A few years ago, I was very sick. I didn’t receive a diagnosis from a doctor, but I felt horrible everyday. I smoked half a pack of cigarettes and carried a fat gut—I was skinny fat and disproportionately larger in the tummy area. I was losing hair, out of energy and I hated it. I hated myself. I was depressed. Then something in me told me to take responsibility and make a change.
Where I Started
I first became a pescatarian in 2013. With some difficulty—I say that modestly—I was able to convince my parents and the rest of my family that I was serious about changing my diet.
Coming from a Filipino family, my dad and mom were shocked when I told them I didn’t want to eat cow, chickens, or pigs anymore. “If only Lola (my great grandmother) was still alive to see you now,” my mother said in a disapproving tone.
Immediately after changing my diet, I began losing belly fat. During that time, I had just finished a nutrition course in my sophomore year at a local community college—I’ll never forget my professor’s name: Ms. B.
She just turned 30, and still looking like a fox. Her blue eyes glistened whenever she smiled at you, and she smiled often. She kept her dirty blonde hair cut to about her shoulders and always came dressed in a modest, professional-but-casual outfit. Even until this day, she still remains a big influence in my life after only one semester of study.
I soon transferred to a California State college and started buying groceries for myself. This really helped me define my diet. I didn’t really know how to cook, so I used the heck out of my blender making fruit smoothies. I ate oatmeal every day and watched the belly fat melt away. I almost never cooked fish, so I only ever ate seafood when out at restaurants; and, as a poor college student living on a fixed income, that didn’t happen often.
I slowly began adopting a plant-based, vegetarian diet and started running. Running inspired me to cut back on smoking and focus on improving my health. I smoked a significant amount less—enough to cut my PR for a 3.7-mile run from 55 minutes to 27 minutes at my best.
At this time, my passions for growth grew tremendously. I smoked less and less and ate much better. Since I wasn’t eating animals, it was easy to cut fast food. I monitored my diet and eliminated whatever I felt unnecessary, such as white bread, chips and eventually even cheese.
I slowly phased fish and other kinds of seafood from my diet. I eventually took the final plunge into veganism at the beginning of this year.
My dad just thought it was a joke. He continuously made fun of the things I ate, calling tofu “rubber” and tell me he’ll eat “real food” instead. I remember, as soon as I told him he immediately smacked his lips in a disappointed manner and shot me a dirty look. I laughed and smiled.
Despite opposition from my parents, I adopted my plant-based diet with great conviction. Since then, they have become more accepting of my food choices, but they still don’t quite understand why I do what I do.
My brothers and sister have accepted me for who I am, so that was never really an issue—the younger generation is much more accepting of new ideas. My older brother still cracks jokes every now and again, but he understands the health benefits that come along with eating plant-based.
I’ve had my ups and downs and with veganism, but I love it. I want to struggle with veganism until the day that I day; and, thanks to veganism, I don’t think that will be any time soon—*knocks on wood. I am much healthier and happier than 2013 me, and that means the world.
What are some obstacles that you’ve had to overcome to reach a happier self? Share with other readers in the comments!