When my life became one long hangover, leaving a wake of destruction in it’s path, I fell to my knees in agony and sought help from a higher power (that I wasn’t even sure existed) to remove my obsession with alcohol. It was the first miracle in my life I was consciously aware of, although there have been many.


Jewels painting on the happy face in Vogue

Yet somehow I never made that connection between God and my struggle with weight – until I read A Course in Weight Loss. I attended the first retreat this past weekend in San Diego, and was blown away by an entirely new concept of the power of one, and the miracles that happen when you come together.

A Course in Weight Loss is not just another weight loss program. In fact, weight loss is secondary, the course is about so much more. I walked away inspired in nearly every aspect of my life, because it’s is actually more about healing in general. When you let go of dysfunctional thinking, learn to love yourself and adopt eating habits that reflect that love, the weight loss follows naturally. When you invite miracles into your life, big changes can and do happen!

Jewels and Marianne in San Diego


Meet my friend Marianne – you probably already know her as the internationally acclaimed spiritual speaker and best-selling author, Marianne Williamson – I know her as the friend that I can’t pull the wool over. More than once I’ve painted on my happy face, met her somewhere fun as if I hadn’t a care in the world, and within two minutes I’ll hear “so tell me what’s really going on with you?” This woman definitely knows people and miracles! She is a student of A Course in Miracles (on which she based the book), lectures weekly on the subject, and lives life deep. If you’re not prepared to go there – this retreat is not for you.


Experiencing the power of one

However, if you are ready to change – I highly recommend going. Yes, you can benefit immensely from the book alone, but when sitting in a room full of others that understand where you’re coming from (because they’ve been there too in their own way) the work is much easier to access on a different level. You are surrounded with love, support, and the expert guidance is right there making it safe for you to delve much deeper. Issues came up while we worked together that had never even occurred to me before, and the air was electrically charged with a communal will to heal!

Yoga expert Tracee Stanley and therapist Grace Gedeon

Now meet the other experts. If “Walking the talk” is how one leads by example, Tracee Stanley is the sheer embodiment of a successful yoga practice. She is theepitome of grace, beauty, and serenity. Tracee deftly led us through introductory yoga that even those confined to a wheel chair could do. Movement is an integral part of any healthy lifestyle, and yoga is now the gift I ease my body into, rather than the punishment I dealt it with the grueling exercise programs of the past.

Grace Gedeon has an uncanny ability to zero in immediately on where your feelings are coming from, and how to help. She exudes the compassion of one whose been there, and brilliantly cuts to the chase with just the right bit of humor to cut any tension that may get in the way. “Jewels, you’re welcome to pay me $20,000.00 and devote two years of your life to therapy, or you can feel the feelings you’ve been avoiding (which you end up wearing on your body) this weekend, do the work Marianne is guiding you through, and and ask God to remove that which no longer serves you.” Not a difficult decision when suggested with some very welcome tough love.

Chef Tal Ronnen

As you may recall, Chef Tal Ronnen became one of my all time personal heroes when I did series of posts about his cookbook, The Conscious Cook last year. Even though I was a founding member of Parents for Safe Foods over twenty years ago, Tal has played an enormous role in my choosing what I put into my body today. The knowledge he shared with us deserves it’s own post in a food focused blog, as does the mountain of insights gained from listening to these exceptional people. As I wrote to Marianne my last evening there, This is such a major gift you have given us all, that thank you sounds trite – I don’t have words to express the gratitude I feel.” However, I can contribute to food that will love you back with this recipe.


Mu Shu Chick’n Gardein

I’m currently limiting my intake of starch to whole grains, so the Mu Shu is pictured on a bed of brown rice. Should you choose to go a more traditional route, just serve wrapped in a Chinese pancake or flour tortilla with a little more hoisin sauce and spring onion.

Servings: 4

Ingredients:

1 package Gardein chick’n scallopini, sliced 1/4 inch thick
6 tablespoons of dry Sherry or pineapple juice, divided
2 tablespoons reduced sodium soy sauce or Braggs Liquid aminos, divided
4 teaspoons corn starch, divided
1 teaspoon dark sesame oil
1/3 cup hoisin sauce (you can buy vegan hoisin sauce)
1 tablespoon peanut oil
2 tablespoons of ginger, minced
3 cloves of garlic, minced
1/4 cup carrot, shredded
1/2 pound shiitake mushrooms, thinly sliced
1 large bok choy, thinly sliced
2 tablespoons water
4 scallions, optional
Chinese pancakes or flour tortillas, optional

Directions:

1). In a large bowl, add 2 tablespoons of the sherry, 2 teaspoons of the soy sauce, 1 tablespoon of the cornstarch, and the sesame oil, and mix well. Add the chick’n slices and toss gently; set aside.

2). Mix remaining sherry, soy sauce, corn starch, and hoisin sauce in a medium size bowl; set aside.

3). Heat peanut oil in a wok or large saute pan over medium-high heat until hot. Add the chick’n and stir-fry until browned, 3-4 minutes. Transfer to a plate and tent to keep warm.

4). Add ginger and garlic to the pan, stir until fragrant, about 30 seconds, then add mushrooms, and stir-fry 2-3 minutes. Add bok choy and water, continue to stir-fry with mushrooms until wilted, 2-3 minutes.

5). Add sauce mixture to vegetables, stir until thickened 1-2 minutes. Add chick’n back in, warm through for 1-2 minutes. Serve hot.

Serving Suggestions: Traditionally served by spreading a little hoisin sauce on a pancake or flour tortilla, spoon in some of the chick’n and vegetables, top with a spring onion, and wrap to eat. Can also be served as a main course over rice.
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  • February 17, 2011
    10:38 am

    Good for you Julie Anne, it sounds like an inspiring weekend! I too gave up alcohol a couple of years ago, not because I had a problem but because I didn't want it anymore. I didn't want to party/be hungover like a 20 year old anymore. Shocking how many 'friends' were unsupportive of my decision. Eye rolling and such. I guess it was threatening to them as they weren't ready to part with their demon. You are a strong person and it is wonderful that you share your struggles. It helps others who struggle to know they are not alone.Cupcakexo

  • February 17, 2011
    6:09 pm

    love your smile! I cannot imagine you need to lose weight, but I am sure you do what you have to!Giuliana Iannotta

  • February 17, 2011
    6:13 pm

    Thanks guys, Giuliana – it isn't a lot of weight that I need to lose, it is the same 10lbs. that keeps coming back, and what makes this different from a weight loss program is it is about approaching weight loss from a spiritual perspective. It is really much, much more than just weight.

  • February 17, 2011
    8:03 pm

    Sounds like the retreat helped everyone refresh their spirit to live a real life, not the pretend one we push ourselves to put on for show. We have all been there. I know I am consciously trying to tell what I am really feeling when dealing with issues. I was so afraid of close friends being put off by what I was saying and felt so relieved when they rallied to "be there" for me through these problems. Being honest with your friends does start with being honest with yourself and taking ownership of your problem whether it's weight issues, family problems or whatever it is that is making you so unhappy. Thank you again for bringing this to us Julie Anne! It's a lesson that needs to be repeated every so often, at least for me.

  • February 17, 2011
    11:00 pm

    To b quiite honest o think u look more beautiful now than ever julieanneShannon Marie Moyer

  • February 17, 2011
    11:02 pm

    i like this new postGiorgi Centeno-Antinori

  • February 17, 2011
    11:02 pm

    gardein mushu looks delicious, I will try it. Also a weight loss retreat sounds like a good idea. Sending love to you JewelsxxHillary Short

  • February 19, 2011
    11:23 am

    Reading this blog brought back many memories of my own darkest days. Days where I would be so stressed out over certain issues I was dealing with that I found myself losing too much weight far too quickly (not good at all). It has taken many years for me to talk about it however once I did I cannot tell you how much it changed me. Only now have I realised that we are not all perfect. We all have our faults, imperfections, insecurities (and the list goes on) but it is what it is. We can learn to let go, embrace life and ourselves and appreciate what life can offer or we can dig ourselves deeper and deeper into total destruction. The choice is ours. I certainly know what I want. We only live once, so embrace life and make the most of it. Kick your bad habits and negativity and you will be surprised how much better you will feel and look. Aussie Mum

  • February 19, 2011
    6:30 pm

    Sounds tastefull….Giuliana Iannotta

  • February 19, 2011
    8:24 pm

    I can't wait to try this!Suzanne P Voelker

  • February 20, 2011
    4:26 pm

    YES!I love Marianne as I, myself, am a long time student of A Course in Miracles. I haven't read this book but I imagine, if it's like any of her other books and related to ACIM, it is probably amazing.Thank you for the review and good luck on your path. Very very excited for you.

  • February 20, 2011
    4:56 pm

    I didnt have any sucess losing weight. Till I started taking care of what was inside. This retreat looks amazing. That recipe looks lovley since I'm going meatless for now. Here is a Versatile Blogger Award for you http://poptrashbeauty.blogspot.com/

  • February 20, 2011
    7:28 pm

    Great recipe. Thanks for sharing.Anne

  • February 20, 2011
    8:30 pm

    That was a very interesting read Julie Anne! I am now not drinking as much alcohol as I did when I was younger. Not that I was ever a heavy drinker, but I am now feeling that it affects me more, so I don't drink more than 2 glasses of wine or 2 cocktails when I go out (which isn't that often). I feel a lot better for that! Now I need to learn to eat better and then to keep my weight when I lose it. Currently I am on a diet so wish me luck, I just started! I was checking recipes on your site for that. Have you ever thought of publishing a book? Or putting all the recipes together in a PDF file? I'd gladly pay for downloading that as well :)Isabel Ortiz Bernad

  • February 20, 2011
    8:30 pm

    Yes Isabel, there will be ebooks coming out over the course of the next year. I have to get the new website up and running first – hopefully first book by May.

  • February 20, 2011
    8:31 pm

    looks good whats in it.xDenise Clark

  • February 20, 2011
    8:31 pm

    Click on the link for the recipe http://jewelsfromtherovingstove.blogspot.com/2011/02/retreat-course-in-weight-loss.html.

  • February 20, 2011
    8:42 pm

    thankyou.xDenise Clark

  • February 20, 2011
    8:42 pm

    This must be delish.I think I'm gonna try it! I must to cut starch off.Martina D' Epifanio

  • February 20, 2011
    8:44 pm

    I don't think you can buy Gardein in England yet, and I am not familiar with the meat substitutes there – anyone care to chime in? You could use real chicken if you like Martina, but be sure to adjust cook time accordingly, so that it is definitely cooked through.

  • February 20, 2011
    8:58 pm

    BTW, THANK YOU TRACEY!

    • September 29, 2011
      3:16 pm

      Unparalleled accuracy, unequivocal clarity, and undniaelbe importance!

  • February 20, 2011
    8:58 pm

    yes,I like chicken…anyway I will try to look for Gardein at Whole foods Market in High street Ken.I've never shopped there but it's a pretty big store!Martina D' Epifanio

  • February 20, 2011
    8:59 pm

    if you don't like mushrooms is there any other veg you can put into it.what is bok choyDenise Clark

  • February 20, 2011
    9:00 pm

    Of course – substitute any vegetable you like. Bok Choy is Chinese cabbage. If anyone carries it there Martina – Whole Foods will. Love that store on Kennisington High Street.

  • February 20, 2011
    9:00 pm

    I know I'm gonna love that store too. I can go on foot as well… so it's only love lolMartina D' Epifanio

  • February 22, 2011
    1:23 am

    Have a good day Julie and cuddles to Daisy from me…here is HORRIBLE!!The most horrible day I've ever seen.Martina D' Epifanio

  • February 22, 2011
    1:24 am

    Yay for the ebook! Waiting for that :DIsabel Ortiz Bernad