Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Clean Eating Success Story

So, do you see a difference since you started to {eat clean}???

I actually get asked that quite often. The short answer is, YES! (the long answer, well...that's why you follow my blog)

I have seen a big difference in my health and my family's health since starting the {eat clean} lifestyle.  Last winter was terrible, we were in and out of doctor's offices every week the whole season.  We started the {eat clean} journey in September of 2010 and I am shocked to report that not one person in my family was sick the whole season.  A miracle?  Maybe. Or maybe it does have something to do with {clean eating}.

I stumbled upon this amazing story of success with {clean eating} on their website: www.cleancuisineandmore.com

Our Story

Photo: Debby Gans Photography
We’ve actually known each other since Ivy was in 8th grade and Andy was a junior in high school. We met at The Benjamin School in North Palm Beach, FL when Andy was assigned to be Ivy’s math tutor. We had a lot in common (a good dose of chemistry didn’t hurt!) and we became good friends from the start. We stayed in close contact when Andy went away to college and we maintained our friendship while Andy went to medical school at the University of Pennsylvania.
In the summer of 1998, almost ten years after we first met, Andy was finishing med school and Ivy had just graduated from college when a major health crisis brought us together. Ivy was working at a hospital wellness center when she began experiencing a series of bizarre symptoms. What initially began as three bladder infections a month escalated to severe bladder urgency and frequency; Ivy was going to the bathroom every 15 to 30 minutes in the middle of the day and waking up six and seven times in the middle of the night. She then developed severe incontinence. Ivy started making the rounds to the local urologists and every visit turned out to be a dead end. The doctors were stumped. They became even more baffled when she began having numbness and tingling in her leg. Ivy then developed intense muscle spasms and a very strange weakness in her right leg (primarily in her right hip flexor) that made simple tasks such as climbing a flight of stairs a challenge. The strange symptoms persisted for about three months and Ivy spent the entire summer trekking from physician’s office to physician’s office… and getting nowhere fast.

A Shocking Diagnosis

Ivy’s medical ordeal came to a head one night when she thought she was getting another bladder infection and drank nearly four cups of watered down cranberry juice to “flush” the infection away. After force-drinking the fluid Ivy headed to the movie The Horse Whisperer. Barely making it through the first scene, she had to go to the bathroom almost immediately.  When Ivy got to the ladies room she couldn’t go a single drop. She rushed to the emergency room and the E.R. doctor told her he thought the urinary retention was a sign of something serious. Ivy left the E.R. wearing a catheter and headed down to see a urologist at the University of Miami. After extensive urological exams the urologist said he thought the problem was neurological. Ivy was referred to neurologist Dr. William Sheremata who did a neurological exam and sent her for an MRI of her brain and spinal cord that evening.

Ivy was then given the shocking diagnosis of being in the early stages of multiple sclerosis (MS). She was given three options; 1) begin one of the disease-modifying medications, 2) enter a study group for a trial drug or 3) revamp her diet. The idea of being a “guinea pig” and entering a study for a drug that hadn’t yet been FDA approved didn’t appeal to Ivy one bit so that option was out from the get-go. At first going the mainstream medication route seemed the most appealing and logical choice. However, after learning the disease-modifying medications (administered by injection) are contraindicated during pregnancy and can cause very severe negative side-effects, including suicidal ideation, Ivy began to have serious second thoughts. Although Ivy knew very little about nutrition, changing her diet was becoming more and more of an option to consider. Although a dietary change seemed appealing, Ivy was not 100% confident something as simple as nutrition could impact a disease as serious as MS. She then contacted Andy who was finishing med school at the University of Pennsylvania (consistently ranked among the one of the top three medical schools in the country) and asked for his help.
Ivy’s diagnosis of MS came as a huge shock to Andy, but the recommendation she change her diet as a form of treatment came as even more of a shock. Andy was highly skeptical dietary therapy could impact the disease in any meaningful way. Nevertheless, he was very impressed with the credentials of the neurologist making the recommendation as Dr. Sheremata was a full professor at the University of Miami and had published over sixty high-quality peer-reviewed research articles. Andy ended up spending hours at the University of Pennsylvania’s medical library reading all of the available literature relating to diet and MS and only then, to his surprise, was he able to confirm research did in fact support dietary therapy as an effective way to treat the disease.  Andy then flew down to Florida to personally meet with Dr. Sheremata at the University of Miami. After the meeting and after doing a lot more research on his own, Andy was convinced a healthy diet based on “eating clean” could indeed help Ivy improve her quality of life. Most importantly, the dietary change wouldn’t have any negative side effects. And, if need be, Ivy could always add the medication later.
So, it was with Andy’s support Ivy decided to makeover her diet and to learn as much as she possibly could about nutrition. At that point in our lives, both of us had a tremendous amount to learn regarding what constituted a healthy diet, but we poured ourselves into the medical dietary research and soon began to understand the sweeping benefits of nutrition for a plethora of conditions way beyond MS. We learned the healthiest diet in the world was based on “eating clean” and consuming a nutrient-rich and anti-inflammatory “whole foods” diet. We also learned such a diet would benefit anyone suffering from any inflammatory condition (such as arthritis, asthma, fibromyalgia, etc), obesity, type 2 diabetes, high cholesterol, heart disease and high blood pressure. We pretty much stumbled onto a “one size fits all” diet.

We got Married…and Had a Baby!

Along the way the spark and the chemistry we had back in high school was reignited. We soon became more than “just friends” and were married March 11, 2000. We moved to “Philly” (Philadelphia) while Andy finished his internship at Pennsylvania Hospital and then we moved to New Jersey. Ivy was pregnant three months after our wedding and our son, Blake, was born one year and three days after our first anniversary. Ivy had a great pregnancy (with the exception of morning sickness), gained a healthy 25 pounds and never experienced any of the post-pregnancy exacerbations so common among women with MS. Blake was 7 pounds 15 ounces when he was born and from day one he has been incredibly healthy. Ivy nursed Blake exclusively for the first six months and then started him on the same nutrient-rich, anti-inflammatory “whole foods” diet she followed —which, by this time Andy had also adopted (as a side note: Blake is now nine years old and he’s been on antibiotics just once in his life, he’s never had an ear infection, he doesn’t have allergies, he doesn’t suffer from asthma, he rarely gets sick and with the exception of his regular scheduled check-ups, he doesn’t need to visit his pediatrician.)That’s a photo of our little guy in the photo below =)

Bringing our Program to the Public

With our whole family eating clean  on the “MS diet” and Ivy’s health regained (Andy even reaped benefits of following the diet with a ten pound weight loss, lowered blood pressure and a new surge of energy) plus mounds of research to back up our dietary recommendations, we set out to write a book. From all the research we had done we realized the “MS diet” Ivy was following could also help improve the quality of life for people suffering from a wide range of conditions from high cholesterol to asthma, allergies to arthritis, fibromyalgia, obesity, type 2 diabetes and much, much more. Ivy’s “MS diet” combated inflammation and poor nutrition, two culprits that we knew caused and exacerbated numerous diseases common in modern society. We knew the diet program Ivy followed could help millions of people if we could get the information published in a book. But first we knew we had to put other people on our program and collect real-life testimonials in order to get a publisher interested. Getting the people together was easier said than done thought! At this point Andy wasn’t even a practicing surgeon, he was still in surgical residency and we were going back and forth to New Jersey (for his general surgery and vascular training), New York (to Sloan Kettering for his oncology training) and Philadelphia (to University of Pennsylvania for his trauma training). Life was not easy as Andy was clocking in over 100 hours a week at the hospital (he basically lived there and spent almost every other night at the hospital), we had a baby in tow with no close-by family members to help out, a very limited budget and one car. Things could have been better! Nevertheless, we managed to get a group of twenty-two people together at the prestigious Atlantic Club in Red Bank, New Jersey (in large part thanks to fitness director and our now good friend Erin Glynn—thank you Erin!) to test our program for five weeks.  The class was advertised as a “5-Week Health and Body Makeover Program” for club members who had health problems ranging from high cholesterol and high triglyceride levels to asthma, fibromyalgia, type 2 diabetes, obesity, MS and arthritis.
While we were confident we could help the people on our program we weren’t sure we could obtain measurable results for such a wide variety of conditions in just five weeks! As part of our first class we performed extensive testing on every client, including complete cholesterol profile, blood pressure, triglyceride testing, waist and hip measurements, body weight and body fat analysis. For five weeks the class met three times a week for one hour. We spent half-hour on nutrition and Ivy used her exercise background to develop a “Fitter, Firmer, Faster” 30-minute workout program she taught for the second part of the class.

Results from Our First Health and Body Makeover Program

The results were nothing less than astonishing: In as little as five weeks every client saw measurable improvements not only in their health but also in their appearance. The number one “side benefit” people experienced following our program was hunger-free weight loss (this is especially important because we didn’t encourage people to count calories, carbs or fat grams and everyone exercised the “Fitter, Firmer, Faster” way just 30-minutes, 3 days a week). Every single person lost weight, regardless of whether they started the program for weight loss, and every single person decreased their body fat percentage and lost inches from their waist. Every person who had high triglycerides saw a decrease; every person who suffered from an inflammation-mediated condition such as asthma, allergies, arthritis, multiple sclerosis or fibromyalgia enjoyed a marked improvement in their symptoms; and every person except for one saw improvements in their total cholesterol level and their overall cholesterol profile.

A Few Real-Life Testimonials from Our Very First Atlantic Club “5-Week Health and Body Makeover Program”

  • A fibromyalgia patient enjoyed significant improvement in her energy levels, sleep quality and relief from pain and stiffness associated with her disease; her total cholesterol decreased from 208 to 179; she lost 2 inches from her waist and hips.
  • A middle-aged woman decreased her cholesterol from 252 to 213 and lost 4 inches from her waist and hips.
  • A woman with MS who had been unable to walk on the beach for years due to the weakness in her legs was walking on the beach at the end of our 5-week program.
  • A fairly healthy fifty-five year-old man joined the program hoping to reduce his high cholesterol level. Not only did his total cholesterol drop from 304 to 245, his “bad” LDL cholesterol dropped from 229 to 187 and he decreased his body fat from an already fit 17.2 percent to an even leaner 15 percent.
  • A fifty-nine year old man lowered his body fat from 29.5 percent to 26 percent and lost 4 pounds. He lost 4 1/2 inches from his waist and hips, lowered his cholesterol from 250 to 196 and lowered his triglycerides from 87 to 70.
  • A nurse who directed a prominent cardiac rehabilitation center joined the program hoping to improve her severe arthritis symptoms. She’d been unable to cross her legs for years due to the pain in her knees and she couldn’t walk up a flight of stairs or bend down to pick something off the floor. Our initial blood work revealed a cholesterol level of 259 and a “bad” LDL of 179. Within 5-weeks on our program her lipid profile had improved significantly and her total cholesterol dropped to 169 and LDL went to 113. She lost 7 pounds and decreased her body fat percentage from 33 percent to 28.5 percent. Her arthritis pain decreased so significantly that she was able to comfortably cross her legs, climb a flight of stairs and even walk for miles around the streets of Manhattan!
** We have since repeated our Health and Body Makeover Programs numerous times—check out the Testimonials section of this site to read the results

Getting the Contract for our First Book, The Gold Coast Cure

We took the results of our very first “Health and Body Makeover Program” to editor Allison Janse at HCI Books and we soon got a contract for our first book! In 2005 HCI Books published our Gold Coast Cure. It was a huge success as an Amazon.com #1 bestselling diet book. We followed up with our second book, The Gold Coast Cure’s Fitter, Firmer, Faster Program in 2006. Andy then wrote a third book titled Chicken Soup for the Healthy Living Soul: Weight Loss and our Whole Foods Diet Cookbook was published in 2009. Long story short, we’ve been walking the talk, eating, cooking, and writing about whole foods for over a decade now. We’ve also had a lot of fun along the way!! We are continuously trying to spread the word…it’s a lot of work, but it is also very rewarding on many levels.

We’d Like to Think We’d Be ”Eating Clean” Today …

Although we’d like to say we’d have eventually adopted our whole foods diet and “eat clean” way of eating regardless of whether Ivy had been diagnosed with MS, we can’t say with absolute confidence this would have ever happened. For one, we can’t imagine why we would have ever taken the time to research and sort through the ever-shifting, conflicting, and completely contradictory dietary advice that has filtered its way into the media over the past ten to twenty years. Would we have happened to stumble upon an appealing, science-based natural-foods diet book? Maybe. But, probably not. To be honest, we’re not sure the natural-foods stuff would have been attractive to us anyway. Back then the natural-foods world seemed too “fringe element” to be appealing.
Luckily, times are slowly changing. In fact, over the past decade we’ve noticed an increasing number of people going out of their way to buy “all-natural” foods. The reality is that we are now just on the brink of a whole foods revolution as more and more people flock to natural foods stores and begin to stock up on items such as sushi-grade tuna, gourmet blends of wild rice, flaxseed, artichokes, edamame beans, and “designer” greens.
Gone are the days when a twenty-ounce porterhouse steak is considered the ultimate in dining luxury. Today, an increasing number of people are demanding healthful, better-balanced, whole foods meals. They are also seeking an exotic adventurous style of cuisine offering international flavors, all with the added stipulation it will help them stay fit and trim. Eating Clean Cuisine is becoming more and more popular by the month. And it’s about time!

We’re Learning More about ”Eating Clean” Every Day!

While we thought we were the ultimate healthy living experts back in 2005 when we published our first book we now realize there’s always more to learn! We are constantly reading and educating ourselves on the very latest as it applies to nutrition, exercise, supplements and healthy living. Our goal with this site is to keep you updated on what we’re eating, what we’re cooking, what exercises we’re doing and what healthy living items we’re buying. Healthy living is a day to day journey but it can be fun and exciting. We’ll show you how…

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