Two photos showing Julie Tomlinson before and after adopting a plant-based wfpb diet for weight loss, blood pressure, and cholesterol - on the right, she's lost 100 pounds

From Sick and Tired to Happy and Healthy: My Whole-Food, Plant-Based Journey

By Julie Tomlinson,

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At 5-foot-2, I once weighed 340 pounds. I used food as a tool to numb a painful and traumatic childhood. I also struggled with alcoholism and smoked two packs of cigarettes a day. I suffered from high blood pressure, severe heart palpitations, a few bouts of atrial fibrillation, gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), and several autoimmune disorders, and I was full of anxiety and depression.

I could barely walk to the mailbox without getting winded. I remember once, when I was in my mid-30s, a friend asked me to go on a walk around the block with her, and halfway through, I burst into tears and had to stop because I couldn’t breathe and was in so much pain. I was so sick and tired of being sick and tired.

My husband and I tried everything under the sun to lose weight—Weight Watchers, SlimFast, low-carb diets, etc. We’d lose a bit of weight at first, but I always felt hungry and deprived. I was not able to stick to any of these diets for long, and I gained even more weight back than the initial weight lost.

Giving a WFPB Diet a Chance

Fast-forward a few painful years. My hubby, who also was severely obese, spotted a flier for a documentary called Forks Over Knives. We decided to watch it, though at this point I had very little hope that I could ever shed any weight successfully.

I really only heard part of the message of the film: Cut out animal flesh. I told Hubby I wanted to go vegetarian. He said that if we were going to give it a try, he wanted to commit to going vegan. So we committed to it for a year.

After a year without animal products, we’d each lost 100 pounds. The weight came off fairly easily. We decided to try transitioning to the whole-food, plant-based (WFPB) diet advocated in Forks Over Knives, which meant cutting out oil and vegan ultraprocessed foods. We had varying degrees of success with this. For a few years, we ate oil off and on. But slowly, more pounds came off. I decided to also cut out all refined sugar.

Fully into the Whole-Food, Plant-Based Lifestyle

Today I am 52 years old and happily committed to a WFPB lifestyle, as is my husband. I have continued to gradually lose weight and have easily maintained the weight loss, even after having a thyroid gland removed in 2019 (due to a benign but large tumor).

Prior to going plant-based, I had high cholesterol and high blood pressure, and my inflammation markers were off the charts. Now all of these are in the normal range. My doctor has said that my blood work is like that of a healthy young athlete. I take that as a tremendous testimony to the WFPB lifestyle.

I no longer struggle with GERD symptoms. Before going plant-based, I depended on Prilosec and Tums to get through the day. Now I don’t suffer any heartburn; I can eat the spiciest of foods with no problems! To top it all off, I used to suffer from terrible insomnia, and now I sleep like a contented baby.

I run five days a week and am an avid walker. I am sober, happy, and healthy. I have gained a completely new life. My husband and I are fully committed to continuing on our veggie journey and flourishing in this way of living!

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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