I like to have everything comin’ at me all at once.
So, after a particularly inspiring, fist-unicorn-throwing session of Rage Yoga during our summer Rock Hall road trip, I decided to sign up for 200-hour RYT training.
And, though I was still sweating in the heat of a two-year-plus branding project at work, I decided to sign up for one-on-one nutritional counseling with a registered dietitian.
One of my Top Five StrengthsFinder strengths is Learner, and it’s been a little while since grad school and the CCE program, so, timing be damned, it was on.
Nutrition, fitness and holistic wellness have (obviously) been strong interest areas of mine since forever, and I’ve had successes (Whole30) and failures (too many to list) with many different styles of eating recommended by many different styles of “experts.” I wanted to really dig into the science behind nutrition with a credentialed clinician.
Hannah’s program focuses on disease prevention, not any specific weight or vanity goals, though she will tell you weight loss, fabulous skin, and more energy will follow with time. Now, I’ve done all sorts of plans with vanity goals as the end result. Some have worked beautifully. Some have worked beautifully but caused other health issues, specifically around bone density and metabolism (the bikini competition, bagged tuna-only phase of my mid-30s). Others have not worked at all, or worked only short-term. At 42, I felt ready to truly make health my priority.
Hannah defines her approach as not vegan, exactly, but plant forward. It’s semantics, but I still found the phrasing helpful – plant-forward feels more to me like a choice, while vegan feels like a rule.
SIDENOTE: I’ve watched many of the veganism-promoting documentaries on Netflix, but the appeals to save the animals just don’t give me much of an emotional stir. Though I agree commercially raised meat is fattened and processed pretty horrifically, I also believe in the food chain. I’m much more motivated to make a selfish plant-forward decision – for my health.
Not being one to tiptoe into anything, we decided to try a 4-day all-vegan challenge to see how we could adapt. This would be a pretty significant change: we’d liked how we felt on meatheavy Whole30; we’d been having “meat salads” for lunches for most of COVID; and my partner is a man who starts most days with some type of three-egg scramble, usually topped with a nearly-skiable cheese mountain and some type of rotting animal flesh.
Fortunately, the dates coincided with a planned weekend in Madison. If there’s any easier place to be vegan than this deep-blue, lakeside college town, I’m not sure where that would be. On the way down, we found takeout at the Green Owl. Cashew cheese-topped nachos with plenty of black beans, a vegan-patty “pizza burger,” and a pumpkiny for dessert. It didn’t taste or even present a reasonable facsimile of beef or cheese, but it didn’t matter. It was all delicious.
For lunch the next day, we had creative grain bowls from Forage.
A couple of other tasty vegan meals we thoroughly enjoyed during our meat-free melee included:
EveryPlate Cuban Rice & Bean Bowls – your Chipotle fix, cleaned up
Mushroom & Daiya “cheese” melts on Ezekiel bread, with zucchini bruschetta
I didn’t weigh myself during the four days, but we did feel lighter and slept better. In fact, we felt so good, we decided to continue for several more days, bailing only during a recent parental visit (pizza had to be ordered; we’d been painting for like 17 hours). I’m looking forward to continuing this feeling and seeing so many of the other Hannah-assured benefits.
Interested in trying the plant-forward life? Keep in mind this list of key foods to consume every day that specifically fight cancers (the acronym is GBOMBS):
- G – Greens
- B – Beans
- O – Onions
- M – Mushrooms
- B – Berries
- S – Seeds
Garlic also gets an honorable mention! Now, that’s exciting.
Much of Hannah’s curriculum reflects the Blue Zones methods, which I’d been reading up on prior to signing on with Hannah. (Another good plant-forward resource is How Not to Die, though the storytelling aspect of the Blue Zones books make for a compelling read.)