Meet our Herbie of the Week: Claudia R!
Claudia had always read up on healthy food, but when her and her two kids started traveling the country in an RV, they started to make poor food choices.
After being diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 2003, she began "treating" herself with food and her weight slowly started to increase. It wasn't until she heard lectures from T. Colin Campbell and Engine 2 that she finally decided to get healthy and adopt a plant-based diet.
With the help of the meal plans, Claudia's gone on to lose over 50lbs, no longer takes any of her medications for high blood pressure, acid reflux and allergies (just to name a few), and she feels SO much better!
Here's Claudia's story in her own words...
I feel honored to be asked to share my story, which isn't filled with much drama. Just lots of successes. I grew up in Southern California along the coast. I adored spending time on the beach with my friends, playing in the sand and in the waves. And this didn't change when I became an adult raising my own children. I share this because I was always in a swimsuit and I felt good about how I looked in a swimsuit.
I constantly read up on food to learn about what was considered healthy. I felt I was cautious not to get sucked into the latest fad. I educated myself to not fall for sensational news information. Then my life changed. In the early 1990s my two teenagers and I began traveling around the country in an RV.
In the beginning, my daughter wanted to follow vegan eating. I was worried she wouldn't get all her nutrients, because all I'd heard was that in order to eat a Vegan diet, you had to do careful combining to achieve your protein needs. I vowed that we'd do the research so we could be sure to remain healthy. However, our travels were so exciting and interesting, we got caught up and ignored doing any research.
Eventually, the vegan food idea fell away. In fact, we began to ignore healthy eating all together. This evolved into a full 180 about food. We told ourselves that everyone seemed to be doing okay eating fast food and processed food from the grocery stores. We started drinking sodas. When we went to the movies, we'd buy the jumbo bags of candies at the drug store beforehand and sneak them into the theater. When we got on the road, we'd do the same sort of poor food choices.
However, we were hiking and biking and skiing so many hours of our days, we didn't notice any weight gain. We were young enough, too, so we didn't notice any health changes either. Then life changed again. We decided to park the RV in Western North Carolina and stay awhile.
I got a retail job. My son enrolled at the local high school. My daughter found her permanent home in Big Sky, Montana. I'd never worked retail before and quickly learned that your life is no longer your own. The hours of the days change often and so do the days of the week. Planning can be difficult. I continued to fall into the trap of eating fast food and/or processed foods. Along with this bad habit came the weight. However, I'd look around and see that others were heavier than me and they seemed okay. Poor food choices and now a more sedentary life style began taking their toll.
A big shock came when during the holidays of 2003. I began having some very odd symptoms and woke up one day feeling awful. I pushed through and drove the 61 miles to work. By the time I got to work, I was in bad shape. I had to go on disability and after many, many tests I was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis.
This got me back to studying my food choices. However, I'd also feel sorry for myself and would figure I deserved to treat myself. My food choices yoyo'd. I'd fix what I considered healthy foods and then I'd "treat" myself.
My weight steadily increased. At 60 years old and 183 pounds, I convinced myself that at my age the weight wasn't coming off. Next thing I knew, I was on high blood pressure meds, hypothyroid meds, hormone replacement, Nexium for acid reflux, Claritan for seasonal allergies and of course my injections for MS. I knew I had to do something.
I went with friends to hear T. Colin Campbell speak and what I heard resonated with me. More fruits and veggies. No dairy! And I'd try to cut back on meat. Then I went to another lecture where the lecturer shared Engine 2 Diet. There seemed to be a trend I was being introduced to. Through Engine 2 I learned about Happy Herbivore. Geez! How much simpler could it get?
I got started on the meal plans and the weight began peeling off. I was pleasantly shocked. I realized I was feeling oh so much better. The energy! The beautiful and colorful foods on my plate lifted my spirits and inspired me. I no longer craved the snacks or "comfort" foods. In fact, my colleagues at work started noticing my weight loss and the changes in food choices I was making. Often they'd ask if I ever "treated" myself. My answer was YES! Every time I eat I feel like I'm "treating" myself.
The weight loss was not the only benefit. I am no longer on any of the meds I was taking. My doctors can't believe how well I'm doing. I'm 53 pounds lighter and weigh less than I did as a Sophomore in high school. I even weigh less than I did as a body builder in my 30s. (Of course, I'm also not as muscular. ;) )
I attend Yoga and Pilates classes and hike regularly with my new puppy, Mila. What really gets me smiling is when I run to the top of the stairs and then stop in shock that I did this. Wow! It's been years since I've done that.
I have a group of "followers". They've used the meal plans. We meet monthly for dinner. More than a dozen of us did the 10-day Cleanse together last year. It's so exciting and fulfilling to see friends embrace a plant-based diet. Many, many thanks to all your hard work Lindsay and Happy Herbivore.
Thank you SO much Claudia for sharing your plant-based journey with us!