Now that we've got that taken care of, I want to tell you about something amazing that happened this weekend! But before I get to that, how about we back up to the beginning?
Two years ago, I weighed in at 198 pounds. I was tired, lethargic, depressed... I didn't have any energy or motivation to move my body, and I had very little self-esteem. It took me a few more months of reading, researching, and pondering various forms of inspiration before I took my first step towards change, but I knew something definitely needed to happen in order for me to be happy in my own skin. I stopped eating meat in August of 2011 and immediately noticed a difference in my energy levels -- I actually wanted to exercise, because I had the energy to do so! That's also when I decided to try and start running, despite a lifetime of struggling with exercise-induced asthma.
I lost about 15-20 pounds just from cutting meat out of my diet and exercising a little more. Noticing such a difference already, I kept reading and experimenting with different foods in order to find out what my body likes. By December of the same year, I had given up all dairy products. My skin cleared up, I didn't have stomachaches anymore, and I continued to lose weight almost effortlessly! I ate my last egg on April 12th of last year and have had no desire to go back to animal products since then.
Two years ago, I wore a size 17 jeans and could barely run a block without wheezing. This weekend, I ran in my first race -- 5 whole miles! -- and finished first in my age group! I weighed in at 139 pounds this morning. My jeans are a size 7. It has been one year since I started following a purely plant-based diet, and I feel AWESOME!!
I cannot tell you how happy and excited I am to be where I am today, especially with the knowledge that you can do it too! And I'm not just saying that. I thought there was no possible way I could ever be in shape -- I used to think I just wasn't made to be "thin" -- but the truth is anyone and everyone can be healthy and fit. All you have to do is evaluate your fuel (because that's what food is!) and see if you can find something that works better for your body. I'm not saying everyone should follow a plant-based diet... I just think you should give it a try and see what works for you.
This journey has opened my eyes to so many delicious foods I had no idea existed, and so many methods of living I never thought I could dabble in. I make just about everything from scratch now, and I've even started growing my own food!
Homemade Vegan Sandwich Bread
makes 1 loaf
adapted from Veggieful
- 1 3/4 C warm water
- 3 1/4 tsp yeast
- 2 tsp raw sugar
- pinch salt
- 1 Tbs extra-virgin olive oil
- 5 C all-purpose flour (white or wheat)
1. Combine the water, yeast, and sugar in a small bowl. Set aside until the mixture starts to foam.
2. In a large bowl, mix the flour, salt, and olive oil. When the yeast mixture is ready, add it to the bowl. Stir with a wooden spoon until the dough comes together.
3. Drop the dough onto a clean, floured surface and knead with your hands until it forms a smooth, elastic ball (about 7-10 minutes). Alternately, you could knead the dough in the bowl of an electric mixer, with the dough hook attachment. I like getting my hands dirty, though!
4. Clean out the bowl you used to mix your dough and lightly oil it. Place the ball of dough inside and cover with a tea towel. Set the bowl in a warm place and let it rise for 30 minutes.
5. After the dough has risen, punch it down and knead a few times. Shape into a loaf, tucking the ends under. Transfer the dough to an oiled bread pan, cover with the towel, and let it rise another 30 minutes.
6. Preheat the oven to 350 F. When the bread has risen, cut a slit into the top of the loaf and bake it in the top 1/3 of the oven for 30 minutes. The house will smell amazing!
7. Once the bread is done (it should be golden brown and sound hollow when you tap the top), let the bread rest for half an hour before taking it out of the pan. Cool completely before slicing.