Since posting about my weight loss, I have received several questions. I’m always happy to respond to questions directly. However, since I have been receiving a lot of the same questions, I thought it would be helpful to write a frequently asked questions blog post.
HOW DID YOU GET STARTED ON YOUR WEIGHT LOSS JOURNEY?
To make a long story short, I went plant-based nearly 5 years ago. I shifted to a plant-based diet to improve my health and at the same time decided to go vegan overnight. I started with a 5 day juice fast and went to a plant-based diet from there. I began by focusing on the foods that I enjoyed that were already plant-based – oatmeal, cereals, fruit, smoothies. I also kept it simple by making easy recipes that were familiar flavours that I enjoyed like chili, pasta, and soups. I would simply omit the processed foods and replace the animal products with a plant-based food – ex. substitute beans or lentils for ground meat in chili, tacos, or marinara sauce. See My Story or How to Go Plant-Based for more details. Also, check out Defining Terms for the definitions I use for “Veganism, Plant-Based, and Whole Food Plant-Based (WFPB).”
HOW MUCH WEIGHT HAVE YOU LOST?
I have lost a total of 80 lbs (36 kgs).
HOW LONG DID IT TAKE TO LOSE THE WEIGHT?
My weight loss wasn’t linear. It took me some time to come around and fully commit to a consistent Whole Food Plant-Based (WFPB) oil free diet.
2016: I went plant-based and ate mostly whole foods, and lightly processed foods such as breads, cereals, and pasta. I lost 60 lbs in the first year.
2017-2018: I gradually (unintentionally) started reincorporating processed foods into my diet and was dealing with health issues flaring up: asthma, endometriosis, chronic pain, and chronic fatigue. I regained 20 lbs.
2019-2020: Since committing to a WFPB oil free diet and being consistent with it, I have completely regained my health and lost 40 lbs.
DO YOU MEAL PREP?
Yes and no. I don’t plan every single meal in advance or prep all my meals into individual sized portions for the week. However, I do typically prepare big batches of potatoes or whole grains or cooked beans. I also like to have leftovers on hand, so when I’m making dinners, I make enough for leftovers for the next few days. I also like to keep shredded zucchini and/or carrot on hand to toss in my oatmeal or on top of other dishes.
DO YOU FOLLOW A SPECIFIC PLAN? DR. MCDOUGALL – The Starch Solution or Maximum Weight Loss Program / DR. GREGER – How Not to Die (Daily Dozen) / DR. FUHRMAN – Eat to Live (Nutritarian) ETC..
I eat a Whole Food Plant-Based (WFPB) oil free diet, which means I consume whole plant foods – vegetables, fruit, legumes, whole grains, nuts, seeds, and spices. I avoid animal products and processed foods. There are many ways to eat a healthy whole food plant-based diet. I have read and enjoyed all of the books listed above and took away valuable information from all of them about consuming a healthful plant-based diet. However, I don’t specifically follow any of the programs 100%. I didn’t want to rigidly follow a specific plan, but rather, wanted a general idea or general guidelines for plant-based eating. I found my own way with plant-based eating and figured out what works for me (through trial and error).
When I first went plant-based I was eating more of a Starch Solution style diet. I didn’t follow the plan specifically, but since I enjoyed eating potatoes and whole grains, it was a natural starting point for me. I also read How Not to Die early on and somewhat tried to cover the daily dozen…but in the beginning I definitely didn’t eat enough beans or greens to meet the recommended intake. I eat way more starchy vegetables and whole grains than what Dr. Fuhrman recommends in Eat to Live.
If I had to qualify what my dietary pattern is now, I would say that it is sort of a cross between McDougall’s Starch Solution and The McDougall Program for Maximum Weight Loss. I don’t eat as much starch as is recommended on the Starch Solution (70% of your plate), but I also don’t subscribe to everything in the Maximum Weight Loss plan.
Most of the time I eat a 50/50 plate of green, leafy, cruciferous veggies on one side of my plate, and the other half could be starch, OR it could also include things like tofu or tempeh. I don’t limit my fruit intake; and I consume ground flax seeds and/or chia seeds daily for omega 3s. Avocado, nuts, and dried fruit aren’t part of my daily diet, but I do enjoy them regularly.
These days, I also generally meet Dr. Greger’s daily dozen recommendations in How Not to Die (with the exception of nuts and other seeds).
WHAT DO YOU EAT IN A DAY?
I like to keep things fairly simple. As I previously said, I often eat a 50/50 plate with half green veggies and half other foods. I like to switch it up, but lately I have been enjoying:
Lunch & Dinner
one of the following along with green veggies
I drink a lot of water. I often drink a cup of coffee daily. I also like to drink tea in the evenings.
Check out my What I Eat in A Day post to get an idea of what a full day of eating looks like. I also post meals and ‘What I Eat in a Day’ content on instagram (@plantfitmeg). I also have a new ‘What I Eat in a Day’ post coming next week, so stay tuned for that as well.
DO YOU COUNT CALORIES OR MACROS?
No. In the beginning, I tried to track my calories for a time, but I found it to be unsustainable for me to do. Calorie counting can be super helpful for people to figure out how much they are consuming as a starting point and adjusting from there, but I found it to be too cumbersome. Most plant-based doctors say that it is not necessary to calorie count or track macros to lose weight or achieve optimal health on a WFPB diet. If you enjoy calorie tracking or find it to be a useful tool, then by all means go for it, but it’s just not for me.
DO YOU EXERCISE?
HOW MUCH DID YOU EXERCISE IN THE BEGINNING?
Not much at all. I was very focused on figuring out the food. I tried to walk more, but otherwise wasn’t focused on exercise. About 3-4 months in I was feeling great and had so much energy, so I decided I wanted to take up running. I was terrified, but was also keen to start slow and give it a try. I was lucky that my best friend was also interested in starting to run, so we joined a Learn to Run group together. We were so excited to work our way to running a 5 km race (which seemed like it would be impossible when we first started running).
HOW MUCH DO YOU EXERCISE NOW?
I currently go to the gym 3 days per week: I do 2 days of lifting weights in group fitness classes one day of yoga/pilates at the gym. I also like to do calisthenics at home with my dip bars, but I don’t have a structured schedule for that. I practice yoga and I try to stay active by walking rather than driving when possible, and being active with my 5 year old.
If you have more questions, feel free to ask in the comments below. I’ll be happy to answer your questions or write another frequently asked questions blog post for you.