Herbie of the Week: Stephanie H (She Lowered Her BP & Lost Over 20lbs By Making Nutritional Excellence a Priority!)

Meet our Herbie of the Week: Stephanie H!

After losing over 100lbs through various weight loss programs, Stephanie hit her worst plateau. When a friend suggested she cut out meat and dairy from her diet, she immediately noticed a change in energy and decided to keep going.

Like many people who go vegan, Stephanie GAINED weight because she was still eating oil as well as faux meats and nuts. It wasn't until she completely eliminated oil and made nutritional excellence a priority (and started using the meal plans), did she start seeing a difference.

Not only did the 20+ lbs melted off, her energy skyrocketed and she had a zest for life. And those dizzy spells and high blood pressure? GONE!

Read on for Stephanie's inspirational journey!

I've lost over 100 lbs. in a variety of ways. From 306 to 220lbs., I used a variety of SAD weight loss plans - watching portions, various exercises programs and cutting out certain foods. When I reached 220 lbs., the worst plateau ever arrived. I was eating 1200 calories a day on slightly healthy SAD eating plan and I was miserable and cranky. A friend suggested I try cutting out dairy and meat a few days a week. I noticed a shift in my energy and was encouraged to keep going. I started with vegan cookbooks. My taste buds were used to the SAD way of eating and there were more than enough recipes to make me feel like a meat eater! I cooked things like fried tempeh, hummus with oil, and soaked nuts every night to make dips and desserts. I knew any minute I would transform into a tall, thin, gorgeous vegan bombshell!

I gained ten, sad, pounds eating cashew dips and fried tempeh. My bombshell body dreams through saving animals dashed to smithereens. High blood pressure and dizzy spells left me disappointed. Where was my energy? This is not what I signed up for. I was forced to adjust my eating, yet again, and wondered if enjoying food and eating for optimum health could co-exist.

Eating nuts is akin to sucking oil out of my hand. I stopped the obvious oils. No change. I revisited the oil issue. Turns out the hummus from the store had two tablespoons of oil per serving. I ate the entire container at least once a week. The links of delicious vegan “sausage” I ate every morning was loaded with oil. I think I was on to something. People around me thought I was crazy because less and less I was eating their food. Meanwhile, I wanted to nip in the bud high blood pressure and crazy morning dizzy spells.

I found Happy Herbivore looking for recipes without oil and nuts as a base. This was a huge turning point. Suddenly we could eat our favorite foods. Yes, it took some taste bud adjusting and I confess we ate many of the flour based, sugar items. However, things began to improve instead of worsen for a change.

After using the cookbooks for about a year, I noticed the meal plans. I knew I still had some work to do tweaking my plant-based diet – but as my blood pressure slowly lowered and dizzy spells decreased – I had to find things to keep me motivated. With pre-planned meals saving me time, my taste buds adjusted for more plants and less processed food I joined the Meal Mentor community. Lindsay creates a welcome environment and her mantra of "Progress Not Perfection" resonated with me. The isolation around this way of eating felt heavy and the community, online forums, and group chats played a huge role in sticking to my goals.

21 pounds fell off! Yes – you can be older than 35 years old and lose weight without misery. My energy skyrocketed. My career took a huge leap forward. This was due to my renewed energy and zest for life. When you feel amazing, when the energy is through the roof – it shows to everyone.

I eat plant-based because it is the way to optimal health. I learned the hard way that losing weight is not always enough. There must be "nutritional excellence." Optimal health did not come to me regularly eating 100 calorie packs of processed food laden with salt, sugar, and fat. I certified with eCornell's Heart Healthy Course, took a workshop with Geneen Roth on compulsive overeating, and joined Dr. Popper's Wellness Forum, worked with other plant-based coaches, and more. I learned everything I could get my mind and heart around the plant-based way of eating. I surrounded myself with inspiring people.

I recently jumped on the batch cooking train after watching Lindsay’s YouTube video. The extra hours in the week blew my mind. The mental freedom knowing I don't have to think about dinner is amazing. It takes me from 1 - 3 1/2 hours to batch cook. As a working mom - my time is like fine wine or gold. Those extra hours bring freedom to do many more things. I love driving home knowing I have OPTIONS of what to eat when I get home, not just one leftover dish. My husband has plenty of food for work lunches and for when he gets home. There is now a "scarcity" vibe around leftovers such as “Who ate the last of the lasagna?”

There were so many ups and down for me. So many times I wanted to give up. But something in me kept searching, reading, trying new recipes, anything to not give up. Losing weight takes perseverance to be in it for the long haul and trust you won't gain it back. I knew I wanted this to stick, and it has! Eating meals I love that I would never have come up with on my own is a real joy. I love it.

Thank you so much Stephanie for sharing your story with us!

P.S. To hear more of Stephanie's story, listen to her on the Meal Mentor podcast!