While losing weight was my initial motivation, it is not my sole motivation now.  Great health and a long and healthy life are my goals, but really, I love, love, love the food.  I don't want to eat any other way.

Our weekend felt indulgent, mostly because as moms, it is rare that we have free time or someone else making our meals. We took turns with the meals and if you are wondering what we ate, here is an abbreviated menu: after our first ski we had veggies and salsa with a few chips, a hearty curry stew with sweet potatoes, cauliflower, lentils, carrots, mushrooms on top of spinach, peas, green onions, with avocado and cashews. We had some heart-healthy black bean brownies for dessert and there was wine too. The next morning we made smoothies and oatmeal, skied, came back for lunch, which was a big salad topped with mexican quinoa salad, and homemade hummus and veggies and pita, fruit, back out for a ski, then back to the hottub. Dinner was a moroccan sweet potato stew with greens and a bit of wine.  The next day we had a similar breakfast, ski, and big lunch.

I headed home grateful for my heath and new found energy, grateful for old and newer friends, looking forward to the next trip and new skis!


  1. Fantastic post - full of honesty, goodness and hope. + I want that stew recipe!

  2. Thank you Jennifer! The Moroccan sweet potato stew is in a cookbook I have, Let them Eat Vegan. I can copy that recipe for you sometime. The coconut curry stew is just something I made up - 1 can coconut milk (lowfat is fine), 2-3 cans fire-roasted diced tomatoes, 2+ cups veggie broth (enough to cover the veggies), 8oz mushrooms, 1 sweet potato, 2-3 carrots, 1/2 head cauliflower, 3/4 red lentils (or a can of chickpeas), add curry powder anda little chili powder to taste (flavor will intensify as it cooks). Serve over wilted spinach or baby kale and green peas, top with green onions, roasted cashews, avocado and/or chopped cilantro. I usually have all these ingredients and Dan and I love to eat this almost every week. The kids will eat a little and then something else. It tastes even better the next day.

    1. Look at that! I have most of those ingredients right here. Thank you!

    2. I forgot the garlic! I usually saute a few cloves of minced garlic in some veggie broth before I add all the other ingredients.

  3. Kjerstin, what a great blog post! And the recipes sound delicious! We eat like that during Lent, so I am very interested. Can you recommend more cookbooks? I think you and I have similar cooking habits, in that I like to make up recipes, and I like cookbooks that assume I already know how to cook (rather than, first take the butter out of the fridge, then unwrap it.... ;-)

    Cooking these days is tough, though, because of various allergies. I try to cook just one meal for the whole family, and it is tough! We have to avoid onion, garlic, nuts of any kind (seeds are okay), soy, eggs in great quantity (a bit is okay), wheat, and corn--including corn starch and corn syrup and anything like dextrose or glycerides. I also have to avoid too many tomatoes, potatoes, bell peppers, eggplant (actually, I'm the only one who likes it), because they aggravate my arthritis. (They're all from the nightshade family, and therefore bad for arthritis.) Add to that that some of us do better if we avoid starches (rice, noodles, bread, etc.).

    Forgive me if that sounds like complaining. After reading your post, I'm hoping you can help me find some recipes. I wouldn't ask that of just anyone, but it sounds like you love the kind of recipes I'm looking for, and really know how to cook!!!

    Thanks! And congratulations on feeling healthier and more energetic!

    Your loving cousin, who already copied and pasted your recipe to try very soon :-)

  4. Hi Suzanne! I avoid a lot of those things on a daily basis, mostly because my kids and husband don't like them. :) I don't eat much wheat or corn, but my kids eat plenty of tortillas and bread. I just put I don't eat soy very much either. Well, I do use tamari, but mostly because I don't use any salt anymore.

    I realize now, as I reread this post, that I might not have been explicit. We don't any meat or dairy anymore. So, my favorite cookbooks are all plant-based (no meat, eggs or dairy). All the Happy Herbivore cookbooks by Lindsay Nixon note gluten and soy free recipes. All the other ingredients could be left out or you could use substitutes. My other favorite cookbook author is Dreena Burton. She avoids wheat in almost all the recipes in Let Them Eat Vegan. I have loved everything I have tried. Dreena Burton's baked goods are delectable and the Happy Herbivore are all super healthy (low fat, low sugar, etc).