October 10, 2022

Q&A About My Recent Weight Loss: Part 1 of 2

I've been working on this post for way too long, and I'm sure I'm overthinking everything. I really need to just post it now before I drone on and on! I'm actually splitting this into two posts because it got very, very long--even for me. And you know I am wordy as it is.

A quick recap: In May of 2021, I reached my highest weight since losing 125 pounds in 2009-2010. I gained quite a bit in 2018 and it steadily climbed (aside from some weight loss attempts that didn't last long) until I saw that I was nearly 200 pounds again. I was shocked to see 197 on the scale and I immediately decided that this was it--I was done. I was going to do something about it.

I didn't even care if I got back down to my desired/goal weight of 133; I would have been happy if I'd gotten back down to 170 or so at that point. I started counting calories and the weight began to come off. I lost steadily at first, and then I was in a pattern of lose a little, lose a little, gain a little... repeat for months. In January 2022, I became vegan (for ethical reasons, not for weight loss or health). My weight was still moving slowly downward, and a year after I started losing weight, I had lost about 50 pounds.

For some reason, toward the middle of August, my weight started to drop really quickly. I honestly have no idea why! I went from 140-ish to 125 in less than two months. I hadn't really changed anything about my diet, but I had a TON going on in my personal life and I felt extremely overwhelmed. I can only guess that the stress had something to do with it, but I'm not sure. Or maybe my body was just trying to catch up to the changes I'd made when I started eating a vegan diet.

Anyway, I've been asked a lot of questions about my recent weight loss, and while I don't think I have anything profound to respond with, I put together this Q&A post to hopefully answer the questions.

How did you make the change? All at once or a little bit at a time?

I'm assuming this is referring to my current diet (note: when I reference "diet", I'm talking about my day to day eating habits--not a weight loss diet or program).

I like to make goals each year and one of my goals for 2022 was to focus on adding fiber to my diet. I didn't want to eat fiber just for the sake of fiber, though. Fibrous foods are generally much more nutritious, so I thought that could help me to eat healthier without focusing on eliminating food groups or getting rid of things that I enjoy.

I continued to count calories, but I switched up foods wherever I could in order to add fiber. (I only eat fiber from whole foods, though; I wasn't looking at eating Fiber One bars or anything like that. I'm not even sure if those are still a thing!)

This is something I ate frequently: barley with chickpeas and broccoli with stir fry sauce. It has nearly 19 grams of fiber--that's 70% of the recommended dietary intake!

I wrote a whole post about how fiber has changed my eating habits, which may be helpful.

I had absolutely no intention of becoming vegan; it wasn't even something I was interested in experimenting with. I thought I could never do it because I have a husband and two boys and I wouldn't want them to have to eat the way I did. And besides, I ate a LOT of dairy. I couldn't even imagine giving up milk, cheese or eggs, because those ingredients are in everything! (Or so I thought.)

Becoming vegan actually had nothing to do with weight loss. I was just up late one evening down the YouTube rabbit hole, and came across a documentary called Dominion, which is about the consequences of factory farming on animals and the environment. I was only able to watch about 30 minutes of it before I had to turn it off. I didn't have a "one last hurrah" meal or anything. I just haven't eaten any animal products since then.

I think it was the fact that I became vegan for reasons *other than* weight loss that made the change almost too easy for me. It wasn't like a weight loss diet, where the reasons were always about myself and my body; this was about the animals. Because my reasons were focused on that, I never had that battle in my head about whether I should eat something or not. If it was made out of animal products, I just didn't want it.

This picture is at least a decade old! But I had no idea what photo to use here, haha.

Something that really helped when I first became vegan was that I was already eating a ton of fiber--including lots of whole grains, beans, lentils, and I started adding more vegetables where I could. As a vegan now, the bulk of my diet comes from those kinds of foods.

In a nutshell, the dietary change for my weight loss over the past 17 months was pretty simple: 1) Count calories from May 2021 until early spring 2022; 2) Add more fiber; 3) Vegan for ethical reasons.

How long are you intending to eat vegan? Do you feel this is sustainable year round? 

I can't see myself ever eating animal products again. I don't like to say "never", because I can't predict the future, but I have every intention of eating vegan forever. If I was doing it for health reasons, I don't think I would have lasted even a week, let alone a year ;)  I believe it's definitely sustainable year-round--but of course, that could be completely different for other people.

You mention you eat the same breakfast and lunch. Can you link to your post where you have the recipes for those? Also any plans of changing it up?

Breakfast: I have always loved Grape Nuts cereal (or any kind of cereal, really), so I started eating that for breakfast. I added blueberries for more fiber. And at the time, I used dairy milk (I switched to almond milk when I became vegan, and now I like soy milk). Cereal is super convenient and I will never get sick of it!

Lunch: Oatmeal has always been a favorite food of mine (well, since I started losing weight 13 years ago), and I really like cold oats soaked in milk for lunch. I have a basic recipe with a bunch of different combinations on this post: 10 Summertime Mason Jar Oatmeal Recipes. Again, I love the convenience. I make a bunch of jars of the oats (just the dry ingredients) and keep them in the pantry. Every couple of days, I'll take some out and add the milk (I use soy milk now), then put them in the fridge.

So when I want to eat lunch, I just grab one from the fridge. I usually have a piece of fruit, too. It doesn't sound like a filling meal, but it's actually about 500 calories. It keeps me full all afternoon.

I've tried switching this up a bit and eating other things for lunch, but I always get hungry afterward. The oatmeal is satisfying all afternoon and I don't get hungry again until dinner. I'm not married to these meals, though! If I get tired of them, I'll switch to something else. But I really like them--they have a ton of nutrition (including nearly a whole day's worth of fiber), they are super convenient, and they're tasty!

Do you do any type of intermittent fasting?

I don't do any intermittent fasting. Actually, I recently started eating more frequently--I usually eat a banana right when I wake up, then breakfast an hour or so later. I also eat something in the late afternoon if I have cross country practice, and then dinner when I get home.

I find going out to eat is the hardest. Or when kids are busy and I just wanna order pizza or get drive thru. How do you manage those days?

I'm probably abnormal in this situation because I don't really like to eat out. I used to love it! But when the pandemic started, the restaurants were closed for a while and I got used to eating at home. I can actually count on one hand the number of times I've eaten out in the last 2-1/2 years. I started keeping convenient foods at home--like frozen pizzas--for days that we were busy.

Now, we still have busy days--even busier, actually--but I try to keep some convenient food on hand. I think it helps to have one particular go-to meal and always have the ingredients for it on hand. One of our favorites is quesadillas--we always have flour tortillas in the pantry. I keep cooked taco meat in the freezer for the kids, so I just have to microwave a small portion of it for the quesadillas.

I lay a tortilla flat on a skillet on medium-low heat (dry skillet--no oil), sprinkle on the taco meat and cheese, then top with another tortilla. When the bottom tortilla is browned, I flip it over and cook for another couple of minutes until the cheese is melted and the tortillas are nicely browned. (For my vegan version, I use black beans, corn, and vegan cheese). We use salsa for dipping (and sour cream for the boys). It's super fast and easy, and everybody loves them.

I make them when my kids have friends over, too, and teenagers love them. Below is taco meat and cheese, guacamole, salsa, and sour cream.

If you think of a meal or two that you really like and keep the ingredients on hand, it's that much easier to throw together. You can even freeze cooked pasta or rice or other things that you normally have to wait for water to boil. Then just pull them out when you want to make something quickly.

I know you use to count calories. Did you stop since you became vegan, or just because you hit maintenance?

I stopped counting calories about a month or two after becoming vegan. I didn't do it on purpose; I realized I'd stopped logging anything past breakfast and lunch. I was making a lot of new-to-me food and I didn't take the time to input the recipes on the food tracker, so it was basically out of laziness that I stopped tracking. I was very surprised (and excited) when I discovered I could still lose weight without tracking my food! I'd never been able to do that before.

You haven’t mentioned bingeing in a long time. Is the urge to do that just gone?

I haven't binged in a very long time. I really can't remember the last time! The urge became far less frequent when I was diagnosed with bipolar and started a mood stabilizer, which makes me think that my binge eating was related to my moods/compulsive behavior. Now that my mood is stabilized, the urges are few and far between. (I still have periods of depression and hypomania, but nothing like they used to be.)

Would you say it's your running regime or the going vegan that has had the most impact on recent weight loss?

I can say with 100% certainty that it's from my diet and not from running. Why am I so sure? Because I've been terrible at sticking with a running routine! I was doing good with it last year and here and there this year--I want to run, and I always plan to run, but I just haven't made it the priority like it used to be. After the excitement of racing wore off, I've a hard time pushing myself to run.

From the very beginning in 2009, though, it's always been my diet rather than exercise that helped me lose weight. I started exercising because I know it's good for my body (and then I got hooked on races for several years). My weight went up and down based on what I was eating and not if or how much I was running.

June 2021 - one of my first runs when I got back to running last year

Has eating vegan increased your food costs?

Actually, it's been quite the opposite! The grocery bill is much lower than it used to be. Some of the foods or ingredients I enjoy now are kind of expensive and it was hard to justify at first; but when I saw the total amount spent on groceries overall, it was the meat and dairy that made the bill so high.

A few days ago, I made a couple of dinners for my friend who just had a baby, and they aren't vegetarian or vegan. As much as I didn't want to buy meat or dairy, I chose to do so for her family. The two dinners added up to $40--I was stunned. I can make several vegan meals for that much.

I’ve been struggling with IBS crap (pun intended) for a long time and I know that my offenders are fructans and fructose. I’m considering giving up gluten to cut down on my fructan consumption. But my husband is the one who primarily does the cooking. Any suggestions on how to navigate that if I don’t want to force him and my son to be gluten free also?

I wrote a post recently about meals ideas that can make everyone happy (when people have different preferences or restrictions). While I don't pay any attention to gluten, I imagine you can come up with some meals that are naturally gluten free and wouldn't be considered an alternative.

You could also cook any ingredients with gluten separately and, after you've taken your portion, add the gluten ingredient(s) to the portions for your husband and son. I do this with meat and/or dairy--I make meals where most ingredients are vegan, but if my kids want meat or dairy, I keep it separate from mine and Jerry's. Yesterday's post has several examples of how I do this. So I'm guessing it could work in your situation!

...to be continued tomorrow...


  1. Thank you so much for this summary (Part 1). You've shown us day by day, but it's great to have an overview. I think the chickpea, barley, broccoli bowl will be my first attempt at some vegan cooking now while Ed is recovering from shoulder surgery. Meals on wheels dinners aren't cutting it!

  2. I went vegan for ethical reasons, like you, almost 12 years ago. I really related to the part where you said you find it so easy because it's not about you. That's exactly how I feel. It is so easy for me to turn down foods containing animal products. But if it was about health, I probably would find it a lot harder.


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