Tuesday, August 20, 2019

On Being a Fat Vegan: There’s More to the Story…

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I’ve battled other people my entire life, over my size. I don’t really remember being thin. I gained over 70 pounds in one year around the age of 11. The doctors still really don’t know why, and since then, I have battled my weight every single day of my life.

I’ve gone through hell and back because of my weight. I’ve been made fun of publicly, I’ve been humiliated, I’ve been physically hurt, I’ve been called names by strangers. I have had people stop me in the street to tell me they have some magic pill to help me lose weight.

One day I was walking to the metro, to go home from work. A car stopped short right next to me (not a comforting thing when you are in DC). This woman quickly jumps out of her car STOPPING traffic. And starts flagging me down “HI! YOU ARE FAT AND I CAN HELP YOU!!!”

I have had members of the fat acceptance association try to recruit me. I have been asked by doctors why I let myself go. I have been told by complete strangers that they feel sorry for me.

I have been told far too many times that I’m lucky that my husband fell in love with me. People who hint that my husband is pretty amazing for looking past my weight. When we started dating we had an uphill battle with some people in our lives who did not want him dating me, because of my weight.

It’s been that way my entire life, maybe not to that extreme, but every day it seems to be a battle for me. Even over 100 pounds lighter (but still obese) I get stares, I get looks and I get comments.

There are days where it would be easier to wear a t-shirt that says “YES I know I’m fat” or “You think I’m big now, you should have seen me 120 pounds ago” or some really bad word all together. It’s frustrating, even the people who say they don’t see my weight, I have a hard time believing, it’s not because of them, it’s because I’ve been through this for 22 years of my life, and it’s hard to trust and believe anyone who tells you they don’t see your size.

I have tremendous sympathy for obese people. Not in a feeling sorry kind of way – but in a – I totally understand kind of way. The things that overweight people go through are far more than they will ever tell you or ever admit to. Most people will make fun of it, say that we should just work out or just stop eating. People have told me to pray it away, to try different diets, pills and surgery. I have been to over-eaters anonymous, weight watchers, jenny craig, TOPS, and jazzesize. I am an expert on being fat.

I think that the assumptions are generally the worst when it comes to being overweight. I have had assumptions made of me from even the most well intentioned people. When I meet someone new I become overcome with fear of if they can get past my weight. I go into doctor offices with a written out list of all the things I am doing and how much weight I’ve lost, I am constantly on the defensive.

If you are not overweight, and have made assumptions about people who are obese or overweight, I am going to encourage you to hold those assumptions. Know that MOST of the people you see who have weight to lose, know they have weight to lose. Not only that, chances are that they have tried more than you will ever try in your life, in regards to being healthy. They have cried themselves to sleep, they have contemplated ending their life, they have tried every single diet out there, they have worked out more than you could ever imagine. Chances are they are completely different than the assumptions you have made. And I promise, it’s a lot harder than you could ever know.

I wish I could say this has gone away with the vegan community. Granted, I have met some of the most gracious and wonderful people – the world outside of vegan is different all together. I would be lying if I told you that it’s sometimes hard for me to tell someone I’m a vegan because people assume that all vegans are thin – not just thin – sickly thin. There are times in which I feel that by telling someone I’m vegan, gives people this bad impression of veganism. I run through in my head the person saying “OMG I know this girl she’s vegan and she is huge!”

Granted, sometimes I get to tell my story, but there are situations almost every day that I can’t just go into my entire story. For many, I am just a fat vegan, and for many it just means that ALL vegans must be unhealthy.

Going vegan in and of itself does not promise weight loss. It will certainly help with health – eliminating animal products is one of the healthiest things you can do. But just going vegan? Won’t make you thin overnight. Learning to eat right, working out is still an important part of being healthy. Being vegan is more than losing weight – being vegan is an entire lifestyle.

Being vegan is not about my physical appearance, or my health. Being on a plant based healthy diet, is all about my physical appearance and about my health. There is a difference. And yes, you can be a fat vegan. You can be a curvy vegan, or a skinny vegan. Being vegan does not mean a certain look or a certain size. It means a certain lifestyle – a lifestyle of compassionate living. And you can be compassionate at any size, and any state of health.

I believe with out a doubt that eating a healthy plant based diet is a huge key to unlocking many health problems, including obesity. And I believe that being vegan is not a size, it’s a way to live life, a way that can include any person, no matter their religion, race, background, income level, size, shape or weight.

34 COMMENTS

  1. Angel

    Hi,
    I can sympathize. I gained a lot of weight when I was about 22 years old. I had been thin all of my life until then. I have PCOS, and recently have cut all of my eating in half and drink only unsweetened herbal tea all day. I have lost weight, but people who don’t have a weight problem don’t understand that that some of us drink only water and stay hungry half of the day to get to a size that is bigger than they are naturally.

    I am a vegetarian. I buy only free range eggs and eat dairy very sparingly as I am allergic to dairy products anyway. I just recently discovered almond sauce for my pasta. Yummy! I am planning to make some today.

    Hang in there. I think the key is to not worry what others think, which is so much easier said than done I know. God bless! 😮 )

  2. Sagan

    “I have been told far too many times that I’m lucky that my husband fell in love with me.” Of all the NERVE. It seems that no matter how we look, we’ll get railed on. If people think we’re too heavy, we’re told to eat less. If people think we’re too skinny, we’re told to eat more. If we fall somewhere in the middle category, then people will find some other physical attribute to criticize.

    I like your way of thinking, that veganism is a LIFESTYLE and not about losing weight etc. We all eat the way we do because that what’s right for each of us as individuals. And THAT is something that we should all respect, too.

  3. Happy Vegan

    Thank you leaving such an honest post and opening up and sharing something so personal with us. I am inspired by your ability to overcome and still be a happy person when so many people have treated you so horribly. I cannot imagine, I was tearing up at points because I cannot believe people have actually said those things to you.

    I have quite the opposite experience than you. Most of my family is obese, the rest are overweight. Even the children are carrying around too much extra weight — I (vegan) and the other vegetarian (a 16yo cousin) are the only slender people. It wasn’t always this way. When I was growing up everyone was at a healthy weight — and then in the last 15 years they have all gained considerable excess weight. It’s strictly diet (a crappy one), overeating and not exercising. Unlike you, none of them have tried to lose the weight or gone through what you have. If their doctor or someone else makes a suggestion, even in a nice way, they disregard it.

    Then when I come around my body is constantly scrutinized. I’m told I’m too thin or too skinny or what hurt the most: that I look like I’m a starving orphan. I am by no means dangerously thin or even too thin. I could probably stand to lose 5lbs, but, in comparisson to everyone who weighs 100 + more pounds than me, I do look small.

    I’m told I’m sickly or unhealthy and that my silly vegan diet is to blame. That because I’m vegan I’m thin (and I admit, the diet certainly has helped keep me skinny, but so has exercise and choosing the right foods — albeit crappy foods, like cokes and frenchfries are still vegan). The point I’m making though is that, you’re right — not every vegan is thin. and not ever overweight or obese person is not healthy. unhealthy and healthy comes in a variety of shapes and the size of a person is no true indicator.

    Though I felt it was important to share my story too, because it can and does go both ways. I look forward to a day when we all love ourselves and each other for who we are, and not how we look.

    Thank you for being beautiful — because you ARE beautiful, and certainly a breath of fresh air.

  4. Meredith

    Thanks for sharing this! I had weight problems as a kid, then slimmed down to a healthy weight when I went vegetarian at 11. I kept my healthy weight after going vegan at 16 and even right after my pregnancy with my son 3 years ago my weight was not an issue. But then, starting last year, I gained about 30 lbs for no apparent reason. Eating a healthy vegan diet I had no idea what could have caused it. I’ve been trying to get back to a more comfortable weight ever since because the extra 30 lbs is making me feel tired too much of the time. It’s frustrating to already be eating healthy food and still have to deal with carrying some extra weight. It’s nice to know I’m not the only vegan (not living off soda, chips, and soy ice cream) who is chubby.

  5. heather

    I feel ya sister! Thank you so much for writing such an honest piece…everywhere I have gone in my life I have been criticized for being fat…told
    “you would be so pretty if you just lost some weight”
    so exhausting constantly having to defend myself, my body, my weight
    people constantly assuming I am lazy because I am fat…when both of my sisters are smaller and do nothing, while I ride my bike EVERYWHERE
    its the world we live in, if it werent our weight, it would be our breasts are too small…etc etc
    women are on the chopping block, its sad and sickening
    stay strong, stay healthy, stay vegan
    xoxo

  6. Bonnie

    Thank you so much for writing this. It shared so much of what its like to be fat, and to grow up fat like I did. I too am a fat vegan, though I have lost some weight and I feel healthier than ever before. I too have been reluctant to tell people I was a vegan because I didn’t want them to react like my stepmom and say “well if its a diet its not working” or make veganism look unattractive to someone who has never met one before.

    I have a friend in a far away state and every time I call her she asks “So how is the vegan thing going?” And after I tell her how great it is, how I’ve never felt better, she always asks “So have you lost like crazy weight?” I haven’t called her in months.

    I am constantly challenging myself to be a healthier vegan but going vegan has freed me of so much of the guilt and fear I felt about eating. I am constantly trying new things, learning to cook, and bake 🙂 . I honestly feel better about myself than I ever thought possible so here’s to vegan pride! We are already healthier than ever before, may we continue to enjoy our beautiful vegan lives no matter what our size.

  7. crystal

    I was overweight during much of much childhood and teenage years. Though it is hard to lose weight, it’s pretty painless if you’re reasonable about it. I mean that it’s easy to eat right and exercise if you’re willing to set realistic expectations and make it a priority. Eating less can be hard and overcoming obsession with food is really hard.

    I look at it a bit like being vegan. At first it’s tough but after a few weeks or months it just becomes a part of your life. Every so often there’s a situation where you can’t be “normal” and indulge with your friends on nachos and beer (or whatever people go around indulging themselves with) but most of the time it’s actually easy. It’s just a little bit less convenient.

    Congrats on all the weight loss so far.

  8. Rick

    Thank you for sharing your feelings. As a person who has been skinny most of my life, it helped to raise my level of sensitivity to this issue.

    I began taking on weight when I reached my mid-forties. I had already cut out beer and alcohol so that was not a factor in my weight increase. It was mostly because of my sedentary job and bad eating habits.

    I found that just by cutting out all forms of soft drinks, I lost 5-10 pounds. After I became vegan, I became more conscious of how much sugar I was eating. I was surprised to discover that even many foods that are considered healthy (Quaker “Natural” Granola cereal, for example) are loaded with sugars. This has caused me to avoid all processed foods whenever possible.

    Another thing that has helped is something I learned from an ex-MD that I once met. He told me that the most important information on a food product’s nutrition label, so far as weight is concerned, is the ratio between carbs and fiber. As a rule of thumb, food in which the amount of carbs exceeds the amount of fiber by more than 7 or 8 times should be considered fattening.

    In my job as a promoter of raw, vegan, vegetarian and alternative health books, many people have told me that their health was restored after they switched to an all raw diet. Some of them follow Walker, who was an early proponent of juicing and cleansing. Others follow Anne and Brian, who place a lot of emphasis on wheatgrass as a natural health restorer.

    We have a new book coming out in March called Becoming Raw. It is by Melina and Brenda, the authors of Becoming Vegan and The New Becoming Vegetarian. Brenda is a registered dietitian and best-selling vegan author. Their new book is expected to become a standard reference for the nutritional aspects of raw food and raw food diets.

    Of course not everybody can be all raw or even all vegan all the time, but the more processed foods that are moved out of the diet and the more fresh raw fruits and vegetables that are moved in, the more improvement one should expect in terms of overall health and energy.

  9. being better vegan

    Thanks for this thought-provoking post. I have thought in my head when I see obese people, “oh if only they went vegan or raw, they’d lose so much weight”. I have since realized that it is not that easy. Although it does seem like you and others have lost weight doing this, and healthier, but the end result is not necessarily being skinny. although your internal body is hopefully healthier, cholesterol lower, etc.

    thank you for reminding us not to jump to conclusions based on appearances.

  10. Vanessa

    Thanks for this blog…I’m a chubby vegetarian and I get looks from people (especially the inlaws) when i even mention the word vegetable. I’ve started to lose weight, but I am far from my ideal size or the level of physical activity or overall health as before I had my son (the main reason for the massive weight increase). My husband is 6’1″ and 150 lbs. and very attractive. He loves how I look but I have felt like a charity case as well though I know deep down that I’m not.
    Since I’ve been able to work out more and started studying herbs, I’ve been losing weight easier than my past attempts (10 lbs in 6 weeks).
    I wish you the best!

  11. Adrienne

    This is my favorite post from you. It was so honest and real. I’ve been through some of the same things and still go through some. This makes me relate to you even more. This is amazingly “said”

    “And yes, you can be a fat vegan. You can be a curvy vegan, or a skinny vegan. Being vegan does not mean a certain look or a certain size. It means a certain lifestyle – a lifestyle of compassionate living. And you can be compassionate at any size, and any state of health.”

    When I tell people that I am now living life as a vegan they instantly say “well can you loose weight by doing that” I’m obese so I always feel like thats an instant stab but I realize that I’m on my own journey and I’m making positive changes and I remind myself how far I have come. And like you said which just makes my heart smile “Being vegan does not mean a certain look or a certain size. It means a certain lifestyle”

    Amazing Amazing Amazing.

  12. Green Pea

    What an honest post.

    Isn’t it quite possible that your husband is lucky that you fell in love with him?!

    I’m in a different boat than you…the Standard American Diet is responsible for me getting too thin (via restricting, overexercising, you name it) and a vegan diet has helped me finally get a healthy relationship with food and yes, even put on a few needed pounds. Still, whenever anyone meets me and finds out that I am vegan, the automatic response is, “Oh, that’s why you are so skinny.”

    No, actually, that’s why I’m so healthy.

    Thank you for helping to break down the stereotypes about veganism. One thing we all have in common is the size of our hearts!

  13. jen

    Wonderful post! I appreciate your honesty and all that you do to promote the power to change! Health is a choice… rather, a series of choices.

  14. L

    Thanks for this post Nat. I recall one day when I had been exercising and felt amazing about myself, then I walked past a few teens and one started singing “wide load.” I find it amazing how I remember such an insignificant incident so clearly a decade later.

  15. Lisa

    This is a fantastically powerful and rich post, dear Natala. I so admire your courageous honesty.

    I will personally take to heart much of what you have expressed, for I am guilty of having stereotyped people based on their appearance. (I now realize that my family-of-origin (as well as society at large) instilled this in me from a very early age. While my egoic mind still has a tendency to revert to that strategy from time-to-time, I am now able to catch when it happens and switch from my head to my heart.)

    Thank you for sharing your experience with us. What you have written here is a valuable wake-up call regarding the need to extend compassion to all beings on the planet.

    What others have shared in the comments is great, too. The most powerful thing we have to share is our own truth. We have a lot to learn from each other!

  16. Kc

    I so appreciate your honesty.

    I’ve always been heavy and at some points…..really heavy. It is hard to have people give you “the look” when you say that you’re vegetarian or vegan.

    I really have gotten to the point where I honestly feel that anyone who has a problem with my weight can go and **** themselves. I don’t comment on what a simpleton and complete jack*** they are…..so I would appreciate them leaving me the *** alone.

    I’m sure your husband is just as lucky to have found you as you him. Youth and beauty fade……..horrible and idiotic last forever.

  17. Liz

    I appreciate your post so much … thanks for such an honest post, Natala. I, too, faced a lot of discrimination because I’m overweight. It led me to starve myself when I was a teenager, and although I lost a tonne of weight I was always unwell.

    Now I’ve come to accept that this is just the way I am. I’m semi-vegan, semi-carnivorous as you know 😉 I’m not sure if I can ever go completely vegan, but I try to do that 3 days a week at least. Eating like this has made me feel so so so much better. With my parents both being diabetic or borderline diabetic, it’s a conscious move to make things better.

    You’re an inspiration girl! Keep on workin’!

  18. Amy

    Thank you again, Natala, for such a beautifully-expressed post. I just wrote (although not like you have been able to here) about the same thing. For me, it has always been shocking to work SO HARD for my weight and my health and then have people refuse to believe me.

    You know, you get “used to it” from family, but the people it hurts the most from? Well, for me anyway? Doctors. The people you go to for help, and they refuse to believe you or show any respect for you. Sorry…I’m babbling.

    This was very good, Natala. Thanks for writing it.

  19. Silvana

    Hi Nat!
    Thank you for sharing this post with strangers like me 🙂 I will only recommend that you google Gerson therapy, which will help you get healthier and, as a consequence, you will get to the weight your body needs. It’s a vegan way of life that includes detoxification of the liver. That’s the place I work for, extremely amazing! 🙂
    See you in Vegan Zone next Sat,
    Silvana.

  20. J

    Close to a twelve months ago, I dropped all my baby pounds. At this point 13 pounds lighter, I would certainly like to drop an additional 10 lbs in order to achieve my college pounds. Regarding the past twelve months I have been faithfully walking not one but two miles a day on the tread mill putting on a pounds vest. However the scale didn’t budge. So right after reaching a plateau, I decided it’s time for a fresh strategy. And with all the boasting regarding Nintendo wii Fit, maybe it is time for the high tech strategy to weight loss. Do you think this might be a great way? What do you think I could do?

  21. Denise

    Wow – people can be so judgemental. It’s pretty horrible to say that you’re not “worthy” of your husband – you need a good come back to that.

    The problem when I went vegan is that actually not eating meat didn’t bother me – it was giving up potato crisps, bread, popcorn that was hard. I started eating a whole tub of hommous every day (52g of fat) and wondering why I didn’t lose weight like I thought vegans “should”.

    I started eating more raw foods and the weight started coming off slowly (almost 10kgs so far). I stopped thinking that I could eat anything “as long as it was vegan”… I started with just adding in salads with every meal – no matter what that other meal was, and I started juicing fruit and veg – actually making smoothies in my blender was better because I kept in the fibre and helped me feel fuller.

    My strategy now is to be really gentle with myself, because I still have weight to lose. I hate the gym so I bounce on a trampoline at home and do yoga podcasts. I still binge now and then, but life is pretty good…

  22. black veggie

    I cannot thank you enough for writing this. I TOTALLY identify with what you are saying. Except for the husband part (still looking for the right guy). I have been overweight most of my life. When I was a freshman in high school, I became a vegetarian, and it was not accepted well. I was told that “black people aren’t vegetarians”. That “all black people eat meat”. And the worst “I was too fat to be a vegetarian”. My sister even questioned if I knew how to spell “vegetarian”. I received no support to say the least. To this day, I am still the only non-meat eater in my family. The remarks became so hurtful, that I just stopped telling people. Fat people get better treatment than “fat vegetarians”. So I stopped telling people all together. After nearly 16 years of being a vegetarian, I decided to become a vegan. And it’s like I started opening myself up for ridicule all over again! Recently I was at my routine volunteer site (serving meals weekly to the homeless – I just love to connect!). I was asked to exchange someone’s white meat for dark meat. Well, I had no idea which was which, so I asked for help. Do you know the entire line shut down! After asking for help several times, and people barking at me “give him the dark meat”, I finally said “I don’t eat chicken! And I don’t know what is “dark” and what is “light”. Do you know the entire line shut down! You would have thought I had the plauge or something. All eyes were on me as if I had said a curse word in church. You know what I mean? They were just beside themselves. It turned into this whole ordeal, ending with “Well you must be eating something, to be as big as you are.” It was difficult to hold back the tears. It’s like dang! Can I just live my life? I don’t ask people why they eat meat. So why all the ridcule because I’ve choosen an alternative lifestyle? Once a co-worker was upset with me, and casually stated “I thought vegetarians were suppose to be skinny.” That hurt deeply! To make it worse, I had recently lost 25 pounds when she said it! Overall, I have lost 41 pounds so far (my goal is to loose 89 more, and I know that I have strengh – with God’s help – to do it!). So, I know that I have gone on and on, but I just can’t thank you enough for sharing your story. And your right, we are fat, and we know it. We don’t need people to tell us. I must say though, about 8 years ago, I had lost a lot of weight (my Dad made me promise not to loose anymore weight, because I was starting to look unhealthy). I noticed that as a small girl, I was treated so much better. People opened doors for me, I was spoken to, treated with kindness. Now that I am currently a fat girl, I get no respect. And when I tell you it hurts, it really, really hurts! I have to tell you, I was on a mission tonight. I was on a mission to find out if there were any fat vegan celebrities. I was going to use it as a defense the next time someone called me fat. But I found your story, and I couldn’t be more greatful. Thank you! Thank you a million times over. I have such peace knowing that someone identifies with the pain. But I pray that we both (and anyone else like us) no longer have to endure the pain.

  23. Tim

    My wife and I turned vegan about 6 months ago. I have no regrets and only happiness in that decision. As with many areas of my life, my wife informed, educated, and encouraged me toward positive change, including dietary change. Indeed, since becoming vegan, I’ve been able to get off of several medications that were, in their turn, threatening my liver and who knows what else. My last blood results were, in the words of my doctor, stellar.

    As a fellow vegan, I want to join in this discussion as the husband of an incredible wife who gained weight and who is now the focus on ongoing taunting by complete strangers that are clueless and excessively rude. I can’t count anymore the number of times she has had to tell me about total strangers who feel it is their moral right (or something) to just come up to her and offer their opinions.

    When I grew up, we were never taught that this kind of social behavior was acceptable. It was only recently that I learned that people actually do this kind of thing. Maybe I’m just naive; but I hurt for my wife and the hostility she has to cope with constantly.

    Like the writer of this article, we honestly do not know what caused the weight gain. Our best guess is products with aspartame, which is no longer in her diet. My wife eats well, does not overeat, and works to stay in shape. Like many, she has tried every conceivable method to lose weight, pretty much to no avail.

    For people to assume that she’s lazy, gluttonous, etc. is beyond sinful. And for our society as a whole to judge obesity as the exclusive fault of the individual is, to me, another sign of our fall from grace and a reflection of our increasing social ignorance and collective denial about all of that. It’s scary that so many do not truly question and condemn the number of insane ingredients that are passed along as “food” in this world. So many people seem so willing to blame others on the basis of stereotypes rather than to aim their sights at the corporate culprits who (I think) may be literally leading us to extinction by the dietary choices and misinformation they put on our menu of options.

    I am also appalled, although not surprised, by the number of men who are willing to abandon their wives or girlfriends because of weight issues. We have some real maturity problems in our society. I married my wife because I love her; and I will love her for the remainder of our days together. As I mentioned before, no one I’ve ever met has been so influential and literally life-saving. Any concerns I have about her weight are related to what she has to go through because of it.

    And I often feel very helpless in that regard. Like many, she has self-doubts, and I don’t always know how to reassure her. It’s as if I’m competing with the shallow society she has to deal with daily. This whole situation is beyond words that I’m inclined to use in a public forum. There are certainly times when I just want to throw people against a wall and pummel them for their ignorance.

    It’s interesting that when she and I are in public together, people do not come up and suddenly offer their snide commentary, although the looks are obviously there. This is cowardice on their part. I hope that when people come up to any of you and offer their grand and unsolicited “wisdom,” that you remind yourselves that it is only the most vain, shallow, and cowardly person who would venture to express themselves in what I consider such deviant behavior.

    I’ve read the other comments with this article, and while I cannot say I have had the direct experience of what you go through, I do see that pain daily in my wife’s eyes. I wish I had magic words for you. I wish I had magic words for her. The best I know to do right now is to enlighten others and try to set the record straight.

    I do know what it’s like to feel despair, although not for the same reasons as those of you who are writing here. And I did find in those times that there are still decent people on this planet. I hope you’re able to meet them as well. It is their opinions, and only theirs, that really matter. Being gentle with yourselves is the best advice I read in these comments. First and foremost, be your own best friends.

  24. Kalinda

    Tim, thanks for your post from June about your wife’s experience with weight. My sister is “obese” and I have always been rail thin. We both are vegetarian and have similar diets and lifestyles, but I have had to watch her endure the pain and poor-self image of being overweight in this society all her life, while never having to endure any of that herself. I think that the “man’s perspective” you give would be comforting and self-affirming to many women who feel they can never find love as long as they are overweight. You are an example of true love between a man and a woman, something many people in this shallow society can never experience because they are to narrow minded. Thank you.

  25. Nicole

    I felt so alone about being a vegan and overweight. I have been a vegetarian for 10 years and a vegan for only 6 months. I did a 30 day juice detox a few months ago and lost no weight. My brother did the same detox and lost 20 lbs. Everyone looks at me like I must not have been committed to it and must have been cheating. I am so frustatd with my weight and about not having any positive results with this new lifestyle I have chosen. I am doing it for the animals, which is my sole purpose so its my motivation to keep dong it. I am so embarrassed to tell people I am vegan becuae I am so heavy.

  26. Robin

    Wow, I really related to this entry. I found your blog through a Twitter link on the 21-day challenge. As an overweight vegetarian, this blog entry title was a must-read. I so relate to your story; eleven was the age when I gained weight, and I’ve long gotten the comment on how “Aren’t vegetarians usually thin?” To my face.

    There’s such a great deal of ignorance; healthy people come in all sizes.

    I thank you so much for your beautifully written blog. More power to you.

  27. April

    Thanks so much for your honesty and openness! I don’t think I’ve ever heard a person who is vegan, or someone who eats very healthy approach this topic. I too have struggled with weight even when I had a very healthy diet, I’m not vegan, but I eat lots of veggies and avoid processed and refined foods, sugar, and junk food. There have been times I’ve exercised daily, eaten healthy and still gained weight. I have had people ask me if I’m eating right, exercising, etc. only to find out that I was doing way better than they did in these areas, and of course they were skinny compared to me. I think honestly sometimes they didn’t believe me.

    Here is my story about weight and hypothyroidism. I was diagnosed with hypothyroidism about 10 years ago after I had my daughter. I had gained about 30 lbs. and couldn’t lose it. Once I got my thyroid levels corrected the weight came off with exercise and good diet. I mention this in case someone here with weight issues hasn’t looked into having their thyroid levels checked. There is currently some controversy over what the correct lab ranges of thyroid hormone should be. Most labs say the range is 1-5, however, the American society of endocrinologists have said that the levels should be no higher than 2. A lot of doctors will tell you your thyroid is fine – but if your levels are above 2 you are most likely hypothyroid. It is estimated that hypothyroidism is at epidemic levels in the US. Recently the drug Armour thyroid was pulled from the shelves. Armour has both of the thyroid hormones T3 and T4 in it. I had to start taking a compounded drug which wasn’t as effective as the Armour for me and I gained 15 lbs. in one month! Armour has since then been put back on the shelf, and I’m working on getting my dose back up. I’ve only lost a few pounds, but have stopped gaining. I mention this because I hope I can help people who like me have struggled with weight despite a healthy diet and exercise. I also have tried eliminating wheat, as wheat allergy is common in people who have weight issues. If my thyroid levels are correct eliminating wheat does seem to help me lose weight. In recent years I have still struggled with my weight even with my hypothyroidism under control, however I think I would be much heavier if I weren’t on medication for it. People still judge me, even when I tell them I have a metabolic disorder! It’s just never good enough for them.

    I’ve come to realize that I need to accept myself for who I am, my size, shape, etc. If they don’t like what I look like then that’s their problem! My husband loves me and says I look gorgeous, (at 40 lbs. over weight.) He has helped me so much to accept myself the way I am. As someone said here, there is skinny unhealthiness and those who are larger and more healthy. You are doing all you can do to be the most healthy you, and that is wonderful! You are an inspiration, thank you!!

  28. Jayne

    Thank you for your post. I am in total awe that you managed to lose 120lbs – you’re amazing!

    I’m on day 2 of a vegan diet trying to get healthy, hopefully losing 1 of the roughly 90lbs I have to lose along the way too. I too thought that if I subscribed to the whole ‘vegan’ thing the weight would just drop off me. However, I’m typing this with a chilled glass of white wine on my right and a bowl of nachos to my left. Probably not ideal!

    Quick message to Tim – I’d forgotten that men really do fall in love for keeps. Thank you for being you.

  29. Dawn

    I am not a vegan, however do enjoy many vegan meals. I am and have been for some time now on a quest to better my health. So far, it has been pretty successful.

    although I have never been obese, I have been overweight, and I was teased a lot as a child. Even as an adult when I had a desk job and was at my heaviest (non pregnant) weight there were comments.

    I recently turned 30 years old, and began making changes to my lifestyle at 29, after the birth of my 2nd child. My cholesterol was too high, at a whopping 235, even with beginning to eat better. It was then I decided to do more research on foods, and began to work out regularly.

    I am now at a much more healthy cholesterol level between 180 and 190, and several pan sizes smaller.

    I eat lots of fresh fruits and veggies, and use soy milk (I have a moderate degree of lactose intolerance, so anything more than a little cheese upsets my stomach)

    Now I get comments asking how I did it.

    several years ago, at the worst part of my life when my 1st husband was terminally ill, I strictly controlled everything that went into my mouth, eating no more than 1200 calories a day, and working out (mostly cardio) 3 days a week. I am 5’5.5″ and I was down to 118 lbs. according to my bmi I was at the low range of normal. I had never been as small, and then I got the opposite end of the spectrum. people telling me I was too skinny, that I needed to eat, etc. mean comments like “be careful in the shower, you might go down the drain” All I knew was that I felt good, and proud of my accomplishment.

    After the death of my husband, I began to put weight back on, as I slowly stopped controlling every little thing I ate. I met a great man, and began a new relationship, became happy, and gained a little too much weight back, and then became pregnant. I didn’t even know I was overweight until the ob told me not to gain more than 29 lbs since I started out overweight!

    I am now in the same size I was in when I was 118 lbs, but weigh nearly 10 lbs more than that (I think it’s muscle) I do weight training now.

    I do not, and have not counted calories in a long time, since it appears that eating the right foods seems to be the key for me instead of obssessing over the numbers.

    I hope to continue to learn more healthy recipes, and meeting great people like you. Thank you for your story.

  30. lolly

    THANK YOU. Thank you so much for this post. I want to give you a hug for writing this post. I know exactly what you are describing, and unfortunately have spent many a day and night crying over the issue. I have the same feelings you do – people will think that I am not really a “vegan” if they see me in person – “There’s no such thing as an overweight vegan!” etc. It’s a daily struggle. And now, thanks to this post, I realize that there are other healthy overweight vegans out there too. Great post – so honest and in the spirit of sharing and love – and wonderful comments too. You shared your experience, and your commenters have done the same.

    Thank you againa and again~

  31. Jennifer

    Hi! I have been eating a vegan diet for awhile and haven’t lost an ounce. However, I feel great, sleep well and have more energy, which translates to more patience with my kids.

    I think regardless of the make up of your diet, weight loss is achieved by monitoring “calories-in, calories-out.” I find myself gravitating towards guacamole, nut butters, sprouted bread, dried fruits and, oh – beer and wine – all vegan, so I can see how anyone could be, or become, a fat vegan. I still need to watch my calories!

  32. Jude

    Thank you for sharing your story. It’s really brave of you. I’ve been small my whole life, so I don’t have the same experiences you do, but as a gay transman I know what it’s like to be terrified of every new encounter, and to live with the knowledge that few really understand what it’s like to be me. Also, I’ve seen what my closest friends go through on account of their size. I hope that we can evolve towards a more accepting world where people are realized as individuals and respected accordingly. I don’t think many people realize that all the billions of people crawling all over the planet have minds like theirs with hopes and desires and fears and needs just like theirs. I hope I can be part of the changing of that.

Nat
I went on a plant based diet after diabetes almost took my life. Now, almost 2 years later not only have I reduced my type 2 diabetes symptoms, I have lost close to 200 pounds (and still losing). This is a place where I write about my journey as I continue the quest for health, and living a good life for today, and long into the future. Get hold of me on nat@cleanseplan.com

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