Archive for energy increase

“I am free!”

Cristie CarterBy: Cristie Carter

While I was a child growing up my father was in the produce business so fruits and vegetables were in abundance at our home. My dad would say, “The whiter the bread, the sooner you’re dead,” and mean it. But, we consumed all of the whole milk anyone could want. I remember always reaching for a glass of milk when I was thirsty, preferring milk to drinking water. I grew up healthy and active. It was when I went to college and then got married that I ate more convenience foods.

To be honest I have not been a moderation kind of girl and that has been my eating downfall. When it comes to sweets in the house, no matter what room I’m in they beckon me to come and enjoy. If I were bored or wanted some variety to my day the list of sweet indulgences is long and quite varied with all of the delicious concoctions I would come up with and consume. Epictetus wrote, “No man is free who is not master of himself.” This out of control compulsion was bondage to me.

If you were to visit my library you would soon see that I have been eagerly learning all that I can throughout the years about food and nutrition from the Diamond’s Fit for Life to The China Study by Campbell and numerous books in between. I knew much of this information was important, and in my quest for better eating and health I have experimented being raw vegan off and on for the past sixteen years. I felt great and the physical results were impressive, but because that regimen of eating was so restrictive I found it impossible to adhere to permanently.

This time last year I met up with a friend for lunch. As we were eating I mentioned how wonderful she looked. She told me about a new eating plan she had been following, and when I asked her about it I soon learned that it was very heavy in meat consumption. I asked her if she had any qualms about eating that much meat since the Word of Wisdom states quite specifically that little to no meat is better. That afternoon I went home and did a web search for “MOST HEALTHY FOOD DIET” which resulted in a plethora of varied information. It was then that I found Jane Birch’s blog, Discovering the Word of Wisdom, and began reading all of the inspiring testimonials found there.

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“I am no longer obsessed about food or how much I weigh”

Doug WeberBy: Doug Weber

I’ve been studying nutrition and fitness as a hobby for about 20 years. During this time, my weight has been all over the map. I’ve been very thin at times—when serving in the Air Force, I was on a calorie-restricted diet and doing lots of running and got down to 150 lbs. I’ve been overweight most of the time—up to 230 lbs at one point.

My diet has also been all over the map. I’ve tried the good old calorie-restricted diet many times and succeeded in losing a lot of weight each time, only to gain it all back each time. I also saw success with the Shangri-La Diet (google it) but didn’t have the will power to stay on it indefinitely. I saw success with the Atkins Diet; however, I had the same problem, an inability to stay on it long term. The same with Nutrisystem—I did that for a year and lost 55 pounds, then gained it all back.

In late 2015, I decided to try the Ketogenic Diet where 75% of calories come from fat, 20% from protein, and only 5% from carbs. It is an extreme version of the Atkins diet. During this diet, I was eating a lot of meat, a lot of extra fat (bacon grease on everything!) and was checking my ketones each morning to try to hit the magic range of 2.0 to 3.0 mmol/L. My lab numbers all got better, but in hindsight I believe it was due to my no longer eating highly processed foods.

During this time, I was corresponding with my daughter and her husband in Provo. We had an on-going discussion about nutrition and fitness for a few years. My son-in-law challenged me on my interpretation of D&C 89:12-13. I interpreted verse 13 to mean it’s okay to eat meat sparingly all the time, not just during times of winter, cold, or famine. He forwarded an article to me that included a reference to Jane Birch’s book, Discovering the Word of Wisdom. I read her book and decided I was completely wrong. I now understand those verses to mean that it is pleasing to the Lord if we never eat meat unless we must in order to survive. I was inspired by Jane’s notion that she had eaten more meat during the first half of her life than would ever be pleasing unto the Lord, so she is committed to eating no meat the second half of her life to try to make up for the first half—that has become my desire as well.

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“This diet allows my body to function at its highest capacity”

Gwyneth AllenBy: Gwyneth Allen

I have pretty much grown up being vegetarian/vegan. My mom always hated the idea of meat, so from the very beginning there was no meat in our house. When my twin sister and I were three, our mom discovered that our little sister, who she was nursing at the time, reacted badly to the milk my mom would drink. This prompted my mom to become vegan, and our household became free of dairy and cheese. We have also always eaten really healthy, with very little processed foods. Snacks in our house consist of bananas or apples.

The surprise when people find out I have been vegan for most of my life is normally followed up with, “But don’t you want bacon?” Well, Morning Star makes some dang good vegan sausages so that pretty much fills my bacon void!

Before middle school, and really up until high school, I never appreciated the way we ate. I ate a whole food, plant-based diet because it was the way I had always eaten. In high school I consistently began to work out and started swimming year round for the varsity swim team. I realized the way I ate impacted how I felt and how well I was able to compete. On the days when I had dairy, I felt sluggish in the water and not prepared to swim. I also discovered that when I ate dairy, I would feel sick and get headaches. On the other hand, when I ate healthy and had lots of fruits and vegetables, I felt strong and had more energy. For me, living a whole food, plant-based lifestyle is the best option because it allows my body to function at its highest capacity.

For my first three years of high school, I lived in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. In some ways living in Southeast Asia was accommodating to a vegan lifestyle. Indian and Thai food were readily available when we wanted to go out to eat. However, the lack of Costco really put a damper on how much fresh fruit and vegetables we had. Malaysia has plenty of fruits and vegetables, but not always the kinds we wanted to buy, and we had to bleach the produce before eating it.

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“Our health is in our hands”

Annalise Jones before and afterBy: Annalise Jones

I grew up in a health conscious family. We used natural health care as much as possible. We never had soda or sugary cereal; desserts were rare. For a family home evening treat we would have almonds or apple juice. Almonds were a treat because they’re too expensive to eat regularly (with a family of ten!), but that same economic factor also meant that we relied more on cheap processed dinner foods such as Ramen noodles, macaroni and cheese, and hot dogs.

Things changed when I was a teenager. My parents became better informed and decided to give up animal products. Our dinners switched to couscous, whole wheat veggie pizza, and potatoes. I don’t remember anyone complaining much, but there was always the back up option of PB&J.

I was familiar with my parents’ reasons for making this change; I even did a presentation on the dangers of dairy products for my speech class. However I did not have personal conversion to the Word of Wisdom at this time. Pretty soon I was sneaking foods away from home and, once I got my drivers license, stopping at fast food places as much as possible. I have always been a big food addict, you see, and freedom just opened up a big world of possibilities!

A word on my health at this point in my life: I had depression, chronic yeast infections, hypoglycemia, parasites, acne, and serious fatigue. I also had an impulsive problem picking my skin, and I was covered in open sores. I played on the tennis team but had trouble doing the drills, and would always come in last when we jogged for warm-up. I was also insecure about my weight. I was heavier than all the other girls. My best friends were super skinny, and my cousin teased me about having extra jiggle.

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I believe the Lord intended us to have joy and to be healthy!

Chris DrysdaleBy: Chris Drysdale

Even though I felt I knew quite a bit about nutrition, I was always looking for new information. It wasn’t that I had to lose a lot of weight; I just wanted to be healthier. I was also worried about getting cancer. I had a tumor on my thyroid removed when I was 31 years old. And then at 44 years old I had a tumor removed from a lymph node in my neck. Plus I was hearing of other people passing away too early in their lives from either heart disease or cancer. Last, I was concerned about osteoporosis, which runs in my family.

In studying nutrition, I learned there is a lot of conflicting information out there: carbs are bad, meats are good, etc. But I felt at least semi-educated on nutrition and thought I was a fairly healthy eater. After all, I rarely had fried foods or red meats. But I was eating a lot of lean meats like chicken and fish. The buzz word in nutrition was “protein,” so I would make sure I ate lots of dairy, chicken, and fish.

Just over two years ago, my mom told me about the documentary Forks Over Knives. My husband and I watched it together. After viewing the program I knew I was done eating animal protein. But though I wanted to cut the animal protein out of my diet, I didn’t really know what to eat. A few weeks later I learned about the book Eat to Live by Joel Fuhrman. That book really educated me and helped me know what I should be eating. Shortly after that, I was given Jane Birch’s book Discovering the Word of Wisdom.

My eyes were opened after watching Forks Over Knives and reading to Eat to Live, but after reading Jane’s book I realized how this whole foods plant based (WFPB) diet goes right with Heavenly Father’s guidelines and recommendations.

After watching Forks Over Knives, and without having a full understanding of a WFPB diet, we first eliminated meats, dairy, and all animal proteins—cold turkey (pun intended). But, I still didn’t know exactly what to do. We were still eating some processed foods like chips and crackers, and wondering where all my protein was going to come from.

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“The most horrible, wonderful experiences of our lives”

Randy and Olga CamporaBy: Randy Campora

Dat, dat…, da dat dat dat – dat daa dat dat dat daaaa dat.

That is the opening phrase of Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker ballet. As the bass trombonist in the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra for the past thirty years I have heard those violin notes hundreds of times, and in December 2014, the notes were the same as always. We were playing in the orchestra pit of the Lyric Theater in Baltimore for an entire week of Nutcrackers with the ballet corps of the Baltimore School for the Arts.

But this year, those notes did not sound the same. Or I should say, my mind as it heard those notes was not the same.

This year, I had cancer. My mind struggled to focus, though the familiar music and setting were a nice distraction for me. But as soon as the music stopped the thought came immediately back: I had esophageal cancer, stage yet to be determined.

I was fifty-three years old, at least a hundred pounds overweight, a recent inductee of the Type II Diabetes Club. I was also the possessor of more blessings from God than I knew what to do with: Olga, my wonderful yoga teaching wife; Dominik, our trumpet playing oldest son on a mission in Poland; and Raffi, our math wiz youngest son with the dry sense of humor. I was a member of the best ward in the church. I had a job I liked, with great health insurance. The complete list would assault you with its length.

That September I had choked on a piece of food at dinner. My wife had just completed a CPR course, so she successfully executed the Heimlich two-step and I could breathe. But a few minutes later I realized that something was stuck down near the stomach because I could not drink or eat anything. A trip to the ER took care of the problem: Dr. Solaiman removed the piece of chicken stuck in the valve at the top of the stomach.

He was surprised to find Barrett’s Esophagus—a pre-cancerous condition usually caused by chronic acid reflux that changes the tissue to something more resembling an intestine. He performed biopsies, which came back clear. He wanted to be sure nothing was hiding there, so another round of biopsies was done three months later. This time the cancer cells were found, along with some aggressive markers.

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“Our life will never be the same again!”

Markus and Caroline GappmaierBy: Caroline Gappmaier

I always thought we ate fairly healthy. Baking our own bread from grains I milled, eating only a little meat, and then basically no red meat, no drinking of soft drinks, etc. Of course, I did have a sweet tooth and liked cheese very much (you know, I’m Swiss, and those of you who have tasted our cheese and chocolate will understand!). Then, our family experienced an extended period of existential stress which brought me health-wise to a point where I hardly could eat anything anymore. I had suffered from severe rheumatism before, with chronic pain mainly in my shoulders, but with all the other joints suffering also (which meant never being without pain day and night). But now with this added stress, my skin had turned so yellowish that even strangers would address me about it. Around my eyes were deep, dark circles. I kept losing weight. I had random itches all over my body all the time. I started feeling as if my body could stop working at any given moment. My thighs had white marble lines on them and going to the toilet smelled like walking into some of those old folks’ rest rooms. I had to leave early for everything because hurrying was too much and got me out of breath. All the while I had no strength to deal with any kind of extra stress. I felt depressed constantly instead of being happy and easygoing, as would reflect my personality. I was always worried and feeling bad. It was miserable!

Realizing things could not go on like that much longer, I adjusted my diet. I had already let go of all refined sugar products. When I realized that cheese caused feelings of anxiety, I stopped eating that, too. Finally, I started eating only the things I digested well and made me feel physically good afterwards: fresh produce (fruit, vegetables, nuts and seeds). For one year, I ate nothing else. Fruits in the morning (usually a fruit smoothie with some flax seeds, brown millet and pure honey in it) and a mixed salad of vegetables and lettuce with some seeds and nuts in the afternoon. Today I think this saved my life. As I got better, I started to reintroduce other foods again. A few years later, as my husband, Markus, also struggled with his health, we felt we should change to a whole food, plant-based diet. Our health improved slowly, but surely. I was able to go back to a more normal life style in general again, feeling less depressed and having more physical energy and no pain. Happiness came back and in the (early!) morning I started to be fully awake again. No more lead in the bones or short breath.

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“I planted the seed to see what fruits it would yield”

Maria FarleyBy: Maria Farley

My family has a history of high cholesterol. My father passed away in 1990 at age 54 of heart disease, and all six of my brothers are on cholesterol lowering medications. My cholesterol was also high, and I was on cholesterol, pre-diabetic and hypothyroid medications.

I’m a mother of five children and part of a blended family that added three more children to the picture. Though I was a dancer in college, I now work full time outside the home in an office sitting at a desk. In addition to family and work, I’ve always had busy church callings. I was tired and my body ached all the time. I slept poorly and was frequently constipated so I took sleeping aids and extra fiber. I wasn’t very happy and dealt with depression despite my “push through it” attitude. In 2010 I started visiting doctors more frequently to try to address this general “not feeling well” cloud that was hanging over me. I tried eating better, walking for exercise again, and started all those medications.

Despite the things I tried to get healthier, it didn’t seem to make a whole lot of difference. After four years, I had come to an “I don’t care, it doesn’t seem to make a difference” frame of mind, which included my eating patterns. Then in July 2014 a brother who is four years younger than I had a mild stroke. That really shook me up. I realized I was on the same health path that he was. I was 47 years old at the time, and at 5′ 11″ I weighed 215 pounds.

Shortly after my brother’s stroke, because of my expressed concerns, a son-in-law invited me to watch the DVD Forks Over Knives, and my daughter gave me a copy of the book Discovering the Word of Wisdom by Jane Birch. They were living with us at the time and had wanted to adopt a whole food, plant-based way of eating, but had not successfully converted fully over.

After watching and reading this information and being introduced to additional scientific evidence from Dr. Campbell and Dr. Esselstyn, the enlightenment of the truths found in the Word of Wisdom (that I had not paid any attention to previously) came to life for me. This whole food, plant-based diet lined up in my mind so well with the counsel given in the Word of Wisdom that I decided to put my faith to work and give it a try for 30 days. You could say I planted the seed and was testing it out to see what kind of fruits it would yield. I was blessed to have my daughter and son-in-law joining me in this “experiment upon [His] words” (Alma 32:27).

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“I charged boldly ahead into a beautiful new wonderland”

Lindsay MaxfieldBy: Lindsay Maxfield

In the summer of 2014, on a night much like every other night, I carried one of my three children up the stairs for bed. It felt like the 100th time that day that I carried someone up or downstairs, and it very well might have been — just a few months earlier, our family of three grew to a family of five when I gave birth to identical twins.

Twin pregnancy is not for the faint of heart. It is a grueling, physically demanding task that left me nearly unable to walk by the end of those nine long months. Of course giving birth to two healthy and beautiful baby girls made it all worth it, but being able to finally reclaim my body as my own was the icing on the cake. What’s more, I gained a newfound appreciation for my body that no other experience could have given me. I was fiercely proud of what I had accomplished and realized that my body is indeed miraculous, incomparable, a divine gift, and capable of a herculean task given to few.

But despite this newfound respect, my body still was not quite able to do all the things I needed it to do as a mother of three young children. At least not comfortably. I realized this that summer night as I paused at the top of the stairs, ever so slightly out of breath, and had this sobering thought: My babies would keep getting bigger, and I’d still need to keep carrying them up and down the stairs.

I knew that if I wanted to be able to accomplish the physical tasks yet ahead, I needed to treat my body much better. Since my life already felt like a never-ending marathon of child wrangling and laundry basket hauling (among other countless household duties), I wasn’t about to turn to exercise to improve my health. Instead, I turned to diet.

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“I wouldn’t go back for all the money in the world.”

Ari McLaughlinBy: Ari McLaughlin

I was overweight, had low energy, hated my appearance, and got sick a lot. One day, I decided I wanted to lose weight. I made a goal and started that day. From what I googled and read online, every single article was saying the answer was to cut calories, exercise a lot, eat lean meats with some salad, have eggs for breakfast, etc. (In other words, high fat, low carb SAD diet). So that’s what I did. At first it worked! I was losing weight rapidly. Everyone was stunned and said I looked great.

I went on with this for five months before I knew I couldn’t proceed any longer. I had become obsessed with every little thing I put in my mouth, ESPECIALLY anything that had carbs! I would not even eat a banana. My aim was 50g or less per day. I did my absolute best to hide the fact that I was miserable. I had so many mood swings it was ridiculous. I would google the calories in every little thing that entered my mouth. I even googled the calories/carbs in a tomato! That was it, brother. I knew where I was at and where it would go if I continued down that path.

On the 4th of July 2014, my friend’s cousin came to watch the fireworks with the whole neighborhood. We got talking, and she told me how she was a high carb, low fat vegan. My initial reaction was “How did she lose weight like this?” since all she ate was fruits, veggies, rice, potatoes, beans, etc., foods I thought were not weight-loss foods. She told me she had read Discovering the Word of Wisdom by Jane Birch, and I kinda flipped out. I was like “NO WAY! That’s my Mom’s, like, life-time best friend!” She was pretty envious that I knew her. 🙂

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