“Why did you decide to be a vegetarian? I could NEVER do that!”

That was the number one response I got when I told family and friends that I was cutting meat from my diet. While it was slightly annoying to hear at first, I began to enjoy sharing my story in hopes that others could be inspired to do something drastic in their lives. I began my vegetarian journey on December 28th, 2015. The last half of 2015 was quite tumultuous for me. I was a full time student by day, full time Certified Nursing Assistant by night, and on top of it all I was trying to decide what I wanted to do with my life. Between school full time and working the night shift, my eating habits suffered and so did my body. I had gained 25 lbs in a 4 month span and I could feel my body and my mind becoming more and more sluggish. I needed to do something about the way I felt and I needed to do it fast.

My decision to become a vegetarian wasn’t something I had researched or even really thought about. All I knew was that one major way to change how your body feels is to change what you eat. So thats what I did, and the effects were almost immediate. One month into my journey, I began to feel less sluggish. Within three months, I had lost the weight I’d gained the previous year. In six months, I felt like a new person.

If you’ve ever tried to construct a meal without meat, you quickly realized that it isn’t as easy as it seems. Now try constructing an entire LIFE without meat…Don’t worry, I’ll wait! At first, vegetarianism was a real struggle. I was so used to a having meat as a part of my “balanced meal”, so my first hurdle was redefining a “balanced meal”. My meals now consist of a starch or carb, a vegetable, and a protein, not meat. My next hurdle to jump (and one I’m still jumping now) was cravings! Once I made the conscious effort to avoid meat, it was all I saw, smelled, and thought about! After I couple of weeks, I realized that my cravings mostly came when I was hungry, so I combated them by eating a meal or a light snack. My last major hurdle was learning how to expand my food options. For the first month of my journey I always thought “I have no idea what to eat!” So I ate a LOT of spaghetti… no meat, no veggies, just pasta and sauce. Talk about boring! When I got tired of continuously carb-loading, I made my way to Pinterest and Yummly where I found a wealth of quick and easy vegetarian meal options (check out my “Getting Healthy” Pinterest board in the link above).

Becoming a vegetarian was way more than just changing what I eat, it was a process of changing my life. High blood pressure, cancer, and diabetes are a few of the illnesses that plague my family, so my dietary change at the age of 21 became a lifestyle change. Not only did I change the way I thought about food, I changed the way I thought about myself. Before December 2015, I had become a slave to my circumstances. I was confused, depressed, and my self confidence was extremely low. A year and a half later, I’ve realized that I have more will power than most and that I can truly do anything I set my mind to. So, if there’s anything that you think you can’t do, give it a try. It might change your life!