Monday, April 22, 2013

Angel's [Plant-Based] Journey to Better Health

During the end of 2012, I posted an infographic about being vegan. I truly believe in people coming in to your life and out of your life at the right moments, and this one was of them. A woman responded my tweet and said she was considering going plant-based due to cardiac issues. I offered my help, and realized she was in the Austin area. Over the next few weeks, we talked via Twitter, and eventually on the phone. I helped her get in contact with my vegan physician, Dr. Linda Carney, and she made an appointment to go see her.

We finally met up in mid-February for some vegan lunch at Casa De Luz here in Austin, Texas. I feel like I've known her for years, and it's been amazing to support her on this journey.

LRJ: What made you decide to go plant-based?

Angel: I like to say I was "shocked" in to going plant-based (pardon the play on words). I started to have major cardiac issues, including Atrial Fibrillation. It had been a chronic issue, but when I experienced it with severe chest pain, I knew I had to make a drastic change. Facing the prospect of different invasive, life-threatening procedures and medications, I opted to choose food to treat my disease. Here I am, pounds lighter and practically medication free. I love it.

LRJ: You've had some health problems in the past, and it's been a long battle, but what make this lifestyle choice different from the others you have tried? 

Angel: Most "diets" I went on were based on eating more meat than anything else. I would lose weight, but my blood pressure would shoot up because of the processed meats (and meat in general). I was always battling with water retention and other heart issues. I would drink protein shakes loaded with chemicals and become bloated and sick. I struggled with food addiction, as well. Attempting to lose weight by trying to just eat less of food that I was addicted to just wasn't working. Eating a plant-based diet has allowed me to get rid of addiction. The beautiful thing is that when I do want to eat, I can do so without guilt. The plant-based diet is a gift.

LRJ: What has been the biggest health benefits or changes that you've noticed since going vegan? 

Angel: Getting off my heart meds has been awesome. Having increased energy to workout is a huge plus. Weight loss is ALWAYS wonderful. I'm also more confident. I say what I need a lot easier.

LRJ: Did you face any challenges in the beginning?

Angel: I did have some challenges with family and friends, but everyone was supportive for the most part. I had to get out of my own way and believe I could actually not eat meat. I had to do a lot of research and commit to learning about making such a substantial lifestyle change, but even that was manageable. I think the deep desire to be free from my health issues made the transition a lot easier.

LRJ: Tell me about your blog, Still Fat and 40ish. What inspired you to create this blog, and how has it evolved as your journey has brought you to plant-based nutrition?

Angel: I created the blog because I realized I was approaching "The Big 4-0" and felt woefully unfulfilled. I wanted to connect with other older women with aspirations to make a fresh start. I wanted to focus on beauty tips, starting over, fashion, and health (of every kind). When I began to struggle because of my issues and became plant-based, I began to feel so different and rejuvenated, I wanted to share my experiences. ALL of my posts were about some aspect of my plant-based life experience. I love making and sharing recipes. I definitely need to post more! I really need to talk about how my plant-based life has helped with freeing me from food addiction. That is MAJOR!

LRJ: I recommended you to my all-time favorite hero, Dr. Linda Carney! What has she taught you and how has she impacted your journey? 

Angel: She taught me vigilance. She gave me a lot of pointers about how other, non-food related areas of my life contribute to (or hinder) my health. Adequate sleep, using my CPap machine diligently, and daily physical activity will help me reach my overall health goals. She taught me that.

LRJ: What advice would you give to others who are considering making a lifestyle change? 

Angel: I would say that it's important to consider this lifestyle carefully and for the right reasons. It's not just a weight loss program. This way of life changes you completely and you will face things about yourself and others that you don't really like, but need to deal with. Friendships and familial relationships might be strained, but it's necessary to be selfish. This is only life we're given. It has to be the most important thing. Be ready for ridicule. Be prepared for lack of accommodation. Educate yourself. Prepare yourself. Interact with others on the same journey. Do what it takes to make the transition, or go cold turkey. Whatever works. Just DO IT! Time waits for no one.

LRJ: Have you shared your plant-based knowledge with anyone else in your life? 

Angel: I share everyday and constantly. I'm learning to share it only when asked and I don't judge anyone for eating meat. I know of one person who has actually opted to become vegan because of my sharing. My husband eats healthier and his constitution has improved. He's not completely vegan, but more and more, he's seeing the difference in the way he feels when he eats better. I know that I have inspired many people to live a better life for themselves and for the people they love.

LRJ: Anything else you'd like to add? 

Angel: This has been an amazing journey so far. I am grateful for people like you who've helped me along the way. It was so important to have your support when I started. You made me believe I could do this. I appreciate you.

Want to follow Angel in her journey? Check out her blogGoogle+, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram!

Kelsey is a passionate vegan living in Houston, Texas, spreading the word about the benefits of eating a healthy, plant-based diet. She's also a minimalist enthusiast, a self-proclaimed financial guru of her household, and founder of The Little Red Journal.

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