Friday Flashback/Guest Blogger – WholefoodFor a Whole Life

Some of you already know a little about me from previous posts sharing stories from our lives or from talking with me in comments. For those of you that aren’t familiar, I’m Robbie’s youngest daughter, Melissa. Mom asked me to “guest blog” today about my health and diet after many of you have shown interest in learning more. While this is the condensed version and I’m going to keep it mostly to my journey, as well as how to get started on a whole food plant-based diet, I suggest getting a beverage of your choice. It’s time to settle in and get comfortable. If there’s a lot of interest I will be happy to do more guest blogs as requested. If you enjoy what I’ve shared with you, be sure to reply, like, and reblog to let mom know you want more!

I’ve always been a very active and health-conscious person, yet I struggled like most people, with the misinformation that regularly bombards us. I worked out and ran daily, regularly did calisthenics, ballet, hiking, and ate what I thought was healthy. I would splurge, drinking soda or eating sweets, but never thought it was doing much harm with occasional treats. All of my life I’ve suffered from autoimmune troubles that would cause pain or injuries. I chose to reconcile myself with this and live my life to the fullest anyway, not letting it stop me or slow me down. In my 20s I contracted Lyme disease; regretfully the doctors didn’t realize what it was and took months to treat it appropriately. The long-term damage to my joints and nerves was irreversible. Given I already suffered from autoimmune concerns, this added more complications and frustration to a growing list of health troubles. A few years later I suffered multiple herniated discs with sciatica that caused nerve damage in my foot, with some loss of feeling and weakness. Despite all my efforts with exercise, physical therapy, and staying active, by my mid-twenties arthritis and inflammation were already a problem in several major joints. At this point, not being physically capable of doing my normal activities and exercises, anxiety and depression started sinking in and becoming unbearable. The realization hit me that exercise and an active lifestyle weren’t enough, I needed to help my body to recover and be strong enough to fight off the decline that was rapidly descending upon me. The thought nagging constantly at me was, “If I’m putting into my body things that cause inflammation every day I’m making it harder for my body to actually recover!” Something had to change.

The first step, I thought, was to remove soda and overly processed sugars entirely from my diet. This was much more difficult than I imagined it would be. Should be simple, just drink or eat something else! The problem is your body becomes accustomed and, essentially, addicted to these sugary bombs of endorphins. I had to gradually wean myself off the sodas and work hard, over several months, to lower my intake of processed sugars. While I started to regain some energy and mental clarity I was still regularly in pain and would often have a multitude of flair-ups. I spoke with my physical therapist and doctor, they would joke, “If you were overweight we’d talk about diet, but you aren’t so let’s focus on your exercises.” The exercises helped, but I was only getting by. I wanted to thrive.

By what I believe to be a gentle nudge from above, I stumbled on to a review of the book, How Not to Die by Dr. Greger. At first, I was skeptical. I study science, mostly behavioral, and with this education and experience, I’ve learned to question everything. Dr. Greger was thorough enough to include information to look up every single study he talks about in his book. This sent me down a deep, twisting rabbit hole of science and information that was not readily available to me prior. I buried myself in research and regularly visited his website while cross-referencing everything back to the studies themselves to read through all of them for any inconsistencies. I desperately wanted to prove it wrong. My doctors never spoke about diet as an option, they totally discounted it. How can any of this be true? Milk causes inflammation? Eggs are not healthy? Meat is a carcinogen?!? Processed meats are listed as Group 1 carcinogen (the same as Tobacco and Asbestos, according to WHO)? Yet time and again the studies and research showed this could be true, everything Dr. Greger said (and everyone else I looked into) was true. To solidify my resolve I watched “Forks over Knives”. While much of it is a bit over the top I felt like I had finally woken up, I had taken the red pill and was no longer in the Matrix. I couldn’t unknow what I had learned.

After a lot of soul-searching, I made the switch. Gradually I cut all animal products out of my life. There were ups and downs, many times I fell back to old habits, but I stuck with it as best I could. I started by removing meat, then eggs, eventually milk and cheese. The cheese was the hardest one to let go. A few months later I eliminated most processed foods in general and sustained a predominately whole food, plant-based diet. After some time of fully plant-based, it became easier to adjust recipes and make meals. Everything was becoming second nature and it wasn’t a daily struggle of, “What on Earth do I make for dinner?!” As time went by something amazing happened, my anxiety was mostly under control and the pain I lived with most of my life was subsiding. I called my mother and said tentatively “I don’t want to jinx it mom, but that constant nagging pain of level seven or eight I’ve always had? I actually forgot about it for several days. I haven’t had pain, sure normal aches, but not MY aches.” As I continued on this path my energy levels increased, mental clarity and sharpness heightened, the pain was minimal, and overall I was thriving. I was once again able to do my workouts and be more active which allowed my body to heal more and continue on a better path to recovery.

Do I believe everyone would have these results? Honestly, I don’t know. Do I believe everyone could benefit from a whole-food, plant-based diet? Absolutely! Will it cure all your troubles? I’m not a doctor so I can’t say if that’s possible but I can encourage you to look into it yourself. Listed below are some websites and links to pages that helped me along my journey. I’m listing only Dr. Greger’s pages because he has the science and studies to back the information. If anyone is interested in other suggestions I will happily share those as well. You’re welcome to ask questions here and if there’s interest I’ll return for a Q&A or more guest blogs. The most important information I can give you is to do the best you can for you and to allow yourself to thrive. Don’t fall into a trap of “getting by.” Stay positive and keep striving to be the best version of yourself.

Dr. Greger’s site
https://nutritionfacts.org

Dr. Greger’s Daily Dozen, which greatly simplified my transition
https://nutritionfacts.org/video/dr-gregers-daily-dozen-checklist/

#Forksoverknives  #Drgreger   #hownottodie   #plantbased

Reprint of previous blog.

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Friday Flashback: Giving Thanks or Do We Deserve It?

It’s hard to believe this is the Monday before Thanksgiving. The year seems to have flown out the window somehow and left me behind in its dust.

Window days

I haven’t done a Thankful Journal this year. Truth be told, I haven’t done one in several years.

As I reflect over all I have to be thankful for, I realize I am really good at saying (or printing it) but not so good at really believing it. Somehow I feel we all fall into this trap.

In this free country of ours, it is easy to lose sight of all we genuinely have to be thankful for.

I have noticed people, myself included, tend to add qualifiers to their thankfulness.

Not really surprising when one thinks of how the last few generations have been raised.  Or more accurately, what the last few generations have absorbed when the message that everything is all about us has bombarded them through the media, school, government . . . you name it.

“You deserve a break today!” goes a popular jingle. “What about ME?” one song says. “You deserve brighter eyes!” “You deserve affordable housing!” “You deserve a better job, or car, or whatever!”

Everywhere you look, everywhere you go there is a sign with the message, “You deserve . . . : And we all fall prey to this insidious message.

            New Car DeserveNew House

Nothing seems to be enough. The government even declares that people can be impoverished AND still have a car, air conditioning and TV. How do you think the poor homeless veteran living on the street feels about this, or the poor child that has no food, a cold house, no shoes and no hope for a change? Do they “deserve” what they have just like we “deserve” what we have?

In truth, no one deserves anything (except eternal death and damnation). We’re all only here by God’s good mercy and grace.

I really didn’t mean to have a sermon, but this is what I have been led to say.

God loves each and every one of us.

Bible 2

 Luke 12:7 Indeed, the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.

 He doesn’t desire that one of us be hungry or cold or any of the other realities of this fallen, sin-filled world.

Matthew 6:26 Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?

Luke 12:24 Consider the ravens: They do not sow or reap, they have no storeroom or barn; yet God feeds them. And how much more valuable you are than birds!

He’s provided a way for us to come to Him.

Ephesians 2:8-9  For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast.

John 14:6 Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.

It’s simple to come to Him. Just pray and ask Him into your heart. Then find a good church to help in your new life and to continue with following His commandments and fellowshipping with other believers.

I leave you with these verses on thanks and thanksgiving; there are hundreds of examples of verses citing thanks and thanksgiving.

1 Chronicles 16:34 Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his love endures forever.

Ephesians 5:20 always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Philippians 4:6 Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.

Repeat of previously printed blog post.

Where’s My Joey? by Wendy Monica Winter/Illustrated by Roxana Antochi

About the Book

Mother Kangaroo cannot find her Joey! Will she find the baby kangaroo before his dinner gets cold?  Who will help her in Australia? Does Koala, Emu or Kookaburra know where Joey is?

Who will help Mother Kangaroo in Canada?  Do Moose or Bear or Beaver have any clues?  Where’s Joey? Read and find out!

Written by a teacher who lived in Australia, this book is entertaining, engaging, and educational on many levels. (It has a secret spiritual message for those who want to discover it.) Filled with beautiful illustrations and a beautiful story, this is a book all ages will enjoy.

This is a book you will treasure for years and enjoy with your children (or grandchildren) again and again.

Where’s My Joey? by Wendy Monica Winter is a cute, cute story. Roxana Antochi beautifully illustrated this adorable book.

I fell in love with all the pictures. However, my favorite illustration is one of an ocean. The colors are so pretty and soothing. The creatures, for
instance, the whale, clownfish, all the sea creatures, plus the vegetation, are gorgeous!

Children will learn about animals in Australia and some in Canada, too. There were a couple of animals I wasn’t familiar with that I discovered also! (I remembered a song about the Kookaburra, which is a bird, that I learned when I was younger, too.)

Where’s My Joey? is a fun book to savor and read over and over again.

I received Where’s My Joey? from Book Sirens. However, I was under no obligation to post a review.

The Key to Love by Betsy St. Amant

The only thing Bri Duval loves more than baking petit fours is romance. So much so, she’s created her own version of the famous Parisian lovelock wall at her bakery in Story, Kansas. She never expects it to go viral–or for Trek Magazine to send travel writer Gerard Fortier to feature the bakery. He’s definitely handsome, but Bri has been holding out for a love story like the one her parents had, and that certainly will not include the love-scorned-and-therefore-love-scorning Gerard.

Just when it seems Bri’s bakery is poised for unprecedented success, a series of events threaten not just her business but the pedestal she’s kept her parents on all these years. Maybe Gerard is right about romance. Or maybe Bri’s recipe just needs to be tweaked.

Novelist Betsy St. Amant invites you to experience this sweet story of how love doesn’t always look the way we expect–and maybe that’s a good thing.

The Key to Love, by Betsy St. Amant, is a contemporary romance novel about a bakery, The Pastry Puff, and its owners and an employee in Story, Kansas. This is the first book I have read by Betsy St. Amant.

The story is populated by several characters, from the previous owner’s daughter, Abrielle “Bri” Duvall to the nefarious Charles Richmond, Bri’s ex-boyfriend, who is a lawyer intent on getting The Pastry Puff by any means available (and maybe some that aren’t!). The true stars of the book appear to be the bakery, the Parisian styled love lock fence and the “love angels,” Mabel and Agnes, who are the bakery’s new owners.

I had a hard time becoming invested in the main characters, Bri Duval and Gerard Fortier. Their ongoing disagreements felt somewhat immature and off-putting.

The book also contains some mild vulgar words (though not profanity) and innuendo, with very little of a very spiritually uplifting content.

The Key to Love was, overall, a cute book you could lose yourself in for a few hours, with several laugh out loud moments created by the love angels, Mable and Agnes.

I received this book courtesy of Baker Publishing Group and Revell through Interviews & Reviews. However, I was under no obligation to post a review.

From This Moment by Kim Vogel Sawyer

About The Book

Growing up in the foster care system, Jase Edgar always dreamed of one day starting his own family. But his fiancée’s untimely death shattered his plans. Moving to Kansas and serving as a youth minister should be a fresh start, but he can’t seem to set aside his doubts about God’s goodness long enough to embrace his new life.

Newly-appointed church custodian, Lori Fowler is battling her own challenges. Her strained relationship with her father and her struggles with overeating convince her she’s not worthy enough for love. When an Amish weaver enlists their help locating the owner of a ring found among the donated clothing she uses as fabric, Jase and Lori find themselves drawn to each other. But will they be able to release the past and move forward from this moment into a joyful future?

From This Moment, by Kim Vogel Sawyer, is one of my favorite books written by her. I love how Vogel can write so many different types of stories.

There are three main characters in this contemporary novel. Jase Edgar is the new Youth Minister at a small-town Kansas church, Beech Street Bible Fellowship. Lori Fowler is a spunky young woman drawn quite strongly to Jase, who volunteers to help with the youth and works as the church custodian. In addition, there is Kenzie Stetler, a young woman who left the Amish faith for life in Wichita, Kansas.

It was interesting to read a story about an Amish woman who has left the faith. Usually, you read about someone becoming Amish, or they remain in the faith.

Vogel has a fantastic way of drawing you into a story, making you want to meet the characters, and never leave!

Vogel gives each person real-to-life problems to overcome or deal with, making the story so much more relatable. Jase is struggling with his faith, wondering if God is really there. Lori struggles with emotional eating, speaking without thinking and problems with her father. Kenzie realizes how some of her choices might affect her family and grapples with how to reconcile her feelings.

Rich in optimism, hopefulness and faith, From This Moment, will resonate in your heart, leaving you thinking about it for a long time.

I received From This Moment from Waterbrook through NetGalley. However, I was under no obligation to post a review.