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Tales of a Fat Vegetarian

Author: Shannon Tani

Published: 2009-02-06 : (Rev. 2009-02-25)

Synopsis and Key Points:

Shannon Tani is a vegetarian and former fatty who weighed over 220 lbs She has currently lost over 70lbs.

Main Digest

Seriously. Everyone in my family eats meat, but for some reason, I just wouldn't eat it when I was a kid. Well, to be honest, my dad likes to remind me that I used to like bologna...but I'm not even sure that that can really be considered meat and I stopped eating it as soon as I found out that it was made from an animal. I must have been Buddhist in a former life.

I'm a freak of nature. I'm a lifelong vegetarian whose parents never set out to raise her that way.

Seriously. Everyone in my family eats meat, but for some reason, I just wouldn't eat it when I was a kid. Well, to be honest, my dad likes to remind me that I used to like bologna...but I'm not even sure that that can really be considered meat and I stopped eating it as soon as I found out that it was made from an animal. I must have been Buddhist in a former life.

Yet I've never been someone you would consider slim. Chubby, plump, big-boned...and yes, even fat. Those are the words that would describe me.

I know that most people think that vegetarians are by nature thin and healthy. And many are. But I'm here to say that it's not always the case. There are plenty of foods that are both vegetarian and unhealthy and eating an abundance of these foods can indeed make you fat, even if you're not eating meat.

Princess Dresses are not Drop-Waisted

I realized that I was not skinny in first grade. My mom would always dress me in these god-awful drop-waisted dresses that she thought made me look slim. She'd even tell me to suck in my stomach (and, being six years old, the only way I know how to do this was to hold my breath).

Well, one day we had to go shopping for a dress for my First Communion. Of course, my mom starts looking at all these drop waisted dresses. But I didn't want a a drop-waisted dress. The regular-waisted dresses were so much prettier and princess-like. I wanted to be a pretty princess and I knew that I couldn't be that in an ugly drop-waisted dress. I fought and I cried. Eventually, the sales clerk, bless her heart, convinced my mom that she ought to let me get the dress that I wanted.

The Curse of My Last Name

My maiden name is Tubbs. Yes, you read that correctly. A fat girl whose last name is Tubbs. I couldn't make this up if I tried.

Now, in high school, I wasn't terribly fat. But like just about any other normal teenager, I was self-conscious about my weight. And the last name.

I joined the theater club at the same time as another girl named Shannon, so the theater teacher nicknamed me Tubby...because of my last name (so he said. Of course all I could think of is "Why am I so fat" every time I heard him call my "name".). You're probably thinking this story couldn't get worse. It does. The other Shannon happened to be quite tall and skinny, so the teacher started calling her "Stick Woman". Stick woman and Tubby. Fantastic.

All of my girl friends, being modern women, used to debate whether we would take our husband's last names if we ever got married. Or would we hyphenate? There was never any question in my mind. I would take whatever last name my future husband came with.

Fat Acceptance

Throughout college and in the years after, I started gaining a lot more weight. But I didn't care. I was at a point where I knew that true beauty came from the inside and it didn't matter what I looked like on the outside. I thought that fat was just how God had made me and there wasn't anything I could do about it. I didn't own a scale and it was fashionable among my friends to wear very loose-fitting handmade clothing, so I never realized just how big I was getting. Even if I did know it, I wouldn't have cared. I was fat and happy.

I had a doctor that told me I was too heavy and that I needed to lose weight. But he also told me that all of blood tests and other vitals were perfectly normal, so I didn't give it too much thought.

The Dreaded Diagnosis

Finally, when I was 23, another doctor diagnosed me with Polycyctic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS). I was devastated. I knew some people with PCOS, so I had done a bit of reading about it. I knew that people with PCOS had a tendency to be overweight and have a difficult time losing weight.

Now, I was comfortable at my weight, even though it was high, but for some reason the idea that my weight would just keep going up and up really upset me. I had a good cry and then did some more research.

Small Changes and Big Realizations

I read that a lot of women with PCOS had success following a low carb diet, so I decided to give that a try. Of course, as a vegetarian, I failed miserably at that, however it did encourage me to begin changing some eating habits.

I switched from drinking a two liter bottle of soda per day to drinking only diet soda. I ate more vegetables and salads.

I had always thought that my diet was "pretty good". After all, when people would hear that I was a vegetarian, they'd all exclaim "Wow! You must be so healthy!"

Well, I wasn't.

I realized that I had been eating various forms of pizza four times a week. I considered frozen pizza, pizza pockets, and delivery pizza to be different meals. When I wasn't eating pizza for dinner, I would eat pasta or macaroni and cheese. On the rare occasions that I did eat a salad (only when eating out), it would be loaded with ranch dressing. In addition to my unhealthy meals, I would regularly eat bags of chips, candy bars, and ice cream.

Needless to say, by just making a few more healthy choices, I started to lose weight. And the more small changes I'd make, like incorporating exercise, the more weight would come off.

Striving to be Better

I'm not a perfect person. I'm still chubby. I don't eat completely healthy foods 100 percent of the time. But I do strive to always make more healthy choices which counterbalances any bad choices that I make. It's been seven years since I started on this journey and I'm light-years ahead of where I used to be. In high school, I couldn't jog around the track even once. Now, I regularly jog 5 miles or more!

I share my story because I know that there are a lot of people out there who are where I used to be.

Eating a vegetarian diet can trick you into thinking that you are always making healthy food choices. But that's not always the case. If you are a fat vegetarian, and you're not happy with the way that your body looks, then take a look at the foods that you are actually eating. Perhaps you too can begin a journey to a healthier you, just by making a few small changes at a time.

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