A Personal Health Journey

Hello everyone, today I want to begin with a confession about my struggles with being overweight. I have struggled with my weight for most of my life. I was at a normal weight until around age 7 or 8. Then I discovered that food was comforting, and I ate myself into obesity. At the time, my family life had been turned upside down after my parents’ divorce and my mother’s remarriage to a man who stole her identity and left her financially devastated. In the following years I experienced more adjustments in my family life, and food became one thing I could control. I put on weight and became the fat kid in my class. I was painfully bullied by my peers every day. Although my Mom (Dr. Jamie Noll) is a clinical dietitian, she was careful not to get on my case about my weight. She understood why it was happening, and was even getting us both therapy for fear it could become an unhealthy power struggle between us. Food was a friend and comforter for many years, and, coming from a family in which type 2 diabetes is rampant, it began to impact my health. I was diagnosed as prediabetic in my teens, and my BMI (Body Mass Index) had me classified as “obese”. It became a vicious cycle of eating: I was unhappy, which led to being heavy, which led to being bullied for my weight, which made me unhappy. I felt like I was trapped, and desperately wanted to gain control of my weight.

 

My Mom was the one who discovered my prediabetes, and quickly got me in to see an old friend of hers who is a wonderful endocrinologist. She thought that maybe he could help give me a wake-up call in a supportive way that could help me get on the right track. My new doctor referred me right back to my Mom as the person who could provide the best advice and support.

 

In the summer before my senior year of high school, Mom and I really started working together to address my weight. Mom gave me several options I could try to lose the weight. The most appealing option at the time, given my desperate state to lose weight quickly was The Atkins Diet. It worked as promised… for the month I could stand it. At the end of the month I was sick of eggs, and was craving a banana. After my brief fling with Atkins, I went the calorie-counting route with a regular omnivore diet. After a year and a half, my weight was down. My classmates had packed on the freshman 15, but I had lost almost 60 pounds at the end of my first year in college. Skinny me did not show indications of prediabetes anymore – all my blood sugar tests were back in the normal range. I was eating moderate amounts of grains, lean meats, low fat dairy, and lots of fruit and vegetables. I felt pretty good, and at the time I was not aware of how meat and dairy could affect my long-term health.

 

I did really well from my freshman year until I was in law school – then the stress of professional school life took over; I got busy, I got stressed, and my old friend Food was there to “help”. Fast forward a few years and my weight was back up. Not as bad as it had once been, I was not “obese”, only “overweight”, but it was enough that I was concerned about the potential that my insulin resistance would deteriorate, and my blood sugars would creep up again. Maybe even worse, I would be diagnosed with full-blown type 2 diabetes.

 

Around that same time, my mom had become really impressed with the information about the health benefits that a mostly plant-based diet provided. She had already begun the journey of going plant-based, and raved about how much better she felt. She no longer felt the aches in her joints she had been complaining about for years. She was vital and active, and looking great. Her experience working with patients and learning more about the diets of several healthier populations led her to want to develop a plant-based diet with some flexibility. That is where the idea to write the book The 95% Vegan Diet – An Insider’s Guide to Taking Control of Your Diet and Health came to us. I decided to adopt the same mostly plant-based diet (a.k.a. 95% vegan diet) she had developed, and I did lose weight and started feeling good again. I have been following a mostly plant-based diet for over 5 years now.

 

Today I am healthier and more active than I was for much of my life, but I still have a ways to go to get back to that healthy weight I achieved in college. Recently, Mom and I collaborated to develop recipes for our next book in which she developed the 95% Vegan Weight Loss Solution. This book is the ultimate done-for-you 95% Vegan Diet, complete with weekly menus and recipes that are out-of-this-world (if I say so myself, being the Chief Kitchen Creativity Whiz, as my mom has so dubbed me). The problem is that I am a co-author on this book, but I am not the shining example I want to be to really help people see just what is possible once they learn to eat this way. This program creates fast weight loss in the healthiest manner possible, but only if I can reestablish a healthier relationship with food.

 

I have a new outdoors buddy, Trooper, and I aspire to hike the full Appalachian Trail with him in the next few years. But before I do that, I am going to make the final push to achieve my health, weight and fitness goals on the 95% Vegan Weight Loss Program. I already eat a 95% Vegan Diet, but obviously not in the proportions that will get me to my healthiest self. BTW – it is not uncommon for vegetarians and vegans to be overweight, especially when they discover that French fries and Oreos are plant-based. If my story resonates with you, perhaps you would like to join me in my health quest. Knowing that so many other people have the same struggles as I do with weight and health, I am going to chronicle my final journey out of being overweight. Today I will show you the “before” pictures and my less-than-desirable body measurements. I want you to know you are not alone. Please root for me – I will be rooting for you, too!

 

Caitlin Front Before Picture

Start:

 

Height: 5’ 5” (for reference)

Weight: 159 lbs

Waist circumference: 36”

Weekly Exercise: 3 mile Walk/Run (0-1 per week); 1 hour Yoga (0-2 per week); Miscellaneous Exercise (3-4 hours on average).

 

Goals:

 

Height: 5’ 5” (for reference)

Weight: 130 lbs

Waist circumference: under 32”

Percent Body Fat: under 25%

Weekly Exercise: 3+ mile Walk/Run (3-4 per week); 1 hour Yoga (2-3 per week); Miscellaneous Exercise (at least 3-4 hours on average).

 

So, starting this week I am going to be following the meal plans set out in The 95% Vegan Weight Loss Solution until I reach my healthy weight goals. I’m also going to attack my exercise fitness goals; I’m tasking myself to complete the 2016 GA 4000 Challenge (http://georgia-atclub.org) by hiking Georgia’s 32 mountains with peaks of 4000’ or higher. Throughout my journey I will post updates here and on our social media and I invite you to follow my progress. Thank you for reading, and until next time, cheers.

 

Caitlin

 

 

 

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