My weight didn’t become a problem until I was about 24 years old, but I have always had an unhealthy relationship with food and a poor self-image. Unfortunately, those weren’t the only things I struggled with. I was also a drug addict and suffered from severe depression, and by the time I was 30 I had developed a severe fast food addiction and weighed 300 pounds. I basically never left my apartment except to go get fast food or drugs. I was never suicidal, but I also didn’t care about living anymore. I remember waking up one morning and just being sick and tired of feeling sick and tired. I called my father and asked for help with my addiction to Adderall (a prescription drug used to treat ADHD and narcolepsy).

I checked into rehab in August of 2012, and while I was there I was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. Interestingly enough, the diagnosis affected me more than coming to terms with my drug addiction did. Luckily, I had attended one of Rip Esselstyn’s Engine 2 Immersions a year or so prior to rehab, so I knew that I could reverse my diabetes with a plant-based diet. There and then, I made that my mission.

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Once I left rehab, I moved into a sober-living home in Santa Monica, California. While there, I put myself on a strict plant-strong diet and never cheated. I also started going to the gym four times a week. Within the first two months I had lost almost 40 pounds, and my blood sugar level had dropped from 300 to 120. What this showed me was that I am the one who changes my life! If I accept responsibility for my situation and do the necessary work to change it, my life becomes better (even if it’s uncomfortable at first). Recognizing that, I applied the same method to my emotional recovery, which for me was the hardest part, and I saw the same results. Becoming comfortable with being uncomfortable is the essence of recovery, whether physical or emotional.

I reversed my type 2 diabetes within six months, and I lost over 100 pounds in a year. I have since become a holistic lifestyle coach, and I teach nutrition as a tool for recovery and relapse prevention to recovering addicts. I have had the honor of being a speaker at Rip Esselstyn’s Engine 2 Immersion and have been a guest on the Rich Roll podcast.

Today I am three years sober, I weigh 170 pounds, and I am in the best shape of my life. Plant-based eating has not only saved my life, but it has allowed me to create an entirely new one. Everything has changed: the way I see the world, how I perceive people, and how they perceive me. It’s an incredible feeling. I can say for sure that the struggle is real, but the rewards are immense. I love my life, and I look forward to every new day!

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.

This article was originally published on Oct. 26, 2015, and has been updated.

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