Live Real. Eat Real.

A Birthday and A Milestone

I’ve been more or less absent from this blog for the last 3 months.  I’d apologize, but we all know how it is:  Life is what happens while you are busy making other plans.   I’ve been busy – I’m sure you can all relate.  Besides, being busy is good, and there’s no reason I won’t continue to post at least a few times a month – I still have things to talk about and recipes to share, even if they’re a little different from those I’ve posted over the last 4 years or so.

At any rate, today is a special day.  First, my brother turns 44 (Happy Birthday, Only Brother!).  Second, I’ve reached an important milestone in my life.

My mother died of heart disease 70 days after her 51st birthday.  A heavy smoker, Mom was also a yo-yo dieter, suffered from PCOS, a rabid sugar addict, extremely sedentary and constantly stressed about something.  She loved butter, but cooked almost exclusively with industrial seed oils, and was a huge fan of prepackaged convenience foods – I don’t think either I or my siblings ate any rice or potatoes that weren’t “instant” until we moved away from home and began cooking for ourselves.  Tater tots and canned cream of mushroom soup were staples in Mom’s kitchen, and fresh fruits and vegetables almost unheard of – everything was either canned or frozen.  She didn’t like seafood, so the only fish we ever saw was canned tuna and she never served us shellfish.  The only time we saw sweet potatoes was at Thanksgiving, and then they came from a can and were covered in marshmallows.  We ate a lot of Cap’n Crunch, white bread, boxed mac ‘n’ cheese, potato chips and those cheap, iced oatmeal cookies.

As I approached the age my mother developed an aortal aneurysm that burst and necessitated emergency surgery (46), I began to become increasingly worried I was heading down the same path and that I could go the same way she did, and at the same age, if not sooner.  My diet was marginally better, but there was a lot of room for improvement.   I still smoked, and drank too much and exercised far too little.  I pretty much felt like shit all the time – and I was very, very scared.

I smoked my last cigarette on my 45th birthday, six years ago.  If you’re a long-time reader here, you know that we drastically changed our diet in 2010 – switching to grass-fed beef, pastured pork, chicken and eggs, wild game, sustainably caught wild seafood, locally grown seasonal produce and purging industrial seed oils, prepackaged convenience foods, and refined sugars and flours from our kitchen.  For the last couple of years I’ve been distancing myself from stressful, negative people and relationships, and have finally left a job I hated and have begun one that I like much, much better.  Over the last year, I’ve cut out alcohol almost completely, and we’ve made another shift in our diet that has me feeling better and finally losing weight again.  (I suspect the exercise will be one of those lifelong battles, but that, too, has improved somewhat and hopefully will continue to do so.)

Today is 71 days after my 51st birthday, and I have officially lived longer than my mother did.  Hopefully, I’ll be able to blog about it being 71 days after my 61st birthday and you’ll all be here to celebrate with me.

It’s always good to have a goal.


29 comments

Suzanne says:

What a huge milestone! I love the way you talk about whole health, and not just dropping a few vanity pounds, plus shedding some of the work/human toxicity in your life. Your internet fans are cheering for you! Cannot wait to hear about the next inspiring step!

Jan says:

Thank you so much, Suzanne!

Lisa says:

So very glad you are with us. Would be so fun to meet up in person some day.

Jan says:

Now that we’re empty nesters, I have more opportunity to travel. And if Beloved ever finds himself in SF on business, you can bet I’ll be there.

Barbara says:

Good for you, Janis. Gaining some measure of control over your health is probably the best thing you can do for yourself. Lifestyle choices, including choosing how much stress you’re willing to undergo from jobs and other people, and dietary choices can really be game changers.

And it is really hard to go from a junk food diet to a whole food diet, but you did and you are making it work.

Also, I hate exercise, too. I think we’ll both struggle with that one!

Jan says:

I’ll tell you, reducing the stress in my life has made ALL the difference. Now, if I can just find in me to like exercise…

Lenore says:

Wow! OK, I’ll forgive you for cooking with those weird ingredients I never have on hand. The changes you’ve made in your lifestyle and diet are so inspiring. Congratulations! I struggle with the exercise, too, but love my weekly yoga class, and find it easy to fit the stretches into daily life. At your age, I used to hit the floor about five and walk with my husband for 40 minutes before we got ready for work. Then a flu virus attacked my heart and the last 25 years has been s series of illness and recovery episodes. Boring! I wish you all the best, a long, healthy life, and many more blogs. Miss you.

Jan says:

I’ve been thinking about yoga, but I’m so round I’m afraid I’ll just roll around on the floor like a Weeble. :P

Oh, and for what it’s worth, the weird ingredients are going away; over the last 7 or so months, I’ve stopped making gluten/grain/dairy-free versions of “regular” dishes, with no real adverse affects. I still just avoid vegetable oils, prepackaged processed foods and exercise restraint when it comes to wheat and sugar – less is more.

Be says:

I hate to break your heart dear, but most people think antelope, pheasant, mule deer and the organ meat of a half dozen animals is “weird” food.

Jan says:

Oh. Hmmmm, I took that to mean things like almond meal and tapioca flour and evaporated cane juice. I guess I’m destined to remain weird, then – the “variety meats” aren’t going anywhere.

Jen says:

Even now, after more than a year hiatus in blogging, I still look up to you for inspiration. You rock. ALWAYS.
Much love, Jan!

Jan says:

I love you, too!

Anne Gibert says:

I haven’t blogged for 7 months, but you inspire me to get at it again. You have outlived your mother and learned from her mistakes. I may have learned some from my mother’s mistakes, but I’ll never manage to outlive her. She died 6 months after her 100th birthday!

Jan says:

I wouldn’t mind living to be 100, but not if I’m going to not going to have all my wits about me. Dementia in my old age is actually one of my biggest fears.

Connie says:

What a special milestone for you! I’m glad you’re here to share your journey on living a healthier life, so that many of us can learn from your experiences. Thank you.

Jan says:

You’re more than welcome. Hopefully I’ll be around a lot longer!

LindaP says:

It is always good to have a goal! Congratulations on reaching this one :) (Your childhood meals sound just like mine! )

Jan says:

It IS good to have a goal, isn’t it?

I look back on how we ate when I was growing up and just cringe sometimes.

Irish Gumbo says:

Quite a milestone, and we are glad you are here. I think you will be here for that next milestone, too. Best wishes and woot!

Jan says:

Thank you so much, my friend. :)

Erin says:

You know, I hardly blog anymore because Life really did get in the way – I recently fired it up after a year. I read on your fb that you were contemplating a milestone post and came over to check it out. This is lovely. I congratulate you on passing this milestone and living a healthy life away from negative stress-inducing influences. Yay You!

I miss being in the blog world a little bit when I remember what fun we had trading stories a few years ago…

xoxoxo

Jan says:

Thanks so much, Erin. I miss our little community, too.

Linda Tustin says:

This post made me cry. I am so proud of you Jan and proud to call you my friend. You are smart and funny and I am ever so glad our paths crossed in the bizarre way that they did. Just think- we became “internet friends” more than 12 years ago and now we live less than 30 miles away from each other! We need to get together soon. (((hugs))))

Jan says:

Oh gosh YES – just let me know when!!

Suzanne says:

I am so proud of you Jan! I struggle every day with trying to make healthy life choices. It seems like if I’ve got one part of my life in balance, there’s another part out of wack. It seems like it should be simple to do it all right at the same time, but I never seem to be able to pull it off. Good for you for sticking with the big picture and not getting stuck on the details! xo

This is awesome news! I grew up with a mom that was a health nut, so eating wholesome, whole foods, fruits and veggies is how I was raised; my parents gardened an acre each year and mom canned/froze most of the veggies we’d eat for the coming year. Now living where I do in rural SD eating whole foods is exceptionally hard, b/c you only go to town every month or so, and produce will only keep for so long. I’ve had to learn how to balance eating right, with eating what actually keeps! Good on you for doing what you needed to do to help yourself live to be healthy, wealthy and wise!

vodkamom says:

The days approaching my 48th birthday (and all those since) have been incredibly emotional. My mom died at 48. (My father at 58.) It’s an emotional event that can NOT be described unless you live through it.

KUDOS to you!!! I am so proud of you……..and each day is a tribute to you, your mom and your love of life.

xoxoxoxoxox

Congratulations on all fronts. You made some pretty serious changes in your life, smoking and alcohol and even the seed oils being high on the list of no-no’s. This is a very inspirational post and I think a lot of people reading this will benefit from it and your remarkable story. Well done!

How sad you lost your mom so young. But glad you decided to do make the changes to avoid the same fate. It must have been a bit of a challenge.

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