My cholesterol levels were borderline for years. I had been following a so-called “healthy” diet of poultry, fish, low-fat dairy, and eggs. Of course I would eat salads, fruit, oatmeal, but those foods were not the main attraction on my plate. Although I was only 39, I was always tired and mentally foggy. No matter how much caffeine or sugar I consumed, I still felt lousy and still had borderline cholesterol levels. I knew I need to change my diet, but I had a conflict in my mind between my belief system and the truth. I carried a belief that “I couldn’t live without cheese and meat” which translated into “If I stopped eating cheese and meat, it would lower my quality of life.” This belief system was based on fear, not reality. Instead, the truth was and still is that “Being unhealthy (or sick) will lower my quality of life.”
After experimenting with different detox cleanses, I noticed I felt best when I was eating the “transition” diet of fresh vegetables and fruits, before going back to my so-called “healthy” diet. Having this evidence helped to begin chipping away at that fear-based thinking. There were other questions I had to ask myself, like “What do I have to live for?” and “Is what I have to live for important enough for me to live well?”
In July 2012, about a month after my 41st birthday, I watched two documentaries within the same week. I first watched “Forks Over Knives” and learned how a whole food, plant-based dietary pattern could not only prevent but also reverse many chronic diseases. I was equipped with additional information that eating more kale and other plants would improve my health, but the catalyst of making the switch came when I realized how I was participating in the needless suffering and death of other sentient beings. The documentary “Earthlings” hit me at my core: How could I be a true animal lover if I was also eating them? After all, I was devoted to animals, like my three rescue dogs that I love dearly. Animals are my best friends and family, and they want to live and not feel pain or suffer. When the connection was made between their suffering and my plate, I immediately switched to a plant-based vegan diet and I’ve been following this dietary pattern ever since.
Within a week of starting my new lifestyle, I noticed my mental clarity improved and energy levels increased significantly. I had so much get-up-and-go, I literally did not know what to do with myself. I eventually took up cycling and at the age of 42 started racing competitively. Within a month of the dietary change, my cholesterol levels moved within the healthy range.
Adopting this new lifestyle not only changed me personally, it changed me professionally. Amazed at the results, I resigned from my corporate job after 22 years and went back to school to earn a master’s in Nutrition Sciences. I immersed myself in the science of how food impacts both human health and the health of our planet. I authored a book called The Plant-Based Workplace, and founded My True Self, a socially conscious nutrition and wellness company where I provide nutrition education, health coaching, and corporate wellness consulting.
I kept myself from living my best life when I thought, “I can’t live without cheese and meat.” Because the truth is that my quality of life has improved 10-fold since giving up cheese and meat.
“Why do you stay in prison when the door is so wide open? Move outside the tangle of fear-thinking. The entrance door to the sanctuary is inside you.” —Rumi