This post was written by Engine 2 team member, Natala.
For as long as I can remember I have been on a diet. I remember going to weight loss meetings when I was in Middle School. I remember trying my first diet pills when I was 14. The agony of diets is something that I have been struggling through almost my entire life, 24 years to be exact.
When I started going plant-strong I weighed upwards of 450 pounds. Life was not good for me, every day was a struggle. I didn’t weigh 450 pounds for lack of trying different diets, I weighed that much after attempting every single diet known to man, go ahead, ask if I’ve been on a certain diet, if it is out there, I’ve tried it.
Every diet would start out the same. I’d gear up, buy every thing I needed, read the books, watch the videos, buy the ankle weights, the 3lb hand weights, the pedometer, the gym membership, the blender, the salad spinner, the electric grill, the vitamins, pills, herbal supplements. I’d make all of these lofty goals, I would buy dresses that were too small for me and hang them up on my bathroom door, as motivation. I would cut out photos of thin people and hang them up on the fridge, for motivation. I would dream about walking onto some talk show and busting through a giant paper before photo of me and the room cheering. It was my life, for 24 years.
When I started going plant-strong I was not just morbidly obese. I was a severe, out of control diabetic on more medications than in most medicine cabinets. I had severe issues with my legs and feet, I was constantly tired, I hated my life. In fact, I thought for a while that the only way out of the mess I was in, was to take my life.
It was around my lowest point that I discovered a plant-strong diet. I really wasn’t expecting much, my husband was expecting it to last 2-3 weeks at best, and we’d back to our TGI Friday dates.
But a funny thing happened. Sure, I lost weight, but I had lost weight on tons of other diets in the past as well. But what happened that really counted? My blood sugar started to greatly improve, my blood pressure started to get better, the neuropathy in my legs and feet started to improve. I was getting healthier, not just losing weight, anyone can lose weight, not everyone can gain their health back.
It has been a few years since I started. I’ve lost around 200 pounds but still have a long ways to go. Some months I lose weight, some months I don’t. Is it frustrating? Absolutely. Do I have my moments in which the chocolate wins over? More times than I’d like to admit.
But what I have come to realize in the past couple of years, is that health is more than a scale. Health is what is going on inside, it is what is going on inside your mind AND your body. I am on NO medication, I have completely controlled blood sugar with out one medication, my blood pressure is perfect, my cholesterol has dropped almost 200 points, I have energy, I think more clearly. Most importantly, I look forward to my future in a way that I never did before.
Is weight loss important? Sure. But if you focus on just the scale, you lose out on a truly wonderful journey of health. Being plant-strong is not a fad diet, it is a way of life, and it is a journey you will be on from here on out. Every day is not perfect, but each day I am a little better than the day before, and that is what matters the most. Will you be at your goal weight in a few months? Perhaps, but more than likely you will lose weight at a slow and steady pace, a healthy one. Will you become healthier? Absolutely. And that is what the focus should be, health. There are 1000′s of diets for you to choose from. And you will more than likely lose weight (initially) on all of them. However, there is only one way of eating that will produce REAL results, results that truly count in the long run, and that is a plant-strong diet.
Maybe it is time we got rid of the scales, and started focusing on the health changes that are happening from the inside, out. You will know if you are losing weight, your clothes will get smaller, you will feel different. The biggest change you will see might not be the scale, but instead something far more important, what is happening on the inside. Sadly, there is no scale that we can step on every day that can tell us how our endothelial cells are doing.
If you were to meet me, with out knowing anything about me, you would see an obese woman that still has over 100 pounds to lose. What you would not see is the countless hours that I have spent becoming a healthier person, you would not see the vast internal improvements that have happened, you would not see the complete turn around of my mental well being. Maybe it is time, as a society we stopped focusing on the scale, and started focusing on health, perhaps then we would start to see some real changes.
Natala Constantine is certified in plant-based nutrition through Cornell University. She has a passion for helping people become plant-strong, because of her own journey of health. She has been working with the Engine 2 Diet Team since August of 2011. She also plays a mean violin.