How Gretchen Lost Over 70 Pounds And Reversed Her Kidney Disease

If you're looking for tips on how to lose weight and improve your health, you should definitely check out the podcast of Gretchen Sauer! Gretchen was able to lose over 70 pounds, stop her high cholesterol, and reverse kidney disease by switching to a plant-based diet. She has gone from over 200 pounds to 130 pounds and is now in bodybuilding! She's an amazing example of how switching to a plant-based diet can totally transform your health for the better. Gretchen provides fantastic tips for losing weight and making lasting health improvements, so be sure to check out her podcast if you're looking for some guidance on making healthier choices in your own life!
Hosted by
Laurie Marbas
Last updated
September 9, 2022


00:01:36 Introduction
00:02:22 When Gretchen started realizing she was unhealthy
00:05:35 Beginning of Gretchen's plant-based journey
00:07:58 What Gretchen ate before switching to a plant-based diet
00:18:20 What Gretchen eats daily and her exercise routine
00:42:31 Final piece of advice to people just starting a plant-based diet

Podcast Transcript

Dr. Laurie Marbas: Welcome to the podcast. I'm Dr. Laurie Marbas. And today I'm excited to welcome Gretchen. So how are you today?

Gretchen Sauer: I'm good. Thanks for having me on it's a great opportunity. So I appreciate your time today.

Dr. Laurie Marbas: Oh, absolutely. And it's always fun to share these transformational stories. And as we were discussing earlier, before we started recording really about women in this kind of middle age ground, it's like, you're not young, but you're not old, but you got some things going on. That's very unique to our gender and our age. And so it'll be fun to hear your story. And so absolutely why don't we go back to things were well until they weren't well, kind of just kind of get us started with a little bit of history about you and, and the things that you were facing.

Gretchen Sauer: Sure. I didn't realize how unhealthy I was until about 2018. I was well over 200 pounds and I had been told at that point in time, I needed to have a total knee replacement. I was in my late forties and single mom, two kids. And so I thought, well, I've got to be able to take care of my family. Like I, this is gonna be a major undertaking for me. I'm overweight. I can't move and I'm gonna be hobbled. So talk to friends and had people, you know, give me a recommendation of a coach. And so I thought, well, that's a good idea instead of rehabbing afterwards, let me rehab and start, you know, on the front end, trying to get my body a little stronger than where I was at that point in time. So that was the motivation that started me on my path.

Gretchen Sauer: And then once I started lifting and getting some health to me, I needed something after the surgery to keep me motivated, you know, so I thought, well, what else can I do? And the coaching I talked and we decided to try some power lifting. So I entered a couple competitions in South Carolina, got some awards for master level power lifting that has to do with age, not my capability <laugh> so but it was fun and it was engaging and, you know, it was something that I was super excited about that I started seeing a slight change to myself. And at that point, I don't know that I was totally dedicated to the change that was ultimately gonna happen to my, to me. And what I mean is that as I got ready to make a move across country, I wanted to like tidy up blood work and see doctors and like finish all those things up. And so I got some blood work done at the end of 2018 and moved to Texas in 2019. Those markers on that blood work in 2018 were horrific, even though I had started lifting, even though I had started trying to make some positive changes in my life, there was kidney disease, there was high cholesterol, like just terrible markers. So you

Dr. Laurie Marbas: Happen to remember the numbers people like specifics here and we'll get to that in a second. Do you remember? In general,

Gretchen Sauer: Yeah, I don't remember the exact numbers, but the warning the doctor gave me as I left his office, telling him I was moving, is that when you get to Texas, you need to find a kidney specialist and get your kidneys worked up, you have kidney disease. So, you know, that was, you know, sort of shocking to me cuz I thought that I was doing sort of good, you know, I was eating well, I thought, but I really hadn't delved much into really where I was in my health. So that was sort of a, an eye opener for me. Right. as I moved to Texas, I started thinking like, this is significant, you know, for me that I'm gonna need to go find a specialist. I have to go through all of this workup, you know, ultrasounds and you know, additional blood work and additional diagnostics.

Gretchen Sauer: And so talking with friends again, you know, we've talked about plant based a couple of us before and I thought, well, why not give it a try? Like I, why not? So just on a fluke a few months into living in Texas, I decided, okay, we decisive about this and I'm gonna make a change. And I went cold Turkey. And like I said, I think that's a funny way of saying that I went cold Turkey to plant based. Right. And I needed to find a doctor here in Texas and I went to have basic blood work done here. So they would have a baseline for me. And every marker was different. Kidney disease was gone. The cholesterol was not only within normal range, but great levels. And it was one of those stories that you see on social media and you're like, oh, that's nice.

Gretchen Sauer: I don't really believe it <laugh> if it wouldn't have happened to me, I wouldn't have believed it either. Like if I had been scrolling through social media and I saw that come up, I'd been like, okay, making up that story. But because it happened to me and it was that drastic. I knew that I was onto something for my body finally, that I was actually keying in and listening to what my body had been trying to tell me for five decades. It wasn't happy with how I was eating and it wasn't happy with the choices I was making in the kitchen and within. So that was the middle of 2019. And by the end of 2021, I was down to 130 pounds. So it took me about a over a year to do it. And I cannot believe the difference it made in my life. I cannot believe the, the transformation that went on in my health and how I feel, how I move. All of those things that changed by me making a decisive decision to make my health a priority. My kids don't eat like I do. So I have to make concessions to, you know, plan my meals and things of that nature. But it was just so unbelievable to see those test results for myself. Mm-Hmm <affirmative> that it was telling.

Dr. Laurie Marbas: Absolutely. That's fantastic. So questions that will, the audience will be asking because having done this for six years, I definitely I'm I'm been trained to ask. Yeah. So yeah. Can you tell me about what your diet was before mm-hmm <affirmative> and what was the change to now? Like what have you on a daily basis now? Because the, that drastic change, I think is important, cuz some people think, oh, I eat fairly healthy when actually, eh, not really. So I, I like to see that contrast.

Gretchen Sauer: Yeah, absolutely. Beforehand, I don't know that anything was really off limits, you know, so I would eat chicken breasts and egg whites, but I would also enjoy French fries with my kids and going out to have pizza. There was always a way that I could rationalize what I was doing. You know, I'm gonna be lifting later on today. So I have some extra room for caLauriees, you know, that I'm intaking. Seriously, I don't know that anything was off limits. Even though in my head, I was rationalizing that, you know, I'm eating more vegetables, I'm doing the egg whites and the chicken breast and you know maybe have some lean meat in there other than that, like Turkey or something else. But I was still eating processed foods. I was still eating, you know, lunch, meat and cheeses and things that really were just packed of fats and other fillers and additives that my body didn't like, mm-hmm <affirmative> I suffered from massive migraines for the majority of my life.

Gretchen Sauer: I took all sorts of, you know, prophylactics to try and stop the migraines from happening. I had Remi emergency remedy medications to, you know, stop them once they started. I can't tell you how many sick days I would take because of headaches. And then when I changed over in 2019 to plant based, it was whole food. It wasn't any more lunch meat that has all of these fillers and you know, things that I knew would create headaches. I stopped eating, you know, processed foods. And I went to plant-based. That was no more cheese and no more eggs. And what's so interesting is that so many people say to me now, oh, you can't eat that. And I'm like, no, really I can. I just choose not to, like, this is a choice I've made for myself. I'm perfect. I don't have any kind of allergy to eggs or to dairy or to process.

Gretchen Sauer: There's nothing that stops me. Mm-Hmm <affirmative> from eating those things, but I choose not to eat them. I choose this for myself. And that's why it's not a, it's not a diet for me, cuz this is a choice that I'm making every day to get up and put something healthy in my body that allows me to fuel my body and not eat for any other reason. Like I really have worked and sometimes it's a daily battle, you know, it's not a perfect thing for me. Yeah. Every day I'm not a robot mm-hmm <affirmative> I still have those days when I'm like, okay, you have to fuel your body. You don't get to just go off the deep end and, and you know, enjoy those things. You had 50 years of enjoying everything <laugh> so the last half of my life, I really wanna be healthy. And part of that is making a conscious choice of what I'm going to do.

Dr. Laurie Marbas: Mm. So I think that's the vocabulary you're using is really important. And the language you're speaking is that you made a choice, right? It's like, it's a done deal. I'm you don't eat those things cuz you've chosen not to. And it's really, I, so many people feel like they're victim of those circumstances like, oh, I can't eat healthier because I live here. I, my husband doesn't eat this way or my kids don't eat this way or they're just coming up with more excuses, but you made the definitive decision. No, this is what I need to do. And it works because you made a choice. And if I could just get that through people's heads, you have to be in the frame of mind. It, it is a choice a day to day choice.

Gretchen Sauer: It absolutely is. And I think that, you know, besides that it's being consistent, mm-hmm <affirmative> with what I'm doing and it's a lot of self talk and it's a lot of self love too. It's not, I don't condemn myself. If I'm having a hard workout, I think, you know what, let me celebrate what I am doing. That I'm able at 53 to squat, then I'm able to bench, let me celebrate what I can do. I can't run a marathon. Maybe if I tried, I could, but I celebrate what I get to go out and just do a couple of miles. You know, that it's a celebration of my body instead of you have to work out because you have been overweight and you don't, it's not a condemnation of myself any longer. And it really is a healing process as well as a healthy process that I went through. And that transformation that, you know, allows me to heal things for myself and has allowed me to also expand, you know, just, just what I am able to do in my life and what I'm able to accept and how I feel. And just it's been a holistic change, not just my weight.

Dr. Laurie Marbas: Hmm. That's really important. The entire being has changed. And I really am curious because women are really hard on themselves. You spoke a little bit of self love and gratitude and we tend to be very critical of ourselves. Mm-Hmm <affirmative> and speak to ourselves. The person in the mirror is the most abused. Yes. Of anyone. Right. And I'm, we're all guilty of it. And mm-hmm, <affirmative>, you know, we're bombarded with advertisements and expectations of women don't age, men can age apparently, and be more good looking, but women age, you're just an old whatever, really. I'm not sure where that came. It's like, have you seen what these amazing bodies can do? We can make babies. But you know, and, and women are, you know, hardworking the backbone of the family and work and do all these things. What was it that allowed you to, or did you, did you have a different conversation? Is the voice different in your head? And if so, how did you do that? And what is it saying or did say?

Gretchen Sauer: Yeah, so the voice is very different in my head. And again, it was a clear, conscious decision that I made with myself that I was no longer going to be a victim mm-hmm <affirmative>. So I can't tell you how often or how many crutches I have. So, you know, before this transformation happened in my life, like I have a thyroid disease. Mm-Hmm <affirmative> how many women don't have. I mean, more women have it than don't. Right. But I would whisper it. Like it was some kind of catastrophic, you know, life in like I have a thyroid issue, so I can't lose weight. I mean, the crutches I had were unbelievable, you know, like everything, oh, I'm gonna have to get my knee replaced. I won't be able to do anything healthy for my, are you kidding me? Like this? This was the talk that I gave to myself all the time that you just can't Gretchen.

Gretchen Sauer: No, you can. You just have chosen so many years not to. And there were so many reasons not to bad relationships, young children, tough job. Like I had, 'em all like I was the breadwinner for my family. You know, went through a terrible divorce. So many of us do, but I can continue down that path or I can realize this is the one life I've been given. This is the one life that I get to be happy in. And now I am happiness. I am free now. And it's because I've allowed myself to be that way. N nobody brought that to me. My kids didn't bring me happiness. My kids didn't bring me freedom. My job didn't bring those things to me. I am those things. I am embodied those things for myself. And I think that that's one of the things that people don't realize.

Gretchen Sauer: It's so much easier to take a pill. It's so much easier to have that outside force, give you that reinforcement and elevate you and make you feel good, but it's not gonna last. It's not sustainable. The only thing that's gonna sustain you is you. And if we continue to, you know, wear ourselves down and have this negative talk and this negative tape, that's in our head, then we never get past that. Instead of saying, I am worthy. I'm worthy of grace. I'm worthy of love. I'm worthy of this, you know? Yeah. They're gonna be hard things I have to do, but I'm worthy of that. Hmm.

Dr. Laurie Marbas: Hmm. So I'm, that's amazing. And I love hearing that. So what, what was the moment, or were there a series of moments or that led you to go from the excuse, making Gretchen to Gretchen you're worth it, you know? Yeah. Where was, how did that transition begin?

Gretchen Sauer: And it wasn't an immediate, like light switch. The light switch was when I said I'm gonna decisively change the way I am. But the light switch about me being positive about myself, took time. It took time for me to see those things in action. You know? So one of the things I constantly hear is trust the process, you know? So right now I'm working on my first body building competition in September. So there's a whole different way of, of eating and structuring my workouts. And I have all this self doubt. Like this is not gonna work for me. This is never, you know, all of this stuff is in my head, but I need to trust the process. I've never done it before. How do I know it's not gonna work for me? Why am I already being the obstacle instead? I need to say, let's give it a try. Mm-Hmm <affirmative>, you know, I've I had two C sections. I've got loose skin from losing weight. I don't think I belong in a bikini, but you know what? I'm owning the fact that I love myself. I wanna do this. I wanna see what I can do. So you know what? Let's do it.

Dr. Laurie Marbas: I think it's amazing. So I'm so excited for you. Because when you step outside of your comfort zone, that's where the confidence builds. Even if you don't meet societies' mark of a 22 year old and a bikini, your body's produced babies and has been through a journey. That's the beautiful part is that you're there, right? That journey is like so remarkable. Yeah. I always tell people, you know, wrinkles and stretch marks. Those are, those are my happy places. These means I've laughed. These means I've smiled. It means I've had three amazing children. I can't imagine ha having those. Cause that means if I didn't, I wouldn't have had those experiences. So if that's a mark of happiness, so be it, <laugh> in the word. It probably, but I'm excited for you. So tell us, you know, you've made this beautiful transition. You're talking to yourself different, which we all know is a journey and ongoing until we're done with this earth. What is it that you eat now? Cuz I will get that clearly that question comes up every single time and your exercise regimen, because I think to step on a stage, I mean that takes some courage. So kudos to you. And what is your workout look like right now as your you're a couple of months out from stepping, excuse me, stepping on stage. Yeah.

Gretchen Sauer: What I eat now is still really highly focused in whole foods. I do protein shakes that are like a vegan for, for the easiest term. You know that there's no egg, there's no way there's no anything like that in it. I really try to limit that. I try to have you know, tofu or Tempe, you know, things like that that are higher in protein for me. I, I definitely struggle with the carb portion because I'm carb driven. <Laugh> so many of us like I can eat a carb all day long. And so it's just a matter of balancing that I know what macros I wanna hit. And for me right now into competition, it's a lot of tracking. And it's a lot of just making sure that my caLauriee intake is sufficient enough to grow and to maintain muscle mass.

Gretchen Sauer: And to not limit myself, if I hit my macros, then I can eat it, you know, when it comes to plant based. So I try to really not limit myself beans and grains all sorts of lentils tons of vegetables. And like I said, you know, soy products, mm-hmm, <affirmative>, it's very much the same as to what I eat on a regular day if I'm not prepping for a competition, but I would also add in potatoes and sweet potatoes and things that are more starchy to my diet if I wasn't prepping for a competition. So now that I'm getting to the last few weeks before, just have to be more mindful because I have a certain aesthetic that I'm trying for the judges to appreciate. Right. Mm-hmm <affirmative>. And so that's what happens when you enter a competition is you are going based on their aesthetic, you know, mm-hmm <affirmative> and what they are gonna grade you on.

Gretchen Sauer: But as far as my healthy lifestyle goes, I'm still, like I said, I would eat the same kind of things. I would just add in some additional vegetables that because of the starch value in them, I would choose to leave out right now. Mm. And then as far as my workouts go, I do something active every day for myself. And some days that's just a two mile walk. But I, I'm not gonna just sit on the couch. Like I can't allow myself to just plop down and be on the couch for hours at a time I need to be engaged and I need to be active. I'm a pretty active person. Anyhow. Like I can be like an Energizer bunny sometimes. So I might have a little bit of O C D my kids would say, I have a lot of O C D <laugh> <laugh>.

Gretchen Sauer: But I like to, to just stay busy and stay active for myself. Mm-Hmm <affirmative>, but now that I'm able to be active, it's amazing how much more I want to be active. Mm. And I, I never realized that about myself. I always thought that I was super engaged with my kids. I would throw the ball. I would do all sorts of things, you know, but there was a limit to what I was willing to get up and do, because I couldn't do, and I didn't appreciate that. That was my limiting factor, you know? And now I'm the one that my 17 year old son is trying to keep up with. Mm-Hmm <affirmative>, you know, there is an ongoing competition as to which one of us can lift more, which one of us can, can make the basketball shots, how we go play a pickle ball, who's winning pickle ball.

Gretchen Sauer: I am still, you know, so, I mean, it's just one of those things. Soon I will pass the Baton and he will be winning all of the games that we compete with each other on <laugh>. But right now I still can take him on some pickle ball and some ping pong, but, you know, it's those things that I didn't realize were inhibiting my relationship with my kids, even because I never, would've gone to play pickle ball with my son. And, you know, certainly would not have won, you know, a few years ago. So, you know, this has been an eye opening as to how it has changed my relationships with people in my life too. About 10 years ago, my son had a running event at school and I actually had somebody come run with him because I couldn't do the mile.

Gretchen Sauer: And I thought, you know, they, they can't help. They have an older mom <laugh> so, you know, I had children later in my life and I need to be able to do things with them. And if they don't have me, who do they have, because like I said, I am a single mom. And so it really is amazing how things have changed in relationships even by allowing myself to be more active. Besides that, I know that was a long way of answering your question and I'm not quite done, but, you know, I also have just a standard power lifting routine that I do bench deadlift and squats as we get older. I think that all of those are super important. Being able to squat as we get older is one of those things that it's amazing how our muscles atrophy mm-hmm <affirmative>.

Gretchen Sauer: And we can't get up even from using the restroom as we get into our eighties and nineties are things that people need help with. And I need to be able to be independent, you know, so all of this is to build a healthier future for me, and to have me be able to be able to function and take care of myself as long as I can. We also see that in a lot of studies about women that are post-menopausal, which I am now, the kind of exercises we do matter, you know, we should be doing biometrics. We should be doing some sprints. There are things that help build our bone density. And there's a lot of good studies that are coming out more recently about women at this age that are athletic mm-hmm <affirmative>. And it was really hard for me to identify myself as an athlete because I really don't see myself that way, but I am, I'm an athlete, you know, and I think people should embrace, especially women should embrace that fact that you get up and you're moving your body. You're an athlete and you need to, you know, fuel yourself like you are, and you need to congratulate yourself for the things you're doing.

Dr. Laurie Marbas: Mm that's fantastic. I love it. I love all the positive talk and all the descriptions. And it really resonates with you know, the thousands and thousands of patients that I've seen over the decades of being in physician. It's just so very important that we get out of the way, like you said, remove yourself as the optical to reach your goals and to know that you can obtain those goals. That's incredible. So, yeah,

Gretchen Sauer: They don't happen overnight, but yeah. You know, like I said, this is our one life we get, maybe I'm wrong. Maybe I'll get another life, but you know what? This one that I'm in, I want it to be a healthy one and nobody's gonna bring me health. I've gotta find it for myself. Nobody's gonna bring me internal love. They're not gonna bring me, you know, happiness, any of those things, none of those things are coming from the outside. They've got to come from inside. And so it, it also is really powerful to, to see yourself that way. It's empowering to allow yourself to embrace who you are in our individuality. And the way that I eat is not for everybody, but I can guarantee you, your body's been trying to tell you the things you need to stop eating for a long time. You eat a lot of nuts and you get a headache.

Gretchen Sauer: Maybe you should consider what you're eating. You know what I mean? Like that was me, you know, I love nuts, but they give me headaches. So why did I go through literally 50 years of eating things that make me feel bad? You know? And even though there might have been an emotional attachment to it, like I, that's how we satisfy. We have to find a different way of satisfying ourselves. You know, what other hobbies can you have besides eating, you know, on days that are really tough for me, I don't sit in the living room. That's attach. We have like a big open living room and kitchen area. I don't sit in the living room if I'm having a tough day with food, because what do I wanna do is sneak right on over to that kitchen and come up with a reason that I could make, even if it's plant based, come up with a reason to eat more caLauriees that I don't need, you know? So what can I do? Is it about going into the other room and reading a book or taking a walk or engaging with the kids, something else to get me out of the kitchen in, away from that TV loop of just sitting there.

Dr. Laurie Marbas: Yeah, absolutely. And it's almost like people react to it. Like the, so there's a norm, right? You, you become so accustomed to, this is just what you do that you can't imagine a different life. So it's like when you run into people who don't take medications and are active and they're older, like you really stand out, well, I could never do that, but it's like, why can't you, like you said, you had to plug in first before you could get the energy. Just like, oh yes, I can you plug into I'm exercising. So then you wanna exercise more. And that's really, really important for people to understand. You have to start the action and it just kind of fuels itself.

Gretchen Sauer: Yes. Yeah. The, the positivity doesn't come before the action. You have to take the action for it, to, for it to show up. And for you to recognize that I think there are a lot of things that we can do if you are having this tr struggles, seeing yourself in a healthier spot, maybe some manifestation work, you know, and things that help us you know, visualize what that could be or what we really want to be at. Maybe you need to work on breathing in yoga and posture. There are a whole myriad of things that you can tap into. Don't cost necessarily a lot of money. It's about trying to open your heart, open yourself up to experiences that are different than what you've normally done. Because if you've, if you continue to do what you've always done, you're never gonna get a different result.

Gretchen Sauer: Mm-Hmm, <affirmative>, you know, I always thought that I could get by with, you know, just doing it on my own. And I've had to tap into all kinds of resources that I never really thought about, but I, I want this to be successful for myself and I haven't gone to school for all sorts of knowledge. So I need to tap into people and develop relationships and community around what I want. And it's, it's about having that community to support you, but that community's not doing it for you. You know? So find the things that resonate with you, you know, maybe you're not into manifestation and yoga, but you, like, I don't know, walking, running a gym or whatever it is, you know, that works for you just surround yourself with people that you see. Like I would like to sort of be there. You know, most people are really welcoming and really want to help another one.

Dr. Laurie Marbas: Mm-Hmm <affirmative>. Absolutely. And, and you're speaking of that community is such an important aspect. That's a big part where patients will say, or people, you know, I don't have anyone around me, so I can't do this. How did you start that looking for your community and finding your tribes, so to speak as those who think and do like you do?

Gretchen Sauer: Yeah, so it, when I was in South Carolina, I had lived there for over two decades. So I had a huge base there. I found a great coach that I clicked with and, you know, I ended up taking a job in Texas. And so since 2019, I have no tribe here. I have no community here, you know, so for the last couple of years, I've had to tap in like this, you know, remotely I've had to reach out to people like at work and say, okay, do you know of a nutritionist? Do you know of an acupuncturist? Do you know, like who do you know in the community? And until I started reaching out and saying, okay, well I think I wanna explore this. Does anybody here at work know somebody or on Facebook? You know, if you're a part of like women over 40 that lift, you know, put something out there and ask, you know, Hey, I'm in Texas, you know, in the Austin area, does anybody know somebody that could help me with this?

Gretchen Sauer: So you have to develop your own community. If you don't have one around you, when COVID came, I chose to not go to a gym. Initially everything here was shut down. So I had really minimal ability to have a gym here at the house, but I started building it, you know, little bits at a, a time. And I've put things in my gym that work for me, you know, and I've just chosen to stay here. So I've almost cut off the gym community, but I've found somebody that's gonna help me with my posing for my upcoming show. And I still reach out to my coach in South Carolina. And, you know, it's interesting now I have people that reach out to me that say, Hey, Gretchen, can you help me like lay out a, a workout plan for myself? Or, you know, what, when do you eat around your workouts?

Gretchen Sauer: Or how much are you looking for your macros in your protein and your carbs and stuff? It's interesting. Now people ask me and I've become part of their community. I never would've thought would happen. Right. I, I never thought that people would, would come to me and ask me questions, but they've seen that I'm successful in what I'm doing. And I always start by telling them that what I do is probably not exactly what you need to do. You know, there're gonna be things that you're able to tolerate, that I'm not able to. And things that I do that you probably won't want to, or can't find sustaining that you don't find sustaining. So I think it's all very personal. And per there's a lot of personalization that goes into it and for it to be successful, but your community is what you make of it.

Gretchen Sauer: Like I left my community, I left my tribe and I have to travel back to see them, but that didn't stop me from finding community here. It's just not the same. It wasn't, it's not as intimate. And so I have to dig deeper and I have to realize that, you know, I do have people I can reach out to. I do have people that I can rely on to keep me going. I'm motivating other people, all of that makes a difference. You know, mm-hmm <affirmative>. So if you find yourself that you think you're super unhealthy and somebody at work asks you to go walk around the block for lunch, go mm-hmm <affirmative> you now have a person in your community. Mm-Hmm <affirmative>, you know, or if you have somebody you would like to walk around the block with ask them mm-hmm <affirmative>

Dr. Laurie Marbas: Absolutely

Gretchen Sauer: Just go. Yeah.

Dr. Laurie Marbas: <Laugh> no, that's exactly right. So basically, you know, people are seeing the community that they have currently. So let's say if you're in South Carolina, but you reached out even within your, your community, your network, and saying, you're looking for a specific help, you know, with the coach or personal trainer, you found them, but even still, you had to build it, right. It doesn't mean that everyone in your, your current family or friends are gonna be part of the new community that you need to build for this new part of you or this new transformation part. Cuz there will be parts of your community, your family, your friends that are very frustrated with your change and getting healthier. And that's, that's a very common experience. People it's almost like the people who say they love, you want to sabotage you. That's a really interesting conversation with people. Sometimes it's a very unhealthy sometimes they're it's their own personal struggles that

Gretchen Sauer: I had to have a conversation. Yes, absolutely. So when I first started losing weight and going plant based, like I didn't have enough knowledge yet to be able to go out, to eat and to pick things off of a menu and be successful at doing that. And even now, like in this competition mode, I would do this. I would pack my food, the kids, and I would go out to eat and I would eat the food that I brought with me. The kids would order from the restaurant and I've never had a restaurant ever give me a problem. And you know, after a while they're like, mom, this is sort of awkward. Okay. Then we can all eat at home or you can go ahead and understand that this is what I need to do for myself. So you have a choice either.

Gretchen Sauer: I'm glad to take you guys out to eat, but this is how I need to eat. And then with coworkers, you know, I, when if they would pick a restaurant to go to, I'd say, you know what, I'm glad to take a look, what they have on the menu, but please, if they don't have something, I'm glad to have a cup of coffee. If I was going in the morning at breakfast time or you know, a light beer or whatever it is. And I St whatever I decided to have to drink, but if I don't eat, please don't feel awkward about it. You know? So I would say something early on about it. Mm-Hmm <affirmative> and then after a while, people just, you know, they just realize that either I'd find something that I was able to eat and every, they were not feeling awkward or that I would just have something to drink.

Gretchen Sauer: But again, it was my choice. Mm-Hmm <affirmative>, you know, who's feeling uncomfortable here then because I'm not eating, you know, I don't know, chicken wings and fried mozzarella. I mean, I I'm the only one that gets to make myself healthy. I'm the one that has to live in this body. Not them. They don't have to go home to, to feeling bad about what I've eaten and sabotage me for the rest of the week and all the mental things that go on. Yeah. So, you know, if they can't support what I was doing, I can't, well, I'm trying to think of, I mean, people would say, are you sure you don't want something meat? Like they would be pressure to, to get something, but I would just stand back ground and say, you know what? I am perfectly happy with this. Like, I'm enjoying my tea, my coffee, my beer, whatever it was. Mm-Hmm <affirmative>, you know, like, I'm good. I want you to enjoy that. That's what you wanna enjoy. Like let's Chi chat about something else, you know, let's we don't need to talk about what I'm not consuming. Mm-Hmm <affirmative>

Dr. Laurie Marbas: Right. You know, and I've told people before this, because you go out to them, you have to eat. Or when you're traveling, the other thing is too is it's okay to ask to go to a different restaurant, you know? Sure. Pretty much anyone can eat anywhere, but if you're a plant based, there's gonna be limitations. So if they can make a, a, if there's a restaurant that's suitable to everybody, including yourself. Yeah. That's even better. So I, I feel like people do like to have also those suggestions and they're not trying to figure out what you wanna be eating and fill that pressure. Yeah. So that there's some other alternatives there too, but that's

Gretchen Sauer: Just communicate with them. Yeah. Be open.

Dr. Laurie Marbas: Why to communicate

Gretchen Sauer: Just

Dr. Laurie Marbas: That's such a logical answer. Yeah.

Gretchen Sauer: But just speak your truth. You know what I mean? Yeah. Don't make yourself feel awkward. Like, oh, I feel pressured. I need to order, you know, chips and salsa. Mm-Hmm, <affirmative>, don't feel pressured. Just be open, be open about your journey. Don't be embarrassed about your journey, celebrate what you're doing. Like if they can't be happy for you, that's telling right there, you know exactly

Dr. Laurie Marbas: That that's the other ticket. Right. So there's those who are uncomfortable a little bit. But if they start, you know, trying to, like I say, sabotage, you like, I'll have patients who say their spouse or friends or colleagues will actually bring them foods that they know. They, they said I don't want to eat or come and just really try to tempt them. And it's just a bizarre, it's so bizarre to me. Like I would never think to do that to someone. Yeah. And I've, it just, it's frustrating for them as well.

Gretchen Sauer: So if it's a spouse, there really needs to be a hard conversation there and a safe time, not when the food, they bring you a cinnamon roll and you're not eating cinnamon roll, like whatever. But instead of saying, right then, you know, like why would you bring me this and getting defensive, just, you know, you're set it aside, save it for later, share it with the kids, whatever. And then when this it's a safe time, just say, Hey, you know, let's talk about what I'm doing and why I'm eating this way. Mm-Hmm <affirmative>. And just so I understand where you're coming from, and I'm not frustrated and, and you don't feel bad or awkward, like, can we just talk about this mm-hmm <affirmative> and I think that can, that discussion is just so important on any kind of change we're making in our life. Whoever is significant.

Gretchen Sauer: That's living with us or part of our experience to give them the courtesy of including them about what you're thinking, what you're feeling, what you're going through and where you're headed. A lot of it can be that they're feeling like they were alienated, not included, excluded. So, you know, maybe there is some sabotage going in there. Maybe they haven't gotten to the point they're unhealthy. And they haven't gotten to the point of being able to pull the trigger for themselves. And they don't want to have you be successful because they just can't get there with you. Mm-Hmm <affirmative>. So maybe they need some assistance in finding their health and finding how they can find their happiness, but you can't bring it to them. You can't be their happiness. They have to do it. But none of that's gonna solve itself by being swept under the carpet, not discussed, pretending like it doesn't exist. None of those things will solve those problems, you know? Right. So,

Dr. Laurie Marbas: Yeah. And it's, and it goes both ways, right? So people who eat a whole plant based diet, they're very keen and excited to share it with other people. Right? So we, oh, you should try this. And I think of it backwards as people who are bringing the cinnamon roll, they're used to you doing this or previously, and they're like, this is their belief. What your life should be eating. Like this is what you should be eating. It's kind of like when your kids transition, cuz my kids are older. So they're 28, 26, almost 24. When you see that parenting adults is that transition. It's like, I, what I envision for your life no longer matters. It's your life, your decisions, your choices. And that for me is a very, is a mother <laugh> one who liked to be very hands on not a helicopter pilot, but definitely involved in their lives.

Dr. Laurie Marbas: So they stayed outta trouble. But you know, those type of things that is that transition is that person needs to understand that this is not their life. It's your life, your choice, your body, like you were saying, and they need to come to terms with it that they continue to do what they want for themselves, but they need, they, you need them to respect that this is, you're an individual with your beliefs. Your choices need to be respected. And if they don't do that and they continually cause more discomfort and destruction, that is really a red flag for the relationship. And the communication piece is so important there. So

Gretchen Sauer: Yeah, if you haven't included them and you ha they, they don't have a crystal ball, it doesn't matter whether it's a husband or a wife or they don't have a crystal ball. They don't know what you're going through, what you feel, what, what you sense mm-hmm <affirmative> so don't expect them to, well, they should be able to see a eating plant based. Now use your words and tell them so that they can understand cuz their crystal ball is as good as yours, which is foggy those days. You know? So I think that's just super important for people to realize that we think people could read by our actions, but they've got their own stuff going on in their head. Mm-Hmm <affirmative> if you want them to know, you've got to speak

Dr. Laurie Marbas: Well, and it's very true. Like you said, you know, it kind of speaks to, we may have two individuals and they look at the same scenario, they watch a movie and have very different reactions because they're filtering the reality is different, right? So they're filtering it from their past experiences. That reality is being filtered through those emotions, those beliefs, their everything, versus this reality. Now it doesn't change. What's actually happening in front of 'em, but their interpretation is very different. So the reality is, is relative in that sense, yes, there is facts of what's happened, but the perception is very different. And if we step back and just observe the thoughts and the emotions, and we're not our thoughts and our emotions, we can observe them. They can come and go. We don't have to act on all of them. That's really important. And same thing for anyone, like you said, communicate on a crystal ball. It can't read what's going on in your head. Yeah. Most of the time we don't want them reading what's going on.

Gretchen Sauer: Right. Exactly. You need to stay outta here. <Laugh>

Dr. Laurie Marbas: I'll give you what I need you to know, but the rest of what I'm gonna keep to myself. But you know, those are really, really important factors and absolutely true. Absolutely true. So thank you for sharing your story. And I always like to ask, cuz I'm coming up on the hour and don't, should I try to be respectful of the time? What is your advice to someone who's in this place of, like you said, you, you really feel connected to women who are in our age group as middle aged ladies who are going through per menopause, menopause, and haven't been the healthiest. What would be your, your Sage advice to them?

Gretchen Sauer: I think they need to take some earnest time to themselves and think about what do they want to achieve? What do they want to do with their health? What do they want to do with this last part of their life? Like what is it that they're trying to go for? Are they looking for happiness? Are they looking for weight loss? Are they looking to maybe reach a goal of doing some kind of marathon, whatever it is that they're looking for you first of all, have to articulate what it is that you want to do with your, your life and yourself. And then you have to be able to take steps each day, something, it doesn't have to be drastic. You don't have to go cold Turkey from, you know, eating everything under the sun to plant based like, but what step can you take today that will help get you there?

Gretchen Sauer: Mm-Hmm <affirmative> and every day that we can take a step towards whatever that goal is, is so helpful. But if you don't have a sense of being a specific, so smart goals are always really good for people to sort of be able to lay this out. So very specific something you can measure something that is you know attainable, realistic, and timely. Like you can Google smart goals and it lays it out for you. What, what they mean. But if you don't have something that's very specific about what you're trying to do, how are you gonna get there? Like you need a path way to do that. Right. So, you know, initially I thought, well, I just wanted to be able to do a sit up and maybe take the ability of a, a stronger knee. When I have my, my knee replacement done, I got that done.

Gretchen Sauer: And then I thought, well, now what's next. You know? So it was always about, okay, I've accomplished that step. What's the next step. Like I never thought three years ago I would be doing a body building competition. <Laugh> now I find that because I've lost so much weight. I don't pull heavy weight. Like I did when I was heavier for power lifting, I had to let the power lifting go. I mean, I just had to say that was then what's my next step now. So what I envisioned three years ago is not the same thing that's happening to me now. And that's okay. That's, that's perfectly normal. Cuz we evolve. We change. I mean it, we all do our life. We're not the same person we are when we're 20, when we're 30, 40, and 50, you know, we, we change over that time period.

Gretchen Sauer: Our beliefs change, how we, our structure, our lives, how we're function, what we're able to tolerate, all changes. So being able to look at that goal and articulate it and take steps each day, even if they're small ones to get towards that goal. And if you find that, you know what, I really don't know that that's realistic for me being able to shift gears and say, okay, well let me think about it again. But if, if it's just ethereal and just something that's laying in the back of your head, you're never gonna reach a goal if you can't articulate and make steps to get there. So I think that that's the first thing is to be decisive about it and decide, this is what I want to do. And to do that, you have to actually think about it and give yourself time Mo it over, figure out if it's realistic, you know, pros and cons, whatever kind of bin diagram works for you or I don't know, old school paper. And you know, mm-hmm, <affirmative> making your circles or getting on a computer, making a spreadsheet, whatever works. It doesn't matter the process, but it matters that you are honest with yourself and begin to articulate what you want to do. Mm-Hmm

Dr. Laurie Marbas: <Affirmative> absolutely. That's fantastic. And the only thing I'd add to that is just really looking at whatever the goal is. Let's say it's a pushup. Okay. What is the smallest part of the pushup that you could do? So I have this one patient and as you were talking really came to mind and she's older and really just, you know, like she goes, I'm just so tired of this FLA and blah, blah. And I wanna get stronger. I was like, well, let's do a pushup. She goes, I can't do a pushup. I was like, I know, well, let's start on the counter. So she started and could barely do one. And over the months, what was so fun was she's like Dr. Mar you haven't asked me about my pushup. Like, well tell me about your pushups. She goes, I can do 60 now. She'll what we did is we set her up with doing a while she was waiting for her hot water for her coffee. Yeah. And she goes, I started with one, but now I can do 60 on the counters. And I was like, well, it sounds like you need to be heading down to the ground floor.

Gretchen Sauer: <Laugh> awesome.

Dr. Laurie Marbas: So, you know, that was really fun to see it went from someone who like I have this huge goal and then she started really building the confidence with that smaller part. So just building it to the smallest you're right. Thing you can absolutely know for sure you can do, because one, it it's a celebration. It's a dopamine hit. It's like confidence boosting. You wanna run a mile, we'll start with walking around the block. Right. You know, and then you run, walk around the block and then you grow from there. So that is exactly right. So I love it. That's

Gretchen Sauer: And you were her community without even knowing it, you were her community. Oh,

Dr. Laurie Marbas: I am fully aware. I'm the, a lot of people's community. Cause sometimes it's the only way

Gretchen Sauer: <Laugh> but we don't ask, you know, somebody like you didn't ask her right away about the pushup. You know, we don't realize sometimes the people we are impacting, you know, and the positivity that we can share with other people. So

Dr. Laurie Marbas: If I could tell you stories of people telling me Dr. Me, I had a dream about you last night, you were telling me I love it. Not to eat this. And then she, I go in the grocery store and all I could think about is what you're telling me to eat. And I'm like, that's what I am perfect. I

Gretchen Sauer: Love it. Yeah, exactly.

Dr. Laurie Marbas: I'm gonna make a Bob head with my, my little head.

Gretchen Sauer: I love it. That's great.

Dr. Laurie Marbas: But perfect. This was great. And so if people who would like to connect with you, is there anywhere on social media or you, would you like to connect with anyone who's listening to your story?

Gretchen Sauer: Sure. I mean super glad to Facebook I'm on mostly. Okay. And super glad to give that information. You can find me at Gretchen sour on Facebook. Okay. I'm in Austin, Texas. But super glad if you wanna share my information, email details with folks. I'm just, I think that the thing I would leave people with is if you don't correct it, you can Don it. So if you don't correct something about your behavior, that means you're accepting it and condoning it. It doesn't matter whether it's with yourself or your children, your spouse or coworkers, if something is not healthy for you and you don't correct it, then you're condoning the way that you're doing the way you're living and, and how that's impacting your life.

Dr. Laurie Marbas: Right. Absolutely. That's right. It's either a positive or a negative. That's very seldom neutral and all you have is today. So,

Gretchen Sauer: And you get to, you make, you're making the choice. It's, it's your choice. Like I think that that's the part of it that you get to choose, whether you correct it or condo it,

Dr. Laurie Marbas: You know, and that's interesting too, is that some of the most interesting conversations had with patients is all around giving themselves permission to make a choice. Like, I didn't know. I could have a choice, like yeah, absolutely. You do. You have a choice every single day

Gretchen Sauer: And by not taking action, you've made your choice. Exactly. Action is your choice. Yeah, absolutely. I mean, we could go on and on <laugh>.

Dr. Laurie Marbas: I mean, there's so many wonderful segues to further. Yeah. But the basic is make a choice and you know, live with it. If you don't like it, make a different choice tomorrow. Yeah. If you want a different result, that's what it is. So perfect. That's a beautiful way to end it. So thank you again, Gretchen, this is a great conversation. Wonderful. Yeah. I'm sure many people will enjoy it.

Gretchen Sauer: Thank you for inviting me. And I'm super glad to connect with anybody that would like to chat.

Dr. Laurie Marbas: Oh, awesome.

Laurie Marbas
Laurie is our Chief Medical Officer, double board certified family and lifestyle medicine physician, licensed in all 50 states and DC.

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