What was the biggest surprise for you when you over-hauled your diet?
I thought I was already super healthy. I lived at the YMCA – it was my second home – and I watched what I ate. But after talking to a nutritionist I realized I wasn’t doing anything right! I would eat instant oatmeal every morning and be hungry an hour later. Now, my green smoothie keeps me so full I have to remember to eat lunch. It’s all about choosing the right foods. When I order at restaurants I just make sure to take out anything that doesn’t work for me: no dairy, no oils of any kind, things like that.
How did it feel when you started achieving your goals?
Honestly, the first three weeks were a hard transition. My body hated me. Sugar and dairy are serious addictions! But by the third week I felt so much better! I went from a size 8 to a size 4 from July to January. I shed 15 pounds in the first few months. Even my doctor said, “Wow! What are you doing? Because it’s working.” My tastes changed too – I went from a smoothie with mostly pineapple and a handful of spinach, to all spinach and even started adding kale.
What’s the most challenging part of maintaining this lifestyle?
Well, my husband and kids don’t ascribe to the same diet – so sometimes it can be a lot of extra work to make sure I have my food at home. Last year, for the first time, I made all my own food for Thanksgiving and Christmas. So while everyone else was eating my grandmother’s sweet potato casserole, I had lentil dressing balls and vegan pumpkin pie.
What would you tell other women who have been discouraged in their health journey, or who are intimidated by drastic diet changes?
I ask my friends this all the time, “How much do you care about yourself?” Because you have to care enough to go through the day by day effort. Start slowly, with one item at a time, meal by meal, and make the right choices. Sometimes it’s helpful to ask yourself, how are you going to feel after you eat that fried chicken?