Wow, I can’t believe I haven’t written a blog post since early December!? Happy New Year everyone! Time is sure flying already.
It isn’t that I haven’t wanted to write or had anything to write about, I just purely have not had the time to sit down and devote quality time here. This is sad because this used to be my creative outlet but clearly through the years, it has developed more into Race Reports and the occasional trip to Plant-Stock posts. 🙂
Today I decided to file away some time to sit down and just “check-in” with all of you and this ol’blog. I’ve been coming here (or blogging to be precise) since about 2009! For you long time readers, you’ve been with me through my first ultra and the birth of Squeaker! Crazy where life takes us huh?
To recap, I have been running. Every weekend I am hitting the trails filling my heart with all things trail-running. Laughing, running and loving nature. I am blessed to live where I live.
My kiddos are deep into their winter sports season playing basketball which warms my heart like no other. I was a basketball player and I love the game but watching my girls play and learn to the love the game? Best thing in the world!
And I paced my friend Miss P into the night running 31 miles of her first 100 mile finish at Rio Del Lago.
How awesome is that?! Watching someone run 100 miles is beyond motivating and spectacular. I adore these women.
Yet 2017 wasn’t all sunshine and roses though. Some chapters in my life closed but when one door closes, another opens right? The universe has a plan. I have always thought and believed in that. Sometimes it is hard to listen to it because it has been familiar, routine or comforting but all you can do is trust.
My hopes for 2018 are simple: Laugh ♦ Love ♦ Listen … MORE.
I want MORE outdoor adventures with these two crazies!
I want MORE roller skating adventures – YES I begged my friends to roller skate … the end result? THEY LOVED IT!
So I want to do it again!
I want MORE plant-based education whether in person or through social media. I recently taught an in-home cooking demo for my friend Beth. It was fun! Currently I am coaching 17 people at work and it is so rewarding and exciting to watch them discover the power of a plant-based way of living.
I want MORE one on one time with this guy.
No one supports me and loves me like he does. He also loves being outside just as much as I do and I love how he is instilling that in our girls. Our family adventures are what I cherish most of all.
So that’s 2017 in a brief recap and 2018 wishes all in one post! Not bad for the first post of 2018!
Whatever your goals are for 2018 or whatever happened in 2017, be at peace with it and trust what unfolds before you. Sometimes it takes stopping the search, the quest, the need-to-know … to find what you are looking truly looking for in this crazy world.
“Genes are not our fate. Lifestyle matters most.” –Dr. Saray Stancic
The above is a quote that I heard while attending Plant-Stock this year. Yes, I went to Plant-Stock again. It was my third time actually and I would go again in a healthy endothelial strong heart beat.
This year, I brought Vans. Actually, I brought my whole family, kids and all but the kids ended up staying with the grandparents back in New Jersey, giving Vans and I our first solo weekend without kids in a very very long time!
The crew at Engine 2 changed things up this year for Plant Stock! Instead of two fun filled amazing days, we really had 2 and a quarter days because they added an Banana Nice Cream Social on Friday evening.
This was great because it gave everyone an opportunity to find the farm, see the parking, understand the layout of the property AND meet all their “online friends!” You know those people that you follow or communicate with on Instagram or Facebook but don’t really “know” very well. 🙂 Friday was perfect for this.
We ate banana ice-cream and were officially welcomed to the farm. We also saw a preview of the movie Big Change by Jason Cohen.
Saturday morning came bright and early. I wanted to do the morning group run. We had to be at the farm by 7:00 am. Vans, who is injured and in a boot, was a trooper. He sat in the car while I ran.I had the pleasure of running with a friend’s little girl for a good mile or so. She had a smile on her face the entire time.
It had rained the night before so the grass was super wet but I don’t think anyone really minded because the views were just gorgeous.You had the option of running a 2.7 mile loop or doing a walk which I think was a little over mile. They also offered lake side yoga which looked amazing!
Just like last year, the final portion of the run was climbing up to Tank Hill. Tank Hill is where last year, Josh LaJaunie was waiting at the top cheering everyone on as they made the steep climb up. This year, Josh is working on healing an injury so when I reached the top, there were just a few of us checking out the views.
It was such a spectacular morning. The humidity wasn’t that bad and the sun was rising into a clear blue sky.
Soon others started climbing the hill. I felt like it was such an momentous occasion that I needed to cheer them on until Tim Kaufman could get there and take over the reigns that Rip Esselstyn had assigned him. 🙂
This truly is a fantastic way to start your day. I met some wonderful people. I talked with Josh’s mom briefly on our hike down the hill. She’s an amazing lady.
After the run you have time to clean up (bring an extra change of clothes, a towel and some baby wipes is my word of advice). Then you grab a breakfast of kale, oats and fruit and settle in under the 12,000 square foot tent ready to have your mind blown.
First up was Rip Esselstyn, followed by his dad Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn who said, “Food, and food alone, can absolutely reverse heart disease.”
Dr. Stancic is a physician who while in the midst of her 20 year conventional medical profession, learned that she had multiple sclerosis. She was blown away. She went from fast moving Doctor to needing a cane to help her walk. She was prescribed horrible medicines that left her in pain and sleepless nightly. She quickly went from Doctor to Patient. She wanted to change the cards that she thought were dealt to her. She did. Her story is captivating and inspiring. She continues to do amazing work at her clinic, Stancic Health and Wellness in Ramsey, New Jersey and is working on a documentary called Code Blue.
Following Dr. Stancic was Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine founder, Dr. Neal Barnard!
He discussed The Cheese Trap, his new book and why cheese is so addicting. He is a charismatic speaker whose humor is welcomed. Many people often say that they could give up eating meat, but not cheese. Dr. Barnard explained not only why this is but also, how cheese is essentially killing our nation.
Milan Ross was a new-to-me speaker. His talk, The Change: Transforming Yourself and Your Body into the Person You Want to Be was hilariously funny and incredibly inspiring.
Dr. Melanie Joy was also new to me. She discussed: Understanding the Psychology of Eating Animals for Effective Plant-Based Outreach and Communication. I also picked up her book, Why We Love Dogs, Eat Pigs and Wear Cows. It’s a very graphic and eye opening account of our agricultural industry.
Also talking again this year was Adam Sud with his, From Pills to Plants story.
Tim Kaufman aka FatManRants spoke as well. I briefly met Tim last year at Plant-Stock but this was the first time I have heard his full story. He weighed over 400 lbs! But what struck me most, was his honesty. His wife had to tie his shoes. She mowed the lawn. He had all but given up, but thankfully he didn’t. His story will bring you to tears and will make you laugh. His beautiful wife and their inspiring and loving relationship will melt your heart.
There were SO many amazing speakers this year that I cannot possibly dive into all of them.
Dinner was on the property like last year. A beautiful and elegant display set up right on the farm.
Vans and I were fortunate enough to sit with Engine 2 Crew/Seven Day Rescue Coach (and all around amazing woman) Ami Mackey (no relation to Whole Foods John 🙂 ), my friend Mike from Molinski Photography (best photographer in Hudson NY) and some friends from home believe it or not that had traveled the 3,000 miles to see Plant Stock for themselves first hand!
Dinner was lovely. We sat talking well into dusk before finally leaving the farm. This place has such a hold on you, that you truly never want to leave and you secretly hope that the Esselstyn family might not notice yet another person added to their clan. 🙂
Sunday also started with a run/walk and yoga but Vans and I decided to take advantage of having NO kids and to sleep in just a little.
Much like Saturday, Sunday was oatmeal and kale and fruit for breakfast before the line up of speakers started. What I haven’t mentioned is that scattered throughout the day are breaks where you can take walks or shop at the on site vendors.
Vans had heard so much about Tank Hill and its views, that he just had to see it for himself, boot and all.
Sunday’s line up of speakers was just as inspiring as the day before. Dr. Irminne Van Dyken was someone who I had never heard of before but had me instantly glued to my seat listening.
I wasn’t the only one. Everyone sat completely still soaking up all that Dr. Van Dyken was explaining. No one got up, no one seemed to move. Which is kind of funny because her talk was about the gut biome, which is a serious and important topic but Dr. Van Dyken made it humorous! When you talk about the gut, you have to talk about bowel movements, which is often an embarrassing subject, but she made it okay and validated a lot of information for me. I really enjoyed her talk.
Jane Esselstyn was next with her: Plant-Based Benefits: Above and Below the Belt talk. This is who I want to be when I grow up. Jane Esselstyn is one of the funniest people you’ll ever meet but she can explain things like it’s no one’s business. Her talk inspired me. Motivated me. She used props that were fantastic and can help you explain to people why eating plant based is better for the body.
Her talk brought tears of laughter to my eyes and to the eyes of all those surrounding me. Jane is also the mastermind behind some of the amazing recipes at both Engine 2 and for her own cookbook The Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease Cookbook along with her mom, Ann Esselstyn.
Josh LaJaunie spoke on Sunday. He is another person that I had met last year, albeit briefly but whose story has touched and changed the lives of many. This year, he was doing it from the stage at Plant-Stock. Josh has lost over 200 lbs and has not only transformed his own life, but that of his family, his community and the many he has touched through social media. His story made us laugh and it made us cry. Josh is the real deal. I saw him talking to every single person that came up to him. His warm smile is welcoming and I think puts people at ease and makes him easy to talk to.
Ann Esselstyn and Jane Esselstyn did their hilariously funny, From the Farm Table: A Lifetime of Plant Strong Living talk.
Other highlights from Sunday were: Ken Lander, Did you have a Heart Transplant; Eric Adams, Turning Pain into Purpose (and the Brooklyn Borough President); Alexis Fox (who I met at dinner and cracked me up – HAMSTER!! – inside joke, sorry) with Susan Benigas, Food + Medicine = A Bright and Bold Future and UFC Fighter, James Wilks.
And just like that, Plant-Stock was over. 🙁 They gave us food to go so that we didn’t leave hungry. Most sat and enjoyed their meals on the property. Vans and I had a long traffic filled drive back to New Jersey to get back to the kiddos.
Next year, there are BIG changes for Plant-Stock. It won’t be on the Esselstyn Family Farm! Instead, the geniuses at Engine 2 have planned, CAMP PLANT STOCK in August of 2018 AND another event called a PERFORMANCE RETREAT scheduled for June in North Carolina!
Both look absolutely amazing but the Performance Retreat is something that definitely has my eye. As a plant-based ultra runner, the number one question that I get is, “What do you eat to run so far and stay healthy?” I would love love love to attend, but I will have to figure out the financial situation to make it happen.
Plant-Stock 2017 was another successful event. The largest Plant-Stock yet for the farm. A lot of the Engine 2 Seven Day Rescue group were in attendance. We were able to grab a quick photo. This is just a small handful of people whose lives have been changed tremendously by a whole foods plant based diet AND the folks at Engine 2 – for FREE! If you haven’t gone to the Engine 2 website, and haven’t signed up for the Seven Day FREE Rescue, do it now. All you have to do is try it for Seven Days! You can do anything for seven days, but can you change your life and your health? Try it and let me know. 😉
So that’s my recap from Plant-Stock. Hopefully next year I’ll have another. I am in no way associated with the Engine 2 group or the Esselstyns (goals right?). If you can attend at least one of the Engine 2 retreats, I highly recommend it. You won’t regret it, I promise.
♥ I’ll leave you with a few of my favorite photos from the weekend. ♥
The Tuesday after I finished Canyons, I hopped on a plane and flew to D.C. for my training. The plane ride left me with time to sit and recap the race in my head with the intentions of blogging while I was there. It happened, eventually (read my race report here).
Most of my time in D.C. however was spent soaking up SO MUCH information and meeting 25 of the loveliest attendees ever. Over 90 people had applied and 26 were selected. We had someone from Ireland and someone from China! It was amazing and to sit in a room with that many like-mined, empowered and energized people was unbelievable. Everyone was eager to learn and our instructors were hands-down some of the most intelligent and kindhearted people on Earth.
Every morning, I would leave my hotel and walk the .4 of a mile to PCRM and the Barnard Medical Center. The weather was gorgeous and the walk was easy. Each morning they provided us with a plant-based breakfast! It was delicious.
PCRM is the only nonprofit organization in the country that provides nutrition and cooking classes that focus on disease prevention and survival. It is 100% evidence based. It was founded in 1985 by Dr. Neal Barnard and has been growing and educating ever since.
Dr. Barnard spoke on our very first day. He truly has a heart of gold and a passion for animal rights and health.
In addition to his talk, we had some lectures on administrative stuff, a full-on cooking demonstration and a panel discussion where we were free to ask four PCRM dietitians anything we wanted! The last class of the first day however, was one of my most favorite!
The last class was called, Teaching for Understanding: What to say and how to say it so that your students truly learn. It was phenomenal! By full admission, I am a terrible public speaker so I am always looking for ways to improve. This class gave us plenty to think about and techniques to implement when we are conducting classes. I loved it.
The second day started even earlier than the first and once again, a full breakfast was provided.
The second day of the training consisted of an introduction into the many different classes we will be allowed to teach.
There is a curriculum for Cancer (Food for Life: Cancer Project – Acquire knowledge about the link between diet and cancer) and one for Diabetes (Food for Life: Diabetes Initiative – Learn more about the benefits of a plant-based nutrition approach for diabetes and prevention) in addition to so many more!
You get the idea … the possibilities and topics to teach are plentiful and best of all life saving.
We also had to perform our very own cooking demonstration in front of the group and our instructors. Afterwards, we were critiqued and given ways to improve or enhance our class.
Not going to lie, that was a little nerve wracking but I think it was imperative to give us a sense of what we will be doing when we return home.
The group at PCRM thought of everything. They answered our questions and they helped us navigate the endless opportunities we might be able to find using our new found skills and tools.
PCRM gets nothing in return mind you. Their only hope is that we, as Food for Life instructors go forth and teach! The more people we can reach across the world, the better.
With over one million people being diagnosed with cancer and 25 million people being diagnosed with Type 2 Diabetes in the United States each year – The Food for Life program is an innovative approach to a medical challenge.
So what is my plan? What is my agenda now that I am a Food for Life Instructor? Well for starters, I still have to study all the books, curriculum and information we received while at the training. I do have some ideas rolling around in my head though. I think to start, I’ll do a pilot program with a small group just so that I can get my “feet wet” and my materials ready.
Regardless, the fire has been lit and I am eager to get teaching! There is so much power behind food. There is no denying that it directly correlates to our health and well being. I think everyone knows and understands this but I also think, they could use a friend … a helping hand … a TEACHER to help them traverse what may seem like a difficult road ahead. I hope to be that person.
How can it be March already? Time sure does fly when you are having fun and boy am I having FUN! I am not even sure where to begin my excitement is so over the top right now.
So let’s start at the beginning shall we?
Depending on how long you have known me, you might not know that I have been plant-based for almost 23 years. Maybe not entirely 100% whole foods and oil-free plant-based for ALL of those 23 years, but definitely sans meat in anyway shape or form.
With that said, despite my long history of being plant-based, I still seek out information. I don’t have a degree in nutrition. I am not a doctor. If I could do things over in life, I might have gone in a different career route but I don’t regret one single day of my college education.
So despite knowing what I know, I always feel better when I can fully educate myself on the latest science behind the benefits of a plant-based diet. That’s why more often then not, you’ll find my nose in the latest book (just finished The Cheese Trap by Dr. Neal Barnard – a MUST read)…
… as well as attending a conference or taking some kind of certification to further bolster what I know deep down inside is right for the human body. I just feel more confident explaining and advising others, when I can tell them that I know what I know not just from experience, but from thoroughly studying and educating myself on the topic.
I do this because I love it. I do this because I live it. But more importantly, I do this because I want OTHERS to live it and love it too and I want them to have faith in what I am teaching them. Am I an expert? No, of course not but I am living proof that one can fully function as an ultra endurance athlete, a full-time working mom and basically a real person eating a 100% plant-based oil-free diet. I am not weak. I am not wasting away from a protein deficiency.
Way back in September I started the grueling application process. Application, resume, references, videos … followed by phone interviews and back ground checks etc. PCRM only selects 25-30 people a year (globally) to attend (100 or so apply) and this year, I am one of few selected!
This May, I will fly to Washington D.C. for an intensive 3 day training at PCRM. They will teach us everything that we need to know (8 different kinds of curriculum) so that we can come back and in turn, educate others. 🙂
You may wonder, “What does she do for a living? This must be part of her job then.” Well, the answer to that is no and now, yes … stay with me here.
My full-time job is not in wellness. Not one bit. I do all this plant-based stuff (like my cooking demos) because I like to do it and want to do it.
Fast forward to early February wherein my employer’s CEO gave a speech in which he stressed that he wanted to focus on his wellness and the wellness of our company.
His message had great intentions and excited a lot of people but they didn’t sit well with me. So I opened my big plant-based mouth and sent him a long email. Long story short, we had lunch at his request. Just the two of us, in his office and we discussed his wellness, the wellness of our company and the wellness of our country. It was a long lunch.
Just in that discussion alone, he saw my passion. He saw it and he told me, he wanted to utilize it.
So I am going to Washington, D.C. to get certified even further in Plant-Based Nutrition and Education. When I return, I can use my new certification to teach all kinds of classes AND best of all, I can use my certification to help motivate my fellow employees!
I love my company, I do, but for a very long time I have been frustrated by just how unhealthy we really are (in varying degrees). I am excited to be able to share my passion at work with those I interact with on a daily basis.
Of course I have a full plate between now and early May. Races, birthdays, swim team among other things (like further developing my YouTube Channel). Yet, I wouldn’t change a thing. This is who I am. I love being busy and I love helping others heal.
A few weeks ago I received an email from Chris Russell, the host over at Run Run Live podcast. Someone had told him that I would be an interesting person to interview. HA! While I am not so sure about being “interesting” it was a super fun conversation that lasted about 25 minutes. I talk about running, mom’ing, plant-based stuff and how the heck I squeeze it all in!
If you want to listen, you can click HERE. The beginning of his podcast starts with Chris talking about his marathon training and a piece on beating those winter blues.
My portion of the podcast starts at about 18 minutes.
You can also listen on RunRunLive on iTunes.
Many thanks to Chris over at RunRunLive Podcast for his time and interest and a big HELLO to the new readers his podcast had channeled my way.
It never ceases to amaze me the path our lives can take based on the people we meet in life. I have had an incredible February and I feel truly blessed.
February has been the month where I have felt my “plant-based super-powers” have been utilized the most and I look forward to helping and doing more! 🙂