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The Daily Beet: Tips, Advice and Stories

Should You Feel Bad For Being Overweight?

*This (very long) post was written by Engine 2 team member, Natala.

I think I’ve mentioned before, I’m at least 100 pounds heavier than everyone on the Engine 2 Team. I’m fortunate, my team is really great. Specifically, you can’t get much better than working with Rip, he is probably one of the most kind people I’ve met when it comes to being sensitive and understanding regarding weight issues. It’s kind of funny, because if you know Rip, you know the guy is healthy, not an ounce of fat on the guy. But to talk to him, you never really get any bit of arrogance or feel like he’s looking down at you.

Trust me when I say, I would not be involved with Engine 2 if it were any other way. And I’m not just saying that to make you like Rip, I’m saying that as someone who has gone through a lot of pain because of my size, including in the workplace. Not to say I wasn’t nervous about being on the team.

I always feel the need to tell people I’m already down over 200 pounds. It’s hard to believe, because I’m still obese. I work hard at it. I eat a plant-perfect diet, I workout, I do everything I’m supposed to be doing. But I still feel embarrassed by my weight, I still REALLY do not like speaking in front of people, I’d rather just sit behind my computer screen and talk to all of you lovely people from here.

I’ve always felt bad about my weight. I mean, I fought through it a lot, joined advanced gym classes being obese, tried out for sports teams, ran for homecoming court, I figured I might as well just go all out in my life as much as I could.

But I always felt bad for being fat. And maybe you are reading this, and you feel the same way. Ashamed, embarrassed, convinced you have no self control.

However, I realized something not that long ago when I was at True North Health Clinic in Santa Rosa, and it was something that one of the Doctors said. The difference between someone who is 100 pounds overweight and someone who is at their ideal weight is about 3 extra Oreo’s a day. That’s it, over shooting by just 3 cookies a day. It doesn’t really take that much to overshoot on calories. We’re programmed to seek high calorically dense foods, that’s what we look for. If this were a jungle, all of us obese people would totally rule the land, we’re good at finding calories, and we’re even better at storing them.

I kept going over this 3 cookie thing, over and over again.

*I know all of you are wondering where my math comes from so let me break it down:

3 cookies = 120 calories * 365 days = 43,800 calories/3500 calories in a pound= 12.51 pounds per year * 8 years = 100 pounds.

It doesn’t have to be cookies, the point being that if you overshoot your calories by a little more than 100 calories a day for 8 years you will be 100 pounds overweight.

Not by eating buckets of fried chicken or gallons of ice-cream, it could be as simple as 100 calories.

*it should be noted that it’s not going to be the foods that are low in caloric density that are going to cause this as much as the foods that are higher in caloric density that our brains can’t calculate as well. More on that in a bit.

Now, there are a lot of other factors in this, but you get the point, it doesn’t take much to gain weight. And just look around us, food is everywhere, there is so much of it, readily available. Combined with our nature to seek calorically dense foods, we are in a lot of trouble.

So what do you do? How do you overcome this? And should you feel bad?

1. Eat foods low in caloric density. This is the number one thing that has helped me with my weight loss. Not just me, my husband has lost over 100 pounds doing the same thing. What foods are low in caloric density?

Whole Grains/Starches

Watch this video by Jeff Novick on caloric density.

What is high in caloric density?

Animal flesh/secretions
Nuts/Seeds/dried fruit/dates
Oil (being 4000 calories per pound it is the most calorically dense food we can eat)

If you want to lose weight, the most simple solution is to eat food that is lower in caloric density and stay away from the foods higher in caloric density.

Read this article by Jeff to really clear things up.

2. CHEW!! This is something else I learned at True North. Chewing slows down how quickly we consume calories, it helps the digestion process and it burns calories. If you blend your food too much (like you are doing blended drinks as meals) you let the blender do the work for you, rather than the natural process your body has set up. You also consume a lot more calories when you drink them. If you are doing smoothies, try this: the next time, put everything you are about to put in your blender into a bowl and eat it. If you cannot eat it in one sitting, you should not drink it in one sitting. The other part of liquid calories is that they are not as filling, they literally take up less room for the amount of calories consumed and people find themselves hungry faster. But don’t take our word for it, try it. Try chewing more. It seems so basic, but you’d be surprised how many e-mails we get from people who are having trouble losing weight, and when they  take out the liquid calories, all of a sudden the weight starts coming off again.

3. Cut out the salt. Aside from puffing you up like a Macy’s day parade ballon, salt does a lot of damage to your insides (high blood pressure, strokes, artery damage to name a few)

As for weight loss, when we salt our food, we tend to eat more food. This is not to say that saltless food is not good tasting, however if you can’t eat something without salt, it’s time to really look at what you are eating. Have you trained your taste buds to crave and want salt? If the answer is yes, it’s time to go on a salt free fast. Don’t worry, the food you eat has natural sodium in it, you will be just fine. Remove salt from your diet and salty seasonings  and dressings for a couple of weeks and see how you feel. Try tons of salt free seasonings, start using spice instead of salt, your body will love you.

*give your taste buds time to change, over a couple of weeks you won’t even notice that you’ve given up salty foods.

4. Watch sweeteners! Sweeteners can also cause a little bit more over indulgence. And don’t make the mistake I made by using ‘organic’ or date sweetened desserts. It’s still high in caloric density, it still causes me to eat a cake if I wanted to, doesn’t matter if that cake is made with dates, raw organic cacoa from the mountains of Peru, organic beets, oats, carrots, raw nuts and sunshine, if it is high in caloric density, and sweet, guess what? I’m eating that cake, and I’m going to eat a lot of it.

*This doesn’t go for everyone, some of you crazy people can eat one date and call it a day, or a slice of beet chocolate date cake, but if that is you, you probably don’t need to be reading this post. :)

5. Start right. I wish I could go back and never taste some of the really indulgent things. It wasn’t until I fasted for 30 days (water only) at True North did I get all my taste buds back to where they were supposed to. Funny thing, when you don’t eat for 30 days, all of a sudden you could care less about chocolate sunshine Peruvian beet cake, give me a slice of watermelon! Now, you don’t have to fast (and if you do so it should only be in a medically supervised clinic like True North), but you can get your taste buds back. How? Clean eating. Really buckle down and eat clean for a few weeks. When you crave something sweet have a piece of fruit, when you crave something salty have some celery.

6. Eat oats. This is my favorite Ann Esselstyn tip. Oats are wonderful for your health, and so simple to make. Cook your oats so they will fill you up a lot more (raw oats are great, but sometimes not as filling). Cook your oats in water instead of non-dairy milk. For goodness sake, please don’t make your oats unhealthy by adding something like veg. butter or sugar. Add fruit and a little ground flax seed. Skip the nuts and dried fruit if you are trying to loose weight.

7. Skip the more calorically concentrated foods like crackers, pasta and bread. There are definitely plant-strong versions of some of those foods, however, if you are like me, it is very easy to overeat on those things. Have a potato instead of bread, have spaghetti squash instead of pasta.

8. Read “The Pleasure Trap”. I cannot emphasize this one enough. This book makes sense of everything that does not make sense about weight gain.

9. Stop the feeling bad cycle. I’ve spent so much of my life regretting every extra bite of food, and being depressed about my weight. So much so that I’ve skipped out on seeing old friends, going to meet new friends and more. I know more than most that being overweight is not a nice experience. But you know what? There is nothing you can do about all of those extra bites of oreo’s over the years. Absolutely nothing. We can’t go back, we can only go forward. Will there be bad days again? More than likely. But it doesn’t mean you should feel bad about who you are right now, and all of the great things you HAVE done in your life, and the great things you are about to do. Everyday, work to feel better about yourself, work to make some good choices, work to not dwell on the past and look toward your shining bright future.

10. Remember, it is your choice. One day I was talking to Rip, talking about my even more restricted way of eating. I told him (exasperated) “Well, it’s not like I have a choice Rip.” He, in his very Rip stern voice said “YOU DO HAVE A CHOICE NATALA, YOU DON’T HAVE TO DO ANY OF THIS.” And he was right, I do have a choice, I could choose to be a severe out of control diabetic who was morbidly obese if I wanted to. I realized that I’m choosing something different, no one is forcing me, no one is making it hard on me, this is all my choice. When I’m feeling like I want my Peruvian chocolate cake, I say to myself “I’m choosing not to eat this, I’ll have a piece of fruit instead.” I do the same thing with negative things, lets say I don’t want to workout that day, I say in my head “I’m choosing not to workout.” I’ll tell you, most days after I say “I’m choosing” I make better choices. I own my choices a lot more as well. I stop making as many excuses.

11. Plan, plan and plan some more. The best thing you can do for yourself is to plan. Make it simple, eat vegetables, fruit, whole grains/starches and beans. There are 1000′s of combinations you can come up with from just those food groups. No need to complicate anything at all.

If you are not the planning type, find someone who is. A spouse, friend, or find someone to pay to plan for you (if you can). Everyone has that one friend in their life that just loves to sit down with an organizer and organize their little heart away, find that person, and ask them for help.

12. Follow Jeff Novick on Facebook. I mentioned Rip being great to work with, but Jeff is just as cool (sorry Rip!). Jeff tells it like it is, cuts through all of the muddy waters of health and nutrition and gets to the point. Specifically, go read all of his notes and check out his recipes. Most importantly, like Rip I have never once felt like Jeff talks down to people who have weight to lose, he is respectful and most of all understanding.

*Just so you know, the entire team, Dr. Esselstyn, Doug Lisle and Ann are also equally as kind and compassionate when it comes to people who have to lose weight. It is the reason why I can do what I do, and why I love working with all of them.

If you have stuck with me to the end of this post, congratulations! We’re going to giveaway a copy of Pleasure Trap! Just leave a comment and tell us the one change you think you can make to help you in your health journey.

*for a little comparison.

and my husband:

My husband is at his ideal weight. Together we have lost over 300 pounds (and counting)

A few years ago Natala 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 decided to take her life back by adopting a plant-based diet, and has since lost over 200 pounds and no longer needs medication. Natala became passionate about nutrition, received her Certificate in Plant-Based Nutrition through Cornell University, and now works with Rip Esselstyn and The Engine 2 Diet team.

About the author

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.

285 Responses to “Should You Feel Bad For Being Overweight?”

  1. Nancy says:

    Wonderful post! I’m in the same situation you are. I need to loose 150 lbs. I recently went to the Chicago Fork to Farm immersion and loved it. Since I had eaten plant strong for 2 days, I figured I might as well keep on. So far so good, but it seems like a long road ahead. Keep posting periodically. I need your encouragement and to know I’m not alone. Thanks!

    • Bev says:

      NO Nancy, you’re NOT alone! We’ll stay on the plant path together. Good start. Hang in there!

    • Mary says:

      One important change I need to make is setting apart time for exercising more. I have a big resentment towards my gym right now. They allowed my wife and I to have a couples’ membership, then rescinded it because we don’t have a marriage license and don’t have a shared mortgage. Well no kidding we don’t own a house in this economy, and we cannot travel across the country (or out of the country) to get married! I used to love it there. I think I just need to cut the cord with that place because I feel really uncomfortable there now. It’s becoming an excuse to martyr myself and wallow around in lazy self-pity, which is ridiculous.

  2. jem says:

    I hear you!
    People don’t realize its not the hunger. It’s the food. I eat because it tastes good even when I’m full. I am going to use your CHOICE suggestion.
    You and your husband look healthy! Congratulations!

  3. Dana says:

    First, it makes me so glad to hear that about Rip. He seems like a nice guy, but it is hard to tell what someone is really like in real life.
    Second, I really hope that you can move past your fear of speaking, it doesn’t matter if you have 100 pounds left to lose, you have lost over 200 pounds! That is incredible, and your husband! We need real life stories and from people who are still going through it! I really hope that you will write more on the blog, because this motivated me a lot today.

    • Bev says:

      Rip is SOLID GOLD! The Esselstyn’s are one fantastic family! Salt of the earth, but not TOO many milligrams of course. ;-)

  4. MammaC says:

    I couldn’t agree more about the smoothies! I was drinking them because I thought I had to get all of these extra greens, then I got sick, doctors said it was too much greens, who knew that could happen?! And I was gaining weight, not losing it. Sure, lost it when I started, but that was because I was eating a lot worse before. Then I e-mailed you guys, you suggested I try skipping them, after a big hissy fit, I stopped, and 3 weeks later I’m down 13 more pounds!
    Anyway, that aside, Natala I just love you and I can’t wait to meet you in August and your husband, I hope! Know that we’re all behind you, everyone thinks the world of you and what you’ve accomplished! I love when you write.

  5. Jen says:

    lol, secretions, that’s enough to make ya think!

    Thanks for your story, you are gorgeous! I really appreciate the tips, they are very helpful. I think I know what I need to change now.

    I’m also glad to hear about Rip, Jeff and the Esselstyns, it’s nice to know they are nice people, there is another plant-based Dr. who shall not be named who is known for being a complete jerk to people about their weight!

  6. Diane Hutchings says:

    Thank you so much for this post! It really resonated with me-I have gained about 100lbs in the last ten years. Im now trying to be plant-strong, but struggle with not using oil! I am going to work on that. Thank you for sharing!

  7. Rhonda says:

    Natala, you look fabulous!

    I have about 85 lbs to lose. I just finished reading the Engine 2 Diet book and have decided to start on Monday. I’m allergic to gluten, dairy and soy so I have to spend some time this weekend planning and getting organized. Then Monday’s start should be smooth sailing.

    Thanks for a great post.

  8. Constance says:


    You are a true inspiration! Thanks so much for your honest words. Best wishes!!!!!

  9. Linda says:

    Has no one figured out there is a giveaway? I made it to the end!

    I’m going to cut out smoothies, I know I shouldn’t drink them like I do, let’s be honest, they are just cleverly disguised milkshakes, I added up my calories in one the other day, 965, that’s a whole lot of drinking going on.

    So that’s the change I’m going to make.

    I just love when you write, it’s so helpful to hear about someone who is very much walking this road, all of the other speakers are great, but having someone that is walking aside you, not 20 miles ahead of you, it’s a nice feeling.

    So does that mean when you are done losing weight you’ll be down 300 pounds?! WHOA. Means you and your hot hubby will be down 400 pounds – that is unreal!!


  10. Frank says:

    Ok, that’s it, I’m doing this. You and your husband are an inspiration.

    The change I’m going to make, well I guess all of them. I’m going shopping today. Goodbye flubber!!

  11. VeganChick says:

    Please say you’ll be in NY, even if you are afraid to speak in public, it would be nice to just meet you and your husband!

    I’m impressed with Engine 2, and Rip it’s nice to hear that he’s a nice guy and I love his advice to you, you guys should have a show, like conversations with Rip and Natala!

    The thing I need to change is the nuts and seeds. I’ve been vegan forever but I’m 75 pounds overweight, it’s the vegan junk food in my diet. Time for a change!

    You rock Natala, and your husband does too!

  12. Sarah says:

    Natala, Thanks for CHOOSING to share your story. I really enjoyed it. Congrats on all that you have accomplished!

  13. Laura says:

    Every single time you write something I cry. I just love hearing what you have to say because you say what I’m feeling but am afraid to, and you make me feel normal. I too have felt horrible for my weight, it’s such a relief to know I’m not a horrible person for being overweight, and it’s really as simple as a few calories here and there.
    I’m changing higher calorically dense plant foods, that’s my downfall, time to admit it.

    I really hope to one day get to meet both you and your husband, and I hope you know that no one is gonna judge you, you are beautiful and honest and you understand all of us who are going through what you are going through and have gone through. God Bless YOU!

  14. Melanie says:

    I have to stop eating my kids left-overs! I know that’s where that extra couple hundred calories kills me. I have a question, I have read a few articles on how to figure your calories, but they’re so general. If the calories need to be so exact, how can I figure out what my intake should be?

    • Natala (Engine 2 Team) says:

      Actually – if you are following a plant-strong diet, only eating things in that low calorically dense group – you don’t have to count calories.

      If you are not losing, but only eating foods out of that group, simply decrease your portion size a little.

      It’s really only a problem with the higher calorically dense stuff because our brains have a very hard time calculating those at all.

    • Melanie says:

      BTW, when I’ve done online calculators, I have gotten 1600 calories to 2300 calories per day.

      • Melanie says:

        Are you saying if it’s a low calorically dense food like a banana, but it puts me over the recommended calories, it won’t affect my weight?

        • Natala (Engine 2 Team) says:

          Really, if you are only eating the lower caloric foods you have nothing to worry about bananas are about 300 calories per pound, on the other hand nuts are 2800 calories per pound.

          So first I’d say make sure everything is coming from the lower calorically dense food group.

          It is just hard to overeat on the those foods, where it is very easy to overeat on the higher calorically dense foods.

          Just as a side note, this way of eating is perfectly healthy for kids, no need to feed them a lot of things on the higher caloric density scale (with the exception of nuts/dried fruit and seeds in small amounts).

          For more on this check out this article: https://www.facebook.com/notes/jeff-novick-ms-rd/maximizing-weight-loss-how-to-fine-tune-calorie-density/10150858766921819

  15. Mark says:


    Impressed by your dedication, candor, and willingness to share with others what you’ve been through. It’s a great service to a lot of people!

    Best regards, Mark

  16. Dawn says:

    I had gastric bypass to lose 150lbs but I am now going plant-strong. I wish I had known about this WAY before I did the drastic surgery. However, it’s never too late to learn and now I’m healthier than I’ve been in my 41 years of life! LOL GO PLANTS!

  17. Danielle Gelineau says:

    Your skin looks amazing!!! Keep it up!

  18. Melinda says:

    The one change I really need to make is to chew! LOL. Sometimes the food just tastes so good! I often say “I wish it took as long to eat the meal as it did to prepare it!” But really, I need to eat regularly. Sometimes I wake up late and end up skipping breakfast and then have my third meal late at night. I’ve lost 35 pounds so far (since April) but I’ve been stuck since the end of June. I’m not unmotivated though despite my lack of weight loss. I’m just going to keep eating right and exercising and I know the pounds will fall off.

  19. Heidi Taylor says:

    I think the number one thing i need to do is listen to my body, not the clock, not the calories, just listen to my body. If you’re eating a whole foods, plant based diet, your body should know what it needs to be the ideal weight, right? So that’s what I am going to focus on!

  20. Jodi says:

    You are an inspiration-try toastmasters, they were such a help to me with speaking!

    I am going to stop floundering about and stock my larder with all of the less-calorie-dense foods I can find. Off to research!

    (If I get the book, I will send it to anyone who would like it once I’m done with it…)

  21. Jule says:

    I loved your post. Don’t ever give up. I’ve had breast cancer twice and totally changed my diet afterward to plant strong! Keep looking for ways to share your information – you could really help people. You’re an inspiration!


  22. Melanie says:

    You look amazing…and you should feel proud to claim the 200lb weight loss! I too am (was) 100lbs overweight in a work area full of lean mean officers at a police academy. They think I am crazy for switching to WFPB but I feel great and the pounds are slipping away. There are days when it doesn’t quite go the way I want (downward on the scale) and I do reflect on exactly what I am or am not eating. Thanks for reminding those of us that are pound miles away from our goals that to be WFPB is a journey to fitness. I truly believe that we first have to ask ourselves “what do I want?” and then after we decide that, every question thereafter that should be “does this choice help me obtain/reach what I want?”. YOU GO NATALA!

  23. Melanie B says:

    Baby steps! We are changing one thing at a time and savoring how food really should taste!! Love your heartfelt words.

  24. Heidi says:

    Great post! It really made me think about those 3 cookies I tend to grab without thinking.

  25. Aubrey Tate says:

    Exercise! To help continue my health journey I’m most definitely increasing my amount of exercise, just being more active in general. I’ve been plant-based since 2008. Before that I was the physical training leader for my squadron but ate what I thought were “healthy” animal products. When I switched to plant-based I stopped near all fitness activity and focused on the diet. Know that I have learned both sides of the coin it’s time to commit 100% equally. I’ve specifically started picking up biking. I love the freeing feeling of getting from point A to point B with my own feet (and wheels) while getting a good workout at the same time. :)

  26. Heidi says:

    Great post thank you. I only have about 15 lbs left to lose but reading this helps me to look at some of those things I am still over indulging in, sugar and salt. I really need to have less of those in my diet. Thank you for sharing your story.

  27. Jenny says:

    way to go Natala and hubby! just keep doing what you’re doing. for me, i need to make sure i don’t fall into the “you have to enjoy what you’re eating” trap that others say to me when i say i can’t have or don’t want something. i AM enjoying my food, actually more than ever. i know that the chocolate cake or ice cream or whatever they are trying to push on me is only a VERY BRIEF enjoyment of the tongue. and, the tongue lies! so, for me, i have to keep doing what i’m doing and remember that my person is happy, even if my tongue says otherwise! :-)

  28. Cori says:

    Amazing post, Natala! Congrats on everything you have and will continue to achieve! I am a very slow transitioning plant strong person. With barely any support at home, it is difficult. After over 15 years of failing diets and trying to exercise my butt off, the only way I have EVER lost any weight was when I started eating plant strong back in March. I am down approx 20 lbs from my highest weight and still have about 40 more to go. I believe that if I stick to plant strong meals I will eventually get there. While I have never been a “sweets” person, I do add a little walnuts to my oatmeal in the morning. I’m wondering though, since I am trying to eat fat free (no oils) and I don’t eat avacados, nuts would be one of the sources of good fats. If I eliminate them to try to reduce more weight, will I have a problem?

  29. Heidi says:

    This is the most helpful thing I’ve read on weight loss, it makes a lot of sense. I’m doing a lot right, but I’m making a few choices that are holding me back, mostly nuts, dates and smoothies. I just did what you said, I put everything I was going to put in my smoothie out in front of me, there is no way on earth I could eat all of that! So that’s the change I’m going to make, eat oatmeal for breakfast instead of drinking my smoothie.
    I really hope you write more on the blog and that you and your husband can share your experience with more people, it is wonderful that you got healthy together! What an inspiration you both are, and you both look wonderful!

  30. Melissa says:

    Been on the diet 17 days now. Feeling great. Main reason to try it is all the wacked out hormone changes my body has undergone in the past few years and I am only 38! Hoping for some “normalacy” soon. My husband is also coming over to my way of eating too (slowly, but trying)! Natala, keep writing and keep inspiring.

  31. Glorya says:

    Wow!! What a great post!!! And congratulations on your choice to be healthy and the pounds you’ve already lost!! I really appreciate all that you wrote!!! I, too, am trying my hardest to be as healthy as I can. I have 30 pounds to lose still, but I know it will come off as long as I choose to eat for my health and not for my sugar addiction! Its been a difficult journey for me as i really dont like veggies or fruit….i am learning to love them though! I love what you said about the 3 cookies!!! That is SO true! While I have been doing really good, I can always do better. So what am I going to do?? I am going to work on not adding any sweeteners to my food, instead I will add fruit! Thanks again & my best to you! You’re an inspiration!!!

  32. Lisa says:

    You and your husband look amazing. What a wonderful post. In the past year I have lost 88 pounds taking baby steps and now that I am plant strong I feel so wonderful. Keep up your hard work because you will inspire others and we need to get everyone on board to be plant strong!

    The thing that has helped me most is never saying “I can’t have this” instead “I choose not to have it” Eating the E2 way I never feel deprived or as if I am missing anything!

    Thank you for your post and for the links to Jeff’s talk on caloric density that I am going to share with some friends who I can never seem to convince eating plants is so much healthier!

  33. Viki says:

    Thanks, Natala!! I appreciate your being real and sharing your process. It is important for me to realize that I am living my life now and not waiting on some mythical ideal. I can enjoy today and each bite of food.

  34. jennifer says:

    Great post! Thank you for sharing your story! I really needed this today, really need to take control of my own “choices”. When it’s put that way, I think differently. I am going to use this from now on. I am facing struggles with cooking and being healthy here at home- if my choices are more thought out, regardless of what my family chooses (hopefully they will come on board soon), I will succeed!

  35. Pat says:

    Natala, you look so lovely! And your words touched my heart because they so obviously came from yours.
    I had managed to lose over 50 pounds and keep it off for about 8 years now by going vegetarian. My eating habits had gotten so bad before that! But I find bad habits creeping back in now; it seems like I have the thought to eat ice cream and I just do it! – without any further thought.
    I am going to make 2 changes (1 of which helped me greatly to lose in the first place): add a daily salad back into my routine. And I’m going to put signs on the refrigerator and in the cabinets, on the bulletin board to remind me: “IT’s a CHOICE!” That’s a perfect tip for me.
    Thank you so much for your inspirational message!

  36. Gina says:

    Gorgeous picture! Such an inspiring reminder of how a little bit (like those 3 sneaky cookies) can slowly undo progress. I became plant-strong a year ago and got down to my ideal weight. I was so excited after years of yo-yo dieting! But then, the vegan cakes, cookies and wine crept in and I put on 10 pounds over a few months. I couldn’t imagine how. Just a few extra “treats” slowly unraveled my progess. Now I’ve learned my lesson and I’m excited to be back on track. Keep up the hard work–I’d love to read!

  37. Erin says:

    Wonderful post – thank you! I’m going to try two of your excellent suggestions: chew more and say “I choose….” Congratulations on your healthy achievements!

  38. Chris S says:

    “I’m choosing not to workout”, that is exactly what I am doing. I had a really bad food week and also choose not to workout. I have to remember that just because I made a few days of bad choices, it is not about the past, it is about the future and today is a brand new day and I need to go back to my better choices.

    Great blog of motivation.

  39. Julie Bruns says:

    Thanks for a great post–the reminder that everything we eat IS our choice is helpful.

  40. Kim Hayes says:

    I am going to give up Nuts and Avocados.One of mt favorite lazy meals is 2 slices of bread ( I make my own) and a cup of tea,and I love to have avocados on my lazy Mexican casserole I know it will not be easy but then again nothing worth while is.

  41. Teresa says:

    This was just what I needed today. I think my biggest issue is planning. I fall when I find myself in a situation where I need to eat or want to eat (social) and I haven’t planned. Sometimes even when I have planned I give in to the pressure I feel (real or perceived) to eat “normal.” I simply need to have the confidence to stick to my guns and live what I believe–regardless. I know this is the right path for me.

    Thanks for your good example Natala. I have about 175 pounds to loose and it gives me courage to keep trying when I see success like yours!

  42. Tracey says:

    Thank you for posting your story :) My husband and I have been plant strong for about 6 months. He has lost 85+ pounds and I have not lost any weight at all. I haven’t given up, but I was getting to the point I was thinking of it. Thank you for your words of encouragement and for making it seem like it can be done!

  43. Karen says:

    Please, for pete’s sake you and your hubby write a book! And I like the tv show with Rip and you and your husband, that would be fun.

    I actually cut out smoothies a while ago and had really good results. I cut them out when my teenager daughter looked at what I was putting in my smoothie and said to me “mom, why are you going to drink peanut-butter, that is so gross!” LOL I looked down and there it was, my 1/4 cup of peanut butter about to go in the blender, and I was about to drink peanut butter. Made me realize, I probably would not eat a cup of peanut butter!

    After I cut them out I lost the last 15 pounds easily, I changed over to a mini big bowl.

    The thing I want to change is the thought that I should treat myself because I’m at my ideal weight. It’s a trap I get into a lot.

  44. Alisa says:

    Loved your post. Thank you for once again sharing part of your story.

    So many things I could make a focus to work on from this article…
    I think the first one is to actually use the greens I’m getting from my CSA share and quit making excuses that I’m too busy at work right now to make a plan for how to incorporate them into my diet.
    Actually making a plan and then sticking to it… sigh, that’s one of my downfalls- getting beyond the great idea stage.

  45. Lisa says:

    stayed to the end.. had no idea.. you had lost that much weight.. wow.. YOUR my hero even more… because I don’t eat oil anymore or sugar things.. but I eat tahini everyday and I can’t stop it.. LOL but I also could never go 30 days with just water.. COngrats on doing it.. true north sounds so amazing… congrats to you and your husband.

  46. Christine says:

    Great post! You hit the nail on the head. It is hard to pick just one as I know I need to work on all of these things. I get going good and let one thing slip and find myself sliding down that slippery slope. Reading the Pleasure Trap has been on my must reads for quite some time know. Maybe that would help me with these unbelievable cravings for calorie dense foods I’ve been having! I’ve lost 35 pound so far, but giving into some of my cravings has made me hit a plateau. I need to plan and get back on that train that helps me feel so good.
    You are an inspiration to us that struggle often with our choices!
    Thank you.

  47. MaryBeth says:

    You are beautiful, Natala! Good for you for going on this journey! I have also been on this journey…plant based is the way to go. For me it has been slower, because my transition has been more gradual as I learned about my new lifestyle. I have been gathering all the information about plantbased diets from Rip, Knives over Forks, The Kind Diet by Alicia Silverstone and the Physicians for Responsible Medicine web site, and any where else i can find good information. It has been a gradual educational experience. I have gotten alot healthier and have lost 90 lbs. it has taken two years, which I am happy about because it means I am truly changing my life style and will be able to continue. I need to lose about 100 more lbs. But in the meantime, I am helping everyone I know who is interested and wants to change there weight and/or their health for the better. And I am continously awed by how much better I feel physically- two and a half years ago, I seriously questioned how much longer I would be able to hang on living in daily pain and discomfort.
    Thank you for your blog, you list alot of good advice and good information. I will share with others. Keep up the good work!

    • MaryBeth says:

      so sorry for the mistaken reference above. I meant Forks over Knives. LOL! can’t believe I wrote it backwards!

  48. Jeff says:

    Love reading the Beet every day for that little extra encouragement every day.

    For me being plant strong since Feb (6 months was easy) and loosing 104 pounds so far with about 15 or so more to go, I will say that I need to stay strong mentally, knowing I am doing this for myself has been what has kept me going. I have been selfish for six months now but that is what I had to do, focus on myself and getting healthy.

  49. Wow! What a wonderful story, Natala. You are beautiful! Thank you for stepping outside the box to share your story, and keep on rocking the plant-based diet!

    The two big changes I am just now making are: to cook without oil, and to take my vegan lifestyle to 100%. I was a 95% vegetarian for many years, and as of a year and a half ago, I have been a 95% vegan.

    In January of last year I was diagnosed with breast cancer, and when I started researching (because the doctors OF COURSE couldn’t tell me anything about cancer and nutrition, oddly enough) I found that a plant-based diet was one of the keys to long-term survival. And, yup, I do want to be an old lady.

    During the course of my treatment I gained 30 pounds, and with the medications I have to take and the rest of the busy busy lifestyle that comes with having a new cancer diagnosis, it just didn’t come off. No excuses, I know it was a matter of what I put in my mouth and how much I moved.

    And so, it’s time to take it to new heights. No more Mrs. Half-Arsed Vegan Lady.


  50. Christina says:


    Thank you for sharing your experience. It is really motivating! Right now I am studying about mindfulness and I think the chewing process goes along with that. If we are mindful of what we are eating, if we experience our food and take time to pay attention to what and how we eat, we are more likely to make healthy choices and have a good relationship with our food. That’s what I’m going to work on …

  51. Quinta Peterson says:

    Natala, that was a wonderful post! You are amazing and so is your husband! You are living proof of the drawing of what success looks like. Your willingness to put yourself out there, show your vulnerability and speak so honestly makes you every bit as kind and compassionate as the rest of the team. What a pleasure to share in your journey as we all travel this path! I CHOOSE to stay on it! Thank you, you are an inspiration!!!

  52. "E. Rachael" says:

    Natala, I LOVED reading your story!! I just finished the 28 vegan challenge, but I ate too many of the ok’d snacks late in the evening and did not cut the servings down, so I did not lose but approx 2 lbs. I did learn to love the food, and found that my elimination improved (I already have a permanent colostomy from having colon cancer in 1984 so I “irrigate it” every morning using 1,000 cc of purified water) but even though I do that, my body is still detoxing during the day too! Luckily, I have not had any operations or incidences of any cancer since June 12 of 1986!! Praise God that I am here to tell the tale and to learn about how to eat better and am here to testify that we are ALL here to help each other through service and encouraging each other in doing good things!! Thank-you Natala, you have brightened my day and have given me new found hope that I CAN DO THIS!! So can others that may be reading this! May God Bless you in your life and new found joy of eating and thank-you for your suggestions!!

  53. Kim says:

    You are an inspiration to anyone needing to accomplish anything in life! Congratulations on your success. You have given me ideas to refine my diet, thank you!!

  54. Lynn says:

    Awesome article Natala! I’m going to cut back on the green smoothies some. Thanks so much for sharing :)

  55. Carolyn says:

    Congratulations and Best Wishes for continued success on your plant strong journey! You and your husband are an inspiration to those who are struggling…myself included! I find myself time and again picking up the salty snacks and the sweets, and I know it is keeping me from achieving my goals. I will adopt your wonderful idea about thinking about everything as a choice! Thank you!!

  56. Jean D. says:

    I’ve made the transition to whole-foods, plant-based, no-oil. What I need to do now is train my brain not to beat up on myself. I’d like to make a change to positive self-talk.

  57. Julie Southwell says:

    I was hoping that you were going to be at the Chicago immersion. Kudos to you and Matt for all your hard work.
    Your #2 comment on chewing is so crucial for me. I’ve heard this before, but need to just slow down and make sure I do this. I’ve stopped with the smoothies some months ago, but I never thought about the effect that eating all those greens etc. would have.

    Keep up the good work and keep posting, Natala.

  58. RachaelRei says:

    Natala, thank you SO much for writing this post. It is so refreshing to hear someone else stuck in the middle!!

    I’ve lost almost 50 lbs but am only half-way to my goal. My fiance has lost 75 lbs and everyone we meet praises him for looking different…and well, they think I look the same as before!! Then I get down on myself, am I not working hard enough? Am I not losing fast enough? We’re doing this together, and I have to face it, it’s harder for me to lose the weight.

    I’m going to keep going, I will try potatoes instead of bread and will stop the feeling bad cycle!!! Plus, I’m printing this list, it’s fridge worthy. :-)

  59. Gina says:

    What a great post, Natala! Thank you so much! You’re probably the 4th or 5th person I’ve heard mention True North in Santa Rosa. I realized I live not more than 15 minutes away from True North. I might have to pay them a visit!

  60. Kelly says:

    Wow Natala, I really had no idea you had struggled with weight loss. This post was very REAL and I can totally relate to the feeling bad thing. I have indeed put on a few pounds when I stopped juice fasting, and now i’m doing the oats, salad, and beans instead. My cravings for sugar and chocolate are NOT worth the weight gain, so I am committing to cutting it out to once a week and hopefully eventually one a month or less!

  61. Kirsten Walker says:

    AWESOME job…you should feel very proud of your accomplishments! (btw…you and your husband look like this lifestyle definitely agrees with you…you look GREAT!).

    My change…eat more oats, and less nuts. While I do want to eat nuts for the nutritional benefits, I just need to eat less of them. And I’ve definitely been taking Ann’s advice and trying to eat oats everyday!

    Thanks Natala…loved hearing about your journey =)

  62. Alisha says:

    My choices have come to my attention lately. All the choices I have made until now have added up to the person that I am. I can choose something different for myself. Whenever I dieted I felt deprived and depressed. When I say to myself “I choose…” it’s completely different in my mind and I feel in control and positive. I will choose to chew my food. I will choose to exercise. I will choose to eat more veggies. Thanks for your post!

  63. Susannah says:


    Thank you for your wonderful post! You are an inspiration to all of us.

  64. meg says:

    natala, congrats, you have come a long way and have so much great advice to give! my one commitment i struggle with is planning ahead for meals so i don’t end up reaching for unhealthy foods in a hurry and also not chewing enough in the process b/c I’m so hungry…so true on that acct re: chewing! you and your husband are definitely an inspiration for everyone out there (including me) who has any amount of weight to lose — keep on keepin’ on! thank you!

  65. Maura says:

    Natala – I loved reading your post and considering your advice. You and your husband both look amazing!

    I don’t have a lot of weight to lose, I’d say no more than 20 pounds. I definitely need to cut out the blended drinks, and start saying “I choose…” about my health!

  66. Susan H says:

    I need to increase the amount of low calorie density foods and decrease the amount of higher calorie density foods that I consume. I am at a plateau and I know this is my sticking point.

  67. Mark F says:

    I was drinking rice and almond milk with my meals. Tasty, but at about 100 calories per glass, I had the same thought about those extra calories every day. So now I’m drinking water at lunch and dinner (plant strong, of course).

  68. Kathleen Buckholtz says:

    Great post. Just what I needed. I started eating plant based the middle of June and am losing weight and my BP is down but I still have my stash of dark chocolate chips I get into daily. I gave up almonds and the chips will have to go too. Thanks again for the post. Praise the Lord I watched Forks Over Knives.

  69. Michelle Reynolds says:

    Wow! You look beautiful! Congrats on setting goals and working to get there. Something many people neglect to do from the beginning.
    I am done to needed to loose just 30 more pounds to hit my ideal weight…my cholesterol has finally dropped into normal. I was really effected by your three Oreos comment. Sometimes that’s a rough day of teaching…three Oreo stress day! I am setting the goal to ditch those Oreos but also swap the crackers for potatoes or more kale chips. I was raised to always carry a bag of crackers to snack on and it’s a hard habit to break 40 years later.
    Thank you for your inspiration!

  70. Denise says:

    My main change……..is how I put together an entire meal.

    Instead of a “main entree” (usually would have been some cut of meat) + a starch (usually bread or a potato of some sort) + a vegetable side dish (usually a salad or steamed broccoli, etc)

    My new meal is…

    A salad with lots of variety + a more plain vegetable (in case the kids are not so into a raw kale salad with fennel and almond dressing) + another item if the salad doesn’t contain a grain or legume or tofu (maybe a veggie burger, etc.).

    If I don’t have the time for a 3 course meal, soups and stews are perfect, and everyone loves them! I do like offering a few different things at dinner to help encourage my kids to eat a rainbow and to test their tastebuds. I am proud to say that we are all having fun being plant-strong, even if a few of my new recipes were not completely well received (almost all are!)

  71. Dana Romaine says:

    Thank you so much for this post! What you had to say about choosing really hit home. You truly are a beautiful person, both inside and out.

  72. Heather Wellman says:

    The one thing: oil. I struggle with it everyday. I eat clean besides. No/low salt. No processed foods. I’ve lost 40 pounds. But it is the dang oil. I’m like an addict! Who knew cake would be easy and oil would be the struggle?

  73. Yvonne says:

    Thank you – awesome post! You look GREAT! I have lost 53 lbs since switching to a plant based diet and I feel great. I love my walks and eating well – has really changed my life. I still have another 133 pounds to go so thank you for sharing your story – I’m gonna keep going but once I get there have no intention of giving up a plant based diet! This just feels too good!

  74. Sherri Fink says:

    Thanks for post. Been plant based for 6 weeks with NO weight loss. After post I can see that I need to modify my diet. Calorie still = calorie. Some better than others. Plants based all the way. Thanks again.

  75. Melissa says:

    My sisters and I have all experienced the battle with weight since each of us had our first child. We also all started having issues with our health in the last few years….everyone is in the fabulous 40′s! I decided back in January to make the plant based diet my new way of living. I have lost 25 pounds and have recently had the best physical and lab work in my life. I try and share all of my newly gained knowledge with my sisters to help them on their journey as well. Neither are ready to give up meat and dairy at this time. I am going to forward your story to them as well. I know you will be an inspiration to them, as you are to all of us who have read your story. Thank you for sharing your struggles and reminding me that we can do this together.

  76. Wow, you and your husband are looking fantastic! Congratulations! And thank you so much for this post. I myself don’t need to lose extra weight, but I still deal with cravings and negative body image, etc.

    I find that the chewing technique you mentioned has helped me a lot. I no longer make smoothies, and I also don’t normally buy processed grains like whole wheat bread but opt for rice and potatoes a lot :)

  77. Katie says:

    Wow…Natala….you are absolutely stunning now. Your beauty just radiates….truly a glow! I’m sorry that you are working so hard and doing so well and instead of being out and being proud of yourself you still feel embarrassed. You are an inspiration and you should never ever feel one second of embarrassment. Not one person is perfect. I’ve been blessed with a high metabolism. I do not need to lose any weight but I definitely need to be following an exercise plan. I stay active by chasing a 3 yr old around and swimming but I feel guilty that I don’t “exercise” everyday. So that is one thing I could change to better my body. I could also cut out sugar. I love to bake. I almost always bake no oil low sugar goodies/snacks for kids but I would love to cut out the sugar even more. It really adds up if your not careful, ie. almond milks (I drink unsweetened but the kids drink original) then you have sauces and ketchup…sugar is hidden everywhere. And salt. Again I use minimal but even a 1/4 tsp a day is a lot. Anywho….Thank you for sharing your story….and please don’t ever feel ashamed, you have come so far to feel nothing but AMAZINGLY PROUD! And 30 days of water only? WTH? LOL

  78. Melissa says:

    Thank you for your words of encouragement. Some days it gets so hard to keep the Potato Chip craving monster at bay. I will remember what you said about choice the next time the monster comes knocking at my door. You are a true inspiration.

  79. Sarah says:

    Great post. It is really all about making smart choices. The more you work to make these choices automatic, the easier they become. Thanks for sharing your story!

  80. Christine Erickson says:

    Great post and congratulations on how far you’ve come, Natala! I have just started back on the McDougall plan, which, as you are probably aware, pretty much advocates the same way of eating. I love the FOK movie and have a huge vegan crush on Rip, so it’s good to hear that he’s also a nice guy! I am seriously thinking about doing the Cornell Plant-Based Nutrition program and if Natala has time to send me an email, I’d love to ask her about her experience with it. Thank you for sharing your story.

  81. Cindy Lane says:

    Wow, thank you, you’ve really opened my eyes to some of the traps I might have easily fallen into had you not mentioned them: I’ve been making my own date sweetener and choosing a lot of nut-based treats (all healthy, but very calorie-dense). I’m really going to pull the reigns on these now.
    I’ve been improving the way my family and I eat over the last few months. I read as much as I can about what’s healthy and the research behind it then do my best to apply what makes sense to our lives. I’ve even shared my love of plant-based eating with my Paleo-carnivorous brother-in-law; he’s now thinking he needs to cut back on his meat consumption.
    Thank you for for your article. It’s inspiring, hopeful, and very helpful!

  82. Patricia Frohloff says:

    I know how this is….I love our green smoothies in the morning and I love doing something so good for my body and my mind right away…. only thing is not all the kids like them….. so we are working on it ….. exposure is the best key for young ones….

  83. Saundra says:

    Lovely post about your journey. We have been eating mostly whole foods plant based, but I need to give up the diet sodas! I love all of the recipes on the site and need to check out the kids area as well.

  84. Lynn says:

    Great article Natala!, I will definitely try eating more of my greens, rather than drinking them in a smoothie. Thanks for sharing :)

  85. Lisa Kucera says:

    What a great post! You and your husband look fantastic! This reminds me that I really need to cut way back on the nuts and dried fruit and eat a more basic, plant strong diet.

  86. Chelsea says:

    What a great post, Natala! I love when you post, and this is the best collection of tips for those of us who aren’t trying to reverse heart disease per se, just trying to reverse years of 3 extra oreos. I went to the immersion at Pie Ranch last weekend, and it was LIFE CHANGING. Two days of eating that way and I lost all my cravings for little pleasure traps – a Werther here, a soy ice cream there, oil I didn’t even know about, and too many nuts/dried fruits. I am seeing awesome results on the scale and my energy is through the roof. Please keep posting, Natala; we are all behind you and rooting for you. (The crew Rip & Adam had at Pie Ranch were all toothpicks, so we would have LOVED to see you and hear you speak.) Thank you for ALL you do!

  87. Gina Bresett says:

    Natala, thank you for sharing your journey and wisdom learned the hard way!
    I am on day 4 of my plant strong new beginning and am struggling with some cravings. But I am committed to stating the course. I was lucky enough to discover Engine 2 a couple of years ago but I was always afraid of jumping in. But with other changes recently in my life, now is the time!!!! I also was lucky enough to meet Rip at a cooking demo and was very impressed with how personable he is! So, in regards to one thing I can do: I am interested in creating a few personalized meal plans that work well for me. I also found prepping my food and putting it into my lunch bag the night before I work helps. I grab and run! Thanks again! Gina

    • ldpaulson says:


      Are you acquainted with Mr. Bento? When I worked in an office, having it to pack my lunch in was a huge help in staying healthy. I packed him up the night before and was ready to go at o’dark thirty every morning. If you want suggestions, please ask!

      – ldp

  88. Marck says:

    Super inspiring post Natala!! Thank you!! Love the pics of you and your husband, quite the healthy looking duo! So true that you can’t spend your time beating yourself up about the past and expect to move forward very well.

    I appreciate the reminder about the low calorie dense foods – I think my one change will be to ditch my almonds as a daily snack and chomp some carrots instead. The Wasabi flavored almonds I’ve been eating have 170 calories per serving! And a serving is only 14 almonds! As an experiment I grabbed my usual handful and then counted them – my big hand had scooped up over 30, so my ‘snack’ was approaching 400 calories. Oops. To get that wasabi flavor I’ll go pick up the raw root and grate it on my food instead :=)

    I would dig a copy of the Pleasure Trap. My past is littered with various addictions, so it could be useful for me.

    – Marck Weir

  89. Rebecca says:

    Congratulations! You look fantastic and must feel wonderful! During the past 9 months I have been on a high protein low carb diet, losing 55 lbs in the first 5 months. Then nothing, 1 lb up 1 lb down and reducing reducing reducing calories to some days only getting 1000 calories! With 20 more pounds to go, I felt like I was dying and was going crazy and feeling like a complete failure — and beginning to feel shame for my size. One more chicken breast would have sent me over the edge. . . .

    Then I saw Forks Over Knives and had a sudden urge to return to the vegan diet of my teens and twenties. The same night I had my husband watch FOK with me and we instantly bought Rip’s book. The next day we headed to Whole Foods with our grocery list in hand and began the 28 day diet plan. We went straight to Firefighter cutting out oil. Since I had been on such a highly restricted diet this plan feels like a desert bar. I am staying away from calorie dense foods like avocados, nuts, and only 1/2 banana per day.

    YIKES! In 3 days I’ve put on 6 lbs. Please reassure me this will not continue and I will not put on all that weight I worked so desperately hard to lose.

    I remain committed to return to a vegan diet, and LOVE the plant strong concept. I am thrilled that my husband (who had recently read Eating Animals) jumped on board instantaneously. My middle schooler is excited about being a vegetarian and my 9 year old (meat lover to the core) is cooking another batch of black beans on the stove so she can have them for lunch!


  90. Amy Campbell says:

    You are truly an inspiration. You have inspired me to be plant strong the best I can each & every day. I first came in contact with Natala via the E2 website in December when my husband was hospitalized with unexplained foot/leg pain. Natala you were there for me to encourage me & give me some great advice. Thank you. Now you have inspired me to attend e-Cornell & get my education in nutrition. Maybe one day I can blessed to work for Rip & E2 & meet you. I was at the Il Farms to Forks & loved every minute of it. I 2nd the idea of you & your hubby going to the NY f2f!

  91. Cynthia says:

    great post and good work!
    My change is to exercise more frequently starting now!

  92. Esther says:

    Ok- these thoughts so reflect my own journey! Thank-you! I have 100 lbs to lose and am grateful to read posts like this one! The thing that rang true for me, which I would rather not face, are the ‘healthy’ nut and date laden sweets and treats. That is my new plan. Need to entirely avoid or at least limit to special occasions! I do want to continue with a very small amount of nuts as I believe they are essential for preventing disease but from now on nuts will be measured and eaten sparingly!

  93. Kelly J says:

    Congratulations Natala! That was a great post full of information. I have never thought about smoothies the way you described, so I am going to try that – eat everything I would have blended in my smoothie.

  94. Tiana Duart says:

    Thanks for the post!! And everyones comments. I need to work on choosing not to eat so many nuts, seeds, and avocados. I’m trying to go from plant strong to plant perfect right now. I have about 100 lbs to loose right now and know that plant perfect will help me to get there. So a question I have is I make a salad dressing that has tahini in it and am wondering if this is acceptable for plant perfect diets (my mother has many health concerns which is why we are both going to a plant perfect diet). Thanks for any answer on this one

  95. BigPlantLady says:

    Well now I’m upset, I would have really liked to hear you and your husband at an immersion, I know that you are not at your goal weight, but neither are most of the people at the immersions! The E2 team is great, but it is always frustrating to see thin people tell you that you should eat differently. I can see how it would be hard to think about working for them, they are all super skinny!!

    You are just the real deal, it is refreshing, I hope to meet you one day, because you have a really wonderful ongoing story to tell.

    And after the immersion I decided I needed to give up nuts, they add up fast!

  96. Kim says:

    So excited for you and your weight loss. We are a family of 9 and are on day 27 of the challenge. While there have been days where we have “fallen off the wagon” (mostly at parties or gatherings), we have made so many changes. I’m excited to see my husband on board. We’re working on his weight and cholesterol. I hope to have a story like yours for both of us. I need about 25 more lbs and he has about 85lbs to lose. Thanks for the encouragement!

  97. Cate says:

    I am actually making two changes – going oil free and working out 4 times a week. I am a vegan that needs to lose about 30 pounds. If I can lose a pound a week I can get there in 6 months!

  98. Natala and everyone,

    I want to speak specifically to an offshoot of item #9. Feeling bad.

    Intuitively, we tend to think that if we feel bad enough about something that we’ll change it. This is no doubt a carry-over from when we were children when the emotions of fear kept us safe. It was necessary.

    But it doesn’t translate so well to changing behaviors as adults. Research suggests that ‘feeling bad’ about something we want to change, whether our weight or something else, simply pushes us to engage in more instantly gratifying behaviors to relieve the bad feeling – even if only temporarily – that may be counter to what our higher desires may be.

    It’s been called the “what-the-hell” effect in dieters. Any behavior that we might engage in – overeating, eating the wrong foods, or simply feeling bad about your body, – no matter how far you’ve progressed – that creates feelings of shame , can lead to eating even more or repeating the behaviors that cause problems in the first place. An example is the private binge.

    In one study (Polivy and Herman. 1998) rigged a scale to make dieters think they had gained five pounds. Guess who registered feelings of depression, guilt, and disappointment? Here’s the kicker: instead of strengthening their motivation to lose weight, they turned to food to turn those bad feelings into something else. A quick, short lived fix.

    This doesn’t mean we shouldn’t weight, chart our progress, or otherwise be realistic about where we are. But it does give us even more reason to focus on the positive. The progress. All the wins. Because all the guilt in the world, no matter how well we’ve planned, is not going to be a motivator for the positive.

    Natala you have been a model of pro-activity because of the very actions you describe: “joined advanced gym classes being obese, tried out for sports teams, ran for homecoming court, I figured I might as well just go all out in my life as much as I could.” This is very inspiring to others who are following in your footsteps. Along with your thoughtful post.


  99. April says:

    Such an inspirational article!! I am going to print out these tips and hang them up in a prominent location!

  100. Lynne says:

    Thanks for this inspiring article. I’ve lost 100 lbs since starting E2 but have been stuck here and seemingly unable to lose the last 20 pounds. My spouse has lost 80 pounds and was just taken completely off all insulin by her doctor. She also has that last 20 lb to lose. I think we will start with your suggestion to cut nuts and high calorie carbs like pasta.
    Thanks again,

  101. Connie says:

    Wow! Thank you for encouraging all of us! I have found that this gets easier as time goes on. The body and the taste buds adjust to a plant-strong diet.

  102. Lynnette says:

    WONDERFUL post!!!! I’ve lost quite a bit of weight so far, but still have 15lbs to go. I’ve already been nixxing the nuts and can do without avocados.

    I will eat slower and chew more. Even as I type this at work on my lunch, I seem to be eating my salad too quickly. CHEW MORE!!! I think that focuses on JUST eating, not mindlessly eating while reading (such as blogs on my lunch hour at work.).

    And I will make an effort to have a salad a day, not just during the Great Salad Challenge.

  103. Kelly P. says:

    Natala, God bless you for your honesty, bravery and willingness to share your story. I need to lose about 90 pounds myself, and have been struggling with yo-yo-ing back and forth between being 100% plant-based and then falling back into old habits. Lack of planning has been my #1 problem. If I get lazy and fail to shop for good food, the next thing I know, I find myself eating whatever is quick and convenient when I get hungry, at home or away. I lose the same 5 or 10 pounds over and over again. (I am the only one in my household who is trying to eat plant-based.). So the change I will make is to get serious–and consistent–about planning. I also like the idea of saying to myself, “I am CHOOSING…” to eat/not eat something, exercise/not exercise, etc.

    I had the pleasure of meeting Rip at the new Whole Foods in Wexford, PA a few months ago. He was wonderful, and I am glad I went, although I was almost too embarrassed to go, due to my weight. He offered to have a picture taken with me, and I agreed, although I honestly didn’t want to, because of how bad I knew I would look, especially next to him! I am hoping to send it to him some day, as a “before” photo, alongside a fabulous “after”!

    I would love to win a copy of The Pleasure Trap! Thanks again, Natala. You are an inspiration, and have given me hope that I can win this battle.

  104. Fonnetta says:

    Thank you so much for the read and wonderful tips!

    Plan Plan Plan really spoke to me and eat your oats! I really need to plan more, so when I get hungry I am not a hungry crazy woman and I do love oats and need to eat them more often! My husband has lost 30 pounds and I have lost 34 since Thanksgiving of last year. We feel great but we know that we can feel even better!

    Thank you for the chance to win a copy of the Pleasure Trap!!! It has been in my Amazon Wish List for some time now and I really want to read it!

  105. Caroline says:

    Natala, you are an inspiration! I’ve been vegan for years, but need to really cut back on the vegan processed junk food and eat more OATS! Thanks for all you do :)

  106. Leslie says:

    Wow! Your post was EXTREMELY inspiring! I have been on my journey for 5 months now and I feel great! I still have about 10 pounds that are “hanging on”…I gave up coffee on June 30th and I have not turned into a zombie! To help me to continue on my path, I am going to put your words into practice: I CHOOSE!

    P.S. Congrats on your weight loss – you and your husband look great!

  107. Jenna says:

    Great, now Rip is HOT and nice. Why must you do that to us single ladies? And he’s married with kids, right? Of course he is.
    I have to admit, I picked up the book because there was a photo of him near it, pathetic, but I have a thing for hot firemen, do you think Rip could hook me up with one of his firefighting friends?
    All that aside. I really need to give up the smoothies, because I don’t just have smoothies I have burger king smoothies, store ones, and I tell myself they are healthier than what I was eating before! There is an RD who pushes them, so I started drinking them more and more and now I’m heavier than I was before.
    So no smoothies, do you think I can get a poster of Rip for motivation?
    LOL :)

  108. Love love loved your blog!! You are amazing and oh so beautiful.. wow ..and your insides are beautiful now too!!! I am on the same situation as you..only I am 71.. have lost 40 lbs and working to lose another 100.. I am totally plant strong and working on speeding up the weight loss.. started in dec 2011,, made some mistakes but totally plant strong .. trying to incorporate more salads and all the rest.. went to the Immersion in Chicago and it was amazing but so sad it is over.I told Rip when I come back to next summer’s immersion I am going to look like Ann.. Headband , turquoise and all!!!i grew up on the North shore of Chicago in an affluent neighborhood and never learned no.. I am very down to earth and so impressed with the Esselstyn family.. Yes they do have class..All the people that they associate with are classy.. It’s a funny thing but that is a lost art today..People that need to lose weight are like little birds looking for help and guidance.. usually quite accomplished in other areas of life but just can’t get the health thing right.. that is my goal and will not stop till I succeed..Keep up the good work and be proud of yourself.. fat is just a thing.. you are a very special person and there is only one of you..btw your husband is adorable too!!

  109. Michelle Breon says:

    This is a great post. I’ve been trying to go plant-strong for a few months now, but tend to self-sabotage pretty easily. I’m working on getting my mind right…I definitely feel better when I’m eating clean! Starting today, right now, I’m going to start my meals with the veggies/fruits. This way, I fill up on the good-for-me foods and then, hopefully, don’t feel the need to eat the other, not-so-good-for-me foods. Thanks for posting this, and keep up the great work! You’re a great inspiration!

  110. Sue says:

    I am really sad you weren’t at the immersion. or your husband. I really did like everyone, but I kept thinking there is no way they understood what it is like to be obese, it was kind of obvious with the environment that no one has been fat. I understand the being embarrassed, I actually was in knots before going to the immersion because I thought I’d be judged and humiliated or made to feel bad. It was hard being around the super skinny women. Rip is a very nice guy, so were all the speakers, but it would have been so nice to hear from someone like me.

    I have a lot of changes to make, sometimes it is overwhelming. Thank you for writing this, and thank you for being brave.

  111. Gail says:

    Good bye cheddar cheese. It’s one of those last hold outs for flavor, more like a sprinkle of salt than ooh yeah cheese. This is something I can do.

  112. Gayle P says:

    I always love Natala’s posts!
    My goal is to keep active year-round. In New England it gets easy to hibernate and be lazy in the winter. I am going to go to yoga, do some indoor climbing and some dvd workouts!

  113. Sheila says:

    So nice to meet the Natala behind the scenes and who has been helping it make it all happen for Engine 2. Thank you for sharing your story. The one change I need to make is to cut way back on my processed starches. [breads, pasta etc] Even though they are whole grain and high in fiber I still have a tendency to over indulge. :o(

  114. Ileana Wade says:

    Natala-thank you for sharing with us. You and your husband are an inspiration. I think the two things that impressed me the most in your post were the ideas of choice and planning. I am going to focus on those two, and I hope I can inspire my family to chose health as well! Best wishes!
    ~Ileana Wade

  115. Lora Hood says:

    I have been following a vegan diet for a couple of years. I have been a junk food junkie all my life, but I’m in the process of getting away from processed foods, oil, salt and sugar. I only drink water (no caffeine, soda, juices or alcohol).

  116. Danielle Schmidt says:

    I loved your post and it helps me regain my courage to make the right choices again. I WAS on the right track. I became vegan, lost 60 pounds and was on my way to a healthier life. I became derailed when I broke my ankle. It was a really bad break and I had to become dependent on others help. I think depression (I was running for the first time ever) started me down the same old track. I started eating “bad” vegan and from there it was a short hop to my old ways. Now I have gained the weight back and am filled with regret and self loathing. Worse, I have avoided the things & people who helped me before because I am so embarrassed. My mind has started to rally again though, and reading your blog has really helped. I know what I have to do, I just have to CHOOSE to start doing it again. I need to lose 150 pounds. I am afraid for my health. I don’t think I can afford to ignore what I know anymore.

  117. Michelle says:

    Thank you so much for this post. I met you and your husband at the E-2 immersion in Austin in Feb of 2011 and came home a changed person. I did great for a while then started adding in a little bit of dairy, oil,and fish-no other animal proteins though,but gained back the weight I lost. Last week I made the “choice” to start eating better and being kind to myself again and this post I just read has really helped me to reinforce my choices. Thank you so much to you and the whole team for all the tools you consistently supply to those of us still struggling- you guys are doing a great job!

  118. Abigail says:

    Natala~Very inspiring story. My husband and I are plant-strong! My husband final did the switch after he watched Fat, Sick and Nearly dead. He then bought the E2 book and he was all in~plant-strong is manly! :) We are both off high blood pressure meds and my life long asthma is much improved as well! Great decline on my husbands high cholesterol as well!
    I’ve been vegetarian almost all of my life and vegan now for about a year. I have lost 100 lbs and like you have 100 to go. I “feel” the eyes of judgement when I tell people I am vegan. I think people believe that vegans are supposed to be super thin and earthy. I have the earthy part down at least. :)
    You have inspired me to get back on track with low density calorie foods. I have been emotionally eating (I know, I know) the last couple of months and while still eating a vegan diet, I have put back on 20lbs. I hate it!! New energy from you today. Thank you!

  119. Jenny says:

    What a great article! I love the 3 Oreo idea. It is such a simple yet profound change in my thinking! I am going to begin thinking of my snacks in that way. I need to cut back on my nuts, olives, and avocados.

  120. Kathy says:

    First of all – You look mahvelous, dahling!!!! And I just know you feel tons better, too! How do I know? Because I, too, have been on a wt. loss journey for many years. Things finally began to fall into place, and the wt. began to fall off, when I came to grips with the reality that there is NO magic bullet, pill, plan or anything else that will melt away unhealthy pounds. The one and ONLY way to get healthy and lose wt. is to make good food choices and to move, move, move.
    I lost 90 pounds about 6 years ago by doing just that. I cut the crap out of my life and I started walking every day. Soon I was jogging instead of walking. At minus-90, I was feeling much better, but in the back of my mind, I knew that to really be healthy, I needed to drop about 20 more.
    I bought myself a juicer for my 50th birthday in Feb. I started reading all I could about good nutrition and watching documentaries on Netflix. Somewhere along the way, I found the E2 info. I bought the book. I made the lasagna! My hubby loved it.
    I am now eating about 90% plant-based and low fat. Hubby still eats meat, so I share a meal with him on occassion – that’s where the other 10% comes in. We do eat free range, grass fed beef and free range chicken.
    I love my plant strong life! I feel so much better, my skin is healthier, and I swear even my eye sight has improved! And….plant strong food is delicious.
    Oh…and that last 20 pounds? Came off without even really trying once I made the plant-strong choice. I am now within 5 pouns of my wt. when we got married 30 years ago (July 24).
    So, here’s to you, Natala! And to your hubby and your new healthier plant strong LIFE!!!!! You GO, Girl :-)

  121. Gwen says:

    Thank you so much for your post…I have been heavy my entire life and at 50 years old I am now 300lbs. I started with Rips Fathers book, and then Engine 2, and bit by bit was pulled into all the youtube videos with Dr. Furhman and Jeff Novick and everything started to become clear and after learning so much about going plant strong its like I can’t go back, I have to admitt I tried! I just couldn’t make myself eat that hamburger, something in me has changed and I now crave for more information and want to learn as much as I can so I am going back to college to learn about plant strong nutrition. I know this is silly but I thought that I was too fat to try this, this must be for people that are only like 20lbs. or so overweight, there is no way this could work for someone as heavy as me, so thank you, thank you for all that you do, you have helped me bring down another wall.

  122. Susan says:

    Thank you so much! Although I am about 40 lbs over weight right now I have always felt bad about my weight, even when I wasn’t overweight at all, I thought I was. How sad is that? Congratulations on your journey and thank you so much for sharing your story and the information on the oreo cookies. Sigh. I have a lot of work to do. I have been vegetarian for 4 months now, and work to have several vegan “days”. My goal is to have more and more vegan days till all days are vegan. For now my goal will be to try to substitute fruit for something sugary (my evening weakness). Thank you again!

  123. Barb says:

    Thanks for your post! I have lost about 75 # so far eating clean, but I’ve been stalling for the last 6 months. (I’m still about 20 # overweight.) Some of your tips I already are in compliance with, but something new for me to try; What I am taking from them right now are: CHEW! S-l-o-w down! and eat less bread/nuts. I heard a lecture by the Pleasure Trap author and he suggested eating dinner in this order: salad then veg. then the most calorically dense item. I’m trying that, too.
    Best wishes, and thanks again.

  124. Andrea says:

    What an inspirational story. For myself it’s eating more frut and veggies throughout the day and drinking more water.

  125. Sharon says:

    Natala you are such a great writer I hope you will speak more and more. I tend to lean toward writing and less toward speaking but I’m slowly moving toward speaking more and it gets easier over time. Love your writing style and you are very motivating! :-)

  126. Rhonda says:

    This is a great read. Thank you! I need to print this and keep it on my fridge. I have bit of a belly. I eat cleaner than I ever have, but I have been consuming pasta, bread, crackers, nuts and seeds (recently gave up avocado). After reading this I have decided to try life without them. I’m excited to see what happens in the next 30 days!!! Good luck on your journey and thank you to you and the E2 team!

  127. Robyn says:

    Thank you for your awesome post! I read the whole thing and loved it! My goal, which is a big deal to me, is at the end of my comment.

    I have been plant strong for about six months, vegetarian for ten years. I went from weighing a healthy 154 pounds to 267 pounds over the period of four years.

    I got my rear back to the gym in February and have lost forty pounds since that time! I hope to get down to 160 by the end of the year. 160 looks great and feels great on my body.

    The change that I am going to make is to only allow myself wine once a week. Though I battle with binge eating frequently, I ESPECIALLY struggle with it after a glass of wine. I am confident that cutting out the alcohol (even though I allow myself room for it calorie-wise) will help me to loose weight big time.

  128. JWin says:

    Great article Natala…your pictures are gorgeous, great job on the weight loss to you and hubby. You brought home 2 great points for me: 1) I need to chew my food more, I race through a meal. I really need to pay more attention to what’s in my mouth, not my next bite. 2) I need to go on a 30 day salt fast. I don’t salt when I’m cooking, but I do salt what’s on my plate, and it’s a beast of burden because if there’s no salt available I almost don’t want to eat.

  129. Joyce says:

    Need to get the NUTS out!

  130. Stan says:

    Very good post.

    Time to lessen the fresh penut butter and to work out every day in place of every other.

  131. Sherry Henseler says:

    Awesome thanks for sharing your story. I’m new to this as of April and I’m loving it. I love reading about all the success stories. Some people at work have joined since I’ve started and it works and that’s what is the most important thing….it’s different then what we’ve been told but it works better then anything else I’ve ever done.

  132. Amy Perrine says:

    Wow! You two look great! I was steering my family toward a plant-based diet a couple years ago – and it showed in my husband’s blood work. He’s had two heart attacks since 2003 – the first at age 47. Then our lives fell apart and we fell back into old habits. I think we’re going to do this thing again. Thanks for your encouraging blog.

  133. CJL says:

    Amazing story – congratulations and best wishes for continued success! My change = owning my choices. Great concept!

  134. Jennifer Edwards says:

    I feel you, dawg. ;) Reactions to an overweight yet active person are many, but precious few of them are genuine. For my whole life, I have been a ‘healthy fat person’. I often out competed skinny friends at sports and the gym, and very strongly felt the need to overcompensate in order to prove to others I was normal. My own self image was fine, but I knew most people, including the media, saw another version of me (growing up in southern California did not help!)

    Thanks to Engine 2, I am 30 pounds down and have about 80 more to go. People will judge. They will lecture us about our diets after taking one glance and not understanding the journey. They will get overly-enthusiastic and patronizing when we try to explain it. Some will try to be nice but just won’t understand. And some will be like Rip and Jeff. In the middle of all of those mixed signals we have to stay strong individually and in this awesome support network. Because we already know we are 10 pounds of awesome in a 5 pound bag (there’s a metaphor in there somewhere).
    Stay strong. You are beautiful: inside and out.

  135. Erin says:

    Wow! What a motivational post! It is comforting to see someone still in the process of working towards their health. I feel like most posts I see on any plant based eating site are from people who are at their ideal weight and/or optimal health. I applaud your efforts and want to the the “I choose” method next time I try and slack off a workout. :)

  136. Tammy says:

    Thank you for the helpful advice I’m going to try this.

  137. Tracy says:

    The change I can make is to keep pushing through the cravings for the foods I ate before that got me into bad shape. If I can push through them maybe I can overcome them.

  138. Gwen says:

    I used to make desserts with dates until I read Dr. Esselstyn’s advice to help lower my triglycerides. Now I only make a dessert on very special occasions when we are entertaining. Tweaking my plant-strong diet to lose more weight is just the easiest way I have ever lost weight. I eat until I’m full and consciously choosing high fiber whole foods.
    Natala, you have been a bright and shining light of inspiration to me and this blog post is your best ever! You inspire so many of us to stay plant-strong!!

  139. chickpeafreak says:

    Natala, you are awesome, and an inspiration. I love your posts. Thank you for sharing your experiences and observations along the way. And there are those of us, who are mad jealous that you get to work all the time with the lovely Esselstyn’s and the rest of the Plant Strong army [Doug Lisle/Jeff Novick/True North Clinic]. Good for you—you rock! =)

  140. Marianne says:

    Natala…you are beautiful!!!! Be very proud of your accomplishments and know that you are an inspiration to us all. I have been plant strong for 3 years and have never felt better. Many tweaks along the way thanks to Engine2. The best thing I did was make one meal a day raw. Usually a huge salad with 3-2-1 dressing. Keep it up:):)

  141. Susan says:

    I am so happy for you and your story is inspiring and energizing. All the best in your health journey. Clearly, you’re a beautiful lady.

  142. Dwain says:

    Great article. Thanks for taking the time to share. And keep up the great work, you are not alone in this.

  143. debbie stevenson says:

    extremely well written and encouraging. you look great and I thank you for being so transparent with your struggle.

  144. Wild4Stars says:

    I still need to work on the salt. I’m good with most everything else and I have cut down on the salt. Need to cut down even more. I’ve only got 15 pounds to lose, I feel good and all my bloodwork numbers are excellent. The Pleasure Trap has been recommended several times, guess I need to read it.

  145. Sharon Cupach says:

    How inspiring and honest are you! Thank you for sharing. I saw Forks over Knives about 9 weeks ago and started Plant Strong 8 weeks ago. I love it. I feel better, no more hot flashes…I have lost 9 pounds. I am struggling with the no oil. I dont cook with oil but some things have oil in them. Additionally when I travel for work, I load my suticase up with snacks. Last week I lived on salad and fruit for 4 days due to the chooses that were available at a conference. But I still love it! Thank you for sharing. Next step: eliminate oil and start exercising!

  146. Molly says:

    Natala! Every. Single. Time you post, I’m so blessed by your words and wisdom. Every. Single. Time! Thank you so much for sharing your heart and journey and please oh please continue to do so. You’ve done so much for me and everyone who is privileged to be part of your word (real and cyber! :-))

    My biggest need is to break the sugar trap, especially the one that says that every meal must have a sugar component! I just know I’ll be able to achieve my goals when I beat that monster down with a stick! :-) ((((HUGS))))) ~ Molly :-)

  147. armbristers says:

    Wonderful post! Thank you for the encouragement! You look fantastic, as does your husband. Congratulations! I’ve lost about 30 pounds eating Plant Strong. But I’d still like to lose about 10 more more…. I know I can lose if I cut out walnuts and avocado – 2 weak spots for me! Thanks again. Keep up the good work!

  148. Rhonda says:

    Natala: All of your post was meaningful & hit home with me! #11, Plan, Plan, Plan….that is where I trip up & am working on it. I have MS, and want to be plant strong for weight loss AND MS/health reasons. Your two pictures, WOW! What I noticed most (other than the weight loss) was how clear/glowing your skin is now….and no dark circles under your eyes. It’s working and it shows, Yay!

  149. Courtney says:

    I’ve lost 30 pounds this year eating this way. I was technically on the edge of overweight and obese after I gave birth to a 10lb, 7oz baby girl this past January. Because I’m exclusively breastfeeding her, I have to be careful to not cut out too much fat or calories, or work out too much (I’m training for a marathon), because it will negatively impact her health. I just have to make sure that the fats I choose are the healthy ones.

    The one change I’m going to make is to add in oatmeal. I’ve heard Ann say it a million times, I have it in my pantry, but we just don’t ever seem to eat it, unless I make granola with it. (Which I guess isn’t all that bad in and of itself!) For my fellow breastfeeding moms, oatmeal is great for your supply!

  150. Lois says:

    I’m so glad I found this and your post has been extremely helpful. I’m not overweight (don’t hit me) after losing 10 pounds on plant-strong. But…I still find myself reaching for the salt shaker or thinking what can I do for a dessert now. What I need to do is the “cleanse my palate” thing, I guess. Or, I know. Thanks so much for the help with motivation.

    And why I’m doing this…I have lowered my cholesterol 64 points and still counting. It still wasn’t normal. Plus my age puts me at the threshold for lots of stuff I don’t want. Cancer, arthritis, etc. Nevertheless, I still need motivation since I’m surrounded by people and family who will probably never choose this path, even though they desperately need to.

    So, I saw a guest post somewhere and was trying to get back to that blog and can’t remember the name, but knew the guest poster was someone who fits the description of Natala…and the name rings a bell and that she was on the staff here. Now you’ve given me more places to go for encouragement–I will bookmark and try those links!

    And if Natala ever reads this, can you possibly tell me what blog that was? Thank you! And thank you for posting the pics. I think what you’ve done is fabulous!! (sorry I got so wordy)

  151. Thank you so much for sharing. I’ve been plant based for 3 months now and I was starting to feel kinda stuck. I am going to check out Jeff’s facebook like you said for more ideals.

  152. donald says:

    Thank you Natala! I WILL have oatmeal and fresh fruit every morning and start dinner with lots of greens and fresh vegggies.

  153. Radonna says:

    Great job! Thanks for the inspiration and the education!

  154. Piper Parks says:

    Wonderful post. Your story is inspiring and motivating. I was a type 2 diabetic and on several meds. I’ve lost 80 lbs, off all meds and still have about 35 pounds to go. Your insights and experiences will help me continue. I went plant strong a couple of months ago and didn’t realize how good it was going to make me feel not to mention how I am protecting my body. Thank you for sharing your journey

  155. Molly says:

    Excellent post! Keep it up! I resonated with the comment about chewing. I was juicing for a few months and could not lose the weight. I thought I was doing the right thing. Turns out I should have just eaten the vegetables and fruit!

    Way to go! You are beautiful!

  156. Jennifer Bowman says:

    Thank you. I truly needed to hear this today. God bless you for the courage you’ve shown in sharing your story. You are my hero!

  157. Amanda Bautista says:

    Wow, there have been a lot of great, encouraging posts to read through here! Going back to the question you posed at the end of your post: tell us the one change you think you can make to help you in your health journey.

    I think for me it os a combination of reseting my palate as you talked about doing at True North, and truly embracing that it really is my choice. I have about 120 lbs. to loose, I I think the one most important change I can make is reflecting on the fact that it is my choice, every time I choose to eat… for that matter what to eat. I have been vegetarian for a long time now, but I know now why that is not enough. Really eating vegan is not enough either. There are a lot of unhealthy things that can be considered vegan to. The most important change I can make is owning my choices, and doing better by choosing a whole plant based diet.

  158. Lori says:

    Congrats on dropping the weight and doing it the heatlhy way!! I’m new to eating a plant stong diet and am learning so much here. Great tips too. I could definitely work on cutting out the sweets…even healthy sweets. :-)

  159. Alisa says:

    Very helpful. I will start chewing longer and really tasting my food. The choice thing really spoke to me. People do what they really want to do. Need to find a planner:) Thanks for the inspiration.

  160. Kim hawkins says:

    Great post! No wonder Ann said I should talk to you!

  161. caroline says:

    Hi Natala,my change is to follow the advice you give me when i emailed you,i was feeling down…i asked for help and you helped, thank you..oh i did buy the e2book its on the way and is going to be my health bible,again thanks.

  162. caroline says:

    what do you think about a food diary?

  163. Julie says:

    Great read! You and your husband look wonderful…and healthy! Congratulations on all you’ve done and have become…looking forward to more posts as you continue to push forward on this journey to great health and well-being. You are certainly an inspiration. I’ll take all of the tips and inspiration you are willing to put out there! No matter our size, we all struggle with our choices. I am new the plant-strong way of life…starting the 28 day plan on Monday. Woo hoo! Ready to get started!!

  164. Chef AJ says:

    Are you overweight Natala? Your heart is so big I didn’t even notice.


  165. Melinda says:

    Thank you for sharing your story. Congratulations! I have to admit I keep going back and forth with wanting to adapt a plant-based way of life. Hearing your story gives me encouragement and motivation. Thank you.

  166. Mary says:

    Great article. I have been plant strong for 11 months and I am never going back to the old ways. I found that just looking better wasn’t a compelling enough reason to change my ways but better health is. Eating plant strong has helped me to take off weight and lower my cholesterol.

    Two changes? 1. chew more 2. less alcohol

  167. Sharon Leedon says:

    You are very inspiring to me!
    I doubled my body weight in 7 months about 2 years ago and am now enormous and miserable…
    I ‘ve finished eating for the day, so I will begin my plant based diet tomorrow morning!

  168. Chile says:

    Thank you for a thoughtful post, Natala. You’ve done a great job improving your health. I have to admit that I envy the wonderfully supportive work environment you’re in, just a little.

    The change I need to make right this minute is attitude. I’ve been plant-based off and on for years, with way too many forays back into SAD eating. Just in the past two weeks, I’ve identified several (additional) food allergies that I think have been part of my problem. I’ve spent the past few days whining and crying in my (non-dairy) milk about having to live without them (one is chocolate!) but I need to let it go and move forward with all the healthy foods I can eat.

    No need to enter me for the book giveaway. I’ve got the book, got the video, met the man, and heard the talk live three times.

  169. Cindy says:

    You look fabulous! I have soo many things to change, it’s like an uphill battle. I do not have supportive family or friends- being a mother & cooking separately for everyone is challenging! Putting my nutrition last. First correction!!

    So I need to start small- chew! Owning MY chooses, ‘I choose…’ will be my motto. Thank you for your post, keep going- you have empowered me!

    Also, trying to read plant strong books every month- haven’t read pleasure trap (library doesn’t have it!)

    Take care!

  170. Sherrie says:

    Congrats to both of you, Natala!

    It’s not about food as much as it is my mindless and comfort eating. I don’t eat for comfort as much as I used to, which is still a struggle. My plan is to stop and think before grabbing something – at least about what I’m grabbing and if I’m hungry or trying to feed a need. It’s making a difference.

    Thank you, Natala, for sharing about your path. You inspire me.

  171. Sam says:

    I’ve been plant-strong since February in an effort to reverse CVD after a heart attack late last year, and my BMI has normalised from 26 to 22. Nothing in comparison with so many of you others! Even though I don’t need to lose weight I was deeply moved by reading your blog.

    I’ve found it helpful to keep a graph of my plummeting cholesterol level, thanks mainly to following the Esselstyn way. Each time I add a new reading I share that feeling Natala describes of wanting to shout the good news to the world, and I feel a need to redouble my efforts to do even better for next time. Tracking weight on a graph (say once a week) should work just as well. Make sure you begin with that awful starting number so even if you suffer a minor setback along the way you’ll still see your progress against your original reference point.

    For those whose eyes skimmed lightly over Natala’s achievement so far I suggest that next time they visit the gym (or go for a walk) they wear a backpack with 200 pounds of weights in it. Congratulations, Natala, on making such magnificent progress and thanks for sharing the valuable lessons learned.

    And congratulations also to all you others who are making progress along the same path.

  172. Laurapcat says:

    Great ideas! I’ve already lost 50 lbs going plant strong & sugar free. I will be paying more attn to the higher density foods!

  173. lorraine says:

    Hi I love reading all the sucess stories. I first watched Forks over Knives. Then my Dr. here in Louisville had me write my own perscription to read How to prevent and reverse heart disease, and now Im learning from Engine 2. I have started June 9th and so far lost 15 pds. feel better i cut out all dairy meat but have trouble with avacados and walnuts Im hungry for it. I m doing this fo rmy health and am little overwelmed with dinner with family. I have health problems but feel this I can do. I took a tour with Amanda at Whole foods, for heathy foods to spot in store. I love no oil Maroccon soup. yur inspiration to me, thnaks Lorriane

  174. Vickie Vertel says:

    Wonderful read, you are lovely!!! So happy for you and your husband, I think I love the whole team there!! What an inspiration you are!!! All the best and lots of love, Vickie

  175. Randy Joseph says:

    Thank you for the inspiring, practical and down to earth essay.
    The one thing I could do is plan ahead before going to a restaurant. Look at the menu online or know in my head exactly what I am going to order. Do not look at the menu in the restaurant, do not eat bread or chips, do not buy a beverage and do not get dessert. This will be HUGE for me.

    Randy Joseph

  176. Dinah Brown says:

    You are inspirational and informative, Natala! Keep up the good work. I especially think the Links to articles backing up the facts of different misconceptions is especially helpful and important.

    I just finished reading Dr. McDougal’s newest book The Start Solution, the 1st of his I’ve read, it was great, too. It’s so liberating to finally realize the the whole “starch” food myth was wrong as well! Yeah, REFINED Carbs are bad, of course. So I plan to concentrate more on adding more starchy foods back into my way of eating. THEN if I can just stop the little “cheating” I know I’d be just fine!

    Have lost about 20, (by fasting, I’m more of an all-or-nothing kind, but fasting doesn’t work well for me, either; after a couple weeks all I can think about is food & when I end it I end up making up for it by having all my favorite foods at least “once”) I have 70-90 more I’d like to lose!!!

  177. Kathryn Tyer says:

    Thank you for such an inspiring post. You are so right that we all have a choice on what and how we eat. I have been trying to eliminate animal products from my diet for awhile but live with three meat eaters who do not plan to change. I will go along fine for awhile then suddenly crave a piece of meat. I plan to not give in to the craving and increase my intake of vegetables and fruits. Thanks for being so open and honest.

  178. Mary Beth says:

    For those of you who don’t know, Natala will answer and help everyone. I e-mailed her a few months ago and she has been helping me every week since, she’s helped me with meal planning, shopping, she’s answered e-mails at 2am when I am really depressed. I don’t think she’ll ever know how much she’s changed my life, but she has. I am 400 pounds, I’ve lost 20 pounds so far, and I did not even know where to start. Natala walked me through each step of the way. I don’t know how you ended up on this team Natala, but I’m so glad you did, and I’m so glad that Rip did not discriminate against you because of your weight, I have been discriminated so many times because of my weight.
    I am finally on the right path, getting help psychologically as well.
    Just wanted to put that out there, I know Natala probably helps 100′s of people, but she is really nice to talk to and she is also very honest, she won’t try to sugar coat it.

    • Kim hawkins says:

      Keep going, Mary Beth! I’m at 360 and have lost 25 lbs. since May 6. This community makes such a fantastic difference!

  179. Mary says:

    The one change to help me on my journey to lose 50lbs since I turned plant strong is to watch the amount of nuts, seeds, and avocados I eat. I know they are good for you, but in limited quantities.

  180. Sandi S says:

    Awesome post! What an inspiration you are! I’ve got to give up processed food and stick with vegies and fruits!

  181. Tania says:

    Well done, Natalia! I just need to keep believing that I am worth it. I deserve better. Simple yet hard to do sometimes.

  182. Gail Sandish says:

    You and your husband look healthy and incredible Natala! I’ve had read Dr. Esselstyne’s book and last year I ran across a link for Rip Esselstyne’s book and put it to good use last summer losing 30+ lbs. I’ve been a vegetarian, non-vegan, for decades but also an emotional eater who rivals Oprah in the ups and downs with weight. So I don’t eat meat but junk food/dairy/large amounts of “bad food” in general can still be “vegetarian” in nature. There is no convincing me of the benefits of a plant based diet…it’s night and day in the way I feel…when I adhere to it. Last summer was a reawakening of how improved I do feel when I eat plant based and healthy. My employer has now instituted a new health plan that will require health assessments (BMI, tryclericides, cholesterol, blood pressure, glucose levels) starting next May. Our employee insurance cost will be based on one’s own level of health. I have 10-11 months to make a difference in my health. Although morbidly obese, I have luckily, thankfully, not had any other health problems. All indicators fall within the “standard” guidelines. But we both know the “standards” aren’t accurate…or good enough for optimum health. So I am embarking again on what I hope is the final attempt to get healthy. At almost 60, with this being a lifelong struggle for as long as I can remember, I would like to make this right and be as healthy and as energetic as I can be at this age. One of my hurdles is salad dressing…and I found a few options on the engine 2 site that I am going to try as substitutes. Hurdle number 1…and I hope the website becomes my place to turn for daily inspiration to continue this effort. Thank you for your story! Inspiring the rest of us is a good thing.

  183. Tracy Jones says:

    What an inspiring story! I have lost 30 pounds and have another 100 to go, I have traded cow’s milk for soy and cut out fast food and red meat. Slowly trying to wean myself from all meats but it’s a work in progress!

  184. Cathy says:

    Wow! Natala, you and your husband have come so far and you both look fabulous. Thank you for taking the time to write your inspiring post. I needed this reminder to use the word CHOICE with myself and to plan better. Thank you.

  185. Laura says:

    You look wonderful! I find number 11 to be the most important for me. When I fail to plan I start slipping. We’ve been eating plant strong for about a month now. I’ve lost about 12 pounds but I have about 65 more to go. Thanks for the motivating post!

  186. Jodi says:

    Thank you! I needed that! I’ve been plant strong for almost two months and I’ve lost a total of 22 pounds. I have 100 more to lose and the first 14 lbs came off quite quickly. I’ve hit a two week plateau. I don’t do oil at all, but I do have nuts avocados and dried fruit. I watch them and ensure that they do not included added sugar, but I realize now they are calorie dense foods and easy to snack on. I also have smoothies on a regular basis. Thank you for the post you’re stunning and so very inspiring!

  187. Alison says:

    The one thing I need to change is to totally keep tortilla chips (packaged) out of my life. My one weakness is tortilla chips w/frank’s hot sauce. I have been mostly successful, cutting down from every day to maybe once a week. Same with coffee – don’t have it in the house. Only drink it once in a while. Other than that, I need to work on more salads. With Rip’s Salad Challenge, I’ve been having two a day. My weight has gone down about 30 lbs. since the beginning of April. Slowed some since I still occasionally have the aforementioned items but it WILL come off!
    Thanks for your great post, Natala :-)

  188. Kim hawkins says:

    More greens, morning, noon & night…just like Ann says!

  189. Robin says:

    YOU ARE BEAUTIFUL! (and if you make it all the way down here in this big long list of people telling you how inspirational and wonderful you are – you should get your own prize!).

    Never, ever give up. You are PERFECT!

  190. BH says:

    Thanks for your vulnerable sharing, Natala! Yep, please keep speaking up, as your journey is a gift! What I can go to get a foot out of the pleasure trap is follow the Rip tip of keeping a food log.

  191. Jennie says:

    Stop finishing what my kids leave on their plates!! And become 100% plant-based :-)

  192. Anne says:

    I have been eating plant strong since March of this year. I began the journey as part of Lent, realized how much better I was feeling and then began some research that convinced me this is how I need to eat for life. I have lost 26 lbs to date and, although not sure about the cholesterol numbers, am confident the doctor will soon be unable to recommend cholesterol meds. The “next steps” that I have just begun to take are eliminating nuts from my diet and beginning an exercise program. Thanks for your inspiring article!

  193. Patti says:

    This resonated with me so much.

    I have a story about green smoothies for you.
    A few months ago I actually had written on the facebook page and asked about green smoothies, and Rip said as a treat, but not all the time. I didn’t like that answer (LOL) so I went to another page (won’t mention names) But it was a PB RD they told me that smoothies were fine and that there was nothing wrong with them, I was so relieved. They even pointed me to a couple of recipes and said there was no evidence that they were bad. I thought Rip was just being too strict. I also asked another plant-based blogger and they reassured me that there was nothing wrong with smoothies. Anyway, fast forward, 3 weeks I gained 11 pounds and my blood sugar was terrible.

    Very frustrated I thought it was the plant-based diet and decided to add back in eggs a fish. That wasn’t helping either. I was still doing my smoothies, because I thought that was the best way to get as many greens in as possible.

    I decided to go back to plant-based and follow Rip’s advice. I had oatmeal and fruit in the morning instead of my smoothie.

    My blood sugar started to come down and my weight started budging.

    It’s been about a month since all of this, the 11 pounds is lost again and my blood sugar is better than ever.

    I am sorry this is long, but I wanted to tell people to trust people that don’t always tell you what you want to hear so they are more like-able. Rip and the rest of the team tell the truth, even if you don’t want to hear it.

    It might not be smoothies, it might be dates or nuts, but I have learned that this team really does its research and even if it doesn’t make them win popularity points, they tell the truth which is much more valuable to me.

    I also want to give Lindsay Nixon a shout out, she got so much completely unnecessary critics for saying she doesn’t drink green smoothies. I thought it was very honorable that she admitted that she had learned something from Dr. Campbell and she made changes. People like Lindsay and Rip should be commended when they air on the side of caution with peoples health.

    I think Lani also spoke out against smoothies.

    • Thank you for such kind words, I appreciate it more than I can say and I am so glad you’re down 11 lbs and getting that blood sugar where it needs to be. keep being healthy!

      • Patti says:

        Thank YOU Lindsay!! I really do appreciate you caring about people enough to be truthful, even when it could have lost you fans. Stay strong.

        • thank you. I try to keep sight of what one of my 10th grade teachers told me “what is right is not always popular, and what is popular is not always right”

    • Jen says:

      I know the RD you are talking about. When she started promoting alcohol and writing for Earth Balance I figured she wasn’t a good person to trust when it comes to scientific integrity. I trust Dr. Esselstyn, he’s been healing people before that RD could drive, it shows so much disrespect to him for her to say there is no science, when there has been so much to say otherwise. She’s a thin model, not an obese diabetic, and she should not be allowed to give people medical advice when she promotes drinking and junk food for a few more fans. It is very sad to me that some in the plant-based community would care so little about peoples health in order to make themselves a little more popular.
      Good for Engine 2 and Lindsay as well as Jeff Novick and Dr. Esselstyn for putting science and health first, not their own ego.

  194. Janet says:

    Such an inspirational post. I am filling on nutrient rich foods like veggies and fruit…..it is a lifestyle!

  195. Kim says:

    Well, mine is embarrassing. I went plant-strong but I still smoke. How pathetic is that? I kept telling myself that I was a healthy smoker, the doctor always said I had healthy lungs, well all that changed they just found something suspicious, I’m 49. I feel like such a loser now, I know smoking is bad so why do I do it?
    And you woulld think that w a cancer scare I’d stop, no, I still want to smoke.
    I would love any help if anyone has stopped smoking. I just feel the same way you did about thinking about every bite or mistake in the past, I can’t stop thinking of every cigarette I’ve smoked that got me to now. Regret.

  196. Kathleen says:

    Wow! I don’t know where to begin, only to say this has really inspired me. But seriously I really do not know where to begin. I definitely need to do some research. I want to feel good and live a healthy life style and I know the plant based plan is challenging. I am ready for the challenge and want to check out True North.
    Thank you for sharing.

  197. Jodie Hayward says:

    Wow Natala! You look great! Keep it up!

    The one change I’ve been working on is reducing my salt. I don’t cook at all with salt and I buy salt free products. It’s the condiments that I can’t seem to give up. I tried the E2 Salsa, and it tasted like salt free salsa, which is great, but I craved the salty salsa. I’m hoping to wean myself off it by making the E2 Salsa and adding as little salt as I can handle and then gradually reduce it. Ketchup is the other killer. I tried salt fee and hated it. I may just give up on ketchup all together, especially if I’m happy with salsa.

  198. Barbara says:

    I love everything bad for me :( sweets, red wine, sweets, red wine, sweets, red wine-you get the picture. I’m 5’3″ and 150#, more than I weighed full term with my pregnancies. I know it doesn’t seem that much based on other posts but I feel lousy! I’m taking Crestor and Nexium now and it makes me crazy because I used to be healthy and fit. I’m blaming it on my age, early 50′s but who am I kidding?

  199. Cathy Lewis says:

    I cried the whole way through this post. I have been gradually changing my diet over the last year and a half. I have overcome Rheumatoid Arthritis, Lupus, severe allergic reactions and Inflammatory Bowel Disorder. Even with all that, I feel embarrassed that I am still overweight. Sometimes I don’t tell people about eating plant-based for fear I’ll be judged or that this way of eating will “look bad” because of me. But what I get most from the E2 Team is to never, ever give up. I feel better every day. I will get there. Thank you for your inspiration.

  200. jennifer says:

    Way to go Natala! I’ve been following you since the Huffpost article. I am inspired by your success. My resolution is to go fully plant-strong, not half-hearted, because despite exercising more than ever, and keeping a 500 calorie deficit daily , the scale isn’t budging. Also will cut way back on avocado and nuts. thanks AJ!

  201. Lauren says:

    I’m going to say goodbye to processed foods!

  202. Amanda says:

    What an inspiration!

    I need to cut out mindless eating. Even when it’s dinnertime and I’m hungry, I find my eating to be mindless (in front of the TV, standing in the kitchen, at the computer, etc.). A la your advice to CHEW YOUR FOOD, I need to mind my meals and really experience eating them to slow me down.

  203. aunt con says:

    Thanks for the inspiration! Just made a pot of whole grain oatmeal and packed snap peas and carrots for lunch tomorrow. Enjoy your posts.

  204. Joyce says:

    Thank you so much for your openness and honesty about your journey! Your story is such an inspiration!
    My husband and I have only been plant strong for about 7 weeks now but we love how we feel and I have really learned a lot from Jeff Novick’s notes! I also love how simple he makes being plant strong.
    Thank you for all you do to help us be healthier! What a blessing to work with such a great team of people!!

  205. Tina says:

    Super inspiring!! Your current picture is stunning!!! thanks so much for your suggestions. We need to clean up some areas we’ve gotten a little lazy about lately…ahem…oil…ahem. Thanks for the reminder!

  206. Carly says:

    Thank you for the post. I’m going to do a salt free fast and watch the sweeteners.I probably should take out pasts too but I no longer do bread or crackers. I need to lose quite a bit of weight too. Hope to read more of your journey. Its nice to be reminded that I’m not alone. Thanks again!!

  207. Mary Faron says:

    Natala, great inspiring post. I just had a plant-strong dinner with a small group of women all working at being plant-strong, and I showed them your before/current photos as shared at the farms to forks immersion. Came home to this post and it is the perfect post for today! I am going to “eat clean” and add no salt.

  208. Kerry James says:

    Wow, Natala, you look amazing! What an inspiring post. Loved learning about your journey and hearing from a “real” person. After reading your post, I think I need to rethink my Lara Bar addiction!

  209. Tina Girton says:

    Wow! You are such an inspiration, Natala! So good to hear that Rip and his family/staff are kind.
    I’m rethinking my morning smoothie and added salts and sugars.
    Thanks and keep up the good work!

  210. Sheila says:

    You are a true inspiration, and beautiful both inside and out. I made a decision to become plant-based in January while still hedging about dairy….and then quickly learned from Engine 2 and the China Study that dairy is actually worse than meat in some ways!! When dairy went away, so did the joint pain I had experienced for the past 20 years. I could never tolerate milk but I loved cheese and still miss it. I have also been dismayed to realize just how many packaged foods contain hidden dairy–especially crackers and breads. So next time I feel a little sorry for myself (reluctantly admitting this) over the “inconvenience”, I am going to CHOOSE to continue forward without dairy because the change has made my life so much better. Please continue to share your journey with us, because everyone faces challenges and it helps for all of us to remember that we’re not alone with our different struggles.

  211. As someone who has always struggled with my weight, I want to thank you Natala for writing this heart-felt article. I’m going to remember your words every time I start to feel negative about my weight.

  212. Sandy says:

    Frst, I must say that you look marvelous! Congratulations on your success. That alone should make you feel wonderful about yourself. Don’t worry about not being able to speak in front of a crowd. Some of us, including me, are just not comfortable in those situations.

    I’m twice the person I used to be. I weighed 96 lbs. when I met my husband. Then a spinal injury and resulting surgery left me incapacitated for over a year. I put on the weight quickly. My physician kept telling me it would come off once I became active again – I was a runner before all of this happened. I was never able to lose the weight, and now I have become a stress eater. I ballooned up to 165 and then losing my job a few years ago just made it worse. I was just over 200 lbs when I was diagnosed with diabetes. I have been watching what I eat, but nothing has worked long-term.

    I am a meat lover, but dairy is my biggest weekness. I have begun cutting out meat and halving the dairy products or omitting them in most meals. I’m trying to cut back slowly, which has been the only way that I can make permanent successful changes in my diet. But I’m almost there. I now have a whole-grain cereal breakfast instead of scrambled eggs and my lunches usually consist of a bean burrito or a large salad with beans and salsa. I’m still working on dinners – which are the most difficult becuase my husband has not jumped on the wagon yet. When I start losing weight, maybe he will be impressed enough to join me on my weight loss crusade.

    Keep up the great work. You have really helped to motivate so many wonderful people – you are actually saving lives! How great is that?

  213. Allen says:

    Thanks for the post!

    My wife and I switched our family to be plant strong 5 months ago and have lost a combined 125 pounds since but have a long way to go. I seriously appreciate real people like yourself taking time to share. We are slowly gaining the respect of our family and friends who think we are crazy for choosing to live this way and it’s nice to know that others are on the same “crazy” path. You brought up a lot of great ideas for changes I need to make but the first is going to be chewing. I’m not sure that I even use my teeth and I know that would slow me way down.

    Our biggest current problem is that our 7 and 5 year olds are not as excited about the change as the rest of us. Not that they are missing meat so much but that they really dislike vegetables and mixed foods. We have tried only allowing them to eat what is at the table but have learned that they will go consecutive meals without eating and sneak the foods they want when our backs are turned. Mr. 7 is ADD, is crazy skinny, and has actually lost weight over the last year, which his doctor is not super happy about. In an effort to get some calories in them, we have had to start fixing them their own separate meal for lunch and dinner but there is no way they are getting enough nutrition or protein out of what they eat and it is effecting the way the rest of us eat as well. Any suggestions or links to good material that might help us with this would be awesome.

    Thanks again, you’re amazing!

    • Natala (Engine 2 Team) says:

      Have you guys been doing our summer kids series?

      Contrats on the weight loss :)

      • Allen says:

        Summer kids series? My wife just told me about the site yesterday. We knew about the engine2diet but have been going it on our own so far. I’m way excited to hear about the kids series but haven’t seen it. I’ll have to look around.

        Thanks again

  214. Kristy says:

    Thank you for sharing your inspiring story.

  215. [...] shooting by just 3 cookies a day. It doesn’t really take that much to overshoot on calories. (source)Share [...]

  216. Becky says:

    Natala, you look beautiful! What an achievement! I have improved my diet quite a lot by giving up dairy and meat, and increasing the amount of vegetables I eat. I could improve things even more by cutting out sugar, though I have at least cut it back.

  217. Michelle says:

    I am so glad I found this post today. It is motivational for me to read this going into the weekend where I have the most trouble planning ahead and making healthy food choices. Thanks.

    As for the giveaway, the change I plan to make is to get rid of the oil and salt that I still have lurking in my cupboards.

  218. Holly says:

    Congratulations! I know your pain. I’m working on loosing a lot of weight. I just went to the library and the Pleasure Trap was lost. If I am chosen. I will devour it and give it to the library so others can be helped too. Thank you for your inspiring story. I am going to read it over and over. H

  219. Christa says:

    Thanks for your great article Natala.

    I mostly followed a plant strong diet for the first couple weeks of May, and have exclusively eaten Plant Strong since mid-May. It been a big change and one I’ve enjoyed. One new thing I’ll try now is expanding the range of vegetables I’m cooking with. After reading your article I went out an bought some bok choy – tonight I’ll cook it up.

  220. Deb says:

    Do you speak with your husband at events? I’d love for you to come out to our women’s health summit!

  221. Carol says:

    What a wonderful post. I have 155 lbs to lose. I am borderline type 11 diabetic. I have severe arthritis in both my knees, and I am presently being treated for Col-rectal Cancer Stage 111. I read Engine 2 about a year ago, and have tried haphazardly to make the change. I have done a lot of reading about nutritional benefits of plant strong eating. And also the amazing statistics that are coming out on the benefits of exercise in drastically decreasing the recurrence of cancer. I have a lot of living yet to do. I am going to take the 28 day challenge of Rips. You can even follow along on my blog, “http;//savingcarol.blogspot.com

    • Natala (Engine 2 Team) says:

      Fantastic! I’d love to follow along. Maybe in 28 days you’d be up for writing about your success for the E2 blog?

  222. Jennifer says:

    Thank you for sharing your story. It is so inspirational and encouraging. For me, I need to change my path on how to live healthy and achieve weight loss. Right now, I eat primarily a vegan diet. While to most people, it sounds healthy, it can be easy to justify eating the processed and junk foods just because a label says “vegan” and is marketed as healthy. To reach my goal to be healthy, I need to choose a plant strong diet instead (it is so easy to have (and overlook) a “3 Oreos a day” mentality).

  223. ldpaulson says:

    Thank you Natala and everyone else for sharing your stories.

    What’s holding me back? ME! The one change I need to make: move more! I really, really want to be biking and paddling again. I need to move to make that happen.

    One thing I keep going back to when I think about cravings is a macrobiotics class in which the instructor explained that one reason we crave chips or crackers is that it’s tied to emotion. It’s not the salt! In this case, the crunchy is a catharsis for being angry or upset. The suggestion: try a stick of celery instead. Sounds hippy-dippy, but there’s truth in it!

  224. Jen says:

    A friend of mine had a severe heart attack a couple years ago. Two months ago, he and his wife began the E2 program, and he’s already lost 72 lbs. His weightloss made me do more than a double-take; it made me begin reading the “The Engine 2 Diet.”

    I’ve also recently participated in a Whole Foods healthy-cooking class (a great value at only $5), I’ve begun exercising again, and I’ve been watching/listening to any Esselstyn video/recording I can find online. (In particular, I loved “The Last Heart Attack.”) I’d hoped to enroll in an E2 immersion program, but they’re all full. Your post is one more tool I’ll regularly reference for motivation; your three-oreo reference is particularly impactful.

    I’m hoping that by now “choosing” a plant-based, low-oil diet, I can make strides to improved health. I already cut out beef, pork and chicken from my diet 16 months ago, after reading “The Omnivore’s Dilemma,” “In Defense of Food” and “Eating Animals,” all of which are great reads. However, I continued eating fish and — my biggest downfalls — dairy and sweets. So I haven’t lost any weight, despite being an ovo-lacto-pescatarian. (What a ridiculous, crazy label! Who comes up with this stuff anyway?)

    Thanks so much for your post — it’s the only time I’ve ever been inspired to write online. And best wishes on your continued journey to health. I’m on the road behind you!

  225. Debbie McMillan says:

    I just found your website today. Your article is very inspiring. I am not a veggie fan but hopefully I can learn to love them. The results would be well worth it!

  226. Dawn says:

    Thanks for sharing your story. I met Rip last night in Hopkins, MN and so many of the attendees seemed considerably smaller than me. I look forward to beginning this journey. I am removing all animal products from my home.

  227. Elizabeth says:

    Thank you so very very much for your post! I need to lose 130 lbs and have been fluctuating between plant based and raw eating for a while. I loved what you posted about the oil and the fat because I have been following a raw plan that uses nuts and coconut oil and I must say that my face is a mess right now being so broken out from all the fats-duh hello, did that not tell me that I already have enough fat and do not need the extra. Anyway, after reading your post I am truly going to commit to plant based with alot of salad (to help me deal with the 100 degree heat here). Thank you again so very much for posting this and I look forward to reading more from you!

    • egm says:

      If you haven’t read Dr Esselstyn’s book, it may be helpful to you. How to Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease. It gives excellent explanations of the oil thing. Good luck to you.

  228. egm says:

    I loved this, and I love that you have such a supportive environment to work in. Your picture is stunning. You go girl. For whatever reason, I am luckier in my weight, but I still can take things from your writing….”I am choosing”…I love the idea of actually thinking about the choices I make. (not just in food, but in actions). Thank you, and continued success in your journey.

  229. Janna says:

    Thank you for attaching the pictures! You both look wonderful!

  230. Sharon says:

    Congratulations to you Natala, and your husband, plant strong looks wonderful on the two of you.

    I have lost 10lbs since going plant strong in January. Recently my Naturopath determined I cannot have any gluten, so now I need to PLAN MORE.

    Funny how you mentioned Oreos – haven’t had any for years, but I hear they are vegan LOL.

    Best wishes for great health.

  231. Judy says:

    Natala, thank you for your inspirational and helpful message. Whatever you do, do not stop speaking out whether it’s in person which you dread, or by printed word. Your message is too valuable not to continue sharing.
    You and your husband both look GREAT!

  232. Abigail says:

    Wonderful post, Natala! I am about to go share this with some people I know who could really benefit from it.

  233. Joyce says:

    This was very timely. Thank you for being so candid, even from behind the computer. Those of us who read, are grateful.

  234. Chuck Rivers says:

    Great reading. I’m getting started on payday, thanks for the inspiration, i need to drop about 150 lbs and need all the support i can get. I just want to keep it simple until all the wieght is off. Love the pictures, and your husband look AWESOME!!!

  235. Elizabeth says:

    Thanks for sharing your story. I plan on making two big changes. I want to start eating only low index food and slow down when I eat. I have two small children and I always rush through my meal. Thanks for sharing your tips.

  236. ~LV says:

    I bought Rips Engine 2 diet book and have made a few recipes which I enjoyed. I’m glad I read this post. I had recently lost 62 lbs. I gained 40 of it back. I feel like I am doing AWESOME sometimes. I lost 8 pounds in 7 days being plant based but when over the weekend I binged and gained it all back. Its like a never ending cycle. I lose 60lbs and gain it right back. I feel like I have no power over the voice in me saying “you need chips, you need chips now!!” and of course I oblige. I really really really need to get on track. I have a 2 year old son, and I dont want him to see him mommy like this. 320lbs and struggling. I’m fortunate that so far I have no health issues from my weight, but I’m sure that will change shortly. I’m 33 and cant keep going like this. I need to just do it! This post was helpful, I know I’m not alone. I need to do it, for my health. For my husband, and most importantly for my son. I’m going to try to be strong and choose to do the right thing. It is like you said my choice.

  237. Jenny says:

    I swear, I love reading posts from Natala. Its like I can hear her speaking to me (even though I’ve never heard her) LoL

    You are such an inspiration to all!

  238. Andy says:

    I am in a similar situation. I have lost more than 100 pounds but I need to lose another two hundred to be at a normal BMI. I went vegan three years ago but I was a junk food vegan for much of that. I recently started following the McDougall Plan but I am still fighting cravings for sweets. I am eliminating all high sugar foods and sweeteners for the next few weeks to see if that will help.

  239. Taylor. says:

    I’m going to Eat foods low in caloric density. That is probably the biggest part of the diet as I see it. Thanks for a great post.

  240. Gayle says:

    You and your husband are very inspiring. My husband and I have started eating more plant based since April. Our only exception has been spicy tuna rolls. I have been looking into making my own vegi rolls at home to satisfy that desire. I need to do more planning with meals so I can do a quick plant based meal for the family and not make compromises. We both feel so much better with the changes we have made, so going forward seems so logical. Thanks again for sharing your story.

  241. Colby says:

    Nice to see an article from someone who has been there… My change I will make is planning more.

  242. Christie says:

    Well now I know why I haven’t lost any weight. I eat oatmeal with fruit for breakfast, but when I get home from work I really crave chocolate. I make a smoothie that tastes like a chocolate milkshake. I don’t think it has too many calories. I just use some frozen peaches, ice, cocoa powder, stevia, oatmeal, caramel extract and water. For dinner I just eat a big salad with lots of veges, some fruit and maybe a potato. I also make a cookie sweetened with dates. I thought I was making a better choice, but I guess it’s still too calorie dense. Darn! Giving up sweets is the hardest part of this for me. You are an inspiration. I’m going to try exercising more to counteract the dates.

  243. Alex says:

    Since becoming a vegan, I have consumed quite a few nuts. I never knew they were so calorie dense. I will definitely be cutting back on those!

  244. Jenny says:

    Yhank you….it is hard to be over weight, sometimes it feels you try so hard and nothing works. I have been following you on Facebook for a few months and today started do it 100%. This blog is a great help to stay motivated. Thank you so much I don’t know if you realized how much in this one blog you have helped me.

  245. Karye Ann says:

    Wow. You just gave me more hoPe in this post than I’ve had in years. Thank you!

  246. Alicia says:

    Very great article! I struggle with eating out and not going through drive thrus. Making the “choice” to say no is so hard but like you said it is a choice. thanks for sharing and i’d love a copy of the book! thank you!

  247. Jenny says:

    Thanks for the wonderful article. Courage to start again!

  248. Lydia says:

    Natala Thank You for sharing…your story is very impact full and for me it was cutting down and out the nuts and focusing on the fruits/starches/veggies/beans…I will be truly plant-strong as of now. Thank you for the gift of the book I cant wait to read it! God Bless!!

  249. Molly Elston says:

    I found this blog because I am just starting week 4 of the 28 Day challenge! My husband has lost 9 pounds so far but I have only lost 2.5! I’m trying to figure out what I’m doing wrong. I love the way we are eating, but I am not seeing the results I was hoping for. Hopefully I can find the culprit of my slow progress and get rid of it. Thanks for your inspiration!

  250. Tammy Whitten says:

    What an inspiration you are. Thank you for your story. I too have a lot of weight to loose and am feeling kind of overwhelmed. I have just found this website and am preparing to go on the 28 day challenge. I have the E2 book and am so inspired. I can do this!!

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