Carrie's Blog: Eyes opened a little wider

My eye-opening picture. This was taken at the end of May.
My eye-opening picture. This was taken at the end of May.
Me with a couple of friends at the 40's Party. This was two months after the picture above.
Me with a couple of friends at the 40's Party. This was two months after the picture above.

BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - Most of you know of my weight loss journey/struggle. I've struggled on almost every diet, especially when I was younger. Over the past two years, I've been working out about five days a week and trying to eat right. The working out part is pretty easy for me because I actually like working out.  The eating part is more difficult because, well, I like to eat.

I had started to feel heavy, and when I looked a picture from an event I was emceeing, I said to myself, "Self, it's time to get back on the proverbial wagon!"

A few months ago, I started logging EVERYTHING I ate, again. I logged back into the FREE App 'My Fitness Pal', and I've been shedding my unwanted return pounds. My saving grace was that I never stopped working out or trying to make healthy decisions most of the time.

Honestly, the App helps keep me honest. I was eating WAY too much in single sittings, AND I was eating little things here and there. Those here and there nibbles will pack on the pounds quickly.

I'll be the first to admit, this is a struggle for me, but I have found that logging everything I eat is a tried and true success for me.

I have heard just about everything is good for us and most everything is bad for us at some point in my life. A good thing that comes with age, is a little more wisdom. I try to listen to my body. What does it crave? How do I feel after I eat certain foods?

I know I felt better when I was following a pescatarian diet (vegetarian, with fish and dairy). I wasn't sure I was quite ready for that again, but I was just trying to eat more veggies and low fat, lean proteins with limited carbs.

I was getting used to being hungry again. It's pretty neat how good everything tastes when you're really hungry. Looking back, I had been eating to stay almost full. I wasn't really thinking about what I was eating or how it was affecting me or my body.

A couple of months ago, it was rainy (like it has been much of the summer), and I got on Netflix. I had started watching "Forks Over Knives" over a year ago. I got side tracked and forgot about it. I saw it in my 'Instant Que' and decided to push play. I got to watch quite a few documentaries. I mean, I watched hours of food documentaries. From there, I honestly feel like my eyes were opened wider than they've ever been opened.

That one push of the 'play' button has changed my entire outlook because I watched so many more eye opening documentaries. My personal favorite was "Hungry For Change". They aren't the preachy types of documentaries; they were very informative. I feel like I learned SO much watching these documentaries.

So, I am trying my hand at a Plant Strong diet, void of any animal products. To simplify, I'm following a vegan diet and juicing some.

I've been doing this vegan diet for eight weeks now and have been tracking my calories, and I've managed to lose weight and feel great. I have been working out still four to five days a week.

My main objective for this change was to lower my cholesterol. My cardiologist (family genes) suggested a vegan diet, and then I watched those documentaries. So, it just seemed to make sense to me. I can't tell you how many times I've said what MANY of you are probably saying as you read this…"I could never be a vegan. I love meat too much…and dairy!"

The two questions I get most are: "Where do you get your protein?" and "What do you eat then?"

*My protein comes from veggies, beans, nuts, etc. There really is plenty of protein in a plant-strong, low-fat vegan diet. Yes, it is a commitment. And no, it's not easy to go out to eat. In fact, it's very difficult. There aren't many restaurants that have many options other than a salad. Let's face it, there's not  a demand for vegan cooking in the South Mississippi. Heck, there's not much of a demand for vegan cooking in the entire South.

In the documentary "Hungry for Change", one of the men said, think of it as ADDING foods into your diet. If you think of it as things you can't have, it'll be really tough and nearly impossible. It is a complete mind shift, and it takes a little while.

I don't judge people who eat meat. Honestly, I don't care what others eat. I'm a realist, and I fully realize there are strict meat-eaters. That's fine with me.

I'm making this change for me. I had my cholesterol taken in June (it was high), and I will have it taken again at the beginning of September. For me, that's what I'm most looking forward to seeing is how much I can change my health simply by what I put in my body.

I do try to stay away from artificial sweeteners, high fructose corn syrup, anything processed (which is VERY difficult in today's world). To reiterate, a vegan diet is no animal or animal by-products. I do eat honey, which is debatably non-vegan. And, I do still use some leathers, though I'm not sure I'll purchase anymore. I just don't know; only time will tell.

This isn't a political statement or being done for any other reason than for ME to attempt to control MY health. I just do not want to be loaded up on pills to control this and that and blah, blah, blah. So…it's a journey, and they'll probably be slip ups.

I am okay with that. I'm happy. I feel better than I have in years, and I'm learning a whole new lifestyle and cooking new delicious and healthy dishes.

Here's a list of links should this story have piqued your curiosity:

For vegan recipes here are a few links that I have found helpful:

*Note: I am NO doctor or medical professional. This blog is meant to tell my story, what I'm doing and hopefully inspire people to become healthier. If you feel inspired to start an exercise program or drastic meal plan change, you should consult your physician first.