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Meet our Herbie of the Week: Jenn A!
Earlier this year, Jenn left this comment on our Forks Over Knives Plan giveaway:
"The documentary Forks Over Knives really opened my eyes to how unhealthy animal products are for us. It made me a better vegan and since then I have lost 52.3 pounds and my cholesterol is going down! Next to tackle diabetes and beat that without medication. The documentary is extraordinary in seeing people change their lives living on a plant based diet and showing it is NOT boring as many non-vegans believe. I loved the documentary and HH has really helped me with healthy recipes that have changed my life!"
After reading her comment and getting to know Jenn a little bit better, I knew she was the perfect candidate for the Herbie of the Week series.
I'll let Jenn take it away!
In 1994 I was in a car accident that left me with a back injury, and at that time I was also diagnosed with Fibromyalgia. I've struggled with my weight and health all of my life. I have been disabled since 2004 due to medical issues. I also had high cholesterol and have been warned I was pre-diabetic. I ate junk all the time. Meat, dairy and general junk. Medications I had to take for my conditions caused a huge spike in weight gain. I had to use the electric carts in grocery stores because I was in too much pain if I walked. In 2009 I was kicked off a plane for not buying 2 seats to sit in, because they felt I was too big for one seat. I was ashamed and embarrassed -- but I couldn't seem to get control. I was always so tired and exhausted. Many days I couldn't even get out of bed because my pain levels were too high. I had given up hope.
In May my husband and I found ourselves homeless and my parents offered to let us come stay with them. My mom has been a vegan for 5 years now. She has mentioned it to me prior to this, but I didn't seem to be ready. I live with a huge carnivore! How could that possibly work? My mom is a fantastic cook and since we were living there and my life was changing from everything I already knew, it was time for another change. I had heard that plant-based eating can help with Fibromyalgia and other health issues I have. What better time to start than now? So I did. My mom's use of Happy Herbivore, Forks Over Knives, Engine 2 and her own style opened my eyes that plant-based eating was not just salads, that is what I had pictured salads and steamed veggies. I started at the end of May and in July when we were able to move I kept going.
The easiest thing to give up was meat. I never thought it would be that easy, as I was a huge carnivore meat eater like my husband. I love most veggies and am open to new cuisines so adjusting wasn't too hard. The first 2 weeks were the hardest. Giving up cheese has definitely been the most challenging. I LOVED my cheese. I craved it and I'll admit sometimes I still do. I have been making vegan cheese sauces that help with the cravings and have found that almost anything I crave I can find a plant-based alternative for. I still struggle with cravings, especially on my bad days. It's hard to be a lazy vegan and honestly I hate cooking! My husband is still very much a carnivore and not big on cooking so that is left to me and I have to make sure I am prepared because you can't just run out and grab something like you can do when you have poor eating habits like I use to! My husband is supportive and eats plant-based for dinner since that is what I cook. My mother keeps telling me how proud she is of me. So I have had supportive people around me. Without them I don't know how I would manage!
I have now lost over 53 pounds and I have so much more energy. Losing that weight brings me to the weight I was when I got married! I didn't think I would ever get back there! My goal is to keep losing more, but it's not my focus. I want to focus on a healthy lifestyle and not a number. I am not defined by a number. My focus is to feel better. I'm no longer pre-diabetic, my blood work came back great and my cholesterol has significantly dropped. I have so much energy in fact I get so much done I don't know how to stop! I joined a gym even though I have to start slow and be careful not to over do it and cause a flare up or injury. But WOW, *I* am going to the gym! I could barely walk into a store and now I am walking at the gym. I can do about a 1/2 mile to 3/4 mile most days between the walking and the biking. And it feels AMAZING!
My fibromyalgia has improved greatly! I could barely get out of bed before. I had to use electric cats at the grocery store. Now I walk even the biggest stores and I'm so energetic! Becoming an Herbie completely changed my life, my attitude and my outlook on life. I still have fibro days, but they are fewer and less severe than before!
I have shared my new eating with my doctors and they too are impressed, one has even adopted plant-based eating herself! I enjoy life more and I feel incredible. Life took a long downward spiral and changing to plant-based eating sprung it up farther than I ever imagined! Lindsay's recipes are so helpful in making even the most skeptical a believer! Some of my favorite recipes are the Hawaiian Chickpea Teriyaki, "Tuna" Salad and OMG definitely the Black Bean Burgers!!! My husband has even had to admit that plant-based eating isn't as boring as he thought and he is enjoying the food I make! I haven't been able to convince him to go full on Herbie, but I didn't think I would be able to convince him to even try it, he is not a fan of many vegetables. Having support is so wonderful because it can keep you on track and between my husband and my mom I definitely have a great support system!
My next goal is to get the cookbooks! I need Everyday Happy Herbivore and Light & Lean! I see so many great reviews of them and I love that even someone with no time can cook them! My back is still very bothersome with standing and cooking so I have been doing easy and crockpot meals to get by....hey Lindsay when will you come out with a HH crockpot book? :) [Editorial note: There's info on crockpot recipes in this post ;)]
Thank you so much for sharing your story with us, Jenn! You're an inspiration!