I ask my students on the first day of class, “Why are you here? Why are you taking this class?”
The name of the course is The Yes To Life Solution to get Slim & Healthy.
So as you would expect, most students say something like, “I’d like to lose a few pounds.” or “I have high cholesterol and want to get my numbers down.”
So let’s try it:
Why do you want to lower your cholesterol?
Because I don’t want to have heart disease.
Why don’t you want to have heart disease?
Because I”m afraid I won’t be able to be active, and might die young.
Why don’t you want to lose the ability to be active?
Because I have lots of things I like to do, like hiking and traveling.
Why don’t you want to die young
Because I adore my grandchildren and want to live to see them grow up and have their own families.
Did you notice what just happened?
Which is more motivating?
“I want to lower my cholesterol.” OR “I want to stay active, continue hiking and traveling, and I want to be here to watch my grandchildren grow up and have families of their own.”
Let’s explore this just a bit further.
The first answer is usually about getting rid of something we don’t want.
This is valid, and can provide a good starting point.
Have you heard the phrase, “pain pushes until vision pulls?”
So we can be grateful for the pain, whether it is physical, emotional, social, or spiritual because it can get our attention and motivate us to look for a solution.
But when the pain lessons just a bit, or we start getting used to the pain, the motivation begins to dissipate. That’s when we’re likely to fall back into the old patterns that caused the pain in the first place.
But discovering our deeper “why,” our vision of what we really, truly want, has the power to keep us moving in the direction that will get us there.
I call this deeper why a Yes to Life why.
So, I ask you to think about your own life.
Would you like to be slim and healthy?
The great news is that a whole-food, plant-based diet provides a tremendous foundation for your amazing body to achieve these goals.
Changing our eating habits can feel hard, but it can also be fun and empowering if we have a Yes to Life why.
The job of a gardener is to create the right conditions for the little seed to take the big step out into the world to fulfill its potential.
We can explain how deep to plant a seed and how much light they need, but we can’t really begin to explain how the life force is stored in that little seed and then suddenly becomes active.
When I consume these plants, I’m eating the energy of the sun. I’m eating the collaboration of the trillions of microbes in the soil. And I’m eating the wisdom of the Universe, which knows how to store life in the tiny seed which became the plant.
I finished my breakfast feast 3 hours ago.
Now those plants are part of me.
They have become human cells.
I haven’t eaten meat, dairy products or eggs for 31 years. And not only that, I very rarely consume processed sugars, oils, or other processed foods.
That might sound like a fate worse than death for those who eat these things every day. (Which means the huge majority of our western world.)
So why don’t I feel deprived? By most people’s standards, my food choices are considered extreme: extremely limiting, extremely strict, extremely difficult, extremely boring, and extremely un-fun!
The truth is, I get extreme JOY out of eating my food! When I see the vibrant colors on my plate of food, I see beauty. When I taste the unique flavors and textures of the great variety of foods I enjoy, I’m amazed at Nature’s creativity.
The truth is, I’m in love. And when you’re in love, you don’t feel deprived — you feel amazed and grateful.
My love affair with my food is not focused solely on the taste of this delicious food. It is much broader and deeper than that.
You see, I’m in love with life. And the life force enters our planet through plants.
Did I create the garden? Perhaps the garden is creating me. I think the garden and I are co-creating something wonderful together. We are definitely part of the infinite life force together, and our lives come together with joy and beauty in the garden.
A garden is a spiritual place. Gardening is a spiritual relationship. And eating is a most sacred act.
With this perspective, how could I feel deprived?
Of course, I also eat plants that I buy at the grocery store and feel very grateful for them as well. The plants connect us with the Earth and with Life itself, no matter where they are grown.
For me, the idea of eating processed foods feels like severe deprivation. Foods that have been made in a processing plant (a factory) cannot have the energy of plants grown in a garden.
And by the way, I also grow many varieties of beautiful flowers in my garden, who also bring me tremendous joy and nourish my spirit.
I teach nutrition and cooking classes, and most people only hear me talk about how good these plant foods are for our bodies. . . How the fiber, antioxidants, and phytochemicals provide what we need for optimal health. . . And how to prepare these foods in ways that taste delicious while providing us with the nourishment we need to live well.
This might all sound a bit crazy to you. But I invite you to stick your toe in the water of this way of thinking for just a moment. It won’t hurt. And you just might be able to enjoy eating healthy food as much as I do!
There are plenty of other times when a quick fix just isn’t a good idea — because the problems it causes outweigh the problem you’re trying to fix.
OR, the quick fix is temporary, and you get the problem back again.
OR, the quick fix just doesn’t work.
Where do “diets” fall in the realm of quick fixes?
Well, being overweight isn’t a good situation, but it’s not an immediate, life-threatening emergency.
Most diets can help you lose weight temporarily — but they come with serious “side effects.”
When the focus is solely on weight loss, we’re likely to make food choices that actually harm our health — such as eating Atkins type diets, or keto diets. (I actually took this list from an ad online!)
And most diets require such deprivation that they can’t be sustained long-term. Thus — when you achieve your weight loss goal, you “go off” your diet and begin eating the way that caused you to gain weight in the first place.
Also — in my personal experience, diets make you crazy! You can get obsessed about food — about your weight — about excessive exercise.
So I’m all for losing weight, but not at the price of losing our health or our sanity, or when it is followed by the almost inevitable regaining of all that weight — and often even more.
So — my focus is truly on health — and on losing weight as one aspect of getting healthy.This is why I call it the Yes to Life Solution to Getting Slim & Healthy.
This does require changing what we eat, since the Standard American Diet — even the healthier versions of it — are at the root of our health and weight problems.
And even though most people in my program see positive results quite quickly — within the first couple of weeks — this isn’t a quick fix.
It’s a permanent solution to a long-term problem, and it requires a permanent commitment to the many delicious health-promoting whole plant foods found in my classes, my cookbook, and in my own kitchen.
A few years ago, I sought out training in how to market my programs so I could help more people get slim & healthy.
The marketing gurus insisted that I needed to sell my program with the typical claims:
Lose 10 pounds in 30 Days!
When I argued with my coaches, telling them this isn’t what my program is about, I was told, “Sell them what they want, and then give them what they need.”
Well, I guess I’m just not cut out to be a great marketer as I couldn’t bring myself to follow their advice.
So I tell the truth. My programs work wonders for helping you get slim & healthy.
But if you want long-term results, you have to make a long-term commitment to healthy eating.
Occasionally, a student asks me: So how long do I need to do this?
My answer: Just as long as you want to feel good.
ALL weight loss diets require a lot of effort, so why not put this effort into something that will actually help you get healthy?
I recognize that food choices are part of a whole web of beliefs, habits, and traditions. That’s what makes it so difficult to make the changes we need to make if we want to experience optimal health.
But making these changes with other people makes it easier.
But if you want to get slim and healthy for life, I invite you to take my Yes to Life Solution to Get Slim & Healthy Zoom class.
"Make your decisions based on what you want your FUTURE to be — not on your PAST — or you’ll keep repeating it!"
What is your life like now? Do you want it to stay this way? If so, you’re in the minority!
Did you know that according to the World Health Organization,
Americans rank 40th in the world for Healthy Life Expectancy?
That’s pretty shocking for the wealthiest country in the world.
But numbers don’t tell the story of the misery experienced by so many people who are suffering from carrying excess weight and living with chronic diseases that make life just plain hard.
So I’d like to share some ideas to empower you to begin creating the life you would really love to experience.
The fact is, most of us don’t think very much about the most important decisions in our lives — the ones that are creating our level of health and happiness. In fact, we don’t even consider them decisions most of the time.
What kinds of decisions are these?
• The kind of foods we eat
• How we spend our time
• With whom we spend our time
This list could be much longer if I added in the details, but let’s just look at some of them.
The Foods we Eat
The foods we have been eating have led to the size and health of the bodies we now have. And since the huge majority of Americans are now overweight and have chronic health problems, it’s obvious that we are eating the wrong foods.
So if you want a different body in the future, you’ll have to choose different foods than you did in the past.
Now let’s look at How We Spend Our Time
Our bodies are made to move!
With Whom Do We Spend our Time?
We tend to become more like those we spend time with. So let’s be very conscious of this and choose our friends wisely. Hanging out with people who have qualities we admire and aspire to helps us to become more like them. Our weight is influenced more by our friends than it is by our parents!
So think about what you want your future to be like.
How would you like it to be different from your present situation?
Can you recognize the choices that have brought you to this present situation?
And can you see what choices you can make that will begin to move you toward the future you want for yourself?
Can you recognize people you know who have the qualities you would like to have more of? -- Who eat the way and spend their time the way you’d like to do?
We are creating our lives in every moment of our days . . . with every bite of food we put in our mouths . . . with how we move or don’t move . . .with every walk we take . . . with every book we read and show we watch . . .with every conversation we have.
I LOVE summers in Alaska.
And July is extra special because it’s strawberry season (in my garden!)
It starts with a dribble — about 2 or 3 ripe berries which we greet with great excitement!
“One for you and one for me.”
Within days our harvest has increased.
”A handful for you and a handful for me.”
And then it’s a quart to eat and a quart for the freezer.
THAT’s when strawberry shortcake season begins!
If you know me very well, you know that I’m committed to eating only healthy foods — and of course, strawberries are super healthy!
But strawberry shortcake? ? ?
I can make it super delicious without any processed sugar, refined flour, oil, or fatty dairy products.
You’ll have to make it yourself to see how delicious it is, but I’ve made a video to show you how easy it is to make every part of it: Drop Scones for the shortcake, Strawberry Sauce and Dreamy Creamy Topping.
(Yields: 8-9 scones)
1 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 cup oat flour (make your own by pulsing rolled oats in a blender)
2 Tbsp date sugar, (or blend 1 date into the nondairy milk)
1/4 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1 cup nondairy milk
1 tsp lemon juice
1. Preheat oven to 350 F
2. Mix lemon juice into nondairy milk and let it sit for about 10 minutes, to thicken slightly
3. Stir dry ingredients together in mixing bowl.
4. When milk has thickened, add to dry ingredients
5. Stir just until mixed. Let it sit for a couple of minutes to thicken. Do not stir again.
6. Drop large spoonfuls of batter onto cookie sheet, lined with silicone mat or parchment paper
7. Bake about 10 minutes, until lightly browned.
Note: To make this gluten free, you can leave out whole wheat flour and use 1 1/2 cup oat flour instead. The scones will not rise as much, but are still tasty.
(Yields: 1 1/2 cup sauce)
1 cup seedless red grapes, washed
1 rounded cup fresh or frozen (and thawed) strawberries
1. Blend grapes in blender to liquify
2. Add strawberries to blender and just pulse a couple of times. You don’t want them to be completely liquefied
Note: Keeps in frig for about a week, and also freezes well.
Dreamy Creamy Topping
(Yields: 2 cups)
1 (12.3 oz) box Mori-Nu silken tofu, firm or extra firm
1/4 cup raw cashews (optional)
3 Medjool dates, soaked, pits removed
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup fresh or frozen strawberries (Optional. Leave out if using topping on pie.)
1. Soak dates in water for 10-15 minutes
2. Mix ingredients thoroughly in a blender
3. Chill and serve as you would whipped cream
To Assemble Strawberry Shortcake:
1. Cut scones in half (like a burger bun)
2. Spoon strawberry sauce over cut scones
3. Top with Dreamy Creamy Topping
4. Add sliced fresh strawberries to the top
5. Eat with joy! This special treat is actually GOOD for you!
To download a printable copy of the recipes...click "Download File" below.