Goodbye 2020! Grateful for this brand new year.

A few months ago, I told myself I would blog more regularly. I downloaded a schedule where I could slot in timely topics on a weekly basis and then I stared at it, completely uninspired. It  has been this way for weeks now. Is it COVID fatigue leading to writer’s block, or depression? Or is it just me, disappointed with how things have been working out in terms of my whole-food plant-based lifestyle because I have been less than perfect?

My sister-in-law says that you can’t take breaks from a lifestyle and she is right. COVID is no excuse for making repeated trips to the fridge even if it is only steps away from my home office. The holidays are no excuse to throw caution to the wind and start pouring cocktails and inhaling cookies. 

My daughters often justify reckless choices by shouting out “YOLO!!” (You Only Live Once) and sometimes I have to hand it to them, especially during a pandemic where lives are at risk every day and we just don’t know what the future will hold. 

I guess the trick is to walk slowly and carefully on that thin high-wire, finding the elusive “balance”.  I need to work more on reigning in the impulsive part of me that acts quickly and with reckless abandon – whether it’s with regard to eating, buying things on Amazon or staying up until 2 am reading when I know I have an early morning ahead. 

This sounds a lot like where I was last year at this time, and probably the year before that as well. Since Facebook began “On This Day” flashbacks, I have noted that “on this day” I am often doing or thinking exactly the same thing I was thinking or doing five or 10 years ago. Rinse. Repeat. Nothing changes, if nothing changes. 

None of this sounds very positive, does it? But it is. This is me switching things up. Recognizing that I am a self-indulgent sloth (adorable as they are)  who seems to take decades to progress, heigh-ho, onward we go. I am deciding to not berate myself for less-than-stellar past choices and to take the promise of this sparkling new year to move forward in the best way I can – with forgiveness, love and compassion.

The first steps for 2021 are to remind myself what I am doing and why I am doing it. A little motivational kickstart, but also keeping it realistic.

  1. Nutrition – For me, for the animals, for the planet. Continue eating a whole-food plant-based diet in order to lose weight and regain health, particularly to reverse Type 2 diabetes. While I try to limit salt, sugar and oil, I find that eliminating them completely is a huge challenge for me and will work more diligently to that end. I also wish to help others who are interested in moving towards plant-based eating. 
  2. Exercise – this goes hand-in-hand with nutrition and is non-negotiable. Daily movement, whether walking, hiking, jumping on the mini-trampoline, dancing, doing video aerobics, using the stair-stepper, lifting weights – it doesn’t matter what – just do itEvery day.
  3. Meditation – I need to do this to calm my mind, reduce stress and lower harmful cortisol levels. For me meditation comes in many forms: walking in nature, cooking, music, or yoga.  I need to grow my practice and make time to meditate every day.
  4. Gratitude – Appreciate and give thanks every day. Show compassion and kindness to others always.

Happy New Year! 




Reversing Diabetes – Holiday Hurdles and Looking Ahead to a fresh New Year

  • Start Date of Whole Foods, Plant Based Diet, -SOS: Nov 17, 2019
  • Fasting Blood Sugar: 9.3 (originally 10.5)
    Blood Pressure 122/83
    Weight: -17 lbs

Hey everyone! I was hoping to do a week-by-week update (I DO have every last detail documented in my trusty bedside notebook) but the holidays were fast approaching and time just ran away. So instead of Week 3 in order — we jump ahead to the holidays and the end of the year.

I am not going to lie – it has been a challenge for me to eat whole-food plant-based salt-free, oil-free, sugar-free (SOS) and alcohol-free for Christmas for the first time. I have celebrated a vegan Christmas before, but it included processed vegan food (like tofurky) which now, no longer fits into my lifestyle. Temptation to eat anything and say “just for the holidays” is extremely high.

While sorting the stocking stuffers, I came face-to-face with Lindor chocolate balls (I’m sure just one won’t hurt). I had three. 

The cheese tray was another temptation. I spent a small fortune on the “good” artisanal vegan cheese, but even that is processed, as are the crackers, albeit whole grain.  

Sparkling wine. 

Cooking for my family didn’t help. As supportive as they are, they would feel 100% deprived if I didn’t roast a turkey or provide the traditional Christmas dinner they grew up with. Holiday meals are extremely emotional. Even though I know eating plant-based is the healthiest way, I can’t force my kids into it – I have to respect their choices and try to lead by example. So there was turkey and creamy mashed potatoes, gravy, roasted veggies sprinkled with parmesan and sweet cranberry sauce, followed by the traditional white chocolate cheesecake. 

In a nutshell, I tried my best, but was not 100 per cent compliant and my glucose levels show it. Before Christmas, I was on a steady (positive!) decline with blood glucose levels, moving from the first all-time high reading of 10.5 down through the 9’s, 8’s and was in the 7’s in the morning and much lower after exercising. Now, I’m back in the 9’s.

What would I do differently the next time?

1. Reframe my thoughts – I am not depriving myself. I am choosing to eat food in its most natural state to maximize my health. This is not drastic. What is drastic is going blind or losing a limb or having to go on dialysis from diabetes complications. Drastic is heart surgery to open clogged arteries, or worse a heart attack or stroke. Eating fresh, healthy fruits and vegetables is a gift and nature’s best medicine. 

2. Prepare more delicious WFPB options that avoid salt, sugar and oil for the “charcuterie board” and for the dinner table. This may takes a bit more planning, but I know that had I more options to select from, I would have chosen the healthier ones. The other part of this is to make healthier versions of the traditional holiday foods. Instead of potatoes mashed with butter and sour cream or buttermilk, make mashed potatoes with potatoes, steamed cauliflower and plant-milk. Use more herbs instead of salt. Take a super healthy option to pot-lucks.

3. Stock up on flavoured sparkling water (eg/ La Croix and others), herbal teas, assorted coffee and tea options to avoid sugary drinks and alcohol. Make interesting mocktails with real flavours from juicer (ginger, lemon, fruits). Throw a couple of raspberries or pomegranate seeds into your sparkling water to make it more festive.

4. Learn to make an amazing “main” like a “Mushroom wellington” such as this one from BOSH, which could eliminate the roast turkey, or at least offer another option:

4. Dessert – fruit, fruit and more fruit. Figs and dates. Good dark chocolate. A few nuts. 

5. Eat like our great-grandparents did.

I can’t beat myself up – it’s a learning process. The holidays are almost over with the new year and fresh start just over the hill. 


The Path to Wellness

Welcome to HeartBeets! Finally, my own little niche online, to document my efforts to get healthier, to find more balance, to find joy.

We live in a harried society, one where we have to make an appointment just to find our own breath. Eating out more than in, we dine on convenience that comes loaded with salt, sugar and fat.  We are toxic. We drink. We smoke. We sit. We sit. We sit.

We are sick. We are overweight, overworked, in debt, stressed and unhappy. Spending on prescription meds in the United States is expected to reach $610 billion by 2021 according to QuintilesIMS Holding, a company which compiles data for the pharmaceutical industry. It’s estimated that pharmaceutical drugs, including prescriptions, are the second biggest health care cost in Canada — 16 per cent of health care spending — and the fastest growing.

Who isn’t taking a yoga class or learning to meditate? We’re trying to cleanse and detox, adding handfuls of greens and tossing back shots of turmeric and ginger. There is more paralyzing indecision than ever – about everything, but especially our health.

I want to explore the lifestyle choices that we are faced with and to share my findings with you.

My place is called HeartBeets because part of my plan is the transition to a whole-food plant based diet with an eye towards better heart health — something I will write more about in later posts.  Stay tuned!

Heart beets