For now, I just want you to meet Shayda. You can meet her there, in the club. She’s truly inspirational!
Here’s her story, in her own words:
Back in 1997, a very prominent doctor, who specialized in internal medicine, weight management and metabolism disorder, told me the following,“It would take herculean efforts for you to ever lose weight and to maintain that weight loss.”
Since my late 20’s I have tried diet that was out there. Always losing the weight, but always gaining it back and then some. It wasn’t until my late forties that I hit my highest weight which was 240 pounds. I started feeling really bad about myself. My cholesterol at its highest was over 400 and my triglycerides well over 700.
They say that when the student is ready, the teacher will appear! And that was so true for me. I remember visiting my mom one day, and when I arrived at her home, she was listening to a guy named Dr. Fuhrman, who had a special on PBS. As I sat typing on my computer, I asked my mom, who is this guy? And she responded saying, “Listen to him, I think you might like him.”
Well, I had no patience to wait for him, so I started Googling her and found her website. I emailed her and her husband introducing myself and wanting to find out if she taught any classes that I could attend or events for that matter. I truly was on a mission here. There was no stopping me. Honestly, I didn’t think I would hear from AJ or her husband. But guess what?? They responded!!! I was so thrilled!! Then they told me that she was teaching a class at Whole Foods in the OC, which was close to my mom’s house. So I signed up again. When I met her, I knew in my heart I had found the person who was going to change my life. I loved her energy and her food tasted out of this world.
At the event, AJ said that she was going to have a 30 day Unprocessed challenge starting on Jan 12, 2012. But before taking that class, I had to take her one day class at her house. Well, sign me up! At the same time, I hired John Pierre to help me as well. My life was about to be changed by these two amazing people. Twice a week John Pierre came to my apartment. I never thought that sitting in a chair I could get such a workout. OMG!! There was no more excuses, we not only worked out, but he also worked on my head. He never talked to me about how much weight to lose, he kept talking about getting healthy. The other thing that he did, was to throw my scale behind my couch where I could not get to it. He always says that only a fish needs scales! I was addicted to it, and like most people I let the scale determine my mood, which was stupid.
January 12, 2012 was the day my life changed forever. What an amazing group of people I was with and AJ had built this safe environment for all of us. After the first meeting, AJ passed out some healthy dessert that she had made. As the tray came around, I remember as it came in my hand, I looked up and locked eyes with John Pierre. He said absolutely nothing, but I focused on his eyes and I did not touch the dessert and just kept passing it along. I think to this day, that set the tone of me getting healthy. Being abstinent from dessert, even though it was healthy, was the best thing I did. He also told me that if I continue eating this way, I would not need the surgery on my ankle.
When I had signed up for the 30 day challenge, my friends and I had decided that at the end of it, we would go out and celebrate. Well, I’m happy to report that we never went out. At the end of the challenge, I had lost 18 pounds and I was on cloud nine. I told my friends I’m not going out and I’m planning on continuing on eating this way. I loved what I ate!!! For years I was told I could not eat bananas, rice, potatoes, beans, mangoes, etc. And there was no restriction. What?? Eat ’till I’m satisfied?? I would be crazy to give this up.
And the best part, my weight was moving downward. I had never felt better. I was very determined, and wanted to succeed so badly! I wanted to be healthy more than anything else. I did everything Chef AJ and John Pierre told me to do. I worked the program the way they said to do it, not my version of what the program should be.
For one year, I totally immersed myself in this program. I took every class that Chef AJ taught. I stuck to her like white on rice. I truly believe that you need to immerse yourself completely and always take continuing classes. I also went to the Mc Dougall 10 day program toward the end of the year. When I went there, Dr. McDougall took me off all my meds. He even taught me how to handle my own doctor.
Four months after leaving Dr. Mc Dougall, mom and I went to visit our doctor. We both have the same doctor, and I had taken my mom off her meds as well. When he came in, he was very happy, he said he was very pleased by my numbers, and that the higher dosed meds were helping me. He was also pleased that my weight had come down. Well, I was about to throw him a curve ball. I said, “Doc, I have something to tell you….I stopped taking my meds four months ago.”
He was shocked!! I said, “Let’s sit and talk.”
He was okay. I explained to him that the meds he gives me really help to make my numbers better looking. But if I eat whole foods, unprocessed foods, it can create miracles. He asked what I was eating. My mom said, “Potatoes!!”
I thought his neck was going to snap. “You can’t have potatoes.”
“Why,” I asked?
He said, “You’re pre-diabetic.”
So I asked, “How’s my A1C? My CRP? My glucose, cholesterol, triglycerides?”
He said everything was down. My glucose was perfect! He could not believe it. He sat back in his chair and wanted to hear more. So I began to explain everything to him. I explained that I’m eating a whole food plant based diet, salt, oil and sugar free. He was intrigued. I told him that the potato is not the problem, but what people put on it: the butter, sour cream, bacon, etc. He said that was true.
I brought him all the books: The China Study by T. Collin Campbell, Dr. Esselstyn, Dr. Fuhrman, Dr. Mc Dougall, Dr. Goldhammer, Chef AJ and John Pierre’s books. He was truly amazed by what he was hearing. He said, “Okay, I want to see you in again in 4 months.”
Four months later, my numbers continued to come down and he was loving the results.
It’s now been 3 ½ years since I started my journey with Chef AJ and John Pierre. I never had the surgery on my ankle, as everything healed. I am completely off all of my meds, I have lost 100 pounds and have never felt better in my life. My weight continues to come down.
My doctor and his family are now eating a whole foods plant based diet, SOS free, and he is teaching this to his heart patients as well. Dr. Esselstyn has become his hero. Every time we get together we talk about recipes and he wants to know what else have I learned. I truly believe we must educate our own doctors. Every chance I get I pass these great books to doctors, nurses, friends, etc. Whoever I can get my hands on.
I owe a debt of gratitude to Chef AJ and John Pierre for saving my life. I couldn’t have done it without them. Three and a half years later, I still take her classes, I still immerse myself in this program, and I hang around like minded people. It’s the first time in my life that I have not gained my weight back and it’s still coming down.
Btw, I hold myself accountable to the two of them. Thank you Chef AJ and John Pierre for saving my life. I really love you guys!
And thank you Shayda! Thank you for sharing your story and for being such an active member of Ultimate Weight Loss. You’re commitment is palpable and contagious. I look forward to getting to know you as we are in this thing together for the rest of our lives, because we both know that for us, there is no other way!
If you are interested in learning more about Ultimate Weight Loss and the salt, oil and sugar free Whole Foods Plant Based way of eating, we’ve got room for you in our small but lovely little corner of Facebook. Ask me for details.