Meet our Herbie of the Week: Elicia!
Elicia struggled with her weight since childhood, but it wasn't until she realized her health was keeping her from living a full life with her children that she decided to make a serious change.
Now that she's plant-based, Elicia's the healthiest she's ever been! Not only did she break free from her sugar addiction, she's also lost over 250lbs!!!, no longer suffers from a long list of ailments and is living a whole new life with her kids.
She also got her parents, children, and brother to go plant-based as well -- and they're all thriving!
HH: At one point you weighed almost 500 pounds. Was weight something you always struggled with?
I battled my weight my whole life. As a little girl I was teased by my peers and as I grew older I was teased and mocked by adults.
HH: I'm so sorry and saddened to hear about the bullying. Many people turn to food for comfort, or "eat their emotions." Was that a problem for you?
I always found myself in bad relationships. I was in a bad marriage, and between that and being busy taking care of my children, my health declined and my weight skyrocketed. Eventually I moved myself and my children to Colorado to live with my parents. I hoped to start a new life for my children and myself, and to heal. When I moved home I was sick and almost 500 pounds.
HH: You must have incredible strength and bravery to move on from all that! In addition to the weight, did you have any other medical issues?
I suffered from migraines, high cholesterol, and horrible edema. I could not walk without the use of crutches and my left leg was massively swollen. It had also turned light purple in color and was very painful. A blanket barely touching my leg shot torturous pains through it. I also had rashes everywhere and my skin was breaking out horribly. Sleep apnea caused me to be moody and tired all the time. My health was out of control and my weight kept me from living a full life with my children. I rarely left the house.
HH: Wow, you had a lot going on! What changed? What started your journey towards health?
One day I was sitting watching my children play in my parent's backyard and I knew I had to make serious changes in my life so I could be the best parent I could for my children. My father was also really sick at that time, and had been recently diagnosed as diabetic.
HH: How did you find your way to a plant-based diet?
My mom was worried about my father's diabetes and started researching for natural ways to treat his diabetes and how he could lose weight. In her searches she came across the documentary "Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead" and after watching it with my father, my parents decided they wanted to do a juice cleanse. The three of us embarked on a 60-day juice cleanse.
HH: How did that go for you?
We ended up doing 42 days instead of 60, but the results were good. I never knew what my weight was exactly before the cleanse since we had trouble finding scales that would weigh over 300 pounds. After the juice cleanse, my clothes were loose and I was feeling great, so I knew I'd had some success. (Shortly after the cleanse my mom found a Biggest Loser scale and I weighed 438 pounds at that time. By then both my parents had lost 50 pounds from the cleanse, and we all thought I probably last about the same, too. We estimate that my beginning weight was probably 480.)
HH: Losing 50 pounds is incredible! Did you experience any other benefits? Any relief from your other medical issues or their discomforts?
I was feeling and moving around better. Everything was better. I also did not go back to soda or old comfort foods. I was learning the importance of real nutrition and how good it is for us and how much our bodies need the proper nutrients. If I had anything processed with my children, I made sure it was organic and vegetarian.
HH: Eventually you went completely plant-based. What made you take the leap from vegetarian?
I was hooked on sweets and dairy. I thought I would never be able to give up dairy. I had no clue that milk had hidden sugar, which makes people addicted. Most foods that are processed have hidden sugars too, that makes people addicted. That is why it is so hard to make changes, because you're going through withdrawal!
HH: Don't I know it! A lot of people struggle with giving up animal foods, especially dairy, because it is physically addictive as a drug. What helped motivate you to do it?
I learned a lot about factory farming and read "The China Study". That was enough to make me transform to an all plant-based life.
HH: What about your friends and extended family. Have they been supportive too?
Even though the proof was right in front of people that changing to a plant-based life helped my father and myself, we still had some friends who ridiculed our new life choices. Most who voiced their concern didn't understand you can get your protein from plants or that you don't need animal products. I find most will judge or ridicule what they don't understand or know anything about it. My parents and I are living proof you don't need meat or dairy. We are thriving on a plant-based life change.
HH: Has anyone else adopted a full plant-based diet? Your parents? Your kids?
My parents, my children, and my brother are all now plant-based.
HH: That's fantastic! Speaking of your family, what happened with your father? Was he able to "reverse" his diabetes?
Yes! My father is now off his diabetic meds, gout meds, and off his meds for high blood pressure and cholesterol.
HH: What about your other medical issues...have they cleared?
I no longer had any of the ailments I suffered from before.
HH: What is your life like now?
The day I could slide down the water slide for the first time with my youngest son was one of the best days of my life. Now I can go bike riding and hiking and swimming with my children. I have a whole new life with them. I have never felt so healthy as I do now! I had learned to live with my ailments before and thought it was a normal way of life because of genetics. I never knew what healthy felt like I never thought I could feel as good as I do now. I have so much energy I am always wanting to go for walks, hikes, anything to move around because I could not do any of that before. If I tried walking to the mailbox to get the mail I would lose my breath and my leg would throb with pain and I would develop a migraine.
I believe with all my heart in a plant-based lifestyle free of animal products and processed foods with chemicals have no business being put into our food. My heart's mission is share what I have learned and show others you can get your health back. You don't have to live miserable on medications forever. My dream is being able to live on a Healing Farm where people can come stay to do a juice cleanse or a raw foods cleanse, and where rescued, abused, and neglected animals can find sanctuary.
HH: That would be amazing and I can think of no prettier setting than beautiful Colorado! Is there anything else you'd like to add?
If you know anyone suffering from any type of illness, or is battling their weight, please share with them what you have learned and share encouraging true stories of people saving their lives from changing their lifestyle such as there "Herbies of the Week". We can help others and we can make a difference in the world by sharing and caring.
Thank you so much Elicia a.k.a. "Kitten the Juice Pirate" for sharing your incredible story with us!