I was born a big eater, as well as a big baby (in the 60's anyway). Photos of me growing up display a little Buddha belly with some type of foodstuff on my face and shirt. Although I had a big appetite, I was active enough and lucky enough to have home cooked meals rather than processed or fast foods. Known as the "chubby" girl, I saw myself as the "fat" girl.
In my teen years, I became more aware of my weight. The harder I tried to control my portions, the more I binged and the worse I felt about myself. An obsession that started in adolescence with restrictive diets, evolved into exercise addiction in young adulthood and thankfully, to where I am today. I no longer have to starve myself, nor increase my levels of intense exercise to insane amounts to maintain my optimal weight. I now understand why my best efforts to control my portions were futile, that the strong desire to eat is a natural, important survival skill and extremely hard to fight. I like to entertain myself with the thought that if food was scarce, as in early human history, I would have survived because of my fierce appetite. However, food isn't scarce in my current environment. Calorie rich, nutrient deficient food is quite abundant and convenient everywhere you turn.
After reading "Diet for a New America" by John Robbins, I switched to a plant based diet. It was the first time I truly experienced healthy weight loss. Excess weight disappeared almost effortlessly. Prior to that, I had decided I was a big boned girl and would never be smaller without starving. I am actually small boned, but denial can be a way to keep us sane sometimes. Being made fun of by many for adopting a plant based diet and told I would get weak, I decided to enter running and biking events to prove my naysayers wrong. Being fueled by a plant based diet, I was able to win many races and I was able to compete professionally as a mountain bike racer on the National level. Because of my lack of experience and natural ability, I am confident that my plant based diet is what provided me with a competitive edge. Granted, motivation played a huge role as well, but diet was the most important.
After all I've read about the effects of animal based diets, I have no desire or need to be carnivorous. I understand that including 10% or less of animal products may have some benefits, but for me, dropping animal products made sense on so many levels. Ironically, looking beyond weight loss and more towards my health and the health of the planet, I finally achieved weight loss success. My first foray into a plant based diet was not ideal. I ate a lot of refined carbohydrates. Yet, it worked because I was a professional mountain bike racer and needed to keep my working muscles supplied with glycogen. For anyone that has studied sports nutrition, the energy needed for performance has always been shown to be best provided for from carbohydrate sources. As I lower my activity levels, by choice, whole plant based foods and limited use of all oils has been the key to maintaining my health and weight. For the record, I am not perfect. But when I slip, I slide a little, get myself back up and continue. Each slip, I slide less, and each year, I don't slide as often.
When I read, "Diet for a New America," I had several lean, fit friends pass away young from cancer. From what I had read, I became concerned that fitness wasn't as protective as I had believed. My friends maintained a healthy weight, exercised frequently and a high percentage of their diets came from lean animal protein, as was common with fitness enthusiasts. Years later, after reading "The China Study," it's hard for me to deny that animal products, specifically lean animal protein, possibly played a role in thier passing. There are so many factors, I can't say this was the case for my friends, but It is well documented that diets with increased animal products increases the risk of deadly cancers along with many other diseases. And lean sources of meat may even be a part of that equation as fat can actually be protective when digesting animal protein. Theoretically, fat in meat can help negate the toxic properties of meat. Unfortunately, more saturated fat does increase heart disease.
Epidemiological studies have shown plant based diets to be effective in lowering cancer rates. The knowledge that a whole foods plant based diet may help avoid cancer and a plethora of chronic diseases, as well as being more beneficial for the environment, inspired me to change my career path and share with as many people as possible.
With Fit Foods and Fun From Michele plant based fitness weight loss retreats, I am honored to help you fulfill your dreams of optimal health and fitness. If a vacation isn't on your schedule, Fit Foods and Fun from Michele, vegan health coaching will help you get started on your optimal health journey from your home. Whether its work out programs, menu planning or coaching for behavior change, I can get you started on your way. As a Personal Trainer and later a Fitness Manager, I saw how hard clients and members worked out. The benefits did not match their effort and it was obvious diet played a bigger role in their health. Yes, exercise does a body good! But a good exercise program can't fix a bad diet. Having the chance to help people combine an exercise plan with a plant based eating plan, I saw the best and most amazing results. Results I hadn't seen in 20 years of prior health club experience.