9 to 40: Discovering the “Garden of Youth”

As I mentioned in my previous post, Julianne is a learner.  She strives to excel and, most of the time, succeeds. It seems like years that she has been searching for her “fountain of youth.”  We have both struggled with our weight throughout this 40 years together, but, I am certain, Julianne has ultimately succeeded in her battle.

Fighting weight issues is a massive challenge for all that attempt it.  Most don’t ever really get there.  It requires dedication, planning, gumption,fortitude, desire and struggle to get there.  And, of all the people I know that have struggled to get there, Julianne is really the only one that has truly succeeded.

I can remember her years ago studying the Macrobiotic Diet, probably as a result of our time living in Japan.  The macrobiotic diet is a pescetarian diet (sometimes vegetarian or vegan) fixed on ideas about types of food drawn from Zen Buddhism.  I think at the time she tried, it was too difficult.

Dr. John McDougall

After struggling with other diets, Julianne ultimately discovered Dr. John McDougall, an outspoken proponent of the consumption of a whole foods plant-based diet (WFPB), especially advocating low-fat, starchy foods, like potatoes.  She studied his concepts intently and eventually was led to watch videos such as the famous documentary Forks Over Knives, which was based on the book of the same name, which ultimately became a number bestseller on the New York Times list.  The book (and film) suggests the adoption of a plant-based diet that helps people regain control of their health and their lives.

Forks Over Knives was on of Julianne’s catalysts for change
Jane Birch – Author of Discovering the Word of Wisdom

Julianne then became friends with an LDS proponent of WFPB named Jane Birch. She is the author of a book titled Discovering the Word of Wisdom.  She then pursued her efforts and, after a while had great success such that she was featured on Jane’s website. (see Julianne’s story here).  I think that this is where Julianne “discovered” what I am referring to as her “Garden of Youth.”

Discovering the Word of Wisdom
Julianne in her “youthful” 2019 look

 Julianne began digging into this Garden of Youth more and more.  The learner in her kicked in full-bore.  As an employee of the University of Kentucky, she could take classes and, in one of her classes she had to do a report.  In doing so, she found a disturbing article by Michael Moss titled “The Extraordinary Science of Addictive Junk Food.”  This article, published in the New York Times in Feb. 2013, revealed how the giant food manufacturers were intentionally making food addictive.

 

Julianne visiting with T.Colin Campbell, author of The China Study, a major publication suggesting a plant-based lifestyle

From there she focused on food addiction and realized her addictions, which drove her even deeper to overcome them.  Unlike most of us, including me, that are afraid to admit food addiction and/or are not willing to accept or take it one, Julianne dove in full force. She committed herself to change based on her research, evidence, and, by this time, experience.

Julianne and Chef AJ In 2019

She then found Chef AJ, who runs the Ultimate Weight Loss group, another program she loves. She has learned a lot from Chef AJ and her program really sent Julianne to the next level.

As Julianne’s husband of nearly 40 years, I have done all I can to support her efforts (short of jumping on board the WFPB train completely) to help her succeed. I really have.  I am proud of her fabulous success.  Since starting WFPB sometime in 2017, she has lost nearly 100 pounds.  She actually weighs less than she did as a 19 year old when we married in 1979. She looks 15 years younger than her actual age.  She is vibrant, active and happy.  She loves her journey and the many friends with similar mindsets that she has made.

Julianne with plant-based guru and author Rip Esselstyn, who also just set world swimming records for someone over 50

Ironically, in our 40 years of marriage, the past two have probably been the hardest for me.  In my life journey, I am still, admittedly, not willing to jump into WFPB, though I have seen first hand what the benefits are as I have seen the great progress of my strong and successful wife. Indeed, there are many who are in my same boat.  Perhaps its our lizard-brain, or our food addictions.  Much of the foods she prepares are wonderful, but I still find myself craving the meat and cheese and oil.

For those of you that may not know…Julianne’s dietary lifestyle is a radical change from how most of the rest of us eat. She eats no meat, fish, dairy products, poultry.  That’s a given in a plant-based diet (notice, I am NOT using the word Vegan here). But, she has taken many steps further — no processed foods, no sugar, no honey, no bread, no oils.  Her downfall and biggest temptation?  Tortilla chips and salsa.

Julianne Before and After… on the left was early 2017. On the right late 2018

Her mantra is “Nothing tastes as good as healthy feels.”  She has discovered her “Garden of Youth” and you can see it.  I am proud of her success and honored to be her husband…despite my own weaknesses.  Not many of us are privileged to be with such a strong and amazing person!

Julianne 1979
Julianne 2019 – looks better than ever!!

10 to 40: The Always Improving Inspiration

The ten day countdown has begun for our 40th Anniversary on July 15, 2019. What an amazing journey this continues to be for the both of us. The togetherness we have shared for nearly four decades continues.  But, today’s “togetherness” is not the “togetherness” of twenty years ago. Life changes and so do we.

Before we even became empty-nesters, our “together” paths began to become somewhat different.  With no children left in school, by the mid-1990s we both had jobs and our journeys were no longer totally on the same course.  How could they be? Different jobs.  Different schedules. We were soon developing our own interests that may or may not have been conducive to the other’s real interests.  But, in my mind, that was OK.  We have always been different people.   We shared the goals of raising good children and sticking together through thick and thin.

I the early years, Julianne was always doing things with the children.

Loving life together. She was always there for me.

For nearly twenty years Julianne was a support for me.  She selflessly sacrificed many of her interests and goals to make sure the children had a mother while I chased after careers and ways to sustain the family, including long periods of not being home due to jobs.  Once the kids were gone, those shackles on Julianne were removed and she had much more time to pursue life.  (Knowing her, she will never say she was shackled, but, she really didn’t have the kind of freedom to move about like I did.)

Century plants only bloom once every ten years

It has been a wonderful experience for me to see Julianne blossom beautifully like a dormant century plant, especially over the past decade.  This lovely lady is one that is always striving for improvement in all facets of her life.  She is an inspiration to me, to her children and to many of her friends and associates.

Seems like for years she has sought for a way to transform herself.  We both hit weight loss program after weight loss program with some minor successes.  But, a few years ago, Julianne took hold of the Whole Foods Plant-based Methodology…not only for weight loss, but for better health.  She refused to fail and today, as I write this, my vibrant wife of 40 years looks like she is only 45, she is vibrant, happy and an inspiration to many. (I will write more about this in a later post).  In any case, she has accomplished what I have had many a struggle trying to even conceive in my mind.  I am proud of this.

At a conference with Whole Foods expert Jane Esselstyn

Julianne with her boss Nicole (right) and another staff member from the College of Pharmacy

Soon she will be hitting her six year anniversary at the University of Kentucky College of Pharmacy.  She has thrived.  Early on she had to one of those personality tests and “discovered” that she is a learner. (I ALWAYS knew that!).  And she has not only run with that inherent talent, she has excelled.  Challenge after challenge on her job has been overcome because she sought to learn.

https://vimeo.com/240555345

And this learning has carried on to other areas of her life.  She needed to learn Photoshop and she did.  She needed to learn Database management, and she did.

Studying a book to better herself for her job

As an employee of UK, she is able to take classes and she has always been at or near the top of each class.  Why?  She refused to quit until she got it. And then she would improve upon it.  One great example was her creative writing class.  I loved to hear her read what she had written for the class.  She most certainly could compile her class writings into a nice little book.

Julianne and Marissa kayaking on July 5, 2019

As I write this post, Julianne is out on the Kentucky River on a kayaking trip with our daughter Marissa.  Neither of them had ever kayaked before.  But, I am sure that Julianne’s all-day adventure on a kayak turned into a master class and she became the master.  I expect her to come and tell me that she wants to buy a kayak now.

Julianne is the other #1 in the picture

Bottom line, the Julianne of 2019 is an inspiration to hundreds of people. She may not know it or realize it either.  She is always surprised when she reads a Facebook post from someone noting how she is such an inspiration.  She humbly denies being an inspiration to people at work or church.  But, there it is.

Author Jane Birch, a proponent of Plant-based living said this recently in a Facebook post about Julianne:  “Her strength and resolve inspire me, and I hope it will inspire many others!”   I have seen similar sentiments by others.

Julianne is the “awesomerest”

 

Funny thing — I have become famous for my “How are you?” response when I say, “I am awesome, but I am getting better. There is always room for improvement.”  But, Julianne skips the “awesome” part and just continues to strive for improvement in all she does.  And that makes her the “awsomerest” wife and friend that one could ask for.  Yes, as the Antsy McClain tune attests… “I Married Up.”