Notes from a Former Vegetarian

My Story

My story is similar to many women who’ve discovered Paleo and CrossFit. Growing up, my mom always took time to put a home cooked meal on the table, but we weren’t healthy. We ate the typical SAD diet, until around the time I was in middle school. My parents both went on Weight Watchers and both lost a lot of weight. We cleared out the more obvious junk food and cleaned up our diets. This was around the point I became a vegetarian. I began running cross country and lost weight too, but I was depressed, anxious, an insomniac, had horrible PMS, a horrible body image, and would binge eat to make myself feel better. Throughout high school and college, while I had friends, a good family, and got to do some amazing things, I could never shake these ailments. On top of that, I had a lot of knee pain and muscle pain. I was active (rock climbing, running, hiking, kayaking..) but couldn’t keep the pounds from creeping back on.

After I graduated college and moved to a new city to be with my boyfriend, I was stressed and busy as I started grad school and didn’t take the time to care for myself. I gained around 30lbs and was still feeling awful. After moving again, still in grad school, I an epiphany one January night after I realized how much weight I’d gained and how unhappy I was about my health. I vowed to myself that I would lose the weight and start taking care of myself. Since Weight Watchers had worked for my family, I decided to do that. Over the course of a year, I lost around 25 lbs, but I still didn’t feel well. A year of under eating (1200 calories a day) and overexercising, I hurt and was still feeling bad.

The following spring, a friend and I decided to do a sugar free challenge for 2 months. After doing some research and realizing that food like bread and grains are basically sugar, I decided to go grain free as well. This changed my life. I had finished grad school and had some free time on my hands, so I became obsessed with whatever health info I could get my hands on. I read anything I could find about going gluten free, paleo, and sugar free. However, I wasn’t feeling all that great still. I had overcome the sugar cravings and had lost another 5lbs, but was having trouble eating enough food. I didn’t want to admit it, after listening to an Underground Wellness podcast with Susan Schenck (author of Beyond Broccoli), I realized many of my symptoms were due to deficiencies from vegetarianism. I did some serious soul searching and some serious research (I’d never liked meat, but was also concerned about animal cruelty and the environmental impact of factory farming), I decided to add meat back into my diet. I took a lot of adjusting and time to figure out how to eat meat and how much to eat to make me feel good, but eventually I learned how to incorporate it into my diet.

After I began eating meat again (still grain and sugar free), I began working with a naturopath to begin to work on feeling better. I learned that I was on my way to hypothyroidism and needed to get my vitamin and mineral levels back to normal. I started looking at other things that were affecting my health, and stopped taking my birth control pills. I was worried that I would feel as horrible as I did before going on the pill (pain so bad I couldn’t leave the house), but I felt amazing. My pain was pretty much gone and my PMS symptoms were so much better. I stopped working out like a crazy person and began to nourish my body. I took time to rest, heal, and work on feeling happy and healthy.

Now, I’m completely Paleo and doing well. I’m still working on reversing the damage I did to myself after being a vegetarian for 14 years and abusing my body. I feel so much better than I ever have been. I know i will never stop learning and improving myself. Recently, I joined CrossFit and have been slowly working on building strength (it was hard to gain muscle mass as a vegetarian) and am having fun learning new things and meeting new people.

 

Before & After

Spring '10

Spring ’10

IMG_8391

Spring ’10

Seattle in Spring '11 (15lbs lost)

Seattle in Spring ’11 (15lbs lost)

Seattle in Fall '12 (30lbs lost)

Seattle in Fall ’12 (30lbs lost)

Winter '13 (Maintained 30lb loss)

Winter ’13 (Maintained 30lb loss)

 

 

 

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