Tell us a bit about yourself and your career.
I have been a nail tech for 32 years. My business is Advance Images & Nail Studio in West Babylon, N.Y. I started following a high-raw vegan diet [in which a higher percentage of raw food is eaten than cooked food] more than two years ago after learning about the realities of the meat industry.
What are your health challenges?
My health challenges started in childhood with seasonal allergies and skin irritations. Nothing seemed to relieve the symptoms. I never had to worry about my weight until after I turned 30. When I reached my heaviest at 142, I hired a trainer, lost 20 pounds and kept it off for nearly 10 years before gaining some of it back. I tried pills and diets, but nothing worked. I stayed between 132-140 pounds. for years until I decided it was the last straw. I made the promise to myself in January 2014 and I gave myself a year to do it. In February, I came upon a New York Times article by Dr. Mark Hyman concerning the dangerous health effects of sugar, and I decided to wean myself from all the garbage I ate during every New York Fashion Week show. My husband and I also watched the documentaries, Food Inc. and Forks over Knives. We made the decision together then to stop eating meat.
What was/is your plan of action?
The first thing we did was get rid of all the meat and animal products in our kitchen. I started using the stationary bike in my bedroom, doing exercise videos, and going to the gym. I follow a high-raw vegan lifestyle by eating a lot of green vegetables, fruit, nuts, and seeds. I drink tea and coffee without sugar or creamers, a lot of water, and homemade nut milks such as almond or cashew. The weight has melted right off, quickly.
How has/does your job as a nail tech affect your plan?
I work out in the mornings before work. Every two to three hours I eat one of my three meals and three snacks. Because my lifestyle is high-raw, I have to plan my meals more and prepare them ahead of time. My fast food is bananas, apples, grapes, and dehydrated snacks. My advantage is that I work out of my home and have these foods easily available while I work. Curious clients have sampled some of my food and are surprised by how delicious it is.
What has been your result so far? What further health and fitness goals do you have?
Since going to the gym almost every morning, I feel stronger and look better. My allergies have cleared up and I have even become a certified health coach and written a vegan cookbook. So far, I like my body, but I plan to hire a trainer to help me develop further; a more muscular body looks better than a body that has just lost weight.
What has been your greatest challenge or most difficult aspect of your new healthy lifestyle?
The most difficult part is not that I miss meat, which most people would think. So far, there have been no setbacks. I discovered there are vegans who eat junk food, and I nearly fell victim to that, but when my weight started creeping up, I reeled back by eating less processed and cooked vegan foods. Eating more fresh produce is the best way to maintain weight and health.
What is your advice to encourage other nail techs to embark on a healthy lifestyle?
Those who wish to embark on this lifestyle should do their research. My best tip for anyone is to listen to her/his body after eating something. The body will gravitate to what is best for it in any moment. As for fitness, do what you love to do! If you like to cycle, do it! Dancing? I’m in! An unhealthy lifestyle and family disease does not have to be your legacy if you are educated, aware, and willing to care for yourself properly and forever. Your health is priceless.
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