I USED TO BELIEVE if a product was labeled “Fat Free” or “Low Fat” it meant that you wouldn’t get fat if you ate it. Honestly.

In fact, I believed this so much that I gained 80 lbs when I was pregnant with my first child. Looking back, I can’t help but shake my head. My favorite things to eat during that pregnancy were sour sugar candies. Mmmmm….I ate Sour Patch Kids and Cherry Sours by the bag full. I honestly couldn’t figure out why I was gaining so much weight! It wasn’t until after my son was born that I embarked on what would become a 15 year weight loss/gain roller coaster ride that would eventually lead to my undertaking this radical challenge.

Jackie, Sunny, and Tala 1995

As a girl, I was so skinny that I was often compared to Twiggy (an anorexic supermodel in the 60’s). I never thought about what I ate in terms of nutritional value (or lack thereof). I ate whatever I wanted, whenever I wanted. I used to scorn my mother for making us eat nasty health food like whole wheat toast with peanut butter and shredded carrots. (Actually, I still think that’s nasty!)

SO YOU CAN IMAGINE what a shock it was to see the scale climb so quickly after I became pregnant with my first child. When I married my husband in 1996, I wore size 7. Just 15 short months and 80 lbs later, I tipped the scales at 215 lbs and I could barely squeeze into a size 20!

July 1997

I REMEMBER the first, and only, time he ever commented on my weight. We had only been married for a few months, and I was changing into my pajamas when my sweet husband, in all innocence, asked, “Honey, would you like to start exercising with me?” I was absolutely devastated!

Spring, 1996

For the first time in my life, I wasn’t thin and trim. My body had begun expanding, and I had no idea how to stop it! The 80 lbs I gained with my first son would be a recurring theme in all of my pregnancies. I felt like I was completely out of control, and nothing I did seemed to make any kind of difference.

OVER THE LAST 14 YEARS I have been on every diet imaginable. I’ve succeeded losing most of my weight several times; but for the most part, I just failed. The common thread with all of the diets I’ve tried is that they all left me feeling deprived, and always planning my next meal. Each time I dieted, I would think to myself, “If I can just lose 20/30/40 lbs, then I will be happy!” However, the happiness was fleeting, and the weight quickly returned as soon as I resumed my old eating habits.

And then, last year, I ran across “Food, Inc.” on Netflix. Little did I know, that entertaining and highly informative program would set the ball in motion for what would become the most radical lifestyle shift I have ever experienced. Before viewing this program, I hadn’t given much thought about how much harm the “Typical American Diet” was causing everyone. This program truly helped to open my eyes to the growing problem of obesity in our country:

“High calorie, sugar laden processed foods coupled with our sedentary lifestyles is growing our waistlines and contributing to serious health issues like diabetes, heart ailments and cancers” (Food, Inc.).

FOR THE FIRST TIME in my life, the idea that the kind of food we ate actually affected our health really sunk in. “Food, Inc.” was quickly followed by “Food Matters”, “Fat, Sick, and Nearly Dead”, “King Corn”, “Jaime Oliver’s Food Revolution”, and “Forks Over Knives”.

The main theme of each these documentaries is that a whole food, plant-based diet is the healthiest way to eat. The people who undertook this lifestyle claimed that they were able to lose all their extra weight, heal chronic health problems, and eliminate the need for prescription medications. They claimed to feel better than they ever had, and their testimonials were very convincing. I was awed and inspired by their stories. The information that was presented in those programs resonated with me, and I knew that what I was learning was true.

For months afterwards, I dabbled with changing my eating habits. I cleaned out my pantry and refrigerator of all products containing MSG and high fructose corn syrup. I started sprouting grains, and even began to cook vegetarian meals for my family. The changes I had made were good, but I knew I could do better. What I didn’t know was how to find the motivation that would inspire me to make a real lasting change.

AND THEN I signed up for English 2010.

The very first day of class, our instructor told us that we would have only one assignment that would last the entire semester. The assignment was simple. We were to come up with an idea that would change the world, and create a blog about it. I was instantly filled with inspiration. This was the motivation I had searched for! This was my chance to do something that would make a difference. I would change the world one person at a time, starting with myself!

I HAVE DECIDED to undertake an experiment to see if all the hype I’ve heard about is true. For the next 10 months, I will stop eating all the refined, processed, fatty foods that had become mainstays in my life, completely switch to a 100% plant-based, whole foods diet, (no more Sour Patch Kids) and blog about my experiences. That way, if it really does work the way they say it should, I will be able to add my voice of testimony to that of so many others and hopefully inspire others to make positive lifestyle changes as well.

August 2011


Food, Inc. Prod. Robert Kenner. Perf. Eric Schlosser and Michael Pollan. Magnolia Pictures, 2009.


18 responses »

  1. Laurie Matthews says:

    You should start blogging with daily thoughts. Are you already doing that? If so, what section do I look in? You are a great writer; very engaging! You are also super wise…so share your wisdom with daily thoughts! Your followers would get emails letting us know to check your blog.

    • Jackie says:

      Hey, great idea! I’ll make you a deal…I will, if you will. If you like, I can create you a blog so that you can record your thoughts and impressions about your situation. Think how much good a blog written by you could do? 🙂

  2. Carrots says:

    Thank you Jax. your honesty is empowering and your story is just beautiful. Love you.
    Btw, I still love peanut butter toast with shredded carrots. Weird, I know. : )

  3. This is fantastic! I love how you’ve organized it. Everything is so visually appealing, from the photos to the bolded section starters. Absolutely the only suggestion I can think of is to streamline the quote from FOOD, INC a little better. Maybe you could lead into it from the sentence above with a simple colon, even. Or you could even give another detail or two that really stood out to you from that documentary or one of the others.

    Love the way you pull us in with the myths you used to believe and then how you circle back to the documentaries resonating with you. If you want, you could make that tie-in even more obvious to the reader by mentioning the “low-fat”/”fat-free” myth again at the end, or even just alluding to it by saying something about sour patch kids being out of the question now.

    I hope that helps! Thanks for all your hard work on this. I can tell that you’ve put a lot of time and effort into your site, and that makes all the difference. 🙂

  4. Heather says:

    Love it! Very engaging. It’s like spending time with you.

  5. Liz says:

    Awesome Jax! Great job! Very interesting!

  6. Suzanne says:

    Jackie, third paragraph should say “whenever” instead of “when ever.”. Otherwise it’s great! You were so young in the first pics…cute!

    • Jackie says:

      Thanks Suzanne! Good catch! Any other tips? There are several places that make me cringe, but I don’t know how to improve them. Thanks for your help!

  7. Tala says:

    Awesome Jax, very cool! Best of luck to you on going vegan, sounds very healthy!
    I cant wait to do the SLC marathon with you this spring, it will be fun.

  8. Monica Buchanan says:

    I think you did a great job. I loved reading it and it really kept my interest. Good job!

  9. Regina Farley says:

    Hi Jackie-
    Can i just say, the more and more I read this the more and more I am impressed? When you first started your blog, I can’t say that I had any idea what going truly vegan was all about. Every time I get on your website i go through everything and just become more and more amazed. Going vegan is so much more than a diet, it is a complete lifestyle change,and I’m sure a compete 180 from what your life was like before your challenge!! Keep up the good work, I am totally rooting for you!!

    Okay so onto the profile page…. it looks fantastic! Quite honestly, i couldn’t really find anything that yu could fix. The storyline is great, the grammar and spelling looks good, I was kept interested throughout the whole page,and I thought the bolded words at the beginning of each part was genius… your writing is amazing!!

    I think the amount of writing is perfect, the only thing that I would cahnge to make it a little more visually appealing is to make your picture bigger. It might just even out everything a little bit better. I feel that the pictures at the end are out of place…. I would suggest adding them into the “so you can imagine” section. Other than that, everything looks fabulous!! You’ve got such a cool website. Keep up the good work!!

  10. Naisy says:

    I love it Jax!!! Your writing is so great!! Love ya!

  11. Kyndra N says:

    I like the boldness of the first sentence. This is a great topic. I like how you set up the page. I really enjoy the pictures. But maybe make that first picture a little bigger.It is the perfect length.

  12. kande250 says:

    Awesome! You made me want to go investigate and look into doing some variation of being vegan. It was aesthetically interesting, but maybe make the pictures a little bigger (in the text). I honestly don’t know how i would change it at all, other than that. I think a lot of people will identify with being skinny even eating anything while young and then gaining weight as they get older. I know I do. Also, i love that you made this more about being healthy, with losing weight as a benefit, instead of making it about losing weight. Awesome.

  13. Josh Hansen says:

    “In fact, I believed is so much that I gained 80 lbs when I was pregnant with my first child.” — I think you meant to type “this” rather than “is,” right?

    Other than that, this is a really great profile. Your writing really shows that you are committed to your “vegan challenge.” It feels complete, not too long and not too short. I like your intro. too, it’s a great hook for readers.

    I wish I could give you more suggestions, but I really can’t see anything wrong with your profile. Great job!

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