Deb tells her story in her own words on how vegetarianism has changed her life positively. Enjoy this beautiful inspiring and motivational story from Deb Rucker.
You have been a vegetarian for 6 years, what prompted you to lead a vegetarian lifestyle?
My mother has survived 2 bouts with colon cancer. My doctor recommended that I begin testing at age 40 and I procrastinated. Finally had my first colonoscopy at age 46 and was astounded that the cleansing process took a full 3 days. I realized all that “stuff” I was eating wasn’t being digested properly. My test results came with a picture of my colon that was clean and healthy, so I decided to keep it that way.
Did you stop eating meat cold turkey, or was it a gradual process with the end being your goal to be a vegetarian?
I stopped eating meat immediately while I researched my options. I already knew most of the data on red meat but was disturbed by the additives, steroids, & preservatives used to feed and process other animals. Fish seemed to be the lesser of all the evils but the water quality they survive in led me to cut that from my menu also.
Did you start out as an ovo-lacto vegetarian, or another type of vegetarian or raw food purist?
Why did you choose that particular vegetarian style? I chose to keep milk, eggs & cheese in my diet so I am an ovo-lacto-vegetarian.
When we become vegetarian’s, one positive we report is more energy; however, how else did your body, mind, and spirit change?
The most immediate change was the elimination of the daily headaches I had suffered from for years. Had been diagnosed with migraines, and later - stress headaches. Taking at least 2 daily doses of aspirin became part of my routine. When my diet changed, the daily headaches were eliminated.
Did you seek out a vegetarian support group locally; online; family; or, motivated yourself with inspirational and positive mantras, books, meditation and/or prayer?
What type of support group did you seek out? Becoming vegetarian was also the lifestyle change I needed to lose weight. I spent years in and out of Weight Watchers trying to lose the excess 50 pounds I carried, but not fully executing the program. My initial integration of Weight Watchers and vegetarianism was not successful. It is a misconception that just because you are vegetarian, you are eating healthy. I literally gained weight during the first month from eating too many starches (i.e., rice, potatoes, noodles) to reach the feeling of fullness. My leader was instrumental in helping me learn the proper food balance and in March 2007, I met my goal and became a Lifetime member of Weight Watchers.
You complete a 2-day (39 miles) or 3-day (60 miles) marathon walk once a year. What started you on this beautiful yearly accomplishment? How long have you been competing in marathons?
My Aunt Mary was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2003. It was a personal challenge to train and complete the full 39 miles as a celebration of her survival. The fundraising commitment intimidated me, so I sent out requests to everyone in my address book. The response was phenomenal and many folks told of their family & friends who had won or lost the battle. I put all those names on my walker placard so they were with me every step of the way as I joyfully finished the entire 2 day walk, vowing it was a one-time event. The following year, my aunt underwent a double mastectomy & I learned firsthand of all the research & technology funded by the BC organizations….. so I walked again. In 2005, I challenged myself to walk both the Avon and Komen walks – a total of 99 miles. A friend from high school volunteered to host a dinner party & silent auction to help my fundraising. That night was my first time meeting his friends, but they embraced the cause and we raised the entire commitment required for me to walk in both events. During the last 3 years, I’ve been joined by some of my “Weight Watcher Sistahs” from the online message boards. Just like me, they walk cause they can’t walk away! My aunt is now a 7-year survivor but several others that I initially walked for have succumbed to the disease. I continue to walk with those names on my placard & in my heart every year.
Do you participate in the same sponsored marathon every year. If not, how do you choose what marathon to participate in?
Can you describe the type of marathon you participate in (i.e. local walking marathon group, cancer foundation, heart and stroke foundation, US Marines-Walk Marathon in October, Boston Marathon-Walk Marathon in May, NY Marathon-Walk Marathon in Nov, etc) In addition to the Avon Walk for Breast Cancer and/or the Komen 3 day, I participate in the annual Koman Race for the Cure (5k), Fannie Mae’s Help the Homeless Walk (5k) and the Veteran’s Walk (5k).
Do you need to “Qualify” for the marathons?
If so, what is the “Qualify” criteria? The fundraising commitment ranges from $1,600 to $1,800 per year.
What is your training program for the marathon (meals, exercise, etc)?
Do you train only when a marathon approaches, or do you incorporate marathon training into your daily exercise program? Training is endurance related. I walk a 2-mile neighborhood route daily. On the weekends, I extend that distance by walking along the bike path on the local parkway. When I achieve 15 miles in one day, I’m fully trained.
Have you won any awards for the marathon; or, is the marathon award itself the personal satisfaction you receive for a great achievement and an inspiration to others?
No awards, just the blessing to be healthy enough to continually complete the walks and the ability to inspire others to contribute to finding a cure.
Do you have any family members living at home who are vegetarians? If so, did you inspire them to start or did you start together? If meat eaters are living at home with you, how do they feel about you being a vegetarian, and do you hint often of the energy and healthy mind, body, and soul as a vegetarian?
My family consists of strict “meat-a-tarians”. My mother quipped that during my first vegetarian year, she expected me to pick up a chicken wing any day. Both daughters have their own households, but we gather often around the table. They applaud my decision to live vegetarian and are aware of the health aspects and how it has improved my life. I am proud when they request that I make one of my vegetarian dishes. The grandkids eat at my house often & are routinely exposed to meat substitutes. They don’t even blink at having soy sausage, Sloppy Joes/spaghetti with “crumbles” & vegetable lasagna. I take pride that the 7-year old now chooses spinach pizza.
Do you cook dinners daily, eat at vegetarian restaurants more than cook at home, or is it almost equal?
I cook at home much more than eating out.
If a meat eater lives at home, do you cook for them; and, do you find cooking for a meat eater a challenge when you know the positive benefits and body changes of living a healthy vegetarian diet?
The meat eater in the home cooks for himself. I cook meat for get togethers/parties and do not find it a challenge. The vegetarian lifestyle is a personal choice and I welcome the opportunities to highlight and communicate its benefits.
What is your favorite vegetarian meal?
My favorite meal is a seasoned mix of tomatoes, corn, black beans, spinach, peppers & onions served over brown rice.
Please add anything else that you would like non-vegetarians and vegetarians to know about in order to inspire, motivate, and provide a proudness of “our vegetarian story.”
Thanks for the opportunity to tell my story. The reasons for living the vegetarian lifestyle are as broad as the benefits that it brings. Being able to relate to one person’s experiences often sparks someone else’s interest.
Thank you Deb for sharing your story. I know that it will encourage, educate, inspire, and motivate our vegetarian and non-vegetarian sisters. Your heartfelt words have definitely touched someone's life, and renewed their spirit. ~ Donna "Sister Vegetarian"