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Chris sent me the following email titled "How I became a 'Happy Herbivore' :)" The story of his journey is one that will inspire us all. In his previous life, Chris gorged himself on junk food and weighed 320 lbs. (with high blood pressure and high cholesterol tagging along). Today, Chris runs half marathons!
"This is my summarized tale of physical self-abuse.
I entered this world as a small child — My grandma still recalls how hard it was to find diapers that would fit me. As I grew up, having to "finish everything on my plate" before leaving the dinner table started what would become a disastrous habit. Growing up, I was constantly gorging on any food my heart desired. I'm talking about every type of animal product, processed snack, soda pop, candy bar, etc. Whatever I was hungry for, I consumed — no holds barred.
At the time, I wasn't aware of a problem with my behavior. Needless to say, I blew up. Eventually, I'd get sick of the weight and diet, but this was never a permanent solution. I jumped on multiple weight loss bandwagons — Atkins (x2), a variety of leading diet pills, exercise regimens, and so on. I would lose 30 to gain 50. I rode the weight loss roller coaster for about 10 years.
Examples of my meals included eating 4 or 5 Jr. Whoppers with onion rings and a milkshake for lunch, an entire pizza for dinner, the constant gas station snack cake and cappuccino purchases, etc. (you get the point). This was an everyday habit. I then found myself at a tipping point when I was 24 years old. My skin was greasy and full of puss-filled boils. My joints hurt and it was hard to walk up stairs. I didn't even want to go out anymore. My doctor told me "You're 320 pounds, your blood pressure is high, and you have high cholesterol. You can take pills for the rest of your life starting now or lose some weight." I knew that this was only the beginning of a road that would have probably killed me before I was 40. I "woke up" and decided that it was time to dramatically change course.
"I think this one really puts the 'spare tire' into perspective. When I look at these now, I have a hard time believing that I allowed myself to become that. Crazy!"
I started by just cutting down portions. I knew that if I was hungry, my body would say "Hey, there's nothing coming down the pipe, but this stuff on the walls will burn!" and this helped me get the weight loss process rolling. With everything that I cut out of my diet, I replaced with something just a little bit healthier. Within 1 1/2 years, I had lost about 80 pounds. I continued on this path, breaking the century mark and beginning an exercise program.
Then, I saw a movie that changed my life — Food Inc. This started my journey into organic and whole foods. The journey down the rabbit hole continued as I learned from documentaries like Forks Over Knives, The Future of Food, Food Matters, and Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead. I also read The Rave Diet, The China Study, Green Smoothie Revolution, and more. The more plant-based foods I implemented into my lifestyle, the more my body transformed for the positive. I have more energy, glowing skin, and most of all — I LOVE MY TRUE SELF. I had cut out animal products altogether at the age of 26. I had released over 130 pounds and reached a healthy weight of about 185.
Eating a vegan diet with a lot of raw foods allows me to be my absolute best. I'm healthier than I've ever been and I feel so ALIVE! I exercise regularly, have run half marathons, and plan to run the full Pittsburgh Marathon in 2013. That's right, I went from barely staying on my feet to being a no-meat athlete. I AM proud to be a happy herbivore.
[Note: I ran my first marathon 10 months after adopting a plant-based diet, having been too out of shape to walk a 5k the year before]"
Thank you, Chris, for sharing your incredible journey with us. We'll be cheering you for at that marathon!
UPDATE: A year later Chris checked in with an update. Read his progress here.