OUR WEIGHT LOSS STORY
I decided to go plant-based for health reasons, but also knew that I would probably lose weight in the process. While my primary focus was health, I must admit, I was looking forward to the prospect of losing weight. I had tried to lose weight in the past with varying degrees of success. I would go on a diet for a short-term goal, lose a bit of weight and then go right back to my old habits of ordering food in, eating out at restaurants, eating packaged food for meals, and snacking on junk food. My “diets” would usually consist of avoiding carbs, eating smaller portion sizes, and exercising like crazy. I would go all in for a few weeks or a few months, and then inevitably go off the “diet” and go back to my old habits. I would regain the weight I lost, or more often than not, gain even more weight than I started with. My weight would fluctuate up and down, but the general trajectory was upwards.
My husband Chris on the other hand has always been slim. When I was pregnant, he gained a bit of weight for the first time. He gained about 15 lbs. He was uncomfortable, but also thought it was completely normal for his 30-year old body to be changing. His Dad had always warned him that after 30 it would all be downhill in terms of weight gain and health decline. I was obese pre-pregnancy, and didn’t know if I would ever be able to shed the baby weight. So, we both thought we were destined to continue to gain weight and endure a slow and steady decline in health over time.
When our son was 4 months old, I started to reconsider what our future health and longevity would look like. (See My Story for more information.) In the first year of being vegan, I lost 60 lbs. I was feeling healthy despite having the occasional chronic illness flare-up. I weighed less than I did in high school, and thought my health and weight loss journey was over. I thought, “this is as good as it gets.” Chris lost 15 lbs.
Slowly over time, we started to eat more processed foods; and our occasional indulgences turned into once to twice a week regular occurrences. Unfortunately, with the gradual reintroduction of processed food in my diet, I ended up with worsening health issues and flare ups. I ended up being extremely sedentary, stressed out, and was put on medication that also contributed to gaining some weight back. Chris also gained weight back. We each gained about 20 lbs.
Last fall, after a particularly bad flare-up, I decided to go on Dr. Goldner’s hypernourishing protocol. It was a great jumpstart to my healing. It gave me the hope I needed that I could get back on track and resolve my symptoms. I then transitioned back to eating a whole food plant-based, oil free diet consisting of vegetables, fruit, legumes, whole grains, nuts, seeds, and spices. Chris also consumes a mostly whole food plant based diet, but tends to eat more minimally processed foods such as whole grain bread and pasta.
I’ve lost a total of 78 lbs since I first went plant-based in 2016. (In the last 14 months, I have lost 35 lbs.) Chris has lost a total of 35 lbs. I weigh less (and wear a smaller dress size) than I did in high school and Chris has returned to his high school weight and size.
HOW WE LOST THE WEIGHT
Our timelines differ slightly, but we both eliminated animal products and committed to eating a fully plant-based diet.
Reduce intake of highly processed foods
We made gradual changes over time to reduce (and practically eliminate) accidentally vegan junk foods, vegan mock meats, and alcohol. We started to try new recipes and make our own vegan versions of meals and snacks we previously enjoyed.
Exchange old habits for new ones
We have changed many habits and routines over time, some of which include: making water our drink of choice, drinking herbal tea at night, eating fruit for snacks, preparing healthful snacks (ex. nice cream, banana oat cookies, energy bites).
Continuous learning and experimenting
I’m fond of reading books, listening to lectures, participating in webinars, and taking nutrition courses. This past year, one of the books I read was: The McDougall Program for Maximum Weight Loss. I don’t completely subscribe to everything in the book, but I gradually started to eat a 50/50 plate at meal times: half non-starchy vegetables & half starch. (I also eat tofu, tempeh, seeds, and avocados which are not recommended on McDougall’s Maximum Weight Loss plan.) I started by eating a 50/50 plate at dinner time, then shifted to lunch and dinner, and eventually started eating a 50/50 plate at every meal.
Chris eats a plate of 2/3 starch (or mix of starch with tofu or tempeh), 1/3 non-starchy vegetable (often cruciferous or green leafy vegetables). We eat the same foods, but in slightly different proportions because of our differing eating patterns, preferences, and weight history.
Reduce restaurant meals, take-out, and delivery
This can be a tricky one, especially if you enjoy meals out often. We used to eat meals out fairly regularly (even after going plant-based), but over time, we greatly reduced the number of meals we were eating out of the house. It has gotten to the the point where if we eat take-out, neither of us feels well afterwards. Eating meals out stopped being fun, so we don’t do it anymore. That isn’t to say that we’ll never eat another meal out again, but right now it isn’t worth feeling unwell afterwards.
We also found other fun things to do together – we go for walks; hang out at a park or by the lake; go for a coffee, tea, or smoothie date; wander through a book store; or attend a performance (go to a concert, see live theatre, or a dance show). We’re also looking forward to being able to go to the climbing gym when it re-opens. We’re focusing more on spending time together rather than focusing on food.
Eat when hungry, stop when full
This may sound extremely easy and common-sense, but it has taken us both time to get in touch with our hunger cues. For me, as an overeater, it took time to recognize true hunger and feel satiation. In the past, if I felt even the slightest twinge of hunger, I would eat. I would also often eat past satiation without really thinking about it.
Chris doesn’t feel hungry in the mornings, and doesn’t usually eat much at breakfast time. Sometimes he forgets to eat until he’s ravenous at 2pm. This would often lead to irritability, and eating unhealthy snacks and drinking beer late in the evening. What’s worked for him is to develop regular meal times as reminders to eat.
We are both still working on listening to our bodies and eating when we’re hungry and stoping when we’re full.
Eating for health: Whole Food Plant Based (No oil)
I’ve recommitted to eating a whole food plant based diet free of added oils. We’re focusing on nutrient-density, and eating delicious whole plant foods. We eat way more vegetables then we used to, especially green leafy and cruciferous veggies.
Eating for fuel, energy, and fitness
We’re also focusing on how we feel and nourishing our bodies to be able to have the energy to do all of the things we want to do. I like to run, do calisthenics, and go to the gym. Chris enjoys cycling, and we both value the energy we have. We are able to keep up with our very active 5 year old, and have fun adventures together as a family!
We have made significant lifestyle changes and we are both feeling healthy, energetic, and vibrant. We have lost a total of 113 lbs combined. We aspire to live long happy lives, while maintaining our health and helping others to find health and wellness too.