Can you believe we’re already into September? Labor Day has come and gone. Kids are no longer bored around the house. The season of Pumpkin Spice is approaching, and ain’t nobody gonna stop THAT train from comin’ down the track.
Now, settle down, gentle reader, lest the thought of pumpkins and spices make you too giddy with delight, and I shall tell you the story of how Netflix gave me a new husband.
Back in the days of AOL dial up (we’re talking the year 2000 here), I met my husband…online. I lived in the UK and he in the USA. We were members of an online chat room and as he was thinking of going to Ireland to trace his roots, asked me if I’d ever been there. To cut to the chase, a year later he came over to the UK to meet me instead. And then, I came to the USA to spend a couple of weeks with him. Long story short, we got married in March 2002 and are in the process of living happily ever after.
One of his many and delightful quirks is that he always adds a year to his age (he is 7 years older than me) and, over the past few years has been feeling it. We have both struggled with our eating habits and weight, never quite being in sync. One of us would be trying to be healthy while the other ate junk. Or the other would decide that today was the day we’d really go for it, and then by day 3, give up. (It’s tough to go out for dinner and order a salad, while the other is chowing down on a huge plate of smothered steak, mashed potatoes and cheese covered anything, isn’t it?) Plus Dan had a weakness…a weakness for sugary and junk food at Stewart’s Shops. He was known as The Muffin Man in one of their fine establishments.
Fast-forwarding now, it’s been hard this past few years to see Dan suffer from sleeplessness, tossing and turning at night, waking up gasping for breath, watching him walk slowly, often limping due to bad knees and joint aches. It’s been tough to see his energy levels so low. (Plus the snoring, sleep apnea and tossing and turning has of course led to sleepless nights for me too!)
At Christmas, (oh, holiday of overeating and excess) we treated ourselves to a Roku and subscribed to Netflix. Our joy knew no bounds. I could binge on excellent British shows, and Dan on Miami Vice and Dragnet (really). However, Netflix also brought us documentaries. I watched “Fed Up” – a documentary film by Stephanie Soechtig and narrated by Katie Couric, about how sugar is so destructive to our bodies, and how the American food industry may be more responsible for sickness than previously realized. To me, it was mind blowing and I told Dan he needed to watch it.
But, dearest friends, (if you are still with me) you know that when you tell your other half they should do something, it may not necessarily happen, right?
However, unbeknownst to me, in the secret of his man-cave, he had started watching documentaries; like “Forks over Knives”, “Hungry for Change” and finally, “Fed Up”. It was a huge turning point for him – actually for both of us. The quote from Hippocrates: “Let Food Be Thy Medicine” seared in his mind. If this epiphany could have had choirs of archangels and trumpets singing and playing over his head, it would have happened.
I had been up and down all year with my eating habits and strength training – never quite achieving a consistency that I saw others achieve. Dan had been feeling sicker and sicker, to the point where he wasn’t sure whether he would make it through another winter at work.
At the beginning of August I decided a re-set was in order and started a Whole30. Dan usually likes the food I make when I’m doing it. However, this time, he was really on board. I mean, REALLY ON BOARD with the food. He had decided that he needed to take charge of his body, to stop with the processed and junk food that he would buy every day for his lunch and to start cutting out sugar. In the past, he had made decisions like this, and it maybe lasted a week, but this time it was for real. Seeing these documentaries on how heart disease, illnesses and obesity could be reversed just by eating good food really got to him.
I made all kinds of delicious foods, that, due to his cutting down on sugar, he was really able to taste and savor the delicious flavors. I made Moorish Meatballs by Melissa Joulwan from the Well Fed 2 cookbook and put them on top of zoodles, with a little Artichoke Chimichurri (because you know how much I love that stuff!) and topped with crushed pistachios. He loved it. Wanted it again the next day.
I made stuff like a simple chicken salad, with homemade Olive Oil Mayo, lemon juice, apples, celery, red onion, almonds, pecans and chicken on top of baby spinach or crisp Romaine. It’s a staple now.
I kept it simple…and with smaller portions, full of protein, good fats, vitamins and lots of vegetables. I added a little quinoa or rice, or some chickpeas for him, because even though I wasn’t eating them, he loves them and hey, it’s a lot healthier and protein rich than pizza or chocolate chip cookies. A piece of wild caught salmon on a bed of baby spinach, with a little lime/chimichurri aioli quickly made from my homemade mayo and some fresh cut white flesh nectarines was one of his favorites. Best salmon he’d ever had. (And this from a man who would barely eat fish a few years ago!).
I am so happy to report that in the past 5 or 6 weeks since this decision, I feel like I have a brand new husband. He has lost over 20lb, he is sleeping so well (and so am I!), he is not sitting up gasping for breath like he used to, his joints are not aching, his knees are feeling better, his heart is not palpitating like it used to after exertion, he is feeling so much better. His mood has improved. He has more energy and he can walk into Stewart’s without buying a muffin or pizza. (And, believe me, that’s saying something!)
The upside for me is that this month’s Whole30 has been so much easier, because I’ve had a partner in it; because Dan has loved the smaller portions, and the great food I’ve prepared and is feeling satiated with the good fats in each meal. He’s not eating between meals. We’re still both learning together but are determined not to slip back into the old ways and bad habits. Our health as we age is too important for that. He knows that now, and that’s what makes the difference this time.
I love you, Netflix – J x