This is Part 1 of my three part series on my experience doing the Eat to Live Six Week Challenge. This challenge is outlined in Dr. Joel Fuhrman’s book Eat to Live. In this part, I will describe where I was at before I started the challenge, and I will explain why I decided to do the challenge.
I started 2017 saying that it would be a great year, my year, but it would not be the year I lost weight. I was trying to do a lot in 2017, and I didn’t want to add the behemoth goal of “lose weight” to my growing list of things to do.
Well, things change.
Halfway through February, it turned out that 2017 would be a challenging year. To explain why, you might want a little back story. In November of 2016, we happily welcomed Madeleine into our family. We love her to pieces, but she is not an easy baby. Drake and Devin were fairly happy as infants. They liked snuggles and were easily entertained. Maddie is a different breed of baby. She required a LOT of attention and constant and ever changing entertainment. To top it off, we moved into a smaller apartment in December, Drake stopped attending preschool because he refused to take the school bus, and Damian was in his last semester of his Associate degree while continuing to work full time.
I had three kids in a tiny apartment - one with Autism, one hitting the “terrible twos,” and one just a few months old. It was winter. We were stuck in the house, and I was essentially on my own. I didn’t have the time or energy to pursue any of my passions (like blogging), and I missed my husband!
I was depressed, and it wasn’t surprising. I was eating like crap and feeling like crap with frequent headaches, body aches, and zero energy. I felt heavy and sluggish. Things were bad, but I have struggled with depression in the past, and beat it back, so I knew it was possible to do it again.
We all know that in order to be a good mom, we need to be well. It is hard to nourish our children’s hearts and mind when we haven’t taken good care of our own.
But, what could I do? I knew I had to do something. Continuing the descent into depression was not an option. My family needed me well, so I had to get well. It is amazing the things we will do for others that we cannot always do for ourselves.
I struggled and I fought back. Everyday I tried to find a way to flip things around, to rekindle my joy, but there were no easy answers. I felt horrible, and the lack of energy meant halfway through the day I would crash. I’d feel tired after doing just about anything. I’d spend hours carrying Maddie around the apartment trying to keep her from screaming, and trying to keep the house clean and her brothers fed during her naps. The lack of energy was the biggest obstacle to my happiness because whenever I could get a break, I wouldn’t take care of myself, I’d collapse in a heap with a bag of chips and binge watch Gilmore Girls. (For some people, this would be considered self care. For me, it was not.)
I needed to get my energy up before I could pull myself out of depression. So, it was midway through February when I told Damian that I wanted to start eating better, and he was supportive. (It is the best to have a husband who supports me through my dreams. I am so grateful for him.) I didn’t know how to proceed. There is a lot of information out there about how to eat well. Most of it focuses on weight loss, but that was not my biggest priority. I wanted to lose weight, but it was more important that I regain my energy and eat food that was nourishing my body. I also needed something simple. I didn’t want to have to count calories or drastically restrict my calories.
In the past, I’d tried a number of different diets including Weight Watchers, the mediterranean diet, calorie restriction, vegetarianism, and even the Eat to Live Diet shortly after Drake was born. I remembered the Eat to Live plan making a lot of sense to me. It is (mostly) a whole foods, plant based diet. There were strict rules, but you didn’t have to restrict your calories and all the food on the allowed list were foods I knew would nourish my body.
The first time we tried Eat to Live, we only lasted three weeks or so. The main issue was that I didn’t know how to cook well enough to make the food good. I wasn’t an atrocious home chef, but I lacked experience especially with vegetables, and I didn’t have a food prep mindset. My inexperience with cooking did not mix well with my learning to be a new mom and my work ever changing work schedule.
Even though we failed to transition to the Eat to Live lifestyle, I began incorporating more vegetables into our meals over time, and trying foods I’d never tried before (swiss chard, brussel sprouts, beets). Over the next six months, I lost 15-20 pounds, and got pregnant with Devin. I more or less kept those pounds off, but my eating slowly began to falter, and it didn’t get any better while I was pregnant with Madeleine.
So, despite having failed in the past with Eat to Live, I still had good feelings about it. I reread Eat to Live this February, and once again it spoke to me. It was simple, no calorie counting, and I could eat as many fruits, vegetables, beans and legumes as I wanted. I wouldn’t have to be hungry. I’d also learned a lot more about cooking and meal prep since the first time we tried, and I was desperate to feel good again. This desperation would fuel me through the next six weeks.
Read about my experience during the first six weeks here.
Welcome to the family!
We are a laid back, fun, family of four living on a dime in 700 square feet. Life might not be perfect, but every moment of every day, it is beautiful.