After Tracy Kay received the diagnosis that she had cancer, she transformed her life and gained control of her health.
In three months, Tracy lost 43 pounds by changing her relationship with food.
Now, Tracy is a health advocate for women over 50 and the author of a number one Amazon Best Seller, The Wellness Mindset: 5 Keys to Building Super Health.
A diagnosis of cancer made Tracy reflect and decide to turn around her life.
Tracy says, “Well, what happened was in 2013 I was diagnosed with cancer and as you can imagine that was a wakeup call.
So, once I got over that shock, I decided that not only was I going to beat it, but I was going to completely turn my health around.
So I did and that’s how I began losing weight, I learned to make food my friend and I am well today, thank God.”
To lose the 43 pounds, Tracy changed her relationship with food into a healthy one.
“I think I mentioned earlier that I learned to make food my friend.
I learned how to make food choices based on the nutritional density of food.
I got away from things that were junk food, you know, things like french fries, donuts, cake and hamburgers.”
Instead of those unhealthy foods, Tracy says, “I went to more of a plant-based diet and I learned to incorporate many of those foods into my diet, because I discovered that when your body gets what it needs it can naturally take you to a healthy way so I didn’t have to struggle.
I began to plan my meals around that including more leafy greens, orange and green vegetables, fruits, grains that type of thing.
Then I incorporated exercise like walking to start because that’s how I got started and then I’ve gone on from there to do other things.
One thing I need people to understand is that you cannot out exercise a bad diet.”
Tracy agrees with weight loss is more about diet, than it is about exercise.
She challenges the common notion that a person can eat a whole pizza and a tub of ice cream, then somehow go to the gym and burn away the extra calories.
“Well, that may help you burn a few calories,” Tracy says about the pizza example.
“But really, the damage it does to your body nutritionally by not putting in the nutrients that you need, exercise is not going to fix the junk you put in your body.
In other words you’re still promoting ill health.
Even for a lot of people exercise is not the primary reason why you lose weight.
It’s helpful, but the main reason you lose weight is by putting the right foods in your body.
That’s where it has to start and then exercise actually is like the icing on the cake.
Well, that’s a terrible example, but you get my idea.”
Tracy believes that to adopt a healthy lifestyle, a person needs a certain mindset.
“Well, as you can imagine I had a quick one because getting ill for me,” Tracy says about being diagnosed with cancer.
“That was like a splash of cold water in my face.
You have to have the right mindset.
That’s one big reason my book is the Wellness Mindset, but the right mindset and there’s five keys in my book.”
One of the five keys in her book is the concept of value, Tracy says, “My health is just as valuable as anything that I own.
How many people do you know that buy these expensive cars? There’s nothing wrong with that.
They take beautiful care of their car and treat the car and everything else they own like its gold but then they don’t do the same for themselves.
They don’t look at themselves as valuable.
Until you settle that in your head, it’s really, really difficult to make changes, but once you do you can do anything.”
In Tracy’s point of view, temptation is the result of being under nourished by eating nutrient deficient processed food.
A person gets cravings because their body isn’t getting the nutrients it needs.
She keeps temptations under control by satisfying her body’s nutritional needs.
“See, because one big reason for temptation or cravings is because if you eat processed food your taste buds have been corrupted and the body can actually become addicted to these foods,” Tracy says.
“They are nutrient deficient, the body doesn’t get what it needs and so it screams, so to speak, for even more of a certain food or a taste that you become addicted to.
What I found out because I craved everything, oh my goodness, cookies, cake, pizza, you name it, I thought I could never get past it.
Once my body started getting the right kind of food everything started getting really quiet.
If I crave anything, it’s good food.
So I don’t go running to the kitchen for, where’s those cookies?
You don’t have to deal with temptations believe it or not if your body is getting what it needs.”
A support system is important, Tracy agrees.
Her husband does what she wants to do with their diet.
As helpful as that is, Tracy believes a person also has to support themselves.
“Sometimes people have a support system and sometimes they don’t,” Tracy says.
“But, it gets back to you’ve got to know yourself.
I have value.
I’m worth it.
It’s worth it for me to do whatever I can to get my health and weight under control and that’s the bottom line.”
Though she started out with walking, Tracy uses a variety of exercises to stay in shape.
“I run on the treadmill and I also do some strengthening,” Tracy says of her current activity.
“What I like about that is that you can strengthen the arms, the upper body and the core and so I do a little bit of that. I also mix it up a little bit.
I run inside on the Nordic Track but I also get outside and speed walk and run when the weather is good.”
Energy was one of the obstacles Tracy faced when she started exercising.
Before she was fully into her healthy lifestyle, she’d avoid exercise because she felt too tired.
Adopting a nutrition first diet changed those feelings.
“Once I got a handle on my food I felt so much better that it felt natural and good to move,” Tracy says.
“So you just start with one step.
I tell people, “One step. Put one foot right in front of the other,” and soon you’re walking far and then you’re going to want to do more.”
Tracy follows a mostly plant based diet.
She says, “A plant-based diet has really made a difference to my health.
I eat plenty of leafy greens, a variety of other veggies, beans, nut seeds and some grain.
For breakfast my go-to breakfast is a bowl of steel cut oatmeal and I always put blueberries in there and a little bit of almond.
I use some almond milk and some banana and that’s pretty much my go-to breakfast that powers me through the morning.”
She makes a “gigantic” salad with homemade dressings for lunch or steamed vegetables.
Tracy is a fan of hummus, which she also makes at home.
“Then for dinner, I kind of mix it up” Tracy says.
“I make a variety of things for myself and my husband.
I do everything from vegan tacos that are absolutely delicious to my favorite vegan lasagna bolognese, it’s the bolognese without the meat in the oil.
I do a variety of things for dinner.
I also make vegan shepherd pie.”
Dessert is often a piece of fruit, but Tracy also makes brownies.
She says, “It’s not my recipe, it’s a recipe by Dr. Joe Fuhrman.
It combines black beans and dates to make them some of the best brownies you’ve ever had in your life.
That’s the kind of thing that I do.
The way that I eat your body’s so satisfied with the food you don’t feel like binging on things at night.”
For those people who don’t have the time to cook their own meals, Tracy suggests going to stores like Whole Foods that have prepared healthy entrees.
Alternatively, she says that there are companies that will prepare food.
These options do cost a little more, but for Tracy it comes back to the concept of self-valuing health.
“Let’s face it,” Tracy says about adopting a healthy mindset to make health a priority.
“You’ll find time to take care of your car, you’ll find time to take care of the house, you’ll find time to do a lot of things that you want to do but you cannot replace your health.
You are irreplaceable.
You can replace cars, homes, whatever else, but you, you can’t replace you.
There’s nobody else like you.
You are worth taking care of.”