From Sick To Strong At 68: It's Never Too Late To Begin
Lorraine Anderson is overcoming health challenges after decades of illness, with the help of a plant-based lifestyle.
When I heard stories of success, I truly thought I could never live without meat.
I thought that people who had made the change were not exactly normal. Now I am not only one of them, but am happier, fitter and healthier than I have been in my life. I am nearly 70 now, it is never too late to begin.
My story up to the age of 68 is “normal” for a lot of New Zealanders.
Although I was a Registered Nurse and a Registered Midwife, I did not understand much about diet except for the information the media produced. By the age of 22 I was medicated for high blood pressure and an underactive thyroid gland, followed not long after by meds for high blood fats.
I gained a lot of weight and ignored my health issues, faithfully swallowing the prescribed medicines. I thought I had made changes but with what I know now, those changes were never going to be effective in improving any of these problems.
By age 48 I was morbidly obese, had gout, an autoimmune skin disorder requiring steroids, type two diabetes requiring insulin and was sedentary. I was using CPAP (a machine to assist breathing) for obstructive sleep apnoea. Then, four years ago, I had a serious heart attack and needed a stent insertion.
The enormity of this started to affect my thinking and I knew I needed to make all the changes I could to be proactive for my future. I couldn’t face my obesity, a lifetime of wishing I was different, starting various diets and “failing” had set a mindset that was too big to face.
One day I looked at the evidence for whole food, low fat, plant-based eating.
I watched ‘Forks Over Knives’, thought about it and asked myself: what did I have to lose? I gave it a months trial. That was two years ago.
I was using 60 units of insulin combined and was a master at managing it. By the end of that month my insulin needs dropped significantly, I felt so much better emotionally. I am 20kg lighter and it sort of fell off by itself. My belt needed taking in a notch and I have 5kg goal for the next two years. So I continued my new way of being.
Since being whole food plant-based I’ve had no significant skin outbreaks. No surprise my mood is so much better! My medication for high blood pressure is slightly down. My meds for hypothyroidism are halved. My meds for high blood fats have halved. I have stopped my medication for gout.
I am now using no insulin and I feel as if I am out of jail. After more than ten years of using insulin, I was convinced I could not get off it. I learned it truly is all about what I put in my mouth. My ECG is normal when I had been advised it would never be again. I have three other blockages in my vessels and believe that they will not affect my future.
I started walking. At first I walked 1km and caught the bus home. I now walk 5km, 6 days a week and enjoy it. I love to read recipe books and to cook. I am trying for no food wastage and am decluttering. I have also started a garden in pots in my small courtyard. Another world opened up for me and I discovered I can grow food that comes straight to my table. I am learning to garden and grow as many vegetables as I can.
I am not perfect, I am travelling on my own path.
I do not feel guilty if I have the occasional animal product however I love vegetables so much now that I have no desire to eat anything else. I make my own plant-based cheeses. Family occasions are less stress because friends and family have seen the changes in me and there is always a plant-based option available. I did not have to say a word.
It is hard to really remember how I used to be, miserable, unwell, inactive. I could have changed it a long time ago, but better late than never. The sense of well being is extraordinary.