Couple Lost 20+ Pounds, Improved Overall Well-Being With Simple Lifestyle Swaps

Within weeks of cutting meat and dairy out of her diet, Darlene Andert began to lose weight. She changed her diet last fall after participating in the 10-week Potluck Moai project. The project was organized by Blue Zones founder Dan Buettner and NCH Healthcare System, sponsors of Blue Zones Project Southwest Florida. “When the weight started just literally falling off, it was quite surprising,” she said.

Both Darlene and her husband, Ike Lichtenstein, have each lost more than 20 pounds and continue to follow a Blue Zones diet, as well as to incorporate Power 9 principles into their lives. “It’s made for a great change, something very sustainable and enjoyable,” Andert said. “We thought if we got any benefits, it would be great, but the results have so exceeded our expectations.”

Learning How to Eat More Plants

The couple decided to try Blue Zones because they had both gained weight since they got married around three years ago and knew they needed to make changes. “Getting married is like your freshman year at the university,” Andert said. “You put on weight. And we did.”

She explains their diet transition: “My husband and I joined the Blue Zones Moai group named ‘Best Luck Moai’ where we met great people and expanded the relationships with people we already knew. The Moai experience supported and spurred our resolve to live a healthier lifestyle. Ike and I really learned through this group how to incorporate a plant-based diet into our lives. We then decided to eliminate meat and then cut dairy from our diet. We actively located plant-based alternatives in the local Whole Foods market and we now shop the local farmer’s markets and spend Sundays preparing and experimenting with new meals.”

The couple runs a busy CPA firm in Estero, Fla., and they prepare their lunches for the week on Sundays. Some of their favorites are vegetable lasagna, which Ike prepares in the slow cooker, and vegetable chili. They also eat more raw vegetables and salads than before and have replaced the snacks they provide in their office with healthier plant-based options. They also began biking together, as well as doing more walking. Making lifestyle changes together has made the process easier, Andert said, because the changes have become “embedded in our everyday lives.”

After changing their diet, socializing more, and adding more movement into their routine, the couple also began putting more spirituality into their lives. “Ike is a meditator and he went back to making sure he spent time doing that every day, and now I’m spending time on spirituality too and it’s kind of blossomed. It’s very substantially changed our life patterns.”

Cascading Changes

It’s amazing how one change cascades into another... Click To Tweet

“It’s amazing how one change cascades into another,” said Andert. “When you start going with plant-based, you’re not as bloated and you’re just not as sluggish. And then because you’re not that way, you’re moving more. And because you’re eating to 80% full, you’re just leaving the table and you’re not crashing after a meal. And all those things contribute to that happy healthy feeling that you’re getting, Just the ability to feel better makes all the rest of it more possible to do and do effectively.”

“The great value gained from the Blue Zones experience is how we live now – our more purposeful approach to diet, relationships, activities and maximizing the happiness factor,” she said. “We’ve just found that it makes our lives easier and more complete.”


Lisa Oliver Monroe is a journalist and author of a travel book about  America’s Historic Triangle (Williamsburg, Jamestown, and Yorktown). Her writing has been published by Virginia Living, Boomer Magazine, Kirkus Media, Advance for Nurses, and Colonial Williamsburg,  among many others.

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