It was the fifth day (the last day) of my Engine 2 Immersion Retreat, and I found myself in tears as I spoke to my husband on the phone. He was holding down the fort at home while I was in the glorious Black Mountains of Asheville, North Carolina. Over the 5 days that had passed, I had learned so much about nutrition and my body. I was feeling fabulous! Yet there I was in tears because I feared that I wouldn’t keep the commitment to myself to do better once I returned home. My man, very kindly, asked me who this quitter was that I was referring to? He reminded me that the person he was speaking to had found out they had celiac disease and had never ingested gluten again. This same person had learned about the meat and dairy industry and had never let meat or dairy pass their lips again. I had forgotten about that person and was instead thinking of the person that, despite many efforts over the last several years, had been gaining weight steadily and suffering from sleep apnea and fatigue.

Me and Plant-Strong goddess, Jane Esselstyn!

Well, I returned home to find that not only did I stick to the promise I had made to myself (it’s been 6 months since that tearful call), but I convinced many of the people that I love to join me on the journey. My lifestyle reboot is in full effect and I’ve never felt better!

At the retreat, I got to meet someone that’s been a hero of mine for many years. Dr. Michael Klaper is the man!!!! He’s as smart as he is tall!

To unpack all that I learned in a blog post would be too tall an order. These retreats last a week for a reason. I watched as people with chronic illnesses got their bloodwork results back and cried tears of joy having found hope again. The retreats are jam-packed with great lectures, delicious food, and smart generous people. If a retreat isn’t in your future, we’ve created a resource page on our website that gives you all the avenues to download the information for yourself.

In a nutshell, here’s what I promised myself:

  1. To eat 4-6 fistfuls of green leafy vegetables a day.
  2. To eat a whole food plant-based diet consisting of a variety of vegetables and carbohydrates, such as potatoes, yams, quinoa, brown rice, and pastas containing at least 4 grams of fiber. Remember, when people ask where you get your protein, ask them where they get their fiber!
  3. To eat nuts and seeds in moderation (i.e. don’t down a whole can in one sitting- something I am quite capable of doing).
  4. To pile on herbs/spices, nutritional yeast, flax meal, chia seeds, and hemp seeds.
  5. To avoid oil, processed foods, sugar, artificial sweeteners, and salt.

Here’s what I’ve gotten back from my promise:

  1. My total cholesterol went from 180 (fine) to 120 (amazing)!
  2. I no longer suffer from sleep apnea.
  3. I’ve lost 20 pounds and feel so much stronger and more energized. I get twice as much done in one day!
  4. I no longer worry that I’ll die from a disease I could have prevented.

A delicious meal from the immersion!

I was already eating a vegan diet, so I knew I was doing right by both animals and the Earth. If the science to feeling better ended up being that I needed to eat more meat and dairy again, it wouldn’t have been an option I was willing to take. Instead, the heavens shone down on all of us. It turns out, not eating meat and dairy are both keys to better health. The solution was simple, I just needed to add more vegetables and take away the processed foods and additives in my diet!!! My saving-animals-kit just gained a whole bunch of new tools!

There are people motivated to make a change for the animals, there are people motivated to make a change for the environment, and there are those motivated to improve their own and their family’s health. How incredible is it that no matter what the motivation is, the answer is the same for all! Change is in the air! As innovation, convenience, and knowledge spreads- there is hope for a new day for us all.

**Please note that I am sharing my own personal experience. Please consult your physician before making your own lifestyle change**