September 26, 2013 12

My Husband’s Wellness Journey + a little bit on his willingness to change

This is my husband, Chris. I loved him since the first day I met him, chubby cheeks, full belly and all. His zest for life is contagious. This is his wellness journey, a story of weight loss and a little bit on his willingness to change.

Real  Heroes  Are  Never  in  Disguise

by, Christopher Castellano
 
My Husband's Wellness Journey | @withfoodandlove
 
It’s funny how your heroes evolve throughout life. Those you idolized while growing up aren’t still on that pedestal today. In fact, it’s doubtful they even cross your mind anymore. Maturity of course plays a big role, periodically tossing out the comic book stars and pop singers along the way like a nightclub bouncer. But sometimes it’s the heroes themselves that seal their own fate, revealing their true colors to you at the worst time. As a budding NFL fan, I had always looked up to this one particular quarterback. With a grenade-launcher for an arm and a master’s degree in business, I thought he was the archetypal athlete. I also imagined he was a nice guy.

Until one frigid December afternoon following a game, I waited two hours for him in the stadium parking lot. Wearing his jersey and holding a football and a pen, I audibly rehearsed what I wanted to say. When he finally walked outside, he looked directly at my overjoyed face and outstretched hands, and then turned and boarded the bus without so much as a wink, a smile or even the slightest of nods. Moments later the old Greyhound rumbled off, leaving me standing in a cloud of fumes and confusion. I learned a valuable lesson that day: things aren’t always what they seem. More than twenty years later I’m still wrestling with that slippery fact of life.

Throughout my college years, {of which there were many} my values changed, and so did my heroes. I became enamored with the gluttons of excess. Those who could seemingly imbibe and consume anything and everything with physical impunity. Bukowski, Hemingway, Hunter Thompson: all fascinating, prolific writers with a penchant for overindulgence. The perfect set of attributes I thought. Doubt crept in when the second member of that unholy trinity committed suicide in 2005. Maybe not quite so perfect.

Turning thirty welcomed in a relative sense of calm after a tumultuous ride through the roaring twenties. Sure I curtailed the partying, but I never stopped eating, nor did I think I should. One of my new heroes was Anthony Bourdain. A swashbuckling, rebel chef explorer, traipsing the globe in search of crispy pork and exotic booze. Shirtless on a Chilean beach, smoking and gnawing away on a crunchy pig’s head, philosophizing on the virtues of buttery duck fat and grape brandy while flipping off every known fact of modern health. How could you not love this guy? I quickly bought into his hardy, freewheeling theology, sight unseen. My weight climbed steadily as I bounced around Denver’s burgeoning culinary landscape, feasting on everything with gusto, fully engaged in my new hobby as an unpaid food critic.
 
My Husband's Wellness Journey | @withfoodandlove
 
When I moved to food-crazed Philly, it got even worse. I ate and I ate, and then I ate some more. I was already on the heavy train to Fatsville so I figured what’s the point in holding back – that train never makes any stops. I washed down juicy, half-pound burgers with quarts of wheat beer and finished whole pizzas and bottles of wine during frequent Netflix binge sessions. I plundered new imported treasures every weekend from the venerable DiBruno’s cheese counter and always had trouble leaving without a stack of thinly-sliced prosciutto. It was a fun ride, {at least that’s what I convinced myself} but one with some very real consequences. A hypertension and high cholesterol diagnosis, followed by foot, ankle and back problems, debilitating acid reflux, chronic fatigue, poor sleep, depression, anxiety that led to a panic attack {which actually ended in the emergency room} and a general feeling of sluggishness and malaise that dominated my daily life. This was no way to live. And that’s when I found my real hero, someone who was there all along, my amazing wife Sherrie.

Throughout her own personal journey to wellness, I witnessed firsthand some incredible physical and mental transformations. I watched her spirit come alive during her time in nutrition school and listened to everything she so enthusiastically shared with me. I fully supported her responsible eating choices and healthy decisions, and loved her dearly for not judging me on my decidedly less prudent behavior. For a short while we lived this odd, dual existence where our meals resembled some goofy Yahoo slideshow of what you should and shouldn’t eat. A giant, rare steak sizzling in bleu cheese next to her quinoa, kale and roasted eggplant salad. It was amusing enough until my health problems took center stage and erased any self-delusions of invincibility. I needed to make huge changes, and Sherrie’s kind soul was there with open arms to show me the way. The first thing she did was introduce me to real superheroes like Andrew Weil, Michael Pollan and T. Colin Campbell. Mind-blowing revelations that have been right in front of you all along are a running theme with these three.

Documentaries like Food Inc and Forks Over Knives paved the way to my enlightenment, and my wife’s culinary savvy took over from there. Delicious, plant-strong, w h o l e food meals replaced most of the meat and dairy I was scarfing down each day, and honestly I never felt deprived. In fact I steadily began to crave healthier, non-processed foods on a regular basis. Juicing raw vegetables became a daily ritual, thanks in part to Joe Cross and his excellent film, Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead {I’m obviously a big believer in education through cinema}. I was never on an actual diet, just a new course of action. One that incorporated a sense of mindfulness about what I was putting into my body. By just embracing that central belief that what you eat can either be the safest medicine or the slowest poison, you can truly light your way out of any darkness into a happier, healthier self. I literally promise you.

After about one year of blazing this new path, {which I strolled very lazily for the first few months}, I had lost 45 lbs {while never counting one single calorie}. A number I was later shocked to realize was equal to the bulk weight of my huge checked-in suitcase for my week-long honeymoon. My heartburn completely disappeared, as did my joint problems and ferocious snoring. My blood pressure and cholesterol dropped to near normal and I felt better than I had ever remembered. My energy was way up, my spirits were lifted and I stopped hitting the snooze button 26 times every morning {I’m down to 3 or 4 I think}. To my surprise, the greatest life-saving superpowers in my universe were just clean eating, realistic portion control and light exercise. I’ve sent Marvel a script treatment. I haven’t heard back yet.
 
My Husband's Wellness Journey | @withfoodandlove
 
I apologize if this all sounds like an infomercial, because trust me, no one loathes them as much as I do. But I simply cannot express how much of a difference Sherrie has made in my overall health just by teaching me about setting intentions and being mindful when it comes to purchasing, preparing and eating my food. Her simple techniques, her brilliant artistry in the kitchen and her gracious, compassionate heart all helped naturally guide my sinking ship towards the whole, healthy life that I can now honestly say, I love living.

But beware, she’s very influential and a healthy lifestyle for her is not just about food. If you aren’t careful you might end up recycling, reusing, repurposing and re-imagining everything in your house. Don’t get me wrong, I’m extremely happy that I live in a green, organic, sustainable, nearly vegan, gluten and dairy-free, Kombucha-brewing, wind-powered home that pickles, ferments and composts, I’m just not exactly sure how it happened.

I love you Sherrie. Thank you, for everything.

“The price of anything is the amount of life you exchange for it.” – Henry David Thoreau

12 Responses to "My Husband’s Wellness Journey + a little bit on his willingness to change"

  1. Reply

    Sarah Crowder (punctuated. with food)

    September 24, 2013 at 1:59 PM

    Soooo sweet – thanks for sharing this piece!

    • Reply

      Sherrie

      June 4, 2014 at 11:48 AM

      Clearly I’m a bit behind on my blog comments. Sorry I never responded to this sooner. Thanks for stopping by and reading my blog Sarah!!

      XO SHERRIE

  2. Reply

    Allison

    September 24, 2013 at 7:19 PM

    SO inspiring and well written!! Chris, you’re heroic too!! And btw, I’m still in awe of the amazing wedding pic with the sunglass and blue shoes. You guys look like movie stars!

    • Reply

      Sherrie

      June 4, 2014 at 11:47 AM

      Hahaha, thank you!!

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  4. Reply

    deneen

    June 4, 2014 at 10:23 AM

    I could not love this more. What a perfect testimony to the knowledge & passion that Sherrie brings to everyone that works with her (not to mention the love of a man for his wife that permeates this post). In a lot of ways, I felt like Chris was telling my story – with the description of hedonistic excesses & the physical ramifications. (I LOVE FOOD!!). As someone that’s been blessed to have worked with Sherrie, I can testify to everything he says – Sherrie, your well grounded, well developed knowledge is invaluable, add to that the genuine warmth & compassion, along with a willingness to throw the bullshit flag when necessary, has made my journey to better quality of life just that much sweeter. Forever grateful!

    • Reply

      Sherrie

      June 4, 2014 at 12:38 PM

      Deneen –

      I’m forever grateful for clients like you. Thank you so much for your heartfelt, genuine + REAL comment. It’s moments like these that make me realize I’m living a dream come true. The work I’m doing and the blood, sweat + tears {literally} that I’m putting into it is making a difference.

      You are the best, and one of the baddest-ass home-cooks I’ve ever met. Keep it real + rockin’ in that kitchen girl.

      With love,
      SHERRIE

  5. Reply

    Zoe @ One Beet

    June 4, 2014 at 11:53 AM

    This is the sweetest! I love it :)

  6. Reply

    Sarah @ Making Thyme for Health

    August 6, 2014 at 4:33 PM

    I’m just stumbling upon your beautiful blog and was so moved by this. Your husband is an eloquent writer and his story is very inspiring. Congratulations to the both of you for working towards a better life!

    • Reply

      Sherrie

      August 6, 2014 at 6:00 PM

      Hi Sarah, thanks for leaving such a warm + beautiful comment – made my day!! I’ll pass on the kinds to my husband <3

      Thanks for reading,
      XO SHERRIE

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