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The Surprising Final Leg of My Weight-Loss Journey

By , SparkPeople Blogger
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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DGRIFFITH51 10/25/2019
Good job, well done, you look awesome. I tried a vegetarian diet but I gained weight. I did it for 6 months and decided to do Keto which I did for another 6 months and dropped 30 pounds. I have maintained within 5 pounds on a Spark diet for a year now. Report
NEW_CATS_MEOW 9/17/2019
It's so much easier to be a vegan nowadays! I used to have to hunt down "specialty" foods, now it's much easier to find an array of vegan stuff in grocery stores. Glad you've found what works for you! Report
ROBBIEY 3/27/2019
This is awesome Report
JUNETTA2002 3/20/2019
thanks for sharing. Congrats on your journey. Report
MONANISA 3/6/2019
I am glad this blog resurfaced this is almost my story I struggled with first losing weight then losing that last few pounds.
When I met my boyfriend in 2012 I was mostly vegetarian he has been Whole Plant Based for many years so it made sense. I was able to lose those the last few pounds and keep the weight off even after Thyroid ablation and Back surgery. I love this way of life I wish there were vegan meals on our food plan here! Report
Funny, when I tried going vegan I gained weight... every body has different needs. Report
Thanks for sharing! :) Report
Wonderful to feel healthier. Report
Three or four years ago, this blog would not have made very much sense to me. But right now, in chemo treatments... I'm finding I feel better when I eat veggies and not eat meat or eggs or fermented dairy, I have more of a sour stomach or somewhat nauseous. (I've known for 10-15 years that milk and I don't play nice, but continued to eat cheese or yogurt etc.). Sooo I'm not sure how this is all going to play out... but I can see myself being more vegan in the future, with maybe occasional bouts of a flexitarian meal (like fish doesn't seem to bother as much as beef or chicken.). Report
Such useful information. Thanks for sharing it. Report
What a terrific story. You were cute before and you are now even cuter.
Keep up the good work. Report
My weight loss journey was brought to a close after having a heart attack. I had already lost about 50 lbs and then realized that I'd better get to the "normal" BMI range and stay there. That realization coupled with starting cardiac rehab and moving to a more plant based diet got the last 35 lbs off and they've stayed off for over 4 1/2 years. Report
Very inspirational! Report
You look great!!! I have thought about adopting a Vegan diet as well. I know it will be tough at first, but thank you for the inspiration! Report
I've been vegan for about a year after years of vegetarianism (with a few cheese relapses). I feel great, I've lost 10 pounds, and it makes me feel good to know no-one was harmed in the making of my lunch! I just joined Spark and I'm hoping to lose about 25 more :) Report
Thanks so much for sharing! I am trying a vegan diet for the next 30 days just to see what it's all about, and I am looking forward to how I am going to feel at the end of it. Your story has made me even more excited to start and keep going! Report
You have inspired me! I have recently became a vegan after many years of being a vegetarian. The cheese was killing me! Probably literally. But now I face other dilemmas....cant eat out anywhere...here in florida there arent the healthy restaurants there are in california I here about. Everything I can eat besides a salad-which I can eat at home...is fried! Or filled with sugar....which by the way is not vegan. Im finding my way and these past month has either been really healthy or really naughty...day by day. Today I was half and half and I hope I can do better tomorrow....Thanks for letting me vent on your post...proud of you! Report
This has inspired me to listen to my body. If we listen, it will definitely let us know what it needs to run efficiently. Report
congrats! truly inspirational :] Report
Anything to not divert my kidneys/liver/system from fat-burning! If they're overtaxed, then fat-burning seems to get bumped. Report
I am impressed with your yoga skills Report
That is awesome! I've tried to be vegan a couple of times, the longest I made it was four months. Even though I'm embarrassed that I fail at it, one good consequence is that I seem to have less and less of a taste for meat and dairy every time I "fall off the wagon". Even as the Meatless Monday campaign points out, just reducing your meat and dairy intake can help substantially. So interesting that I came across this article when I was pondering about trying veganism again :)
Thank you! Report
This blog is very interesting as I am lactose intolerant and seem to always have a bloated stomach too. This is certainly giving me food for thought. Thank you.
Congrats on your weightloss and finding out what works for your body. Report
Thanks for sharing your story! Report
So, that's where you've been. I'm happy for you getting rid of the last 15 - now hopefully it's my turn - same number - funny how you can have so much success yet feel like you haven't succeeded cause you didn't make goal. I have vegetarian days sometimes a few in a week, and not only during lent. And I don't miss the meat on those days - but maybe that's because I know I'll have meat soon. Report
Fantastic. I've been a Sparker for over four years, and from what I've noticed most people who start end up quitting and never get to their goal, let alone maintain it. Report
Wonderful story thaks for sharing what works for you gives us anotehr option in our own life ot try and you look AWESOME! Report
This is awesome. I am in a similar situation as you. I have digestive problems and noticed that diary products and meat were the major causes of bloating. I have just determined I want to start a vegetarian lifestyle. Not sure, if I'm ready to go fully vegan yet. But, I have eliminated the dairy products and meat. I have felt much better over just the last three days. I agree with you. I think this is the diet change I need at this time in my life. I too need to lose at least 50 pounds. Wish me luck!!! I have been shopping at Sprouts and I have found a lot of gluten free products that digest much better than normal products. I also replaced my bad snacks with fruit and other healthy snacks. I'm so happy for your continued success, you have inspired me to continue my new diet. Report
I love experimenting with different ways of eating to try and live in a way that makes me feel good on the inside and out. I have never gone completely vegan, but I do think I should try to cut out dairy sometime to see if it will help my stomach. Every time I think about it I just can't seem to do it though! I still can't find good replacements for some of the things I eat multiple times a day. Report
I'm glad that veganism has worked for you. As you've said, we are all an experiment of one. It makes me sad, though, that people are trying so hard to lose weight that they are cutting out entire food groups of healthy foods - foods that after much research, have been found to be an essential part of a healthy diet. I hope that all who read this article realize that veganism is NOT the answer for everyone- in fact, it isn't for the great majority of people. May God bless you all on your journey to true physical and spiritual health. Report
What a great story. Thanks for sharing and you look awesome even upside down! Report
Interesting theory. I went to your SparkPage, hoping that your food tracker was "open" -- I'd love to SEE, over a period of week(s), what a vegan eats. It's something I'm curious about, but as a (successful!) bariatric patient, I'm concerned that the quantity that has to be eaten will be too high for my miniature stomach. Report
Way to go, U R amazing Report
Congratulations! Your starting weight and mine are very similar...I hope to be where you are in about a year and a half! Although I don't think I could do the vegan diet (or any diet with veggies as the main source of nutrition) I do believe I eat, generally speaking, too many processed foods. It's not how we humans were intended to get our nutrition.

Great post! So glad the veganism worked for you, and always happy to see vegetarian/vegan issues covered on SP. Report
You look great and congratulations on being in tune with your body and recognizing the signals it was sending you. I don't think I could transition to a complete vegan lifestyle but you have inspired me to incorporate more of the principles in planning my meals. Thanks. Report
I lost weight by accident on a vegan diet too! I went vegan for ethical reasons and expected challenges but felt so amazing and energetic and lost 10 pounds even though i felt like i was eating a lot. I try to eat mostly whole plant foods and did research on vegan nutrition. 3 years later and I'm still going strong! Report
wow!!!!!! nice story.... Report
Congrats on your weight loss. You look fabulous.
Your book on vegan cuisine is very interesting but it needs a good indexing as well as numbers on the pages and features to make it easy to navigate. Can that be added to the book? Sorry to post about that here, but I could not find any place where to leave feedback on your book. Report
I love reading articles about different ways people are losing, even if vegetarian or vegan would never work for me. However, I would be hesitant to say these are the "for two healthiest diets." There is a lot of research that suggests meat and vegetable, grainless diets are what our bodies are meant to eat. However, we must all do what works for us individually. Report
Since you asked, I came to my weight-loss journey by cutting out grains and eventually dairy. I had tried vegan, but it didn't work for me. No energy.

I want to point out something really important, though, that I think can get overlooked in this article. The one thing that the author and I have in common is that we both eat foods that are very close to their original form. Her vegan diet consists of hummus and veggies, bananas and almond butter, oatmeal, spinach and beans.

What I don't see: pasta with tomato sauce, frozen vegan entrees, vegan cookies, etc. There's a huge difference between those two kinds of vegans. I've seen the ones in Whole Foods who look like walking cadavers, but the author looks unbelievably healthy.

Vegan, vegetarian, or omnivore, whole foods are the way to go! Report
The reason vegetarianism and veganism may be featured so often is for the very fact that they are the 2 healthiest diets available to humans. Being a healthy life-loving vegan, I would of course argue that veganism is the healthiest but mine's not to quibble! This is a truly inspirational story and a wonderful testament to what good health is all about. Yes it's great to feel hot in a bikini but more impressive is a six day a week yoga practice and running. Awesome. Report
Very inspiring! Thank you for sharing the story of your journey to accidentally becoming vegan. Report
Amazing story Report
I don't particularly mind the quantity of vegan and vegetarian articles. For those who think it might be interesting to try, it's certainly informative. For me? Not gonna happen. And as the author says right at the start:

== We're all an experiment of one. ==

And perhaps it helps that I'm the exact opposite of the author, so I know her story isn't mine. I do not have a delicate stomach in any way, shape or form. I am not lactose intolerant, gluten sensitive, or anything else. In fact, the only "food" related thing I have a bad reaction to is artificial sweeteners. I'm one of the crowd who suffers headaches if they show up in my food in spite of all the studies and FDA and even SP articles insisting I must be wrong because it's not a proven correlation. *shrug* Experiment of one. Report
That is great! I didn't have any such aha moment, I think I just decided once and for all that I was tired of be slow, bloated, restless and tired. I cleaned up my act entirely, about 3 months ago, and have barely looked back since. It is a good feeling, huh? Report
awesome!!!! Report
Very interesting account of your weight loss journey. I have never tried veganism but after reading your blog I believe I will give it a try. Thank you!! Report
Congratulations. I love your shoulder stand. One day I hope to be able to do that. Report
I'm glad to hear it! I have been vegetarian for several years now with a brief stint in veganism. I enjoyed being vegan...maybe I will look into it again!

Congratulations!! Report
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