Herbies of the Week: Lesli & Rich (They've Lost 70lbs Together!)

Meet our Herbies of the Week: Lesli & Rich!

After struggling with weight for much of her life, Lesli turned to a plant-based diet after her doctor wanted her to consider taking a statin for high cholesterol. Much to Lesli's surprise, her husband Rich decided to join her on her plant-based journey and they haven't looked back!

Since making the switch, Rich has lost 40lbs (and at the lowest weight he's ever been in his adult life!) and Lesli is down 30lbs!

Read on for Lesli & Rich's journey to becoming plant-based!

Happy Herbivores. That's what my husband Rich and I are now, and our lives are so much better we can hardly believe it.

We have both had struggles with weight for much of our lives, for my husband because of family genetics and for me because of constantly dieting and searching to find something that would work to keep weight from coming back. We had tried different programs together, only to find the pounds came back, or that we were just hungry all the time because of calorie restrictions. We even felt we were eating healthy as we had long ago removed all red meat from our diets, and ate little junk food. Still, we saw the pounds continuing to creep upward.

My husband had issues with stomach irritation to the point of taking a pill quite often to help, and I had suffered intractable hives for almost an entire summer in a previous year. Neither an allergist, endocrinologist nor dermatologist could diagnose the cause, and only by going through an elimination diet did I find relief. Even so, as I added foods back, I would still get hives requiring antihistamines and allergy meds. We thought these were just things we both had to live with.

The catalyst for change came from a bit of a different direction. At the beginning of 2014, I needed a physical for our healthcare coverage. I knew I had elevated lipids from previous screenings - it was my genetic issue. This time the results showed that ignoring this was no longer an option. My cholesterol and lipid profile were to the point that my physician suggested I think about starting a statin. I did not want to go in that direction, so I researched how to improve without drugs. I considered several diets, but many were not that different from how we were already eating.

Then I came across Dr. Colin Campbell and Dr. Dean Ornish and their work with low fat vegan diets. I read their research and books, and from there, found more support of improving health via a vegan diet. My local library was a great resource for books like "Forks Over Knives", "The Starch Solution" and countless others that showed me firm data that a plant based whole food way of eating was the way to go. Plus, I had long felt uncomfortable about factory farming and the treatment of animals and the people who work in those conditions, and by going vegan I could lessen my impact and dependence on that.

In February, I started the change to plant-based. And even though I did not ask nor expect my husband Rich to change his eating, he decided to come along on the journey. He decided we should be a team and took up the challenge. After almost 30 years together, we have always supported each other and he felt this was important to do together. That's one reason I love him so much!

In March, my father became very ill and subsequently died in early April. It was a challenge to stay on the vegan path because of the stress, having to travel from Washington to Illinois several times to help with arrangements and family matters. I slipped into my old way of eating as I dealt with his loss. Once I was able to return home, I recommitted to plant-based eating in full force.

One of the wonderful discoveries along this journey was finding the Happy Herbivore group of cookbooks and blog! After checking out one of Lindsay's books and recipes, I quickly found these to be my "go-to" guides for great and delicious meals - especially the Light and Lean cookbook! I own nearly all and find the recipes easy, quick and fabulous! We love all the international flavors and spices as well as learning about new cuisines and trying new recipes.

As of the beginning of August, my husband has lost 40 pounds, and I have dropped 30. He is now at the lowest weight he has ever been in his adult life, and I am lower than I have been in 15 years. We have more energy - so much that we started both walking and bicycling together almost daily! Rich has not had to take any stomach medication and my recheck of my lipids after only one month of plant-based eating showed a 10% decrease overall. Plus I have had zero instances of hives, or even the slightest tingle. We feel tremendous, our skin looks better, and we are eating wonderful nutritional and delicious fresh food. We joined a local organic CSA and love the beautiful fresh produce we get, and I am planning a garden of our own next year.

Was this easy? Well, yes and no. Food cravings happen, especially early on as you change, and if you have stresses that challenge you. Yet once you understand the huge positive benefits of a plant-based diet, all those foods you once ate start to look (and taste!) less appealing and you get hooked on fresh and healthy foods! So we plan to keep on, reaping the rewards that a vegan way of eating have brought us. And thanks Lindsay, you have truly helped on this exciting journey of life!

Thank you so much Lesli & Rich for sharing your plant-based journey with us!