For nearly 15 years, plant based eating was off the radar for myself and my nutrition clients. My clients wanted to build muscle, get lean, improve their athletic performance, and so did I. While I have long been a fan of eating clean, whole foods, eggs, chicken, turkey and sometimes beef were a huge part of my own diet. These foods were also a pivotal piece of the nutrition programs I designed for my clients. Working with the “macro” model, it was just too difficult to get the lean protein that I (believed) we needed without going way over on carbs.
My own personal choice to go plant based had nothing to do with leaning down, toning up or losing weight. My decision was based on the mind blowing benefits of living a plant based life. (Did you know that you cut your chances of getting most any disease, including heart disease, diabetes, metabolic syndrome, and cancer by A LOT when you cut out animal products and place your focus on organic veggies, fruits, legumes, and whole grains?) It’s been about a year and a half since I began my plant based journey, and my transformation has been astounding.
While leaning down and lightening up were not motivating factors for me to make this lifestyle change, it was a pretty cool benefit that I did experience. I’m pretty well muscled and fairly lean at my “usual state”. Before I flipped over to plant based eating, I would have to work really hard and watch everything I put in my mouth when I wanted to get to my leanest. (You know, those last 5-8 lbs that just don’t want to budge?) Within three weeks of beginning my plant based eating, my body literally ‘lightened up”. I felt any heaviness and bloating I was carrying around melt off of my body. The shape of my body has changed, I am now longer and leaner than I have ever been. I dropped 8 lbs, and my strength, endurance, energy levels digestion and mood improved noticeably. Pretty cool, right? But all of this is just icing on the delicious long term “cake” of plant based eating 😉
I know that the idea of transitioning to a plant based lifestyle can sound confusing and overwhelming. Honestly, in my pre plant based days, I would get completely overwhelmed when putting together plant based meal plans for my vegetarian clients. After learning a bit more about how our bodies use energy and utilize all of the amazing nutrients in plants, it became a breeze to adapt and plan amazing, fun, delicious and super effective plant based meals! By placing your focus on all sorts of vegetables, legumes, fruits and unprocessed whole grains, you really can’t go wrong.
After feeling so amazing with my new lifestyle, and continuing to learn about the wealth of healing properties that plants offer, I sat my my husband and my son (who was an 18 year old football player at the time) down and asked them to give me a week of going totally plant based on the weekends. They both agreed. Here is where life gets interesting. My son is always up for trying all sorts of food, so I knew he’d love vegan meals, but my husband, not so much. My husband is not an eater of vegetables. Aside from having salads when we are out to dinner, he is pretty much anti vegetable. To his credit, he hopped in with an open mind, and found that he actually enjoyed (most) of the plant based meals that we created together. He felt so good eating plant based, that he totally shifted to a vegetarian! He now eats plant based during the week, and will indulge in his favorite chicken wings on the weekend;) Now my entire family eats mostly vegan (except when my teenagers have friends over or go out to eat!) and we couldn’t be happier about the way we feel, and the quality of our food.
If I can make these changes, and implement this lifestyle into my family life, anyone can do it! I’m not suggesting that eating strictly plant based is for everyone, it’s definitely not, but if you have been thinking about making the change, I’m here to cheer you on! A great way to start is to implement “vegetarian days” into your regular lifestyle. Pick a day or two per week where all of your meals are plant based. See how you feel, and plan your next steps based on how you feel! Happy eating!