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Back in December 2012, Ruth posted a side-by-side comparison of her "before" and "after" picture on Happy Herbivore's Facebook page. She was an instant sensation — with over 1,000 likes and hundreds of comments giving her congrats. Dozens of Herbies asked me interview Ruth as part of the series and, lucky for us, Ruth is bravely sharing her weight-loss story with us today!
My Weight Loss Journey
By: Ruth Hughes
Since a young age, weight has been a struggle in my life. I definitely experienced challenges growing up, from peer acceptance to trying to keep up with healthier and fit kids, but never really realized until my late 20s how carrying the extra weight would lead me to a reality that I never thought I would face — ongoing health issues. At the end of 2009, I was prompted to see a doctor after experiencing nausea, muscle aches, dizziness and extreme exhaustion for several weeks. During this appointment, I was given a routine exam. It had been several years since I had been in a doctor’s office, let alone stepped on a scale. After weighing in, the nurse told me the actual number; I was in shock…290 pounds! Immediate shame, remorse, among other feelings took over as I sat in the examination room waiting for the doctor. After these initial feelings though, I thought “what if I could finally beat the weight issue for good and live a healthier life?” This wasn’t the life I had imagined. All of the food choices I had been making for 29 years were literally shortening my life expectancy, and I knew I had to make immediate changes. With a history of high blood pressure and diabetes in my family, it wasn’t a shock when the doctor told me that I had both, but I thought that I had more time before having to succumb to taking medications and managing a disease on a daily basis. I told the doctor that I had no desire to be dependent on medication and that I would do the work necessary to lose the weight. I left that appointment, feeling for the first time in my life, that I could truly attain my weight loss goals with fortitude and perseverance.
Immediately after leaving the doctor's office, I started researching healthy eating, weight loss programs, fitness routines, among other topics in an effort to jump-start my weight loss. Several stepping stones in my weight loss journey included Weight Watchers and Jenny Craig. Due to the high costs of membership and food though, I only participated in each of these programs for
a short time. These programs provided me with a wealth of information on making better food choices, but were only a jump-start in my weight loss journey; because in order for me to achieve long-term weight loss, my approach to health and fitness would need to become a permanent lifestyle change. While I did see results from these programs, I still wanted to eat less processed foods and felt that in order to maintain long-term weight loss, I needed to continue my research towards finding the right balance of healthy eating and fitness.
During my research and recommendations from numerous friends, I watched the documentary Food, Inc. This documentary changed my perspective toward eating meat and was extremely informative. A little under a year and half into my weight loss journey, I reached a plateau and was not able to lose weight as consistently as I had been. While continuously adjusting my exercise routine, counting calories, etc., proved to be helpful it still did not yield the results I was hoping for. Earlier this year, I was talking to a good friend of mine, who adopted a whole-food plant-based diet nine months prior, about my weight loss journey and she encouraged me to watch Forks Over Knives. Literally, a few days after that conversation, the documentary was available to view for free on an internet video streaming website and after watching this
documentary, I knew I needed to adopt a whole-food plant-based diet. This was a whole new world to me though, and I am the type of person that always researches something in order to have a plan in place or at least an idea of how I would implement this new lifestyle change before diving in. I knew in order to be successful the first six months of my transition from carnivore to herbivore while finishing my Master’s degree (by the way, I graduated a
couple of weeks ago) would require me to find resources that clearly explained this type of diet and provided quick and easy recipes. So I started my research on the Forks Over Knives website, which introduced me to the world of plant-based eating and through the amazing list of resources provided, I purchased several books including: Plant-Based Nutrition, Engine 2 Diet, Happy Herbivore Cookbooks, and The China Study. This website truly opened my eyes in ways for which I will be forever grateful.
After my initial research, reading several books, and finding additional resources through the world of Facebook, I decided to make the switch to a whole-food plant-based diet immediately and not gradually — I went all in from day one. Personally, that approach is much easier for me than still keeping one foot in a lifestyle that I wanted to move away from. I have been herbivore
strong since June of this year, and within that time I have lost 70 pounds, making my total weight loss 155 pounds since my journey began. Since adopting a whole-food plant-based diet, I have reversed and eliminated all of my medical issues (Type 2 Diabetes, High Blood Pressure, etc.) no longer experience feelings of exhaustion, have so much more energy than I know what to do with…LOL, as well as so many more positive health results that my list literally could go on forever. Bottom line — I feel absolutely amazing!
I’m truly blessed to have the opportunity to live a healthier lifestyle and will maintain a low-fat, whole-food plant-based diet the rest of my life. I’m so thankful for amazing resources like Happy Herbivore that provide a community of support, encouragement, and a plethora of recipes! Now that I have graduated and have my free time back, I am looking forward to spending more time with my family and friends, volunteering at various organizations, traveling around the world, mountain biking, and cooking my way through all three HH Cookbooks!