Healthy? Me? (Patty)

Warning for anyone looking for a perfume post, this isn’t it exactly.  It will touch on smell, but only as it relates to my New Health Kick.  So skippity skip skip if you’re wanting something more perfumey today. I’m the resident topic changer.

About a month ago I was introduced to my new favorite cooking goddess through my yoga teacher training (she needs to write a cookbook, everyone would buy it, I’m going to work on her to get this project in gear). She does the cooking for the little Dharma Cafe at Karma Yoga Studio and had a section on Ayurvedic cooking for us during our training.  She’s also a personal chef and brilliant and young and cute and about this big (indicating the size of a cute little bug).  So we had a little consultation, and I went on her food cleanse – reluctantly and only because she was going to make it easy, even if it turned spendy by paying her to do it all for me except eat it. This wasn’t any kind of starving cleanse. You do eliminate gluten, dairy, soy, red meat, all those potential inflammatory foods, and you feast on high alkaline foods, which tend to be, well, green.

I hate vegetables. Not in a loathe them and won’t eat them kind of way, but in a, geezwhatapaininthenecktochopallthiscrapupjusttoeatit kind of way.  In my hurried-up life, it just took too much time.  I do have time, at least a couple of hours a week to chop up veggies, as it turns out, but other than just chopping them, I was never really quite sure what to do with them beyond that.

The brilliant Starla shows me the cleanse, I take one look at it and all the recipes and say, um, no, I know myself, I can’t do that, it will take too much time.  So she every week went out and shopped and brought my groceries over and helped us prep everything so that’s all we (one kid did it with me, other one sorta did) had to eat in the house.  First week was so hard, but I felt good, verging on great by the end of the week, even though I was eating every veggie/boiled egg/avocado/smoked salmon in sight.  Second week, Starla had to prep a little less for us as I took on more, but we happily spent two hours in the kitchen getting everything ready for the week, talking food.  When you talk with people who are passionate about food as therapy, for healing, it’s transformative on your attitude about what food means to you.  Kind of like talking to perfume people about perfume as transformation for mood and attitude.

At the end of week two, my hunger started abating, and I was making these cool plates of salad, boiled eggs, avocado, with a dish of raw gazpacho or a bowl of kale and bean soup and green smoothies and filling up and feeling full for hours.  I didn’t even know greens could do that, I thought it took meat or something “substantial.”  We added to that these amazing chocolate shakes we concocted from Chocolate almond milk and some greens powder and maca stuff and earth powder from this little company called HealthForce (very cool little company that makes a great product), and it was like energy crack.  Already full of energy and feeling great, those shakes just made me float with well-being.

I finally got it. Food is therapy and healing.  I have felt so great the last three weeks, full of energy and bounce, even through my surgery, my healing has been quick.  My body was so hungry the first two weeks of the cleanse because it needed nutrients.  Once it filled up, it’s gone on some completely new hungry schedule that’s about nutrition only and seems to not crave or want food unless it’s empty.  Seriously, you have no idea what a different thing this is for me.  I’m Queen ‘O Snackage.

My whole life I’ve struggled with food, bouncing from one extreme diet to another, gaining weight, losing weight, low carb, low fat, four-hour body, cabbage soup.  I’m the poster child for what happens to you if you treat your body so shabbily, your metabolism tanks in your 40s, and you fight a losing battle with your waistline.  Well, maybe not.

And my sense of smell!  Sweet fancy Moses, it’s like every smell hits my nose and springs into life.  My daphne is blooming, and it is pungent and rich. The grass is green and getting mowed, and the smell of damp spring grass is everywhere.  My nose is lit up like a scent beacon.

And Starla comes over once a week, and we make 2-3 dishes, and she teaches me more about food and putting things together – like radishes, fennel, oranges, mustard and salt (you have no idea how delicious this is) because I show her stuff I have in the fridge from my organic veggie delivery and ask her what I can do with it.

The knowledge she has about food is the knowledge I have about perfume, so we cook and trade stuff we know and agree that Vitamin Cottage Natural Grocers organic grocery store is seriously the best thing we know because we save so much money there over the big WholePaycheck pretty store that costs way too much.  AND everything is organic without having to get out your magnifying glass and check.

Me? Healthy from food?  Yeah, and a lot of raw foods, mostly raw foods and about 90% vegan (except my wild caught smoked salmon that goes so well with my avocados).  Exactly, so weird the chance meeting of a person propels you in such a completely different direction.  Life has the best unexpected surprises.

My surgery went great, I’ve still got some swelling and bruising, but the bruising is on the upside of healing, and it’s been a week.  I can see what’s there, and I’m happy as hell that the sun now shines under my eyes too.

So did you ever meet a person that just propelled your life into a completely different path than you would never have expected?  And if not, tomorrow is the Best of Spring post, so it’s all about perfume!!!

By the way, if you’re looking to lose weight, eating healthy, raw foods is a great way to go! But remember that caloric reduction is the most important step toward weight loss, so consider enlisting the help of olfactory system-based Sensa to control caloric intake while you learn to eat healthfully.

  • bookhouseshell says:

    Very inspirational! Although I’m not quite at the point to grab the yoga & tofu bull by the horns (I picked up tabac blond when I put out the cigs, for the 8th & final time), but it is wonderful to hear of your transformations. Thanks!

  • GatorGrad says:

    Awww. Thanks, Patty! And well wishes for you for a speedy recovery!

    Maybe you could get her to start a blog with RSS and allow a few of her friends to have posting ability, if they are like-minded (and can therefore post about nutrition, cooking and healthy lifestyles).

  • GatorGrad says:

    Patty, Wow! Good for you!

    I found out about “healthful” food very recently. My husband is vegetarian-leaning-towards-vegan, but he’s low key so I hadn’t picked it up. We’re talking about having children now, so I started reading about pregnancy in your 30s and was shocked when I realized how little actual NUTRIENTS were in the food I was eating. I shifted to high nutrient density foods and *BAM!* my whole wellbeing changed. It’s shocking! I feel WAY less anxiety and way more joyful. I feel great physically, too, but I am the most shocked by how much better I am handling stress.

    I’m eating lots of kale, spinach, tomatoes, eggs, nuts etc but still eating meat when it’s presented to me.

    Echoing others: can you get Starla to do a blog? How can we help?

    • Patty says:

      I know! That’s what surprised me. I spend a lot of money on food or spent before – I wasn’t eating cheap by any means, but expensive doesn’t always mean it’s got great nutrition in it.

      It sorta seems like if your body isn’t anxious about what it’s not getting nutrition-wise, it’s a lot more chill.

      I absolutely will talk to her next week. I think she should give classes in, like, um, Bali! 🙂 She’s on the run all the time and does personal cheffing for a lot of people, so maybe she’d just let me start one for her and post some recipes and tips and things that she tells me that I can write down.

    • Patty says:

      BTW, super best wishes on the potential family! Nothing more exciting and scary in the world.

  • tammy says:

    Count me among the allthatchoppingmakesmecrazy crowd.

    I love raw veggies, and if it can just be popped in the mouth (like baby carrots) or eaten out of hand (red bell peppers, tomatoes) I am all in, but anything involving a lot of prep scares me, only because I know my own laziness. Plus, it all goes bad so quickly, and I hate grocery shopping, so the thought of shopping every other day for small amounts makes me crazier than the actual chopping.

    Would Starla consider doing some sort of website, where one could pay for her recipes? I’d love a recipe for one of those green smoothies.

    Good for you for being so healthy and mindful about what you eat.

    • Patty says:

      I’m going to ask her. The problem with her recipes is she has the general ingredients, but then she adds things to taste, but I think she can do basic recipes, but she’d need to throw in some of her more common variations. She cooks like I do, so I love cooking with her. We just start throwing stuff in if it doesn’t taste quite right or interesting enough.

      Veggie, cut them up (not all of them work, but broccoli, cauliflower, peppers, beets – even potatoes, just cuz they’d taste good roasted like this! – the big chunky ones) put them on a foil-lined pan, throw in some nuts, like pine nuts or raw cashews, sprinkle some Thyme or rosemary on top, salt and pepper, then some olive oil, toss it all together, put it in the oven for a while (this is where it gets tricky, I’m not sure how much time, maybe 20-30 minutes?)), and then you can use them with rice or potatoes or quinoa or beans or a salad or just eating from a bowl. That extends the life of some of the veggies that are getting closer to expiring.

      There’s a good green smoothie book out, called I think the Green Smoothie book, written by victoria Boutenko. Cheap, paperback, tons of smoothie recipes in the back. Some for beginners, for the more adventurous, ones that are super-green, for children, to use in soups. Great book.

      My other favorite cooking book is The Flavor Bible. If you have something you don’t know what to do with, pull that out, and it will tell you complementary spices and lists of what it goes in. Helps sometimes on the combinging.

  • Nava says:

    I so want to go down this path, but I’ve been too close to too many food proclivities lately, that I’m doing my best to suppress some of my own.

    I hear what you’re saying about the shot metabolism in your 40s (I have a birthday next week), and I want to do something about it. Unfortunately, a certain person with whom I was living went down this road and bought one of those VitaMix blenders (which she made a big production of returning after 90 days, insisting she “couldn’t afford it” – yeah, right) and became obsessed; not in a good way. It really turned me off.

    Food is something we all have to make peace with. Some of us have an easier time with others. Good luck on your journey, Patty. xoxo

    • Patty says:

      Bleah, I’ve hated this 40s and 50s thing from a metabolism point of view. It was so easy up until about 43 to lose weight whenever I wanted, and then it just all ground to a halt.

      You’re right, people find what works for them. I have to be careful in my enthusiasm to not think everyone should start eating like I am. People come to whenever they’ll be in their own time, and anyone pushing them towards it usually pushes them away. that was my own experience. And the nuts that get OCD are the worst. 🙂

  • dleep says:

    Wonderful article! I have not eaten beef, pork, lamb or veal since I was 19 (57 now). Maybe once or twice a week I will have fish (usually salmon) and rarely some chicken. I love veggies and like to cut up a bunch of them, toss them with olive oil and seasonings and roast in the oven serve over brown rice,quinoa or chick peas. I admire anyone who can give up dairy. I love cheese too much.

    • Patty says:

      Yum!!! I’ve gotten that roasted veggies thing down, just cutting, putting on a pan, throwing on some rosemary or thyme, salt, olive oil, and then you can use it for anything. It’s really perfect!

      I love cheese too, but I haven’t missed it! I had a piece of cheese last weekend, but the earth didn’t move for me. I’m sure I’ll eat it from time to time, but only the great stuff.

  • Tom says:

    I have a co-worker who got on this very thing in reaction to her Lupus. Her skin is glowing, her hair has grown back and she’s on the minimum of drugs. She hasn’t had a flare since she started. I’m seriously considering buying a decent blender and joining her.

    • Patty says:

      it’s worth a try. From my experience, if you can commit to three weeks, then you’ll know. The first two weeks can be a bit of a trial, but just prep everything 1x a week, get some great healthy recipes, eat raw as much as you can (California, shit, you can eat raw year-round!!!) But that last week is the huge payoff, and then you’ll know if you can keep eating that way and want to. I considered adding some stuff back in my diet when I finished, and all I really wanted to add in was some more fruit and brown rice and, well, that’s about it! I did make some delish gluten free chocolate banana cupcakes today.

      Food is therapy. I’m putting that on a shirt, I swear.

  • LindaB says:

    Great post! I have flirted with vegetarian and vegan diets my whole life. Currently just no meat for me but I’m trying to eat more raw foods and just HEALTHIER (like you). My mom was recently diagnosed with fibromyalgia in addition to her rheumatoid arthritis. She went to a holistic clinic where it was recommended that she add meat back into her diet (she’s been vegan for two years), eat mostly raw foods (including raw egg – yuck), and cut out all processed soy.
    You’re lucky to have Starla – sometimes we just need a push and someone to provide information to make a transformation. Please keep us posted on all this – it’s very interesting. Great job and good luck!

    P.S. I wish I could find an organic market like the one you mentioned. I end up at Wholepaycheck or Wegman’s and it’s just so not satisfying.

    • Patty says:

      I think there are some conditions that benefit from meat. I feel like I need a skosh of it every week, not sure why, thought. I’m just playing that by ear. If my body craves it, I’ll have it and not worry about it, just make sure of sourcing because I get squicked out with industrial meat operations.

  • Musette says:

    I have to cook nearly all our meals, since we live 1000 miles away from civilization and I have a real dislike of processed foods – so I tend to cook way healthier than I realized. The meat thing caught me by surprise as well – I still enjoy meat but not in huge quantities and can go months without craving anything ‘meatier’ than a chicken and spinach meatball (more spinach than chicken). I do a lot of meat sauces with chopped greens therein (since I’m such a crab-ass the notion of chopping kale and collards, etc really appeals to me. Keeps me from chopping humans)…we also grow a lot of our own veggies and/or get them from our farmer neighbors. Living in the country, if you are so inclined, can be way healthier, which is one consolation (for this urban girl).

    Patty, you are on some journey here – and it sounds wonderful!!!


    • Patty says:

      When I lived on the farm, we ate exactly like that. We thought processed food was a “treat”!!!! Ack. WE’d get excited over wonder Bread when my mom made the most amazing bread and rolls every week.

      I didn’t think I’d learn to love kale, but I’m incredibly fond of it now, I throw it in or on about everything.

  • Patty says:

    How cool!! I’m so happy for you. I’ve been losing weight slowly over the last three years, all of that post-quitting smoking and perimenopause weight, but sort of plateaued the last six month. I’m absolutely fine with losing it slowly, then I know it will stay off, and I’ve done everything I can to be as fit and healthy as I can while it’s going, but damn it’s annoying to do everything right and see no loss on the scales. Right now I’m boycotting the scales for another month because I’d feel discouraged if I got on them now and it said 2 pounds or something lost. My clothes are all fitting so looser.

    But regardless of the weight loss, I’d eat like this now just to feel this good.

    If I can ever get Starla to write down her recipes into a book, I’ll figure out how to adapt them to 1-2 persons. I’m single too. The kids eat with me some of the time, but I’m working through all the freezing and portions. Eating raw during the spring and summer seems to take care of a lot of that problem because I can make enough for 2-3 days, then I’m just eating whatever concoction we came up with for that time and ready to be done with it by the end of that time, then supplementing with other foods. This is a great time of year to be getting into this.

    I keep thinking I need to go back to some pilates classes again. Yoga does a lot for a lot of things, and it helps parts of your core, but not like Pilates does!

    • Marsha says:

      Patty – throw the damn scales OUT and release the negative energy the weight number has on your mind. Just go by how your clothes feel. I would love to get a synopsis of this process too. By the way, why does she eliminate soy? Giving up dairy would be hard.

      • Patty says:

        That’s really what I have been doing. Every now and then the scale is a good reality check just to make sure you’re generally not making things worse. 🙂 But I think checking in on them every 2-3 months is plenty.

        Not sure about soy, but most cleanses I’ve done takes it out. I think they are finding more people with a soy sensitivity. The dairy, I switched to Almond and Coconut Milk (chocolate version of the almond milk is amazingly great). I don’t think I’ve used butter in over a month, don’t miss it. Cheese I miss, but I can have that now, if i want it, just not during the cleanse. I’ve always been careful with dairy because I’m lactose intolerant, and I feel a ton better taking all of it out.

        Do you mean the cleanse process? it was just all food. First week was pretty bare bones, minimal fruit, mostly veggies, green drink in the morning, all I wanted of avocadoes, eggs (I boiled them), minimal meats, I think one dish with chicken breast in it. Teh next week we added in a little salmon, pears to the apples. Fruits still minimal, but a couple more. Third week had more fruit in it, salmon and chicken breast, scallop dish. She had the recipes for each week, I just picked which ones I wanted to eat that week, and then we’d prep it all and get it all in containers so it was ready and just needed to be pulled out and heated or put on a plate. Then the morning mixing of the green drink, which usually had kale or something like that in it, ginger root (Yum!!!!!!), water, ice, fruit, maybe a pear or apple or mango (just one of those, not all three). I think that was it!

  • Catherine says:

    Wow. I seriously want all these recipes. I’m trying to eat more green right now–a lot more green, but I feel like a complete dufus. I’m just like you–except I’m not even good at chopping vegetables.

    • Patty says:

      I’m going to try and talk her into giving me a recipe or two a week that I can post on a blog, which she can eventually turn into a cookbook, or just some food prep information or healing qualities of different foods. She worked for a while at Dr. Douillard’s Ayurvedic Clinic in Boulder for a while, and she completely turned around her Hashimoto disease just with food.

      Most everything she makes is easy too. I fed a friend of mine some of the dishes we did yesterday, the Korma and brown rice, the quinoa/chickpea with red pepper sauce, the orange beets, apples and pine nuts side dish, and they were seriously impressed that it was so delicious while being absolutely healthy.

  • nozknoz says:

    Patty, this is so excellent! I also made the switch from eating a lot of junk to eating actual food and the biggest surprise to me was that it got easier over time – I expected to get hungrier as I lost weight but the reverse was true. I mean, I experience some hunger each time I lower the calorie level, but only in the normal way before a meal. Then, after I lose weight down to that next level, I experience less hunger. In contrast, when I weighed 40 pounds more and was eating a lot more, I would get very hungry just a couple of hours after breakfast and eat a heavy snack, then be very hungry before lunch and eat a big lunch, etc. Also, now I enjoy real food. I don’t keep junk in the house – that salt, sugar, grease triad is naturally addictive and I would regain my appetite for it pretty quickly, I think – but it’s no longer a sacrifice to avoid it. I do feel so much better, too.

    You were very wise to invest money and time in learning how to prepare veggies in delicious ways, which sped up your adaptation and will help you make that a permanent change. I’m really looking forward to the cookbook! The challenge I find is that I do have a lot of recipes, but I am a single person, the recipes are for 4-6 servings. I find it hard to eat leftovers more than once. I do make lentil curries and freeze portions, but that only works with certain kinds of foods, not raw recipes. For example, the single portion usually contains something like 1/4 avocado – what do I do with the rest of it? I need weekly meal plans that really use food and prep time efficiently for a single person.

    I happened to reconnect with an old friend who does Pilates seriously at the same time I had noticed a Pilates studio three blocks from my home and was realizing that I totally lacked core strength. My friend gave me a lot of insight and encouragement. I am taking classes three days a week now and really seeing and feeling the benefits. I’m also grateful to Oprah magazine (no affiliation – I pay for my own subscription), which ran an article on the Judith Beck cognitive behavioral therapy approach to dieting a few years ago. I had never managed to stick with a weight loss plan before, and that approach has enabled me to lose weight and keep it off for three years now. No affiliation with Dr. Beck, either – I bought the books myself.

    Congratulations on your transformation and thanks for sharing your experiences, which are inspiring – I plan to try that radish-fennel-orange combo this weekend!

  • Sherri M. says:

    You’re preaching to the choir re: healthy food! Although it does not completely negate chronic health problems, it can make one’s life so, so much better. I have let myself slip off the bandwagon a bit, but you are inspiring me to get back on. You see how a good-quality diet helps the body heal quickly, and I need it to keep me strong and balanced to finish raising all these teenagers (anxiety, anyone?!) and so I hopefully don’t fall completely apart at menopause.

    I’m so glad to hear you’re healing well, and are already to see glimpses of the results of your surgery, even after just a week! That is so wonderful! I’ve had lots of great people who propelled my life in a positive direction, but the greatest by far is my husband.

    • Patty says:

      I know there are not just a few of you here that already eat this way or try to. I’m never going to turn into a Food Nazi, so when I went to my mom’s for Easter, I just had what she was fixing since she was stressing about what to make, and I told her to do whatever she normally does. And she’s a great cook and it all tasted delicious, but the meat part of it didn’t do it for me, and I just prepped myself for the cravings I knew I’d have after eating some of her delicious cake and rolls. That lasted a day.

      I wish I had known this before I went perimenopausal, but I was so irritated by the militant vegans that I couldn’t even hear it, wouldn’t hear it. It took a couple of people who are so low key about veganism and the health effects they experienced to let me open my mind just a hair, enough to try it. I’m always reminded by that St. Francis thing – preach the gospel always, use words only when necessary.

      That is so cool that your husband is that person. Despite my ridiculous history with men and husbands, I absolutely believe in TrueLove and that one person that always does it for you and makes you want to be their soft landing place for them.

  • Louise says:

    Good for you, Patty! This change of diet doesn’t sound so arduous, and the pay-off seems so clear for you ; )

    I don’t have a simple answer to the one person that propelled my life in a completely different trajectory-except my son. I had no mad cravings to be a mom, but cannot imagine what my life would be without knowing what I do now, and loving in this unimaginable way.

    • Patty says:

      Yeah, my kids are at the top of my list too, for different reasons.

      Just being such a beef-fed farm girl for most of my life, all of a sudden finding myself eating mostly meatless and vegan – not for any moral reasons, just because of my disgust with corporate meat production, not the small farmer, which is how i was raised – is surprising, and more surprising that I feel so great. My 6’4″ youngest son is eating this way too and is as shocked as I am that he’s been going burgerless for weeks and feels better than he ever has, which is something for a 21-year-old