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Q: What made you try a plant-based (vegan) diet?
I had tried a vegetarian diet over 20 years ago to combat a severe case of IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome) that was almost incapacitating. Switching my diet then made the IBS go away completely. I ate that way, along with my young children, for just over a year. I went back to an omnivore diet and have had problems with my weight and health. When I moved to Santa Fe, New Mexico, I had the good fortune of working for Whole Foods Market. What a health inspiring place to work! I saw Dr. Neal Barnard speak at WFM in September of 2011 and my boyfriend and I did our first 28 Day Vegan Kickstart. We both lost weight. My boyfriend wanted to try an ovo-lacto vegetarian diet after the Kickstart, so we did, and all the weight we lost crept back on. After that it was all over; we went back to an omnivore diet, feeling tired and sluggish all the time. In January 2012 we went to see Rip Esselstyn speak at WFM and decided to do the Engine 228 Day Challenge. We also watched Forks Over Knives, Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead, and other vegan testimonial documentaries at home, which helped convince us about the science behind why we were choosing to eat this way. It’s not “fad”, its FACT!
I have been chubby since I was about 9 years old and I have tried all sorts of weight loss diets. The most extreme was having my jaws wired shut when I was 20 years old to "help" me stick to the Cambridge Diet, which was powdered shake meals. I ended up with Temporomandibular Joint Disorder (TMJ) so severe I could hardly even walk because the vibration of my footsteps would cause excruciating pain in my jaw.I still have trouble with my jaw joint 29 years later.For all that I didn't even lose a lot of weight. I also tried the Beverly Hills Diet which extolled eating 1 kind of fruit for a week at a time. Well, pineapple can cause terrible sores in the mouth, as I can attest to. I tried Weight Watchers and gained weight my first week, so I quit. I've done Jenny Craig back in the 80's when the food wasn't as good as it looks in today's commercials. I did another meal plan where I picked up frozen food meals for breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks and had some success with that. I've done Slim Fast, "dieter's tea", over the counter diet pills, prescribed diet pills, hypnosis, and just about every low calorie frozen meal on the market, I think hypnosis actually helped with far more than appetite and I still have my tapes, so I might just pull them out again! I ate 6 small meals per day and walked on my 15 minute breaks and my lunch hour at work. I lost 80 pounds. But I gained almost all of it all back.One plan was through a physical therapy clinic located within a state-of-the-art gym. It was covered through my insurance because my back was going out and I had extremely high blood pressure. I went to prescribed physical therapy classes and logged my food and daily exercise. I lost 60 pounds through the program and the gym took Before and After pictures of me and posted them at the gym to promote the plan. I gained almost all of the weight back. I have lost over 60 to 80 pounds, twice, eating more sensibly and exercising, but both times I gained almost all of it back. The difference this time is that it is a lifestyle change, not a diet! I no longer count calories or log what I eat. I haven't exercised in a couple of months, but I am starting it up again for heart health, stamina, and to be able to lead the active life I've always dreamed of!
My other driving factor is cancer. Almost every single member of my mother's side of the family, and both her mother and father's side of the family, has died of cancer. All different forms. I am hoping it is not too late for me!
Q:What kind of health issues did you have before changing your diet?
For me, I was just so fatigued. I still struggle with fatigue, but changing my diet has alleviated it. I have high blood pressure, so I hope as I continue to eat this way and lose weight I will no longer have high blood pressure. My boyfriend had a cholesterol reading of 270 and it is now 140. He was also diabetic and is now “pre-diabetic”. He also has HBP and is looking forward to being off medication for diabetes and HBP by his next check-up.
Q:How did you find out about HH?
I “liked” the Engine 2 page on Facebook, and Rip’s team often features recipes from Lindsay’s books. I “liked” Lindsay’s pages and saw all the mentions of these delicious food creations and just had to buy the books! I am SO glad I did!
Q:You said that HH really saved you, can you explain?
As an omnivore we spend our lives building meals around a central meat and creating sides. Now I was essentially looking at meals made up 100% of “sides”. Meal planning was just mind-boggling for me. I needed more ideas and recipes to try, especially things that were more recognizable as main dishes. Although there were recipes in the Engine 2 book, I needed more choices. Happy Herbivore to the rescue!! The recipes are delicious and there are wonderful substitutions for things we used to eat. I love the vegan mayo! I still need too try some of the cheese sauces. If I hadn’t had The Happy Herbivore and Everyday Happy Herbivore for new ideas and great recipes, I fear we would have become bored and possibly lost the will to keep eating plant strong. In that respect HH literally saved me!
Q:You said that you lost 30 lbs, and that you love to eat a lot. How are you able to eat a lot and still lose weight?
I make many recipes from HH, and I note the serving sizes, but often go back for seconds and sometimes 3rds. I always think to myself, “I am SO going to gain weight from eating so much!” but I never do. Eating this way is inherently nutrient dense and light in calories. We get more bang for our calorie buck. In the beginning of my plant strong journey, I would get hungry between meals and I would just go ahead and eat something if I was hungry. I felt that it was better to be satisfied than to feel as if I were starving all the time and then give up and go back to eating an omnivore diet the way I used to. I find that I metabolize plant- strong meals very fast. Eating plant strong reminds me of the jokes about Chinese food and being hungry an hour later; it’s the same way for us! So, I eat! To date, I have lost 30 pounds and my boyfriend has lost 35 in just over 3 and a half months. I think I could have done much better, but when I put it into that time frame I realized we were doing a good job.
Q:There is a belief that it is difficult for women over 40 to lose weight, has it been difficult for you?
I will be 50 in July. I work with people that are 10 to 20 years younger than me. They are doing meal replacement shakes and aren’t enjoying their “meals” at all, and they certainly aren’t losing weight. When they do, one weekend of eating their regular diet puts their weight back on. I have worked there since February and I just keep losing weight. When I compare what they are doing to what I’m doing, it couldn’t be easier! I eat large, satisfying, REAL food for my meals, and the weight keeps coming off! Yet, they think that what I’M doing is a fad diet. I can’t get them to understand that it is a lifestyle, not a diet. They look skeptically at what I eat, and don’t believe me when I say its delicious, because there is not any meat or cheese in sight. With the HH books it couldn’t be any easier! I haven’t even been exercising the last month and a half, and yet I am STILL losing weight! So, as a senior, I would definitely attest to the fact that it hasn’t been difficult AT ALL!
Q: Any additional comments?