How many people wish they could say this?!
We are often asked, "what keeps you inspired?”
Without a doubt, it's you…the Eat REAL America community!
This week, we want to share the story of one couple who is a perfect example...watching how their journey has played out has been inspiring for us, and we think you will enjoy their story as well! After all, we can all learn something from someone else’s struggles, successes and experience!
We are so thankful that Beverly and Ken were willing to share a glimpse into their journey...
Tell us a little more about where you were before you began this REAL food journey. What were some of your challenges, habits, and perceptions?
When I met my husband nearly 50 years ago, he was already dieting! And that has been the story of our married life—needing to lose weight, trying the latest fad diet with some success, but eventually slipping back into old eating habits and gaining all the weight back, plus more.
We’ve noticed that the holidays are our downfall—starting with our county’s harvest festival at the end of September and carrying on through the new year. Our family traditions always include feasts of roasts, potatoes, cookies and sweets laden with butter and sugar. I’ve been known as the Cookie Lady—baking a dozen types or more to load up gift baskets for friends and family.
So, rarely would we start the new year without having gained 10 pounds or more, carrying that into the winter months, to then start dieting once again in the spring—sometimes with little success so the next holiday season would just compound the problem. And this was our routine...over and over!
What was the turning point?
One specialist told him to cut red meat in his diet by 20% and reduce his sodium intake. His internist told him to lose 30 pounds in three months. This doctor’s suggestion was to fast every other day. We knew THAT would never work since Ken lives to eat. He finishes lunch and asks, "what’s for dinner?"
There had to be a way to eat healthy foods, lose weight, and still be satisfied (and happy) with what he was eating! What we needed was to learn a way of healthy eating that we could stick to for life. No more sliding back at the holidays!
So when, in February, I saw that Morris Hospital was offering your Eat Real For Your Health program, I signed us both up to take the course! Ken was excited when he saw the Eat REAL Cookbook—did I mention he really enjoys cooking too? He is my sous chef in the kitchen, chopping all the veggies while I measure, mix, stir and fry, roast or bake. And summertime always finds him at his grill. We both are adventuresome eaters and love trying new recipes. (This is Ken at a New Orleans School of Cooking class.)
How did you do it, and what motivated you to keep trying and not go back to your old habits?
As we began to really avoid processed foods, pay attention to ingredient labels, and try new recipes, for example the Slow Cooker Chicken Enchilada Soup was one of the first ones we tried...they were so flavorful and delicious, we were quickly hooked!
Many recipes on the Eat REAL America website are helping us make a concerted effort to eat more vegetables and plan vegetarian meals for our lunches. That is one huge change. We would normally have a burger and chips or lunchmeat sandwiches for lunch. Now we enjoy delicious meals like the Avocado Egg Salad, Mexican Black Bean Veggie Pizzas, Kale Salad Tortillas with Zesty Dressing, and Red Lentil Tomato Soup (which is heavenly)!
I love being able to type in an ingredient like 'cabbage' and find a range of delicious recipes to try. That's one of the website features I'm most grateful for.
We cooked and ate our way through the cookbook too! We have made every single entree in the Eat REAL Cookbook - 28-Day Kickstart and nearly all the side dishes and have thoroughly enjoyed all of the new foods, flavors and ideas. Because of the pandemic, we were not able to get all the ingredients to follow the menu plan in exact order, but we did our best and there's no stopping us now!
Have you noticed any changes since starting your REAL food journey?
Unfortunately Ken fractured his foot at the end of February and couldn’t put any weight on it for 10 weeks so that eliminated walking for exercise. But when he was finally able to stand and weigh himself, he was thrilled to see he’d managed to lose 11 pounds since the beginning of the EAT REAL program (with limited exercise). And, I have lost 8 pounds! The weight loss is one thing, but Ken has said "our eating habits have changed so much" and we both agree, it is for the better!
We now feel better, have more energy, and sleep better. I am happy to report that we have NOT succumbed to emotional eating out of stress or boredom or eating lots of junk food during the recent stay-at-home months.
Before this journey, we were stuck in a rut with our spoonful of peanut butter (or almond butter) with apple slices for snacks, and now we are so happy to enjoy ideas like Dessert Hummus with fruit, Everyday Hummus with veggies, Spiced Mixed Nuts, Dreamy Fruit and Nutty Salad, and power balls. When we crave chocolate or cookies, I make one of your delicious sweet recipes and don’t have to feel guilty. Ken really loves the Smarty Pants Chocolate Chip Cookies and Peanut Butter Power Balls!
When I order groceries to be delivered, I stick to a weekly menu plan. An employee from our local store even said, "Wow! You are really eating healthy!" I was so thrilled that she noticed! Maybe not physically going into the grocery store is the key -- we are not bombarded by aisles of tempting treats and snacks!
This program has also inspired me to go back to doing a morning yoga stretch routine, weight exercises, daily meditation and walking. I can't wait for Ken to join me when he completes physical therapy for his foot.
And, this year for our holiday treats?
Now I will be making things like the Mexican Spiced Dark Chocolate Bark (no one would know the bark didn't come from a fancy and expensive chocolatier!). And, the Half Naked Almond Joy Cookie Bites -- what a clever way to make a cookie that's also a candy! I'm planning to make a batch or two of both of these to add to my homemade treat boxes at Christmas for friends and family.
What advice would you give others who are struggling to figure out how to improve their health and want to make changes but don’t know where to start?
I would say the first place to start is to try to eliminate as much processed foods as possible. I firmly believe that’s at the root of America’s health problems and obesity epidemic. All the added sugars that make packaged goods taste so good so you crave more. That bliss point is what keeps us all addicted.
Try to cut back on meat portions and fill up instead on veggies. Be adventuresome and willing to try something new! It is amazing how I now notice the color of fresh foods...they are so much more appealing. The vibrant colors of our meals excites me now, and it never occurred to me before!
If you asked me to go back to our old ways, I would say, "No way -- we can't go back! This has been a wonderful journey and learning process, and it can be for you too!”
We hope you have enjoyed Beverly’s and Ken’s story!
If you are interested, learn more about the Eat For Your Health Class Beverly and Ken attended.
You can even watch the first class (it's free!). Then, you're all caught up and you can join for the remaining sessions (going on now -- Tuesday evenings through August 11th)! Plus, enjoy 10% off at checkout with REALFOOD10.
And, if you would like to be considered to share YOUR story, please let us know!