Losing 100 pounds (Part 1)
If you asked me 4 years ago, what it means to be healthy, I would have said that being healthy is about what size you are or how you look. What I’ve learned is that healthy isn’t about what size you are or how you look; those can be the results of being healthy. Being healthy starts in your mind and works its way out into your life. It’s more than just what you eat; it is the whole package. It is physical, mental, and emotional. And, it takes time.
So… let’s start with my story:
Let me introduce you to myself 5 years ago:
Throughout high school and immediately after, I tried to lose weight several times, and I was successful in losing some weight, but I never reached my goals. What ultimately led me to quit every time was how strict I was. Each attempt I made, I became obsessed with my “healthy” meal plans and exercising everyday. If I didn’t exercise one day, I felt terrible about myself, like I had failed completely. So, after 2 or 3 months, I quit exercising altogether and returned to eating terrible food.
Cut to January 2014 when I moved to Athens to attend The University of Georgia. That was the first time that I was living on my own; I was responsible for myself and my life. After the first month, I had just started a new job at an accounting firm, and I was shopping for work clothes for my new job. I was in the store, frustrated and embarrassed – I couldn’t find any clothes that fit me. That felt like my lowest point. Instead of trying to find another store with different options, I decided I had to change myself. I was tired of not loving myself. I was tired of feeling ashamed of who I was. So, I decided to change what I ate and exercise every day in hopes of changing the way I looked.
After a month of following a very strict diet and exercise regime, I began to lose weight, which motivated me even more to continue and become more strict. I lost about 20 pounds after just a few months. The diet I chose consisted of fish (only wild caught salmon, halibut, cod, and small amounts of ahi tuna), baked turkey, and steamed vegetables. I was behaving much like I had during previous attempts to lose weight, except it was my most strict attempt. A little note: when I prepared my food, I added no salt or oil; I prepared all of the food myself, and only added herbs to the meat. I ate everything very plain because I could only trust what I felt 100% sure would help me lose weight.
During the first month, I noticed a huge change in how I felt. I had more energy, and I felt better than I ever had before. Then, I found a 22-day Vegan challenge and I considered doing the challenge (after all, Beyoncé was doing it.) However, after investigating the recipes and considering trying this miraculous challenge, I decided not to do it after reading the ingredients in the recipes (maple syrup, pasta, rice, and olive oil, etc.). I thought that sugars, carbs, and fat would make me more fat. I was so afraid of messing up the progress I was making.
Growing up, I HATED walking for any other purpose than to get from point A to point B. I mean, I HATED it. I tried to avoid walking as much as possible (I was that girl waiting for the closest parking spot to the front door). And let’s not even talk about running. Running was something that I absolutely just did. not. do. However, I was so committed to losing weight that I was up for just about anything. I went for one hour power walks every day. Some days I would get so pumped up that I would even run up a hill or two. Yes, shocker I know! I would come home from my walks and google weight exercises. I even bought 2, 5lb dumbbells.
By the middle of March I had reached a plateau and I was not losing any more weight (this is where I would have given up during previous attempts). So, I reluctantly decided to give the challenge a try. Surprisingly, the food tasted really good, much better than my aforementioned fish and turkey. During those 22 days I felt more lasting energy than I ever had in my life. People asked me if I was going to keep eating vegan after the challenge, to which I quickly said no way because I was doing it just to lose weight.
After I completed the 22 days, I went out to Olive Garden to celebrate with my friend. I felt so proud of myself; I was really in the mood to celebrate my success. So what does one eat to celebrate?! Spaghetti and meatballs of course. After our meal, we hadn’t even made it out of the parking lot, and I was uncomfortably full. I literally turned to my friend and said: I think I should walk home. I felt so bad about myself. How could just one meal have such a powerful effect?! Without hesitation, I decided I wanted to go back to my vegan food because I already missed the way the food made me feel. That is when I decided I was going to permanently switch my diet.
Once I decided to become vegan, my journey to health really began. Stay tuned tomorrow for part 2. 🙂