My Weight Loss Story: A Health Revival

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I’ve never been overweight, I’m closer to average. I know I weighed more than I needed to but I felt pretty comfortable with the way I looked. I wasn’t planning on strutting my stuff in a bikini anytime soon but whatever. My normal was about 150 lbs and I was (mostly) OK with that. 

Pre-Plant-Based Diet with my amazing Husband

I had a baby in 2009 and lost all of the baby weight within 6 months. In 2010 I decided to work out, get in shape and lose a little weight. I worked out hard for a few months and only gained weight. I started trying to eat “healthy” along with working out and finally lost a few pounds just in time for vacation. Two months later I found out I was 10 weeks pregnant. I should have known. I lost weight when I got pregnant with my first son too. I gained about 25 to 30 pounds with this pregnancy and delivered a healthy baby boy in January.

I was plagued with bladder problems throughout the year; repeated UTI’s and bladder spasms were making leaving the house next to impossible. After a ton of doctors appointments, invasive testing, and mucho frustration I’d had enough. In an act of desperation I sent an email out to about a dozen of my friends telling them about my symptoms, a possible interstitial cystitis diagnosis, and all of the fear and isolation I was feeling. I pleaded for any help anyone could give me and for all of the prayer they could muster.

One friend put me in touch with a family member who had similar symptoms. My long conversations with her gave me hope and pointed me in the direction of Pelvic Floor Physical Therapy.

Another friend introduced me to her mother, Eileen, who is a Whole Food Educator. We communicated primarily through email with a few phone calls. I had to fill out a ton of paperwork and a food diary so she could get a full picture of my health and life style. Eileen started me on a path of Dietary Excellence™ in October of 2011. She also recommended some products to help resolve the chronic infections and improve my digestion. She had faith that I would be symptom free by Christmas. I prayed, I hoped, I made the change.

I watched Forks Over Knives and was encouraged that this would not only help my bladder problems but prevent diseases for the rest of my life. My husband got on board almost immediately and experienced great health benefits as well. He has also lost quite a bit of weight, but I’ll share about that another time.

As I followed this new path I noticed changes right away. Aches and pains that had become an everyday occurrence were gone. I felt more clarity, kind of like the Claritn commercials. Also, weight was almost falling off. I lost 16 pounds in the first 6 weeks. Most of that was in the first two weeks. Even after I stopped losing pounds my shape was definitely improving. 

I had some bladder flare up’s during the first few months and some infections that just didn’t want to clear up. I got discouraged on more than a few occasions but Eileen was there to encourage me. I was a believer in the plant-based diet. By Christmas I was symptom free. Praise the Lord!!!

We had family visiting during Christmas 2011 so we got a little off track, but not much. We decided to participate in the Physicians  Committee for Responsible Medicine‘s 21 Day Vegan Kickstart. This was the first time we were eating completely vegan as a household. I loved it and I felt great. I was creating delicious recipes every week, with a few duds now and then. I lost another 3.5 pounds bringing the total to 19.5 pounds, I started in a size 14 and now I’m in a size 6!!!

Christmas 2011 with my oldest son 

Suddenly all I could talk about was our plant-based diet. A lot of people were interested. I decided to blog about this journey, what works for us and what doesn’t. I found myself helping friends and encouraging them. 

Eileen has given me permission to share her email address. If you are interested in contacting Eileen she can be reached at ek@havelifelongwellbeing.com. You can also check out her website for more information.

Do you have an encouraging story you’d like to share? Leave a comment with your story or a link to your blog, let us encourage one another.

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Comments

  1. What an inspiring story, Holly. Thank you for sharing. You look great! Did you lose all that without exercising? I’m not seeing any difference since switching. But, it’s still early (we’re in our 3rd week I think).

    I am seeing a urologist on Feb. 28th for chronic UTIs – I’ve had 7 so far since Jan. ’11. I am so frustrated because, as I’m sure you have heard, the treatment of choice so far is to put me on a low-dose “maintenance” antibiotic… for what could be the rest of my life. I’m so scared and don’t know what to do.

    I never knew this UTI bend to your story. I never thought food could help cure this. Please share with me what your nutritionist charged you for this therapy and I’ll see if we can budget for it. I’m willing to give it a try. I do NOT want to be on antibiotics the rest of my life.

    • Joye, I would encourage you to reach out to Eileen. I’d be more comfortable with you talking directly to her. She is a wonderful and knowledgeable lady. Our circumstances are different so it is likely our treatment will be different as well. I can completely understand the frustration of what you are going through. I know I had at least 6 UTI’s last year.

      I know I should have been exercising but I was not during that period of time. I would start working out get a week in then have a flare up. I know exercising didn’t cause the flare ups but I would rest as much as possible as activity sometimes worsened bladder spasms.

      As far as weight loss goes, I’d encourage you to keep a diary of everything you eat then evaluate it. When I do this I definitely realize that I have a lot of gaps in what I think I’m eating and what I’m really eating. I think one of the things that really helped me was getting all of the processed food out of my diet. I was very strict in the beginning. My biggest compromise food was organic tortilla chips, I love them. I can eat a big bowl of any kind of beans mixed with any grains as long as I have some salsa and tortilla chips.

      I’ll pray for you Joye! I believe that I’m now living a life style that will help me to be healthy for the rest of my life. I feel like God answered my prayer’s. I want to be a faithful steward of the gift’s He has given me. My health is a wonderful gift!

  2. Aletia Tomkins says:

    This brought tears to my eyes Holly ! I am so happy for you and your new health! Oh and you look amazing too 😉 I’m so glad you took a leap of faith and sent out that “TMI ” email. Love you…it’s been really great reading your blog. Now you can help others who may have the same issues or struggling with dietary decisions. God is good and faithful!

  3. Thank you for sharing your story. Congrats on the journey! and the blog. I’m enjoying your writings. Allie (NewAllie)

  4. Holly, I just read this! You look AMAZING!!! and I’m so proud of you! You are such an encouragement and I know that it took a lot of determination and perseverance to do what you have done! Praise God!

  5. Holly, I just read this! You look AMAZING!!! and I’m so proud of you! You are such an encouragement and I know that it took a lot of determination and perseverance to do what you have done! Praise God!

  6. Just found your blog and was wondering why you choose plant based, then I read your story on the UTI’s, sorry to hear. Glad you found food to be the medicine. I also watched Forks over Knives and have been on a plant based lifestyle since Nov. 2011. I believe food needs to be our medicine. Thanks for your story, really
    glad I found your blog. God is good 🙂

  7. First, I want to thank you for taking the time to share your story and all your planning! I am a mother of 3 and know how hard and time consuming that can be.

    Second, I was also interested in hearing about your bladder symptoms although I stumbled on your site while surfing the net for plant based diet info. I too have been working out for months now (without losing weight) and have also developed bladder spasms while my workout partner has come down with her 2nd UTI in 2 months. My heart lept when I read about your symptoms and that you became symptom free.

    I can’t say, “THANK YOU” enough! You have given me more inspiration than you know.

    Thank you, THANK you, THANK YOU!

    • Jean your comment totally blessed me! Thank YOU!!!

      I am so sorry that you are having bladder spasms! At first I didn’t realize what was happening. I would loose urine, feel odd sensations, discomfort, I often thought I had a UTI but the test sometimes came back negative.

      During the height of the spasms I would have an almost constant urge to go, run to the restroom only to void a drop or two. I had a 2 year old and a nursing infant at the time. I felt like I could hardly care for them, I had a ton of anxiety. If I had to get out to go to the store I would only go if my husband could go with me. I had no time to deal with kids on my way to the restroom. I remember one shopping trip that was less than an hour and dashing to the restroom 3 times while there.

      I have no doubt that moving to a plant-based diet dramatically helped me get better. (I’m still symptom free)! All of the antibiotics I had taken and years of poor eating had taken a toll on my body. The recovery was not instant. I worked with Eileen (who I mention in the post) and she looked at my specific medical history (she knows everything about me) and made recommendations to help my body get back on track.

      I know she has helped others like me and probably many more who are completely different. She is brilliant, compassionate, dedicated, and eager to help. She loves seeing people’s lives change and them regain their health. I’d like to encourage you to contact her if your willing. Also, if you haven’t already watched “Forks Over Knives” it is a great resource.

      I hope you and your workout partner find relief soon. I feel honored to be a small part of your journey. I hope you can look back in six months and have a similar story, a story of healing and restoration.

  8. Hi Holly,

    So I’m reading your story for a second time! I think I read it the first time maybe back in May or June of this year. Anyhow, I don’t have too much time right now (the twins are napping, my husband just got home, and I have some errands to run) to get into all of the detail (trust me I could write a whole lot more), but I did want to ask you if you ever get off course with your plant-based lifestyle? I am in a bit of a rut right now, and know I need to get back on track.

    I was diagnosed with discoid lupus last Spring and learned about Jill Harrington and her book The Lupus Recovery Diet. I took the meds the doctor prescribed, but I also changed my way of eating. Since the change back in May ’12, I’ve lost 20 pounds (I was at a comfortable 160 lbs which was the remainder of my baby weight even though I’m normally between 150 and 155). The results are amazing in more ways than one as you well know!

    I am no where near as plant-based as you are (we live in Korea and many of the ingredients and even produce that we could get in the States, we can’t get here), but I was doing pretty well. I consumed sugary foods over Thanksgiving and even had a few small pieces of turkey which actually made me feel sick. So, coming off of the holiday foods and adjusting to a new schedule with the girls (swimming lessons 2x a week and pre-school 3x a week) I feel like I just don’t have the time (or I’m just not making the time) to prepare foods the way I did several months ago.

    The girls and my husband eat what I eat, but I occasionally prepare meals for them with chicken or beef, which we are all ok with and I’m not trying to eliminate. Oh, and because I feel short on time we, including me, partake in some processed foods from time to time. Not good, I know.

    Well, I guess that was really longer than I intended it to be. I am feeling rather uninspired (aside from keeping my autoimmune symptoms at bay) in the food preparation and plant-based department. Any suggestions?

    Thanks!
    Allison

    • Hi Allison,
      I also get uninspired, stuck in a rut, and too overwhelmed with playing catch-up to think about dinner until too late. You are not alone. I’ve heard from other’s who are in the same situation. We are in this together! 🙂
      One of the things that helps me stay motivated is learning more about the “whys” and “hows” of eating a plant-based diet. I just read Dr. Fuhrman’s book Eat to Live and I plan to read Disease-Proof Your Kids next. Learning more gives me the tools to make the changes. Joining the Wellness Forum was one of the best things I did. I had access to conference calls, literature, and hours of DVD teaching on how to successfully change. I can’t recommend it enough.
      Planning is also important. I understand being busy. I’m a stay at home mom but I don’t have a lot of free time but I make it work. On busy weeks I’ll sometimes cook beans and grains one day so I can easily mix and match veggies with the food that is already made. Right now I have a big container of cooked quinoa in the fridge; with it I could make Breakfast Quinoa, a quick veggie stir-fry, and Mexican spices and beans and make a burrito, steam some broccoli and mushrooms or any number of things.
      Creating a Meal Plan, even if it’s only 4 days worth is really helpful. I don’t stress if I miss a meal. I try to have some back-up stuff in the pantry. I keep a few cans of beans, some heat and eat rice or quinoa, and other easy items. When I’m in a hurry I’ll “bake” potatoes in the microwave and “steam” broccoli.
      I hope this helps. I hope to write more about staying inspired this month.

  9. My husband stumbled upon your blog while looking for some plant-strong recipes online. Last Janurary, our church did a Daniel’s Fast (mostly plant-based but can include oils just no processed/sugar, dairy, breads, or meats) w/our new pastor for 14 days, but this year, we’re doing it (just started Sunday) for 21 days. Last year, I couldn’t follow it all the way, as I was pregnant & had been diagnosed the day before we started the fast with gestational diabetes. My husband followed it & lost 10 lbs in 10 days (although he didn’t need to lose weight).

    About the same time, we watched Forks Over Knives & began to realize this is the way to go. We also looked at the Engine 2 Diet that’s mentioned. Saying all this, it was not enough for us to change for good & we eventually crept back to our old comfort foods.

    Fast-forward to last month, when we decided to order the cookbook from Forks Over Knives & read the Engine 2 Diet book by Rip & it just hit us like a ton ofbricks. This is what we need to do (not just for our Daniels Fast) but all the time! We have decided to do a plant-based diet & no oils (which is a little more stricter than what the Daniel’s Fast calls for).

    I have been obesely overweight for some time now, as about 5 lbs a year adds on to my waistline each year, but over the course of 15 years, it adds up. I have 3 kids but have never gained much during my pregnancies (mostly b/c I was so sick & my drs told me not too gain too much weight since I was obese to begin with). I gained 3 lbs w/our 3rd child who was born last March, but I have about 100 lbs to lose to get back to a healthy weight.

    I am ready to make a change & am so happy to have found your blog- what a true inspiration & to also know that you are a Christian like myself, really helps me tie my faith into this journey.

    Thank you- I’m excited to read more of your blog! Blessings to you & your family!

    • Oh Kristen I’m so happy you wrote! Congratulations on choosing this path. I believe it will change your life more than you realize.
      There is a steep learning curve when beginning a plant-based diet. I believe it is similar to someone becoming a Christian in that it is a new lifestyle. You don’t turn into “super Christian” overnight. There is a gradual process of learning and maturing as you discover and adopt spiritual disciplines. The same is true for adopting a plant-based diet, it is a process. There may be hangup’s along the way. You may trip, fall, and miss the mark but you must continue to “run the race with perserverance.” I am blessed to learn to “offer your bodies as a living sacrafice that is holy and pleasing to God” to me it truely is a “spiritual act of worship”
      Please keep in touch! I’d love to hear how your journey is going and offer any support I can.
      Be encouraged my sister in Christ!

  10. Hi holly! Thank you for sharing your story! We are just starting our plant based eating and loving it so far! You can read about our journey here, http://www.ourholisticjourney.com. I found your taco recipe and am going to try it! Thank you!

  11. Hi Holly –

    I’ve had flare ups of IC for many years, experiencing complete remission now and then, only to have those awful symptoms creep back in to daily life. It was really bad prior to getting pregnant with my son, thirteen years ago. It’s an awful diagnosis, one that can be quite limiting with respect to quality of life. Thankfully I have had long bouts without any symptoms (as mentioned), and this is probably attributable to a mostly vegetarian diet for about eight years. In January this year I made the leap to a plant-based way of eating and drug my family with me. Now I am a HUGE champion of this way of eating and tell everyone about it, have started a facebook page and am considering starting a blog as well. My results have been similar to what you have experienced with respect to feeling better, less bladder problems, fewer migraines, more energy, etc. And who knew that I’d become so accomplished in the kitchen! I am very comfortable whipping up meals on the fly based on what’s in the pantry/fridge now and it’s such a pleasure to cook for my family. I feel like it’s the very best gift I can give them (and me!) as a wife and mom. My husband’s cholesterol has dropped 30 points after he switched (eight weeks of eating solely plants). We follow a low-oil diet, too.

    My bladder issues have all but gone by the wayside, and I am hoping for continued improvement. Occasionally I still have spasms and have to get up in the middle of the night a few times, but this is WAY better than what I’ve dealt with in the past. I am wondering about cutting out gluten and if this could help, too. Do you have any thoughts on that? Are you eating a gluten free diet? The jury’s still out on GF diets – I’d like to see more conclusive evidence. Much of it is anecdotal, I think, but that’s something to pay attention to, as well. My acid reflux has improved dramatically, too. LOVE this way of nourishing our bodies.

    We are one happy plant-based family promoting it, living it, healing from it. It makes such beautiful sense to me how so many complex individual and world problems can be fixed so simply – just by changing what’s on our plates. It’s win-win-win for us, for the Earth, for animals……..and the word is spreading fast.

    By the way, my facebook page is called Hug a Herbie – lots of information and resources posted there. It’s new. Come like my page!

    https://www.facebook.com/HugAHerbie

    And here’s a Pinterest board with almost 300 recipes (and notes with my experiences/likes/dislikes), too – I refer to it daily:

    http://pinterest.com/artonomy/2013-plant-based-low-oil/

    • HI Vicki,
      It’s nice to “meet” someone who has gone through a similar ordeal.

      I’m not gluten-free but my son is, so most of my recipes are GF. Another thing to consider is toxicity that builds up in our bodies. I had high levels of a few different heavy metals in my system. Once I started detoxing I had a few spasms but they went away quickly. I always think to myself, how many bad choices am I away from a relapse. It helps me stay on track. 🙂 I’ll check out your page! Thanks!

  12. Dear Holly,
    Thank you so much for sharing your story as well as your son’s allergy difficulties. I am new to the vegan way of eating. I am thankful to hear you are also a sister in Christ. I had been praying for healing of my severe scalp condition. I did not want to be using the steroid oils that were prescribed. I also am over weight and have high blood pressure. Plus I have a nasty smoking habit to over come. I was led to FOK documentary. Wow! I was on board. I shared the information with my husband who is a diabetic. He also agreed with eating this way as well. I work full time outside of the house and I guess my biggest thing is meal planning and how to make sure we are getting what our bodies need. The second problem is what to fix for my husband’s lunch. He is a truck driver and eats as he drives. I am in the process of reading Dr. Fuhrman’s 3 Steps to Incredible Health books. Any feed back would greatly appreciated. God bless you and your family!

    • HI Rita! Welcome! I’m so glad you stopped by and commented! May God richly bless you and your husband as you seek to honor Him by honoring His temple.

      I know it seems overwhelming as you get started but I believe you are on the right track. Dr. Fuhrman is one of the top doctors I recommend. If you are able to follow his guidelines I believe you will reverse your illnesses and overcome disease.

      I think they best thing you can do is spend a few hours every weekend cooking large batches of beans and grains and cutting veggies for the week. It is easier than it sounds, because much of the time you aren’t “doing” anything. Plan your meals around these items that are already (mostly) prepared.

      If your husband likes raw veggies pack a large bowl or gallon sized ziplock bag full of them, like a salad. Salads are hard to eat but pulling out individual pieces of spinach, carrots, peppers, etc. is much easier. Try to eat all the colors of the rainbow. My husband eats lunch at his desk and usually eat a large container of raw spinach and a raw container of raw broccoli along with several pieces of fruit. I prefer to got the bean and grain bowl or burrito route. This may be easier to eat on the road. Especially if the beans are pureed, that will help everything stick together.

      I’m happy to help where I can. Send me an email if you need more ideas!
      Blessings!

  13. Wow thanks for sharing! I scrolled to the bottom of this article in disappointment that there was no after photo! Lol then when I scrolled back up I realized I mistook you for your daughter. Haha! Or your sons girl friend. I thought oh she must have a boy and girl teen. Lolol you look fantastic and so young! Your story inspired me because I see similarities to my life. I’ve subscribed and can’t wait to hear more from you! Thanks for your hard work!!! Ashley

  14. Thank you so much for your story! It’s really encouraging.

    I have what they call a “honeymoon cystitis” (and it’s been a year and a half already. Still on my “honeymoon”…*sigh*) I’ve been vegetarian for 4 years and now trying to go 100% WFPB. It’s so frustrating…with all of these doctor appointments and antibiotics…and doctors telling you that this might or might not help. I’m desperate. We want to have kids but we can’t because of that. And I though it’s all anatomical you know…and that’s why I keep getting it. But now I’m not sure anymore. Because my husband was away for a few weeks and I still got it! So now it can just happen whenever for a reason I know nothing of.
    I’m just loosing hope and wonder if this ever gonna end.

    I’d have contacted Eileen if I lived in the States, but I don’t.
    If you have any good tips, please share with me.

    So happy that for you and hopefully one day I’ll overcome this too.

    Love,

    Liza

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