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Meet Erika. After having 2 kids, Erika was able to lose 60 pounds and get rid of all her headaches and has so much more energy!
HH: You've been a long-time lacto-ovo vegetarian. Tell us about that.
I remember saying two years ago that I could never follow a plant-based diet, because I loved cheese too much. I had been a vegetarian for seven years and grew up in home where my Grandmother made vegetarian meals.
HH: I find a lot of people think vegetarian meals are "healthy" or "the healthier option," and they certainly can be, but more often than not, I find the meat is replaced with lots of cheese or eggs, rather than more plant foods. What was your vegetarian diet like?
Over the years, my diet become increasingly unhealthy; Chinese take-out, butter-rich Southern dishes, and tons of cheese. During the pregnancy of my first child, I had gained 40 pounds, weighing in at 180. I told myself and my husband that I would lose the weight in a few months, but that never happened. When our daughter Madison was just six months old, baby number two (Hudson) was on the way.
HH: What motivated you to switch to a plant-based diet?
I remember feeling tired all of the time, suffering from recurring headaches, and never having enough energy. It was after a doctor's visit in my second pregnancy when I fully realized that something needed to change. During an ultrasound visit, the doctor said to me: "You're overweight, and because of your size, it's difficult to measure the baby." I felt guilty, embarrassed, and I sat there almost in tears and asked myself, "how did I allow this to happen — 215 pounds?"
HH: When did you make the change?
Hudson Parker was born in January of this year. Determined to make a change, I searched the internet for healthy vegan recipes. Happy Herbivore was the first site that I came across, and fell in love with it! I loved Lindsay's story, the recipes were fun, affordable to make, super delicious, and — most importantly — healthy. I purchased the Happy Herbivore Cookbook that same day for my Kindle, and Everyday Happy Herbivore was a surprise from my husband, Dan.
HH: Most people experience weight loss immediately after switching to a plant-based diet, but you didn't lose weight right away. Tell us about that.
I started working out six days a week and followed a plant-based diet, but the weight wasn't coming off. I didn't understand what I was doing wrong, so keeping a food journal seemed like a good idea. I was eating a lot of nuts and nut butters because, at the time, I saw it as a healthy snack option, not realizing just how fatty and high in calories they are for such a small portion.
HH: Did the weight finally budge?
When I gave up the nuts for cold apples, crispy chickpeas, salads, and other low-calorie snacks, YES! Five months later, I'm 63 pounds lighter!
HH: Congrats! That's FANTASTIC! Have you experienced any other benefits?
No more headaches, colds, menstrual cramps, and I have so much energy. Just recently, I started taking pictures of myself. For two years, I didn't take any pictures because I hated looking at myself and didn't want people to see me that way. I have no pictures of me with my family, just my husband and the kids. I'm actually looking forward to taking some family photos now!
HH: You're obviously loving your new lifestyle — and looking smokin' hot! Are you doing anything special to keep yourself motivated to staying committed to a plant-based diet?
I keep the old pictures as reminder of what I don't want to go back to. Sure, there are other ways to lose weight other than a plant-based diet; however, there are too many health risk associated with eating animal products. I have seen the negative effects in my health and in the health of friends and family members, so I've made the decision to maintain a low-fat whole foods plant-based diet for the rest of my life. I'm so thankful for selfless people like Lindsay Nixon, Dr T. Colin Campbell, John A. McDougall, M.D., Dr. Esselstyn, and Rip Esselstyn, just to name a few. They're not just concerned about their own health, but they care about the health of others. They share such vital information and are helping so many people change and save their lives!
HH: Anything else you'd like to add?
I've included pictures of myself, my husband, and our children: Madison and Hudson! :)