I began my plant-based journey back in 2016. I had been cancer-free for 10 years, and was a new mom. Reaching the “cancer-free for a decade” milestone and having a newborn at home made me seriously reflect on my past and my future. I came to the grim realization that despite my cancer-free status, I was not healthy. I had zero energy. I was cancer-free and surviving, rather than cancer-free and thriving. I had several chronic undiagnosed health issues that had been plaguing me on and off for years.
As new parents, my husband and I were also trying to decide what our son’s first solid foods would be. I had so many questions: What would be the healthiest diet to feed him? How could we model positive eating habits? How could we increase our chances of living long, healthy lives?
With all of these thoughts swirling in my head, I knew something needed to change. I had a deep desire to become a healthier, stronger, happier version of myself, but had no idea how to go about achieving those goals.
With the knowledge of how my current Standard American Diet was negatively impacting my health, the environment, and the animals, I decided to go vegan overnight on January 25, 2016.
I decided to start with a “Reboot with Joe” juice fast in order to cleanse my palate and reset my taste buds. I wanted to be able to appreciate and enjoy the vegetables and other new foods I would be eating without missing the foods I was eliminating from my diet. I completed a five day juice fast with one hot meal of roasted potatoes and mixed vegetables (it was winter-time in Canada after all). Juicing really made me appreciate the taste of vegetables. That simple warm meal of vegetables tasted so delicious and so different from how vegetables had tasted before. I felt like I was on the right track. I lost a bit of weight and felt very energetic. During the juice fast, I planned out what my meals would look like in the following week.
I decided to keep things simple by removing the meat and animal products from recipes I already made and enjoyed. I continued to do research about nutrition, watch documentaries, and watch YouTube videos. I planned meals week by week and slowly tried new recipes to replace old favourite dishes.
I felt strong and had more energy. I took up running in March of 2016. I had played soccer as a kid, but was definitely not a runner. My best friend and I decided to join a Learn to Run clinic at the Running Room. We started out very slowly with our running group and incrementally made our way to running a 5km race in May. Our goal wasn’t to race anybody or win anything or even have a personal best. We joined the slowest pace race corral and our goal was simply to complete the race. We did it!
Ongoing Health Issues
Despite my increased energy levels and weight loss, I was still dealing with severe asthma, endometriosis, and chronic pain and fatigue flare ups. My diet was plant-based, and MUCH improved from my previous diet, but over time, I lost sight of the consistency of eating whole foods. I thought (and was told by friends and family) that “a little bit of vegan processed food wouldn’t harm me.” I thought that since my eating habits had improved so dramatically from my previous diet, that I could get away with consuming some processed foods and still continue to improve my health. For some people, this may be true, but my health issues kept flaring up and worsening over time. It got to the point where I was unable to exercise and daily activities became extremely difficult. I also ended up taking prednisone for an extended period due to my severe asthma. Because of my inactivity and the prednisone, I gained about 25 pounds.
In 2018, I registered for a 200 hour Yoga Teacher Training program. Despite the ups and downs I had been having with my health, yoga had helped with the chronic pain and helped to calm my worried mind. I learned so much in the teacher training program and it deepened my desire to help others to reduce pain, feel calmer, and breathe easier. In an attempt to seek further healing, I also had an Ayurvedic consultation and completed a Therapeutic Yoga Intensive program. Ayurveda helped me to build daily routines, find balance, reduce stress, and reduce pain. I had major breakthroughs in the Therapeutic Yoga course; I was able to relieve tension in my body that I didn’t even realize I was holding. I was also breathing more fully, and had a reduction in pain.
After another flare-up in the fall of 2019, I decided to try Dr. Goldner’s hyper-nourishing protocol. I learned how to reduce the inflammation in my body in order to reduce the severity of my chronic illnesses. I followed a raw diet for a while and it really helped with my symptoms! However, as the weather got colder, I really missed cooked foods. I started to slowly incorporate cooked foods back into my diet and started exercising at the gym again. I was feeling stronger and healthier than I had in a long time.
Continuing the Journey
I’m continuing to centre my diet on whole foods, am running again, and am working on building my strength and endurance. I’ve started doing calisthenics (body weight training), and have been working on handstands. I have lost 80 pounds and have a renewed focus on my health and well-being. I’m looking forward to sharing my journey to encourage others to make more conscious choices, to eat more healthfully, and to move their bodies. Switching to a whole food plant-based diet has improved my health and changed my life dramatically. I’m excited to share my journey to health and wellness and to help others regain their health, lose weight, and feel great on a whole food plant-based diet!