Ruth Hughes’ Inspirational, Plant-Based Weight Loss Story
Every now and then I meet someone during my travels that moves me beyond words. Shortly after publishing my one-year road trip update, naming the
10 14 most memorable people from the journey, I landed in San Diego and met Ruth Hughes. Ruth and I had been in touch about meeting up when I made my way to San Diego, so we set aside a dinner date at Casa De Luz. During our chat I learned about Ruth’s incredible journey to veganism and her life-changing weight loss story. I rarely invite guest bloggers to WTFVF but I immediately knew that Ruths’ story was one worth sharing. Ruth is our very first guest writer, related to a personal vegan-transition story.
Welcome, Ruth Hughes:
Since a young age weight has been a struggle in my life. I definitely experienced challenges growing up, from peer acceptance to trying to keep up with healthier and fit kids, but never really realized until my late 20’s, how carrying the extra weight would lead me to a reality that I never thought I would face- ongoing health issues. At the end of 2009, I was prompted to see a doctor after experiencing nausea, muscle aches, dizziness and extreme exhaustion for several weeks. During this appointment I was given a routine exam. It had been several years since I had been in a doctor’s office let alone stepped on a scale. After weighing in, the nurse told me the actual number; I was in shock…290 pounds! Immediate shame, remorse, among other feelings took over as I sat in the examination room waiting for the doctor. After these initial feelings though, I thought “what if I could finally beat the weight issue for good and live a healthier life?” This wasn’t the life I had imagined. All of the food choices I had been making for 29 years were literally shortening my life expectancy and I knew I had to make immediate changes. With a history of high blood pressure and diabetes in my family it wasn’t a shock when the doctor told me that I had both, but I thought that I had more time, before having to succumb to taking medications and managing a disease on a daily basis. I told the doctor that I had no desire to be dependent on medication and that I would do the work necessary to lose the weight. I left that appointment, feeling for the first time in my life, that I could truly attain my weight loss goals with fortitude and perseverance.
Immediately after leaving the doctor’s office I started researching healthy eating, weight loss programs, fitness routines, among other topics in an effort to jump start my weight loss. Several stepping stones in my weight loss journey included Weight Watchers and Jenny Craig. Due to the high costs of membership and food though, I only participated in each of these programs for a short time. These programs provided me with a wealth of information on making better food choices, but were only a jump start in my weight loss journey; because in order for me to achieve long term weight loss my approach to health and fitness would need to become a permanent lifestyle change. While I did see results from these programs I still wanted to eat less processed foods and felt that in order to maintain long term weight loss I needed to continue my research towards finding the right balance of healthy eating and fitness.
During my research and recommendations from numerous friends I watched the documentary Food, Inc. This documentary changed my perspective towards eating meat and was extremely informative. A little under a year and half into my weight loss journey I reached a plateau and was not able to lose weight as consistently as I had been. While continuously adjusting my exercise routine, counting calories, etc., proved to be helpful it still did not yield the results I was hoping for. Earlier this year I was talking to a good friend of mine, who adopted a whole-food plant-based diet nine months prior, about my weight loss journey and she encouraged me to watch Forks Over Knives. Literally, a few days after that conversation the documentary was available to view for free on an internet video streaming website and after watching this documentary, I knew I needed to adopt a whole-food plant-based diet. This was a whole new world to me though, and I am the type of person that always researches something in order to have a plan in place or at least an idea of how I would implement this new lifestyle change before diving in. I knew in order to be successful the first six months of my transition from carnivore to herbivore, while finishing my Master’s degree (which by the way I graduated a couple weeks ago), would require me to find resources that clearly explained this type of diet and provided quick and easy recipes. So I started my research on the Forks Over Knives website, which introduced me to the world of plant-based eating and through the amazing list of resources provided I purchased several books including: Plant-Based Nutrition, Engine 2 Diet, Happy Herbivore Cookbooks, and The China Study. This website truly opened my eyes in ways that I will be forever grateful.
After my initial research, reading several books, and finding additional resources through the world of Facebook, (where I found another great resource – Will Travel For Vegan Food) I decided to make the switch to a whole-food plant-based diet immediately and not gradually – I went all in from day one. Personally, that approach is much easier for me than still keeping one foot in a lifestyle that I wanted to move away from. I have been vegan strong since June of this year and within that time I have lost 70 pounds, making my total weight loss 155 pounds since my journey began. Since adopting a whole-food plant-based diet I have reversed and eliminated all of my medical issues (Type 2 Diabetes, High Blood Pressure, etc) no longer experience feelings of exhaustion, have so much more energy than I know what to do with…LOL, as well as many more positive health results that my list literally could go on forever. Bottom line – I feel absolutely amazing!
I’m truly blessed to have the opportunity to live a healthier lifestyle and will maintain a low-fat, whole-food plant-based diet the rest of my life. I’m so thankful for amazing resources like Will Travel For Vegan Food that provide excellent product and restaurant reviews as well as a community of support and encouragement! Now that I have graduated and have my free time back I am looking forward to spending more time with my family and friends, traveling around the world, mountain biking, and volunteering at various organizations.
Ruth, thank you so much for taking the time to share your story with us. It was an honor to meet you and I look forward to staying in touch! :)
Eat well and travel often, friends!
Tagscalifornia diabetes diet engine 2 diet food inc. forks over knives guest post happy herbivore health heart disease herbies high blood pressure jenny craig lifestyle nutrition plant-based plant-strong ruth hughes san diego the china study true story vegan veganism weight loss weight watchers wellness
What a great story! Thanks for posting! I have an Evernote called “Inspiration for the Journey”, and I’ve added this to that. I’m trying to get from being vegetarian to low-fat vegan, and it’s harder than I initially thought. Giving up dairy has been difficult, especially when I already have to be gluten-free. But then I read stories like Ruth’s and I know that it can be done. Congrats, Ruth!
Thank you all for your support and kind words. While changing your diet can be challenging I recommend taking the plunge and cutting everything out of your diet on day one. You’ll most likely have cravings and feelings of detox from your old ways of eating, as I too experienced this but the end result is so worth it. You take your health back! Taking the first step is the hardest for sure- but trust me you’ll never regret one second of your decision towards living healthier!
Recently, I’ve had several friends who have discovered they have celiac disease and must also eat gluten free. This change in diet can also be challenging. A great resource I recommend is Happy Herbivore’s weekly meal plans as they are gluten free, low-fat, include a shopping list, and all the meals are quick and easy to make. These meal plans got me through the first couple months of my transition from meat eater to plant based. Many recipes in all three of the Happy Herbivore cookbooks are also gluten free. Several other resources that provide some great recipes are straight up food and fat free vegan kitchen. These a just a few of the resources I have found so far.
Taking the first step or any steps for that matter towards achieving your health goals is something to be truly proud of! Stay strong and push through any cravings. Once you have, you’ll be so glad you did because the results you’ll achieve will be truly amazing!
Congrats Ruth! I know this might be too late as the post was from Dec ’12 but you look amazing. I am a plant eater also but still have weight to throw off. My one struggle is what to eat to lose weight. Can it really be as simple as eating oats in the morning and soups etc for the rest of the day? Can you give a 1 day plan of what you eat daily so I can mirror on what I am thinking.
For me, I am thinking along the lines of oatmeal or quinoa for breakfast with homemade oatmilk. Snack would be a happy herbivore or FOK muffin. Lunch = soup and possibly scone or cornbread. Dinner, any recipe from FOK or HH. Any help/advise would be appreciated.
From my experience counting calories and exercising regularly were the two key components in reaching my weight loss goals. My calorie intake was around 1200 a day and I consumed between 250-300 calories per meal so I would ensure that I had available calories for some snacks each day. And depending on my activity level for the day I would modify my calorie intake accordingly. Each person will be different as far as calorie intake is determined, so I would suggest meeting with your doctor to determine your specific needs.
Since June of last year I have been following a low-fat whole-food plant-based diet and decided not to consume any nuts, avocados as well as making sure to consume at least 8 glasses of water a day until I reached my goal weight. Actually I decided to only drink water and stopped consuming all other beverages I was drinking (diet coke, smoothies, etc.) as well as limit pasta and breads. As of now, I have started to introduce these foods back into my diet, but still do not consume on a regular basis.
Typically, for breakfast I would eat oatmeal with some fruit. Lunch would usually be salad, soup, wraps; basically something light. Dinner would be an HH or FOK recipe. Any snacks for the day would only be fruits and vegetables. Portion control and exercise was key for my weight loss journey. Hope this information helps in your journey and thank you for taking the time to read about my story. Keep persevering and you’ll reach your weight loss goals in no time!
Thanks so much for sharing your story. It has taken a lot longer for me to get here, and I am still not perfectly vegan but my diet is squarely in the plant strong arena and I am getting better every day.
I pretty well follow a plan that is 8 ounces of plant protein and a pound of fruit for breakfast. 6 ounces plant protein and a pound of vegetable for lunch. 2 ounces of seeds and nuts OR animal product, 4 ounces of whole grain (no gluten) and 1 pound of vegetable for dinner.
The scale just keeps moving!
That is an amazing story. You look great. I have only recently begin to get rid of processed food and eat more whole food. Its a struggle, but its a life style change that I am ready to embrace!
Congrats! You look happy and healthy! I am jealous of your journey, I wish it were my own. I have gone vegan since December, unfortunately, instead of losing weight, I have actually gained weight! Any tips?
ruth, I have read many times online about how people go plant based, and eat all they want and still lose weight. did you find you HAD to watch your calories to lose?
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