I met Amy Williams at my yoga class. She is skinny, very fit, and happy. I liked her right away. When I learned she used to weigh 260 pounds, I had a hard time believing that. It was not until we started talking about her fast food addiction and the reasons why she decided it was high time to put an end to it, that I understood what makes her the person she is today. Since this is an important topic for all of us, here is the interview Amy gave for the Re-Discover Washington blog. Don’t forget about the power of sharing!
Amy, tell us more about your life and how did you come to the realization to embrace a healthier lifestyle?
I grew up in a chiropractic family and I have always wanted to help people. I met my husband when I was 15, we’ve been married for 33 wonderful years and we have 5 beautiful children together – four boys and one girl. Our oldest son is 26, and our youngest is 15. Being a mom, I’ve always put my children first, making sure all their needs were met. Having a busy lifestyle, as well as the realization of some painful memories from the past, made me develop a fast food addiction when I was in my 30ties. Going through the drive-thru for breakfast, lunch and dinner was convenient and easy. During my last pregnancy, I gained a lot of weight and I reached 260 pounds, but even that was not enough to scare me. When I was diagnosed with Hypothyroid Disease in July 2000, that jolted me a bit, but my focus was still on taking care of my children, and not me. Seven years later the doctors found that I had Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis (autoimmune disease of the thyroid and endocrine system), which made me a little more worried. However, it was not until a year later when I was rear ended in a car crash, that the true consequences of my lifestyle hit me with full force.
Share more about what happened after the accident?
Luckily, the accident was minor. I had some head and neck injuries, but overall I was fine. However, in a week, my hair started falling out. I lost it all in a very short period of time. The doctors couldn’t give me a reason why, they explained the total hair loss with my autoimmune disease. I was determined to make my hair grow back and in an attempt to find an answer I turned to holistic medicine. I saw a couple of different chiropractors in the area, Dr. Rose in Union and Dr. Dorris in New Haven, who shared their resources with me. I spent hours reading books and surfing the Internet, education myself on the latest research on health and wellness. What became clear to me, was that my body had been lacking nutrients for a long time, and the trauma from the car accident triggered it all. You can only abuse your body for so long, feeding it the wrong things. I didn’t have the nutrients needed to grow hair anymore, and if I wanted my hair back, I had to start listening to my body’s needs.
Was it difficult to begin changing your lifestyle?
It took me a while to realize how much damage I had done to my body throughout the years. When you are young, you still have the resources to fight disease off, but as you get older the body doesn’t have the reserves to deal with illness as good as it used to. The tip of the iceberg was when in October 2010 I was diagnosed with Type II Diabetes. I found it was not very uncommon to develop after a traumatic experience, and I refused to take medicine for it. I took the decision to find something that works, and make the changes that I need. My research led me to raw food and plant-based nutrition. The more raw food you eat, the more nutrients you get, and this was exactly what I was lacking. I changed my diet completely, and I not only lost weight, but I also felt much better.
What made it easy for you to stay on track?
Having been addicted to fast food for many years, embracing raw food in my diet was not easy, to say the least. I kept a journal that contained my goals, all the small steps I was taking towards them, the little failures along the way, and attempts to overcome them. Processed food is very addictive and there are no nutrients in it. After an hour it still leaves you hungry and craving more. My goal was to get back to simplicity. When you think about it, raw food is actually faster than fast food – you can grab an apple or a carrot at anytime, you don’t have to wait at the drive-through. I started growing my own food, which was much higher in nutrients. In the beginning, every small step counts. This makes reaching your big goal possible. By making small changes in my diet, exercising in the gym on regular basis, and keeping track of my emotions, I started noticing visible results and I knew I was headed in the right direction.
Please, tell us more about plant-based nutrition.
As the name suggests, it is nutrition based on plants. This means eating a diet that is 80-90% plant-based food, which includes vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds and beans. It is not as limiting as it sounds. On a daily basis my diet looks like this:
Breakfast: fruit or green smoothie, with an apple with almond butter or a celery stick with peanut butter.
Lunch: large salad with something other than iceberg lettuce, lots of veggies, sprouts, nuts, seeds, fruit and beans.
Dinner: another salad, smaller if you have soup or steamed veggies to go with it, fruit for dessert.
If you begin eating this way in just 1 week you will have more energy and you will lose some pounds. Try it for a week, you can do anything for a week!
What are some reminders that help you avoid the vicious cycle of the fast food many people around the world are trapped in?
Today marks 130 days since I have been completely fast-food free. This journey has not been easy, but is has been doable. In small steps I have had to UNeducate myself from everything I had been told by many doctors and the media. I have had to re-learn what is the truth about health and how the body works, and now I know that when given what it needs, it will heal on its own, usually in a short amount of time. You cannot heal selectively, everything is connected. If you heal one thing in your body, it starts a chain reaction and you feel happier and healthier. Before eating every meal, I ask myself if it is going to build health or deter it. You never know at what point your body will break down and refuse to serve you as good as before. If we continue to eat toxic food, we become toxic people. The mind, body and spirit exist together, and in order to initiate a change you need to change your mindset first.
Apart from working on getting back your health, do you have any current projects in the works?
My health journey has not been easy, but it has been very rewarding. I always like to share with the community what I have learned along the way. Coming up in March, I will be giving a lecture on Plant-Based Nutrition and the Energetics Of Food. Its costs $25 per person and the space is limited to 12 participants. The lecture will be held on Monday, March 12th from 6:30 until 8:30 p.m., and Tuesday, March 27th from 7:00 until 9:00 p.m. Another project in the works is the Relationship Breakthrough Workshop, which is a 6 week interactive book study held on Wednesday nights from 6 until 8:30 p.m. The dates are March 7,14,21,2 and April 4, 11. The cost is $65 per person. This workshop will teach you how to recapture, rekindle, or deepen any love in any intimate relationship. The participants will learn how to communicate with their suppose, children and others in ways that invigorate and motivate them to take positive action. It will also teach them how to find ways to resolve long-standing, persistent conflicts between family members simply by making a change within themselves.
I am also hosting two FREE support groups. It’s much easier to take the steps to positive changes in your life, when you have somebody to support you along the way. The first group, Plant-Based Nutrition: The Energetics of Food, meets once a month, for now on the second Saturday of the month from 8-10 a.m. Upcoming dates are March 10th, April 14th, May 12th. The second one, Women Who Run With the Wolves, supports women to become all they can be and to live their lives full of happiness and joy. You can join it every second Friday night from 7-9 p.m. Upcoming dates are March 9th, April 13th, May 11th. Contact me to reserve your spot!
Can you give some advice for people who want to make a change, but need a little push to take the first step?
My advice to anyone trying to reverse a disease, heal their body, lose weight, or just be as healthy as they can be, is to begin re-educating yourself on the truth. Start with books like “The China Study” and “Eat to Live.” I have been working with the information from both of these doctors for over 4 years now. buy or rent movies like “Food Inc.”, “The Beautiful Truth”, “Food Matters”, “Forks Over Knives”, “Fast Food Nation”, “Super Size Me.” Begin to learn where the food you eat comes from. Buy locally grown food or grow your own. Begin an exercise program, even if it is just walking for 10 minutes each day. I am an advocate of routine and exercise every day. These pieces of advice will get you started on living the life you deserve! Remember, you can do anything for a week. Life is meant to be enjoyed, not endured!
Amy Williams is a MSLC (Master Spirit Life Coach), CCRC (Couples Certified Relationship Coach), TMC (Time Management Coach), and CPBN (Certified in Plant-Based Nutrition). You can contact her anytime at 636.698.4048 or AmyWilliamsLC@gmail.com. For more information on Amy’s workshops, click here.