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Meet our Herbie of the Week: Patti!
After years of struggling with her weight and feeling miserable, Patti stopped eating meat and started exercising. Over the next 10 years she slowly started to lose weight, but when an injury left her unable to go to the gym, she gained some of it back by eating what she thought was "healthy" food -- when it was really just vegetarian junk food.
It wasn't until she spent the better part of 2012 being sick that she finally decided to go fully plant-based and her health has changed for the better! Not only are her chronic headaches gone, but she has more energy, lowered her cholesterol, and continues to lose weight (she's almost half her size now)!
Read on for Patti's story!
My name is Patti and I'm 46 years old. My battle with my weight started as a child. I lacked self-esteem, and found comfort in food. I remember being constantly picked on and made fun of at school where I felt very alone. People called me names, and I was ashamed. High school was miserable, and I couldn’t wait to head off to the big city to go to college. That wasn’t any better. Looking for love and acceptance while exploring my freedom had its downfalls. I ate whatever I wanted, whenever I wanted. I ate out all the time. I worked in a nightclub, which led to lots of partying which continued for quite a few years. I was unhappy and very depressed.
In 1998, I saw myself in a photo and couldn’t believe what I saw. Even when I shopped and had to keep buying larger sized clothing, I still didn’t realize. I found myself weighing over 300lbs and I was my own worst enemy. I was living on junk food and take-out. I lived in a situation with roommates and a shared kitchen that was almost always in use, so it was always easier to get take-out.
Looking back, I can say I was not educated on what a healthy diet is, and I wasn’t sure where to start. All I knew was that I needed to do something, and the only thing I knew was to eat more vegetables! I made small changes, and started doing a little more cooking for myself. It took me a few more years to realize that exercise might help too.
In 2001, I stopped eating meat because I realized I felt better without it. I also cut down on sugar and I slowly started losing weight. Then I decided to join a gym and started exercising. I had no idea what I was doing at the gym, but I figured something was better than nothing. By this time I lived on my own and also realized I loved cooking and began making more of my own meals.
I had ups and downs, and it took a long time, but by 2008 I had gone from a size 26 to a 16!
After an injury in 2010, I put about 30lbs back on, and I was frustrated. That whole year put a stop to the gym for me, and I was only able to concentrate on rehabbing my injuries. I was still eating better, but as I look back on it, I was totally a junk food vegetarian! I lived on a lot of processed veggie meat products, veggie burgers and way too much pasta. I still found comfort in food, like I did as a kid, and I found myself over-eating and gaining weight.
I nicknamed myself “roadblock” because I was constantly in my own way, and I knew it. I was frustrated and depressed because I had gained weight, but I couldn’t get out of my head long enough to get out of the way and take control to make some changes.
I spent the entire first half of 2012 being sick. Bronchitis, pneumonia, skin infection, conjunctivitis, bronchitis again, and I finished it all off with a urinary tract infection. Something had to give. After talking with different people, I decided to do a two week cleanse and I quit caffeine, processed sugar (again!), soy, wheat and dairy. During those two weeks, I realized that sugar and caffeine are such drugs! The withdrawals were awful...headaches, bad dreams, sleeplessness and quite a bit of grumpiness. At the end of the two weeks, I felt so good that I decided to continue!
I picked the brains of my vegan friends and asked a lot of questions, and I began to experiment more in the kitchen. I bought every one of the Happy Herbivore cookbooks. Every week that went by, I felt better and better. Are there foods I miss? Absolutely. Cheese was one of the hardest things to give up, but once I got over the cravings, I really didn’t want it anymore. Do I eat perfectly healthy every day? Nope, but I do the best I can and as time goes by, it gets easier and easier. After eating healthy for awhile, I realized how bad I feel when I don’t eat good food!
During the last two years I have noticed huge changes in my health. My chronic headaches are gone, my skin cleared up, my energy during the day is steady, ALL day. I sleep well, I don’t nap and I feel alert when I get up. I feel so much better, and I am happy. I continue to exercise and work with a trainer towards reaching my weight goal and staying fit and healthy. I consider myself lucky, because I've always loved fruit and vegetables...now I crave them. I can honestly say I've never felt better, and I certainly don't feel my age
My Doctor has noticed too. My total cholesterol went from 290 to 170. My blood pressure is on the great side of normal. This is amazing, since both run in my family. My dentist appointments have become a pleasure since I've stopped getting cavities! He did a test to measure the acidity level of my saliva, and said he'd never seen someone with levels so low.
I'm now a size 12 and I'm 30lbs away from reaching my goal weight which will be HALF the weight I started at.
I couldn’t have come as far as I have without the love and support of family and friends. My only regret is that it has taken me so long. I educate myself daily and work hard to make healthy choices every day. Now I strive to help other people on their journey, because I don’t want anyone to suffer for as long as I did. I have a Facebook page where I share recipes and healthy eating tips. I also share what things have worked for me. I hope to help and inspire others.
I have all of the HH books, and love them. I'm not a big fan of following recipes, but I find these to be easy and delicious and would recommend them to anyone who is interested in a plant-based diet. Even if I decided to eat meat again, I don’t think I ever could…I love animals too much!
Thank you Patti for sharing your inspirational journey with us!