Even though I'd like to think I am a pretty healthy eater, I wasn't always like that. In fact, most of my life I was the complete opposite. I weighed over 350lbs and lived a sedentary lifestyle.
The way I ate greatly contributed to my obesity. I remember my breakfasts being one of the following:- 4+ pieces of toast.
- A huge bowl of cereal; I would fill it to the rim with cereal and then load up with milk to the point where I was spilling cereal all over the floor. Sometimes I would go back for seconds.
- 4 Eggo waffles with butter and so much artificial pancake syrup that my waffles ended up cold and soggy.

Another issue with my eating was that I was a big snacker. Every day after school I would come home and eat almost anything I could. My mom would go grocery shopping, buy goodies, and leave them out on the counter. She assumed that I would eat maybe one or two things, but I would sample everything she bought. This included ramen noodles, chips, cookies, ice cream, etc. I don't recall ever reaching for a fruit or a vegetable, even if they were situated right beside the bag of chips.

Another snack time was late at night. This is embarrassing for me to admit, but I used to eat an entire row of Oreo cookies in one sitting. Either that, or I would eat an entire sleeve of Chips Ahoy or a heaping bowl of ice cream - I would go through a half gallon in 2-3 days. I did this every night, so it seemed commonplace; I was eating mindlessly.

 When I was still in High School and living at home, my mom tried to make fairly balanced meals. We would have meat, a side, and a vegetable (usually canned). I remember eating 2-3 pieces of fried chicken, a huge portion of instant mashed potatoes, and letting my canned peas or corn sit there and get cold. I would almost always eat more meat than anything else; I never ate just ONE piece of chicken or ONE pork chop.

In college, things were the same bordering on worse. I would go to the dining hall and load up on God knows what - pizza, whatever entrees they were serving, ice cream/other desserts, and more. When I wasn't at the dining hall, I would make myself an entire box of pierogies or something similar. At this point (in college) I still wasn't eating many fruits or vegetables and my eating habits were pretty much the same.

This all changed in the summer of 2008. One day I woke up and realized that I was tired of being obese; I was slowly killing myself. So, I started by cutting out refined carbs, joining a gym, and decided to become a vegetarian. I know some people say to start slow, but I knew I had to go all in or nothing. So, I plunged head first.

The weight melted off. However, at this point, I was still at an unhealthy place with food. During that summer I would consume under 600 calories a day and went to the gym 6 days a week. I logged my calories and there were days when my net cals were in the negative because I worked so hard at the gym. I thought I was healthy and I didn't care about what I was doing to myself because I was losing so much weight. Looking back, it was a scary, low point in my life.
During the winter of 2009 I decided to go full vegan. This was one of the best decisions I've ever made because it helped pull me out of my disordered eating. I viewed it as a way to explore kinds of food that I never tried or even thought existed; it was my food awakening. I started reading and learning more about nutrition and educated myself on what my body needed to sustain itself. I started eating more of the important food groups and experimented with new dishes, cuisines, cooking styles, and health foods/products. It was a stepping stone, but ultimately I decided to incorporate eggs and dairy into my diet for personal reasons. It works for me and makes me happy, and that's all that matters.

In terms of exercise, I typically try to run 3-4 times a week and do yoga whenever I want. I just try to move every day! Working out and healthy eating go hand in hand; exercise makes me want to eat healthfully, and eating well fuels my work outs.

Remember: You can do anything you put your mind to; it may sound cliche, but it's true. For those struggling to lose weight - don't give up, because you are beautiful, you are strong, and you will do it.