One of the rewarding things about the work I get to do is to hear firsthand the positive stories of how people are changing their lives! I worked with this couple earlier in the year and it was a joy to help them on their healthy living journey! They were willing to change, worked extremely hard to implement said changes and were proactive in making new healthy habits. They sent me photos of labels of food, beauty and other products. Then during our video sessions I would explain the ingredients in them and why they were good or not so good. It was a joy to help them. I couldn't be prouder of them!
A few weeks ago Toby and Laura sent me this letter and they wanted to share their story with you so you too could see what life was like before and after! I hope it gives you the hope that you too can change your life!
If you want help in learning how to make healthy habits, change your eating habits, or just have questions about what you are putting in your body, I'd be happy to work with you! Just use the contact form to get in touch with me.
From Toby and Laura:
If you are visiting Sarah’s website, considering whether this lifestyle could be worth trying, then you are like my wife and I seven months ago.
We are a couple in our early 30’s, living in the beautiful county of Buckinghamshire in the UK. We lived what we considered to be a relatively healthy life. We cooked meals at home, made sure we ate fruit and veg, and were wary of food high in fat or sugar. But we didn’t do this consistently, and would often rely on convenient, processed food. We also ate food that we knew wasn’t particularly healthy for us. Crisps and chocolates, occasion trips to McDonalds or other fast food chains, takeaways etc. But it was all in moderation.
I first met Sarah via Twitter, after following one of her Health Talks. At the time she was running a promotion to win a 6 week Holiday Wellness program, which I was lucky enough to win a place on. Over these 6 weeks, my wife and I began to learn more about a plant based diet, and by the end we decided it was worth a try.
6 months later, and we would never consider going back. I have seen improvements, but I want to talk about my wife, Laura. The changes she has seen is nothing short of amazing, and inspired me to write this to let people know you can change, and it’s a change worth making.
Laura was constantly ill. Most of the time it was low level (general aches and pains, bloating, lethargic), but there was always something up. And when she got a cold or a virus of some type, it would lay her out for days. She suffers from IBS, and this caused her constant problems. And she never had any energy, and never wanted to do anything except crash on the sofa.
The change in her was as quick as it was dramatic. She lost 2 stone in weight, despite vastly increasing her calorie intake. In addition, her skin & hair have improved, and she has a healthy “glow” about her. She is constantly being told how well she looks, and asked how she has done it.
But more importantly, her overall health has greatly improved. She actually has energy to do things; when she comes home from work she wants to do more than simply sit on the sofa and watch TV. She feels good as well, with the normal aches, pains and ailments no longer present. And when she has fallen ill, her body has been able to fight it off far quicker than in the past.
You too can reap the benefits that Laura has. It may seem like a monumental change, but it won’t be long until like us, you look back and can’t imagine living that way. I’m no nutrition expert, and there are plenty of websites out there that will provide you with excellent advice (this website is a good place to start!).
But I can tell you some of lessons we learned on our journey. We have made massive changes in our lives, and hopefully our experience will make yours a little bit smoother:
1.) Baby Steps
You don’t need to jump in head first and change everything all at once. Laura and I have slowly changed the way we live, one step at a time. This way it isn’t such a shock to the system, and you are more likely to stay the path. I suggest start by banning processed food from your diet. Keep eating the same sort of stuff, but make it yourself, don’t rely on jars and cans. When you see the benefits this simple step will give you, you will want to take it further.
2.) Look at the nutrients, not calories
Don’t look at food and think “how many calories am I eating?”; instead think “what nutrients am I eating?”. Do this consistently, and you will be amazed at how your perception of food will change.
3.) Don’t aim to lose weight, aim to get healthy
Laura lost two stone [28 pounds] without even thinking about it. All that she focussed on was eating well, and getting healthy. If you do this, losing weight is a natural by-product. [Sarah's note: we never once talked about counting calories or having things in "moderation". We simply focused on the kind of foods she was eating.]
4.) You will be confused
Kale, nutritional yeast, samphire, cacao powder. This is a small selection of food that I had never heard of, but now forms a part of my daily diet. There is a host of food out there which you will likely have never heard of, but will do you a power of good. There are also a host of food out there that you probably eat on a regular basis that are damaging to your long term health. Working out what you should be eating, and where you can get it from, is a confusing journey.
5.) But don’t worry, there is plenty of help
The confusing journey described above will eventually lead you to a local health food shop, as a lot of the food you will need is simply not available from chain supermarkets. Health food shops can be overwhelming, with shelves full of strange items that you don’t know what they are, or what you need. But don’t let this put you off. Everyone was like this at one point, and there are a host of helpful sources of information to help you navigate your way around, whether this be assistants in the shop (or other shoppers), or websites like Sarah’s.
6.) Read ingredients
You may think “I do”, but I mean really read them. I realised that I would often scan the ingredients list, skipping over items if I didn’t know what it was. But these are the ingredients you really need to be focusing on. If there are any ingredients that you don’t know what it actually is, you need to question if it is something you want in your body. I guarantee there is something you eat on a regular basis that you consider good for you, but when you look at the ingredients you will find it isn’t as good as you thought.
7.) Be prepared
One of the toughest things you will need to give up is convenience. I used to struggle some days to find the time to prepare a meal, and would opt for quick options like fast food, or microwave meals. That’s no longer an option. By organising yourself and preparing food ahead of time, it removes the need to rely on the heavily processed convenience food.
You will end up eating something you don’t like the taste of. And your diet and what your taste buds have become accustomed to will affect how difficult you find it. But persevere, and trust me, you will grow to love foods you use to hate. When I first tried Kale, I wasn’t impressed. It’s now an essential part of my daily diet.
9.) You will miss certain foods
A plant based diet is full of food that is not only rich in nutrients, but provides a cornucopia of flavours and textures you will love. You really can’t beat taste of freshly prepared food. But that doesn’t mean you won’t miss McDonalds, or other fast food. 7 months on, and I still have moments where I could happily eat a large McDonalds meal with a strawberry milkshake. But I remember point number 2. What nutrients will I get from eating it? The answer? Nothing. So what’s the point? Is the few moments after you’ve swallowed and before the taste has faded really worth your long term health? There are plenty of alternatives that taste just as good. Different, but just as good.
Making wholesale changes to your life is never an easy or quick process. Laura and I have made great strides to changing the way we live for the better, but we still have a long way to go, and still have a lot to learn. I hope the above advice will help you take those first steps to a long and healthy life.
If you want to ask Laura or myself a question about our experience, or simply want to comment about this article, you can find us on twitter (@tobysmith69 and @LauraE69).