I have been MIA from this blog for a few months. Why’s that, Susan? you’re probably (not) asking yourself.

I guess it’s the same old blah-blah — consumed by other priorities, like work, family, the usual. But  I sure have thought about writing. Post ideas and blog improvements constantly fly into my head, and then they fly right out again as I trudge ahead to some other “more important” thing, like getting the dishes put away or my kids put to bed.

What I’d most like to share with our longtime readers today is my latest attempt to get healthy and lose weight.

Time for a change

Back in November, I got pretty freaked out when I stepped on the scale for the first time in ages. The number was the highest I had ever seen when weighing myself. And the only reason I mustered the courage to get on in the first place? Excruciating lower back pain that rendered me immobile and blubbering like a baby to my mama. I knew I had to change how I was treating my body.

Step back for a moment and glimpse the weight rollercoaster I’ve been riding since I was a teenager. This chart plots out my weight by year, starting my freshman year of high school (1991). Yikes.

Online Graphing

You’ll notice the overall trend upward, with huge dips when I joined Weight Watchers (1992), became a vegan (2000), followed the South Beach Diet before kid #1 (2006), started a weight-loss blog with my husband (2008) before having kid #2, and most recently began following a whole-foods, plant-based diet in late 2011.

Hobbling along the road to recovery

With my back in such bad shape last fall, I started seeing a new chiropractor (my third, who turned out to be, indeed, a charm!) He got me to a point where I could at least function, with a tolerable amount of pain. Then he sent me down the hall to physical therapy. Over the course of about eight weeks, I spent a few hours there each week, strengthening my badly neglected, flabulous body — particularly my core to help support my back. I got stronger, had a few chiro adjustments along the way, and “graduated” from PT. My back still felt fragile, but still better than since I’d given birth to James in 2009.

I finally decided to step on the scale and see how heavy I’d gotten. 250. Ouch. No wonder my back hurt so badly! All that excess weight was killing me.

Plants: They’re what’s for dinner (and lunch, and breakfast)

Enter my dear friend Karen, who’d been bugging me for months to watch some movie on Netflix called Fat, Sick, and Nearly Dead. I had resisted watching it, because, really, who wants to watch a movie with that title when you are, indeed, quite fat and sick (if not “nearly dead”)? Now I was ready. I watched it, and dang if that documentary didn’t get me thinking — maybe all the processed crap and animal products I’ve been stuffing in my piehole could actually be harmful to me.

Then I figured I’d better read the book Karen had also been nagging me to read (do you see a pattern here? Karen is the most loving, persistent person I know) called Eat to Live by Dr. Joel Fuhrman. It’s chock-full of facts and scientific data, with the takeaway that eating plants will help you achieve a healthy weight and live a long, healthy life.

Sounded good to me. Hard, but the smart thing to do, and I went for it.

I started spending almost my entire grocery trip in the produce section. I bought kale, collard greens, mustard greens, spinach, eggplant, zucchini, tomatoes, carrots, berries of every kind, pomegranates, melon, apples, oranges, raw nuts and seeds, cashew butter, tons of soy milk, tons of spices (making up for elimination of salt) … oh, the list could go on and on. I think in the first month of “eating to live,” I consumed more fruits and vegetables than I have in the last 10 years put together.

No more fast-food as family staple. No more Coke Zero or pots of coffee to get me through the day. As I detoxed my system, I became a crazy plant-eating lady, scanning labels for “organic” and “whole grain” and realizing that just about every damn processed food has too much sodium and sugar in it.

A family affair

My family was not happy about this. Hubs just about threw down at those first few meals, which lacked anything “edible,” in his opinion. (To be fair, I’m not the world’s best cook, and preparing healthy, plant-based meals is a challenge for me. But I’m getting better.) My 2-year-old was addicted to Pop-Tarts and freaked out when I said “No more, Pop-Pop, buddy — how about a nice banana instead?” My 5-year-old proclaimed every meal “disgusting” and wanted to know where all the meat went.

Stressful as the transition was, I stuck to my guns. We were going to eat plants, like it or not. And if Hubs wanted to drive himself to Taco Bell for a bagful of junk, he could do that. He’s an adult and makes his own choices about how to treat his body. But our kids? I never felt more strongly that I had to teach them how (and why) to eat healthy and fuel their growing bodies and brains with the best nutrition possible.

Movin’ and groovin’

Meantime, upon graduation from physical therapy, I reacquainted myself with my gym and personal trainer. We continued building my core strength up, while working the rest of my muscles and burning up some calories with good ol’ cardio. I even tried Zumba (another recommendation from Karen) and discovered I actually liked it. Who knew?

Visual proof of progress in just 3 months

It’s now been about three months since I started eating plants and exercising regularly. I’ve lost 30 lbs, decreased my body fat by 3%, and dropped 18 inches overall. I went to my annual physical and the doctor declared my bloodwork”perfect.”

So far, so good

I’m proud of how I’m treating my body now. I have a lot more weight to lose (probably around 90 lbs to go), but I’m confident I can maintain this lifestyle because I believe in it. I watched a couple of other documentaries that helped solidify my passion for plants: Forks Over Knives and Food, Inc. Watch them both (they’re available for streaming on Netflix) and I promise you will think differently about how you eat.

And my kids! Wow, they’ve really come around. They like fruits and vegetables. James eats dates for a snack! Cassie prefers raspberries for dessert! I pack their lunches each day with love and excellent nutrition. I involve them in the grocery shopping, meal planning, and cooking (more Cassie than James, since he’s just 2).

Maybe, just maybe, in 30 years their weight charts won’t look the rollercoaster mine has become. I have high hopes they’ll develop healthy eating habits for life and avoid the pain and suffering of obesity, heart disease, cancer and other diseases that plague so many Americans.

Don’t worry — I’ll keep you posted as I make progress. This is just the first of what I hope to be many posts about my health journey. Along with all that other stuff working moms have going on. Whew!