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Not too long ago, while discussing with my cardiologist the results of some blood work, I was in a state of panic. In my desperation for reassurance, I remember him asking almost apologetically, “Would you ever consider a whole food, plant-based way of eating? It has been shown to help.” In that moment, my life changed forever.  

 

I’ve always been a health-conscious person; never smoked, drank only socially, and worked out, but I wasn’t living a healthy life at all when it came to food. My relationship with food has consumed my life as far back as my memory takes me. The ability to simply eat when hungry and stop when full has always eluded me. I envied peers whose thoughts were filled with the activities of the day versus thoughts of what they would eat next, or what they would struggle to avoid eating next. Not me! Those thoughts taunted me relentlessly.

 
I struggled with weight, but felt that if I ate less, or worked out more, the weight would come off. I thought I knew what to do, but rationalizations abound… I’d start after the holidays, or on Monday, I’d choose chicken over ham thinking I was on the right track. But no matter what I tried, it seemed I was my own worst enemy! Why was my brain working against me when I knew what I had to do!? The truth is, I had no idea what I had to do – and I was trying to adhere to a system designed for me to fail.


How could something as basic to life as eating (babies are literally born knowing how to eat!) be so complicated that I just could not get a handle on it? At times, I’d muster the courage to reach out to doctors and express my desperation for getting this food addiction under control. It became clear however, that doctors, whom I had always looked to thinking they would have all the answers, overwhelmingly lacked any answers at all when it came to the relationship between nutrition and health.


I entered a treatment program for people suffering from eating disorders. I was so desperate for help, knew that what I was putting in my body was harmful (I didn’t know then just how harmful) and yet, after months of treatment left even more disheartened than when I arrived. I was sure then that this was just the life I was destined to live. I figured having a healthy relationship with food just wasn’t something I would experience. How wrong I was!  


I asked my primary care physician, whom I trust implicitly, about this plant-based lifestyle. His reply; “Definitely. The evidence shows that this is really the only way to actually reverse coronary heart disease, and the best way to lower cholesterol, etc., without taking medication.” When I asked why no one had ever mentioned this to me before, he said, "It’s something that takes a commitment and for most patients, it seems too extreme to suggest."

I understood, because I am one of those patients. Never in my life had I considered myself a person who would be vegan. No way! Not me! I like cheese too much for that! I thought there was no way I would be willing, much less able to eat a fully plant-based diet. But ultimately, I was ready. I needed to take my health into my own hands in the best way I knew how. Once I stopped just eating and really started feeding my body with whole foods, my entire world changed.

I entered this world, where instead of depravation was filled with abundance. No limiting or measuring amounts of food. No counting. No magic pills or shakes. No calculations or mental gymnastics trying to make substitutions in order to cheat a system and eat what I wanted. Just real food. Whole food. Here I am – eating when I’m hungry and stopping when I’m full! I lost over 30lbs in three months, my cholesterol went from high, to optimal in a matter of weeks, and my chronic migraines which had plagued me for years dwindled to a rare occurrence.


Friends and family asked constantly what I was doing and as soon as we began talking about it, most wanted to jump in just to ‘try.’ This thrilled me so much because as cliché as it sounds, this transformative journey was one I wanted to shout from the roof tops.

 

I am so fortunate Elizabeth wanted to ‘try it out.' Being in this together has been imperative to our success. We are so thrilled to be able to now offer this support to you as you embark on your own journey to your best life filled with Whole Abundance.

KERI BARONE

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For most of my life I ate the standard American diet, and I had always struggled with food and my weight. I went on my first diet when I was nine. For decades, bouts of binge eating and weight gain were followed by bouts of restriction and deprivation and weight loss. The cycle was exhausting and demoralizing.

 

As I aged, the gains happened more often tha­n the losses. My body was changing, and figuring out how to maintain a healthy weight was a puzzle I couldn’t solve. I believed in the “calories-in, calories-out” model (consume fewer calories than you burn in a day to lose weight). But if it was so simple, why couldn’t I just maintain a healthy weight? Why did I always feel compelled to indulge? Why was it always a fight? And why did millions share my struggle?

I never seriously took into account what was and was not in the calories I was putting in (the processed food industry does a nice job of making sure we don’t think about this). And then I found it—the missing piece. Finally, after all these years!

 

I learned about the whole-food, plant-based way of eating from Keri. She had just started following the plan, and I was amazed at the physical and mental changes I saw in her. I was inspired to give it a try. With Keri’s help, I committed to ten days of eating only whole-food, plant-based, minimally processed foods with no oil. My once ever-present compulsion to eat disappeared almost immediately. I kept going after ten days. Once I began nourishing my body with the real food it actually craved, I was satisfied. I stopped counting calories. I ate when I was hungry and I stopped when I was full. I finally learned how to cook. In three weeks I was feeling better than I ever had in my life. In less than three months I lost 30 pounds.


Here’s the thing though. It was NOT easy at first—I had so much to learn (about real food and processed food, about grocery shopping, about nutrition, about my kitchen, about eating out, about my body, about science, about feeding my family, about navigating holiday gatherings, about cooking, etc.). I believe with my whole heart that the only reason I was successful was because of Keri’s guidance. Our country is not set up to support this lifestyle. But with the right information and coaching it is entirely possible to make the transition successfully. This is why Whole Abundance was born.

Keri and I believe so passionately in this way of living that we felt compelled to share our knowledge and experiences with others who are looking to feel better and be healthier, all while contributing to a more ethical and sustainable world. I’d love to tell you more about my story and share with you the ways we can help you get started.

ELIZABETH O'CONNOR