Meet our Herbies of the Week: Derrick & Katie!
This hubby and wife team stumbled upon a plant-based lifestyle after paying more attention to what they were putting into their body -- and realized what they thought was "healthy" was the exact opposite.
Derrick and Katie started to eat more plant-based foods and noticed they felt a lot better. Fast forward four months later: Derrick and Katie lost a combined total of 140lbs and lowered their cholesterol and blood pressure!
Read on for their incredible plant-based adventure!
Our “adventure” began in March 2013 when Derrick decided to try a new app that tracks your nutritional and caloric intake and documents cardiovascular activity. Derrick had successfully lost 40 pounds the year before with intense exercise, but gained it back because his diet didn't contain enough calories and other things your body needs to keep you healthy.
I decided if he was going to log his food and exercise every day, I should, too. We quickly learned that not only does regular heart-pumping activity help you lose weight, but a balanced diet does also. Like most people, we've been bombarded with mixed messages about what's healthy and what's not our whole lives, whether it was from friends, family, the Internet or media. Lots of things seem to work for people, but not long-term and not in a way that leaves them feeling energized and full.
In addition to calories, our app tracks nutritional information like sodium, sugar, potassium, vitamins, cholesterol, fat, fiber and protein. We were amazed so many foods in our diet offer little or no nutritional value, and these are the types of foods touted in our culture as being “healthy.” Processed foods are so awful! And good luck finding anything in a restaurant that is low in sodium, sugar and calories. Yuck! So many boxed, bagged, frozen and canned products are loaded with preservatives and other chemicals. Products labeled “diet,” “skinny” or “healthy,” we noticed, are the biggest offenders. What the food companies cut out in calories or fat they just replace with additives, salt and sugar.
With all this new information learned, we also found out what is good for us to eat. Some foods are even “free” to eat whenever you want. Fresh vegetables and fruit are amazing! For example, if there was a day when we were really low in potassium or iron, and were therefore feeling really sluggish, we often found that eating fresh produce solved the problem. Eating cheese and meat made us feel gross and ready to nap. If you've ever inhaled a pizza, burger and fries or steak dinner you can relate.
Within four months of us following a plant-based lifestyle, Derrick lost 100 pounds and I lost 40 pounds. We felt amazing, like we found “the answer” that everyone is looking for. Our cholesterol and blood pressure is very low; mine is that of a professional athlete.
There have been many other resources we have used on our journey in addition to the app. We watched documentaries like Forks Over Knives, Engine 2 Kitchen Rescue and other films that have grown in popularity as people have become interested in plant-based eating. We were amazed by what they were teaching is what we had found in our own research. We read blogs and bought plant-based cookbooks. I went to hear the No-Meat Athlete author Matt Frazier give a talk. We dove into plant-based cooking and spent many, many hours in grocery stores. Education has been the driving factor in our decision to change the way we live.
While neither one of us is vegan or vegetarian, we are continuously working at incorporating plant-based meals into our daily routine. There have been really great days, weeks and months, and some not-so-great ones. We've found that stressors like work, family issues, societal pressures and even winter weather have an impact on how we eat. Both of us have always used food as a coping mechanism for boredom, stress and sadness, but it's also used for celebratory times, bonding with people and relaxing.
We live in the rural Midwest, where many meals center around a huge cut of meat, and the sides are usually secondary and often warmed up in a microwave. We drive to a nearby city to get most of our groceries. We are planning to buy a house soon and hope to plant a garden to help with that. We are still learning how to address eating (or just not eating) at social functions where healthy options are not available.
I am still considering becoming vegan because I feel the best when I eat that way. It's an ongoing education and learning process for us, and we cannot say enough great things about resources like Happy Herbivore for getting the information out to people. Doctors don't always prescribe food as medicine, but if they did, we believe it would cure so many of the world's health problems.
Thank you so much for sharing your story with us Katie & Derrick!