Never Give Up


There's nothing more deeply satisfying than crossing the finish line of a goal accomplished. 


This past year my 21-year-old son died unexpectedly. After the initial shock wore off, I entered into a dark season of PTSD and bereavement for several months. During the most acute phase of it I could barely function, because I would be in a daze of paralyzing grief and confusion. I had a difficult time accomplishing the simplest of tasks such as unloading the dishwasher or starting a load of laundry.  Vigorous workouts were unthinkable in the quagmire of my demise.  I couldn’t even successfully take inventory of food to make a grocery list, let alone muster up the strength to navigate the supermarket aisles or prepare a pot of soup.

I continued to eat whole foods, but many times a meal only consisted of a bowl of oatmeal and an apple; or a green pepper with hummus, a banana, and some nuts. I was just too overwhelmed in the anguish of grief to care for myself properly during that time and apathy set in.   

It saddens me when I hear some say, "I fell off the wagon" in reference to making unwise choices due to a stressful day or difficult season of life. Hard times happen to everyone; they just do. Unless one has made a conscious decision to completely throw in the towel and quit eating healthfully altogether, no one has fallen off any wagons.  The nutritarian eating-style is for life; not a diet to jump on and off on a whim. The wagon mentality only fuels yo-yo dieting for those who buy into that mindset. And the most dangerous part is that staying off the wagon may last for days, weeks, or years . . .until one gets psyched up to get back on it again.  

Even if some days are like wading through quick sand, and it’s a challenge to continue on, stay committed to making wise food choices as best as one can possibly manage.  It may be only baby steps, but keep moving forward in the pursuit of excellent health. There’s never a valid excuse to throw in the towel and completely quit, because nothing is more deeply satisfying than crossing the finish line of a goal accomplished. Earning one’s health back is a priceless treasure that comes with absolutely no regrets.

The sun will shine again and happiness will return as one continues to stay the course.

Never give up.

“It will take strength. It will take effort. But the pleasure and rewards that you’ll get from a healthy life will be priceless.”   Dr. Fuhrman



image credit: celebration by Elijah Lynn


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Comments (53) Read through and enter the discussion with the form at the end
Alexandra Adams - March 8, 2013 2:23 PM

Emily, I can't tell you how sorry I am for your loss. I know there simply aren't words for such times. I have read your blog posts many times and you are such an inspiration to me and many others I am sure. I will certainly keep you in my prayers because God is a great healer. I would not be able to function with Him. You have great strength and I always admire and try to surround myself with strong people...something I have never been. But I don't give up. I continue forward even if it is slowly. I totally agree with you to Never Give Up. Even slowly is still making progress. God bless you, Emily, and thank you for sharing with us.

Jasmin - March 8, 2013 3:06 PM

Darling Emily,

This spoke to me so deeply. You are such an inspiration, and you are so eloquent. I am not sure I have the right words for you regarding the tragic loss of your son, but I want you to know how much I am thinking of you and sending love and healing your way.

And I want you to know that even meeting you for just a few hours, you filled me with such inspiration and light. You're an incredible person, and I'm so grateful to you for all you do to raise awareness about compassion.

This article gave a voice to so many of my own inner-thoughts and hopes. I have noticed myself getting annoyed when others feel the need to "confess" things they ate, or talk about how they are "guilty" of "overeating." Food is not the enemy. That is not what Dr. Fuhrman teaches, and it is not at the core of the ETL philosophy. It is our friend, it is a good thing. And thinking in terms of "falling off the wagon" is an unsustainable M.O.

I mentioned that you exude compassion and kindness. As a vegan who is primarily motivated by ethics and animal rights -- but who (as you know) cares deeply about health, too -- the idea of compassion is one I hold onto fiercely. If we turn this idea of compassion back to ourselves, let go of shame (or at least recognize that shame can eat away at us, and cease giving it the power it wants), we can in turn let go of self-judgement, and we can live in a healthful and sustainable way -- even if that means there will be ups and downs.

In rereading my comment, I am also noticing that I mentioned feeling annoyed at others who are judging themselves and stating that they are "falling off the wagon." Clearly, MY next step here needs to be to let go of feeling annoyed, and to extend the compassion I have for animals, and the compassion I seek for myself, to others. Just as judging ourselves can be toxic, judging others -- others who might be struggling in ways I couldn't understand -- doesn't get me very far.

Thank you for opening my eyes.

In gratitude,

dalene - March 8, 2013 3:13 PM

Oh Emily, I also am so sorry for your loss. You are a powerful woman to come through that dark time. Wishing you continued peace and healing.

Diane - March 8, 2013 3:32 PM

Spot on, Emily. Never forget that you've got friends in High places. Peace and prayers to you for your journey.

MotherLodeBeth - March 8, 2013 3:34 PM

Emily I am so sorry for all you have been thru.

Becoming a widow and then spending days in the hospital as our son who has been diabetic since birth, suffered complete kidney failure and had two heart attacks at a young age, then had surgery so he can do PD Dialysis at home, I admit I didn't eat as healthy as I should, because I ate comfort food, and won't apologize for it.

Two weeks later I was back to healthy eating. But the few weeks I ate unhealthy I look consider akin to going on vacation, expect for me it was mental survival I needed, and got from the piece of cake here and there and the hamburger with cheese etc. Unless someone has been there and done that they have no right to judge.

Dotty - March 8, 2013 3:43 PM

You have inspired me so many times. Our thoughts and prayers are with you!

Leah Jacobson - March 8, 2013 3:46 PM

Dear Emily,

I am so sorry for your loss, I have tears in my eyes. I wish I had something savvy to say, but truth be told, YOU are about a savvy as it comes sister. So many times I have made excuses for falling off the wagon. The weather, the relationship, the kids, the job, the family.. the list goes on and on. Well Emily, your entry just put an end to all of it for me. Your example says, "There is never a good reason to abuse your body Period. Amen. I commend your strength and fortitude. You are a true inspiration to me. I pray that in time you will find solace in the deep inner place where no misfortune can touch. God bless you Emily. Best, Leah

Cindy - March 8, 2013 3:57 PM

Emily, my heart goes out to you. I can't imagine the pain of the loss of your dear son. As part of your nutritarian community, I want to support you in whatever way I can. I hope you will reach out to us. I pray you will continue to be strengthened and comforted. Thank you for offering inspiration to others through your own time of grief.

Janet - March 8, 2013 4:11 PM

Dear Emily,

I have read and reread your inspiring words on this blog many, many times. Today, upon reading your post, I just had to reach out to you. Your words about the loss of your son and your struggles to regain your footing move me deeply. I wish had some wisdom or comfort to offer you but all I can extend are my prayers and hopes and wishes for you and your family as you move through this. Yes, the sun will one day shine again as you so beautifully state. May you be surrounded with love as you continue on this journey toward that. And, may your son's memory always be a blessing to you.

tobie h - March 8, 2013 4:13 PM

This makes me so sad to read, and know the feeling after losing my dad suddenly a couple of years ago. Eating, let alone eating healthfully was the last thing I could muster up the strength to do. I must say that although you may not feel it, you are so wise and grounded even in grief. I'm so sorry to hear of your loss and pain, Emily.

PaulB - March 8, 2013 4:23 PM

Emily, thank you for this post. You are inspirational

Emily Boller - March 8, 2013 4:25 PM

Thank you everyone. To be frankly honest, the first several months after my son's death were the pits of the pits. (He died on Memorial Day 2012). I'm doing much better now as the suffocating grip of the deep anguish has subsided significantly. I can't begin to fathom what it would've have been like to go through such intense bereavement when I was 100 lbs overweight, depressed and sick all the time. I can't imagine.

I'm sooooo thankful to have had my health restored going into that dark season. Eating for health is such a gift of compassion and love to give to our bodies. It's priceless.

Life happens. May we all continue to choose to gently care for, and nourish our bodies with high-nutrient foods, no matter what the circumstances surrounding us.

Best of compassionate care and great health to all.

Beverly Jeffries - March 8, 2013 4:38 PM

I cannot imagine the pain and loss of a child. Sharing your struggles and your strength is so therapeutic. I will print out this blog and read it often when I feel that I have something to complain about. Just know that we all love you and send loving vibrations your way.

Nannette - March 8, 2013 5:18 PM

Thank you so much for sharing your experience, Ms. Boller. Now I've been profoundly inspired by you twice! First, I was empowered by the example of your story of recovering your real healthy self through your discovery of what real food is. I love/d watching the pictures of your transformation and reading about how you acted on what you'd learned (despite so many cues to eat "foodstuffs"). Now I find myself inspired and empowered again, this time to stick with my new ways and their rewards in spite of some health worries. I am so sorry about the severe loss you are experiencing. I am so grateful for your sharing how we can avoid confusing grief, fear and other emotions and needs for comfort with desires for manufactured and marketed slow-acting poisons masquerading as foods. Thank you! I hope the knowledge of how much you have helped other people gives you some sense of pleasure amid the pain.

Emily Boller - March 8, 2013 5:35 PM


I'm sorry about the hardships that you face every day. I hope your son is doing okay.

Nobody is judging anybody, or asking for apologies. However we (and Dr. Fuhrman) want people to make the best choices for their long-term happiness and survival. And that means encouraging people to avoid cigarettes, alcohol and junk food bingeing (and other dangerous behaviors) when under emotional stress, because these are not survival techniques. Substance abuse of all kinds do not relieve the stress, but only add complications and more stress to one’s life.

Blessings to you as you continue to care for your son.

Anna Henderson - March 8, 2013 7:01 PM

I am so sorry for your loss and I know how you feel. Two years ago I lost my son unexpectently. He died from a tick bite, the doctors said that it was rocky mountain spotted fever. I was left with my 3 granddaughters to raise, that kept me going. I try everyday to make sure we eat healthy.

My heart and thoughts are with you.

Jessica - March 8, 2013 7:17 PM

I am so very sorry for your loss. I am a mother of three little ones and am brought to tears by the thought of losing one of them. I pray for the continued healing of your heart and spirit. Thank you for sharing your journey with us.

Meg Worcester - March 8, 2013 7:38 PM

Emily, your strength and courage are an inspiration to us all. Tears came to my eyes, as you told your story, and I'm glad you did, because it showed me what a caring and thoughtful community Dr. Fuhrman has attracted. I, too, lost a loved one on a Memorial Day, but in 2011, rather than 2012: my dear 92-year-young husband. Memorial Day will forever be a day of happy memories for me, as I'm sure it will be for you, as well. Bless you.

Emily Boller - March 8, 2013 7:44 PM


I'm sorry about your husband's passing. He lived a relatively long time; I'm sure you have many wonderful and happy memories of him. Blessings to you.

Paul Surovell - March 8, 2013 8:15 PM

My deepest condolences for your loss and my deepest thanks for your positive contributions to my life and so many others.

Linda - March 8, 2013 8:56 PM

Nothing on earth hurts like the death of a child, nothing. You are truly an amazing woman Emily. I wish you brighter days.

Cecilia - March 8, 2013 10:14 PM

Dear Emily,

I have read your words many times and shared them with others also. So very sorry for your loss.
Please take comfort in konwing that you are changing lives by sharing your journey.
Peace be with you.

Vickie - March 8, 2013 10:29 PM

My heart goes out to you for your loss.

Rhonda Kellam - March 9, 2013 12:11 AM

Emily, I am so sorry for your loss. My husband and I do not have children, so I cannot imagine the pain you must be feeling. My heart goes out to you.

Emily Boller - March 9, 2013 5:35 AM


I'm so sorry about your son's sudden death. You are a wonderful grandmother to feed those precious girls healthy food. What a wonderful gift that you are giving to them ~ keep up the great job. Blessings to you . . . . and to everyone that is sowing seeds of excellent health!

Carolyn Young - March 9, 2013 9:37 AM

What a life lesson for all of us, Emily. I'm so sorry we had to gain it at your expense. My heart is with you.

Tammy - March 9, 2013 10:48 AM

I am so sorry. Praying for you. (((hugs)))

Peg G - March 9, 2013 11:27 AM

Emily dear,

My sincerest condolences to you. My mother buried two of her children and I, too, cannot begin to fathom the loss she felt. I only know that her faith gave her (and the rest of us) the strength to carry on. I commend your spirit and willingness and determination to stay healthy. I, too, have given in to comfort food all too often. Your inspirational story has renewed my own determination to get and stay healthy. May God continue to sustain you.

Ginny Santana - March 9, 2013 11:35 AM

Dear Emily,

So sorry for your loss. Thank you for sharing your feelings. May you be comforted by the good memories. He will be with you for the rest of your days and you will meet again!

Stephen Albers - March 9, 2013 5:13 PM

Ms Boller eloquently describes just how immobilizing tragedy can be. Bad things happen to good people.

Comments correctly point out the worst thing to do in the face of great loss or disaster is flagellation. The grim reality is that most human suffering is self-inflicted or at least permitted by the victim.

A better plan is, as the song says, "..pick yourself up, dust yourself off and start all over again." Optimizing a healthy lifestyle will facilitate all other recovery strategies.

Suz - March 9, 2013 5:16 PM

Thanks, Emily, for today's blog post. While most of us won't endure the loss of a child, most of us WILL have things happen - challenging things, tragic things, frustrating things - and it's a wonderful reminder that Life Happens, and life is not an excuse for throwing aside our health. Rather, it's a reason to embrace our goals with more zeal.

Thank you for your vulnerability, your transparency, your compassion, your clarity.

Grace and peace to you,

Sue - March 9, 2013 5:38 PM

Oh, Emily. I had no idea. I am so sorry. Thank you for continuing to care for us, your readers, even during this difficult time. Please know, you are an inspiration to us all (even when you feel like crap), and many of us are on our journeys to health because of you. Blessings.

Carrie - March 9, 2013 11:16 PM

Emily, thank you for this post. I'm so, so sorry for your loss.

Marty - March 10, 2013 6:15 AM

Emily: no words can comfort one who's lost a loved one, even though we try. Thank you for your courage and inspiration to carry on. We all need that, for the same reason (loss) and a million others. Namaste.

Eunis WildFire Christensen - March 10, 2013 1:07 PM

Thank you, Emily. Your truth and poignancy come through so clearly. Feeling grief is like childbirth labor pains - words can not capture the sensation.
In losing my life partner I came to understand that the "valley of the shadow of death" written in the 23rd Psalm is not danger - but grief. The 2nd half of the Psalm sentence is where comfort lies..."Thou art with me." No matter how any of us interprets the Divine, or upholds the strength of the human spirit, we are not alone. You are not alone. Namaste and Bless You.

Tina Carter - March 10, 2013 5:48 PM

Dear Emily,
My heart goes out to you in your loss. My son too died suddenly on Jan 31, 2012. In some ways it seems like years ago, and then in others it seems like just yesterday. I too did not stop my nutritarian eating style, but I must admit I don't feel quite as passionate about anything now. It's just my way of life, one that I rarely stray from.

I've been thinking about you since I read this article, trying to think of something to say that would be meaningful. I'm not religious, but through my loss I have learned a little more about life. It is possible to turn our suffering into compassion and service to others. I understand people better now and I'm trying to live more in the present, appreciating what I do have, right now, to be thankful for. There is much. Things that we both have is our health and fulfilling careers. I understand you teach art. I teach mathematics at Buffalo State College and have received great comfort from working with my students. Hopefully you are finding solace in your students and in your great contribution to Dr. Fuhrman's efforts.

Well, I just wanted to share some thoughts with you. Know that others have suffered this terrible loss and have recovered, although to a different reality, to a good and fulfilling life. My thoughts are with you.

Tina Carter
in Buffalo, NY

Emily Boller - March 11, 2013 3:06 PM


I'm sorry about your son, and thank you for the words of encouragement. Peace and continual comfort to you.

(Btw, I'm not an art teacher, but I do like art).

Noonu Enoch - March 12, 2013 4:39 AM

Emily, thank you for sharing this.i used to skip food whenever i am upset (at times for silly things). You made me realize my foolishness and inspired me to look at bigger picture of life.
Thank you once again.

Neil Butterfield - March 12, 2013 8:14 AM

Emily, I am so sorry to hear about the loss of your son. I pray that you will have the strength to continue with your life and goals.

LadyG - March 12, 2013 10:43 AM

I am very sorry for your loss.

I think this context makes the point you're trying to bring across even stronger.

Hard times happen to everyone, indeed.

Thank you for sharing this very personal information!

Dee - March 12, 2013 11:05 AM


I'm very sorry for your loss. My thoughts and prayers
will continue to be with you. Thank you for taking the
time to share this with us.

I'm someone who always makes excuse's. And it is due
to some stress in my life. But nothing as valid as what
you're going through.

So I thank you for your strength and your positive


Mac - March 12, 2013 5:16 PM

Not only have you managed to NOT react self-destructively to your tragedy; through sharing it you've given others the gift of added purpose and determination. That's pretty amazing. Thanks.

Nick - March 14, 2013 9:58 AM

Dear Emily,

I am so sorry you for your loss. You give strength to those out there who always make excuse's including me..:) Like what you said "never give up"


Heather hall,RN - March 15, 2013 11:10 AM

Thank you for being brave to share your difficult loss. Thank you for being kind enough to to share your inspiring successes. And thank you for deciding to take good care of yourself on a daily basis despite the difficult days you've lived through. You are a good motivator!

Asha gala - March 15, 2013 2:59 PM

Dear Emily
I am truly heartbroken in hearing this news. I feel lucky to be a part of this community that have people like you to keep us motivating and encouraging.
"Never give up" as you said

Maura - March 16, 2013 7:54 AM

I am so deeply sorry for your loss. Love and hugs to you!

Jody - March 16, 2013 9:21 AM

Dear Emily,
I am humbled by your vulnerabliity and blessed by your courage. May you continue to receive God's grace and strength daily for every step.

Your post has somehow reached into my life and motivated me to get up and stop giving up.

My husband's diagnosis of Acute Lymphocytic Leukemia in May 2012, bone marrow transplant in August, relapse of leukemia in December,experimental drug trial in February 2013 to the present, has left me at times like you described yourself in your lowest moments of grief.

I had been nearing a year of nutritarian eating before diagnosis, but everything changed when I gave up and gradually returned to food addiction to numb out feelings. I also added 40 pounds back on.

I have walked a hard road this first 7 days of coming back to taking care of my health. Detox from sugar,salt,caffeine,and fat has been grueling. Beginning to walk daily has been painful....but after a mere 7 days I can truly say I feel better. Something new is sprouting in my life and I can continue. I will not give up again.


Priscilla (Stephens) Jacko - March 16, 2013 2:25 PM

In 13 days it will be 5 years since my youngest grandchild died in his sleep. Caleb was 4 weeks from his 4th birthday,and I don't think anything has been as shocking to me in my life, as it was to hear the words from my son, Caleb is dead! I am not unfamiliar with tragedy, my father died from Lou Gehrigs, my mom from Alzheimers, and my brother's wife in a car accident just 7 months after their wedding, but the death of a beautiful child was devastating.

I can't image getting thru all this without the support and strength from God, friends and family. I now can look at Caleb's photos, without bawling, and remember how cute his laughter was, and the big smacking kisses he loved to give us. What I know now is I can handle these kind of emotions so much better when I am eating healthfully, getting in a daily walk, plenty of water, some sunshine, and getting love from my little dog, Lucy! She makes me laugh everyday with her antics, and I thank God everyday for bringing her into my life. She was a rescue dog I took in just a few weeks after losing one of my dogs to cancer. The funny thing is she LOVES fruits and veggies, even kale!! I tell her she has to live as long as I do, so she had better keep eating good food too,

Emily Boller - March 16, 2013 3:23 PM


I'm so sorry about your grandson. That's a tough one. It sounds like Lucy is quite the nutritarian dog! Dogs are so cute and know how to cheer one up by their unconditional love.

To Everyone,

Again, thank you to everyone for the continual outpouring of kind comments. Tomorrow, St. Patrick's Day, is my son's 22nd birthday and he loved the nutritarian eating-style. In honor of his 22nd birthday here's the famous Shamrock Smoothie (from Dr. Fuhrman's member center). It has a five star rating so it is a de-li-cious winner!

Shamrock Smoothie

Makes 2 servings:

6 oz baby spinach
4 pitted dates
1 c. almond, soy or hemp milk (frozen into cubes)
6 large mint leaves or 1/4 t peppermint extract
1 t. vanilla extract
2 large, frozen ripe bananas

Put in Vitamix or high speed blender and blend until smoothe.


Happy St. Patrick's Day!

Jamie - March 18, 2013 8:13 AM

Emily, I have been thinking about you and praying for you all week. May God bring comfort to your aching heart.

Teresa M. - April 4, 2013 8:23 PM

What a shock. I'm so very sorry to hear the news.
My sincere condolences to you and your family, Emily.
Moving forward, I'll always be remembering your son on St. Patrick's Day!

Jonas Larsson - April 13, 2013 2:25 PM

I'm sure Emily is not looking for sympathy.However,such a strong will that few can ever boast.Put it nicely,"The sun will shine again...Never give up!"

Thanks for giving hope where there is little,or none of it.

MIke - May 20, 2013 2:27 PM

Emily ... your story struck a chord with me as well and I wanted to wish you all the peace in the world whenever the dark times appear.

Your post is a really tribute to your strength to face grief head-on and persevere in spite what I could only imagine to be an unrelenting painful mourning.

Even though the date has passed, I am eager to make the Shamrock Shake with thoughts of your son (the recipe is very similar to one my kids love ... but without the mint). Best wishes.

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