Since I last posted about my journey with food, I felt like I was wandering aimlessly and at the end of my rope.
I felt hopeless and helpless when it came to my weight. I had lost 9 lbs. since the beginning of the year but now it seemed the only way to get the scale to move was to starve myself.
I needed support and a plan but which one?!
I was confused by all of the ads. Oprah loves Weight Watchers, Marie Osmond loves Nutrisystem. Even Dr. Oz seemed to have a different health expert every day, tout the benefits of their weight loss plan.
Everyone had advice for losing weight.
Then I began having bouts of nausea, vomiting and stomach pain. I went for blood tests and an ultrasound to see if I had gallstones.
The ultrasound showed no gallstones but the blood work shocked me.
My cholesterol was 233! Thirty-three points higher than recommended!
My crappy diet was coming back to haunt me and it scared me.
Suddenly this was less about losing weight and more about being healthy.
A dear friend had been telling me about a program that she discovered about a year ago called CHIP.
CHIP stands for Complete Health Improvement Program and is sponsored by Rochester Lifestyle Medicine.
I resisted CHIP at first because it is about adopting a whole food, plant-based diet; no meat, no dairy.
It was hard to imagine life with no steak, butter, eggs, and OMG! No cheese or ice cream!
In my mind that meant food with no flavor and that meant SUFFERING!
But I watched my friend change her life over the last year simply by changing her diet and increasing her activity.
She’s lost 25 lbs. and no longer takes medication for fibromyalgia. She’s 65 years old and looks and acts at least 20 years younger!
And she certainly is NOT suffering!
So I checked out CHIP.
The program is based on studies by top researchers around the world like Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn and T. Colin Campbell. The studies they cite, like the China Study, are not funded by the pharmaceutical companies, the food lobbyists or others with an interest in skewing the results.
The program looked sound and I knew my current lifestyle was leading me down the path to heart disease and likely an early death. It was time to change.
In July, I signed up for CHIP and met 17 other people who were struggling like me.
Twice a week, we learn the truth about the typical American diet and how it contributes to obesity, diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, cancer and more.
They share with us the research about how eating a whole food, planted-based diet can reverse disease.
We look at the difference between the typical American diet and what research has found to be the optimal diet for health.
There is no judgment. No one is telling us we HAVE to change. They simply educate us and we decide the changes we want to make.
Some of us have jumped in and embraced the optimal diet. Others have decided to make a few changes each week.
I could not do this on my own.
I need the support of others who are going through the same thing. We encourage each other and talk about how to handle challenges like eating out or dealing with family and friends who are not supportive of our new lifestyle.
Since July 15th, I have been eating the optimal diet and I can honestly say that I love it!
My fear of eating bland, tasteless food was totally unfounded!
Along with a textbook and a workbook, they also provided us with a cookbook.
I am having a blast trying new foods and have learned how to change recipes to suit my new lifestyle.
And listen to this: as long as I am eating foods that are part of the optimal diet, I can eat as much as I want!
I feel like I should have gained 20 lbs. because of the amount of food I’m eating. But I’m actually losing weight! It’s crazy!
Am I perfect? Of course not. I eat potato chips and taco chips. And I still have a drink a couple times a week. This may change as time goes on but for now, I’m not going to beat myself up.
After one month of eating a plant-based, low fat diet, I have not only lost 4 1/2 lbs but I have lowered my cholesterol by 32 points! And, no more nausea, vomiting or pain.
It wasn’t easy getting here but it’s getting easier every day! I’m eating food that I love and I know is good for me. Physically I feel better and mentally I feel free!
If you’ve been struggling like I have, check out CHIP and see if it’s right for you.
And feel free to reach out with any questions regarding my experience.
To learn more about CHIP, go to Rochester Lifestyle Medicine and click on What Is CHIP?
If you do not live in the Rochester, NY area and would like to find the nearest program, go to Lifestyle Medicine Institute.
With the rash of shootings and violence going on in the Rochester area, our country and around the world, it’s hard not to be scared these days.
Living in a small town, it’s easy to turn off the TV and say “I don’t want to think about this because it doesn’t effect me.”
Or “I’ll just ignore it and it will go away.”
Or even, “I don’t want to think about this because there is nothing I can do.”
However, I know I need to do something, but what?
According to an expert on peace and nonviolence, Arun Gandhi, “The world is what we have made it. If we change ourselves we can change the world, and changing ourselves begins with changing our language and methods of communication.”
Arun learned from his grandfather, Mahatma Gandhi, that violence occurs everywhere. We may think we live in a world where violence can’t touch us if we only focus on physical violence. I know I feel pretty safe in my neighborhood and in most places I travel.
However, Arun Gandhi states in Marshall Rosenberg’s book, Nonviolent Communication: A Language of Life, that there is a more insidious form of violence, “passive” violence.
This takes the form of speaking to or treating others disrespectfully, name calling, bullying, even eye rolling.
Any act where it causes an emotional hurt is an act of “passive” violence.
For example, a nasty or hurtful Tweet or post. Mocking someone’s appearance. Rolling your eyes when someone says something stupid.
I remember being picked on as kid and complaining to my mom. Her advice was to just ignore it and the kids will stop. She was right but it took a while. I can still feel the anger and frustration I felt sitting in silence on the bus as some boys told me how fat and ugly I was.
And it doesn’t just happen to us as kids. Fast forward 35 years and there I am again, sitting in a boardroom having insults thrown at me by a superior.
The old saying, “Sticks and stones may break my bones but names will never hurt me” is BS!
Gandhi explained that “passive violence ultimately generated anger in the victim who, as an individual or as a member of a collective, responded violently. In other words, it is passive violence that fuels the fire of physical violence.”
With all of the hate speech and negativity being thrown around in the political arena, there has been plenty of fuel being added to the fire lately.
Could it be helping to create the homegrown violence in our country? I believe 100% YES!
We all need to get: Words are powerful.
What we are doing is NOT working. The answer is not more police. The answer is not meeting violence with violence.
“Be dominated by love, respect, understanding, appreciation, compassion, and concern for others rather than the self-centered and selfish, greedy, hateful, prejudiced, suspicious, and aggressive attitudes that dominate our thinking.” Arun Gandhi
It is not our job to try and fix what everyone else is doing. It is our job to be sure WE are doing the right thing.
What can you do to stop passive violence?
~ Stop, take a breath and think before you speak, act or respond to someone.
~ Ask yourself, “How can I respond with kindness and respect?” (Sometimes the best response is no response)
~ Give yourself permission to take a time out, if needed. Step away, collect yourself and then go back to “How can I respond with kindness and respect?”
In my case, I had to leave the toxic situation I was in. Fortunately, I had the love and support of my family and friends and a great therapist to help me sort through the anger, hurt and betrayal I felt. Not everyone has the support or tools to handle those difficult feelings.
Imagine what would be possible if we all practiced treating others with kindness and respect.
I try and meet each person with kindness and respect because I know how it feels when met with the opposite. And most times, people return the favor.
Kindness and respect creates connection and makes for a much more peaceful and productive world.
When it is not returned, I give myself permission to take myself out of the toxic space. I practice choosing to “go high when others go low” (Thank you Michelle Obama!).
We will only stop the out of control violence in our world by knowing that what we say and how we treat others matters just as much as physically injuring someone.
We CAN make a difference. As Gandhi said, “You must be the change you wish to see in the world.”
Go to MK Gandhi Center for Nonviolence for more information.
Also read Marshall Rosenberg’s book, Nonviolent Communication: A Language of Life, to learn more about nonviolent communication.