Monday, March 2, 2015

Power to the Peop... to the Me!!!

One aspect I really enjoy about True North thus far are the lectures. Although I've only attended a few, the few I've been to have been quite remarkable. The lectures are led by either doctors here at True North or other health/wellness experts in varying fields. I looked forward with much anticipation hearing Dr. Goldhammer's 2:00 o'clock spot this afternoon and despite a lack of food for three and a half days, eagerly galloped to the dining hall to hear what all he had to say along with my sweet roomie Andrea. She wanted to see what his lectures were all "aboot" as well. Giggle, giggle, snort.

Some of the lectures are set up strictly as Q&A sessions and some have specific covered topics followed by Q&A. Today's lecture was the latter format. The class today began with a slide show presentation. The first slide was simple enough. It posed the question of "Why do we eat?" I knew the short answer was energy, but it breaks down into several different categories. We eat to fulfill eight particular needs: calories (preferably complex carbohydrates); water; protein (for the fulfillment of eight essential amino acids adult bodies do not produce); fat (primarily Omega 3 essential fatty acids); vitamins; minerals; and fiber and phytochemicals both of which can only be derived from plant food. 

I was very much on the fence when I arrived here about the idea of going full-on vegan. I mean dropping most meats would be pretty easy for me although I love a good chicken breast and some bacon. However, to drop ALL animal products and by-products means a life with no eggs and no dairy. I had some idea as to why dropping meat would be a good idea, but didn't have a full understanding of issues with meat at least in the respect of how we consume them here in the US. There are eight overall issues with animal food products in the US (and thereby also animal food by-products) and those are: bacterial contamination (which sometimes gets cooked out and sometimes does not); viral contamination; prions (organisms that can't be killed with cooking); heavy metal concentrations; growth stimulants/hormones; antibiotics; pesticides; and biological concentration. I've seen certain documentaries that made me not really want to think about where the meat I was eating was coming from, but they served more as a gross out factor versus legitimate/sound reasoning to not eat meat. For me, personally, meat and animal by-products are something I'm going to have to heavily considere as factors in my diet when I return home. I continue to lean toward vegan ideals for someone with my health background. I know a lot of folks are pretty attached to their meat and dairy. I'm trying to imagine a life without cheese and it seems a little sad to me. However, a life without cheese and without Remicade infusions every five weeks seems like a better life to me. So, there's that...

I wondered myself, as you might be, what the heck can I eat then because the other big no-no is: processed foods - of any kind. That would be multi-ingredient foods that contain oils; flours; added salts; refined sugars; and again, dairy (because dairy is a completely processed food for the most part). So, well, that's everything in my pantry and fridge at present knocked out. Well, almost everything anyway. Foods to include in my new diet: fresh fruits; raw and cooked vegetables; raw nuts; raw seeds; and complex carbs such as potatoes, yams, rice, quinoa, beans, lentils, peas, etc. May not seem like much, but when you consider the number of fruits, vegetables, beans and gluten free grains available, you can actually get more creative than you might initially consider. I know I plan to get creative!

After discussion about why we eat; foods to avoid; and foods to consume, Dr. Goldhammer opened up the floor to general questions. This is when the magic really happened for me. I had my question poised and ready. I was really intrigued to know what Dr. Goldhammer would have to say. My question went something like this: "I have health issues. I am specifically here because of three auto-immune disorder diagnoses. I am here to get better. I am here to get my health under control. I understand everything you're saying to me and what I need to do. Here's my concern: I have five children and a husband. My father recently began staying with us. I'm from the South where all things fried are considered divinity. I can't snap my fingers and make my family fall in line. They'll not have had the experience of fasting and retraining their pallets as I have had. I do I overcome these issues?"

I thought it was a good question and apparently the rest of the group thought it was a good question. I heard the whispered words: five kids, her father moved in, is she crazy, she must be a saint. What I heard most was, "Right!!!" The other members of the audience could get that fundamental struggle. And they wanted an answer, too. Dr. Goldhammer delivered in grand style.

Fact one: Tobacco is the only factor that beats obesity in cause of death for Americans. 
Fact two: No loved one would, with clear conscience, give a drunk a drink.
Fact three: Foods on the avoid list, for me, are as deadly as tobacco for anyone and as bad for me as a beer is for an alcoholic.

Wow. Let that sink in for a minute. Read that last paragraph again. Did you let that sink in for a moment? Because that was the quickest lesson in empowerment that I've ever been given. Dr. Goldhammer literally gave me permission to look at my family and say: That is poison to my body. If I eat it, it will kill me. You don't have to deny yourself that food if you really desire it, but I can not eat it; I will not buy it; and I will not prepare it. Wow! I can do that! I can genuinely say to my husband, my children and my father that I simply can not partake in the consumption of those foods. If they wish to do so, they can. But I can not. Because I want to live longer and healthier. 

Dr. Goldhammer recommended several different books today. The book I would most like to read and will read as soon as possible is "The Pleasure Trap" by Douglas Lisle and Alan Goldhammer. Ah, the modern day addiction to food and the havoc it has reigned down on an unsuspecting population is far greater than any other scourge on earth. I've been leaning toward that conclusion for quite some time. My time here has only solidified the thought. What could be more pleasureful in life than to have total control of your wants and desires? To not let your primal whim that screams for string cheese and cupcakes to win. To feel good. To not hurt. I think I could give up some sugary junk to feel that kind of power.

Oh, today's stats:
BP check: 142/87
Pounds Lost: 11.2
Days Fasting: 4 (juice 3/ water 1)


  1. You are awesome. Just. Awesome.

  2. I knew the lectures would be informative, but WOW.
    Hang in there and continue to shine!

    1. They've really been great! So much I'm learning!

  3. Wow, I am fascinated by this whole thing. Stephanie you are a true warrior! I am so pleased for you and eagerly following your progress. It is one thing to read a book written by the guy know, could just be trying to sell a book - but hearing firsthand from a real person with known health problems really has me excited to see the possibilities. Forge on and be strong!

    1. Dawn - Please take whatever you can from my journey! This is EXACTLY why I am blogging it. I want others to know about my experience to help them make an informed decision if they are considering it!

  4. Hello Stephanie - I think that it is wonderful that you are blogging your experience for yourself and other people. Also that you have the courage to go out there and really try to clean up your whole system.. You're a trooper and I will continue following you and hope fully help to support you too.

    1. Thank you so much Diana! I appreciate that a lot!