How I Lost 95 Pounds With a Vegan Diet
Hi! Tell us about yourself…why did you decide to start losing weight?
I have been overweight for the majority of my life. I had lost and gained weight more times than I can count. Every time I tried to lose weight, I would do it in an unhealthy way, over restricting and/or over-exercising. I would keep this going until eventually I would burn out and all of the restriction would ultimately lead to binge eating.
Where I would then put all the weight back on very rapidly, plus more. In my early 20’s, I had a conversation with myself. I was so tired of being in this cycle of trying and failing constantly. I had so much shame, so I just gave up. I said, “you’ll never lose the weight, every time you try, you fail so you should just accept it and move on.” And I did. I accepted that I wasn’t ever going to have the life I dreamed of. I accepted that there would be things in life that I just wouldn’t be able to do because of my size. My family was always concerned for my health but I was always too angry to ever hear them out.
At 26 years old, I had reached a total of 275 lbs. This was a very scary number to see. I knew I needed to change something or else I was just going to continue gaining weight rapidly. My day-to-day life felt like it was getting harder by the minute. My body was always in pain and I was always lethargic and felt sick constantly. I wanted to change But I just didn’t know how or where to start.
One day, out of nowhere, my best friend Sarah suggested we did a small diet bet between us and some friends and family. I took this challenge and thought “not sure if this is really going to help me but whatever, I’ll try.” And wouldn’t you know, I won the diet bet. And from there, I just didn’t stop. That tiny little push from a loving friend was all I did.
Sarah has recently passed from a very aggressive cancer that she was diagnosed a few months ago. I miss her terribly every day and it saddens me that I have her to thank for my health and life and when her health began to decline, there was nothing I could do to return the gift.
What was your workout routine? Can you give us what a typical week looked like for you working out?
Throughout my journey, I had tried several things. I first bought a gym membership at World Gym. But I didn’t really have a clue what I was doing so I grew bored of it and stopped going altogether. I then tried doing some at-home workouts which I enjoyed for a bit but then again, got bored and stopped.
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I gave up on working out for a while and just focused on food. When I felt myself putting on weight again I felt desperate and bought a gym membership at Goodlife Fitness. I felt that it was more expensive so it would make me go. I had also been a member of Goodlife years ago and had once really enjoyed the classes.
I did the classes for a while again but I just felt like I wasn’t seeing any progress and I was at a plateau for a long while. This made me decide to get a personal trainer. I was always curious about weight lifting so I wanted to try it out.
Turns out, I LOVE LIFTING! I have never felt this way about any form of exercise. It is my new passion. I stopped caring so much about a number on a scale and just loved the feeling my body get stronger week by week. I did 3 6 am PT training sessions a week. Each session is 1 hour. Day 1 shoulders and triceps/circuit, Day 2 Legs and glutes/core, Day 3 back and biceps/circuit.
I would also try my best to arrive early to get 15-20 minutes on the StairMaster before the workout. And I would also work out for an hour on my own at least 2-3 days a week. On days where I was alone, I would usually switch between doing cardio, core, and some extra legs and glutes. Sadly, since my area went into a second lockdown, I haven’t been lifting for a while now but have been consistently going on morning 6 am walks, getting 10k steps.
My advice to everyone is to always be open to trying new things. Just because something worked for someone else, doesn’t mean it will work for you. The best form of exercise for weight loss is whatever form you truly enjoy. Because if you are exercising and you don’t really enjoy it, you feel like it is a form of punishment and that is not at all a good relationship to have with movement. Try new things until you find what you love, enjoy, and are passionate about. That is the only way it will be sustainable.
What was your nutrition like? Can you give us what a typical day of eating looked like?
I transitioned to a vegan diet a few years back for ethical and environmental reasons. I would like to start by clarifying that I do not attribute all of my weight loss to my vegan diet. While yes, I do know that it does play a huge part in my overall nutrition, I just wanted to mention that I did continue to gain weight while being on a vegan diet as well before I started my weight loss journey. I have always had a love for cooking, so this lifestyle really broadened my skills. I am more adventurous in the kitchen now, being vegan, than I ever was before because it really challenges me. I very rarely eat packaged/processed foods.
The kinds of food I love to cook/eat are Thai curries with brown rice, burrito, and other buddha style bowls, any sort of tofu, veggies, soba noodles, etc. I’m OBSESSED with avocado and make guacamole almost every second day, tofu scrambles, anything with mushrooms.
The kinds of food items I have in my kitchen at all times are things like dried beans and lentils, tofu, I make my own seitan, rice cakes, guacamole, oats, homemade protein cookies, brown and white rice, lentil pasta noodles, tones of fresh veggies, a GIANT spice rack.
Tips I have for making delicious home-cooked meals are: build your spice rack! There are more spices than just salt, pepper, and garlic powder. And invest in a rice cooker and an AIR FRYER!
A full day of eating can look like this:
Breakfast – Oats mixed with ground flax, chia seeds, and protein powder, topped with banana, frozen raspberries, homemade granola, hemp hearts and drizzled with natural peanut butter.
Lunch: Rice cakes topped with guacamole, air fried tofu, sprouts, sauerkraut, and always lots of hot sauce.
Dinner: Some form of tofu, veggies in a homemade sauce, and brown rice.
Snacks: I would always have 1-2 scoops of protein mixed with water while I was lifting but while we’re in lockdown I haven’t been doing that. But I still do have a couple of my homemade protein cookies throughout the day. Sometimes some guac or hummus with veggies, handfuls of nuts. 1-3 small snacks like this depending on the day
I have tried tracking my food/calories/protein/weighing on and off many times but could never maintain that routine. I honestly wish I could but it’s just not realistic for me. I am way too free in the kitchen while I’m cooking so it was just too hard to keep track. I do use smaller bowls and plates to try and work on my portioning.
The only supplements I take are protein powders and pre-workouts when I’m going to the gym.
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How did you stay motivated to lose weight? Did you ever slip up?
I have had a few plateaus through my journey. When covid and the first lockdown hit, I had really started to gain some weight back. I had regained almost 30 lbs total by the end of the first lockdown. Toward the end of the lockdown was when I contacted my gym to inquire about a personal trainer. I would not let myself fall back into my same old ways of putting all the weight back on. Personal training has done wonders for me and I will continue training as long as it takes until I feel comfortable on my own.
As John from Obese to Beast would say – motivation will always fade. It’s about sustainability. You have to find a lifestyle that you enjoy and can maintain for the rest of your life. No form of a super restrictive diet or over-the-top workout routine is maintainable. I personally know that the way I am exercising and eating now is the way I will eat and exercise for the rest of my life. I truly enjoy everything I’m doing and eating.
When did you start to notice progress?
For the first, while it was really hard for me to physically see the progress. Being 275 lbs, it’s somewhat hard to tell when you’re losing weight. Of course, I did keep a scale, so I could see that number changing but it was really hard for me to see that change in the mirror.
Body dysmorphia is a real thing and is something that I still struggle with from time to time. I didn’t really see the changes on my body until about 50-60 lbs lost. And I also took my weight loss very slowly which I think was the best way for me to do so.
It wasn’t until lifting that I really started to see the changes in my body. My muscles began to show through more and more as the weeks went by. Seeing and feeling this kind of progress is a feeling like no other!
Did you use any sort of trackers/apps/scales to track your progress?
As stated above, I don’t religiously use any sort of tracking. In the past, I have used MyFitnessPal and also the FitBit app for tracking food. I use my Fitbit to track my steps (but I don’t pay that much attention other than that… it just a glorified watch at this point).
I recently bought a FitTrack scale to weigh myself. This scale gives you different stats like BMI, water, muscle, etc. But again, I don’t even use it that much. It was on sale and an impulse buy. Haha….
Are there any other fitness products that you used frequently?
I use a DripFit waistband and creams from time to time. This doesn’t do anything for weight loss but it helps me with compression on my stomach. I need the extra compression when I’m doing any sort of higher intensity cardio because I have a good amount of loose skin on my stomach and it can be painful when moving around too much. The creams help me sweat more and just small/feel nice.
Do you have any weight loss “hacks” or “secrets” that helped you succeed?
As I’ve stated previously, it’s all about sustainability. You need to enjoy the journey and the process. Don’t try to look for any sort of quick fixes because they usually do not help you in the long run.
Drink lots of water, hydration is so important. I keep a 1-liter water bottle beside my bed every night and when I wake up, the first thing I do is drink that whole water bottle before I even get out of bed.
Do you have any fitness books/podcasts/websites that you’d recommend and why?
I love the Work For Change Podcast by John and Jean Glaude. It is my number one recommendation for weight loss and fitness podcasts. John Glaude (obese to beast) also has a YouTube channel that I watch daily and he streams on twitch every week. All things health and fitness. He himself has also lost over 130 lbs I believe.
I personally believe in the power of positivity and am very into positive affirmations and the law of attraction. I love the author Louise Hay. Positive meditations and manifestation have completely changed me and helped me so much throughout this journey.
What is your best advice to beginners who are looking to lose weight?
Take your time. Try new things. Find what you love! Be gentle and kind to yourself. Surround yourself with an environment that encourages your values.
Where can we find more about you?
You can find me on Instagram @liftsandguac where I have tracked my entire journey. I post daily on there. You will find transformation pictures, food/cooking, workouts, opinion pieces, positivity, and just daily silliness.
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