My sister Nadia and I
I distinctly remember the first day I decided I was going to become Vegetarian. I had just received my first newsletter from GoVeg.com and was set on never eating meat again. My oldest sister Nadia had come over to the house and somehow made the decision that we were all going out to lunch at a local BBQ joint. I angrily ate my baked potato convinced of the fact that she would never understand or accept my new-found Vegetarianism. Now two years later she is a Vegan Firefighting Mom, who encourages me to avoid animal products and I wonder how I could have ever doubted her supportive nature.
How did you first hear about The Engine 2 Diet?
One of the guys, Matt Barnes, on my crew mentioned one day that he was going to try to do the Engine 2 diet for four weeks. He was talking about it, it sounded interesting, so I asked him I could read the book. I started reading it that day at the station and was very surprised by what I read.
Was it a difficult transition from you and your family’s previous diet?
Yes. We ate junk food, plain and simple. We thought we were relatively healthy, but we weren’t. So, after reading the book I decided to give it a solid, honest, try. I went home, and cleaned out my entire cabinet and refrigerator, gave everything to my neighbors, and was left with mostly just spices. Then I went to the store and bought myself a whole new pantry. I restocked my shelves with healthy whole food plant-based items and started experimenting with new recipes. I had to learn new ways of cooking, what was good, what was bad, and I had to get creative when it came to putting food together. It was a challenge at times, but kinda fun. I learned to make some of my favorite meals from a whole food plant base diet, and they came out great!
Has it been difficult to share what you’ve learned from eating a plant strong diet with family and friends?
Yes. My body experienced many wonderful changes after going to a plant-based diet, and I was very eager to share it with my friends and family. Unfortunately, most people were happy for me, but not very interested in giving up their precious meat. To tell you the truth, most people didn’t, or maybe wouldn’t, believe me. They refuse to believe that animal protein was linked to cancer growth, heart attacks, strokes…etc. But, when I told them to read the information for themselves in several books, they weren’t interested. They refused to even open their mind to the possibility. Some got offended, took the information personally, and were quick to become defensive of their food choices. A few others were interested, but didn’t feel they could make such a dramatic change, so they didn’t even try. Food is a powerful thing.
The only people who really opened their mind to being plant strong was my family. Some were slower than others to accept the information, but now they all follow a plant-based diet to varying degrees, and I couldn’t be more proud of them.
How has following the Engine 2 Diet transformed your body and lifestyle?
First, I have lost 15 pounds. I eat pretty much all the plant strong food I want and I don’t gain weight. I put on 4 pounds of muscle in 5 months. I went from 22% body fat to under 18% body fat in 5 months. My acne used to be severe and has since cleared up. My resting heart rate use to be at a “healthy” 60 beats per minute and now sits around 43 beats per minute (marathon runners many times sit that low). I was starting to deal with severe nightly anxiety and that went away almost from day one on the diet. My recovery after intense work outs are much shorter than before. Also, my mind is much more even keeled during the day and don’t suffer from ups and downs or severe crashes after eating large meals. I have ALOT more energy. I am more willing to work out because I feel good. I have much fewer aches and pains than before. So, basically I feel amazing.
Are there ways you share your experience to help others?
Recently, Rip Esselstyn, (author of The Engine 2 Diet) asked me to participate with him on a show being put together on the Food Network. They are focusing on Vegetarian food and restaurants around the country, and one of the places is Austin. We will be filming in September, and I will be discussing some of my favorite veggie places to eat and how eating plants has changed my life. I am very excited. This will be my first time going on national TV. I hope to do well.
What’s it like being the coolest big sister ever?
[Laughs] I don’t think of myself as cool. I have insecurities just like everyone else. I try to work hard, focus on what I want, and how to get there. Becoming a firefighter was the hardest thing I have ever done. I am so proud of what I do. I tear up sometimes, because I can’t believe I am a firefighter. It was not easy, and of course nothing worth having is ever easy. I am constantly working to make my life what I want it to be. First, it was having a career I love, check. Then it was incorporating a whole food plant base diet into my families’ life style, check. If you want your life to be a certain way then do the things you need to do to make that happen, and it will happen.
Learn more about The Engine 2 Diet online
Check out my next post where Nadia shares her recipe for her Healthy Vegan Peanut Butter Cookies. Looks like I have some competition!