Herbie of the Week: Tara (She No Longer Suffers From GI Issues or Depression + 45lbs GONE!)

Meet our Herbie of the Week: Tara!

Tara once suffered from a laundry list of health issues including headaches, depression, chronic constipation, fatigue, ulcers, sinus infections, and severe PMS symptoms as well as high cholesterol and blood pressure. The most debilitating, however, was her gastrointestinal problem.

Hoping to find an alternate solution to fix her ailments, Tara visited a gastroenterologist, who recommended a diet with little to no animal products and high in unprocessed fruits and vegetables.

She immediately adopted a vegetarian diet, but unfortunately her GI issues didn't go away. That's when a co-worker told Tara about "Forks Over Knives", which led her to adopting a plant-based diet -- and the results are AMAZING!

Since making the switch, Tara has lost 45lbs, no longer suffers from depression, fatigue, severe PMS symptoms or GI problems!

Get ready to be inspired by reading Tara's story!

I grew up on a typical southern diet of extensive meat quantities served with fried and starchy sides. I was always able to maintain a healthy weight despite my poor diet thanks in large part to my gymnastics and cheering routines throughout my middle and high school years. It wasn’t until after the birth of my daughter 6 years ago that I struggled to with my weight as well as my overall health.

Like many others, I was astonished when the weight crept on as I was eating the same way I had my whole life. I began to try the same fad diets many of my coworkers and friends were doing. I’d get excited as soon as I dropped 20 pounds, only to find myself discouraged at my inability to keep the weight off.

My most successful attempt was utilizing the Weight Watchers program, which helped me to learn to monitor the nutrition of the foods I was consuming. I was able lose a total of 30 pounds with this program in 2009. That was also the year I began taking college courses to become a teacher. The stressful load of my courses combined with my job and family caused me to lose sight of my health goals and the weight quickly came back on. By the beginning of Summer 2010, I had hit an all time high of nearly 200 pounds on my small 5’3” frame. Sadly, I carried this weight around for an extensive period of time manipulating myself into thinking that I was genuinely happier being heavier.

Had my weight been my only concern, I’m not certain that I would have been motivated to seek medical help. However, I had a plethora of ailments causing me a great deal of dissatisfaction in my life. I had begun suffering from daily headaches, depression, fatigue, ulcers, frequent sinus infections, and severe PMS symptoms. The most debilitating of my health issues was my debilitating gastrointestinal problem. Chronic constipation was impacting my work, school, and home life. I was constantly running to the drug store for a quick fix only to find myself in pain a short time later.

My PCP ran my blood work and found that my cholesterol and blood pressure were high but that I had no thyroid problems. She recommended an expensive shake diet (for which I’m sure she got a kick back) as well as an antidepressant. Discouraged with the thought of taking more pills, I began to do some research of my own in hopes of finding an alternative solution to my health problems. I made an appointment with a gastroenterologist. I anticipated he would likely run extensive and expensive tests to find the cause of my digestive issues. To my surprise, after reviewing my health history and blood work, he simply recommended a diet with little to no animal products and high in unprocessed fruits and vegetables (he didn’t use the specific term plant-based diet). "That’s it?", I thought. "Well, changing my diet is certainly less expensive than medicinal route my PCP recommended, why not give it a try?"

I quickly and easily dropped 25 pounds just from switching to a vegetarian diet alone. I was inspired with the surprising ease of being able to maintain this lifestyle and that I was able to provide foods my entire family could enjoy. Unfortunately, I was still suffering from the same GI issues. A coworker recommended that I check out a video that changed her life, "Forks Over Knives". Wow! It was like someone had flipped a switch in terms of how I viewed health! I was determined to learn more about the plant-based lifestyle. I immersed myself in readings like Dr. Fuhrman’s "Eat to Live" and "The China Study". I also joined several online groups for best practices and support.

I initially decided to follow Dr. Fuhrman’s "Eat to Live" plan. Following an intense plant-based plan, I was able to drop 15 more pounds. Though my weight loss plateaued, I continued to follow a plant-based lifestyle, allowing myself the occasional cheats (bean and cheese tacos are my guilty pleasure). I find that having the online support, such as the Happy Herbivore Facebook page, and continuing to try to new recipes from plant-based cookbooks has been a critical part of my success.

Since going plant-based I have dropped a total of 45 pounds! I do still struggle if there are weeks where I haven’t planned my meals appropriately or packed quick and easy snacks. Going to the farmer’s market is now one of my favorite weekly activities and I’m ecstatic about the mobile produce truck San Antonio has now, called Truckin’ Tomato, making local organic produce more accessible. I also joined a gym and am enjoying toning muscles that haven’t been used in quite a while! My husband, the devout omni, is actually coming around after seeing the long-term benefits a plant-based lifestyle offers.

I now haven’t had a sinus infection in two years and no longer suffer from depression or fatigue. The severe PMS symptoms are long gone as well as the gastrointestinal issues! I love that Lindsay always talks about progress instead of perfection. There are definitely hectic weeks where I have set backs, but I am always reassured that I can get back in the saddle. It has taken a few years of practice, but I think I am beginning to find a balanced routine of incorporating being plant-based into my crazy life.

I love wowing friends and family with delicious WFPB recipes and telling people of the obstacles this lifestyle has helped me overcome. One of my proudest moments was when my 6 year old daughter declared herself an herbivore on her “All About Me” poster for school! It inspires me that my family and I are creating new familial customs and leading both a more nutritious and ethical lifestyle. I would like to genuinely thank Lindsay and all the other herbies for continuing to be a source of valuable information and beacons of support and reassurance in my life.

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