(I posted this yesterday to http://www.plantkind.ca but didn’t want my Mindful Mavens readers to miss it!)
Ten years ago, I was about 30 pounds heavier than I am now. I was 25 years old, sluggish, struggled to stay awake, and experienced frequent muscle spasms. I would often spend up to 12 hours at my desk.
Within a six month period, I lost those 30 pounds. But more than that, I have kept the weight off for more than eight years – the vast majority of people who lose weight put it right back on within a few years.
People who have seen the before and after photos have commented that I look like an almost entirely different person and want to know what is my “secret” for transforming how I look. I am finally ready to share the answer.
So how did I do this? I wish I could tell you that there was a specific diet or a fad exercise regimen that I followed, or that it was a certain supplement or diet pill. I didn’t join an international weight loss program, or even a local one. I didn’t join a gym even. I didn’t start eating foods that are known to “blast fat,” or eliminate gluten. I didn’t start dropping my paycheque on superfoods, and I didn’t participate in a single detox or cleanse.
I’m not even going to try to claim that it was going vegan that did the trick. That wouldn’t be true.
It was changing my diet and exercise habits, and keeping them changed. I overhauled my life, with the goal of setting a positive example of a healthy and happy vegan.
I started exercising – modestly at first, on an elliptical trainer in my basement, followed by starting to run, which i have done consistently now for eight years. A couple years later I added in ultimate frisbee, and snowshoeing in the winter. I walk my dog(s) every day. Occasional yoga and strength training are also part of my routine (although the latter should be a more regular part, admittedly.)
But I also changed my diet. This was not an overnight process, and I tried lots of different variations (yes, even some superfoods!), ultimately settling on a diet that is whole foods centred, but with the occasional treat, fake meat, or fried food thrown in for good measure. I eat a mountain of fruits and vegetables every single day, with starches (like sweet potatoes, rice, quinoa, and yes, some bread/pasta) and lean vegan proteins. I allow myself unlimited fruits and veggies, but keep an eye on the portions for the others. I rarely drink alcohol, but it’s not off-limits. Nothing is really, aside from animal bodies and ingredients.
I also jealously guard my sleep time, and am getting better at removing the things from my life that do not serve me, thus reducing stress.
That’s it. I know, it would be more simple if we could pop a pill or do a two week detox and voila! Who knows, maybe you can lose weight that way, but is weight loss really the objective?
It wasn’t for me. I realized at the ripe age of 25 that my habits were not serving me well, and that I should feel a lot better than I was feeling. In fact, I don’t think the objective should ever be losing weight.* The objective should be to develop good habits that result in a stronger, happier and healthier you. If weight loss results, so be it. It was one of the side effects for me, along with about a million other physical and mental benefits that accompany good health and fitness habits. (*Unless ordered by a qualified physician or medical professional.)
People have suggested that I offer counsel to others, but I have been reticent to do so as I lack professional qualifications. I simply do not have the knowledge of the human body that’s needed to offer this kind of advice to people. But I could see people struggling – fixating on micronutrients and seeking a silver bullet that simply doesn’t exist.
But it was that encouragement which led me to form PlantKind. I decided that I would partner my communications, outreach and community building skills with those who ARE qualified and share my vision, and bring the best of all worlds together. Kyle brings his background in education, being a vegan chef, and years of experience as a personal trainer. Susan is a registered dietitian who recently completed her studies to earn a Master’s Degree in human nutrition. And Jane is a critical care cardiac nurse who counsels patients during her day job. She also happens to have a degree in human kinetics – the science of the human body.
Stay tuned, because we are working hard to be able to offer vegans and vegan-curious people everywhere our advice and support for being healthy and well.
Nothing I am doing is anything that can’t be done by an average person. I was not raised playing sports and being athletic. And my diet was a lot of frozen entrees and Kraft dinner. You don’t need to become an elite athlete or eat a perfect micronutrient-quantified diet. Just move and adequately fuel your body.