Reflecting on my life so far I believe my journey began when I was a young girl. I was living in a broken home with two parents who did not get along with constant fighting and bickering. I turned to food to comfort me and make me happy. For a while it did just that, until it didn't anymore.
For as long as I can remember I was always an over-weight person. I was referred to as the girl with a pretty face. My image of how I perceived myself did not match the girl starring back at me in the mirror. I began trying fad diets from a young age, I watched my carb intake, made sure I had enough protein, and ate small constricted portions. This would serve me well for a couple of months before I would slowly slip back into my old eating habits. The truth is that these fad diets were not sustainable especially for someone who needed to lose an abundant amount of weight. I felt like a failure each time I fell of the wagon and my confidence faded.
When I turned twenty years old, I came to what I believed was my “rock bottom”. I was so unhappy with my life and felt that I would never be able to lose weight on my own. I wasn’t living life like my friends were. I restricted myself from activities, afraid of the unknown and of what people would think. I had to consider things other people my age weren’t thinking about like whether I would fit in the chair at the movies or restaurants, and if I'd find something fashionable to wear in my size.
On the verge of becoming diabetic, I turned to my family doctor who recommended bariatric surgery. I was told that my name would be placed on a waitlist and after so long I felt a little bit of hope, like this was the miracle I was waiting for. However, years passed and I continued spiraling down the all too familiar dark and lonely path. Fast forward four years - still waiting for the day my name would be called. At 24, my weight skyrocketed out of control. I was pushing 360 pounds. It was a struggle to complete simple daily tasks like bending over to put on socks or tie my shoes. Waking up every morning became more difficult and I felt like I had no purpose. In 2016, I became extremely depressed and spent an entire summer in my bedroom hiding away. At this point I had given up any hope that I would live a “normal” life.
At this point I began to develop hives all over my body. I went to see a doctor and was given a steroid cream in an effort to alleviate my pain and was popping allergy relief medication. However, nothing seemed to work. No one could tell me why I had these mystery hives and they persisted for months.
At my breaking point, I decided I needed to gain control of my life and this idea of a 'miracle surgery' began to dissipate. I did not fit into society literally, emotionally, or physically. I just wasn’t sure how I was supposed to do it. My mother's worry pushed her to begin exploring other avenues in the area where I live. She was searching for that sliver of hope I had felt years earlier not knowing that she was about to find what would be so much more. She stumbled upon SLS Health Coaching and I agreed to meet even though I had no idea what a “plant-based diet" looked like.
In October 2016, I met with Mary-Ellen and John Landry. I knew nothing about a “plant-based life-style” but for the first time I truly believed that weight loss was possible and sustainable, so I jumped in with both feet. I started one-on-one sessions with Mary-Ellen, who would come to my home and teach me how to cook plant-based. Finally, I found something that worked. I ate until I was full, did not restrict myself, and was able to create those comfort meals. Eventually I was able to incorporate exercise into my daily routine and the weight began to melt away along with some of my troubles.
Two weeks after eating plant-based my hives were completely gone. I began to have more energy, was sleeping better, felt lighter, and noticed my body changing. In March 2017 I finally got the call I thought I was looking for- to get the bariatric surgery. Nothing was more empowering then being able to say “no, I can do this”. To date, I have successfully lost over 100 pounds and I am beginning to fit back into society. I am now running, hiking mountains, and living a healthier lifestyle in general.
I guess when I stopped blaming others and accepted where I was at, I gained clarity that I was in control and had a choice of how I wanted to live my life and what I put in my body. The truth is there is no magic cure. This will require you to work hard, change your lifestyle, attitudes and priorities. If I had any advice it would be: Don’t wait another day, jump in head first, and don’t look back. You won’t regret it.