I lost over forty pounds on a vegan diet … twice! Both times were very different. The first time was very much trial and error – mostly error. I did not count calories, yet I still lost over forty pounds in less than four months. The second time was very deliberate and precise, where I counted calories from food intake and subtracted calories from exercise. I still lost over forty pounds in less than four months. Both methods worked, but which way is best?
How I Lost Weight the First Time
In July 1994 at 32 years old, I was suffering from high cholesterol, kidney stones, asthma, eczema, and other ailments. My weight was continually increasing and I saw no end to this trend of poor health. My two beautiful daughters were very young and I wanted to be around to see them grow up and have their own children. So, I searched for the healthiest lifestyle that I could sustain over my lifetime in order to be a part of even my great grandchildren’s lives.
Tony Robbins and Harvey Diamond
I was also heavily into self-improvement, so I was a big fan of Tony Robbins. Believe it or not, he was a vegan back then. I listened to his Living Health series on cassette and bought a book he recommended by Harvey and Marilyn Diamond, called Fit for Life. This information influenced me to try a vegan diet. It also inspired me to become a Certified Nutritionist (CN) in 1999, when I launched my website and wrote my first book. Many other vegan authors influenced me through the years as well.
What I Ate
Since there weren’t a lot of health-food stores in the mid-1990s, I embraced raw fruits, vegetables, salads, and whole foods, completely eliminating processed and animal-based foods. My diet was about ninety percent raw, so I ate lots and lots of produce. The few health-food stores that I could find locally had healthier bread, brown rice, and rice-based, non-dairy ice cream. Those were a small part of my diet, though. Within four months, without counting any calories, over forty pounds melted off of me and all of my ailments disappeared! And I didn’t even do it perfectly! I made tons of mistakes.
It was in this time frame that I discovered my food allergy to corn and anything derived from corn. I have been allergic to dairy since birth, so it was an almost non-existent part of my life already. Eventually, I developed sensitivity to wheat and gluten. I didn’t know the true story as to why yet, but I learned later that it was glyphosate and genetically modified organisms (GMOs) that caused this new allergy.
How I Lost Weight the Second Time
Since 1994, I have always maintained a vegan diet, varying anywhere from fifty to one-hundred percent raw. I maintained a healthy weight for many years. However, life smacked me around a few times with the death of my parents and my divorce. By this time, health-food stores were popping up everywhere and offering all kinds of “healthy” junk food. I reached to this for comfort and slowly gained weight over the years.
Although I became happily married to my soulmate, Joann, in 2010, I continued to gain weight because her cooking was incredible and I didn’t maintain my discipline. I loved to be her official taste tester when she tried new allergy-friendly, vegan recipes to give me more options. She made it a point to supply me with healthy comfort food and I willingly ate large portions of it. But then I saw myself in a picture and couldn’t believe the change!
I made a goal in 2016 to lose forty pounds again, so I found a food-diary app for my smart phone and was completely shocked at how many calories I was consuming daily. No wonder I had gained weight! I lowered my calories and began to walk more each day. The simple act of eating until I was satisfied and reducing my portions caused a twenty-pound weight loss in the first month! I lost another ten pounds the next month, then five the next, and five the next. I even lost a few more pounds after that and have maintained that weight loss.
What I Recommend
Obviously, anyone can gain weight on a vegan diet, even a raw one. It has many health benefits if done properly. It is less complicated to ignore calories, while eating mostly raw, organic fruits and vegetables and limiting nuts, seeds, oils, and avocados to very small quantities. Whole grains and cooked food should also be limited, especially vegan junk food. Totally eliminate processed foods and animal products. This will cause you to lose weight and reduce or eliminate many health problems, like it did for me the first time.
If that doesn’t seem to work for you, then counting calories isn’t a bad option. It really works! Smart-phone apps help with this greatly, allowing you to scan products or access their giant database of foods. They can also estimate how many calories you may burn with exercise without having to wear a smart watch or pedometer. Even if you would rather not count calories, this is a good temporary option to get a feel for what foods could be sabotaging your weight loss.
So, try the method that works best for your personality. You could even combine the two options by counting calories until you reach your goal and have maintained it for a few months. Watch the scale and start counting calories again if your weight begins to climb. The main ingredient for success, either way, is to eat lots and lots of raw, organic fruits and vegetables. Our recipes will help you to do this in a fun, delicious, and economical way! Happy eating!
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