My Food & Exercise Routine

About eight years ago, I lost over forty-five pounds and corrected many health problems. Shortly afterward, I started blogging to share the life-changing results with everyone struggling with the same issues. You absolutely can improve the quality of your health with proper food.

My exercise routine includes walking briskly for about three miles daily, as the weather allows. I climb steps daily and park far away from the buildings I visit. Vacations are a chance to enjoy sightseeing while walking ten-plus miles per day. Hiking the beautiful mountains in my region is my favorite way to spend a day off. I no longer go to the gym or take exercise classes since solitude is my best therapy.

OK, let’s talk about food. I eliminated all processed and fast food from my diet years ago. I now eat mostly cooked cruciferous vegetables, tubers, raw nuts, and avocados. I have some whole grains, lots of beans, and legumes. I also eat small amounts of in-season local fruits.

I am acutely aware of my body’s reactions to the wrong or too much food. I continue to study nutrition and pay close attention to the impact of food choices on my health. My goal is a healthy body that allows me to do all the things I want to do. I am not willing to trade that for a few minutes of eating foods that may taste good but will cause me to suffer later.

My morning meal might include half an avocado and some sauteed mushrooms with olive oil, salt, and pepper. I enjoy a more substantial late afternoon meal and typically fast for fourteen to sixteen hours. I never snack. My way of eating has been similar, off and on, since I was a teenager. Historically, when I change my eating habits to fit with a partner’s lifestyle, I get very sick and gain a lot of weight.

The photo above exemplifies what a shopping trip for a late lunch might include. Sauteed kale massaged with olive oil, a few slices of baked sweet potato, sliced radishes, half an avocado, sauteed mushrooms, brussels sprouts, and fresh arugula are often part of my salads. Black or green olives often top those salads. Sometimes, I add half a can of tuna or some canned Mackerel from Wild Planet. The most significant portion on my plate is always the leafy greens.

Many of the foods I eat are listed below. I only buy what looks freshest. I avoid vegetables that are yellowing or limp. Some may say eating organic or mostly fresh produce is too expensive. I can tell you it is way less costly than the $500 per month spent on prescribed medications and physician visits. I have been prescription-free since 2011.

Bok choy (Steamed)
Broccoli (Steamed)
Brussels sprouts
Cabbage (Sautéed)
Kale (Sauteed)
Sautéed Mushrooms
Mackerel (Wild Planet)
Asparagus (Sautéed or steamed)
Japanese Sweet Potatoes
Medjool dates and Walnuts
Pure Olive Oils (no vegetable oils)
I also consume aged balsamic vinegar, fresh herbs, and various spices.

Please discuss your plans with your physician before significantly changing your diet or starting an exercise routine.

    1. Protein is in many foods other than animals. Most American’s eat too much protein. Vegetables with the most protein include broccoli, spinach, asparagus, artichokes, sweet potatoes, and Brussels sprouts.

  1. Hi Susan, I have been addicted to your cereal breakfast for years.
    When and why have you changed the grains and fruits of then for what you now eat?
    Thank you very much for all your advice

    1. I’m sorry the YouTube video isn’t yet showing up in the post. We are working on it. In the video, I explain that I recently started getting headaches and then a full body terrible rash. Those are all signs of food allergies. I’m stepping away from all grains and most nuts, for now, to give my body a chance to heal. When I start to eat my breakfast cereal again, I will pay close attention to how it affects me. I will do anything to avoid that rash!

      1. Muchas gracias por tu respuesta.
        Espero sinceramente que te mejores pronto.
        Piedad desde España.

  2. I heartily endorse your approach to healthy eating. Everyone’s body is different when it comes to food tolerance but at our age our bones also need Ca++ in our diets (supplements are not as good as food sources). I am sure many of us can tolerate dairy (low-fat yogurt/cheese/milk) and in addition to cooked greens (kale/spinach), I also routinely include sesame or poppy seeds, oranges/tangerines, dried figs, almonds, Wild Planet skinless/boneless sardines, and beans (in limited amounts) in my diet–all of which provide calcium. (I do “supplement” just 2 with Citracal pearls (chews)/day.) I started eating much more mindfully and nutritiously, cutting out the snacking, the excess carbs etc. in part due to your great advice. You definitely inspired me about 2 years ago to change how I eat. I feel SO much better! Thank you for your blog!

    1. Jackie F: Would you care to share how much weight you may have lost, if any, during the past 2 years and at what weight you started? I am 67, about 50 lbs. overweight for my height (5’3′) and I know I need to do something now to turn myself around. I do enjoy an occasional beer or cocktail. I just found Susan’s website today and I too am inspired by her to make the significant changes needed before my health plummets any further. Thank you for sharing, if you so choose. I think this website is “the bomb”! LOL!!

  3. Merci Susan de partager tous ces bons conseils. Je vais suivre cette façon de me nourrir pour diminuer mon poids et améliorer ma santé
    Thank you Susan for sharing all these great tips. I will follow this way of feeding myself to reduce my weight and improve my health

  4. I found your blog about four years ago and started researching the Eat to Live book after I read how it helped you. It has been a life changer for me! I was prediabetic, had high cholesterol, ached all over and was 40 pounds over weight. As I said it changed my life, I no longer have any health issues and lost the weight. My doctor has been amazed! He says I am boring because I don’t have a single thing wrong with me, lol. By the way I am 63 years old and living my best life with energy to do anything I want to do. Thank you for sharing! I love your blog, you have helped me so much.

      1. I also developed a rash over my body a few years ago. I found out that it was a reaction to a “natural” skin care/makeup product that I was using. Just because some product is not chemically based doesn’t mean that a person can’t develop an allergies to it. Good luck with your continued healing.

        1. That was the first thing I thought of, but none of that has changed. I’m very minimal with the stuff I apply, so I knew it was likely food. As soon as I eliminated the grains, beans, and nuts (other than walnuts) and added the olive oil, it cleared up in two days. YAY!

    1. This post is so helpful and timely to remind us all to reassess our eating plans from time to time as we age. I have been so much more aware of my dietary choices since following you, however, as it turns out, I recently found out I have osteoporosis, which came as a shock because I thought I was moving along through life eating and doing the things to avoid age-related diseases and unwanted weight gain. I now choose more carefully the foods I eat, research the supplements I need to take and see doctors for the tests I need to undergo to try and have a better quality of life, and, hopefully, a longer one. Thank you for continuing to take us along on your mindful journey along with updates on how you deal with unexpected health issues.

    1. If you could see the video I created for this post (working on the problem) you would have learned that I seem to have developed a severe reaction to grains. I am skipping all of them for now.

    1. Olive oil is good for brain function, eyes, and digestion. It also makes my skin look way better now. I continue to do lots of research with several different Nutritionists. The harmful oils include vegetable oils, canola oil, and any highly processed oils using nonfood items such as cottonseed. Crisco and margarine are two examples of things I would never use for any reason. Ancel Keys was the “father of the low fat craze,” however, he consumed a liter of olive oil every week and lived to be 100.

  5. Thank you for sharing your experiences. Your posts give me hope and encouragement.

    I lost my husband last year after he succumbed to the effects of his Army tour to Vietnam. Twelve years of care giving has had its impact on me.

    I just can’t seem to get motivated enough to take that first step. You and your story are quite an inspiration. I enjoy all of your posts. Thanks again.

    1. Long term caregiving impacts us on so many levels. I hope you find your passion again and that you will be able to enjoy it for many years to come.

    2. Our bodies are all different and aging will bring on more changes. I wish I could eat your diet, but I fear I’d have to wear a Depend 24/7.
      Enjoy your “youth” while you can! Thanks for all the inspiration and wonderful advice.

    3. Being a care giver – especially over an extended period of time – takes a lot out of you. In addition, you are still likely in a stage of mourning the loss of your husband. Be kind to yourself, and give yourself time and space to heal.

      In the meantime, rather than attempting to overhaul your life and make major changes – which can seem overwhelming – why don’t you just attempt to take one step? Why not identify one item in your diet that you know isn’t good for you, and find a healthier replacement that you enjoy. For example, I like dessert. I learned that dark chocolate that has at least 70% cacao is better for you than a cookie or a piece of cake. So I began eating one square of Ghiradelli 72% Cacao as my dessert. THEN I discovered that I really like red seedless grapes. Now I am totally content eating the grapes instead of the chocolate. I think the key to successfully changing your diet is finding healthier food replacements that you enjoy.

      I deeply appreciate your husband’s service to our country. Where would we be without the brave men and women who are willing to give of themselves in order to protect the rest of us? And where would those service people be without the support of those who love them? Thank you for loving and supporting your husband. I am sorry for your loss.

  6. Thank you so much!! You are an inspiration. My problem is I have a husband who likes the old fashion meat & potatoes. You have inspired me to make him his regular dinner, while I will enjoy a large salad. I’m keeping this e-mail from you. I know I will go back to it many times for more ideas and inspiration. You are the BEST.

  7. It sounds like you are one of those who eat to live rather than live to eat. I sincerely wish I could say the same about me. I try to eat a lot of salad and love fruit, however I find the dark greens like kale to be bitter. I incorporate a little raw spinach into my salad occasionally, but many of the items on your list, I simply do not find tasty. Do you ever eat things you do not like the taste of due to them being healthier for you? Or do you truly enjoy those foods? I’m not trying to be sarcastic or combative and sincerely want to know how you handle foods you don’t like.

    1. You can retrain your palate. I do like the taste of all the foods I eat, but I didn’t when I was younger. At this time in my life, I eat to remain as healthy as possible.

    2. Kathy, I wonder if sometimes the foods we have a hard time eating, may be the foods that aren’t the best for our individual bodies. I too, find kale bitter, but I also know that for some reason, kale, along with most cruciferous vegetables bother my digestive system. Instead, I just enjoy and eat lots of other greens, like spinach, plus all the other vegetables that seem to be a better fit for me. Anyway, it’s just a thought.

      Susan, I hope you feel better soon. It’s amazing to see and hear about your transformation. Good on you!

    3. I stopped most sugar, grains and processed foods. I say most because I have set backs every now and then. And, honestly, every time I do, I feel sick! While I eat a lot of salads, I start to get sick of them. So, I do a smoothie many afternoons with lots of spinach, kale, cucumber, celery, and then I sweeten the drink with stevia. Although the drink is green (my husband thinks it looks gross), it tastes delicious. I find it is a good way to eat more greens for the benefits when you’re not crazy about the taste of them alone.

    4. I find some cooked greens – spinach and brussels sprouts taste bitter to me. After drizzling Meyer lemon extra virgin olive oil on them, they taste yummy. That might work for you as well.

  8. Our bodies change so much at this age- something is good one day and not the next! I’m constantly working for a good balance of food for my body. You’re right even if the food is good for you it might not agree with you for some reason. I hope this works for you!

  9. What about getting enough fiber 25-35 grams a day to help with bowels? Do you take that into account with your choices?

    1. Almost all vegetables contain significant amounts of fiber. Avocado is a high fiber source; a two-tablespoon serving of avocado has about 2 grams of fiber, and a whole fruit contains around 10 grams. I also drink a lot of fresh water and eat Medjool dates every day.

  10. Susan, thank you for today’s post. Today’s topic is one I have been looking forward to since you mentioned it earlier in the week. Your story is a reminder that we need to listen to our bodies regarding nutrition and movement.

  11. Thank you for sharing. I am currently on an elimination diet to find out what my body does not like. It is indeed a discovery. I am down 10 lbs despite the increase in fats (healthy).


      1. Hi Susan: I just discovered your website/blog today. You have truly inspired me to make the changes I need to my diet. I am 67 yrs. young, 5’3″ with HBP, high cholesterol, and significant weight gain around my belly since I retired 5 yrs. ago. I wanted to ask if you use butter, and do you eat eggs? If yes, how do you prepare your eggs for a variety? Thanks so much!

        1. I use Ghee, which is clarified butter. I sometimes eat soft boiled pasture raised organic eggs and occasionally eat wild caught fish. I avoid animal products in most cases.

  12. Thanks so much for posting this and doing a video. I’m the same age and have found that my diet is the most important variable in how I feel. Like you, I had eliminated meat from my diet but have added it back in. I just could not consistently eat enough beans and grains to replace it. So now I have a small amount of fish or eggs a few times a week and feel much better.
    BTW- your kitchen is so lovely!

  13. Love this information! Would enjoy seeing a video where you show us a complete meal. You don’t have to prepare it in front of us but maybe give us some examples of what your salad looks like or what your dinner with wild caught salmon looks like. I always enjoy seeing pictures of your dinners with Mr. Mickey

  14. I have followed you for years and loved your breakfast porridge. It sounds like this is no longer part of your daily meal plan?

  15. Your posts are so encouraging to me! You are absolutely correct on eating with a companion. I always gain weight! I have gained and lost more times than i care to remember and can’t seem to get a grip on it.

  16. I too have digestive issues. I have eliminated grains and excess carbohydrates as well as sugar. The problem I have is that the foods that I eat are not calorie dense. As I result I struggle to maintain a healthy weight. When you eliminate nuts, grains, sugar etc. you are eating a pretty low calorie diet. Any suggestion for how to get enough calories to maintain a healthy weight?

    1. You may need to eat more frequently and have a smoothie with your meal. If you can tolerate high-quality cheeses and butter, add those when appropriate.

  17. First let me say that I love your posts. The video in this one was most informative. The best thing I noticed in this one was how your face lit up when you mentioned “date night”! Beautiful!

  18. Great post Susan. I am new to your channel but am feeling very inspired by your posts and lifestyle. I am working in changing my eating, this was so informational! Could you share what your meals in a day consist of? The list of foods was great but I’d love to read how you incorporate in your daily meals.. thanks

    1. I buy what looks fresh in the market and create something different from those elements whenever I feel hungry. I bake three or four sweet potatoes at once and then keep them in the fridge. I boil four to six eggs at once, peel them and keep those in the fridge as well. Here is an older post which includes a tour of my kitchen. I often post photos of my meals on Facebook. Look for me there! 🙂

  19. Susan, I currently live in a medium-sized city, where I have access to all kinds of grocery stores and the opportunity to purchase good quality food. In about a year my husband will be retiring, and we will be moving to a small town in South Carolina. The main grocery stores are Publix and Food Lion. There are also two Walmarts. I am told that the produce department in the Publix in our new town is lacking in quality. Any suggestions on how to find good quality produce in a town with limited options?

    1. Look into Farmer’s Markets and Co-ops with farmers in the area. Some farmers have seasonal (memberships) where you can have boxes of fresh vegetables, herbs, mushrooms, etc. delivered to you. Here is one site to look into.

  20. Thank you Susan for sharing your experience. I also find that when we eat the right foods, cravings for the wrong ones disappear. I always enjoy your blog. Take care.

  21. Hi Susan,
    I eat a similar diet as you. I enjoy ginger water every morning. Boil 6-8 small slices of fresh ginger for a few minutes in water. I pour it into a 1 liter bottle and add water to fill the bottle. I put the pieces of ginger in there too. Enjoy over ice with a little sweetener of your choice and a squeezed lemon wedge. It is delicious, healthy and refreshing. Great way to start the morning!

  22. I am not trying to be argumentative because I certainly think you and other adults can eat whatever you want. Remember not all “nutritionists” have studies published in recognized scientific journals to back up their claims. The internet is rife with misinformation. As Susan said, check with your doctor and trusted, reliable sources, such as the Mayo Clinic when making health decisions. And always be careful with self-diagnosis.

  23. Wow Susan—this is a big change in your diet. I understand why you stopped eating certain foods but how did you know what foods would be compatible with your body? What fruits are you eating.? Other than doing research on your own, are you consulting with a dietician or nutritionist? I would love to hear more how you came up with your new way of eating.

    1. When I stopped eating for a day, the symptoms started to go away, so I knew something I was eating was causing problems for me. As I added things back into my diet, it was apparent which groups of foods were the culprits. I am feeling fine now, and the rash has thankfully gone.

  24. This is extremely helpful. I can’t thank you enough. Do you no longer eat your breakfast “porridge” in the morning? I like this morning meal better! Thank you! Thank you!

    1. Susan, I work as an usher in an outdoor arena for about 6-8 hrs a day. I only get a 15 min break so I try to pack a light lunch in my back pack (have to carry it all day). I love my job, but any healthy hints for my lunch is GREATLY appreciated. I’m often hungry and resort to packing a peanut butter jelly sandwich. I find when I get off of work I am terribly hungry and often make poor choices. Thank you, if you have the time.

      1. Include a couple of small baked and sliced sweet potatoes and some walnuts in your backpack. These are things you can eat plain with or without a fork. Just slice up the sweet potatoes and put them in a sandwich bag. If you don’t have time to eat both sweet potatoes on your break, you can eat one after work to help you curb your appetite until you can prepare a proper meal.

  25. I too have changed my diet as of a year ago on January 14th, 2018, after reading Grain Brain by Dr David Perlmutter, who is a Nuerologist and Fellow in Nutrition. It was such an eyeopener for me. I encourage everyone to read this book for better health. You are doing so much of what he recommends. Take care!

  26. Kudos for ditching sugar.
    I’ve found that if I drop sugary fat-filled sweets that I really don’t have to change much else about my diet and my weight stays stable. Once I start with the sweets all is lost!

  27. Hi Susan! Well, this post certainly has garnered a lot of comments here. Your idea that to eat to stay healthy above all else has really stuck with me. My diet is very similar — I save bread, rice, and a touch of sweet for special occasions only. I do put some chick peas on my salad every night though. Yes, I feel fantastic. But this way of eating also has made meal planning a breeze. I have lost almost 20 pounds so far! Thank you for sharing.

  28. I so admire all that you have accomplished with your weight loss, dietary changes, and your blog–it is just great! Could you add a piece about how you make choices when out to eat with Mr. Mickey? How do you decide what to eat, how to eat that day or the day after, how do you keep the calories down, etc.? That would be very helpful.

    1. We both eat mostly vegetables with some wild caught tuna or boiled egg, and sweet potatoes during the week. On date night we order whatever looks good to us on the menu. We both tend to order a wild caught fish or lobster dish. We return to our usual choices at the next meal.

  29. Hi Susan — first of all please know I LOVE reading your blog … especially looking at the inspirational pics of fashion! I do have a couple of questions about this blog post.
    1. you indicate in this post that you have eaten “this way” for most of your life, since your teens — how did you gain 45 lbs. that you needed to lose a few years ago?
    2. you said you rarely have dinner– what do you do on the days you and Mr. Mickey are going out for dinner? Do you skip the brfst or the lunch that day? What if you have a surprise invitation come up and you’ve already had brfst and lunch? Do you limit what you eat at the dinner?

    Thanks for the extra advice on these situations!!! I am learning so much from you!!

    1. When Mr. Mickey and I started dating, he wanted to go out to dinner almost every night. We had many social engagements and get-togethers that included meals. To be sociable and because it was the reason we were there, I ate along with everyone else. The weight kept creeping up as it always does when I eat more food than I need. About 90% of the time I eat only two meals for the day. When we go out now, I eat a late morning meal and then wait until that date night meal to eat again. In many cases, I order a salad and side of steamed broccoli. If I know I am meeting someone for lunch; I eat a minimal breakfast and no dinner.

  30. Thanks to you I had been following Dr. Furman’s diet but developed an inability to digest beans and most raw vegetables. In searching for answers I found and I would like to recommend “The Metabolism Plan” by Lynn Genet. She says if we don’t rotate our foods we will react to them, “the plan” helps you determine where the problems lie. You might find this book interesting and helpful. I certainly appreciate all that I have learned from you.

    1. That must have been what happened to me! I’ve also learned a tremendous amount from a new book I have started reading. The Plant Paradox: The Hidden Dangers in “Healthy” Foods That Cause Disease and Weight Gain
      Book by Steven Gundry

    2. Carla thank you for this information. I was wondering what caused Susan to have a reaction. As has been noted here, our bodies are changing and we need to be informed as to how to deal with that.
      Susan thank you for your book suggestion as well. Knowledge is power.

  31. I love your site, your clothes choice and all…when you speak of food I feel like you’re saying everything I say! You’re a great inspiration. Thank you so much.. Bless your heart & soul…

  32. Susan, love your videos and tips. Question: Do you, like me, have diverticulosis?
    Did that prompt turning away from seeds and grains?

    1. If I have breakfast, I may indeed eat salad, but baked sweet potato with walnuts and blackstrap molasses is a favorite. Half an avocado with a squeeze of lemon and a seared cauliflower steak is another great breakfast. Here’s one recipe.

  33. Susan,
    Thank you for sharing your new way of eating! We are all different, so having more information about what other options there are to eat, can help others & keeps variety in our diets.

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I share tips and inspiration for using what you already have in contemporary ways. Defining words include effortless, classic, refined, discreet, and elegant. My style is chic, minimal, and timeless with a bit of edge.