Greetings, and welcome to Vanishing Veggie. My story begins much like any over achieving nerdy adolescence. Ten years ago, I was 17, a senior in high school, and very overweight. Not being remotely athletic growing up and always having a habit of eating too much, my weight ballooned to 240 pounds on my 5'-8" frame. I don't have any pictures really from this time, because I hated all cameras. I was extremely unhappy. I lived away from home at a math and science school, and unfortunately, I developed bulimia. Between November and May of my senior year, I lost 50 pounds and gained an eating disorder. This cycle of binging and purging would stay with me for years on and off, and for a long time it was a security blanket that kicked in whenever I got overworked and stressed. I did get help for it in the beginning, and that was beneficial to me, but something like that stays with you for a long time.
(sister and I on vacation)
In the fall of 2003, I enrolled in architecture school at the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville. I lived on a diet of cigarettes, coffee, and unhealthy eating. I continued to lose weight through my first few years of school, mostly from less eating, more walking and occasionally unhealthy behaviors. None of this was an intentional plan to get healthy. I was 18, and I did not know how to treat my body correctly.
In my 3rd year of architecture school, I was in the habit of not eating. I was dropping weight rapidly and going days without putting anything into my system. When I did, it was usually alcohol. This is a horrible way to treat your body, and while a lot of these pictures may look happy, I was dying inside.
Continuing on this track would have led to horrible places. I was staying up for days on coffee and not eating enough calories to sustain a toddler. Things changed, though. I fell in love.
(New Years 2005, me at my sickliest)
Josh and I had been friends for years, and Christmas break of 2005 we started dating. I had been in love with him for quite some time, and my relationship with him completely changed the way I treated my body. For the first time in a long time, I was happy. I no longer wanted to continue punishing myself with weird eating disorders, and spending a lot of time with Josh, I was no longer eating or not eating in secret. All this was good for me, but because I hadn't learned how to eat in a healthful way, I started gaining weight.
I continued on with architecture school and by my senior year of college I had decided to become a vegetarian. This was all quite by accident. The sustainable food movement was sweeping through Fayetteville, and I was interested in learning more about where my food came from. I read The Omnivore's Dilemma and never ate meat again. Thinking that vegetarian meant I would become immediately skinny, I continued to eat in whatever way I wanted, often over eating because I was misinformed about nutrition and thoughy my new found vegetarianism allowed me to do so. Over the summer after college, I had put on 30 pounds (mostly cheese I think) and was thinking more critically about the ethics of vegetarianism. To make a long story short, August of 2008 I became a vegan and set off to lose the weight I had put on.
My weight has always been a struggle, but I was managing it with a healthy vegan diet, calorie counting and excessively working out. Living in Fayetteville, I biked to work and had a fantastic workout buddy, I'm looking at you Devon, and I was relatively happy with myself.
In 2009, I lost my job at an architecture firm and Josh and I decided to move to Little Rock. Looking back, I still think this has been a great thing for me, and I love this city, but the move + leaving my core group of friends + the stresses of being an adult really changed the way I ate. I was working late instead of working out, and I was finding it more difficult to eat a healthy vegan diet while always dining out with my coworkers (our lunches are paid for).
In the 3 1/2 years we have lived here, I have put on 50 pounds, putting me right back where I was 10 years ago. This is scary for me. I have gone a lot of years without my ED rearing it's ugly head, but keeping the gate closed on it has been really hard the past few years. At one point, I got on antidepressants. Then, I got off of them and saw an eating disorder specialist. Nothing was really clicking with me. I just kept watching my weight rise while I kept eating and kept not working out.
(Josh and I at a wedding, May 2012)
Through all of this, Josh has been amazingly supportive. He really is a great partner. I know he has felt kind of powerless to help me with this, but he helps more than he realizes. Yoga has been something that has always made me happy, but my depression and weight gain was keeping me from getting back into it. Josh gently started bringing it up and offered to pay for it, whatever would make me happy. In October of 2012, I started going to yoga regularly. This has been a life saver. The time I have on the mat has made me extremely introspective, and I have had a chance to examine the way I treat my body and food. I feel like I have been learning so much in the past few months that I'm ready to make some serious changes.
I have been working on eating a lot healthier, and this blog is an extension of that. Really, it's a daily documentation of exactly what I'm putting in my body. I know that might sound boring, but I have spent so many years thinking "What does the diet of a healthy vegan look like?" It is my quest to answer this question that has led me here.
So, I hope you stick around and share this experience with me. My goal is to come out the other end a happier, healthier, fitter person.