Editor's Note: To coincide with the Great American Meatout on March 20, I'm sharing my success story with a vegan diet. Please note that this story is a personal one and should not be taken as dietary advice or an endorsement from anyone other than myself. I am a writer, not a health professional. We're all an experiment of one. Do what's right for you!
Reprinted in part from "Easy Vegan Meals by SparkPeople: The No-Stress, No-Guilt Way to Reap the Benefits of a Plant-Based Diet."
In 2010, I became a vegan accidentally, unintentionally and without fanfare--all the while claiming that I could never make the leap to veganism. My excuses varied depending on the situation: it would be too costly, I loved cheese too much, I couldn't imagine interrogating every server at every restaurant for the rest of my life. I admit: I was wrong about veganism. Today, I remain happily, healthfully vegan.
It all started with a stressful break-up that left me with an odd feeling: a loss of interest in cooking. As a food editor and cookbook writer, this was very unusual!
For the first time in a very long time, I had to remind myself to eat, and when I did, most foods didn't appeal to me. I spent a couple of weeks relying heavily on healthy snacks to keep me fueled: oatmeal, carrots and hummus, bananas with almond butter, quick spinach and bean salads, etc.
Though emotionally I was a mess, physically I felt great. I was tracking my food on SparkPeople to make sure I was eating enough to sustain me, so I knew I was consuming adequate calories. I had energy, I was running and practicing yoga regularly, and I had a noticeable absence of stomach pain.
You see, I have what many call "a delicate constitution." That's a nice way of saying that my stomach is sensitive. I'm prone to all sorts of unappetizing ailments related to the GI tract. Never feed me raw broccoli. You've been warned. I'm also lactose intolerant.
Though I was eating the same amount of calories as usual, I was losing weight--and SparkPeople confirmed that I was getting enough protein, carbs, fat, etc.
I started examining my food intake more closely. What was different? I was eating really healthy foods, but I was also going out just as much as I had before.
Then I realized: Dairy! Eggs! I hadn't been in the mood to cook, and apparently, I had stopped shopping for cheese and eggs as well. I looked at myself in the mirror. The belly bloat that had stubbornly refused to leave was gone! Within three months, I was down 15 pounds, past my previously unattainable goal weight.
I decided to try intentional veganism for a week. To my surprise, it wasn't hard. In fact, I continued to feel better. I was lactose intolerant and knew that animal products were especially hard on my delicate system. I've never considered changing my diet, and when I met Sam, also a yogi and a vegan, it felt that much more "right."
Me in 2012: Yoga is better without an upset tummy!
My body is the strongest and healthiest it has ever been. A vegan diet allows me to maintain a rigorous six-day-a-week Ashtanga yoga practice while running and teaching yoga.
I've maintained that 15-pound weight loss since December 2010--without any of the yo-yoing up and down five pounds that I usually do. Last summer, I broke my habit of putting on a few during warmer months. This concludes my weight loss journey at 50 pounds down, from 183 pounds at my all-time high. For the first time in years, I feel confident in a bikini. I've finally recovered from my disordered eating habits, and I love my body inside and out.
I look great, I feel great, and I credit much of that to SparkPeople and a vegan lifestyle. I feel like a whole new person, so healthy and happy. While every person is different, and I truly feel like I've found what works for me.
What brought your weight-loss journey to a close? What was your "a-ha" moment? What works for you?
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