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4 Things That Happened In My 7-Day Vegan Challenge

Never in a million years did I expect to say this. But I just completed a 7-day vegan challenge and I loved it so much that I extended it to 11 days. I had been considering doing this challenge since January, but I was too scared to try it.

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This is the face of a woman who just completed an 8-day vegan challenge. A challenge that started as 7 days, but most likely will be 10. – Let me preface a bit & say, I have been a self-proclaimed vegetable-hater my entire life. – But then a new nutrition course entered my life last May. As I moved through the course, I learned better ways to cook veggies, & even started enjoying them. I was floored. – I never would have been able to complete even a 1 day vegan challenge had it not been for that nutrition program. It taught me the true importance of having a veggie-based diet (everything is allowed, but the bulk of your food is vegetables), but more importantly, how amazing I FEEL when eating that way. – So after a few months of an entirely new way of eating, I finally felt ready for the vegan challenge. And holy shit guys, I have felt so amazing this past week. I never want it to end! I incorporated my knowledge & techniques from the program, into an entirely plant-based meal plan for the past 8 days. And I loved it so much that even though I was initially planning on having a meat buffet today, I decided to stay vegan for another day. And Monday and Tuesday of this week as well. – I know it’s cliche, but food IS powerful. Food IS medicine. I never knew how awful I felt before until I started making changes. I never was able to pinpoint gluten as a large trigger for my migraines until I gave it up entirely. I never knew how clear my head could be until I tried a vegan lifestyle. – The other key message is – YOU ARE POWERFUL. You are capable of achieving WAY more than you think. If you told me a year ago that I would enjoy vegetables & do a vegan challenge, I’d have said you were crazy. I lost three pounds after a long plateau, & I didn’t binge once. – There’s nothing I would love more than to help you find your power over food too. – I want TEN ladies to join me for my new challenge group that begins in one week. This is not a vegan-only program – meats and dairy and eggs and fish – all on the menu if you want! You’ll lose 5-15 lbs, develop a healthy relationship with food, get recipes, & lots of support in a women-only accountability group. ARE YOU READY?

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As a self-proclaimed vegetable-hater, the thought of eating only plants for 7 days – well, it was too much to consider. Back in May, I started a new nutrition program that emphasized veggies, which forced me to learn new ways to cook, and it actually taught me how to enjoy them. So this August, I was finally ready.

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I’ll be honest. I’ve watched a bunch of food & vegan documentaries (Forks Over Knives, What The Health, Vegucated, to name a few), and my decision to try veganism had little to nothing to do with animal welfare. I absolutely do get sad when I think of the rampant abuse of animals in the dairy and meat industries, and it’s absolutely heartbreaking – but – I chose to do this challenge for purely selfish reasons. I wanted to prove to myself that I could do it, and I wanted to see what health benefits I would feel during the challenge. Secondarily, I do believe that it’s really beneficial for the planet to eat fewer animal-based products, and I’d love to do my part there – as well as the whole animal welfare piece.

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Back in April, I gave up gluten and dairy in an attempt to fight constant exercise-induced migraines. I still get them, but on a much more infrequent basis, and when I splurge, I get a migraine within a few days.

But I want to be completely cured from migraines. I don’t want to be held back by them anymore. I’m over it. I want to be done with migraines controlling my life and ability to exercise whenever I want, without the intense fear that I will get super sick during the workout. I’ve done a lot of research that indicates a vegan diet may help people with chronic migraines, and at this point, I’m willing to try anything to rid myself of this condition.

The reaction of most people upon hearing about my vegan challenge was, “I could never give up cheese!” And I get it. I used to think that too. But I’m so sick of being sick with migraines. I’m desperate for a cure. And if that means I never have cheese again, I don’t care whatsoever. I’m just ready to be done with migraines.

So, I began a 7-day vegan challenge to see what would happen. And I loved it so much that I did it for 11 days. Here’s what happened.

A Thinner Face

One of the most surprising benefits from this vegan challenge was the fact that my face de-puffed almost immediately. I’ve recently learned that gluten and dairy give me a puffy, slightly swollen face, and going completely vegan thinned my face out so much. (full  disclosure: this photo is not a before/after from the vegan challenge, but helps illustrate my puffy vs. non-puffy face!)

I thought perhaps it was all in my mind, but I received many unsolicited comments on my Instagram stories that my face was noticeably thinner. I hate carrying weight in my face, and it’s something I’m ultra-sensitive to. So this benefit was probably one of my favorites, albeit vain!

Weight Loss

I unintentionally lost three pounds during the challenge. I didn’t count calories or measure. I just followed my body’s intuition and ate until I was full. I’m legitimately shocked at this. I truly assumed that I would gain weight due to eating more carb-heavy foods, like beans and fruit. Imagine my surprise when I lost three pounds after a very, very, very long weight loss plateau.

Progress In Overcoming Binge Eating Disorder

I haven’t spoken too much about this here, but my struggle with binge eating disorder has been long and challenging. The new nutrition program I’m on really focuses on mindset and has been instrumental in my growth in overcoming binge eating disorder. I’m ready to not let this define me and be a part of my life anymore. On a day-to-day basis, it’s something that has been present in my mind, and something I constantly feel I’m fighting.

But during the vegan challenge, I didn’t binge once for 11 days. And it wasn’t even hard. It just kind of happened. I felt satisfied every day. Prior to this, I never really felt satisfied – I was always looking for something more. Some of that may have been in part due to not being able to eat my usual treats, since they’re not vegan, but a lot of it was mental, and I really felt happily satisfied after each meal and at the end of each day.

Does this mean my journey with BED is over? No, but I learned so much about myself during this 7-day challenge (okay, 11 days!), and I now know, and have proof, that I am capable of eating proper portions consistently, over longer periods of time, without feeling deprived at all.

A Huge Mental Shift

A huge mental shift happened during the challenge. I felt freaking incredible. I was shocked. I fully expected to feel hungry, deprived, and miserable, if I’m being honest. But I felt amazing. I felt more optimistic, clear-headed, and happy. I felt empowered.

I truly didn’t expect this. I would have kept going, but I went on a four-day trip to Florida with my daughter on what would have been day 12 and I wanted to eat fresh seafood during the trip. Now that I’m back home, I’m already trying to incorporate more plant-based meals into my arsenal. And trying to figure out how to be more plant-based in a family that’s not.

For more of my personal column, Heather Gets Healthy, click here.

4 things that happened when I went Vegan


Photo Credits: Cookiesforbfast

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I am a father of three and my wife is a registered nurse specialized in children.

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