Herbie of the Week: Bethany (65lbs Gone Forever + She's Lowered Her Blood Pressure!)

Meet our Herbie of the Week: Bethany!

Bethany has been on a weight loss journey her entire life. From fad diets to portion control to counting calories -- she's done it all.

Then, in May of 2013, something clicked and she decided to change her diet. A couple months later her brother showed her a documentary, which ultimately led her to going plant-based.

Since making the switch, Bethany's lowered her blood pressure, shed inches from her body and cut her mile run time in half! She's also down 65lbs, which she says aren't "lost", but rather "gone forever"!

Continue reading for Bethany's inspirational story!

HH: What was your diet like before starting a plant-based diet?

I’ve always been on a weight loss “journey”. Fad and crash diets, watching portions, counting calories, you name it. I was raised on an all natural/organic pig farm in small-town Nebraska. We ate meat, bread, and potatoes (as well as other vegetables) and drank milk at nearly every meal. This was the norm for me and I did this day after day.

HH: What made you decide to change your diet and lifestyle?

Something just clicked. I wish I could remember the exact moment, course it may have been an array of things: always being the “bigger friend/sister”, my healthy and fit brother, Trevor, asking how my eating and working out has been going (the scale was sure moving up!), having trouble shopping for and fitting into clothes, not being able to cross my legs, or even go up the stairs without getting winded and tired. I battled anxiety and depression and low self esteem from my early teens into my early 20s. My hair was thin, my skin was red and spotty, my mood and energy levels were very low, and I had constant headaches. Then, the click. I was so tired of all that.

HH: When did it happen, the click?

My true and life-changing transformation began in late May of 2013. I was 23 years old and teetering over 230 pounds.

HH: What did you do? What happened after the click?

I changed my diet first, not to completely vegan, but close. My amazing boyfriend (now fiance!), Zane, was so supportive in helping me get all the bad "food" (processed fake garbage!) out of the house and keep it out. I cut out fast food and alcohol as well and started working out on my own. Weight was coming off!

HH: How'd you find your way to a plant-based diet?

In July 2013, my brother, Trevor, introduced me to Dr. Joel Fuhrman via a PBS television special, talking about the plant-based diet.

I thought, “I can eat as much nutrient rich foods as I want? Seriously!?” I immediately ordered Dr. Fuhrman's book Eat to Live and have been plant-based ever since.

HH: What's your diet like now?

I eat anything and everything from chili, black bean brownies (my FAVE!), homemade hummus with veggies, banana ice cream, mushroom soup, peach cobbler, bean and pepper enchiladas, mashed cauliflower, gourmet salads…all 100% whole food plant-based. No dairy, no meat, no eggs, no processed sugars, no oils, and no bleached flours. I take on every challenge to make any dish into a nutritious one.

HH: Did you make any other changes, beyond changing your diet?

In late August 2013 I hired a personal trainer, Keith, to help on the workout end with technique and motivation. I also discovered mud run obstacle courses (Warrior Dash, Tough Mudder, Rugged Maniac, etc). I am obsessed! I have run 7 to date, and am not stopping now. With this new found energy I also got back into jogging, tennis, and running hills. My family and friends began noticing a change in me, and words of encouragement began coming in. I became super close to a long-distance friend, Kristi, who is passionate about health, fitness, and nutrition as well. We text daily workouts, recipes, motivation, inspiration, and the occasional (or more than occasional) fitness selfie. She’s been a rock!

HH: WOW! You are amazing!! What a change!!! Have you experienced any other improvements or benefits since switching to a plant-based diet?

By Christmas 2013, I was down about 35 pounds. Around the year mark (June 2014) I had just passed 50 pounds lost, and to date (October 2014) I am nearing 65 pounds lost. Not "lost", but more "gone forever" since I don't intend on finding it ever again! So far, I have dropped over 7 inches on my waist, 6.5 inches around on my hips, 4.5 inches on each thigh, 2 inches on each calf, 2 inches on each upper arm, and even over an inch around my neck! I have dropped almost 12% body fat. My blood pressure went from 126/86 in December 2012 to 103/62 in June 2014. I started at a size 18-ish and am now comfortable in a size 8. My mile pace went from a 17-minute mile to around 8:20. All of those numbers are still going down!

At this rate, not only am I continually losing weight, dropping off inches and body fat…I am protecting myself against diseases, infections, pre-mature aging, helping prevent cancer, stroke, heart disease, and so much more. I have higher energy, my asthma and allergies are near gone, I sleep so much better, my skin and mind are both so much clearer, headaches are rare. I feel like I discovered who I really am.

HH: You mentioned you were engaged (congrats!) and that your fiancé, Zane, was very supportive of you and your new lifestyle from the beginning. I couldn't help but notice in your pictures together (above) that he looked more healthy and youthful, too. Have your plant-based ways rubbed off on him too?

Zane recently agreed to do a 100 day 100% Vegan challenge with me. I am so excited to share this experience with him. We are almost halfway through and he is down 33 pounds! :)

HH: That's fantastic! Have any of your friends or other family members made a change too?

Others have reached out to me after watching my transformation as well. I love helping others change their lives and overhaul their health. Being healthy and eating plants feels so good, I just want to shout it from the rooftops! I just feel so great about my life and my health and where this road is taking me. I am looking into health coaching, blogging, perhaps writing a book. Stay tuned... because now, I know I can do anything. Whole food plant-based for life!

HH: Any other thoughts or comments?

People often ask me if eating this way is more expensive. It’s definitely more time consuming, but for me I think it pretty much evens out financially, considering I no longer spend money at restaurants, bars, fast food, or on alcohol, candy, chips, prescriptions or over the counter drugs.

Thank you so much for sharing your story with us, Bethany!