This is my first post in almost 1 year! I wrote a post on oil-free eating, and the facts as well as my personal take on it. Then I was inspired in another direction, so that will have to wait. Maybe it was serendipity, or fate, but today, Facebook reminded me of a time in my journey, where I was really struggling, and I felt I needed to share this with whomever may be listening. I shared this post in the first year of my journey to regain my health. I actually remember the day. I hit a big rock in my journey. I was going through a rough time in my personal life. I was stressed, tired, and up until this point, my only coping mechanisms were turning to food, and not the healthy, plant-based kind. I had lost a good amount of weight, but I had succumb to the excuses of stress, and exhaustion, and fallen off my healthy, plant-based wagon. I wasn’t losing weight anymore, and I felt so disappointed in myself. I felt I had lost all control and failed.
I came across this quote while I was camping with some friends. I read it a few times, and realized; I hadn’t failed. This was not the be all and end all of my weight-loss journey. At any point, I could regain control, and start again. Much in the same way that I started at 300 lbs! I have control over my thoughts, and my actions. I have control of my hands, and what they pick up, and feed my mouth. If I wanted to break old habits, I needed to change the way I was thinking. I took it one meal at a time. Being mindful of the control that I had over what I was feeding my body. I needed to stop making excuses for poor eating habits, “It was a bad day.”, “I’m stressed.” The biggest problem with turning to food for comfort, is that it’s usually not just 1 meal. It becomes 2 meals, then a full day, then a week, and the next thing you know, you wake up, pounds heavier, feeling like crap, and talking about that time in your life when you were “thinner”, “healthier”, and you really got it right for a little while.
At some point, you have to take full responsibility for your health, weight, happiness and quality of life. No one is perfect, and it’s not about being perfect. There will be times when you decide to indulge. Let those times happen, but don’t unpack, and live there. Don’t allow your excuses to be stronger than your will-power. After you have your indulgence, do something that makes you feel physically good. Take a walk, read some motivational quotes, or stories (I did this daily for a long time). When you get to the next opportunity to eat, remember what you want out of life, whether its weight-loss, reducing medications, or aging gracefully with your family. Remember why you started, then control what food you put in your hands. It takes hard work, dedication and consistency. There’s no easy way around it, but I promise you, it gets easier.
Everything in life is a process. When you take full responsibility for the quality of your life, and the decisions you make, just as this quote says,
“This is the day your life really begins.”
When I moved away to Boston for college, the last thing I thought would happen was gaining a large amount of weight. I had started gaining some weight after I quit dancing in my last year of high school. I decided that year to move to Boston for college. I did not have a car and walked EVERYWHERE. I thought I would begin to lose the weight I had gained. Instead I began to gain, and rather quickly. I was baffled, because I walked every day, everywhere. I still remember the day I saw my first stretch mark. I could no longer fit in the clothes I moved there in. I wore sweat pants and baggy shirts most of the time. It was a depressing time, and all I wanted was to move home. When I got home, things only got worse. I began to eat out even more (sometimes McDonalds twice/day). I would drink on occasion, and that would only lead to more junk. Finally, 4 years after I had graduated high school, I was a whopping 270 lbs. I became pregnant with my first son and although at first I started to lose weight, I was still heavy. I was sick with high blood pressure and pre-eclampsia. I gave birth, luckily, to a healthy baby boy, but I was anything but healthy. I still had high blood pressure, I was 298 lbs, suffered with severe GERD, which was so bad that I had exacerbated my asthma symptoms and had pneumonia very frequently, requiring steroids and albuterol daily. I had depression, anxiety, and back pain every day. I suddenly developed chronic nausea and began vomiting a few times/week. I went to the MD where they performed an ultra sound. My doctor told me that I had the early stages of fatty liver disease. My doctor informed me that I was much too young to have such a problem and that I needed to lose weight and eat healthier. I was scared and I knew for a long time before that, what I needed to do.
I started with a points program that offered weekly support groups. That went well at first and I managed to shed some weight but I could not picture counting points for each meal for the rest of my life. I tried just about everything after that. I had lost some weight, but remained sick. I went to a personal trainer where I learned how to exercise properly and use weights. I also learned the importance of meal prep and having healthy food handy at all times. This was probably the most important thing I had learned thus far. I still could not manage to get my blood pressure where it needed to be and I was still sick and lethargic. At this point I had entered nursing school and could see the detrimental effects of chronic disease, especially heart disease. I was terrified this would be me some day.
A friend of mine that was vegan, offered me the best and most valuable advice I have ever received. She told me to read a book called “The China Study”. I began to read it and could not put it down. After reading it I watched several documentaries on whole food plant-based eating. I became obsessed with learning about nutrition and how it relates to health. As I was learning, I had adopted the whole food plant-based diet and could feel and see the changes almost immediately. This only motivated me more to learn. It was hard at first, so hard. I realized I had to strengthen myself mentally to stick with this. I read another book called “Within”. This did it. I realized at that point that I had control of where my life was headed, I had control of my thoughts, my hands and my mouth. I controlled what I ate and I controlled my path. I learned the importance of meditation and mindful eating. I learned that you could have whatever body you wanted and health that you wanted if you focused on the positive and what you really wanted to become. I dove in to the whole food plant-based diet and the rest is history.
I have lost over 120 lbs, reversed my high blood pressure, fatty liver disease, depression and GERD. I am off all medications, including steroids and only use my asthma inhaler sparingly. My second pregnancy was much different than my first. My health and blood pressure was perfectly within the range it should be. I had energy throughout, and went into labor while hiking for 2 days with my husband. My labor was short my delivery even shorter and I was up and walking around 1 hour after delivery. My motivation to stick with this lifestyle comes from the enormous amount of energy and stamina that I have developed, not even the weight loss. If you have been where I once was, you know the true value and importance of good health. I never thought I would run because I honestly didn’t feel I was capable. I ran my first race this past March (picture below), and with the help and support of my friends, finished without stopping my run once. It’s amazing to look back and see far that I have come. I really hope to inspire others to take on a similar path. When trying to lose weight and become healthier, it is important to take on a holistic approach. Follow the science. A healthy mind is just as important as a healthy body. Avoid the fad diets, and read as much research as you can about nutrition and health. I encourage everyone to read as much as they can regarding a whole food plant-based diet. The startling implications for weight loss are only the tip of the iceberg.