The past six months of 2018 have been SO very interesting, and SO full of changes–as you might guess from the title of this blog post. Okay…this may be a bit long to read. But if I didn’t think it worth sharing, I wouldn’t have.
“Gramma” is me, though I usually go by “Mimi” or “Mimaw” to my little grandbabies.
But, being a writer and lover of language, that alliteration is too cool to change. “Grampa” is of course, my beloved and maddening spouse. It’s rather fun to refer to oneself in the Third Person, I’ve decided. So here goes:
Yes, I have gone VEGAN. As of February 7, 2018. Not politically (but I’m getting closer to it, admittedly…I am the Rare Green-Christian) In his usual selfless manner, Grampa joined me in it so I wouldn’t have to deal with two styles of eating in this house. He is not only maddening, he’s maddeningly-supportive-saintly.
But why?? At ages 63 and 69, why are we doing this? Good question. For me, here are a few of them:
#1: My immune system is getting crappier. From Dec 27 to January 28th 2018, I was freaking sick. First, a lousy head cold. Then our grandson, then Grampa gave me Influenza, as in Type-A. It hit me quite hard. On its heels, a rip-roaring chest cold. Thank heaven we’d discovered DoTerra oils Breathe–before this. What amazing natural relief!
#2: Other aspects of my health were getting worse and new, serious ones appearing.
- My chronic pain from Fibromyalgia and a degenerating spine had/have worsened to the point where I could/can no longer sit at my desk, or stand, or even walk my poor dog. In 15 minutes, my legs go numb–and lately, they get weak unless I sit down and rest them. This. Is. Ridiculous.
- In the past year-plus, I’ve had 2 bad falls forward where I cannot catch myself. Once, tripping over a barrier in a parking lot. Second, over my dog (at least it was inside) Now I’ve got two bad shoulders and a more-deviated-deviated septum, and a much worse knee. Have a nice trip? Not really!
- My eyesight had gotten so bad that I stopped taking photos to sell, because I couldn’t focus the camera. I considered closing my Etsy shop altogether.
- I was diagnosed with Central & Obstructive Sleep Apea in 2017 and have learned to use a CPAP machine nearly every night. I’d rather not have to sleep this way.
- My brain hasn’t been working for quite some time; not well enough to edit a manuscript, or write a blog post, etc. No concentration. No motivation. Depression and scattered thoughts. Feeling very overwhelmed. Cue a new antidepressant!
- But the worst of all was this…my annual exam and blood testing gave me lousy news: I had become PRE-DIABETIC.
What?!?! There is no diabetes in my family! Everyone dies, and I mean everyone on both sides of my family, from some type of Cardiovascular Disease (CVD) Blocked arteries run rampant. Faulty valves all over the place. My dad died of a sudden heart attack at age 47; so did his dad, at 64. My grandmother and aunts/uncles on both sides, of congestive heart failure in their 70’s/80’s. My mom died on the table during open heart surgery. See what I mean?
And me? I was eating grass-fed meat, organic produce, organic butter, unsweetened Greek yogurt, baking my own goods with spelt flour, using stevia instead of sugar or artificial sweeteners. Not exercising (the growing pain) but I mean sweet Jeeezus…
I was TRYING. Not hard enough—or more correctly, not in the right direction.
After that phone call heralding prediabetes, I spent a few days of angry sulking, coloring in my mandala coloring book, thinking and praying about what the heck to do next.
I thought of the various diets and WOE (ways of eating) that I’d tried: Nutrisystem. Atkins. Low Carb…High Protein…Low Fat…in the midst of this I became ill from Epstein-Barr virus (2004) and then the chronic pain got me labeled with Fibromyalgia (2006). Then I tried Medifast (lost 20# in a month! Gained it back when I ate meals again!) I was a Pesca-Ovo-Vegetarian for a year and a half ( around 2009-2010) and I gained TEN MORE POUNDS. Three years ago, I used myfitnesspal.com to log all my eating, and reduced calories to 1200/day. I was in a women’s weights class also, and lost 30 lbs–and felt much better. Then the class was cancelled, I never found a replacement, I fell and injured myself, the weight came back…you get the idea.
With all of this thinking, I felt pretty angry, frustrated, lost–and desperate.
I looked to the example of my best friend, Sue, who had stayed with us recently. She’s two years younger than me, but is decades healthier. Slim, energetic, on NO meds (I take four and they’re urging me to take more). She’s able to work up-the-wazoo for all hours, cheerful, caring, never sees a doctor, not addicted to foods…
Oh, and there is the way she cured thyroid tumors by eating the way she does. That was 15 years ago, and she’s been smart enough to keep eating a basically VEGAN diet. (I knew were BF’s for some reason. God knew I needed her.)
But VEGAN. The WOE I dreaded most. Why won’t you do what I suggest? I felt God whisper in my heart. Look at the example before you!
On Feb 7th 2018, I got up and said, like Frodo offering to take the Ring: “This is it. Today I begin, though I’m not sure of the way.” No meat. No dairy. No refined foods. I started.
Sue had learned from The Hallelujah Diet so I sent for their materials. We tried some of their recipes, some good. Some of their “ideas” we found really, really strange. Not eating breakfast…of any kind? Ever?? Hmm. I also read The Blue Zones and learned tons. What the longest-lived people on the planet DO eat. Mostly veggies, fruit, and grains. A little fat, a little oil. Tiny portions of meat for “seasoning.” Plant-based.
But we needed to find where we fit into all of this. I asked my BF how and what she ate, asked for advice. I read and read until my eyes fuzzed over. Grampa and I cleaned out the cupboards and fridge–and went shopping with a new kind of list. Grampa made it about a week, then seemed to flag. And Grampa, believe me, LOVES his veggies–he was the salad fan of the house, not Gramma! He didn’t complain, but Gramma could tell…he was acting tired and grumpy and unsatisfied with all of the salads, baked taters, and such. There was so much they weren’t sure of…
One day, she said “To heck with this–want a scrambled egg?” And they had some (this is sounding like a children’s book). And, back to First Person–we also, later, added fish in again–the occasional grilled or baked kind of salmon,tilapia, tuna, cod.
We were finding balance. We’re still learning, and maybe fish will go one day.
Gramma mainly wanted & needed to eliminate the foods linked to CVD, to obesity, to any form of diabetes. And finally, she found groups on Facebook that helped–a lot. Forks Over Knives–watched the film (Netflix) But…why NO oil? (even allowed on the super-strict HD) Why NO eggs? Why NO salt? (she and Grampa already used sea salt in very small amounts).
There was another FB group: Whole-Foods-Plant-Based Eating. Lots of tolerance and understanding for a wider range of eating-styles. Lots of advice, info, recipes. Pretty good. Another group is “Vegan, Vegetarian and Plant-Based Eating.” Ah ha…!
PLANT-BASED EATING. That’s what they were doing!
Okay, so nobody even knows what it is when you say it is the Way you Eat. People have heard of Vegans–but this Plant-Based things? Not a clue. But that’s okay. Who am I to judge? Still learning here. Still learning!
So that is how Gramma is eating–and mostly, so is Grampa. He still has issues with the totally-no-meat thing and likes some milk in his coffee…but he’s trying. He really is.
Eat to Live. Eat the Rainbow. Obey God, and be well.
It’s a journey, and we’re on it–together.