My mammoth weight loss journey began in the summer of 2009. Concerns about my high blood pressure and test results that indicated my heart was under stress had galvanised me into taking action.
Too many years carrying too much weight had begun to take its toll. Something had to change. After all, I was only 46 and considered myself to be far too young to be 'at risk'. The problem was, I wasn't sure how to go about it. Everything I'd tried in the past had failed. and the only practical advice the doctor gave me was "You could do to lose some weight". Nothing else, no detailed dietary recommendations. It was left to me to work that bit out.
So I went ahead and implemented some changes. I reduced my portion sizes and made sure to focus on buying low fat foods when shopping. Progress was slow. I lost a few pounds, but then things stalled and the weight refused to shift further. So I upped my swimming, cycling and walking, convincing myself that this would be the solution. Again, a few pounds more lost, but things then ground to a halt once again. And as is so often the case, life then got in the way and my resolve began to wane. Just as had happened countless times in the past, I began to slip back to old habits.
Then, in December 2009, everything changed. I met Annette. Not for the first time, as our friendship stretched back all the way to 1983. But I hadn't seen her for many years. Prompted by a notification from 'Friends Reunited', a social networking website that no longer exists, I contacted Annette and following a regular exchange of emails and phone calls, she travelled over from Cumbria, where she was teaching, to visit me in York. We got on well, our friendship from so many years ago easily slotting back into place. When we said our goodbyes at the station, after some minor hesitation on my part (a fear of commitment perhaps, who knows, Annette still teases me about this! 😃), we agreed to meet again and thereafter, our trips across the Pennines to see one another became increasingly regular. We eventually got engaged, and we got married in April 2011.
From the time of our first meeting in 2009 to our wedding in 2011, not only had my life changed. I had changed. I had already lost 30 pounds and I was steadily losing more. Something had shifted, literally. Even to this day, I still wonder about this. Perhaps a barrier had been lifted? By finally allowing someone to get close to me, after so many years of being single, I let down my guard, and this triggered something within me. I hadn't actively planned to lose weight this time. I didn't spend my mealtimes engaged in obsessive calorie counting, nor did I experience any sense of food deprivation. I had simply aligned my diet to what Annette was eating - a diet (or to be more accurate, a way of eating) which had served her well as it had been a key factor in managing and resolving endometriosis. This involved eliminating all dairy products and red meat, and incorporating a good amount of vegetables, frequently raw, with every meal. She rarely, if ever, ate between meals. She also walked regularly, every day, for several miles, an activity that we both still enjoy and continue to make part of our daily routine.
By 2014, I'd lost a total of 100 pounds. I was now getting close to my goal of 11 stone. For someone who had been overweight since the age of 10, this was almost inconceivable. I'd always assumed I would remain overweight for life, I'd begun to believe that it wasn't possible to be any other way, as it had become part of who I was. It was also something of a shock for my family and close friends. It's as though I'd taken on a different persona. It provoked some odd reactions, a mix of admiration and genuine happiness but at the same time concern and a sense of loss for a version of me that no longer existed. But most importantly, the person who had accepted me for who I was, regardless of my appearance, was proud of me and for what I'd achieved. I can't conceive of a way that I could or would have gone through this transformation had Annette not been in my life.
2014 was also a pivotal year for us, as it marked the start of a shared journey to becoming fully plant based. It wasn't an overnight change and we have both evolved as we've continued to learn. We immersed ourselves in the area of raw plant based nutrition and have been fortunate to have been coached by two magnificent and highly respected American nutrition educators who have provided us with the foundational knowledge required to flourish on a whole food plant based way of eating.
2014 was also the year I changed career, waving goodbye to the publishing industry in which I'd been employed for 27 years, to devote myself along with Annette to inspiring and guiding others to adopt a plant based diet. Eating this way has so many benefits and advantages that it would feel wrong not to share them. What we have learned along the way comprises our new program 'Be Your Own Plant Based Expert'. If this is of interest to anyone reading this, more information can be found here .