Let me start off by saying I am not a professional nutritionist or a personal trainer. I am just a mom who has recently realized the massive amounts of harm I have been doing to my body by eating what is called a “Standard American Diet” (Isn’t it ironic that the acronym for the Standard American Diet is SAD?? Just a thought…). I am simply putting my story out there so hopefully others will be inspired.
I had always considered myself in pretty good shape growing up. I had never thought of myself as “overweight” or unhealthy. Although, I was a typical teenage girl who thought she could lose a few pounds. I was a very active child growing up. I was involved in every sport and dance class I could find. However, when I got to college things started to change.
I didn’t notice my weight gain immediately because it happened over the next 4 years. I had always eaten whatever I felt like without wondering how healthy the food was, where it came from, or was it even real. I thought if I walked to class every morning that would be enough exercise (side-note: I went to an all girl’s private college where my dorm was about 200 feet from my class). When I entered college I was about 125 pounds. By the time I graduated I was about 140 pounds. I was not overweight by any means, but I knew I wasn’t the healthiest I could be.
November 2013 my husband and I found out we were going to be parents. I expected to gain weight. I expected to have unhealthy cravings. And I also expected to be able to lose the weight pretty quickly shortly after giving birth. When I found out I was pregnant, I was about 140 pounds.
When I went into labor, I weighed every bit of 180-185 pounds! Throughout my entire pregnancy I kept telling myself I was all belly and I wasn’t that big! Um….negative. I knew I would lose some weight immediately after giving birth, but it wasn’t what I expected. Because I thought I wasn’t that big or that I hadn’t gained much weight (I tried to avoid a scale when I could), I thought my daughter would barely be 7 pounds. She came out weighing 8 pounds 12 ounces!
Then I heard I would drop extra baby weight by breastfeeding. So I thought,
“Great! There’s my answer!” Well, I wasn’t able to nurse more than 2 months and that was pushing it. After 6 months of maintaining a weight of about 160 pounds (I lost some weight immediately due to having a baby and the weight “readjusting” to other places), and I still could not fit into my old (smaller) clothes, I decided it was time to seriously make a change.
The answer came unexpectedly on January 2, 2015. I am aware it is the biggest resolution holiday of the year, but I had no intention of setting extreme resolutions that I would break before the month was over. I had already told myself by the end of January I wanted to lose 5 pounds. Pretty reasonable goal to start. Now I had to think about how I was going to do this.
My husband and I were watching a health documentary called “Hungry for Change”. This one documentary gave me the motivation I needed to really evaluate my lifestyle eating habits and exercise, and truly rededicate myself to a healthy, whole-food, plant-based lifestyle. I call it a lifestyle, because the word diet tends to mean a temporary change. I was looking for a permanent change. After we watched “Hungry for Change” we began to blaze through all the health documentaries on Netflix like, “Forks over Knives”, “Fat, Sick, and Nearly Dead”, “Fed Up”, “Vegucated”, and many others.
I decided to do a 3-day juice cleanse to rid my body of the toxins I had been feeding it for years. Each day I made 5-6 fresh fruit and vegetable juices. I felt fine the first day. The second day was when it all hit me. My body was detoxing. I had a killer headache and I was exhausted. But then the third day I felt completely different. I had more energy than I had in years. I welcomed this new feeling being that I had a 6 month old at the time who required a lot of my attention. After this juice cleanse, I knew I was not in it for a short time.
My next step was to go vegan. Yep, that’s right. No meat, dairy, cheese, or other animal products. It helped that most of the documentaries I watched were about factory farms and slaughter houses. I’m going to get into that right now, but trust me it helps keep you on track. Anyway, I did this for one month. I soon realized that I truly did not need all the processed meat and other animal products I was used to having. I was eating more whole-foods and vegetables than ever before. My body did not require as much to stay full. I switched my coffee creamer to almond milk. Now when I have a sweet drink or coffee, it does not taste good to me! I definitely prefer the almond milk and non-dairy creamers to other sugary dairy creamers! My skin began to clear up, thus requiring me to use less make-up. My leg aches and headaches were almost non-existent. Let’s face it, ladies. No woman feels sexy covered in icy-hot and heating pads.
By the end of January, I had not only met my goal of losing 5 pounds, but I exceeded it. I lost 7 pounds. I decided to go another month. I set another 5 pound goal. I dominated that one too. By the end of February, I was down 13 pounds. I started at about 157 pounds and I was now 144 pounds. It is now May and I am currently weighing in at 135 pounds! In the past when I tried to lose weight, I would set huge unattainable goals like losing 10 pounds in a month. I have found that if I set smaller goals, I am more likely to meet those goals, and even possibly exceed them.
Where I am now…
I do not intend to keep losing weight. I am very satisfied at the weight I have reached. I am more focused now on exercising and building my muscles. I have also decided that I am definitely vegetarian and mostly vegan. I am more focused on whole-foods and no meat, rather than full-devout vegan. I love my eggs way too much! I do make sure my eggs are cage-free, hormone-free, and treated humanely.
This journey has been an eye-opener. I have learned a lot about myself as a person, as well as a mother. I am definitely more aware of what my daughter is eating. Our goal is to make sure she is fed good, healthy foods right from the start. If she is used to eating organic vegetables and not processed foods, she will not grow up craving them. Life tip: if you don’t eat it, you won’t crave it.
I have also enjoyed cooking so much more now! I know my husband appreciates this!
I know this post was long, but in order for you to fully understand the “why” behind my lifestyle, it was important that you know the background. I have never been happier with my body and food habits than I have been in the last 5 months. My husband has been an amazing supporter through all of this. Having a child will definitely make you think more about your lifestyle choices. Our daughter definitely motivates us to be better versions of ourselves. After all, children learn from their parents. If you have bad habits, most likely your children will too. If you eat healthy food and exercise regularly, most likely your children will too.