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Meet our Herbie of the Week, Brianne. Her work schedule (as an overnight nurse) made her feel blah so she turned to a plant-based diet to get her energy back!
Tell us a little bit about yourself.
I'm 28 years old and have been at registered nurse the past 4 years. I work the overnight in an ICU. Since starting night shift last July, I probably put on about 10-15 pounds (my scale was conveniently hidden!) and just felt "blah." I HAD been a runner, jogging 3-4 miles about 5 times a week and participating in half marathons. This new schedule made me tired all the time, I couldn't figure out when I wanted to eat, or what I wanted to eat, I never made a grocery list and just got to the store and stared at the produce section and not knowing what to make, opted for something pre-made. I knew I needed to make a change so I cut out meat around September 2011. I was dating a vegetarian at the time, which made it easy to come up with meal choices. I needed some kind of support system, some kind of plan. I still wasn't loosing weight, I felt slightly better, but not completely like myself. I needed to feel like I could run again!
How did you find out about Happy Herbivore?
I found Happy Herbivore on facebook . A friend of mine I volunteer with always posted veg meals she was whipping up and I started folloing her blog and Happy Herbivore at the same time. I wasn't completely sold on ditching eggs and milk, but an encouraging email from Lindsay convinced me to give plant-based a try. Around that time, someone said something to me that acknowledged my weight gain and I was mortified but shocked to reality. I WASN'T TAKING CARE OF MYSELF! Time to ditch the animal products all together, make menus every week, and grocery lists, and really pay attention into what I'm putting in my mouth. I watched Forks Over Knives at this point too (December) and decided I was making the right decision for myself.
You said your mom was a lifelong participant of weight watchers, what made you decide to try a plant-based diet instead of their plan?
I had a great example by my mom doing Weight Watchers. I have sometimes used WW recipes and products. What I didn't like about it was I felt they used a lot of "diet products." I wanted to focus more on a whole foods diet and was drawn to how easilly I could whip up a HH meal. I think the new WW plan focuses more on whole foods now, but I just wasn't interested in learning a system.
Has she been supportive of your decision?
Very supportive. She brought home a book from a WW meeting the other day A-Z fruits and vegetables. It was all about how to use different produce you wouldn't think of using, about 3 recipes per item. Every time I go home to visit, she has a stack of plant based recipes she's printed out that she thinks I would like try, and there is always a plant based soup in the refrigerator!
What made you want to try our plant-based meal plans, when you weren't a vegetarian, vegan, or plant-based eater already?
Have you noticed any changes since making the switch?
I feel much better. I feel like I'm eating with a purpose of wellness rather than just to eat. I am feeling better now after a commited 3 months of plant based diet. I've lost 9 pounds. I kind of did a little experiment with myself to see how much weight I could lose with just diet and no increase in exercise. And 9 pounds was about it! I never thought I could lose that much weight changing my diet alone. Now that I've maxed out on weightloss, I am starting to slowly add in workouts. Some changes I didn't expect were clearer skin and significantly improved PMS symptoms (hormone related, which makes me think "what was I eating???").
You mentioned having lab work done recently, were you pleased with the results?
My Vitamin D level was low, surprise! I live in New England! My B12 level was normal but not stellar but I was not eating a very nutrient packed diet before entering the world of plant-based foods, so it probably wasn't stellar before I started! Everything else was normal :)
You work the night shift as a nurse, do you have a hard time making time for plant-based meals or snacks while at work?
I bring a bunch of snacks, a plant based dinner, carrot sticks, a serving of raw almonds, grapes, any kind of fruit. I try to bring more than I think I would eat so when someone breaks out the cake and ice cream, I go get my banana. It works about 75% of the time...I still struggle with sweets. I cut back on the coffee as well, drinking it black, maybe more like 16 oz a day rather than 32 oz ( I know, I drink a lot of coffee!)
Any additional comments?
This has been quite the wake up call for me, and I'm still in the beginning stages of the discovery of this new life style. I'm discovering great new foods, trying things I never would have tried, and getting an energy level back I've never had before. I'm very thankful for the whole HH team for putting out a great resource. Thank you Lindsay and HH team for you encouraging words, support, and growing community!