I've become a vegan.
And I love it.
And it's changed my life.
This is some of my story.
When I started this blog in February 2014, I thought that it would be a catalyst of change for me and for others. I had a vision of inspiring others through my journey to feel good about themselves. It was also about weight loss. And I think that's where I failed.
I failed miserably. Instead of being uplifting, I used this blog almost as a self-hate diary. It was full of doubt about myself and what I could achieve. I focused too much on the negative and on the things that I was doing wrong.
What was supposed to help me was actually hurting me.
I think that part of the problem was that I was just doing what I had always done. I went on a 'diet'. I counted calories and posted my daily meals on this blog. That was wrong for me for a few reasons. I used to be extremely competitive - so much so that I lost sight of who I really was. Instead, I was always competing with everyone else and not always 'winning'. This dogged determination to win really damaged my self esteem because I never felt like I was ever good enough. There was always some out there was better, strong, prettier, smarter, faster, healthier, skinnier...and the list could go on and on.
This competitiveness, this want not really to win but rather not wanting to lose - it pervaded through all parts of my life. Including this blog. When I started to count calories, I went with the usual 'diet' limit of 1,200 calories. The problem with my competitiveness is that I wanted to go under the 1,200 calories every day and I wanted to 'beat' my previous day. This is really shitty behaviour. I knew that it was wrong and I knew that calorie counting didn't work for me. But I persisted. And like all 'diets' I eventually failed. And I failed in the same way that I have failed every single time before then. I starved myself, deprived myself and then I ate more than 1,200 calories in a day. It might not have been much more - let's say it was 2000. Well that was the end of me. Once I did this, I felt failure. And then it was over. Then I would eat whatever I wanted, whenever I wanted to make up for the deprivation I had felt and to soothe my feelings. I used food as my medicine (in the wrong way).
So I got fatter and unhappier. My weight ballooned and I was the heaviest I have ever been (except when I was pregnant). I'm talking a good 30 kilograms (65 pounds) overweight. It was miserable. None of my clothes fit me and I felt embarrassed just even being around other people. My self confidence was low and my self-esteem non-existent.
So how did I become vegan? And how does becoming vegan sit with deprivation and eliminating major food groups from my diet? Let me explain....
A friend at work has been vegan for a few years and I've always been interested in understanding more about it. I have never been a massive meat eater but I still enjoyed a good steak, chicken curry or even boerwors on the bbq.
In January 2015, I dutifully made my New Years Resolutions. I tried to keep it simple and focus on my health and my family. But by the 4th of January, I had already 'failed'. All I had done was write down a few goals - more like dreams - and left it at that. So after only a few days in, I was still drinking most nights (just a glass or two of wine). I had started exercising but it was so sporadic. I was following the C25k plan but I would exercise for two days and then 'rest' for 4 days. I was so inconsistent.
Now around about the 9th of January, I realised that I couldn't remember when I had last had meat / chicken etc. It was probably only 3-4 days but I couldn't recall it. So in a spur of the moment decision I decided to try and go vegan. If I'm honest about it, it was really about losing weight. Sure I had absolutely no energy and I was hoping that this change of eating would drastically increase my energy levels (note, it did!). But really I was still thinking weight loss at this stage.
At first I didn't tell anyone at work. I didn't want the attention. I didn't want people to ask me why I was doing this. Remember I was extremely embarrassed about how I looked and I always felt like I was being judged. "Oh now she is trying vegan, let's see if this works". Remember, low self-esteem.
The first week was pretty hard. I didn't know what to make to eat. So I would bring my typically 'diet' food for lunch - a salad with a few beans sprinkled on top. For a week or two I was still eating some dairy - milk in my coffee and yoghurt in my oats. Dinner was the same thing most nights - a mushroom stirfry or mushrooms on toast. I really didn't know what to cook.
Then I read a book called "Forks over Knives" and wow, it changed my thinking. The health benefits of a whole-food plant based diet are astounding. It was no longer about a diet. It was about eating to live longer. Using food as medicine. Using food to extend my life.
As I write this it is a Saturday morning. It was 12 weeks ago that I started exercising again and I've been vegan for around 8 weeks. Since becoming began I've lost 10 kg (22 pounds) already. I feel healthy and happy. I don't feel like food is my enemy. Food is my medicine. I listen to my body. I recognise when I am no longer hungry and I don't overeat. For the first time in my life, my thoughts about food do not control me.
This blog is now my new journey. My life is changing for the better and I really want that for you too.