Herbie of the Week: Sarah N (120lbs GONE!)

Meet our Herbie of the Week: Sarah N!

Almost 2 years ago, Sarah was 303 lbs and unhappy. She had tried every diet imaginable, but nothing worked -- that is until she learned about a plant-based diet.

Unlike her past attempts, she was determined to stick with this one, and before she knew it, she started seeing results!

Since changing to a plant-based lifestyle, Sarah's lost an INCREDIBLE 120lbs! She's also more confident, lowered her blood pressure and showing others the amazing benefits of being plant-based.

Here's Sarah's story in her own words...

It started about a year and a half ago. I was at my dad’s house in the kitchen. I happened to look down at my legs and noticed something that really bothered me. I saw a varicose vein beginning on my left calf. I have those veins on my thighs and it never bothered me. Nobody ever sees my thighs. But my calves are a different story! It was then and there that I decided to finally do something about my weight. I was 303 lbs and miserable. I had no idea how to even get started. Obviously I had tried a million different diets and none with any success. I told myself that once again there was no hope for me until this one day.

My sister had a Netflix account and was nice enough to let me borrow it to watch movies and things. One boring day I decided to get on just to see what there was and I stumbled upon the documentaries. I watched a couple that didn’t have anything to do with food and they were neat. Then I saw one that caught my eye. “Food Matters” it was called. I checked it out and to my surprise, there was the answer: a whole food, plant-based diet. I mean, sure that way of eating had occurred to me before, but I always said I could never do it because I loved meat too much. But the statistics and the information was astounding and ultimately convincing. I decided to give it a try that very next day.

I knew there would be struggles of course. But I tend to be someone who, once I get hooked on an idea, I get pretty gung-ho about it for a long time until I get bored with it. This one was different though. I started out strong. I went all out. I got myself vegetables and fruits and just designed my own meals out of them. I made sure I drank plenty of water too especially in the beginning to help get out all of those toxins. And unlike other things I usually go crazy about, this time, I didn’t give up. I didn’t get bored of it and quit... because I saw results and it blew my mind how quickly I did.

At first my mother thought it was silly. In fact, she still kind of does. She is German, what else do you expect? She grew up in a very German and Polish home where the meaty and bland food was essential. My mother is overweight too and smokes, not exactly the picture of health. She, like me, enjoys her junk food. I loved my chips. When I was in elementary school, I would come home from school and open and giant bag of Cool Ranch Doritos and eat the entire thing in one sitting and I would still eat my dinner that night. It was hard giving those up. Most of all, the absolute worst for me, was giving up pop. For the first 6 months or so I completely gave up soda. I loved my Coke! After 6 months or so I did slowly reintroduce diet pop, which I used to hate with every ounce of my being, but that was only after I saw some results. I still stay away from chips except for on a rare occasion.

I also loved my string cheese. I actually remember one time I ate a whole package of string cheeses in one sitting. I’m not a big sugar person and I don’t have a sweet tooth but when it was that time of the month I would go to Sam’s Club and buy a bulk size of Reese’s Big Cups and eat the whole package in the span of about one tv show. I look back now and think, how the heck did I eat so much junk!? I loved it. I didn’t care about how detrimental it was to my health or how many calories I was eating.

My dad, on the other hand, is a different story. He’s a health professional, a Physician Assistant, and he’s always been a health nut and jogging junky. He eats healthy and runs marathons so as you can imagine I got a little more support from him. When I told him I was changing my eating and active lifestyle he was all on board to help me out. It helped to talk and get advice from him. He wasn’t always there though, so I had to take to the internet for more support especially since I didn’t live with my health nut dad, but rather I lived with my junk food mother. What made that even harder was, and even still to this day, she comes home with junk for me to eat. She buys me candy and chips and I just have to sit back and say, Mom, I can’t eat that remember? I don’t want it.

There were other forms of encouragement as well though. At work, my coworkers quickly noticed a difference in how I was starting to look and they would compliment me. It felt good and helped keep my encouraged to keep working hard at it. With my sister, it was another shake up. My little sister, who had also lost weight after she went away to college, absolutely loved that I was losing weight! She couldn’t have been more ecstatic! My older sister on the other hand, my downfall, the person I would sit and eat a whole pizza with, was less enthused. She was happy for me, yes, but at the same time I think it made her more depressed to see me actually having weight loss results. She is nearly 350 lbs herself. She was recently just diagnosed with gout and diabetes. She always knew she had high blood pressure and diabetes runs in the family. But she didn’t care, and now she’s seeing me getting healthy and it hurts her. Now that she has diabetes she’s trying everything she can to change her lifestyle but she’s all alone in Oklahoma and I’m in Iowa so it’s difficult to offer long-distance support. I told her my story and she knows it’s possible to change.

It wasn’t just cutting out the meat and the dairy and the junk food that helped me lose weight. For me, it’s getting active AND eating the right foods. My favorite thing is hiking and not just regular hiking. I love to go off-trail! It’s more rigorous and less boring to go off-trail and to just wander around the woods. Of course I have a path for myself now because I have gotten lost a couple of times but I know my way around now. It’s fun.

I also watched the documentary “Fat, Sick, and Nearly Dead” and it changed my whole perspective on fruits and veggies and how to get the most out of their nutrients. A whole food, plant-based diet and exercising. Those are all the keys to my total 120 lb weight loss. I’m now 170 lbs! I remember when I saw 200 and I got really excited. Now I’m over the moon. I actually have people call me skinny now and cute guys give me the eye once in a while.

Going plant-based has had its struggles. There have been ups and downs. Halfway through my weight loss journey my depression came back and it hurt bad. I just had to keep my head up and continue moving forward, keeping my eyes on the ultimate prize. I’ve had support and I’ve had no support. I have good days and I have bad days.

I’ll tell you the best part about my losing weight. I always wanted to be a regular blood donor and wanted so badly to sign up to give bone marrow, especially after I lost a class mate from high school to leukemia. I couldn’t though. I weighed too much, my blood pressure was too high, and my iron too low. Not anymore. I go every month to donate blood and blood platelets and I finally got registered as a bone marrow donor! It feels so good now knowing how healthy I’ve become and knowing that I can save other people’s lives at the same time. I’ve even helped others lose weight. A lot of my coworkers are adopting my herbie lifestyle have immediately noticed results. It’s worth it and I promise that you’ll love yourself so much more!

Thank you so much Sarah for sharing your amazing story with us!

P.S. Are you ready for a challenge? The 100,000 Steps Challenge starts March 1st! Details will be on the blog this Thursday!