From partying to plant-based: my story
In August 2013, I was set to move to New York City from my hometown Sydney, Australia.
I was very fortunate to have the opportunity through my career in advertising to live and work in the Big Apple.
I loved my life in Sydney, but it was time to say goodbye to the weekends full of partying, drinking and eating fast food. The days of sleeping in until 1pm and the feeling of constantly being tired.
I was looking for a fresh start.
A few months before I left Sydney I had watched the documentary Forks over Knives which details the experience and scientific data of a whole food plant-based lifestyle.
I was immediately sold, having seen what felt like first-hand the miracle of leaving behind animal products and thriving on fruits, vegetables and whole grains.
I started removing all animal products from my diet before almost straight away, but by no means was I eating healthy. At 3am on my way home from the club I would be ordering the largest box of fries they offered at the local fast food chain to soak up the alcohol I had generously consumed. At least it wasn’t animal products right?
That was an easy way to justify my unhealthy behaviour and habits.
As I was flying over the ocean in August, 2013 bound for New York City I remember reflecting on that documentary and what it gave me.
It showed not only vibrant health but overwhelming happiness and joy towards life that I felt I was missing.
I knew New York was my opportunity to stop drinking, start eating plant based and focusing on growing as a person.
There was a lot of work for me to do in all three areas.
As soon as I was off the plane I dropped my bags and walked out into the city which was familiar yet strange.
I found a local grocery store and stocked up on tofu, rice, veggies and fruit. Staples of a plant-based beginner.
As I fervently continued a 100% plant based lifestyle my energy levels returned to when I was 12 years old and wanting to be on every sports team at school.
I had dabbled in running over the past 2 years running a couple of 10Ks and one half marathon.
In NYC, not knowing many people I began running most days of the week.
I started running faster and faster. Recovering faster and faster. Running more and more, further and further.
It felt good.
I started reading health and nutrition books to the likes of The China Study, Whole, Eat and Run & Fat Chance to name a few.
I had no desire for alcohol or partying. I was starting to enjoy life like I had never experienced before.
During my two and a half years in NYC I spent almost every Saturday practicing yoga with Elena Brower.
I took group meditation classes with The Path and I felt like I was discovering the person I was deep down, hidden beneath all the habits of my younger years.
I was finding someone who I was proud of.
I was living the plant-based lifestyle in every way.
I studied a plant based nutrition course designed by Prof T Colin Campbell through Cornell University and really dived into learning about optimal nutrition for ultimate health.
I experimented with different plant based styles of eating. I tried raw vegan for 3 months. I felt fresh and light but missed my warm cooked grain based meals.
I ate 20 bananas a day for 2 months at the peak of my NY marathon training.
I love bananas a lot. I was feeling fast and strong, but needed a little more variety.
I still enjoyed the occasional veggie burger and vegan ice cream when I went out with friends for a celebratory occasion.
The more I fine-tuned my diet, cutting out 95% of processed foods, the better my marathon and race performances got.
I achieved one of my athletic goals at the Sydney marathon in September 2016 where I qualified for the Boston marathon in a time of 3:25:52.
I ran Boston in April 2017, 2 days after my birthday. A birthday present I wouldn’t have been able to achieve without changing my lifestyle.
Not only did a plant-based lifestyle make me feel the best I ever had, give me endless energy and help me to achieve my athletic goals.
Another impact it had om my life was working miracles for my type 1 diabetes management.
I was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes when I was 12 years old in the year 2000. Even in my teenage years, I always managed to maintain an A1c in the 7s.
As a young adult, I struggled to keep good control of my blood glucose levels while I was drinking. My priorities were in the wrong places and my diabetes management was a second thought. As long as my blood sugar readings were “okay” most of the time, I was happy.
When I stopped drinking alcohol and took out all animal products from my diet in a matter of 9 months my A1c went from 7.5% to 5.7%. I was shocked when my NYC endocrinologist read out my A1c for the first time.
She reassured me it was possible to attain an A1c of a non-diabetic, as I had done, and maintain this through the course of my life.
My A1c has not gone above 6.4% since becoming plant-based four years ago.
I have the confidence that as a type 1 diabetic I can have better health than a non-diabetic. I can be fitter, faster, stronger and healthier.
I am grateful for the plant-based doctors who for no other reason than bettering the health of humans, did the research, trials and shared the results going against the knowledge we thought was true – that meat and dairy was essential for good health.,
I am grateful for the documentary Forks Over Knives – that changed my perspective on nutrition.
I am grateful for New York and the opportunity it gave me to start again at life and become the person I am today.
I am grateful I have the opportunity to share my knowledge and learnings on how a whole food plant based diet can change our health and our lives.
Look out for my next article on how I eat a high carbohydrate, low fat, plant based diet with type 1 diabetes.