I Followed Lighten Up for One Year and Here’s What Happened + Nutty Herb Rice (Instant Pot)


I can’t stop thinking about this time last year, how miserable I was.
I remember the desperation building inside of me.
I remember the overwhelming desire to hide from the world.

I remember crying every night in the shower.
I remember feeling like a fraud and a failure.
I remember being so uncomfortable in my clothes, in my skin, it felt unbearable.

I remember words like fat, ugly, and no-good, running through my head.
I remember shame and its constant companion, guilt.
I remember insecurity and doubt.

I remember wondering why sugar had such a hold on me.
I remember thinking that I was unable to control my cravings.
I remember wanting change desperately and deeply, but not knowing how.

I remember making everyone around me as miserable as I was.
I remember pain in my joints, and in my soul.
I remember feeling helpless and without hope.

I remember buying new clothes to accommodate my new size.
I remember how I tugged and pulled and shifted those clothes to hide my body.
I remember hiding from the camera as embarrassment engulfed my soul.

It has been one year since I started following Lighten Up, and I can’t stop thinking about how much my life has changed in just a year. I’m astonished at how much I have changed and grown into the woman I have always wanted to be.

I can’t stop the overwhelming feeling of gratitude that infuses every moment of my life. Gratitude to Molly and Michelle for providing the way, for showing me a better path, for helping me save my life.

Yes, I have shed weight. 65 pounds to be exact.
But, the real story here is what I have gained.

I am at home in my body.

I am confident that a dysfunctional relationship with food, and a body out of balance, will never again be an issue for me.

I am full of knowledge and confident that I have finally found my way.

There is an all-consuming peace that comes from knowing that whatever life has in store for me, I can handle it.

There is a quiet joy that calls to my soul and helps me sing and dance throughout my day. It keeps a smile on my heart.

There is confidence running through me that has taught me to love the laugh lines that crinkle around my eyes, the natural color of my hair and my huge, toothy grin.

There is an underlying excitement that wakes up with me each morning, to get on my mat, drink my juice and go play in my kitchen.

There is a gentle happiness that seems to flow directly from me and into the atmosphere around me. My friends and family have responded to the joy they are seeing and have matched it with their own. It’s unintentional, but it’s there. And it’s beautiful.

There is now a profound understanding between my body and my mind. As I go into the new year, a time when depression hits its hardest for me, my mind is saying:

“Fuel me right and I will keep you strong and happy…”

It makes me tear up just thinking of it.
A January without profound sadness? Could that be real?
I’m going to bet on it.

For me, this journey has not been about beating myself up into submission. It isn’t about hunger, deprivation, restriction, or getting “on track”.

This has been about loving myself so much that I naturally want to nourish my body. I don’t have to try; I just do it. This has been about moving my body in ways that I didn’t even know were possible.

This has been about finding out who I am, who I am meant to be and then taking a leap right into the life I have always wanted.

Lighten Up is a pure, glorious celebration of life. It is a gift. And my life will never be the same.

How do you want to feel a year from now? Talk to us in the comments below.

Nutty Herb Rice


  • 2 cups uncooked brown rice (360 g)
  • 2 1/2 cups water (590 ml)
  • 2 cups chopped arugula (40 g)
  • 1/2 cup chopped parsley (15 g)
  • 1/2 cup sliced green onions (30 g)
  • 1/2 cup chopped almonds (75 g)
  • 1/4 cup mint (6 g)
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt


  • Rinse the rice well and drain in a fine mesh strainer. Tap the strainer against the sink to remove excess water. Press the saute button on your Instant Pot (IP) and allow the inner pot to heat up for about 2 minutes. Place the rice into your IP and stir continually for about 2 minutes, until the rice is fragrant and lightly toasted. Turn off the Instant Pot, then add the water and stir once.
  • Lock the lid into place and make sure the nozzle is pointed in the sealing position. Using the Manual (or Pressure Cooking) mode, set the timer for 23 minutes. Use the natural release method when the timer goes off. After 10 minutes, use the quick release method to release any remaining steam from the pot.
  • Remove the lid and add the remaining ingredients and then stir.

Wishing you a happy week. May it be filled with juicy, satisfying, energized life.



Written by ex-boozer, ex-smoker, Co-founder, and CEO, Molly Patrick. They will help you eat more plants while throwing perfection down the garbage disposal.

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  1. Carrie on December 28, 2019 at 9:23 am

    I’m on day seven of the Lighten Up program, I didn’t want to wait until New Year to start because I’m feeling so badly. I’m looking forward to every day of this program! I’ve already seen an improvement in my relationship with difficult people and am looking forward to a better relationship with food!

    • Lyndsey Hafer Williams on December 28, 2019 at 2:34 pm

      Hi Carrie,
      Don’t wait for tomorrow, just GO FOR IT!
      I’m so very proud of you…

  2. Michal on December 28, 2019 at 9:42 am

    Thank you so much for sharing Lyndsey’s story! I feel like I relate to her so much! I’ve been a quiet outside observer of your blog for quite a while…like a couple of years at least. But I think I am finally ready to take action. I’ve felt really intimidated by the whole process of eating a plant-based diet, but I know that once I start, it won’t be as hard as I make it out to be. Thanks for all you do!

    • Lyndsey Hafer Williams on December 28, 2019 at 2:39 pm

      Hi Michal!
      I’m so happy that my story resonated with you.
      Please try not to be intimidated by eating all the plants. I was at first, too, but Team Dirty makes it easy for you!
      Please let me know if I can help you in any way.

  3. Sheila mulvey on December 28, 2019 at 9:47 am

    How much is the lighten up program?

  4. Ginny on December 28, 2019 at 11:19 am

    The rice dish sounds very tasty! Will you be doing some light dishes anytime soon?

  5. Kati Bishop on December 28, 2019 at 12:13 pm

    I have to admit that it kinda bothers me that your were faithfully doing clean food dirty girl meals and you felt awful. You were such a fan of it it seems. Now that there is a new thing to sell, you say that you really felt bad and the new thing ( for a pretty big price) fixed all of that. I don’t know how I feel about all of this now.

    • Lyndsey Hafer Williams on December 28, 2019 at 4:10 pm

      Hi Kati!
      I hear you and I totally get what you’re saying.
      Let me see if I can put it into perspective.

      Here’s the backstory:
      June of 2018, I got careless and started not only eating meal plan food, but also eating out a lot.
      I let really bad habits creep back into my life: eating when I wasn’t hungry, snacking at night, and plenty of vegan junk food.
      I also experienced some personal struggles such as the very sudden death of my father, a possible cancer diagnosis with multiple tests and doctors and biopsies, and then the horrific diagnosis of a dear friend with ALS (Lou Gehrig’s disease).

      Unfortunately, I allowed my emotions to rule my world. And, as always, I let food and emotions get jumbled up together.
      Now, it doesn’t matter who you are, if you eat a dozen vegan donuts after your batched meal of plants – you’ll more than likely gain weight.

      And that’s exactly what happened. By December of 2018 I had ballooned back up from 150 to 215 lbs.
      I am so grateful to Molly and Michelle for letting me test out the program BEFORE it was available to purchase.
      It gave me (and them!) the opportunity to see if it really worked on a live person.

      I can only speak for me, but this year of Lighten Up has changed my world – in terms of how I feel about myself, how I interact with others, and brought me so much joy that I’m tearing up just writing this.

      I do not get paid to sell Plant Fueled Meal Plans or Lighten Up. My words and experiences and feelings and victories are all my own.
      Lighten Up may not be for you and that is ok.

      But, for those of us who need more than just meal plans, for those of us who need to get our heads screwed on properly about food, it is life changing.

      I hope that helps put my story into perspective for you and I welcome any other questions that you may have.
      Sending you tons of love, life, laughter, and joy!


  6. Mandaly on December 30, 2019 at 5:11 am

    Thanks for sharing, you look and sound amazing!
    Would you be able to share the recipe with stovetop instructions?

    • Team Clean Food Dirty Girl on January 2, 2020 at 6:40 pm

      Hi, Mandaly! Molly has not tested this but here is how to do it on the stove:

      1 part rice, 1 part water.
      Cook for 25-35 minutes on the stove.
      Turn off heat, and make sure all the water is absorbed.
      When the water is all absorbed, add in all the ingredients and stir.

      As a heads up, all of our Meal Plan recipes that use the Instant Pot also come with Stove Top directions.

      If you try it on the stove top, let us know what you think! Thanks for stopping by! ~Karen

  7. Judith on August 29, 2020 at 11:08 am

    Thanks for the recipe inspiration.

    I didn’t follow yours but I was inspired to combine uncooked 1/2 Cup white rice, 1/3 Cup brown rice and 1/8 Cup quinoa. Instead of water for cooking the grains, I used shrimp stock I made from shrimp shells and I added three dates processed in a food processor. They melted nicely in the boiling shrimp stock as the rice mixture cooked and cooled down. Separately, I browned 1/3 Cup slivered almonds and added them to rice mixture once it was cooked. I also add a raw carrot from my garden. If using store-bought carrot, I’d probably soften it by steaming. My carrot had a lot of moisture from the garden so I sliced it thin and added it raw to the cooked rice mixture. I’ll add parsley (also from the garden), dried cranberries, sunflower and pumpkin seeds as topping when I eat a serving.

    Again, thank you for getting my imagination in gear!

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