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At the ripe old age of 11, I decided I was going to be “a vegetarian”. Well, only after a cool friend of mine declared herself vegetarian and told me about Mad Cow Disease (ah 6th graders, am I right?) While my parents were slightly annoyed and wrote it off as a passing phase, I slowly began to eliminate red meat, pork, fish, bacon and poultry from my diet. The transition took years, but by the time I was in college, I was fully meat-free.
My diet, however, was appalling. My father dubbed me “the vegetarian that doesn’t like vegetables”. And it was true– my main food group was sugar, followed closely by bagels and pizza.
Athletically, I was very active in high school and continued with a moderate level of exercise in my first year or so of college, so the effects of the diet weren’t immediately apparent. However as time went on, my weight went up. It was not really anything I was concerned with for a while– I just bought larger and more loose-fitting clothes and all was well.
Fast forward to age 25. I was living in Boston, working a corporate (read: sedentary) job 9-to-5, still consuming the same diet high in sugar, carbs and cheese, and low in vegetables. Subsequently, I was 60lbs heavier than those early college days.
My health wakeup call came when, early one morning rushing to work, I missed the bus. Traffic was heavy and if I ran a couple blocks ahead I could catch it at the next stop. Determined to catch that bus, I ran-walked those few blocks and by the time I made it to the next stop I was pretty sure I was about to either pass out, puke, or both.
After realizing just how bad off I was, I decided to do something about it. I made it my New Year’s resolution to get more active. I started with Wii Fit, and had goals set each week. A few months after that I gave up refined sugars for 40 days. I was not the most pleasant person to be around during that time, but I did it! I took some of the lessons learned from that experience and incorporated them into my daily routine.
The next year, I started running. I decided I wanted to not only run for the bus, but to run a 5k. This seemed like an insane goal for me at this point, but I downloaded the Couch to 5k app on my phone and just did it. In November of 2012 I completed my first race! I ran five more 5ks in the coming year and had a blast doing it!
That year I also watched the documentary Forks over Knives. It opened my eyes to the concept of Food as Medicine and I learned how important it is that I clean up my diet ASAP. For me, that meant eating way more vegetables.
By March 2014, I was consuming a fully plant-based diet and feeling pretty good! I was no longer “the vegetarian that doesn’t like vegetables”.
After a struggle with eczema, I also learned some specific foods were not serving me well. I discovered my body does not tolerate banana, avocado, wheat, gluten and baker’s yeast. I have since eliminated these from my diet and am feeling even better!
Throughout the process I’ve discovered a love of Zumba, being outdoors with my adorable Shih Tzu mix rescue dog Toby, and creating delicious and nourishing meals in the kitchen as often as possible!
So that is my unique health journey. And it will continue!
What amazes me is everybody is different and will have a unique journey. Not one will be exactly the same! As long as it ends in good health, no matter what it looks like for you, you are a success story!
So now it is your turn! What will your success story be?