Herbie of the Week: Ann! (Changing her eating habits changed her career too)

Meet our Herbie of the Week: Ann!

Although Ann had successfully lost weight, she still didn't feel all that great. Looking for answers led her to the plant-based diet and a total career change! Ann is now pursuing a career in Wellness Education.

HH: What a transformation. Where did it all start?

Almost 8 years ago I weighed 256 pounds and was miserable. I went to my yearly check up with my doctor and she informed me that I was obese, pre-diabetic, and had high blood pressure. I had to do something.

HH: Did your doctor give you any advice or dietary recommendations?

I stuck to the 1200 calorie diet plan, gave up Mt. Dew, and started losing weight. After a few months I added exercise to my daily regime. The weight did come off, but I still did not feel “healthy”.

I felt better, it was nice to lose the extra weight, but my joints still hurt, my feet were in so much pain when I first stood up in the morning, I always felt tired, my skin did not look good, and I had dark circles under my eyes. I received compliments for the weight loss, which was nice, but why didn’t I feel good?

HH: That's a good point and a great reminder that health and un-health comes in all shapes and sizes. Our "size" doesn't say how we FEEL. What did you do next?

I read an article about “Clean Eating” and decided to give it a try. I started looking into labels, researching food articles and became interested in nutrition and how we feed our bodies, and the outcome of feeding your body wrong. I realized that I had been feeding my body wrong, even while losing weight.

HH: SO True!!! I talked about this a few times on the Shortcut to Slim podcast last season. You can lose weight on any diet plan as long as there is a caloric deficit, but you might not feel very good if your diet is still nutritionally poor. Did you change your diet again?

Yes. I completely changed how my family ate; whole foods, no more artificial junk, I read food labels like crazy, looked up words I didn’t know, my whole family started eating healthier, and the results were amazing!

I was feeling better, I had more energy, and I could literally tell that there was a change in my body. BUT I still had high cholesterol.

HH: On man! I know how disheartening it can be to work so hard and make so many great changes and then things not shake out the way you expect them too. I'm glad it didn't make you give up!!

How did you hear about the plant-based lifestyle?

In September 2014 we went and stayed with my in-laws at their lake house in Minnesota. My sister in law and her husband were there and were talking about a movie that they had watched, Forks Over Knives. My sister-in-law is a dietitian and my brother-in-law is in medical school, so when they talk about health and diet, I listen.

After I got home, I got on Netflix and watched Forks Over Knives. From that moment on, I was meat-free. I slowly started going dairy-free and transitioned to a Plant-Based Lifestyle.

HH: What about your family? Were they on board too?

At first it was hard to make two meals for my family, mine and theirs. I finally decided I was not going to. I started changing recipes so that I could eat with them and then when I fixed meat, it was a side dish for them, not the main focus of the meal.

HH: That is what a lot of our meal plan members do too. They have a side of chicken or fish, or even cheese for their family to add to the meals.

It's an easy way for blended families to cohabitant!! No double cooking. Does your family eat less meat now?

My family is so encouraging and they do not complain when we have meatless Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays, and sometimes Saturdays too!

HH: Through all this you also changed your career. Can you tell us about that? What are you doing now?

After talking to my family, it was decided I would pursue my passion of eating healthy and wanting to help others by going back to school and getting my degree. I graduated in February 2014 with a BS in Health Science, with an emphasis in Health Wellness and Nutrition.

In October of this year I had the opportunity of a life time. A position came open at the hospital in my town, Mahaska Health Partnership. My position is the Community Wellness Coordinator. In this role I get to make health and wellness a priority in the community I live in. The definition of health is: the condition of being sound in body, mind, or spirit. I coordinate walking groups, downshift times, plant based cooking classes, finding your purpose workshops, book discussions, activities in the local schools, businesses, farmers market, and gardening! I am living the dream every day!

HH: Wow that is incredible!!!! Any last comments??

My desire is for people to understand it is not just about the weight loss, it is about your overall health, just like the definition.

I am getting ready to turn 39 in a couple of months. When I look back to my pictures of me at 30, I am sad. I spent the first part of my life being obese, depressed, and unhealthy. What a waste. Now I look to the future! I am almost 100 pounds thinner! I have so much energy! I provide healthy food for my family, I help my community with well being and I am happy!

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

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