Member Spotlight: Barbara S.

“Does this lifestyle really work?”

“I don’t think I can do this.”

“Can I really beat my sugar cravings?”

Does this sound familiar? It’s totally normal if these thoughts have crossed your mind. 

That’s why we absolutely love sharing Feel Fabulous success stories – there’s nothing like hearing from someone who’s been in your shoes… and did it! 

Today, you'll hear Barbara’s story. This self-confessed sugar addict went whole food, plant-based in July 2019 and she has shed almost 100 pounds from her heaviest… and kept it off! 

Barbara shares eight valuable lessons she learned during her journey – don’t miss her inspirational sharing.


Barbara S.:

So since adopting a whole food plant-based diet, which is SOFAS-free, I have gotten rid of 98 pounds from my heaviest. I still feel like I have about 16 to 26 pounds left to go, but I'm very proud of my progress so far. These pictures were taken in March and May of this year. So I'm happy to report my sugar addiction is under control. I've been able to reverse pre-diabetes osteoarthritis in my knees, systemic inflammation in my body. Many gastrointestinal issues have cleared up. Obviously I've gotten over morbid obesity and my blood pressure has returned to normal.

I have never lost this much weight before and kept it off for the last two years. And so I've certainly been down this road many, many times before. So what makes this time different? So there's eight lessons that I learned that I hope the people out there that are still struggling or having a hard time kind of getting going will take away from this presentation. 

So, first of all, I want to share my weight loss success formula. As I said before, you can't outwork a bad diet. And I realized that it's the food that we put in our mouth makes all the difference. Many times when people find out how much weight I've lost, they always ask me, oh, well, how much exercise did you do? Or how quickly did it happen for you? When I think they should be asking me, you know, what is it you're eating? I really think the food that you eat is the most important part of weight loss success. 

The next thing I did differently was work on my mindset. I really think that mindset is like 45% of losing weight. If you don't change your mindset, you will not change your body because where your mind goes, your body will follow. And the definition of mindset is a set of beliefs that shape how you, how you make sense of the world and yourself. And it influenced you, influences you like how you think, how you feel and how you're going to behave in any type of situation. 

This time around, I spent time learning about like, who were the healthiest people in the world and what is it that they ate and how do our bodies actually work? And what's the best fuel to put in that body. I got away from the diet culture this time around, I sought out doctors that could really show me scientifically, like, what was the best thing for me to eat. It was such a paradigm shift for me. Like I just know that like, I can never go back to what I was doing before.

I never worked on the mindset piece before. And I really believe that it's, what's made the difference for me. And I really think it's the second, most important part of weight loss success. And also for the first time ever, I was losing weight without killing myself at the gym. So I really think that that the movement part is a really small piece of it. It's just a small piece of losing weight. In fact, I haven't even stepped foot in a gym in like the last 10 years, but as I started to feel better, I started having more energy. I was able to add more movement to my daily schedule. That feels good for me. And it's not overly taxing.

So another mindset tip again. I know you guys have heard this a hundred thousand times, but it needs to be said a hundred thousand more. You have to find that why that makes you cry. I personally had six of them when I started having all those health issues. It really scared me. I knew that I had to do something different because I didn't want to continue to see my health deteriorate. 

So for me, having those set in my mind, like I am not tempted at all to eat any junk food because what I do now, like I play the tape all the way through because I realized that eating off plan is just not worth the three minutes of pleasure that my brain is going to get from that dopamine hit, that it's going to receive because then I have to contend with like the guilt and then the intestinal distress, the stress that I'm going to have afterwards. So to me, like nothing tastes as good as being healthy feels. 

The other thing too, is that I think that people should focus on creating good daily habits and not motivation. I really think that motivation is very fickle. It's a fickle friend because it will leave you high and dry when you need it. The most. I just think too many times people are trying to rely on external motivation to help them get through the tough times. And it just doesn't work. I mean, I'm sure you've heard people, oh, I just, I'm not motivated. Oh, I need somebody to help motivate me. The motivation needs to come from within, inside internally in the form of those wise.

I just say, if you think in terms of like baby steps, you know, those making those small habits, putting those small habits in place every day, that is what's gonna really eventually get you to your goals. 

So I want to give you an example of some habits that I've put in place that helped me to kick my sugar addiction. So instead of me saying, you know, I'm going to just cut out all candy completely. You know, tomorrow I did baby steps. You know, my baby step was, I'm only going to eat candy after I've had a full lunch or a full dinner meal. I mean, people, sometimes I was waking up first thing in the morning and I would eat candy on an empty stomach. Like that's like the worst, like terrible. So, but again, I didn't, you know, again, people say I'm going to do all this stuff and then it's like, they fail.

So sometimes it's better to step back and take a little baby step. And I said, my baby step was I'm just going to eat after I've had a meal that helped me to begin to get a calm, stable brain. And then I was able to switch over to fruit for dessert. And I went for the sweetest fruit. I know a lot of people say, oh, don't eat sweet fruit. I went for the sweetest fruit. I could find black grapes and pineapple were like, my go-to sweet fruits. Also, I kept a clean environment, which we're going to talk more about later, but I didn't bring any candy or any sweets whatsoever into the house. I made sure that I ate until I was satisfied. And I stopped drastically restricting my calories and cutting out carbs. I mean, sometimes you're craving sugar because you're actually hungry and your brain is carved deprived.

So I made sure I fixed that and I ate fruit whenever I crave sweets, I just ate fruit. And I started making sweet breakfast. Like I would make my breakfast oatmeal as sweet as I could get it with like bananas and blueberries and maple syrup in it too. As I was starting out now I eat fruit for breakfast. I have zero desire for any candy or processed junk food or anything. And again, I just eat fruit and that gives me the sweet fix that I need. So every month, I would work on like three to five little daily habits that I would want to change or improve until they became second nature. 

To me, the other thing be patient. This is going to take some time. You did not gain the weight overnight and you are not going to lose it overnight. And I think the slower that you lose the weight, the better, because it's going to give you time to make this a true sustainable lifestyle change, because I really think that's the only way you're going to keep it off.

Long-term start where you are now. And don't try to make like a whole bunch of drastic changes all at once, trying to speed up the process. I mean, how many times have you been really motivated start a new diet, start exercising and start meditating all at the same time? And then it's hard to sustain that with that many changes, Being patient with yourself means realizing that that's just too much all at once. 

And you know, my example of the process that I use to get off my sugar addiction, that took months, like that was not an overnight process, it wasn't something that took weeks to do. It took me months to work at that. 

Here's another example I like to share with people about, you know, starting where you're at. Now, my broccoli story. When I first started, it seemed like everybody on YouTube, all the starch solution people, everybody was eating broccoli as their 50/50 plate and me no likey, broccoli.

I don't like broccoli. Like at all, like I could not stand broccoli. And I thought, oh my God, how am I going to do this? I can't eat broccoli. Broccoli is gross to me. And then I stopped and I thought, well, you know what? You do like vegetables, what vegetable do you, like? I figured out a vegetable that I liked and I liked green beans. And I was able to go to Sam's club and get these bulk packages of green beans in one pound bags. And I started eating green beans with my 50/50 plate. 

It was unusual because I hadn't seen anybody else… nobody else was eating green beans. Everybody was eating broccoli or cauliflower, which I couldn't stand at the time. So, but eventually after a few months, as my taste buds adjusted and with some of the tips and tricks that Chef AJ talks about like hunger being the best sauce… like that works people.

I was able to actually eat broccoli. And like, it made me, it took me a couple months, but I did it. But I started where I was at. Start with the vegetables that you like, and then move on from there. 

Now this next thing is something that I heard from a YouTuber and it really stuck with me. And it's this, you can't eff this up. As long as you don't give up or quit, focus on progress and not perfection. This guy, Jordan Syatt, he's got a YouTube channel, a lot of good mindset stuff. He's not plant-based or vegan or anything, but he's got some good stuff out there. How many times have you slipped up and you ate something that's not ideal and you beat yourself up about it, or you throw in the towel and you throw all caution to the wind and you just binge on junk, or you just give up because you weren't perfect?

I mean, I know I did that oftentimes, but this quote, you can't eff this up, made me realize that if you eat off plan, it's okay. You just get right back on your plan. The very next meal, not the next day, not the next week, not the next month, not the next year. Just the very next meal. Whenever that is. And that slip-ups like one or two bad meals, don't really show up on the scale permanently anyway. So I do believe that you should aim for perfection, but when a slip-up happens and it inevitably will realize that it's not the end of the world, you have to give yourself some grace and remember that you're human. So you can't mess this up. You just, you just got to keep going.

Also, it's super important to pick a diet that is sustainable and strive for consistency. So if you can't do your diet for the rest of your life, it's not sustainable. I failed to realize this in the past. I mean, cutting out carbs out of your diet is pure insanity people. It's insane. Complex carbs are life. Every cell in our body runs on glucose. We have the taste for sweet at the tip of our tongues. Our brain is hardwired to find and want the most calorically dense food and the more sugar and fat in it the better. Like those things biologically about our bodies, it’s never going to change. 

So finding the right sugar that fuels the body and doesn't make us crazy is what's key. I feel like if you feel like you need to constantly have off-plan cheat meals, your plan is just not sustainable. For me, the plant-based lifestyle based on calorie density is proven to be the most sustainable diet that I've ever had or way of eating, I use diet as the way of eating, that I've ever found. Like it's satisfying. It keeps me full so I can be consistent. And that helps me to be successful.

Again, keep your environment clean. Chef AJ says this all the time, period, like end of discussion. You know, if it's in your house, it's in your mouth and it's so true. Even I remember one instance, I had a… I didn't eat for a long time and something happened. I was like really hungry. And my brain just automatically went to the most calorically, dense food I had in my house. And luckily the most calorically dense food I have in my house are dates. And I ate four dates, which I would never normally have done that. And I thought, wow. It just really showed like how that really works. 

So to me, I know some people have problems with this because of people that they live with and people aren't supportive, but I just believe… it's important to fight like hell to try to keep your environment free of the foods that trigger you to overeat. 

And finally dance with the fellow or lady that brought you to me. This was probably the biggest mindset shift that I made. How you eat to lose the weight is how you have to eat to keep it off. This is where I failed. Time and time again in the past. I mean, once I lost the weight, I would always, I always went back to eating the foods that I cut out before. And now I finally realized I can't do that. I understand now when people say you have to make lifestyle changes and what that really means and why your diet or the way that you eat has to be sustainable for the long-term and why being patient is so important. Like to me, it just, it all ties together.

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