Soldotna, Alaska – I was always heavy as a child – and I come from parents who were very overweight as well. I managed to lose weight as a teen-ager, got married, and was able to keep my weight fairly normal until my second pregnancy. Then came our third child – and I remember the devastation I felt when the doctor wrote “obese” on my chart. That was just the beginning.
I’ve always been blessed with a good life – I have a wonderful husband and five beautiful children. But very few people knew the “real me”. Not even my family. In order to make up for being this person who I knew they were ashamed of being seen with – I was this wife/mother who gave and gave, and never asked for anything in return. I didn’t deserve anything – I was fat. Fat was equated (in my mind) to being immoral. I will always remember a little girl coming up to me in the grocery store – she was about 12 years old and had Downs Syndrome; she looked me in the eyes and said, “I’m sure glad I don’t have your problem. You’re FAT!”
When I was young I managed to do things with my husband and family – my husband loves to fish and hunt. The older I got, though, and the heavier I got, the less I could do physically. More and more I made excuses not to join my family in activities. How do you explain that you can’t go on a hike because you’d only make it a quarter of the way up the mountain before collapsing in exhaustion? So you tell everyone, “You go ahead – I’ve got other things I need to do.” That was my life for many years. I can remember being on MediFast at one point in my life and I lost 135 pounds in six months. You know what? When I started eating real food again, I gained the entire 135 pounds back in six months as well. Nothing could be more demoralizing than that experience. At one point in my life I weighed 315 pounds, and a size 26 ½ was skin tight. Believe me when I say you will never find a picture of me at that weight.
I can’t begin to tell you the number of times I’ve prayed to: 1) be healed from this addiction to food; 2) be given the power to resist food; 3) be given the ability to look at food and be repulsed……………you name it, I’ve prayed about it. The one thing I’ve discovered, though, is that I am powerless. I would pray for God’s help, and then proceed to try and do it myself. Short of having surgery, I doubt there is a diet out there I haven’t tried – and several times have made up my own diet. They all failed – because I was depending on my own ability. I would ask for “help” – what I needed was to ask Him to come in and totally take over my life.
About four or five years ago I was sick enough that I made an appointment with a new doctor and resolved that, no matter what he told me, I would follow his directions. Dr. Robert Rowen believed more in the natural methods of healing – and he told me he couldn’t believe I was still functioning – I should be dead. He put me on natural supplements and gave me a basic, healthful, natural “diet” to go by – and literally overnight I began to improve. Within a year, without counting calories or fat grams or anything else, I was down to 250 pounds and feeling like a totally different person.
In March of 2003 I rejoined Curves, which has become such a huge part of my life. My muscles now have tone and I feel wonderful. I can walk for miles. My whole outlook on life has improved. In addition to Curves, I’ve joined a program sponsored by our local hospital, called “10,000 Steps”. This program encourages everyone to wear a pedometer and take a minimum of 10,000 steps every day. I’m finding that the more I exercise, the more I want to continue.
The ultimate turning point in my quest for health was in June of 2003 when my husband and I were in Idaho and we passed a cattle-feed lot – the same one we’ve passed many times before. I can remember in the past wrinkling up my nose at the smell, but this time it totally disgusted me. The next thing we passed was a cattle truck; with cows so crammed in this truck that their eyes seemed already dead. Next, we passed a chicken truck on the way to slaughter. It was like God had hit me over the head. In a matter of 15 minutes, I went from watching animals die – something I had considered a normal part of life – to no longer wanting any part of that industry. On the spot I became a vegetarian – at the age of 61.
Returning to Alaska, I started researching vegetarianism, and substituting cottage cheese, cheese, and eggs, for meat in order to get protein. Soon I was feeling awful – and was grudgingly admitting (to myself) that maybe my husband was right when he told me I would make myself sick eating like this – but the thought of meat sickened me. Then I happened on a book by Dr. John McDougall. I’d seen this book, years before – and at one time had even tried it as one of my many “diets” – but this time I read it from a different perspective.
I wasn’t sure I’d ever be able to stick to a “diet” like this, but I decided to give it a try. Within one day my headaches totally disappeared. My energy level increased by about 100%. I became a totally new person – all in a day. After a few days I decided this had to be some sort of coincidence. I had some yogurt – and came down with a splitting headache. I went back to eating vegan and the world was bright once again. Then we went out for lunch and there was “nothing to eat” – so I ordered a bowl of cream of mushroom soup – once again I came down with this horrendous headache. I’d like to say after twice that I had learned my lesson – that’s not the case. I no longer willfully order anything with dairy products. If by mistake I do, I pay the price. I no longer believe it’s a coincidence.
At this point I weigh about 180 pounds, and size 14’s are now sloppy – I just bought a couple of new things in a size 12 and they fit perfectly. I’m not finished losing weight – but I’m not sure when I will be, either – I don’t have a specific goal in mind. I am eating healthfully, in amounts to satisfy my natural hunger. When I stop losing weight I will know that’s where I am meant to be. The bottom line is, I’m no longer on a “diet”. I will eat low-fat vegan for the rest of my life. It is my choice. I have no desire to eat meat or the foods I have in the past. I don’t count calories, carbs, fat grams – nothing. I do avoid sugar and white flour like the plague, but I eat all I want of whole grain bread, brown rice, whole grains of any kind, vegetables and fruit. I now feel great. I love the food I eat, and I thoroughly enjoy life! The things that I once hated (healthy food, exercise) are now a joy. I love the life I’ve been given! I’d like to let every sick and overweight person out there know that I’ve been there. There is an answer.
Few of us can relate to someone who is twice “normal” size. Lassie has given us a glimpse into that kind of life. Without a doubt Lassie’s recovery was a God-given miracle. Alcoholics Anonymous members ask for help from a “higher power.” Many people, powerless over food, should take advantage of this potent source of conquering strength. She also found support in exercise and natural foods – both natural, God-given resources. She provides a clear example of how the simple, cost-free, things in life are the most effective.
The sooner people realize there is a set of rules that allows them to look, feel, and function well (their best), the sooner they can have the life they deserve – step one. Just like the flowers in your garden grow straight and strong with beautiful blossoms when you provide the right amount of sunshine and water, and the proper soil conditions; so will your body flourish when you take proper care of yourself. Step two is to find that right set of rules. You know about the importance of clean water and air, adequate rest, moderate exercise, and psychological comfort. Most people are confused, however, about the right food (the soil conditions). I believe we (the McDougalls) have the right answer for that. The proof is in the results – Like Lassie, if you haven’t already done so already, give your body a month or two of proper care and feed it a diet based on starches (rice, corn, potatoes, etc.) with fresh fruits and vegetables. You will be amazed at the benefits you will receive. In fact you are likely to find yourself losing excess weight and never being hungry – and no longer requiring your blood pressure, pain, and diabetic pills. Because this is powerful medicine, be sure to consult with your doctor first if you are on prescription medications before you change your diet. However, if you are like most of us – a little overweight, constipated, and with “normal” daily aches and pains, then start today with a diet that has always been the right diet for you.
There is plenty of free help on our web site including 100 great recipes found at the end of the newsletters. The people on the discussion board offer caring support and beneficial advice for free. For little expense there are the McDougall books. There is also a set of DVDs for less than $50, which contains educational materials that used to cost people $5000 to hear when they attended the McDougall Live-in program at St. Helena Hospital. Now all you have to do is decide how much longer you are willing to suffer before you make the decision.