One of the questions I am asked frequently by new and aspiring vegans is how to handle going to parties as a new vegan. For many people there is a concern about being tempted to going off track or being the weirdo vegan not eating what everyone else is eating (not that I think this would make one a weirdo per se). That being said, I think this is a common challenge that new and veteran vegans alike struggle with. While there are many challenging social situations as a vegan, I will only be focusing on eating at friends’ houses and going to parties because I don’t want this article to become a saga.
These are some of the different factors that can make this a challenge:
(1) Lack of vegan options
(2) The temptation of non-vegan foods that you may still be struggling to eliminate for good (like cheese for example)
(3) Wanting to fit in
(4) Feeling deprived
(5) The challenge of finding not just vegan options, but healthy plant-based vegan options.
Okay, so I will address these individually as I handle them in my life, other people may or may not handle them differently.
(1) Bring Food
In terms of the lack of vegan options, this one is usually the easiest to address. I typically call the host ahead and ask them what they are planning to serve and if it would be okay for me to bring some additional plant-based snacks, such as cut up fruit, hummus and crudites, etc. So far, I have never been turned down with this approach, and my snacks are usually gobbled up pretty quickly, so I recommend bringing more than you think you need so you can share how delicious vegan food is.
(2) Focus on your Motivation
Temptation is a little trickier to address. So let me back up a little bit and talk about motivation. Why talk about motivation, you might ask? Because being really clear and strong in your motivation to stick to a vegan diet is what will you get you through these situations. For me, my initial foray into veganism started from a health and weight-management point of view. I used to love reading diet books, and I read my first vegan one, The Kind Diet by Alicia Silverstone, not knowing it was vegan.
However, there are times when this motivation towards health is weaker than other times, and that’s when the ethical point of view helps me. I find that the ethical vegans are so passionate about helping animals, that I am quickly reenergized about my vegan lifestyle and I consider this to be my back-up generator. Currently it is more front and center for me, but that was not always the case. I recommend reading an inspiring article like something in VegNews or Laika Magazines or listening to a vegan podcast like Colleen Patrick-Goudreau’s Food for Thought. Of course there are also a bazillion books on the topic as well.
(3) Be Low Key
Next up, would be wanting to fit in, rather than sticking out as “the vegan”. I’ll start by saying I’m a lot more comfortable than I used to be with this title and with people knowing my eating choices than I used to be. I realized through experiences and reading, that most people are slightly intimidated by vegans and often feel self-conscious around them about what they are eating which can make omnivores defensive and at times try to draw more attention to what I am eating to shift the attention away from them. I try to take the approach of Dr. Doug Lisle author of The Pleasure Trap where he recommends the path of least resistance. This means being kind, and somewhat evasive as well as not going into too much detail unless expressly asked. For example, if Sara said, “Oh, so I heard you were a vegan” (insert her eye roll here). I would normally smile and say yes. Next Sara might say, ”so you don’t eat any of these yummy things on my plate? I could NEVER give up my (insert favorite food here: ribs, cheese, bacon etc.)”. I would say something like, “yeah it’s not for everyone” and change the topic. If someone is genuinely interested in why I eat the way I do, or how they can do it too, I will obviously share what I know, but often people really don’t want to hear the details.
(4) Choose a Non-Food Focus
No one likes to feel deprived at a party, while other people eat and drink with abandon. But it really is all about how you frame it your mind. For me, I try to look at parties as gatherings to talk and hang out with my friends, not necessarily just about the food. I also try to avoid standing or sitting in front of tempting non-vegan options if at all possible. I would try to focus on how good you feel both physically and emotionally eating the way you are, and think about wanting to continue feeling that way after you leave this party and even the next morning.
(5) Eat a Little Something Before You Leave the House
The challenge of finding healthy plant-based vegan options at a friend’s house, is probably where my family would consider me difficult. Not everyone who is vegan is trying to be plant-based or even cares about it. However, I believe it is getting more common as there are more and more people coming to veganism to help with health issues like diabetes, hypertension, and heart disease. I usually have some food before I leave the house, like cut up fruit, a green smoothie, ½ portion of leftovers, or a salad so that I don’t arrive starving. Also, since I always bring food to share, I know there will be at least two options for me to eat.
Remember, this gets easier with practice. You will also find, that as you continue to eat this way, you will slowly start to make more friends with similar eating habits, making it easier and easier for you to continue on this path. I also find that as friends see your enthusiasm (and watch you lose weight and get healthier), they tend to become more curious and interested in what you are eating. Remember that this is a path, and while most vegans do not admit to this, we all make mistakes and eat something we regret, so if this happens to you, remind yourself that you are human, we all make mistakes, and get that adorable vegan behind back on track as soon as you are able.
I was fortunate enough to be nominated for the Liebster award by my friend Chasity at http://myhealthychef.wordpress.com/about/ - thank you Chasity!!
The Liebster award rules are simple and once you are nominated you follow the below guidelines:
1. Add the award icon to your blog!
2. LInk to your nominator to say thank you.
3. Each blogger should post 11 facts about themselves.
4. Answer the questions the tagger has set for you and create 11 more for your nominations to answer.
5. Choose 11 up-and-coming bloggers with less than 200 followers and tell them about the award.
11 Facts about me:
Questions from My Healthy Chef:
1. Do you eat to live or live to eat?
Probably a bit of both.
2. Would you reather read the book or see the movie?
I like to read the book, then go see the movie and see which I liked better.
3. Do you prefer guacamole or hummus?
Hummus for sure. In fact if you ask any of my friends, they all count on me to bring hummus and Pinot Grigio to any party I’m invited to. Because, really, what kind of party is it without Pinot and Hummus? :)
4. Would you rather go out to eat or spend time cooking in the kitchen yourself?
It depends on the night. During the week I like to cook at home, it’s relaxing and I like being able to control the ingredients like oil and salt. On the weekends it’s a treat to eat out with my husband and have date nights at veg friendly restaurants.
5. Why did you start your blog?
I realized that I have been sharing all my vegan ideas with friends who were all interested, and decided to share them in a more organized format. Also, I noticed that while there are a gazillion vegan blogs, very few, if any, were approaching the challenges of going vegan or plant-based from the social, emotional and practical point of view. I found myself advising clients in my therapy practice on topics like getting through social situations, how to answer questions without getting into an emotional debate, getting your spouse on board, etc. I thought it would be helpful to share these ideas with the general public as I wished I had had them when I started!
6. Of all the blogs you follow, which is your favorite?
This is a hard one. There are a lot of blogs that I love for different reasons. Happy Herbivore, My Beauty Bunny, Possesionista, Peas and Thank you, Chic Vegan, Red Hot Vegans, and Disease Proof, to name a few.
7. What is your favorite form of exercise?
I tend to go through phases where I become very into whatever I’m doing and then move onto the next thing so that I don’t get bored. Lately I have been obsessed with pole dancing classes which basically combines gymnastics, dancing, and hard core strength exercises. Don’t judge until you try it.
8. When have you been the most proud of yourself?
When I finished my Masters of Social Work. I never really thought I would get a graduate degree, let alone graduate top 10% of my class with honors.
9. What is your favorite Christmas movie?
Elf, because it’s hysterical.
10. What is your favorite dish to make at home?
Again, so hard to choose! Some of my favorites lately are: Happy Herbivore’s Quick Chile Mole and Nacho Queso, black bean enchiladas, and tofu scrambles.
11. What is go-to breakfast?
Right now it’s whole wheat toast with hummus and siracha sprinkled on top or half of a cantelope.
My Nomines for the Liebster Award:
Don’t forget to notify your nomines that they won!
I’ve recently began writing for a fabulous vegan lifestyle website, Chicvegan.com. For my first article, I wrote about a topic that I myself have faced, and that is converting my husband to a plant-based vegan diet. I know what you are thinking, “You can’t make someone eat this way!” ”That’s manipulative!” “How did you do it??!” Well here it is:
How To Convert a husband/boyfriend/girlfriend/ lover to Veganism
Question: What is the fastest way to ruin a night of romance?
Answer: Eat heavy meat and dairy laden meal that clogs arteries, makes you feel fat and lethargic and even causes impotence.
While there are many reasons to convert a loved one to veganism, the above-mentioned one always gets the guys’ attention. I mean, who doesn’t want a thriving love life? However, as you already know, the reasons to become vegan are endless- including, better health, avoiding disease, living a lifestyle in accordance with your belief system, easier weight loss and many more. There are many articles on the numerous reasons to go vegan, along with wonderful and scientific answers to all the questions that you likely get like the million dollar question, “where do you get your protein??” That being said, my goal of this article is not to provide those in depth scientific answers, but rather practical strategies for helping a loved one move forward on the vegan path with you.
For some couples or families it may be easier, like a family decision to get healthier together after attending a plant-based immersion or watching a movie like Forks Over Knives. For others, (and this tends to be most common), one person in the family decides that this lifestyle is for them, and then struggles to maintain it as well as garner support from those around them. While it may seem that there is no hope in “getting your boyfriend/husband/ loved one on board”, I really believe there is. As a psychotherapist and vegan husband converter, I can tell you that there are some key strategies I used, along with careful timing, not overwhelming the other, and leading by example.
The most important part of helping them along this path is what they call in psychotherapy: “meeting the person they are now”. Essentially that means, start where they are, and how they feel now. Baby steps, my dear.
Stage 1: Avoidance
If your loved one has zero interest in this way of life, no need to start with trying to convert them. In fact, this will most likely turn them way off. In these cases, start with just leading by example. Show them how easy it really can be, how you manage yourself in social situations, and letting them see your improving health. If you are always complaining about how difficult it is to be vegan, they will believe you. If you make it seem like a normal everyday part of your life that you enjoy and makes you feel good, this too will be noticed.
When you are the one cooking (and I assume you probably are if you are vegan living with an omnivore), then start ADDING food. Forget about subtracting the dairy, meat and other stuff just yet. Focus on adding in cruciferous vegetables; add in more whole grains and legumes, nuts and seeds. Subtracting someone’s “favorite” foods can be a scary change, so our first goal is to “crowd out” those foods with healthier ones. The goal being that your loved ones food ratios of vegan to non-vegan meals begin to shift in the right direction. Start making hearty vegan recipes like those from Rip Esselstyn’s Engine 2 Diet, or Lindsey Nixon’s Happy Herbivore cookbooks. While my husband now LOVES kale, this was not the case at first, so I recommend baby steps, starting with baby spinach. Whatever you do, don’t call these recipes “vegan” just yet. Allow your loved one to enjoy each meal that you have peppered into your routine. When they comment on how delicious they are, just smile and say something like, “I love cooking for you”.
Stage 2: Ok, so they are starting to ask you about “this vegan stuff”
At some point they will usually ask you about their own diet. Timing is everything, so I implore you to wait until they ask you. This could take weeks, months, or even years. (In my case it took about a year, but my husband was a devout pizza, beer, nachos and hamburger kind of guy). While it is so tempting to share the everyday details of your important lifestyle choices, usually this will just create a divide in the relationship if your partner isn’t ready for it. When they finally begin to question you about it with more open ended questions like, “do you think it would help me lose weight?” or “I know I need to lower my cholesterol, are you sure this would help?” Or even, “I wouldn’t mind trying a vegan meal once in awhile, but I could never give up cheese.” Rather than roll your eyes, remember that this is the big money question and this is your opportunity!! This means they are in the stage of pre-contemplation where they are literally contemplating making this change.
Whatever you do, avoid discouraging their reasons no matter how frivolous they may seem to you. Empathically remember that you probably did not start out life as vegan and we all come to this lifestyle from different angles and life experiences. You want to be as supportive as possible during this fragile step. Rather than lecture them at this point on every single benefit you can name, say, “Yes! And it’s much easier than one would think!” Colleen Patrick- Goudreau, one of my personal vegan heroes, is always saying that if you exude joy and ease while living in accordance with your belief system, others will eventually catch on and want to join in. Part of the key here will be highlighting the fun, easy, healthy aspects without going on and on about it. You don’t want it to feel like a huge lifestyle change to them unless they want it to be (most do not at the beginning).
Stage 3: Day-to-Day life
Start cooking! Start to double up on everything you make for yourself. I find myself making a general meal plan for the week along with which recipes I will be making on which days and a grocery list. Start making triple the portions you are currently making, as you don’t want your loved one to go hungry. Quite the opposite- you want them impressed at the abundance of delicious food in the house. If health and/or weight aren’t huge issues for them, it can also be helpful to include a few “transition foods”. These are foods that while vegan aren’t necessarily plant-based, but can make each meal seem more familiar at least at the beginning. Some of my husband’s favorites include Food for Lovers Queso, anything Gardein, soy cheeses, Field Roast sausages, Whole Foods vegan chocolate chip cookies, Kind Bars and others. Having some of these foods in the house can make the transition to veganism a whole lot easier and more appetizing without any sense of deprivation.
Stage 4: Totally on the bandwagon
This stage may or may not ever come completely. Obviously it would be ideal, but veganism is a journey for most of us not just a destination. Remember that each of these stages can go quickly or take time; so let them take their time with it. Sometimes they will also regress to an earlier stage before advancing to the next one (i.e., Superbowl Sunday or a vacation). Like all things in life, this is not a straight line from A (eating meat, dairy and animal products) to B (totally vegan). There will likely be lots of twists and turns, so try to just enjoy this journey together and be thankful that your partner is open minded and willing to experiment with you.
Be sure to head over to Chicvegan.com and sign up for the newsletter to stay up to date on everything fabulous and vegan!
For those of you who read my blog regularly, you know that I refer to the protein question (i.e., “where do you get your protein?!”) as the “million dollar question”. Well, if that is the million dollar question, then the $250,000 question has to be, “Well, what do you eat then?” Typically, I find that this question gets asked as soon as someone finds out that I don’t eat what they are eating, and they are puzzled as to what a vegan actually eats as they are focused more on what we can’t eat. All too often, vegans and omnivores alike focus solely on what vegans can’t eat, rather than focusing on everything that we do eat.
This question doesn’t strike me as being as passive aggressive as the protein question, but it can be difficult to answer none the less. I was recently asked this question by a well meaning friend over brunch, and found that I stumbled over my words when trying to answer. Why, did I stumble over my words, you ask? Well, I’ll tell you:
1) At the time I was asked this question, I had a bland salad sitting in front of me as I hadn’t called ahead to make arrangements with the chef for a vegan lunch as I normally do. (An example of me not following my own advice). Also, the question made me a little self-concious about the lack of food in front of me and I was anticipating that she assumed that I likely eat mostly lettuce.
2) I knew she was well meaning and was actually curious about what I eat, and I wanted to give her the best possible answer.
3) Whenever possible, I try to be joyful in my response, as being vegan is a joy, but I was afraid in that moment it might not come off that way.
While, these were my thoughts, what I actually said was, “pretty much anything without eyes or a mother or that comes from something without eyes a mother.” Woops, harsher than I meant it to be. Then I clarified, “Literally so much food! Legumes/ beans, grains, breads, pastas, vegetables, fruits, nuts and seeds. A typical day of food might look like oatmeal with bananas for breakfast, a hummus vegetable wrap with a grapefruit for lunch, and black bean enchiladas for dinner.”
This might have been more information than my friend was looking for, but some how it felt better to be specific in showing that I don’t just eat lettuce. No offense to lettuce.
One of the fabulous things about being a blogger is the honor of reading brand new plant-based cookbooks, often before the general public. This is one of the highlights for me as there are few things that get me as excited as a new low-fat cashew creamed kale recipe or a veggie burger recipe that does not require oil or egg replacer. I wish I was one of those people that “felt” like cooking all the time and remembered to take pictures of my food, recipes and all the steps involved. I am however, none of those things. I often don’t feel like cooking, I rarely remember to photograph my food (and I don’t have a DSLR) and sometimes I even fail to follow my own advice. Well why, do I love cookbooks so much then? Well, I’ll tell you…
You know that feeling you used to get in the beginning of September right before school started when you had all your shiny new textbooks, your fabulous new trapper keeper (maybe I’m aging myself now), your new mechanical pencils and multi-colored gel pens? That crisp wonderful weather in the air and the feeling that you were going to do awesomely this year? The popular girls would magically be nice, you would do all your homework and things would just be better? Well that is the feeling when I get when I see that the UPS man left a new cookbook in its exciting brown cardboard packing on my doorstep. Sometimes the new cookbook arriving is exactly what I need to get my ass back into the kitchen and away from the takeaway section of Whole Foods.
So what were my latest inspirational reads, you ask? Dreena Burton’s Let Them Eat Vegan and Julianna Heaver’s The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Plant-Based Nutrition.
I apologize for the different size photos! Clearly I am not naturally of the techy variety.
So I decided to flip a coin and I will start with Ms. Burton’s. I should start out by saying that I am a big fan of hers and I can sometimes dork out around cookbook authors that I admire i.e., friend requesting them on facebook then telling all my friends that we are friends. (Thanks for accepting Dreena!) Anywho, I have so far made several delicious recipes from this book, including:
Overall I LOVE this cookbook, and if I got to ask the generous publishers for one more wish to be granted, it would be to have nutritional information for the recipes. But that would just be icing on the preverbial vegan cake.
Next up would be the fabulous Julianna Heaver. Now I first heard about her via the many blogs that I dutifially read on a nightly basis (see nerd statement above) and initially it was in reference to her Youtube videos titled The Chef and The Dietician with Chef AJ. The first one I watched was for the Hale to the Kale dressing, that I can honestly say is so delicious you will want to eat it with a spoon. But I digress. She is bubbly and smart, and makes you think, “I want to do whatever she is doing!” So her publishers generouslly sent me copies of her new books, The Idiot’s Guide to Plant-Based Nutrition and The Idiot’s Guide to Gluten Free Vegan Cooking.
My favorite things about both of these books is Ms. Heaver’s bubbly but intelligent tone. She is cheerful and encouraging and gives the message that “this is easy, you can do it, and I’m going to show you how to have tiny hips like me”. Now what could be better than that?
In The Idiot’s Guide to Plant-Based Nutrition, I loved how she incorporated data from studies and statistics on the health and environmental benefits from such big machas as T. Colin Campbell. (For those of you not fluent in yiddish, big machas= big deal). Her recipe for Sushi Salad with Creamy Miso Dressing, is pretty much heaven and I could eat this for every meal.
In The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Gluten-Free Vegan Cooking, she includes lots of valuable information on living gluten-free AND vegan. Love that she did both. I think that’s enough writing for now as I should probably get started on dinner. Thanks for the veganspiration ladies! xo
Let me start off by saying that this way of eating has become second nature for me. However, that does not mean that there aren’t times when I struggle a little to find apetizing vegan options for myself. Recently I was in Puebla, Mexico for a work conference. While I was fortunate to stay at the one of the nicest hotels in the whole city, I still found that there were times when I was not in the mood for the vegan options they were offering, or felt nervous about the safety of eating them. Here are the tips that got me through it:
1) Plan. Plan. Plan.
Before leaving for the trip I made a trip to Whole Foods and stocked up on my traveling foods. Now some of you may read my list of foods and say, “but, Karen, those things are processed and bad for you!” To that I answer, that these foods are not my everyday foods but they are often preferable to whatever else is being offered. So here goes:
For Travel Day/ Airplane:
-container of Tom’s Tabouley Hummus (or other no oil hummus)
-Wasa whole grain crackers/ (Mary’s Gone Crackers are good too, however I warn you that they can be addictive)
-baby carrots or chopped cellary sticks
-Giant cripsy apples (preferably honey crips or fuji, but depends on what is in season)
-Kind Bars (I find that these are more filling than Larabars, but either would be fine)
-Packets of 365 Instant Cinnamon Spice Oatmeal (can be quickly made with hot water in any hotel with or without bananas if available)
- If I am somewhere where shopping a local supermarket and/or health food store is an option, I will also get things like almond milk or soy milk, whole grain bread, almond butter, and fruit. I tend to stick to really easy to prepare items that do not involve any involved prep like chopping, mixing, blending etc. Many experienced vegan/ plant-based eaters that I know will make their own salads in their room or bring a blender. To me, this just seems like too much work, and I like to keep things simple. But obviously that is an option as well.
If you are visiting a new city, plan to bring comfortable walking gear- sneakers, shorts/ pants and whatever would be appropriate for the climate that you are visiting.
I would also recommmend being flexible in your expecations of how much you will exercise. For example on my recent trip to Puebla, I was 7000 feet above sea level and spent much of the trip dizzy and some what disoriented. Any kind of strenuous exercise would have been dangerous for me and just felt completely out of the question.
Remember that you are traveling, and it is temporary so try to enjoy your trip as much as possible without beating yourself up over being perfect. Oh and don’t forget to bring me back a present.
Around here, I drop the V bomb regularly, however, the more people I talk to, the more I realize how the word “vegan” needs a new marketing campaign. To do some research, I asked my recently vegan or as he prefers ”Plant- based” husband what he thinks of when he hears the word “vegan”. And I quote, “some skinny weirdo guy with piercings who has lots of angst.” Oy. Meanwhile, when I think of vegan, I think of my inspiring heroes like Coleen Patrick-Goudreau, Dr. Neil Barnard, or Kathy Freston. I think of living a healthy lifestyle and advocating for the millions of animals that suffer needlessly for our eating “pleasure”.
However, it seems that another group of people have been using the phrase “Plant-based” in an effort to conjure up a different message. It appears that the Plant-Based message is more about health and the environment with little focus on animal welfare. In addition, since it is a relatively new term (at least in my mind) it doesn’t have the same stigmatizing connotations that the word, Vegan does. It is for this reason that I sometimes use both Vegan and Plant-based in an effort to be inclusive.
However, I have heard lots of people say that they feel that they need to be perfect if they call themselves Vegan, and if they wear anything made from leather, occasionally mess up and eat a non-vegan cookie, or perhaps don’t have in depth explanations memorized for why they do everything they do, that they can not in good conscience call themselves Vegan. To be completely honest, nobody is perfect, and I think there is really something to be gained by joyfully sharing who you are and what you do with the people around you.
Sometimes I worry that these “almost vegans” may have met someone who was Vegan who might have intimidated them or made them feel that they couldn’t be part of “the Vegan club”. Ala:
I beg to differ. I think that Veganism is about what you do every day to the best of your ability in the life you are currently leading and also what your intentions are. Come join the party!!!
I also believe that it is important to call yourself whatever you feel most comfortable with and to remember that it will change over time. Guys like Rip Esselstyn have also coined the phrase Plant-Strong which I think especially appeals to men as well.
(Bicep contest at Rip Esselstyn’s House- and yes, that is Robert Cheeke on the right)
Remember, our diets evolve as we evolve. I also want to tell all my Vegan peeps out there “Be kind, be compassionate, and be empathic, not just towards animals, but to other people around you who either don’t know what you know or are just starting out on their own journey”.
When you are first learning and practicing this lifestyle, it can be easy to feel superior to those around you who do not know or refuse to do what you do. Remember what convinced you to live this way, and it wasn’t someone making you feel inferior or stupid. For me it was inspiring writers and celebrities like Alicia Silverstone who made it seem easy, obtainable and something that I could do to live a healthier and more compassionate life. Looking for more information on what to say to your friends to help convince them? Check out Colleen Patrick-Goudreau’s Food For Thought pod casts on Itunes or on Compassionatecooks.com or The Pleasure Trap by Douglas J. Lisle
As someone who has been eating a plant-based/ vegan lifestyle for almost 2 years, I sometimes forget what it was like when I was first starting out. The first “vegan” books that I read, Skinny Bitch and The Kind Diet, were books that I had initially picked up in the hopes of learning a new way to lose weight. I remember thinking “hmm, it would be great to lose weight, but I don’t know if I could actually do this”. In all honesty, I think I that at the time I found them to be extremest and hard to follow (although now I love them and recommend them all the time).
Like all the other diets that I tried, it lasted a little while, but eventually I went back to calorie counting, low-fat eating, and counting points. Overtime my diet evolved as I read and learned more about factory farming, healthy eating and weight loss, and the environment. Eventually, when I was ready, I read books like The China Study by Dr. T. Colin Campbell, The Engine 2 Diet by Rip Esselstyn, 30 Day Vegan Challenge by Colleen Patrick-Goudreau and Veganist by Kathy Freston which helped me learn the “why” behind eating a plant-based diet as well as how to make this lifestyle.
I think that when you read a book on plant-based eating or veganism it is important to think about who the target audience is and also to have the self-awareness to know where you are in your journey. I was recently lucky enough to be sent a new copy of The Lean: A Revolutionary (and simple!) 30 Day Plan for Healthy, Lasting Weight Loss by Kathy Freston to review for this blog.
My first thought upon reading it was, “I wish I had this book when I first started out!!” This is a great book by the beautiful and talented Kathy Freston, geared towards helping people make little changes, one per day for an entire month. The goal is to “lean” into the lifestyle, and add positive changes and food additions, until you have “crowded out” the old unhealthy ones.
While at this point in my journey I already do most of the things recommended in the book, I have had to learn it from all different sources and put it together on my own, little by little. This book helps the reader get lots of helpful information all at once, simplifies it into a month’s worth of changes, and gives just enough explanation in each chapter so that it makes sense to an average reader. I also really like Kathy’s writing style which is friendly, kind and intelligent, but not overly intimidating. This book would make an amazing gift for someone you love (Alison that means you!). Not to mention that we all want to look like Kathy!!