Happy Herbivore Blog

August 4, 2014

Herbies of the Week: The Turner Family (They've Lost Weight, Their Skin Is Clear & The Kids Are Thriving!)

A couple months ago the following email from Holli popped up in my inbox:

"Thanks to your helpfulness and cookbooks we wouldn't be where we are today! Almost 9 months in and a combined ~50 lbs down. We both haven't seen these weights or felt this good in around 10-15 years!"

I was amazed!

I also found out that Holli and her hubby weren't the only ones in their family benefiting from a plant-based diet -- both of their daughters' GI issues disappeared as did her oldest daughter's eczema!

But that's not all! Read on for the Turner family's complete story!

My husband Darryl and I were married in 2005 and we have been on a roller coaster of weight loss and gain nearly the entire time we have been married. We both have struggled with lifelong weight issues and after the birth of both of my girls I have not had trouble losing my “baby weight” but could never lose and keep off any previous weight. We have tried every fad diet and form of exercise with no lasting results. Burnout and holidays always put us right back to where we were or worse. I had resigned myself to the “fact” that this was my post-baby body and though I was overweight and uncomfortable, I was going to be there no matter what. I just couldn’t shake the notion that as a nearly 32 year old “healthy” person I should feel much better than I did. I shouldn’t be tired and achy, but there I was. We felt that we generally ate healthy according to what the food pyramid and other dietary information told us, we just couldn’t figure out where we were going wrong.

Our journey began in the summer of 2012 after a friend posted about how going gluten-free changed her life. I had been trying to find a cause for persistent mild eczema and chronic GI problems in my oldest daughter Reece, my husband’s sinus issues and snoring (the doctors couldn’t find anything) and a chronic scalp issue in myself, along with a general “not feeling well”. We decided to try removing gluten from our diet and within a week I noticed a dramatic change in my general well being, which included a complete resolution of my scalp condition which I had been battling for 2 years! My daughter seemed to respond well to the gluten-free diet so we thought we fixed the problem. My husband continued to have sinus problems and in late 2012/early 2013 my youngest daughter Riley, who was a little over a year old, was having recurrent reflux and started refusing to eat dairy products (she had always refused to drink cow’s milk and was still breastfeeding).

Fast forward a few months…..

In July 2013 my husband and I were fed up. We wanted to be healthy for ourselves, our girls and most importantly for God. My husband wanted to try Weight Watchers again and I agreed to do it with him. After a month we had both lost some weight but were not feeling this “lifestyle”. A friend had watched Forks Over Knives a few months prior and told us about it, but we both thought “no meat or dairy, no way”. We watched Food, Inc. and Hungry for Change and knew there were serious flaws in this country’s food industry, but didn’t really know what we could do for our family. We wanted to keep our girls from riding the same roller coaster we had, so one night in August while surfing Netflix we decided to watch Forks Over Knives and were forever changed.

I am a researcher by nature so I set out to see if this was a fad or if there might be some truth to this “radical” way of eating. After finding Lindsay’s blog and doing some other reading, my husband and I decided to try it out, what did we have to lose? I ordered the Engine2 Diet book and two of Lindsay’s cookbooks (HHC and EHH) and on August 26th, 2013 we started our plant-based journey. Within a week we were blown away!

Our energy levels skyrocketed, my husband’s chronic sinus problems disappeared, our daughter’s skin cleared and both girls’ GI issues went away. We also started losing weight like we never had before. We discovered through “experiments” that both my husband and our daughters do not tolerate dairy in any form (our oldest seems to have had a dairy issue all along and not a gluten intolerance), I cannot tolerate eggs or gluten, and we are continually amazed that so many problems directly relate back to food.

Here we are nearly one year later and so far, I am down 20 lbs and 4 dress sizes to a weight I haven’t seen in 13 years and my husband has shed 35 lbs, two pant sizes and we both feel better than we have in years, all with no strenuous exercise! Our girls are thriving, healthy and eating sooooo many different things. My oldest and pickiest loves cauliflower, chickpeas and nutritional yeast and my youngest will ask for lentil loaf for breakfast, lunch, and dinner when I make it.

We are finally getting our families to realize that this isn’t just another diet for us, it is permanent. Though it is sometimes tough when we get together with friends or family for meals, we have learned, like Lindsay says, “It’s not about the food.” We either bring our own food or bring something to share and most always whatever we bring is a hit! My oldest has become the Queen of “does that have oil, dairy, or eggs”? which is usually followed by “You know that isn’t good for you, right?” :)

We still have days where we get off track a bit, but they are becoming more and more infrequent, especially because we don’t like the way we feel physically afterwards. There are so many foods we once loved that just don’t appeal to us anymore. I find it so telling to see just how much of an effect one meal can have on our bodies and that so many people are searching for a reason for how they feel and it is right in front of their face 3 or more times a day. We both still have some weight to lose and we want to start doing a bit of strength/toning exercise, but it is so nice to know I don’t have to kill myself at the gym (I have an allergy to cardio…ha ha!) We just remember, “It’s not about perfection, it’s about progress.”

I recently read Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease and The Starch Solution, and they have given both of us so much insight and motivation. We both have medical backgrounds (I am an RN, but stay home now and my husband is a Nurse Practitioner) and we are now realizing that so much of what we see in hospitals and even in our families can be prevented if people not only know the truth but are willing to take control of their health. We want to gain as much information as possible and are thinking of taking one of the Plant Based Certification courses with the hope of educating others. People tell us all of the time, “You guys look great!” and ask what we are doing. I tell them we follow a plant-based diet with no meat, dairy, eggs or added oil and the question I get most often is “Well, what DO you eat?” and I tell them I eat pretty much the same things they do, I just make them a different way.

Lindsay has been so instrumental in our transformation by helping us learn to cook REAL food and providing recipes for nearly anything we could ever want to eat. In EHH she shared Brody’s Gluten Free Flour Blend and it really has made gluten-free life so much easier for me! She has answered countless emails and I am forever grateful for her introducing me to the Electric Pressure Cooker (I use it every.single.day). We are challenged to try new foods and spice combos or try old favorites in a new way. I hold her totally responsible for my obsession with nutritional yeast (my husband sometimes catches me eating it straight out of the jar) and rekindling my love for Old Bay Seasoning (my family thanks you too)! We are so thankful to share our story and hope to inspire people for many years to come. Thanks!

P.S. I had also been battling what my cardiologist had described as some level of autonomic dysfunction with no apparent cause that had not responded to medical or pharmaceutical treatment. This problem appears to have started in my childhood and worsened during my high school and college years with a peak after the birth of my second child. I have now directly related all the symptoms back to gluten intolerance and as long as I am eating gluten-free, I have NO symptoms.

Thank you so much Holli, Darryl, Reece and Riley for sharing your story with us!

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