As we at MamaSezz well know, changing to a plant-based diet can change your life in ways you never expected. In this series, we talk with some of the world’s most soulful, dedicated (and often funny) individuals. We get to hear their stories of suffering, transformation, and service — and we learn how food is an essential part of their journey.
This week, we talked with Brandon Swann, who struggled to control his weight for years. After the birth of his baby daughter this year, he felt committed to make a big lifestyle change. His wife went through her own health and weight loss transformation – having success with the MamaSezz Guaranteed Weight Loss Program – so Brandon decided to give it a go. These are his results...
What was your life like before you changed your diet?
Chick-Fil-A, homemade pepperoni pizza, homemade baked sweets throughout the day, including late at night, a big giant cup of skim milk before bed to help me sleep, sweet tea nearly every day (and back a few months ago, almost every meal), burgers, steaks, hot dogs, candy bars...I had no limit as to what I ate. The most foreign foods in my diet were vegetables.
My way of eating healthier was to cut a burger in half and eat each half in two different meals. But sweets were by far my biggest Achilles' heel. I loved researching online recipes for new desserts (the more chocolate the better), baking them, tasting them. I loved buying sweets from local bakeries.
In terms of exercise, I was limited due to bad knees and a lingering random sciatic nerve pain in my leg that can hurt so bad that I cannot put weight on it, so in a big way, I had given up on exercise. Even swimming was bad because I could never get the technique down, somehow turn my hips so that I'd swim into walls (it was quite comedic for onlookers). No exercise and a poor diet, it wasn't a pretty outlook.
What happened? Was there a defining moment that triggered change or did you have a gradual journey?
There are actually three major triggering moments.
First was when I went to Carowinds (a theme park in Charlotte, NC) for the first time in 20 years and was looking forward to my favorite coaster from growing up: the Vortex (a stand-up rollercoaster). As I waited a little extra time for the front row with my sister and boarded the train, I was utterly humiliated when the ride attendant, after multiple attempts, couldn't get the harness down over my big belly to a safe position, and told me in front of everyone that I couldn't ride. I wish I could say that was motivating enough, but it wasn't.
The second triggering moment was when I hit the scale and 300 popped up for the first time in my life. I had danced around the 290s for a few weeks/months and slowly it creeped up. The moment I hit 300, I realized I had 2 choices: continue going the way I was going to where I never saw myself going back under 300 and eventually die too young, or start now — anything — to get my weight back down.
Not too long after that, the third major trigger moment was the birth of my daughter. Both of my sons' prior births should have done it, but unlike my sons' future weddings, there was something about my daughter's birth that told me I as a father had another job waiting for me years to come in her wedding.
If I ever wanted to walk my daughter down the aisle at her wedding or be there for the father/daughter dance, I can't keep doing what I'm doing. The first time she smiled at me, I knew I had to be at her wedding and the weight had to come off.
How are/were you able to stick with such a dramatic diet change?
So I realized I needed to lose the weight, but even after that, there was still an internal struggle to even start the weight loss process.
The day I realized I had to make a change, I took the first step — I told someone. It happened to be my wife, who had gone on a weight loss and healthy diet transformation of her own in the last year or so. She had switched to a vegan diet and had tried MamaSezz's Guaranteed Weight Loss Program already with great results. She encouraged me, saying if I were serious about losing weight, to try this plan and see the results. With the birth of my daughter, I was able to take off work for an extended time, so I knew the best time was while I was off work to start this program. I could focus, avoid any nearby work temptations (like Chick-Fil-A) and see if this thing would work.
I actually went into the MamaSezz Weight Loss Program cold turkey, eating cookies the night before, then on day 1 of the plan only doing everything the sheet said and nothing more (got a pretty nasty headache from the sugar withdrawal though).
Even before week 1 was over, the temptations were there, but something even more jarring occurred: I had lost a lot of weight in only one week without doing any exercise. I couldn't believe it was working this effectively. So with a great experienced supporter by my side and the motivation to see just how much this detox plan would work with losing weight, I vowed never to cheat on the diet. And I never broke.
What is your life like now?
I'm now 55 pounds lighter, for starters — 30 of those pounds being the 4-week result of the MamaSezz Guaranteed Weight Loss Program. And my end goal is to lose 100 pounds, but I'm making smaller attainable goals along the way (get in the 50s, then the 40s, next the 30s, etc).
But this plan taught me several things.
- Vegan food can taste just as good (and sometimes better) than its normal food comparison.
- Drinking water throughout the day can help curb sweet tooth cravings.
- Vegetables sometimes can taste really good (except broccoli and cauliflower...never again) and you can have a lot of them to fill you up while not putting on weight.
- I may never eat a salad again. I'm sorry but one look into week 4's plan and its daily abundance of 3+ handfuls of leafy green salads, plus a repeat of week 2's salad dressing (which each week's new salad dressing was the only positive to salads each week), I knew I was in trouble. I was whining like a baby by day 2. One time since the end of the plan I tried a Chick-fil-A salad and although it was really good, eating the lettuce alone triggered my distaste for salads again. I'll probably stay away from them for a while, haha.
Shortly after seeing the weight loss working with the MamaSezz program, I decided to continue eating vegan food regularly, though I don't want to give up some of my other vices. So my plan has been to eat healthy vegan food 6 days of the week, then 1 day eat whatever I want (in moderation). I still get to eat the unhealthy stuff from time to time without feeling guilty about it, but my body gets the healthy stuff a large majority of the week. Before I might not have given it a second thought and eaten a variety of unhealthy foods throughout the day. It has profoundly helped me lose weight.
One other major change is I've been walking 8 miles a day. That too is helping a lot as the pounds get harder to shed.
How did a plant-based diet impact your health and life?
This diet became a launchpad to losing weight. Before I never thought I'd hit 250 again without serious hours at the gym. But now I'm in the lower 240s and about to cross into the 230s, and I've never stepped inside a gym.
All diet and simply walking, completely transformed my prior knowledge about food in general; how it is possible for me to lose weight without strenuous and sometimes painful exercise. I already hit my first target weight of 250, which allows me to do things I was previously too large to do (e.g. zip-lining, indoor skydiving, etc). I've enjoyed having more energy, my clothes fitting better (in many cases already, they're too big), and having the better knowledge of how much food impacts weight. And I'm not done. I can't even remember how long ago it was since I was in the 200s, or even less. But that's my new focus.
I may have 20+ years before my daughter gets married, but I feel confident that my diet life change will improve my chances of being there!
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