My story begins five years ago. I was lying on the floor of my apartment after suffering a drug overdose. I weighed almost 350 pounds; I was also addicted to fast food.
During the course of a day, I would typically eat six breakfast tacos, three super-sized double quarter pounder meals, an extra large honey bbq chicken strip sandwich meal, an extra large pizza, four sausage sandwiches, and 15 sodas. Then, I’d take 400-450 mg of Adderall.
I was dying at the age of 30 from a life of drugs, fast food, and depression. When I regained consciousness, I took a hard look at my life and I realized that I was headed down a road that was going to lead to only one place. I picked up the phone, called my parents, and said the three words that would change my life forever: “I need help.”
In rehab, I was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and severe depression. I was put me on eight medications for chronic disease and behavior and mood disorders.
It was time to take responsibility for my life. Right before my overdose, I’d gone to a plant-based health immersion class that claimed that a whole food, plant-based lifestyle could reverse diseases like heart disease and diabetes. I decided to implement what I’d learned, along with my recovery program of medication and therapy. What I didn’t realize was that plant-based nutrition would become the backbone of my entire recovery.
This was no easy switch. I cried when I had to sit with people who ate pizza and burgers every day. The first few weeks were very difficult and I was struggling. I realized that, in order to successfully change my life, I had to “be comfortable being uncomfortable.” And I knew that would only happen if I were committed every day to my recovery. I had to learn to make the daily choice between what I want now and what I want most.
Within three or four months I had completely reversed my type 2 diabetes, high cholesterol, and high blood pressure. In 10 months, I lost 100 pounds. Within a year, I was off every medication I was prescribed in rehab. Today I have been in recovery for over four years and have lost a total of 160 pounds. I love my lifestyle and I absolutely love the food. I have also become very passionate about fitness. Since personal fitness is all about being comfortable with being uncomfortable, it has become another part of my daily recovery practice.
I became a certified holistic lifestyle coach and plant-based nutritionist, and developed a program using plant-based nutrition as a tool for addiction recovery and relapse prevention. For two years, I ran groups at sober living houses and intensive outpatient therapy centers in Los Angeles. I am now a health coach at the Whole Foods Market Medical and Wellness Clinic at the Global Headquarters in Austin, Texas.
People ask me about what I’ve lost and I enjoy telling them about how my body has changed. But my story is not one of loss. What’s most profound is what I have gained. I got early morning runs on the lake with my dad and a real relationship with my family. I found my self-worth and self-confidence, my purpose in life, and the ability to help others. I found my authentic self!
I can honestly say that I am the happiest I have ever been and the healthiest I have ever been in my life. I feel grateful to have gone through everything that has happened to me–the diseases of addiction, diabetes and heart disease, and even the overdose. All of it has allowed me to become the person I am today.