March 4, 2011 Update-
It’s time to get this info up to date with where I am on this road. I’ve currently lost a total of 57 pounds. I have gone from 85% raw foodist to temporarily being 100% raw vegan. I don’t intend to stay on a completely raw diet forever but I’m committed to this action until Easter. At that time I will go back to an 85% raw diet.
My decision to go vegan is something of a testing ground. I wanted to see how it would “fit” logistically, emotionally, and physically to give up every trace of animal product in my diet. As I am now halfway through this experiment, I am definitely leaning toward a permanent vegan lifestyle. I’ll update further after Easter.
(me at my highest weight in late May during my son’s graduation from West Point Military Academy.)
Wow….. it has been a hundred and one days down this road. I thought as an introduction I would briefly summarize my journey so far.
First things first… introductions. For those of you who don’t know me, I’m Michelle. There’s nothing particularly special about me. I’m a stay-at-home-mom. I’ve been married to a wonderful man for nearly 20 years. I enjoy a good murder mystery, sewing (embroidery), my dogs (Pomeranians), and a good meal! I’m passionate about my faith in God. I don’t push it but I do declare it. I don’t belong to any religion….. just to my Jesus. I have all the ups and downs in life that most middle-class families in America have to face… like I said, not very special.
Anyway, back to this journey. In May I hit 44 years old. In my family… ALL of the women are very overweight. A couple of us would be classified as morbidly obese. I’m actually on the smaller side of the scale in comparison to most of my relatives. We struggle with issues such as heart disease, diabetes, IBS, asthma, thyroid disease, kidney stones, and the list goes on. Several of the women in my family are diagnosed with auto-immune diseases such as Rheumatoid Arthritis, Psoriasis, and Lupus. The men in my family don’t fair much better. Both of my uncles are serious diabetics. My grandfather on my mother’s side seems to be the exception. He’s in his upper 80′s and appears poised to outlive all of us. At any rate… as my birthday approached, two of my sons where graduating (one from high school and one from college). These events brought about a family re-union of sorts and that is what brought about the journey I began a short time later.
My entire life I have been plagued with a cough. I’ve been to doctors about it several times and I’ve been tested for allergies, asthma, TB, etc, etc, etc. No one has ever been able to diagnose what the problem is. At one point I was pretty well convinced it was asthma but tests never came back conclusively one way or the other. To put a finer point on it, this cough has been debilitating. I actually lost a very good job once due to my cough. There are times I would begin coughing so much that I quite literally could not breathe. It has been with me since childhood and has been completely unpredictable. There are a couple of other health issues I’ve had to deal with for a number of years but for now I will only focus on this one.
During my son’s graduation event from high school, my cough had gotten so out of control that I quite literally had to leave the auditorium. Thus, I missed seeing my son receive his diploma. My birthday in late May, interactions with my extended family, and this final missed event all cumulated to a boiling point. On my birthday I weighed 223 pounds. It was the most I have ever weighed.
Now I know that for some of you reading this, you only wish you weighed 223 pounds. For others, you can’t even imagine it. However different our starting points may be there is one thing we all have in common… one reason you came to this site. We’re in pain. We have known loneliness, helplessness, and fear. On June the 2nd of this year I finally had enough. That’s when I decided to take back control over my body.
I set a starting date for June 13th. I wanted to wait until all of our company was gone and I had time for things to settle back into a “normal” routine. Between June 2nd and the 13th, I formulated a few guidelines to get me started and began trying to concentrate on increasing my water intake (I’m terrible about not drinking water).
In a nutshell…. here’s what I did. I spent the first three weeks on a strictly raw food diet. If it didn’t grow or if it wasn’t something I could make at home out of fruits, veggies, nuts, or seeds, I didn’t eat it. The reason I did this for three weeks is because experts say that it takes 21 days to form a habit. I wanted 21 days to just focus on the task and to cleanse my body of the many impurities and poisons I have spent a lifetime feeding it.
When I weighed in on June 13th I was at 220 pounds…. that became my starting weight. For my height and age, my ideal weight is 120 so that became my goal. On the first day, and every week since then, I have checked my weight, taken pictures, and measurements and logged my progress in an excel spreadsheet. I’ve kept a diary (loosely) of meals I’ve tried or created, feelings I’ve experienced, times that I’ve cheated, and times I’ve done great.
By the end of the first week I was getting really bored with salads and bananas. I found myself searching the internet for recipes and ideas of combining whole, living foods that I could eat. One website would lead to questions that would lead to another website that would lead to getting excited about new information and lead again to more questions and more websites and on and on. No more boredom. I couldn’t believe the variety of things to eat. At the end of the first week I had lost 13 pounds!! By the end of the third week I had lost a total of 17 pounds and I was feeling amazing.
Aside from the weight loss, I was already experiencing some surprising health benefits. For example, my blood sugar levels had normally been in the 125 to 160 range for a couple of years. Now when I check it runs between 80 to 105. A skin rash that I have had for about 3 years had completely disappeared within the first two weeks of eliminating processed and cooked foods. My triglycerides came down and my doctor was amazed at the positive change in my blood work after just two weeks into this diet. Most amazing of all…. my cough… the one I’ve had my whole life…. it’s gone!!! I cannot tell you how wonderful it feels to take a deep breath without erupting into a fit of horrible coughs. It’s absolutely liberating!! I still can’t believe it!! My whole family is amazed. Everyone keeps asking me how I’m doing this and what I’m doing. Finally, my twin sister (who is morbidly obese), called me in tears begging me to tell her exactly what to do to lose weight. I flew down to Texas and spent a week with her. I introduced her to veggies and delicious meals and a whole new way of looking at food. At the end of the week she was certain she had gained more weight because I fed her so much food. When she stepped on the scale she had actually lost 13 pounds that week! Everyone loved the food and my younger sister (along with my daughter) suggested I start a blog.
When the three weeks were up I had to move into the next phase of my new lifestyle. Originally, I had planned to begin incorporating dairy, meats, and breads back into my meals on a regular basis. However, the more I learned about food and nutrition, the less I wanted these things.
That brings me to where I am now. As I write this I have lost a total of 40 pounds. My cough is still gone. My rash is still gone. My doctor is amazed and I am no longer concerned about diabetes in my future.
In summery, my guidelines are pretty simple. I have one unbreakable rule. I have eliminated processed foods from my diet. I currently maintain a diet of about 85% raw meals, along with properly prepared meat once or twice a week, and sprouted grains no more than once a week. I NEVER thought I’d willingly give up dairy (or pasta) but I have been very content without it. The only exception being once in a while I may have some raw goat cheese (yummy!). So, basically, if it contains artificial anything, preservatives, colors, unspecified ingredients, or is processed or refined to death… I don’t eat it.
Wow… so much for a brief introduction. Welcome to my journey. I will be updating on my progress weekly along with posting recipes, favorite websites, and interesting nutritional tidbits as I travel on this road. Join me…. or just drop by to see my progress.
Always wishing you the best of health,