Announcement: FREE Weight Loss Webinar!

 

Heeeyyy,

Happy New Year and shit!

You want a FREE weight loss webinar?

OK, you twisted my arm!

If you’re in a rush, just sign up here! And have a good day, thanks for stopping by.

Otherwise, let me explain why I’m doing this.

 

I believe body and mind are connected.

What affects one, affects the other.

I don’t care what people look like, and the free weight-loss workshop I’m about to pitch to you is nothing to do with ‘bikini bodies’ or ‘looking hot.’

Having been overweight at one point, I know now that even though I wasn’t overly unhappy or insecure about it in terms of how I looked, and even though I didn’t feel especially unhealthy in any serious way as a result of the extra weight I was carrying – I wasn’t feeling or performing at my best either.

Even though each difference between how I felt then and how I feel now is a subtle one, they definitely add up to more than the sum of their parts.

It IS healthier to be at a good weight for your body frame if only for purely practical reasons. Your body can function more optimally – your heart doesn’t have to work so hard to pump blood around your body; less weight carried on the bones means less stress to the bones and frame, your sleep is better etc.

And we know that even if we don’t feel unhealthy right now, excess body weight can put us more at risk for chronic disease.

There’s another, more intangible thing that happens when you are carrying the right amount of weight for your body.

Please note that when I say ‘ideal amount of weight for your body,’ I don’t mean super-skinny with collar bones sticking out, or a thigh gap, or whatever the hell some screwed–up teens are calling it. Every ‘body’ is different and will have its own ideal weight at which it functions optimally.

The thing that happens when your body is carrying only the weight it needs is hard to articulate. It’s something like feeling light on your feet and getting less tired because you’re only moving around the body mass that you need, not any excess. It’s something like feeling lean and mean and ninja. It’s something like I imagine a cat or a squirrel feels when they leap onto a fence with such ease because they know the capability and the limits of their bodies instinctually.

If I may get a little ‘woo’ for a second, it also feels like you are weighed down to the ground by less and so your mind and spirit can fly free-er. Remember in my first sentence I said that body and mind (and I’m just gonna say ‘spirit’ now too since we’ve already gone there!) are connected?

If I just lost you at that – apologies; but I don’t know any other way to describe that feeling. And I’m aware this isn’t science – I’m just tellin’ ya what happened to me.

Your physical and mental energies seem much more aligned when you’re at a point where your weight fits your frame.

What I’m trying to say is that’s it’s not all about heart disease and diabetes, although we obviously want to avoid these; and it’s most definitely not about bikinis. There are so many other benefits to having only as much weight as our body needs.

So it’s with the intention of helping you feel, perform, create, dream, run, wonder, fantasize, climb, imagine, abseil (hee!) and basically – DO ALL THE FUN THINGS to the very best of your individual capacity, that I invite you to catch my FREE weight-loss webinar on Tuesday 17th January, at 2pm Eastern, 11am Pacific, 7pm GMT.

 

Now you should know by now – I’M VEGAN.

Yes, really 😉

And a happy coincidence is that a plant-based diet is the best, healthiest and most sustainable way to lose weight.

So please know from the outset that we will be an animal-product free zone!

You want an idea of how I roll when teaching about weight loss? Let me just say there are no scales (either for you, or to measure out portion sizes) or counting calories involved. Who the hell wants to count stuff before eating?

I am so excited to share with you my key components to helping you reach a weight (actually it’s more of a feeling than a number on a scale) that helps your body and mind thrive.

 

As well as talking about all the amazingly delicious foods you can eat in abundance, I have a TON of insights, tips, recommendations, motivational tools, ways to frame things that make your weight-loss goals achievable AND more sustainable once you’ve achieved them.

AND AND AND! You will also receive a free 7-day meal plan on the day of the webinar – I wouldn’t wanna give you all this info without any ideas to start off with!

So –

Are you in?

Yes, I’m in!

And at the end of the talk I’ll be letting you know how you can make your weight loss transition utterly delectable with a mini-program I’m creating based on dishes from world cuisines that are largely plant-based by default. So, yayy!

 

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Be Your Own Vegan

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I know you already know this; but there are lots of Judgey McJudgeypants in the world.

I’m sure you’ve come up against some already, what with living amongst, like, people and shit.

Surprise! We have some Judgey McJudgeypants in the vegan community too!

They are in every space. No community gets away without having its fair share of Judgey McJudgeypants.

This particular vegan brand may think less of you if you don’t transition to vegan quick enough, for example; or if you appear to care too much about the health aspect or the environmental impacts of going vegan and don’t talk enough about the ethics.

They may think you should walk around wearing T-shirts with slaughterhouse images on, or that your every waking moment should be spent raising awareness of animal cruelty.

They may think you’re not vegan enough if you still have leather or wool products that you bought before you were vegan, but don’t want to throw away until they wear out because that would be wasteful.

Look – you can be judged for any darn thing you do in life, so –

PLEASE don’t let a judgey vegan put you off going or staying vegan!

You’ve gotta do you. Who else can you do?

If you need to transition slowly, that’s great! If you do it at YOUR pace you’re more likely to succeed.

If you’re not the sort of person that feels they can push slaughterhouse videos in front of other people’s faces every waking minute – don’t!! Once you get comfortable and confident with your lifestyle shift and feel you might want to share all the positive aspects of it with the wider world, there are a TON of different ways you can do this, and lots that would be a good fit for you.

If, right now, your concern is to better your health, lose weight or improve a specific health issue – fine! Focus on that right now (but I must warn you – you may find you’ve experienced a consciousness shift at some point in the future that connects you to the ethical side of veganism :))

I can give you a list of people as long as my arm who started out being plant-based in order to achieve better health and fitness, then a way down the line had a total expansion of consciousness where they saw animal agriculture for the horror it is; saw how blind society is to it, and started using the word ‘vegan’ proudly (me included!)

I’m not saying this happens to everyone, but I’ve heard enough stories of this happening to not judge or interfere when someone tells me they are going vegan primarily for health reasons. I just think to myself ‘mmmkay,’ and smile because I know the universe probably has other ideas for them.

And even if this doesn’t happen? Well, the world needs more healthy people, not more sick people. Healthy people use less resources.

The world also needs more people concerned with the environment, not fewer. And a healthier, cleaner planet helps animals too, so….

And seriously, why would it be so important to someone who is probably a stranger WHY you are no longer harming animals, as long as you AREN’T?

Equally, If your concern is ONLY about the ethics of a vegan lifestyle; if you are not interested in health and wellness and you want to eat vegan junk food all day, then much as it pains me to say it (being a nutritionist and always wanting to get all up in people’s faces about being healthy) – this is your business and your business only, too!

(Though please do try and substitute whole grains for white refined grains. Aaaaargh! I can’t help myself, it’s stronger than me! 🙂 )

When you make the decision to go vegan, do it YOUR way.

It’s a brilliant idea to join vegan communities, both in real life and online, and you will find great support and fellowship in this.

I am confident that you will gain so much more from a vegan community than the annoyance you may get from the odd judgey vegan – so I highly recommend you join one.

But, if anyone starts to make you feel that you’re not doing it right, or that you’re not vegan enough, or that your reasons and motivations aren’t as pure as theirs, I don’t know how to put this any other way than – SCREW THEM!

If someone persists in saying things that feel critical rather than helpful (don’t worry, your instinct will tell you which of these was their intent); then put boundaries between yourself and that person.

Look, you are going (or have gone) vegan. THIS IS AMAAAAAZING!!!!!

Keep an open mind; keep reading, talking, learning, listening (to those that are genuinely helpful), sharing information etc, and you’ll get to be exactly who and where you need to be.

Let Judgey McJudgeypants find an elsewhere to be.

 

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My Five Key Components To Successful Weight Loss

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I see so many people trying to lose weight (especially now it’s nearly summer and all the hideous ‘get your bikini bod so the menz on the beach don’t find you disgusting‘ ads are everywhere) and my heart goes out to them.

Seemingly each month a new diet trend comes out. Each frickin’ day there is this green smoothie weight loss challenge or that juicing weight loss challenge.

Even if people want to lose weight because THEY want to – rather than because society is pressuring them to; so much contradictory information is out there about weight loss it can be hard to know which route to take.

How is anyone meant to know what is effective and what’s not?  And even if it’s effective – is it healthy? Is it sustainable? Will the weight just pack all back on at the end of the challenge or will the weight loss last this time?

I personally couldn’t give a crap what someone looks like – but in terms of health, wellness and longevity; a weight that suits our frame is ideal.

I’ve been overweight – not massively so, but enough that I know what it is to feel heavy, unfit and lethargic. The joy I get now in moving my body and having it work optimally for me is priceless (I do handstands every day, and love hiking and climbing), and it’s worth it for me to maintain a healthy weight.

The good news is that this is easier than we’re led to believe.

I’ve already written about how a whole foods, plant-based diet is the healthiest and most sustainable way to lose weight. But, just to recap, this means 100% plant-based (no animal products); whole foods (no refined foods like sugar, white flour, white rice etc, but the whole versions); minimal added oils (because these are processed, extracted fats); and minimal processed foods.

To get an idea of what whole food, plant-based meals look like – I highly recommend the Forks Over Knives Recipe resource.

Exercise is also part of any weight loss plan obvs, but I’m gonna stick to talking about the food here, as that’s my bag.

 

Here are my FIVE KEY components for successful weight loss:

 

1. Enjoyment of your food

For the love of all that’s holy, you NEED to enjoy your meals…I was gonna say even if you’re losing weight, but you need to enjoy your food ESPECIALLY if you are losing weight. How else will your new habits be sustainable?

If you delight in your food you won’t feel deprived and like you’re being punished. If you see what you’re doing as a delicious permanent lifestyle shift rather than as a temporary diet, you’re more likely to be successful.

If you’re on a diet where you’re drinking shakes or smoothies instead of having meals; I mean, really? Even if the shake tastes ok, you really want one for every meal?

If you are used to eating refined or greasy foods, you may notice a difference in taste eating whole food plant-based – but you’ll lose NONE of the flavour. And, after a while your taste buds will adjust and PREFER the whole, lower fat food.

If you’ve made the change from omnivore to vegan, you’ve already experienced your taste buds acclimating to plant foods from animal foods – it’s the same thing here but you’re adjusting to whole foods.

Get cooking and get creative.

 

2. Satiety

If you are like me, you need to feel satisfied at the end of a meal. I like my stomach to KNOW it’s been fed, not in a ‘aaarrrrghhhh I feel so gross and bloated’ kind of a way; just in a warm, cosy, pleasantly satiated kind of a way. A green smoothie for dinner ain’t gonna cut it. Don’t kid yourself. Even if you do this for a few days, it’s not sustainable.

Foods that fill you up (like whole grains and beans) will STOP you reaching for crap later, or stop you dreaming of crap. And who’s got time to dream of crap food all day long?

If you’re full of beans and grains – there just ain’t room for anything else! Your belly and your brain are content!

 

3. Stop counting stuff

I don’t believe food and its components should ever be counted (unless you have a condition where your doctor has recommended you count measurements of foods etc).

Some people think vegans are no fun – but don’t seem to question the funlessness of counting calories, ‘syns,’ fat content etc etc.

On a whole food, plant-based diet (and if you’re conservative with the ol’ added oils) NO COUNTING IS NEEDED.

 

4. Consistency in the day to day is key (rather than sporadic detoxes, crash diets, or ‘challenges’)

Forget the detox and the challenges. What’s the point of a detox or a challenge, only to go back to old habits and have to do another detox a few weeks or months down the line?

No one is suggesting you should never eat vegan junk food again as long as you live; but on a daily basis consistently choosing tasty, whole food dishes will stop you wanting the junk regularly.

Make the junk an occasional treat. Junk always tastes better if you feel it’s a cheeky treat 🙂

5. Preparation

If you’re a busy bee, prepare as much as you can in advance. It’s all about putting measures in place to prevent making less than great food choices.

Slow cookers are great for having a meal ready when you walk in the door; you can make extra soup and stews and freeze what you don’t eat for later in the week.

Even if you can’t prep a whole meal in advance you can chop veg once you’ve bought it and keep it in the veg box or freezer.

 

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Forget Diet And Detox – New Year, New Lifestyle

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Guys – did you know I’m on TV these days?

If you’re not already, follow me on Periscope https://www.periscope.tv/KarenCottenden (download the FREE app) and get FREE vegan tips and insights 6 days a week!

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So you’re counting today as the first day of the New Year right?

Good. Me too.

Now, I can totally see the point of changing shit up at New Year.

It’s an easy way to measure progress; we will always know where we started from, and we’ll have made a clear and well-defined intention that is loaded with the freshness and hope the New Year brings.

This is good.

But…

How many of us have made ‘New Years Resolutions’ only to have forgotten all about them by, ooooh, March at the very latest?

I believe the reasons for this are:

  • We know the resolution will benefit us, but doing it (whatever it is) feels like torture
  • We’re not really engaged with the reasons why we are making a change
  • We’re lazy mofo’s (JK!)

Those of you looking to go vegan/plant-based purely as a way to ‘diet’ or ‘detox’ this January have it ALL wrong. Yep, ya do.

Don’t misunderstand – I’m not judging you for wanting to lose weight and clean up your insides with a whole food, vegan diet. No Sir.

It’s great that you’ve realised the best way to achieve these things IS with a whole food vegan diet. Lots of people still think that avoiding carbs are where it’s at; so props to you for being cleverer than these types.

And as I mention on my ‘About’ page – any way into veganism people may have is TOTES KOOL with me.

But you are coming to it from a perspective that may not serve to sustain your resolution.

You see, being vegan isn’t a DIET. At least, it works BEST when it’s not perceived a diet, but as a whole new lifestyle.

Why?

We always think of ‘diets’ and ‘detoxes’ as temporary. I mean, who is on a permanent diet? OK, you probably know someone who says they are permanently ‘dieting’ but not because they want to, and you know they’re not happy about it.

I encourage you to think of going vegan/plant based as an entirely new lifestyle. An exciting and vibrant one. One that will change your life forever for the better in ways that you can’t even imagine right now. Not only will it benefit your health, but it will benefit every single living organism on the face of the Earth, and the Earth itself! It will help combat world hunger. Your new lifestyle will help give today’s children a chance to explore and experience the natural beauty of the world when they are older, and to eventually  bring their own children into a cleaner, safer, more stable world not fearful of extreme weather events, scarcity and war.

YES war! Going vegan can stop wars! Check it:

As long as there are slaughterhouses there will be battlefields ~ Leo Tolstoy (Russian author, 1828-1910)

As long as man continues to be the ruthless destroyer of lower living beings he will never know health or peace. For as long as men massacre animals, they will kill each other. Indeed, he who sows the seed of murder and pain cannot reap joy and love ~ Pythagoras (Greek polymath, c. 570-c. 495BC)

As long as people will shed the blood of innocent creatures there can be no peace, no liberty, no harmony between people. Slaughter and justice cannot dwell together ~ Isaac Bashevis Singer (Polish/American author, 1902-1991)

Until he extends the circle of his compassion to all living things, man will not himself find peace ~ Albert Schweitzer (French/German theologian, organist, philosopher, physician and missionary, 1875-1965)

There is nothing wrong with focussing on the weight loss or detoxing benefits of this lifestyle if it’s that that drew you in in the first place, or with eating specific plant-foods that promote this. But if you go into it thinking of it purely as a diet or detox, you’ll:

A) Come to a point when you consider your goal achieved, go back to old habits, and find yourself making the SAME resolutions next year (PEOPLE – we only have so many years, let’s make DIFFERENT resolutions every year!)

Or:

B) Get bored, because you’re just eating fruit and chia seeds and drinking smoothies in an effort to achieve your detox goal; when you could be eating from a HYUUUUGE variety of delicious dishes as you educate yourself about all the ways to veganise old favourite meals, and the multitude of yummy world cuisines!

 

By looking at your resolution as a lifestyle change, rather than as a detox or diet (even if it’s those things that were your initial motivations), your entire perspective on it will change.

Because ‘lifestyle’ implies longer term; you’ll relax into it, learning new things bit by bit rather than bracing yourself for what you may feel is the deprivation of a ‘detox’ or ‘diet’.

You’ll push yourself to discover and explore new foods rather than just grabbing a kale/beet/wheatgrass/whatever smoothie,* and soon find yourself delighting in the amount you’ve learned, not to mention loving all your delicious new culinary creations.

I also encourage you to get informed about the environmental, ethical and social justice impact that veganism has, even if these are not your reasons for going vegan.

Why?

Because the more you know, the more your consciousness will expand, and the more reasons and incentive you will have for STAYING vegan, and thus, slim and untoxed!

We ALL like to feel that we’re doing good. Animal product industry marketers rely on this when they try and sell us ‘humane’ or ‘free range’ products.

So, instead of going back to feeling good about ourselves for buying eggs that are, in reality, produced in JUST as cruel a way as those at more intensive egg farms and benefitting only the bottom line of the greedy egg industry; and for throwing £20 into a charity bucket for ‘Starving Children In Africa’ when it’s actually animal agriculture that siphons food away from hungry people to cattle (for less hungry people to eat); let’s feel good about ourselves in 2016 for something that ACTUALLY MEANS SHIT.

Embrace every aspect of your new lifestyle – it truly is so much more than a diet ever could be.

And if you need personal, one-on-one guidance – you know darn well where I am.

Seeing this as a lifestyle shift and embracing its totality, rather than purely as a diet or detox means it may take a little longer to achieve your weight goal (though most likely not much longer at all!), but I promise you, once you reach it, you are far, FAR more likely to maintain it.

 

* I don’t mean to bash the smoothie; but it doesn’t hold a candle to a huge plate of Ethiopian food, or a table full of Middle Eastern Mezze.
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Why You Need The Facts On Flax

Brown Flax Seeds from Flickr via Wylio
© 2010 HealthAliciousNess, Flickr | CC-BY | via Wylio

Flax (some call it linseed) is magic. Well, practically. If any seed is on your side, it’s this one. Chia might be the seed ‘du jour,’ but this little grafter needs to be a part of your daily menu (or a few times a week at least).

Just why exactly is it so damned aces?

 

Weight Loss

Never mind the slimming shakes or the cayenne pepper maple syrup (wtf?) diet. These clever seeds are a great aid to anyone wanting to lose a few pounds. As they are so full of fibre, they help everything keep moving through your body, so nothing lingers longer than it should. Ground flax also expands in your stomach, helping you feel satiated for longer.

 

Toxin Remover

You know all that crap you breathe in every day? The toxins and heavy metals and stuff you really don’t want taking up residence in your body? Because it is so rich in soluble fibre, flax acts as a sort of sponge, to soak up all that shizz and transport it out of there. If you live in a city… actually, scratch that. If you live on Earth, you need a food source that helps your body get rid of pollutants and environmental baddies. Flax is it!

 

Cancer Protective

Flax seeds contain a phyto (plant) nutrient called lignan. Lots of plant foods have this, but flax has it in the highest amounts. Lignans are thought to be protective against breast cancer, and have been proved to help in survival after breast cancer when consumed regularly.

 

Best Source Of Omega 3 Essential Fatty Acid

You know that Omega 3 fatty acid that we all once thought you could only get from fish? Guess what? Flax is an amazing source of Omega 3 fatty acids. No need to ingest saturated fat, cholesterol and mercury.

 

Beautifier

Like nuts and avocados, flax seeds are a great way to moisturise your skin from the inside out. It is precisely because flax contains so much omega 3 that it does so much good for the skin, helping it retain moisture and reducing any inflammation.

 

System Regulator

As you can see, flax has the fibre factor. Ground flax is insanely good at helping everything move through your body in an appropriate amount of time. Don’t you just hate those ads for women (‘cos it is always apparently women) who suffer from bloating? Consuming ground flax regularly as part of a healthy plant-based diet means you never have to be like them, whining and rubbing their bellies. They will seem like aliens to you.

 

But How Can I incorporate It Into My Meals? It’s A Seed FFS! I’m Not A Bird! Easy peasy. To make it a little easier, you need to invest in a gadget that grinds these little darlings to meal. Some people use a coffee grinder, some use the Magic Bullet. I use the cheaper copy of the Magic Bullet – the Hinari Genie. Hurrah for cheaper copies!!

You can eat flax seeds whole, but you will get the most benefit from the ground meal. Your teeth may prefer them that way too.

I grind 2 tablespoons per day. You can always grind a week’s worth and keep it in the fridge in an airtight container, but, like everything, it’s probably best fresh.

Do you eat cereal? Porridge? Oatmeal? Soup? Stews? Chilli? You can put the ground seeds on practically anything. They have a pleasantly nutty taste, and are good added to sweet or savoury meals. There are not many places flax meal can’t go. You can even use them as an egg replacer in cakes. If you make your own bread, flapjacks, granola bars, cookies etc, you can add whole flax.

Flax it up, now! Get flaxing! Get your flax on! Flax that bitch! Get with the flax! Ok, ok, you know what? flax doesn’t need me to (attempt to) make it sound cool. People have used it for thousands of years for its health benefits. It’s a true gift from nature.

Try it and see for yourself.

 

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Why a Whole Food Vegan Lifestyle is Best for Weight Loss and Maintenance.

Start diet today from Flickr via Wylio
© 2009 Alan Cleaver, Flickr | CC-BY | via Wylio

Recently, I’ve noticed lots of friends on social media bemoaning the fact that they’ve over-indulged during the holidays. They are now back on the ‘diet’ and are, quite understandably, miserable about it.

I am heartily grateful that I haven’t dieted for a very long time, and know that I’ll NEVER have to.

I’ve lost count of the number of insane diets and weight-loss programmes out there. Dukan, Atkins, Weightwatchers, Slimming World, it never ends, each year brings new diets, or old ones in new clothes (Hi Paleo! Didn’t you used to be Atkins?). Why? Because even though most of these diets DO work in the short term, they are not sustainable.

You’ve heard about conventional medicine only treating the symptoms, while holistic medicine treats the cause of the symptoms?

Well, it’s the same thing here.

These diets only treat the symptoms of a bad lifestyle, i.e. the excess weight, and don’t challenge the lifestyle itself. Therefore, most people will end up going back to their old habits, and in lots of cases even putting on extra weight.

We all know people who have done this. In fact, I don’t know anyone who has followed one of these diets and kept the weight off. And so, there is always a market for new diets, and always enough people to buy into them and hope that this next one will work.

I’ve always had a huge appetite. I know for a fact that if I was on, say, the Weightwatchers diet, I couldn’t possibly have two bites of a cheesecake instead of two slices. Once you’ve tasted the cheesecake (or whatever happens to be your favourite treat), that’s it, you’ve got the taste for it!

How horrific to have the taste for it but to not be able to eat as much of it as you want! And people say vegans are depriving themselves!

Better to make a healthy plant-based cheesecake, and be able to eat as much as you desire – but guess what? You won’t be able to eat that much as it’s made with whole foods, and is really filling.

The best cheesecake I ever had was at Cafe Gratitude, a vegan restaurant in San Francisco. It was better than any dairy cheesecake by far.

You can get very similar cheesecakes in some Whole Foods in the US (and I just saw you can also order them online!).

Some branches of Whole Foods in the UK sell the Saf White chocolate and jasmine tart (tastes like cheesecake!), and Inspiral cheesecakes are available online.

Or, if this is unavailable to you – you can make your own. They all taste just as good, if not better than dairy cheesecake – I promise! Wow, I just realised I’m coming across as obsessed with cheesecake – but, the same is true for any treat. You can nearly always make a veganized version, and in the rare case where you cannot, you still have a multitude of other treats to discover, that will keep you satisfied and happy.

It’s easier to change your lifestyle and mindset to a vegan one, and therefore not have the dairy cheesecake in the house in the first place and so not be tempted by it, than have it in close proximity constantly calling your name!  Rather fill your house up with plant-based whole food treats that will not make you pile on the poundage!

As we all know, it’s not a vegan diet in itself that is good for weight loss. Chips, cola and white bread are usually vegan, and of course they aren’t going to do anyone’s waistline any favours. Also, exercise is a vital part of any lifestyle, and equally as important to health and weight maintenance as a plant-based diet.

I mostly coach a whole food vegan lifestyle, that is to say, a vegan diet, with no refined carbohydrates (such as white sugar, white bread, white pasta and rice) just healthy, whole products (brown rice, whole wheat pasta, quinoa. whole wheat bread etc). This is the optimal way to lose weight gradually and healthily), and in a way that will last.

If you are interested in losing weight in the healthiest and most sustainable way possible this year (no artery-clogging meat or ketosis bad breath with this lifestyle!), I am here to guide you through the transition, to inspire you with ideas for gorgeous, decadent meals and treats so you NEVER feel deprived , or like you’re on a ‘diet’. Who the hell wants the misery of a diet? Not me, and I’m betting, not you.

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