You know those people who show up in your life at precisely the right moment?
Their entrance has the timing of anything that Amy Poehler writes and the world is way less sucky because of them. They pop in gracefully like it’s all part of a pre-designed plan.
When people like this come into my life, I take it as a sign that I’m on the right track. And then I remember that of course I’m on track because it’s the only one I’m on.
For better or for worse, we’re all on the right track, even if it doesn’t feel like it at times.
If you don’t feel like you’re on the right track right now, then take note, because your lessons are waiting for you somewhere and they’ll be hanging out, just chillin’ until you find them.
Heather is one such person who gracefully popped into my life with perfect timing.
Five months ago I sent an email to my readers asking anyone who wanted to lose over 100 lbs to contact me because I wanted to help them lose weight through nothing but whole plant foods.
Heather was one of the people who got back to me and we have been working together ever since.
She has been an absolute pleasure to get to know and it’s safe to say that we have become friends.
At the moment that I’m writing this, Heather has lost almost 50 lbs (23 kgs) and has a whole new attitude about life.
When I asked her for an interview she took a few days before agreeing.
This is the first time she has opened up about her struggles and her weight.
I hope you find her as inspiring as I do.
Trust me, it’s hard not to.
Heather conveys perfectly why eating a healthy plant based diet is far more than a diet and how it gently and effortlessly creates a ripple of positive change in all the nooks and crannies of your life.
Hi Heather – Thank you so much for allowing me to interview you! Can you start out by telling my readers a little bit about yourself?
Thank you Molly for this opportunity. I’m so flattered. This is the first time I have spoken publicly about my weight. This is quite a big step for me.
I’ve had issues with my weight since I was a child. It has been really difficult for me to lose weight and improve my health throughout my life. I started suffering from depression and anxiety when I was in fifth grade.
Looking back, I know that my diet was severely lacking in nutrition. My mom did the best she could as a single mom, but I grew up on the typical diet of processed food, fast food, candy and lots of pop.
I now feel like I am winning in the fight for my life. I can actually say I have “quality” in my life. My highest weight was around 465+/- pounds!
I always had this thought that I would never get over 200. Then it came and went. Then I thought, “I will never get over 300.” Then it came and went. Then 400 and I came so close to 500 pounds. It shocks me to even make that statement. Wow!
I am now on my way down, moving away from 500 pounds. I am not far from getting below 400 and my clothes are starting to fit again.
My depression is much better and I am off my anxiety medication. My state of mind before cleaning up my eating was one of hopelessness. I have hope for the first time in years.
From the first time we talked on the phone it was clear to me that you were damned determined to get healthy, lose weight and to get out of your funk. Can you tell me what motivated you to get to the point of not only wanting change, but actively seeking change and then doing the work?
The point at which I decided to actively change my life, I had reached bottom. I didn’t want to live anymore. I was living this life that was nothing but routine and I was merely existing. I had this moment when I decided I was not done. There are too many things that I want to do in my life.
I am also a caregiver and how can I be a good caregiver if I don’t even care about myself? I just decided I was going to fight for my life and work on myself.
I realized I was the only person who could make these changes and it was okay to think about my own well being.
You tried a lot of diets that didn’t work before coming to me.
From your experience, can you tell me the main difference between traditional dieting and adopting a healthy vegan diet?
I tried several of the popular (and not so popular) diets and lost a couple of pounds here and there. Apart from a few pounds I did not see any other improvements.
I feel like most of the diets are counting calories, points, fat grams, etc. They don’t achieve the positive changes that a healthy vegan diet has for me. Being vegan is a whole lifestyle for me, not just a dietary choice. But specifically, the dietary choices have made me more aware of what I put into my body. And of course, I NEVER lost this much weight while I was doing the dieting game.
When you first started transitioning to healthier foods, what was the hardest part for you? Was it physical, was it mental or was it both?
The hardest thing for me was processed carb foods. That has been my drug for most of my life. It was a mental and physical thing. I used to have a ravenous appetite for white bread, white pasta and regular russet potatoes (and of course potato chips). When I first started working with you I just dealt with it moment by moment.
I would ask myself “What is more important? The taste (of salt, sugar and fat) or my health?” I also made a point to forgive myself when I screwed up. I hardly ever have crappy carb cravings now, but sometimes a particularly stressful day can be a trigger. I am currently trying to replace that urge with meditation.
I know that you’ve had your share of ah-ha moments over the past five months. Can you talk about some that stick out in your mind?
My biggest moments would probably be when I realized that it was okay to think of myself first. It became clear to me that thinking of my physical, emotional and mental health first was not a selfish act.
I used to have a problem with binge eating. I don’t have that issue now. There was one time a few months ago that I caved and binged on loads of tortilla chips.
I used to beat myself up after binging and this time I told myself that I was human and that I can pick myself back up and move on.
I decided that if things were going to change I had to be the one to make the changes. And part of that for me was to change the way I think about my mistakes as well as my accomplishments.
Another ah-ha moment would be the self-discipline I’ve gained. I was making some brown rice pasta the other day and I measured out the amount I wanted but realized it was probably more than I needed. So I put back a third of it and after it was cooked it was a perfect amount.
How do you feel now compared to last year?
I feel so much better. It’s like night and day. I feel like there is a light at the end of the tunnel for the first time in years. I have made plans for my future that I haven’t ever made before.
For example, I want to hike, bike ride, go to college, go camping, experience river rafting, travel, etc.
Can you see yourself going back to eating the way you once did or has that thought even crossed your mind?
I’ve thought about what would happen if I did. I would gain weight, my health conditions would come back and everything I have worked for and continue to work for would be lost.
I don’t want to spend anymore of my life wishing things would be different. I also don’t want to put effort into something that I later sabotage. I actually went vegan years and years ago and then started back up with eating meat. Things are different this time.
Your guidance throughout this process has helped me become responsible and accountable for myself.
You have also taught me how to go about this in a sustainable way.
I will never eat the way I did before.
If you could go back and have a talk with your younger self, what would you say?
I would tell my younger self that it’s not our mistakes, but how we handle them that matters. I would tell my younger self to stay away from anything that has animal products and I would also remind my younger self to love my life.
I would like to tell your readers that if Molly can help me make the changes I have made, she can help anyone in any situation.
You are an amazing teacher and your coaching has seriously changed my life. I hope that your readers will be able to relate to my story.
Thank you Heather, that means so much to me. Is there anything else you would like to share?
I just wanted to mention that I have had multiple health issues in my life; arthritis, depression, IBS and acid reflux to name a few.
Since I made the choice to eat clean, I have noticed decreased arthritis pain, far less depression symptoms, I am off my anxiety medicine completely, I’m even ready to decrease my acid reflux medicine AND my IBS is nearly gone.
If I can do this, so can you!
Thank you Heather – you are a fucking inspiration and I love you!
It’s like I always say…the food you eat has the power to change your entire life.
Heather is the perfect example of this.
I hope that you have a wonderful week and remember, you’re ALWAYS on track, even when it seems like you’re not.
Here’s to big bear hugs, high fives and lots and lots of cruciferous veggies.