Stray Dog Revolution
For the past year, I've been experimenting with my diet. In 2005, I began my plant-based journey initially to lose some weight after the birth of my son, but the more I read, the more eating a plant-based diet made sense to me. And the results? Well, they speak for themselves.
This before was taken while very pregnant and at my heaviest (210 pounds!) while the after was taken 8 months later, when I had changed to eating a plant-based diet. (150 pounds- I had gotten down to 175 after his birth, but hit a plateau. That's when I found the book Eat to Live.) I felt great, the pounds melted away, and I was convinced this was the best, healthiest way for everyone to eat. I tried not to be preachy about it, but I definitely felt holier than thou, especially when people complained to me about the extra weight they couldn't lose. Eliminate animal products. End of story. Duh.
That was then, though. Fast forward to my early 40s and something changed. All through my 30s, I would occasionally go off plan for a stretch and gain some extra weight, but all I needed to do to correct it was eat plant-based for a week. Boom. Weight lost. It was so easy, I took it for granted. I didn't realize that at some point maybe my body wouldn't respond the way it had when it was younger.
After divorce and remarriage, my weight eventually crept back up from 135 (the lowest I ever got in adulthood) to 175. Needless to say, I was frustrated. Too much eating out and alcohol had taken it's toll and I needed to get back on track. So I did. I began again with Dr. Fuhrman's 6-week plan, the plan that took me to success the first time. But this time? I gained weight. It was so frustrating. So I tried juicing and raw and other "quick fix" ideas, all to varying degrees of success. But nothing ever stuck because it wasn't a sustainable way to live.
Plus, there was the hair loss. And the lack of energy. I mean, I was exhausted. In bed at 7:30 most nights. I was also depressed and feeling hopeless. I was working out regularly with programs like P90X3 and Chalean Extreme, running, weight lifting... not easy stuff. And still nothing worked. So I ventured out (with shame and embarrassment, I might add) and started exploring Paleo. And I haven't looked back.
I'm still tweaking and experimenting to find what works for me, but I'm no longer close-minded to other ways of achieving optimal health. I no longer assume that everybody is the same or that every stage of life is the same. I still firmly believe that the more plants in your diet, the better. But I'm no longer shunning meats. Or carbs. Or anything. (Well, maybe sugar.) I'm playing with what feels good. Eating to fuel my workouts, satisfy my cravings, and keep me feeling emotionally stable and physically great. I'm learning a lot in the process, and see it more as an exploration than any set of rules to follow. Mentally, I feel better than I have in years. I used to stress so much about what I ate. Now? I just eat.
But we need a new word. And I have one... plant-centric. That is what I am. I eat mostly plants. But I still eat some animal products. I'm not dogmatic and my eating habits aren't set in stone. I'm open to new theories, new ideas, new research. I don't eat the Standard American Diet. I'm picky about where my meat comes from because I care about the lives of animals and abhor factory farming. I try to view food as fuel as often as possible, but I also appreciate a good treat meal. I'm interested in how food makes me feel after I eat it and I use that to guide me to make better choices in the future. And sometimes, I down a pint of Ben & Jerry's because it's just yummy. But overall, I care about the food I put into my body. And I refuse to feel guilt and shame around what I choose to eat. I love myself. I love my body. And I do my best to help it thrive, even if that means going outside my comfort zone and trying something new. This is what plant-centric means to me. And this is what I'll be calling myself. For now. :)
I've been studying nutrition and healthy eating for over a decade. As the saying goes, food can be either the safest and most powerful form of medicine or the slowest form of poison.