Monday, July 31, 2017

Amazing Weight Loss by an Amazing Person!

Amazing Weight Loss by an Amazing Person!

As you may know, I really try to focus on eating for health, energy, and longevity! However, many people need to lose weight. According to the CDC, more than 2 of 3 American adults are overweight, more than 1 in 3 are obese, and 1 in 3 American kids are overweight. Most weight loss efforts are unsuccessful because deprivation can't last. There is a solution!

I am so happy to share Heather Goodwin's AMAZING HEALTH and WEIGHT LOSS success story following the PLANT BASED WHOLE FOODS way of eating! As you'll see, she had tried everything, and this is the way of eating that finally works. She loves all the great doctors: GregerEsselstynCampbell (author of The China Study), Ornish, (clinician, researcher, and author), McDougall, and more, and attributes this final success to Chef AJ (FB page), a woman who is brilliant with healthy food in the kitchen!


Heather has "released" almost 300 pounds!

Now, sit back, and get ready to be awed and inspired by Heather's lovely story that she was kind enough to share :) 

At what age did you become overweight, and/or begin to stress about your weight?

I have always been fat, for as long as I can remember. I was a cute fat baby with rolls and a chubby adorable toddler, but by the time I got to elementary school I found out that being fat was not cute at all. I was teased and bullied, and went home and drowned my sorrows in baloney sandwiches and reruns of Gilligan’s Island. By the time I turned 11, my parents became alarmed that I was not “growing out of my baby fat” and they gave me my first diet book, Richard Simmon’s Never Say Diet. I was very motivated to try to take off weight by then and I read it cover to cover. I took off about 20 lbs, but they came back, and brought along a few friends. That was the beginning of my career as a lifelong yo-yo dieter.

Briefly, what other methods of getting healthier or losing weight did you try? How has this experience been different?

For every crazy way that exists to take off weight, I have most likely tried it. I tried diet pills (including risking my life taking Fen-Phen) Atkins, Weight Watchers, TOPS, Deal and Meal, the Cabbage Soup Diet, counting calories, counting fat grams, counting carbs, and counting myself as a failure every time I would not be able to stay on my “plan”. They all insisted they were not diets, but “lifestyles”.  The difference this time is that I am happy and satisfied and eating highly nutritious food, so that I CAN actually stay on this way of eating, which truly is a new lifestyle for me.

How did you first come across or get introduced to this way of eating?

Back in college, I was introduced to John Robbin’s excellent book, Diet for a New America. That book changed my life in many ways as I was first exposed to the cruelty of animal agriculture and the lies of the meat, dairy, and egg industries lobbying boards. At that time, I decided I wanted no part of it, and became a vegetarian. Sadly, even with that knowledge and my deep desire to be a plant-based eater, I was so addicted to fast food, sugar, and processed food that I eventually went back to eating the standard American diet and felt a lot of guilt and shame from not eating in a way that was in integrity with my values.

Yes, guilt is definitely a negative emotion that pops into my mind about food. Based on your experience, what insight do you have about guilt?

I feel bad about how I ate in the past, and the harm to animals and to the planet that I participated in. I also feel really guilty about feeding my kids junk all those years and not being capable of being the mom they deserved. I have learned that I need to let go of that, though, to move on and make progress in life. We can never go back, only forward, and strive to constantly improve.

How long have you been on your whole foods journey, and what finally inspired you to try it?

After becoming a vegetarian in college briefly, I never stopped believing that a plant-based diet was the optimal diet for both health and for the planet and for the animals. I read a lot of plant-based doctor’s books, most notably Dr. Dean Ornish’s book, Eat More, Weigh Less. I went plant-based several times, but always relapsed back to my old habits after a while. I have never stopped trying to control my weight since that first diet at age 11. I have taken off between 40-80 lbs at least 20 different times, and this is my third time of taking off more than 100 lbs! I was such a compulsive eater that I could never stick with it long enough to get all the weight off. In 2009, a friend invited me to a raw vegan restaurant. I admit, it sounded horrible to me. I secretly planned a fast-food binge for after our meeting. But when I tasted the food, it was incredibly delicious. I actually sobbed on the way home because it was so good, I thought, “I could do this! I could go vegan for good and stick to this!” And I did go raw vegan, and then “fully raw” for about 15 months. I took off 140 lbs. But, because I was eating a very high fat, “gourmet” version of raw vegan, I eventually stopped taking off weight eating that way, and even regained almost half of what I had worked so hard to take off. That is when I started my YouTube channel, to get support to get back on track. And through my channel, I found out about Chef AJ and joined her Ultimate Weight Loss Program and found the method that finally has worked best for me as a severe food addict.

What are a handful of your guiding principles to your eating habits?

I eat only whole, plant-based foods, with no oil, and no processed food at all. I eat a ton of salad and leafy greens, pounds of steamed vegetables and fruit, and healthy starches like beans, brown rice, quinoa, and sweet potatoes. Chef AJ teaches us to “get off the SOFAS” which stands for no sugar (or sugar substitutes), oil, flour, alcohol, or salt. I admit that I have not managed to get rid of salt entirely, but I have greatly reduced the amount I use. I believe that food is medicine and eating this way, I get to eat a lot and still have taken off close to 300 lbs!

I think I know the answer to this question, but who is your favorite nutrition teacher?

Of course I am going to say Chef AJ, who has been not only my teacher, but also a treasured friend, mentor, and pretty much an angel to me.

Would you share other helpful influences, authors, books, movies, that especially keep you going, nutritional, or other?

I have deep respect for all of the plant-based medicine doctors whose books have guided my steps away from the grave where I was headed. I especially admire Dr. Michael Greger, Dr. McDougall, Dr. T. Colin Campbell, Dr. Caldwell B. sselstyn...ok, I admire them all! I’m a Plant-Based Medicine doctor groupie! The China Study changed my life, as well as the movie Forks Over Knives and so many others. I make it a point to immerse myself in plant-based medicine books, movies, and YouTube channels, as well as unprocessed vegan food blogs and Facebook groups. I feel that inspiration and motivation is like washing, even if you did it yesterday, you have to do it afresh every day.

Heather has "released" almost 300 pounds!
What are a few of your favorite food tips, practical and/or habitual?

I eat a lot of vegetables--a lot! I fill up on salad and raw and cooked vegetables and then I eat some healthy starch for satiety. I have learned to “start my day in a savory way” as Chef AJ teaches because the phytonutrients in greens and vegetables help to fight cravings for sugar and junk. I have also chosen to treat abstinence from animal foods, processed junk, sugar, flour, and oil much like an alcoholic abstains completely from alcohol--I never make exceptions. I would rather be completely free of it than be pulled back into the hell of morbid obesity and sickness and feeling trapped in my own body. It’s a small price to pay for the new life that I have now.

What are some steps to receive the support you need from your family, physician, workplace, and others, to achieve success?

I am very lucky because my grown children have been incredibly supportive. My advice is to ask your family directly for their support and let them know how important this is to you and how much it would mean to you. That’s what I did and I could not have asked for more supportive, loving response from them. My doctors have been great too, encouraging my efforts as they saw the dramatic improvements in my health and well-being. I think a great source of support is in social media, with the excellent Facebook groups, YouTube channels, and plant-based food blogs, and those are available to you no matter where you are in the world.

What has changed, physically/emotionally/socially? Did you stop taking meds? What benefits are you feeling?

Oh my goodness. When I started my journey, I was a very sick woman. I weighed 436 lbs, and had a BMI of almost 80!  (For reference, a “normal” BMI for a woman would be under 25.) I had a host of health problems: high blood pressure, cholesterol, and triglycerides, asthma, apnea, migraines, acne, eczema, and most especially, debilitating pain. I was in a huge amount of pain at all times, especially in my hips, back, knees and feet. I didn’t have a good night’s sleep in over 5 yrs because the pressure from lying in one position for more than an hour or so was unbearable. I could not stand more than 5 minutes and could only walk about 50 meters without wheezing and turning red faced and sweaty. I felt like I was a prisoner in my own body and that I was dying. Worst of all, I felt like it was all my fault and I did not deserve anyone’s help or compassion. Compare that to today: I have taken off over 288 lbs and am only 12 lbs from my goal weight. I take NO medications (I used to take 10! For various ailments, 3 for blood pressure alone.) I no longer have ANY of those health conditions: asthma? Gone. Same with sleep apnea, acne, eczema, pain...all completely resolved. And now I regularly walk 5-7 miles a day and love being active and pain free. I truly feel like I have a new lease on life and am having so much fun traveling and doing fun things with my kids. We recently took a trip and hiked all around Crater Lake and did some very challenging hikes. None of that would have been possible if I had not found a plant-based diet.

Assuming you thought those things would happen, what are some unexpected benefits/changes?

I could not have ever dreamed of how lovely and supportive the plant-based food community would be to me! I have received so much information, encouragement, and made so many friends. This community has added so much to my life.

Have there been any unexpected hurdles?

I have had a few times when I relapsed, and the worst one resulted in my putting back on 60 lbs! Fortunately, I have since removed that weight again, but it taught me that no matter how long you have been fighting food addiction, you can never let your guard down. The only bite I can say “no” to is the first bite; after that, the addiction is in control. I stay very strong in my resolve so that I will never go back to that sick and sad person I was who felt so hopeless and trapped.

Looking back to when you started your journey, where did you think it would take you?

Being very honest, I didn’t think that I could stick to it. Look, I am a repeat offender, I failed over and over every time I tried, and each time the weight came back on even more. The thing that made this different was that I made a promise to my mother. She was at the end of her life, and I was living with her as her caregiver. I was, once again, embarking on another attempt at a plant-based diet, and once again, struggling. She pulled me aside and said, “Heather, I love you so much. Soon, I am not going to be here to take care of you. You are doing so well right now. I need you to promise me that you are going to take care of yourself and not fall apart when I’m gone.” I fell into my mom’s soft hug and sobbed and promised her, no matter what, I would never give up trying to restore my health and my life. I still didn’t know how I could ever overcome my compulsions and stick to a plan long enough to accomplish it. I just knew that I had to persevere and keep that promise no matter how many times I fell. And in that way, the woman who gave me life, also saved it. I am eternally grateful to her.

Surely, you have helped countless people on their mission to get healthier! Was this your motivation, regarding keeping and sharing your videos?

The reason I started my YouTube channel was for accountability and support. I knew, if I had to come on and make a video every week and tell the entire internet what I weighed, that I would be way too embarrassed to keep messing up. And it totally worked! I was able to take off weight, week after week, with much less relapse and more consistency. Later, I got such wonderful comments and support that I wanted to connect with my viewers, whom I now considered my friends, in a much deeper and consistent way, so I also started a Facebook group so that we could do that.

Who or what motivates you today, and why?

I feel that self-care is the ultimate way of taking care of your family. I love my kids like crazy and I don’t want them to be tied down, taking care of a mom who didn’t take care of herself. I watched my parents go through horrible diseases that were largely a result of lifestyle choices and high meat/fat diets. My poor mom had both legs amputated and had to be a wheelchair and endured horrible kidney dialysis. My father suffered terribly with MS and ended up penniless, in a care home he hated, instead of living the wonderful life he dreamed of and worked so hard for. To honor them, I want my destiny to be the total opposite of that, and to thrive into my old age. The choices I make today are my investment in that future.

What else would you like to share with readers?

No matter how many times you have tried and fallen, I want to tell you that there is always hope. It is possible! Start today. Any tiny step in the right direction will bring you one step closer to your goal. Take it one day at a time, and get support. Believe in yourself and put all your effort on maintaining a mindset that no matter what, you will stay on your plan and be consistent. Before you know it, you will be inspiring others and helping them to save their lives, too.


Thank you, Heather, for your honesty, heart, faith, and inspiration! You are truly amazing! I know people will want to connect with you and join in the Butterfly Effect Community, so here are some ways:

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