Janet Anspach Rickey and her husband stand on the shore of a lake, wearing cycling outfits, looking healthy after adopting a WFPB sos-free diet for weight loss and heart health

On a WFPB SOS-Free Diet, I Lost 45 Pounds Without Feeling Deprived

By Janet Anspach Rickey,

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I first developed a weight problem when I went on my first diet at just 12 years old. After depriving myself of food for a few days, I lost 5 pounds—then immediately started binge-eating, gaining back the weight I’d lost and then some.

I continued yo-yo dieting into adulthood. After I reached 199 pounds, I stopped weighing myself. By then I had tried every diet I could find, and I couldn’t even lose weight anymore. I felt like my body had become a fat-storing machine.

At age 30, I finally realized that deprivation diets don’t work. And once I stopped dieting, I stopped binge-eating! Over the next 10 years, I was able to lose 40 pounds and keep it off. Though I’d hoped to maintain my goal weight of 138 pounds, I ended up stalling at around 150 to 160 pounds.

Quitting Meat and Discovering the WFPB SOS-Free Lifestyle

Fast-forward to March 2020. I was on a cycle tour, and two members of our cycling group had shifted to a vegan diet. I thought, “Now these two are off the deep end.” But they showed our group the documentary Eating You Alive, which made the connections between the standard American diet and many chronic diseases. We all stopped eating meat right then.

Discovering the WFPB SOS-Free Lifestyle

After the trip, I discovered Michael Greger, M.D., on YouTube and bought his cookbook, which featured whole-food, plant-based (WFPB), SOS-free (salt-, oil-, and sugar-free) recipes. I was curious about a WFPB SOS-free diet and decided I would put it to the test starting July 1, 2020. I weighed 159 pounds, and I’d just had bloodwork done and found that my total cholesterol was over 200, and my blood pressure was 130/80 (which qualified as hypertension stage 1).

My husband, Stephen, wasn’t going to join me at first, but after he tasted the first couple of meals, he was taking full helpings, and he liked the food so much that he joined me. I soon discovered Chef AJ and joined her “Feel Fabulous Over Forty” group. I watched her interviews every day on YouTube, along with videos from Be Green with Amy, Krocks in the Kitchen, Ann and Jane Esselstyn, and Jonathan Fah, and I attended virtual plant-based summits. I watched the Forks Over Knives documentary three times, What the Health; Cowspiracy; Seaspiracy; and Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead. I soaked it all in.

Loving the Plant-Fueled Life

Since going WFPB SOS-free in July 2020, I’ve lost 45 pounds, and Stephen has lost 34. Our cholesterol levels are now in the normal range, and both of our blood pressure averages around 108/70. My heart rate, which was 74 beats per minute before I went WFPB, is down to around 44 BPM. I feel amazing!

In August 2023, we did a 30-day cycle tour through U.S. National Parks and into Canada. After that, I spent a month in Australia. I started a YouTube channel to show others how to travel and cook and eat plants no matter where you are or what mode of transportation you use. I am a retired physical therapist and have always been interested in preventive medicine. I love to exercise, ride my bike, lift weights, walk, and hike, and I just enjoy being active.

I started a local plant-based group. In 2022 I started hosting potlucks for the group, as well as cooking and food-prep demonstrations for anyone in my area who’s interested in learning more about WFPB cooking. I have been interviewed by some of my favorite plant-based YouTubers, including Chef AJ and Be Green with Amy!

Forks Over Knives is such an inspiration, and I love the WFPB recipes. I buy the magazines each season and enjoy trying out all the wonderful flavors. I always read the success stories in the Forks Over Knives newsletter, so I’m excited to share mine. I hope to inspire and assist all those who are open to shifting to a whole-food, plant-exclusive, SOS-free lifestyle. Save your life, save the animals, and save this sacred planet!

Ready to get started? Check out Forks Meal Planner, FOK’s easy weekly meal-planning tool to keep you on a healthy plant-based path. To learn more about a whole-food, plant-based diet, visit our Plant-Based Primer.

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