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The Daily Beet: Tips, Advice and Stories

Shame.

Brave-Brene-Brown

There I was, minding my own business, walking to the metro. Suddenly, a car comes to a rather abrupt stop, right in the middle of traffic. A lady gets out, waving her hands at me, as though there was something urgent. For a moment I thought I might be in  danger, maybe someone was behind me, about to mug me. Maybe I dropped something? Maybe she was just crazy?

“MISSSSSSSSS!!!!!!!!!”

I looked up at her, she was definitely talking screaming at me.

“Yes?” I said backing away from her, as her car stood and blocked traffic.

“I can help you lose weight!!!! I have this (I’m excluding the name of the product) supplement that can help you! I’d love to talk to you!”

By now a small group of people gathered to see what the commotion was. Some people started to laugh, some people just kept walking.

“No thank you.” I said as politely as I could.

“I’ve lost 50 pounds though!!” She exclaimed, pointing to a shirt that said she had lost 50 pounds.

I kept walking, as fast as I could, mortified and embarrassed.

I would like to tell you this is a rare occurrence. But, you’d be surprised how many times something like this has happened. Getting my nails done, shopping for groceries, getting my hair done, at book stores, in coffee shops. I have been approached by total strangers and have been told that they can help me lose weight. I once had a hair dresser write down her special diet, and insisted that I follow it until the next time I went in again. (I never went back).

I’ve also been through it with Doctors. Sadly, many Doctors who see an overweight person, make immediate judgments, and can often treat the person poorly, because they are overweight. It is what made me so terrified of going to the Doctor for so many years, fear of judgment and ridicule. A few years ago, when I was at the worst of my T2 diabetes, I sat in a Doctors office, crying after being told that one of the infections that I had in my leg might result in partial amputation. Rather than a kind word, or offering anything helpful the Dr. turned to me and said “Why did you let yourself get so fat?”. I’m writing this, in part because I want people to know, that kind of behavior does not help, not even in the slightest.

Being overweight in this society is not easy. While the number of obese people has been on the rise year after year, the way people who are overweight are treated has not become any better. It’s still ok (for most) to laugh, make fun of and look down at overweight people. I have been hurt, more times than I can count because of my size, physically and emotionally. Being overweight since the age of 10, has not been easy. I did what I could to not be noticed, but alas, everyone seemed to notice me. I thought this would go away when I became an adult, but sadly it did not. People said (and still say) awful things about me. I really don’t feel like walking around with a shirt that says “I’ve lost 200 pounds, so back off”, so I’ve learned to ignore what I can, and on the bad days, when something really gets to me? I just let it get to me. Sometimes I go punch a punching bag, seems to help the most, to be honest.

The thing is, as I’ve mentioned before, overweight people have a lot stacked against them. This is not a simple issue of will power and determination. This is a very long genetic line, and a modern society that has no problem with food scarcity. There is highly calorically dense food everywhere we look. And worse yet, the “health” food industry has made a fortune into making people believe that a food is healthy when it is far from that.

More so, it doesn’t take much to gain weight, if you have those higher fat stores. 120 excess calories per day (of nutritionally void food, like oil) over 8 years, you are 100 pounds overweight. 120 excess calories that your brain has a hard time calculating – that’s it. It’s about a tbs of oil a day, 3 small cookies, a few potato chips. We’re not talking huge amounts of pizza and soda, we’re talking about a small difference and a set of genes that holds onto fat, because it used to be very helpful when we were in living in times of food scarcity. Incidentally, these higher fat stores in people earlier in our history meant the difference between survival and death.

Today, the way our society portrays overweight people is horrible. When you see an overweight person in the news, they are generally shown from the waist down, from the side, or from the back. They generally are holding some kind of food, and they are never dressed well. Every diet book, magazine, workout dvd that is sold, is sold to people who either don’t want to look like this image that is portrayed of overweight people or who do not want to be overweight. Our society has used shame as a weapon to get people to buy things that simply won’t work, most of the time. Entire companies are set up on the premis that if overweight people feel bad about themselves, they will buy their product. Who cares if it doesn’t work? They can blame the person for lack of motivation and will power.

And this is what I’m here to tell you today, you will not be shamed into losing weight. You might think that it is a good motivation at first, but trust me when I say that motivation is nothing to run on, especially if you are doing this for a while. And, on the flip side if you are in the health industry, you will not shame anyone into losing weight by focusing on their size, or what they look like.

There was a point in my journey that I realized weight loss was not the thing I was after. Health was. I could lose weight doing anything, and I had in the past. When I started to focus on my health, my life became 100x better. I stopped weighing myself. I went out and got nice clothes that fit me for the size I am, not the size I want to be. I also did not punish myself by saying I wouldn’t buy new/nice clothes until when I was thinner. I started living.

So many people have told me that if an overweight person (myself included) starts to feel good about themselves, in the body they have right now, they won’t get thin. It is one of the more offensive things that people  have said to me. Healthy should be the goal, for every person, no matter what size they are. Low and behold, when someone has the goal of being healthy, they start to get closer to an ideal weight.

The problem is that we’re all so fixated on losing weight and getting skinny, that we lose site of health. And worse yet, marketers have figured out that we’re all scale obsessed, and they play to that, and they get us to buy billions of dollars of stuff, all because (most) are ashamed of what they look like.

What if the shift was to health? And what if people were treated with kindness instead of cruelty? If people of any size were not made to  feel ashamed of the way they look?

We need a massive shift in our society. A shift that is revolutionary in it’s approach, a shift in which the way we treat others changes. And a shift in the way we approach the health crisis that we’re facing, to focus on health. What if the covers of magazines had photos of lab results rather than a horrible before photo and a great looking after photo? Because at the end of the day, give me any diet, and I will find you a great before and after photo. But that tells me only one thing about the person, it does not give me the entire picture.

When people see me they might not know that I have had remarkable changes in my health, but the point is that should not matter, we should treat people with kindness and without judgment no matter where they are on their journey.

Let’s continue to focus on health, kindness and compassion. Let’s not make this about becoming a certain size, or a certain weight. Instead, let’s celebrate healthy change that results in healthy people.

Let’s put an end to the shaming, both as a society and as individuals. It doesn’t matter where you are in this journey, the most important thing is that you start, and the most important reason that you start is to become a healthier person.

You are worth it.

About the author

NatalaE2
Natala is the director of communications for Engine 2 Diet, she is also one of our coaches on our support site, Engine 2 Extra. A few years ago, Natala was at the end of her rope. She was on almost 15 medications daily, had out of control Type 2 Diabetes, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, issues with nerve damage, and was morbidly obese. She was just over 30 years old. She decided to take her life back by becoming plant-strong. She has lost over 200 pounds, got off of all of her medications and now has great health numbers. Natala plays the violin and studied music therapy. She became passionate about plant-strong nutrition, received her Certificate in Plant-Based Nutrition through Cornell University, a certificate in Health Promotion and Disease Prevention and is currently pursuing a degree in nutritional sciences. Natala is also a featured speaker at our Engine 2 Retreats she talks about the reality of our nations obesity epidemic as well as providing practical steps to becoming a healthier person.
  • Danielle

    Every time you write I feel like you are writing to me. You have changed my life, maybe saved it. Thank you for speaking out and for not letting people get you down. I know this will sound weird, but I really love you, and I hope that the rest of your team knows how lucky they are to have you on it. I hope to hear you speak soon.

  • Susan S

    It is wonderful to have reminders like this so that when I am with someone who has a serious weight problem, I don’t act insensitively and I am mindful of my own biases. Thank you!

  • http://www.facebook.com/sksasek Susan Sasek

    What a powerful piece you have written here. I am a fellow alumna of the Cornell program, graduating in Spring 2010. Since then I have been living plant strong, and even plant perfect most of the time. I was blessed with a nutrition conscious mother and raised in a home with a huge garden where we grew a great deal of our food. Even still, when I was younger I thought skinny was what it was all about. This education has pointed me to speak more about getting healthy to people than about losing weight, to care for their insides more than their outsides. I now know that it is all about health, and like you articulated so beautifully, once you strive for health, things like weight just fall into place with time.

  • Liz11

    This is a great article. I have to remind myself that the goal is health not a number on a scale. It is hard though when you look in the mirror and the image in the mirror doesn’t match the image you see in your head. Thank you for writing this.

  • Tara

    You need a book. I love Rip, but I think that YOU are what is missing.

  • Lori B

    Thanks for sharing! You are so inspiring!!

  • Ayca

    Hi Natala. I try to remind myself that I’m beautiful but it’s tough to feel beautiful when I’m not happy with myself. I do great with my eating for a few weeks at a time and I feel great. Then I hit rock bottom and eat every kind of vegan junk food that I can find. I’m so ashamed of myself and I don’t know how I can lose it so easily and ruin everything! I feel ashamed to be over weight and vegan! I sometimes feel like I don’t belong anywhere because of my weight. I hate feeling like this. I want to look strong and healthy and I want to be an example for the plant strong community. Ahhhhh! Okay, well, now that I got it out, I still feel ashamed but I hope that I will one day learn to love myself!

    • http://www.facebook.com/ann.b.jenson Ann Bright Jenson

      I understand what you are saying because my journey has been a lot the same. I’d encourage you to look at your thoughts and beliefs during those times. Then correct the things that are wrong. One thing I did was to write down every negative thought I had in a certain amount of time. After that I could read the thoughts and ask if it was true and what was true instead. Also, watch “Hungry for Change”. It’s on Netflix. At the end they talk about self love. One of the people had a saying you would say every day while looking in a mirror. At first the negative stuff comes up, but after a month that starts to change. Alot of our negative thoughts and beliefs can be a result of earlier abuse, which was my case. Once I dealt with that it’s been much better, but sometimes I still struggle with negative thoughts. Hang in there!

      • Ayca

        Thanks for writing Ann. i actually did watch Hungry For Change in April and it was very helpful. I quit drinking soda after watching it. I do remember saying the sentence to myself and I should have kept up with it. Thank you for your words of encouragement.

  • http://www.facebook.com/vanessa.gray.940 Vanessa Gray

    Bless you Natala! Beautifull words! I have recently lost 40 pounds. When I first wanted to “loose weight” I struggled and nothing ever came off and I felt crummy. Once I decided I wanted to be healthy the weight seriously melted off! I am working on implementing a plant based diet for me and my family. Thanks for the inspiration!

  • http://www.facebook.com/beverly.perry.3994 Beverly Perry

    I haven’t had a weight problem for 12 years, I had gained about 12 pounds from the lowest, but needed to get only five pounds or so off. I am trying to get the cholesterol levels at a healthy number continue to stay active at 65 years old.

  • http://www.facebook.com/mikeandjenn99 Mike Guess

    Fantastic editorial! I have/was in the ‘health’ industry for almost a decade, trying to help people. When I started, I focused on weight loss, but my focus shifted very quickly to actually just helping people be healthy. Some people just can’t lose weight and the most important thing anyway is being healthy, not fitting into those skinny jeans that society tells you you should. Our image of what is acceptable is so skewed at this point that people are more concerned with fitting an image than how they treat their bodies. Be happy where you are! If you decide you want to lose weight later, so be it, but a healthy mental state and loving yourself for who you are and not what people think you should be, is so much more important. Bravo Natala!

  • http://www.facebook.com/liz.james.12 Liz James

    This is an amazing piece of writing and one that should be shared & shared again. Thank you for your courage

  • Heather

    What an amazing story! I definitely need to focus more on health than the scale. I am mostly plant-based but still fall off the wagon now and then. I’m working on it! Thank you so much for this!

  • Audrey

    Powerful truth! Thank you.

  • Missa

    I am looking for health as well. I am working toward a balanced healthy body and mind. They are not seperate entities and cannot fix one without the other. I’m focusing on adding positives in any shape or form to my life, gradually training myself to edge out the negatives. My goal is to get healthy and enrich my life and inspire the others around me by example. Kudos for making a positive change and then paying it forward.

  • RachaelRei

    Natala, first I want to thank you for writing this post, it’s spot on!! I have lost 70 lbs since I went whole foods plant-based back in January 2012. However, now as a bride, I find that the shaming has intensified. Just Monday when I went to get my dress altered they asked if I had any plans to lose weight. I informed them I’d come plenty far and had no goals to drop a bunch of weight in the next month! They were apologetic, but I don’t think it was their place to ask about my weight, and instead of feeling beautiful trying on my dress I felt super self-conscious. Hopefully your message can encourage people to stop judging others with one look, you never know where someone is in their journey. :-)

  • http://www.facebook.com/hearohisrael Robin Schwindt Smith

    Thank you for this! I have a sil who–sadly–epitomizes the negativity addressed at overweight people. She says she just wants to lock them all in her house and put them on a diet. I pray for them. I figure if they knew how much better they could feel on a plant-strong diet like E2, they’d be doing it. I just pray that the information will reach them in a non-threatening way. I’m a stranger, so as you point out, my helpful suggestions would sound threatening and critical. So I just pray for them.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1472052289 Michelle Davis

    I recently became plant-based and have lost over 30 pounds. I have about 100 left to go, but for the first time in a long while, I feel optimistic that I can do it! Congratulations on your amazing accomplishments!

  • mark m

    I must admit when i was in my 20′s and early 30′s i always looked down on ” heavier” people in the gym. Now in my early 40′s i know better. Eye contact, a smile, and a simple hello to the people working out beside you can do wonders. We’re all there for the same reason, just different places in our journey. Support each other people, be authentic and genuine and keep an open heart. Life will take on new meaning. And to those i may have discouraged when i was younger and knew everything, I am truly sorry.

  • http://www.facebook.com/susan.petruccibakunas Susan Petrucci Bakunas

    Oh Natala – you brought tears to my eyes!! I have been reading and watching your videos here and on E2x since the winter, and something about you, about the way you present things makes you so relatable (spelling?). You are like my best friend on this journey (even though we have never met) you have helped me countless times when I felt like giving up. I still have 70-80 pounds to lose, I have wittled off 20 so far (yay!) but I still have set backs because of these fellings of never being able to get all of this weight off, and still not looking like an “after” photo. Just this past weekend I was at a family party and I had my plate piled with all of the vegetarian food I could find at the buffet, and someone said I should just eat only the meat because I would lose weight faster. I have had well meaning friends suggest the latest diet, and that maybe I should try it. I have never been approached on the street, I can’t even believe someone did that to you – who does that? I mean really?! Well, keep doing what you are doing because I was almost ready to throw in the towel after this weekend (watching everyone eating their cake and ice cream) – but you are absolutely right – they could all be walking time bombs and I am probably much healthier on the inside than they are. My cholesterol is down 40 points! – almost to 150 and all of my other blood numbers are better now than they were 10 years ago – and that is what ulimately matters. Thanks again –
    Susan :)

  • Donna

    Shame is never a good motivator. Unless I do something for myself because I want to, it doesn’t work no matter what anyone else says or does. I thank you so much for what you have written–that takes courage. You are an inspiration. It is so hard to fit America’s image of thin is beautiful, when much of the foods entice one to just keep eating more. I recently made a major eating change but still find it difficult at times not to cheat. I just want to be healthy at whatever size my body feels it needs to be. Truthfully, I like having some curves and not having an android figure. I hope that one day women will smarten up and stop letting profit making big business tell them what is healthy and beautiful and what is not.

  • http://www.facebook.com/sage.marie.7 Sage Marie

    YESSSSSSSSS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I’ve been a fitness instructor for 23 years and have “un-friended” most people I know in the fitness industry because of the absolutely horrible way they judge a person by their size. So happy to hear you speak your truth. Thank you!

  • nan

    i would love this for my beautiful daughter..so I can stop doing and saying all the wrong things in my attempts to help her be healthy. <3

  • Joanne B.

    Your article really touched me. I do not understand why people are so cruel. The goal is to improved our health and happiness. We should always treat others with kindness and compassion. Even if we are encouraging others towards a plant strong diet we can celebrate their accomplishments along the way.
    I love your story and all that you’ve accomplished! I hope to meet you soon at one of the meet ups.

  • Amy Hannah

    All I can say is WOW!

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=30825023 Katie Dawson

    I am at the point where I am finally loving me for me. I was always trying to meet some certain requirement and I have realized that they were not my requirements but others. I am now doing things for me and it is amazing!

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=30825023 Katie Dawson

    I am at the point where I am finally loving me for me. I was always trying to meet some certain requirement and I have realized that they were not my requirements but others. I am now doing things for me and it is amazing!

  • Jill Fletcher

    Natala, thanks so much for that. I have struggled with my weight since the age of 12. I no longer struggle, because my cravings went away when I went plant-strong. You are 100% right when you say the focus should be on health and not weight. I know people who are sick because of the diets they are on. I know people who catch every cold and flu that goes around but instead of worrying about how to stay healthy their focus is on their weight. Others start diets with the hope that they can get back to eating all the junk food as soon as they are thin. I know because I was like that. But when doing this for health we soon find out that the plant food we eat is so much better tasting than the junk food, and we feel and look better.

    You must be so proud of all you have accomplished. It is like a whole new wonderful world, isn’t it? You have all the knowledge you need to live an incredibly healthy life. Unfortunately, the people who shame and who are only focused on how much someone weighs are not educated and many probably aren’t so healthy themselves. I hope there comes a day when we are all aware of the importance of a healthy lifestyle, and that health, peace and compassion are the focus, and that people strive for those for themselves, the animals and the planet.

    Jill

  • Jill Fletcher

    Natala, thanks so much for that. I have struggled with my weight since the age of 12. I no longer struggle, because my cravings went away when I went plant-strong. You are 100% right when you say the focus should be on health and not weight. I know people who are sick because of the diets they are on. I know people who catch every cold and flu that goes around but instead of worrying about how to stay healthy their focus is on their weight. Others start diets with the hope that they can get back to eating all the junk food as soon as they are thin. I know because I was like that. But when doing this for health we soon find out that the plant food we eat is so much better tasting than the junk food, and we feel and look better.

    You must be so proud of all you have accomplished. It is like a whole new wonderful world, isn’t it? You have all the knowledge you need to live an incredibly healthy life. Unfortunately, the people who shame and who are only focused on how much someone weighs are not educated and many probably aren’t so healthy themselves. I hope there comes a day when we are all aware of the importance of a healthy lifestyle, and that health, peace and compassion are the focus, and that people strive for those for themselves, the animals and the planet.

    Jill

  • Laura

    Natala, focusing on health is exactly the reason I started Engine 2 and I have lost 30 pounds. But, more importantly, I am off prescription drugs and supplements! I feel better, look better, no more aches and pains, more energetic! thanks for all you do in sharing your story. I still want to lose about 20 more pounds and know that if I continue this journey, my weight will continue to drop as my health improves. I have never focused on the weight loss, but on improving my health!

  • Laura

    Natala, focusing on health is exactly the reason I started Engine 2 and I have lost 30 pounds. But, more importantly, I am off prescription drugs and supplements! I feel better, look better, no more aches and pains, more energetic! thanks for all you do in sharing your story. I still want to lose about 20 more pounds and know that if I continue this journey, my weight will continue to drop as my health improves. I have never focused on the weight loss, but on improving my health!

  • Rachel Kirby

    First I just want to say how strong you are to share your story and I’m so sorry for the pain you have endured. Thank you so much for sharing – you are an inspiration.
    I have an autoimmune disease and am plant strong to try to heal myself. I am sick of people saying these things won’t get better as I know I will and I am! Thank you again for sharing your story.

  • Rachel Kirby

    First I just want to say how strong you are to share your story and I’m so sorry for the pain you have endured. Thank you so much for sharing – you are an inspiration.
    I have an autoimmune disease and am plant strong to try to heal myself. I am sick of people saying these things won’t get better as I know I will and I am! Thank you again for sharing your story.

  • http://www.facebook.com/tammy.smitheden Tammy Smith Eden

    Wow, I think you just wrote my life story! I have pretty much lived your story. I hate that I’ve allowed food to control me for most of my life. With much soul searching, researching, & educating myself, I’ve finally let go of that mentality and have been transitioning to a plant-based diet, buying clothes that make me feel good where I am, and trying to find a new use for my scale!! Thanks for sharing your story!!

  • http://www.facebook.com/tammy.smitheden Tammy Smith Eden

    Wow, I think you just wrote my life story! I have pretty much lived your story. I hate that I’ve allowed food to control me for most of my life. With much soul searching, researching, & educating myself, I’ve finally let go of that mentality and have been transitioning to a plant-based diet, buying clothes that make me feel good where I am, and trying to find a new use for my scale!! Thanks for sharing your story!!

  • joy justus

    i too have felt the shame of obesity. i weight 320 & managed to get down to 185 then gained back 30. ive stopped the daily weighin in at the scale and have started focusing on portion control and health and low and behold i am down five pounds. its a continual struggle for me. ur story really touched me. i remember when i was at my heaviest a lady at the grocery thought i was pregnant i was mortified when she asked my due date i was sooo humiliated that i made a date up ugh! i would really like to win ur book to help keep me on the path to health!

    • http://www.facebook.com/grammy54 Brenda Rowe

      Joy, it sounds like you are really working to get healthy. I am impressed with your story.

  • joy justus

    i too have felt the shame of obesity. i weight 320 & managed to get down to 185 then gained back 30. ive stopped the daily weighin in at the scale and have started focusing on portion control and health and low and behold i am down five pounds. its a continual struggle for me. ur story really touched me. i remember when i was at my heaviest a lady at the grocery thought i was pregnant i was mortified when she asked my due date i was sooo humiliated that i made a date up ugh! i would really like to win ur book to help keep me on the path to health!

  • Debbie

    Thank you for being so honest! Your posts really touch me and make me think.

    I’d love to win the necklace and the book. I’m a person who naturally has a low BMI, and a little over halfway through my first pregnancy (out of three) where the goal is HEALTH. In my other two pregnancies, I’d get through my first trimester, having lost some weight due to sickness, and my (former) midwife would tell me to pour Ensure on my cereal and eat some chocolate cake to help me gain weight. Thankfully I knew better than to do the Ensure, but I definitely ate a lot of ice cream, and I suffered for it. Now I’m eating a (mostly) healthy WFPBNO diet and steadily gaining anyway, as needed. It has been a year for me since making some major changes towards this lifestyle, and I’ve just recently taken the plunge to admitting, “Yes, I’m vegan,” rather than indulging away from home. Growing this baby plant-strong the rest of the way! <3

  • Debbie

    Thank you for being so honest! Your posts really touch me and make me think.

    I’d love to win the necklace and the book. I’m a person who naturally has a low BMI, and a little over halfway through my first pregnancy (out of three) where the goal is HEALTH. In my other two pregnancies, I’d get through my first trimester, having lost some weight due to sickness, and my (former) midwife would tell me to pour Ensure on my cereal and eat some chocolate cake to help me gain weight. Thankfully I knew better than to do the Ensure, but I definitely ate a lot of ice cream, and I suffered for it. Now I’m eating a (mostly) healthy WFPBNO diet and steadily gaining anyway, as needed. It has been a year for me since making some major changes towards this lifestyle, and I’ve just recently taken the plunge to admitting, “Yes, I’m vegan,” rather than indulging away from home. Growing this baby plant-strong the rest of the way! <3

  • Elizabeth Carpenter

    I have been on both sides of the weight issue–too skinny and too heavy. I went plant-strong to become healthy and not worry about the numbers anymore…health will come to me if I keep at it and work towards eating this way. We have too many issues of Type II Diabetes, heart issues and obesity in my family. It stops with me. I will not raise an unhealthy child, I will not allow myself to live another day eating poorly and sacrificing the time I have left on Earth. I’m in it for the plants, baby!

  • Elizabeth Carpenter

    I have been on both sides of the weight issue–too skinny and too heavy. I went plant-strong to become healthy and not worry about the numbers anymore…health will come to me if I keep at it and work towards eating this way. We have too many issues of Type II Diabetes, heart issues and obesity in my family. It stops with me. I will not raise an unhealthy child, I will not allow myself to live another day eating poorly and sacrificing the time I have left on Earth. I’m in it for the plants, baby!

  • http://www.facebook.com/tom.rizzo.52 Tom Rizzo

    Thank you for speaking about this publicly. I have not been treated so harshly by people, but I know that I need to change. I started on the Engine 2 diet and followed it for 12 weeks. I felt so much better it was crazy! I had more energy, less pain, and was just generally feeling good. I am an emotional eater and when I have a difficult time, I turn to foods that are extremely unhealthy. I had some stressful situations that have made me return to the unhealthy choices and I have lost all of the benefits I had gained. Your article will help me to restart my journey to health. I too am finally less concerned with what the scale says than how I feel.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100003961346938 Jane Smith

    Wow! I just want to give you a hug. You are a much stronger person than I and I feel fortunate that I’ve never had to endure such treatment. I’m in it for health too! A slim figure is just an awesome side effect.

  • http://www.facebook.com/candyce.loescher Candyce Loescher

    Natala – thank you for your openness and vulnerability. So many of us have felt this way, but kept it secret because we felt that we were the only one who felt this way. I hate to think about how many books I’ve bought, diets I’ve tried, motivational tapes that didn’t work, exercise programs that promised much more than they could deliver….and I always felt that it way my lack of motivation that was the problem. Only when I began to focus on health rather than weight did I start losing weight and gaining in so many other ways. I’m now within 16 lbs. of my goal weight and have you, Ami, and everyone at the E2X site who have given me the tools and the enthusiasm to keep going. The world is a better place because you are in it!

  • http://www.facebook.com/kyle.o.brown Kyle Onda Brown

    If shame was an effective weight loss tool, I would have been stick thin years ago. It is not and never will be. Sad that so many people don’t get this! I am however fortunate, a health scare helped me get my brain and emotions pointed in the right direction. Today, my weight, health and fitness are excellent. I still have work to do to completely rid my life of animal products but I am on the right road and happy to be traveling in a positive direction.

  • Caroline Pain

    I wanted to cry reading your letter…money can’t buy class and it sounds like that this is just what that lady who stopped in the middle of the road needed! Beauty starts on the inside and I am so happy for you that you have put your health first and have learnt to become a healthy person. Going to school to get your degree in healthy eating was your first step to a better health. I commend you for losing so much weight. How many other people can say that they have done what you have done? You also work for such an amazing guy ( I was fortunate to meet Rip in Davie, Fl recently) In fact he actually told my daughter and I how AMAZING you are!!!! These people who have insulted you in the past are not your friends. You do not need them in your life. Looking at your profil photo, it looks like you are beautiful inside and out to me! I hope that I one day get to meet you in person…maybe at Rip’s Pembroke Pines, Fl book signing?????

  • http://www.facebook.com/angela.english.39 Angela English

    I am 6 weeks into plant strong. I love the way I eat, however I am still scale obsessed. I want to lose the weight faster than it took me to put it on. I have always struggled with weight and still have embedded in my brain the kids laughing at me from elementary school. I was my biggest after having my third child almost 11 years ago and now am right back there. Depression puts me in a binge cycle, when I’m unhappy about my weight and what the scale reads I get angry and tell myself I might as well eat whatever I want b/c No matter what I do it’s not helping. I watched ‘Forks Over Knives’ and decided it was time to change for good. I’m 6 weeks in and have lost 10 lbs, but still am beating myself up b/c I can’t fit into my summer clothes. My family is not doing this along with me and order pizza weekly and ask me to make them brownies on top of that! ( which I do not do!) I love the way the food tastes that I am eating and I know in time I will finally reach a healthy weight b/c this is a lifestyle change for me, not some fad diet. I am so thankful that I found this plant healthy family and will be forever grateful for the positive change you have brought to my life!

  • Kelly P.

    I have had the experience you described, with a perfect stranger approaching me (in Whole Foods of all places) and giving me her card, telling me she could help me lose weight. I wanted to die, I was so humiliated.

    You have given me hope, as I have been trying to eat plant-strong, but continue to find myself drawn to unhealthy food choices like a moth to a flame. Thank you for being so open and honest. You are an inspiration.

  • Tina

    Thank you, thank you, thank you for sharing this! I was ready to give up on myself because I haven’t been losing weight…letting that shame alone eclipse the healthy changes I’ve seen since changing to a plant-strong diet. I started on this path because I had chest pain and trouble breathing, but refused to seek medical help because I didn’t want to hear another doctor tell me my problem is that I’m obese, as if I hadn’t noticed. My chest pain is gone now after several months of mostly plant-strong eating. I’ve fallen into the vegan junk food pit of despair a few too many times though to call myself completely compliant. Reading your post today has encouraged me to refocus on my health and make the rest of the changes I need to feel my best whatever my weight.

  • jz perkes

    Thank you, Natala! What a well written article! I appreciate you being so open & sharing your story :) I am just 2 months into my plant strong lifestyle & have already lost 14 lbs. But you totally said it, it’s not about the weight, it’s a about health! Which is what was my ultimate motivator! All the best to you! Way to go :)

  • JM

    Thank you for sharing your story and inspiring so many of us!

  • http://twitter.com/cathyc624 cathy cordell

    I am at the beginning of my journey. One of the 1st things I noticed is less pms. Also I just feel happier. Growing up I had family members who made me feel bad about my weight. As an adult only one family member has made me feel bad about my weight.

  • Jennifer Edwards

    I am a little over a year it, about 60 pounds down, just about to cross the BMI line from ‘obese’ to ‘overweight’. I got my labs done at the one year mark. Although my cholesterol overall did not move (153), HDL was up 10 points, LDL was down 10…pretty incredible for an active 31 year old! Engine 2 has been there for me through all of it. People- friends and strangers- have been critical of my physical appearance and my motives, but I know that what I am doing, I am doing for my health. Its really true that, ‘the more we love our choices, the less we need others to love them’.

  • http://www.facebook.com/zhaojennie Jennie Zhao

    I wonder if that’s partly why people react negatively when I tell them about the plant-based diet. Maybe they don’t like the implication that I’m trying to tell them about something that will help them lose weight. Telling them about the plant based diet in a way focusing on health might be less offensive than as a weight loss help. Problem is, my focus is always on the weight loss, which I’m sure is always the focus of the conversation. I like having the focus be on health, then helping others will be easier.

  • Dina

    Thank you for your honesty and beauty. I cannot believe how difficult it is to lose weight but I am trying to get healthy, not skinny.

  • ShannonD

    How many of us can relate to this article??? I know I can! Thank you for writing what I’ve thought silently for years! I saw a t-shirt on a lady at the gym the other day that said “Strong is the new skinny”. I would like to say “Healthy is the new skinny”!

  • http://www.facebook.com/marie.westmeyer Marie Amer Westmeyer

    I became vegetarian last fall. Not 100% plant-strong, but trying to lean in that direction. I’ve lost 40 pounds. Still have about 60 more I’d like to lose, but it’ll happen when it happens. I’ve been struggling with my weight on and off for 3 1/2 decades, and it’s a habit I’m trying hard to break. Shame is pervasive. People can’t look at me and see that my cholesterol is 122, but they can see the big belly and think I’m unhealthy when, in fact, my blood chemistry is probably better than theirs.

    I will continue to eat whole foods, mostly plants, in as unprocessed a form as I can, and stop worrying about what others think.

  • Nisha

    Natala – That was absolutely beautiful! ♥ Thank you for sharing your experiences – it made me rethink my motivation and outlook. I’ve been battling with my weight/self-confidence ever since I can remember and have tried a little of everything. Taking a step back to realize that I just want to be healthy has been a huge step in the right direction. I’ve been experimenting with E2 for the past several months and love being able to cook with fresh foods and retrain my palate. I think it’s definitely time for me to make the full switch and take control of my life and health!

  • http://www.facebook.com/ann.b.jenson Ann Bright Jenson

    So true! Being kind to ourselves helps in so many ways. I’ve known a few people in my life that have totally accepted me and loved me just as I am, and I have been more motivated to be my best when I’m around them than at any other time.

  • http://www.facebook.com/sdrinnon Sally Chapdelaine Drinnon

    I’ve lost over 30 pounds by following a plant based diet. It has made me feel great! I’ve gained so much energy that I enjoy exercise and look forward to it. I still have some weight to lose but I’m happy to let it come off without obsessing over it. You post is spot on!

  • Rebecca White

    Fantastic and inspiring, Danielle. It reminded me, this morning I was looking at a piece about Alannis Morrisette appearing on a beach in a bikini with “body love” across the bottom. She’s got a fuller body than she used to, and I guess she was ready for the photographers who seem to lurk, and knew photos would end up on the internet with nasty comments – so she already had her response printed across her bottom! Clever! And one of the commenters on the story said “Oh great, now a bunch more girls will think it’s okay to be fat and unhealthy.” Well, she’s really not fat anyway, and she’s certainly not obese, but that’s beside the point. The fact is that if you have that “body love,” if you love your body, you’re going to be wanting it to be healthy. You’re going to do those things that make you feel good. Maybe that’s the key to helping people get truly motivated – treat your body with love. Forget the shame that commenter seems to think is the only motivation. Let’s talk about love.

  • amyM

    I am 1 year plant strong and feel better than ever. My body will never look “perfect” – I’ve put it through too much, but I feel wonderful physically. As I became stronger in my plant-based eating habits, “shame” lost more and more of it’s power. I know that I am putting in my body what it needs and that makes me feel strong and secure and less and less concerned with striving for the perfect look or caring how others perceive my body.

  • http://www.facebook.com/lizette.rodriguez.7796 Lizette Rodriguez

    I’m 20 years old from Chicago, Illinois. I know that at the age of 20 you would think that my health is as good as ever, but for me that wasn’t the case. About 6 months ago I started looking for books that could help me figure out what was wrong or how I could fix it. Of course my first stop was at the doctors office, but they were no help. I wanted to fix the problem not suppress the symptom, that was my main reason for going to books to figuring out how to fix my body and health. I know my health was poor, I wasn’t too worried about my weight, even though I knew I was over weight, but my initial purpose of getting started on this journey was to be healthy. Being able to wake up energized, have no more headaches, and learning to handle my anxiety. I know that even though I began this process about 6 months ago, I still have a lot more to learn and mistakes to learn from. I’m happy that I came across the China Study. It’s an amazing thing to know that at the age of 20 I will be able to have the upper hand on diabetes, cancer, high blood pressure, and cholesterol. Many of my peers don’t even think about their health and what they eat and how that affects them, which causes them to be judgmental on the decisions I make, but I’ve learned that if I have health issues I’m going to be the ones dealing with all of that, not them. So when they put me down when I tell them that I can’t join in on going to McDonald’s, I look at the bright side of that, I’m no longer feeling ill. I’m feeling happy that I feel like I have my health in control again. Having that in control gives me a sense of freedom and accomplishment. I only wish to share this feeling with others whenever the chance comes. Thank you for sharing your story and I only hope that this helps with the move of becoming healthy and not skinny. Absolutely loved reading this.

  • Michael

    I really want to know why you are not on the schedule at the immersions, you have the most important message. I’d go, if I saw you on the schedule.

  • Alleycat

    I started plant-strong about a week ago, lost 4 pounds, more energy and my gym / spin instructor even noticed! She asked me what I was doing different, as I looked different and worked harder. Plant-strong, does it every time!

  • Changingalison

    Last year I lost 60 pounds. Everyone who has seen the transformation always ask how I did it, and my response is “I changed my eating habits for the better.” After a few, “No, really, what did you do?” they switch to, “So, are you planning on keeping the weight off?” What kind of insensitive question is that?! I’m getting healthy, losing weight is just a side effect. The focus should be on health, not a number on a scale. Thank you for sharing your story, I’m hoping that this message will spread and the world will change. You, and the whole Engine 2 Diet team, are an inspiration!

  • Sandy Komhyr

    The scary part about being mis treated because of my size is “I believe all the negative remarks and I began saying them so myself? This is very hard to break especially if you already have low self esteem.

    When I was in my twenties I weighed 115 pounds two weeks after delivering my second son; I had someone ask me I thought you would have lost all that fat after you had the baby. When I looked in the mirror I saw someone who had big hips and thighs. I managed to lose the weight and kept it off until I got sick the week before my 50th birthday.(still thinking I was obese)
    Between the medications I had to take and being inactive I gained weight. Now I am 63 weighing 233 pounds. Am I happy? no. I would love to get to the place where what I am doing is purely for good health, not out of guilt or to be able to wear close because there pretty and not because they fit. As hard as I try I can not find clothes that when I look in a mirror I like what I see. For that reason I look in the mirror first thing in the morning to do my hair and the rest of the day (oh well) it is what it is.

    I am grateful I have a God who loves me, he brings people to us like you and Rip who bring information to us and do their best to give us hope, encourage and motivate people.

  • jenny

    I am in the backwards slide phase of this journey. I was moving forward, motivated and encouraging for a year but now I’m slipping right back into the old unhealthy way of eating. Gained 15 pounds and am feeling shame. :-( I need to find my drive again…

  • Debbie

    Thank you for sharing your story, and having the courage to take charge of your health, to me that is more inspiring and motivating than flashing pictures and diet claims. I have had weight issues all my life, 20 to 30 pounds is all I ever needed to lose, but even so it has been a constant struggle especially when you are short. Once I started thinking more of my health and eating to keep that health, is what has made a difference for me. Also getting educated to all the wonderful healthy plant food that is available, surely makes the difference, Our society has grown up listening to the so called experts, the doctors, and the money hungry companies, that make billions off their so called weight loss and healthy foods, that they have failed to listen to the the person who really counts and that is themselves, Once people start to be more in tune with who they are and listen to what there body is telling them, then the inner and outward appearance starts to change along with all the healthy benefits that they have nurtured their bodies with. Kudos to you and to all who have begun their journey to a healthier self and their is absolutely no shame in that.

  • http://www.facebook.com/karenjhdoyon Karen Doyon

    WOW .. Powerful.

    I am NOT on a diet. I make a conscious choice to eat healthy and am successful most of the time but it is an everlasting battle, every hour of every day. I stopped eating meat 3 years ago but occasionally eat seafood. However, I eliminated sugar and flour (all kinds of flour) 10 weeks ago and I feel physically and mentally better than I have in years and have lost 12 pounds in that time. I still have 35 more pounds to lose but I plan to Stay strong and healthy.

    Thanks for sharing.

  • elena g.

    ignorance is what i blame for people making comments about others. they are so stuck on being thin and beautiful and wearing name brand from head to toe to even realize that there is a world out there to enjoy and people of different shapes and sizes. i have never been a thin person not even as a child and i was picked on it hurt me and as a child you don’t know what to do. people are cruel and say thing to make themselves feel better.

  • mary

    Love all your posts but especially this one. Thanks so much. Just what I needed today.

  • http://www.facebook.com/rhondago Rhonda Sandlin

    Thanks for cutting through to the true issue, Natala. You are not only passionate about plant-strong health, but educated, intelligent, and intuitive. Having been 100 pounds heavier than I am now, I know something about the different treatment that we receive based on body size. I, too, have been accosted like you were.

    I love this statement: “What if the covers of magazines had photos of lab results rather than a horrible before photo and a great looking after photo?” We have become conditioned to care about such trivial things: my eyelashes are too thin! my hips are too fat! my face has some dark spots! my teeth do not glow in the dark! my arms jiggle! When we live in a part of the world that doesn’t have to worry about survival, we focus on such shallow things that make us crazy and keep us spending money. Although we are consumed with beauty, we shove in food and chemicals that undermine both our health and our looks. Ironic.

    It’s a vicious cycle. As a counselor who studied feminist theory, I thought that I was immune to mass media messages about my body, but no… I was part of a short research project that involved rating my perceived body image, then flipping through some magazines, and again rating my body image. I knew what the point of the research would be, and yet I still rated myself LOWER in body image after looking at those magazine images. I didn’t think I would do that! Airbrushed images are all just too toxic for us to handle, really. We feel ashamed of our bodies because we can’t help but “compare.”

    I’m so glad to be shifting my focus to health, and as I posted on a recent blog, I’ve made a 180 degree turn from diet mentality to nurturing my body. Funny thing – a service provider asked me recently how much weight I had lost since becoming plant-strong. I told her about 6 pounds in a month. She said “oh that’s way too slow – I could never handle that!” (Seriously?) She drinks protein shakes constantly and complains of being miserable, but this is the madness of diet marketing. I honestly told her I could stay this weight forever (which is BMI healthy but not my lowest) because I just feel SO great. It’s absolutely worth it to eat like this and feel like this.

  • Caroline

    I have been about 70 lbs. heavier than I am right now and my emotions have been on both sides of the spectrum. I was 20-30 lbs. overweight going back to elementary school in the 70′s. Kids were very mean to me at school and I felt very isolated. I had very few friends. I lost weight several times on Weight Watchers and am a lifetime member. I have been plant-based for 3 years but I battled the vegan junk food and gained 10 lbs. during a family member’s health crisis last year. Chocolate chip cookies were my friend. I finally went back to Weight Watchers a few months ago and am combining it with McDougall /E2/ Esselstyn, etc. because that is what I know is healthiest for me in the long run. My BFF is about 100 lbs. overweight. I am very conscious to never discuss weight with her. It is hard to control my thoughts though. I look at her and really want her to try plant-based. A few years ago she was diagnosed with diabetes and recently she was diagnosed with high blood pressure. She has allergies and is exhausted all the time. I’m very scared for her but I do my best to control myself by not saying anything. It’s a real struggle. My whole family was very overweight and died from diabetes and heart disease which is why I try to be so vigilant in my late 40′s. I’m really scared for my friend though. I don’t want to lose her, yet I can’t say anything.

  • Stacy

    One of the things I originally hated about losing so much weight was all the attention it attracted. “How much have you lost?”, “Are you still sticking to your diet?”, “How do you feel now?”. These questions caused me so much stress and embarrassment. I just wanted to be left alone with no extra attention drawn to me. When I realized that wasn’t going to happen, I learned to let go of it and just take compliments and comments in stride. Now I relish being a role model for healthy eating and fitness even though I’m not near my healthy weight yet (80 down, 80ish to go). For me it is more about living healthy and setting an example for family and friends. We should get t-shirts that show our total cholesterol instead of how much weight we lost:)

  • TandIHicks

    Weight has never been a real issue for me although I did lose weight when I switched to eating vegan. However, my health deteriorated beginning in 2008, when I moved into a house with toxic mold. Come to find out my lack of abilty to be around mold and now most toxic chemicals including cleaning supplies and even scented lotions is a form of auto immune disease. I’m now learning to eat a plant strong diet to heal myself. Stories such as yours, healing through eating, are so inspiring to me.

  • Deb

    Well said Natala!

    I switched to a vegan (not quite plant-strong but working on it) diet about a year ago for various reasons after finding The Engine 2 Diet website and reading Rip’s book.

    I had often thought about eating a vegetarian diet because I love animals and the thought of them being killed for me to eat was (somewhat) disturbing; however, when you grow up eating animals it just seems normal. So, I guess the deciding factor for me was the fact that eating animal products causes so many diseases and that I do not NEED to eat them to be healthy. I think that is a huge problem too; we are brainwashed (maybe too strong a word?) into believing that we NEED milk & dairy for strong bones, that we NEED lots of protein from animal products, that we will not survive or at least have no energy if we DO NOT eat eggs & meat and drink milk. Also, I am anemic so I thought that I needed to eat more red meat…this was not the case.

    Anyway, a year into my vegan lifestyle and I feel good. As a bonus I lost 15 lbs; I had gained a little bit of weight after I had kids and although I did not consider my self overweight I do feel much better after having lost the weight. The other benefits that I have noticed are that I do not feel bloated after eating and I am very regular (this was a problem before & I did not even know it). I did not have any serious health issues before this but I am sure that I was probably heading towards some if I kept eating like I was. I have to see my doctor soon and will talk with her about my diet and find out how healthy I am; check the anemia and see if it’s better or worse.

    I am not a religious person and I have never liked when people have tried to push there religion on me but now I understand it…I feel like I have discovered something (with Rip’s help) that I need to share with everyone I know! I have a friend with diabetes and I have given her some info about becoming plant-strong…she believes that she needs to eat animal protein with every meal and snack. My mother has rheumatoid arthritis and I told her she should try a plant-strong diet to help with that. I have another friend with Fibromyalgia and I believe this could help her too.

    Anyway, I have done on way too long…I loved your post and agree that we should all be trying to be healthier first and not worrying about the weight….if you eat healthy (plant-strong) then you will feel better, be healthier and most likely lose weight in the process.

  • http://www.facebook.com/yvonne.gaskin.9 Yvonne Gaskin

    Natala – This is such a beautiful post and really came at the right time. I’ve lost 90 lbs since becoming plant strong a year ago next June (yay!) and feel phenomenal. I have so much more energy and my body is stronger (I do this intense cardio workout now – I would never have been able to do that a year ago!). I still have 80 lbs to go and have been focused on the weight loss lately – I forgot the real purpose of this journey – health! It’s interesting… I’ve had similar experiences with my weight but also, it’s sad to say, when I was slimmer (about 10 lbs over my goal weight). I was in high school and they weren’t picking on my weight – it was my height! (I am roughly 6’0″ tall). To all of those people who asked me I would like to state, for the record, No…I did not play basketball! I was too busy with science fair!! Thank you again for sharing your experiences…

  • Sara M

    Thank you for the beautiful post! I have tried shaming myself into losing weight in the past and it really doesn’t work. I am at a point in my journey where I am fully committed to plant strong and have been doing very well at it. I am already pretty healthy when it comes to the numbers (cholesterol, etc) but my weight is in the overweight category and I would like to bring that down. SO health is my goal and losing weight. I am trying to focus my weight loss goals around the fact that it will make it easier to run and do pull ups.
    Thanks!

  • Buffy

    Natala, your story is truly inspiring! I believe that kindness and acceptance, of ourselves and others, is the way to make a real difference! It takes great courage to do what you’re doing! Keep it up!

  • Carol Kenny

    Natalie thank you for sharing your story. I love that you are certified in plant base nutrition, that is something I would love to do. Looking forward to the book.

  • http://www.facebook.com/laurapcat Laura Henderson

    Thanks to E2, Drs McDougall and Greger, and FOK I am 67lbs lighter ( with many more left to go) and found out yesterday that my total cholesterol is down to 142!!

  • Fernanda

    Thanks for this post, Natala. I live and work in
    body-obsessed Hollywood. A few years ago, my health went haywire; I started
    gaining weight despite of my strict diet, and had some unexplained symptoms
    like extreme fatigue, insomnia, hot flashes. I’m only in my 30s so it couldn’t
    be menopause! I went to many doctors who ran a battery of tests, and always
    told me there was nothing wrong with me. Well, then, “you’re telling me
    I’m crazy,” I thought. All the symptoms together made me highly unsocial
    (I’m usually a social butterfly). I didn’t really want to go out, or get ready
    as I felt fat and extremely uncomfortable in my own skin (both due to weight
    gain and the other symptoms). I battled with this for 2 years, until I found a
    doctor who likes to think outside the box. He looked at all my tests, ran a
    couple more, and told me that regardless of what my blood tests showed (the
    ‘normal’ range is always a bit off for females past their 20s), my hormones were
    completely imbalanced. I had thought that had been the issue all along, but I kept
    being told I was wrong (isn’t funny how if you listen to your body, it tells
    you what you need to know?). So we started working on natural ways to get my
    hormones back in check. And as I listened to my body again, it was telling me
    to stop eating animal products. As in, if my problems were my hormones, maybe
    I should eliminate external hormones from my body and let my own hormones
    figure themselves out! I did some research (you know, “where do I get my
    protein? or my calcium?” etc), and when I found the Engine 2 book, I knew I was
    making the right decision. I haven’t felt this good in a long time! The weight
    is still slow to move, but I have lots of energy, I sleep better, and my hot
    flashes are gone!! I’m now focusing on limiting my fat intake to start dropping
    the weight. Summer is almost here and I want to feel comfortable enough in my body
    to put on a bikini! I would love a copy of the new book – and I love love love
    the necklace! I would wear it every day to remind myself that I am beautiful, and loved
    and worth it!

  • sejal

    Such an inspiring post! Absolutely loved it and just wanted I needed!

  • http://www.facebook.com/heather.orellana Heather McCall Orellana

    You are such an inspiration to me! I have been overweight since the age of 11 or 12. I have lived with the accompanying shame for 20 years now. I’m sure it’s no surprise that I have also battled depression, anxiety,guilt, and a lack of confidence. Despite that I could never seem to find the motivation to change. I had a health scare at the beginning of this year and in my search for help I found Engine 2. My life will never be the same. I have been plant strong for four months and I love it! I feel confident, happier, more at peace with my own body. I am still long way from a healthy weight, but I am content to simply be on the right path for the first time in my life. Thank you for your brave words and strong example.

  • kav816

    Amazing how you overcome this! And amazing how so many people can be cruel! I lost 40 pounds when I turned to Rip’s book 4 years ago, and kept it off with a plant strong diet. It’s the best thing that’s ever happened to me as well! Bless you!

  • Emily

    This is perfect timing to read this for me. I have been struggling for days with feelings of hopelessness because nothing I have tried has worked. My husband just got out of the hospital with Afib and is still not in a normal rhythm. We have started full force with the Engine 2 Lifestyle. This is not a diet but a total change for us. I need to lose weight and he needs to repair his heart health. I talked to his cardiologist and got approval to go vegan. Now I have the backing I need to answer relatives that do not understand. Too many people think they have the answer to my weight problems. I can relate to Natala’s story. I am moving forward towards healthy living and if weight loss occurs then that will be an added bonus. Now if I could just get the battles in my mind and emotions to line up with the knowledge in my heart and mind I would be so much better off. Keep encouraging us. I am determined to be able to get off of high blood pressure medication soon and live life to the fullest with my heart healthy husband for many more years to come because I am beautiful, loved, and worth it!

  • http://www.facebook.com/danielle.corneliusstrand Danielle Cornelius Strand

    Thank you for all you do. I use E2 and a plant based diet to keep off the 70 pounds I lost 2 years ago. For those who don’t win the necklace, can it be purchased somewhere? Thanks!

  • http://www.facebook.com/tami.djernes Tami Dill Djernes

    I used to think foods like cheese, lean meat, olive oil, etc. were healthy. I thought I was eating a very healthy diet (never eating burgers, fries, or doughnuts) so why had my weight kept increasing a little each year. My doctor didn’t make weight an issue, she considered it “normal” to gain weight with age. My increasing blood pressure and cholesterol were also “normal” signs of aging for someone in their 50′s. Since most people my age also were carrying around an extra 30 pounds or more, I didn’t feel ashamed, but I felt “matronly.” I blended in well with people my age. While walking on the greenbelt, the people who made eye contact and smiled or shared a greeting were usually my age or older. I was invisible to young, skinny people. After adopting a whole plant-based diet, I realized how addicted I had been to calorically dense foods that most people consider healthy. After a few weeks, most of my food cravings had gone away. The excess 30 pounds I’d gained since high school dropped off during the first year. I noticed an increased friendliness from people a decade younger than me. I am still the same person, but there is a subtle improvement in how I am treated by strangers. I’m eager to share with anyone interested how a whole, plant-based diet has improved my health and made me feel younger, but I’ve also had to change the subject when my enthusiasm is met with defensiveness. Knowing when to speak and when to shut up is still a challenge. When someone asks about my way of eating, they don’t necessarily want to hear a detailed story–sometimes they are just showing polite interest. It’s usually more effective to recommend a great book like Engine 2 or the Forks over Knives DVD than to give unsolicited advice. I’m approaching the 3-year mark for eating a whole, plant-based diet. It’s exciting to see more acceptance for this way of eating. It’s not only the answer to chronic illness and obesity, it’s the best way an individual can reduce their carbon footprint on this planet.

  • http://www.facebook.com/sherryhuberriley Sherry Huber Riley

    Very touching! . It is about being healthy and avoiding disease and staying off medication and setting a good example for my little kids. I also what to produce less trash and help keep our planet clean and healthy. A plant strong diet supports all my goals.

  • Michael

    Thank you very much for sharing this, Natala. While I am always making
    small improvements in my own health, it can be difficult for me to
    imagine the struggles of others. Your perspective was very
    enlightening.

  • Melody

    I am continuing to make progress with an evidence-based diet and
    lifestyle, and I really appreciate your post. It is great to have a
    differing perspective when I have heard a great deal about the dangers
    of “fat acceptance.”

  • Sarah Smith

    Natala, I LOVE your blog posts. I think they are incredibly insightful and educational. I also like that you don’t shy away from discussing what could be ‘taboo’ (for more polite folks) – shining a light on the problem and offering solutions (to bold and uninformed folks). The Engine 2 team is lucky to have you. I think that your voice is incredibly important and I’m so glad you are choosing to share it with us. And I LOVE your pitch that magazines & news should focus on health and lab results! Keep up the awesome work.

  • Linda LMC

    Yay Natala, Thank you so much for this post. People are incredibly ballzy, wowow. I did LOL at the audacity of that woman, she sounds like a crazy lady to me. Being thin would be lovely, but I want my health far more. Thin does not equal healthy. I love eating a plant strong diet. I know that my body is restoring itself and will be resistant to many diseases. I feel fabulous . I am able to participate in activities and outings with my children and grandchildren and my life is full.

  • http://www.facebook.com/julie.gambino.5 Julie Gambino

    This is so beautifully written, there are no words for me to express the impact. This is also a wonderful reminder to those of us who have gone plant strong and made major life changes. Sometimes, because we all feel so wonderful and the changes in our own lives have been immense, we feel the need to preach and proselytize. And we can be just as guilty of cruelty to others in doing so, even if that’s not the intent. Let us all take a breath and realize that our connection to other humans is our most important asset and put love out into the world to care for and encourage.

    • Testing the Waters

      YES!!!

  • Debra E

    Wonderful post. I’ve been fat my whole life and the way I’ve been treated because of it has caused serious problems for me. I’ve lost about 110 pounds, but have more than that yet to lose to get to my ideal weight. I’ve been struggling with my plant based diet the last few weeks. I’m not giving up, though. I keep moving forward and try to remember that progress is what’s important.

  • Pink Rebecca

    I really appreciate this. I lost 45 pounds and I was told I lost enough I could be done and I’m getting too small… what? Actually I’d really like a healthy BMI and I want to be healthy forever! Health is my goal also!

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1560613820 Margot Tobias

    Natala, Thank you for this post. I am 63 years old and for 51 of those years I struggled to lose weight and be thin. I could do a history of Weight Watchers from 1969-2009. In 2010 I retired determined to focus on my health. After much research, I became plant-based in September 2011 starting with the 21 day.
    I know this: I was very successful in my career, I raised a wonderful daughter, I was respected in my community and held elected office and was re-elected twice, I was married for 32+ years until I was widowed. Somehow all of this did not matter as I was ashamed of my body. I avoided activities and travel because of it. I never left the house without make-up and a complete outfit. I had more “advice” and comments than anyone could tolerate.
    Today, I am my own project and my health is most important to me. Yes, I have lost over 60 pounds so far but much more important is my path to becoming a fit and healthy athlete. I have beaten back type 2 Diabetes and am working to get off blood pressure meds. My lipids are stellar. I am still afraid of ridicule but I just keep getting out there and I have surrounded myself with supportive people. I have no tolerance for the naysayers. I wish I had come to this 30 years ago but I didn’t so I focus on what is good now.

  • Cori

    I’m off and on at the beginning of my journey. I try and do well for a couple days, then get sick of eating healthier by myself (eating, cleaning, etc) Being a full time worker and going back to school full time, I don’t have much time to create a meal plan, shop, prep and cook. Since no one else at home is on board, I have to do it myself. It’s frustrating….then I give up. I continue to be motivated to try as it has been the only way I have ever been able to lose weight. Someday I will be more committed.

  • Penelope

    What a beautiful post! I am appalled at what people have said to you. I am so glad that you have found Engine 2 and that you are helping so many of us become plant strong. For me – it was about my health. I had a blockage in my heart and an appointment for an angiogram and stent when I found the plant strong community. I never had the proceedure and my blockage and a number of other issues have gone away. I have also lost almost 40 pounds and have gone from obese to normal. Hooray for E2 and the rest of the plant strong community! Your post was so eloquent, Natala, thank you for that. Have lots of fun on your own plant strong journey!

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Terri-Jones-Cole/1514543136 Terri Jones Cole

    I’ve been vegan a little over a year. I’m trying to focus on health, not numbers. I was borderline hypertensive before, now I have normal blood pressure. I’ve managed to lose almost 40 pounds. I’m hoping to weigh less than I do now, at some point, but mainly I’m just eating a low-fat plant-based diet and trying to be more active.

  • Tim

    I have come to realize that the journey of evidence-based health is
    never-ending. While I find it takes me much more work to evaluate and
    implement the evidence, I find that the rewards of increased
    understanding and proven benefits more than outweigh the investment

  • Melissa

    I am still in the early stages on the journey of health. While the
    ethics of a plant-based diet appeal to me, I find it difficult to avoid
    being distracted by all the health myths and false advertising.

  • Bob

    The most important stage of my journey has been the learning process.
    Without a proper understanding of the principles of health, I find it is
    very easy to be misled.

  • Scott Haas

    Great post. I think you should have offered that woman the phone number of a shrink in exchange for her brochure after telling her it was obvious she needed one.

    I have been plant based and healthy for about ten years now. I didn’t come into this lifestyle with the goal of losing weight. I started because I had been very sick for a long time and wanted to get well. I lost forty-five pounds in the process and now fall right in the middle of the BMI scale. My weight fluctuates a pound or two each way but I only know that because the WII has the obnoxious tendency to weigh me every time I use it. It then asks me how much I want to lose and when. I yell at it but like that woman it is clueless and brainless and there is no option on the Wii for saying “I’m OK just the way I am”. Sigh.

    My co-workers and family push junk food at me and feel as though I am deprived. I’m not. I enjoy my plant strong food and the other stuff has lost it’s appeal.

    Thanks for sharing your journey. The book looks like a winner.

  • Deb Hollimon

    I quit my TOPS group back in the ’90′s because I lost my KOPS status and was embarrassed about it. I rejoined 3 more times before getting back to my goal in 2009, lost my status again in 2011, but stayed with the group this time and am 20 lbs from goal again. (Take Off Pounds Sensibly and Keep Off Pounds Sensibly). I did join the same group each time because I didn’t want to have to get to know new people. We tell people what we are doing now, but emphasize we are not pushing anyone to do it, but we hope that others will try it by our example.

  • http://www.facebook.com/beverly.roudebushsallade Beverly Roudebush Sallade

    Beautiful story, thank you for sharing. I would like to become plant strong. I am overweight with borderline High blood pressure. My cholesterol keeps creeping up each year. My problem is I am not very motivated, I work 40 hrs a week. My husband would not try that way of eating so would have to make to seperate meals. I know all of these reasons are just excuses that I have been using for years. Love your story and congrats. I hope this helps motivate me. Prayers and blessings to you.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1150791490 Jude Richards Eastman

    I went plant strong (99%) of the time 2 years ago after reading Eat to Live and Engine 2. My 3 kids were vegan since their 20′s. I cooked for them and didn’t eat a lot of meat at that point, but still liked my “junk” food. The focus on health has been my impetus. I lost 30 lbs through the diet and regular workouts at my Curves. It bought my cholesterol down just under where the Zeitia was keeping it. (still a bit over 200). But I find it easy to slip and eat too much junk–not want to inconvenience others, eat pizza with cheese and stress at work has gotten me working late and not working out. I’d love that necklace to remind my that I am worth it, every second of the day.

  • CountyGrrl

    I’m in the spot where I want to be fit, I don’t so much care about skinny, I just want to be strong and healthy. I know that eating plant-based and exercising is the best way to do this, but I have such a hard time giving up the pizza. That’s about it – pizza. And, oils (i.e. in Thai food). So, my shame doesn’t tend to come from those shaming me into being skinny or losing weight, but rather from my own self, knowing how to eat and fearing being “caught out” at the Thai restaurant or pizza shop by those who know that I mostly eat plant-based. I go hiking. I do Boot Camps. I am a regular at the local Zumba classes. But, I have no willpower when it comes to pizza and pad thai. This makes me ashamed and embarrassed because I’m not doing everything I can to gain my health. And, that makes me scared.

  • AnneB

    Yes, yes, yes. So agree, and totally “there” with you about your experiences…. worse I have family members who shame me. When i did get my weight into a good healthy range, they failed miserably to be supportive…. all in all, hurtful and frustrating.

    I am at the high end now, getting back to cleaning up my eating and doing all the sensible things to create a calorie deficit that I can live with. What I need is friendly support… someone has got to on my side. (I know that won’t be my doctor or extended family – so I have to fabricate some crutches to muddle through)

  • http://www.facebook.com/MeowCatLady Trina Kucinkas McKee

    I was almost in the same boat, I had T2 diabetes, on diabetic medication, blood pressure, and thyriod medication. I read Dr. Neal Barnard’s book Reversing Diabetes and did the low fat vegan diet. I have since read many other vegan books. Now I am medication free and down over 80 pounds. I still have more weight to loose, but I am on the right track. I feel healthier and happier. At 44 and a parent of a six year old – I feel better than I did at 30 or 25 for that matter. Being vegan has given me my life back. I go back to my doctor in July to have my thyriod checked again to make sure I am doing okay off the thyriod medication, fingers crossed I will stay medication free. I do still have times when I gain a little weight – too much vegan junk food – but I monitor myself closely and get back on track quickly. Nobody is perfect – it is not the destination that is important but what we learn on the journey. I am happy as along as I am making progress :)

  • April

    Watching my mom deteriorate with severe osteoporosis was the thing that stopped my cycle of crazy diets and turned me toward a life that had health and energy at the focus. We are now vegans and I am studying to be a coach for others. All I feel is love for anyone who has that overweight struggle, and hope that they can turn their lives and health around like I did. I hate to say it but sometimes I get more evil looks at my muscular arms than I did when they had cottage cheese on the back. No one can escape the critical eyes of others, so just be happy in your own skin.

  • Sheri

    Wow…. Natala… Thanks for sharing this with us ! My journey has involved my Mother who inspired me to start thinking about what I was eating when she was diagnosed with breast cancer. I remember going with her to one of her chemo treatments. The staff brought her a turkey sandwich to eat and I remember her refusing it and asking for a salad. She juiced carrots and when she visited me I had to cook ” special” for her … No meat , eggs or dairy. She fought a good fight but cancer did take her life. If my Mom knew all the changes I have made in my life when it comes to food I think she would really be proud of me. Have I ” arrived” to wonderful health? No… I am not perfect and still need to lose weight but I am getting there… Baby steps and Engine 2!! Thank you Mom for getting me on the path to Health and Happiness! I miss you every day!

  • http://www.facebook.com/johannahfaith Johannah Saruse

    I have only a few pounds left to loose now and I’ll be at my ideal weight!! My daughter has been vegan since birth (now almost 3) and I’m now focusing on raising a healthy family. We switched from vegan to plant strong Jan. 1 of this year…and we love it! I realize now that vegan doesn’t necessarily mean healthy.

  • http://profiles.google.com/kjfinnegan0302 Kristina Finnegan

    When I graduated from grad school I took a good hard look at myself, and noticed that all those long nights surviving on pizza and coffee had taken their toll. I started by doing all the things my parents suggested, food diary, portion control, calorie counting, etc. but the number on the scale didn’t budge, and worse, my cholesterol was looking worse and worse. Finally I found the plantstrong community and a year later my BMI is squarely in the middle of the healthy range and my cholesterol is under control!

  • Nancy58

    Wow! What a wake up call in that 1 Tablespoon of oil (about 120 calories) in excess can lead to 100 pound weight gain in 8 years. It’s no wonder I am not losing weight. This is an excellent blog and I do agree that if I focus on becoming healthy rather than just changing the number on the scale, I am more successful in making better food choices. I am almost at my goal weight but I have family members that are not and your blog has made me realize that they do not need to be reminded that they need to lose weight. No matter how kind I may think I am being, their perception may be different.

    “Let’s continue to focus on health, kindness and compassion. Let’s not make this about becoming a certain size, or a certain weight. Instead, let’s celebrate healthy change that results in healthy people.” Well said!

  • Amy Kotlarz

    An important message shared in a beautiful way. Thank you!

  • http://www.facebook.com/susan.barton.754 Susan Fisher

    This is a brilliant piece of writing. I wish it could be published in every magazine and newspaper in every first-world country. Congratulations Natala. I too, am focusing on health, not clothing size. I have heart problems and I am determined to do what I can to help myself. I am now Plant Strong and feeling the benefits. Plus I have bought exercise equipment that I am actually using!! :) I no longer allow myself to be hurt by others hurtful words and looks, I know I am helping myself, they know nothing about me.

  • Hemay

    Reading this has brought back a lot of negative memories. I’ve lost 40 lbs thus far with at least another 80 to go. Eating vegan (mostly plant strong but fat is temping still). It’s crazy (and horrible) that someone would jump out of their car, block traffic, and be so obnoxious. I wonder if she was trying to make a profit selling the product. I used to work with (had to sit next to) this woman who regularly told me how to lose weight. The employees who sat near to us would always turn and stare at me to see what my reaction would be. I no longer work there but still fantasize about replying to her: “I think you need to mind your own business”, or “I know how you can get rid of all those wrinkles”. I’ve had waitresses make comments and once a customer in a restaurant leaned down and told me “you shouldn’t be eating that” with a smirk on her face on her way out of the restaurant. My mother said: “She’s right”. My Dad (1 year deceased) always had something to say about my eating or how fat I was. I couldn’t ever lose weight while he was alive because the constant attention from him was so stressful since he was regularly making comments about my size. Natala, I hope and pray you only get healthier and healthier. I’m so sorry people have treated you that way.

  • Yvonne

    Natala. Thank you for your wonderful words. I’m 59 and 33 days into plant based eating. I have lost 19 pounds and have almost 200 to go. I have decided this is a change in my eating lifestyle and NOT a diet. I’m trying to keep my focus on taking care of and nurturing myself with wonderful whole foods. And maintaining this lifestyle because I want to love myself. And I’m trying to let go of the shame that has been there since I was a very young girl. I am so much more than what my current body looks like. I’ve had so much success in my life, except this one area. My hope is by making this change to plant based eating BCAUSE i want to be healthy, I will be successful in this area as well. Thank you again.

  • Sarah B

    I went plant strong after the birth of my second child and have enjoyed an immense increase in my overall health. I love that this is the focus of your blog and not weight loss. Weight loss has been a nice side benefit, but being healthy means I feel healthy and ACT healthy. I play with my kids, smile more, and stay active. I also SLEEP – what an awesome, unexpected benefit. After 4 years being plant-strong, I finally got the guts enought to take on a new job that offers challenge and requires leadership. I could never have done that if I was falling asleep during meetings and not feeling/acting/being healthy as I am now. Walk tall, Natala. You’re rocking it!

  • Belinda Richardson

    I’ve lost 18 pounds and still have some to go.

  • Jennifer

    Wow, Thank you so much for sharing this very personal story. I’m also shocked at how society and my own personal circle treats those who are clearly overweight if not obese. It’s not like I’m not already aware of it. I don’t need it brought to my attention in a public setting. I can’t imagine how you felt when that happened to you on the street. I’m new to this world of learning about whole foods and plant strong lifestyles. I’ve watched several documentaries on the food industry and it has opened my eyes to many things. I guess what’s surprised me the most is the lack of support from those around me for trying to becoming healthy. I thought that my family and friends would support me, encourage me, and definitely not try to entice me by my weaknesses. I clearly have a lot of weight to lose, but that’s not my focus. I want to FEEL better. Part of that starts with feeling better inside. This is the hardest part for me. My Dr. finally told me that as someone at age 24, I should not have this severe of fibromyalgia. He said that clearly the drugs aren’t working and wants to treat me with nutrition. Him and his entire practice recommends….a little forcefully, that you read and seriously consider FOK and Engine 2. I just recently started re-watching the documentaries on Netflix to reboost me. I started with FOK and Engine 2 and I’m inspired. I’ve cleaned out my fridge and cupboards and I’ve tried some excellent recipes from the Engine 2 website. I’m so thankful that these are posted for free. There is just no way for me to afford any of the books and I don’t have access to a library. :( So please keep the recipes coming, online. I also am fortunate to be able to listen to the Food Revolution Summit this past week. The science is so convincing that I am empowered to change my life. So thanks for the continuing support.

  • Bev Hromec

    Broke my heart just to read the first sentence of your facebook post. Shame really IS such a shame. I’ve hidden a lot in my life because of it and wasted precious time that could have been spent visiting far away family and friends trying to remember “what size was I when they saw me last”. Now that i’m older and wasted those years hiding, I realize no one else is thinking about it (my appearance) like I am. So, put a pretty necklace on it and enjoy special relationships rather than wasting the years hiding. We are loved! So, on second thought, maybe I WILL come to your pot luck instead of hiding further from guest stars!

  • pateco

    Natala you are a true inspiration. I began my journey 2.5 years ago when I was diagnosed with cancer. I was also about 50 lbs overweight and out of shape at the time.. I have only lost about 20 lbs, but I am still cancer free and feel better than I have in years!

  • Sue C.

    Thank you for sharing your story! Since changing my diet to a plant based one two years ago, I’m off all my medications, which is my goal…to stay healthy!

  • gina

    thank you so much, natala. you are an inspiration. :)

  • http://www.facebook.com/stacey.mortoncohen Stacey Morton-Cohen

    Beautiful post; well said. Thank you.

  • Hillary

    After only 1+months, I haven’t lost much weight yet (maybe 4 lbs) but I feel like I am eating the way I should and my body functions better on so many levels. I started because I just had a baby 3 months ago and she is my inspiration to get healthy and fit!! I love your story and others I have read because it really shows that a plant strong diet can have such huge life altering effects – all positive. It also seems to really bring a new level of awareness about diet’s effect on the earth as well as individual health. I am also just realizing how powerful the body’s healing capacity is!! I am grateful to have found a new way to live and eat!!!

  • Sally

    You need to be on a tv show, this needs to be heard by every person in this country. You are my hero. I hope I have the honor of meeting you one day.

  • Dave

    I’ve never been overweight, but I have been shamed because I am gay. I was picked on and bullied all my life. You are an inspiration, bravo for taking a stand and fighting.

  • Heather

    I’m really disappointed with Engine 2 for not having you at events, you are the only one who gets what it is like to be obese and struggle. It seems like they are all about “show”. I hope that isn’t the case, but it really looks like it.

  • Lori

    Thank you so much for Natala! You have written what I have been feeling for the last 30 years of my life.

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