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This firefighter dropped 7 uniform sizes and now helps first responders prioritize their health

Written by Caroline DiNicola Fawley
This firefighter dropped 7 uniform sizes and now helps first responders prioritize their health

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.

In this edition of Transformation Tuesday, we talked with Cindy Thompson, a firefighter that had a wakeup call about her health after several family diagnosis's, and health scares. 

What prompted your interest in a plant-based diet?

Prior to switching to a plant-based diet, I ate the Standard American Diet. I was a professional fire captain and paramedic and was known for being a really great firehouse cook. Meals at the fire station were usually meat-centric, high fat, full of processed foods that we could put together in a hurry and cheap. We always had a great big salad with our meals, though, which we covered with ranch dressing—a firehouse staple.

And I was addicted to cheese. 

I didn’t know then that cheese addiction was possible, but I told everyone I was addicted to it. I couldn’t sleep without it and would often wake up in the morning with a stale piece of cheese with one bite out of it on my pillow! Eww, right?

What happened?

    My journey into a healthy me started in 2009. I was struggling with being overweight and was really unhealthy — and I was scared that I was going to die of cancer. You see, my dad and his mom had both died of blood cancers and the state where I worked enacted a law adding 12 types of cancer to occupational disease presumptions for firefighters, including the blood cancers my relatives had. This meant being a firefighter exposed us to substances that could cause cancer.

    I couldn’t change my genetics and I didn’t want to stop being a firefighter. So, I researched cancer risk reduction and found study after study pointing toward decreased incidence of all types of cancer with significant reduction or elimination of the consumption of animal protein. But more than that, a whole foods, plant-based diet was also found to reduce, even reverse Type II (adult onset) diabetes, and the cardiovascular benefits were extremely compelling too.

    I figured I had nothing to lose by trying it and switched overnight.

     

    How were you able to stick with such a dramatic diet change?

    For me, it was easy —I was terrified of getting cancer with an occupation that raised my risk and family history of the disease. I changed overnight and have never looked back.

    If the food on my fork could cause the pain and suffering I’d seen my family and patients go through, there was never any desire to put it in my mouth.

    What is your life like now?

    I told myself I “had nothing to lose” by going plant-based. But without going on a diet and just putting better fuel (nutrition) into my body, that year I lost 60 pounds, 7 uniform pants sizes, 3 uniform shirt sizes, and dropped my cholesterol and blood pressure readings.

    Beyond looking better, my fitness level soared, and gave me new energy I could not contain. I became an adult-onset athlete, running marathons, participating in adventure races, and completing Ironman triathlons, none of which I had ever done before!

    My dramatic change drew attention and I was put in charge of the Firefighter Wellness/Fitness program at my large urban fire department, a new program by the International Association of Firefighters and International Association of Fire Chiefs aimed at improving firefighter health. Most firefighter line of duty deaths are due to cardiovascular incidents, not fire or trauma. 

    After I retired, I started Trimazing! Health & Lifestyle Coaching to help civilians, in addition to first responders, improve their health.

    To be Trimazing! is to be three times better than amazing. It is the trifecta of doing amazing things for your health, animals, and the planet. This is what drives me, sharing plant-based food, vegan lifestyle, zero waste, health, and fitness, so you can have a life that is truly…Trimazing!


    What motivated you to contribute to the book about diet and our environment, Food is Climate? 

      Once becoming plant-based, I learned more about the impact we have on animals and our planet. I started recycling, composting, reducing my waste, and making our own cleaning supplies. We are now a zero-waste household and I include these principles in everything I teach.

      Sustainability and living gently on this Earth is the driving force in how my husband and I live, the decisions we make, and is at the core of my business.

      I was thrilled to be included in Food is Climate as it matched my ethos. My recipes include substitutes for seafood (something that was difficult for my husband to give up), ways to reduce food waste by using parts of plants generally thrown away, and plant-based version of a childhood favorite dessert that doesn’t require gelatin. These particular recipes save the oceans, reduce methane production from garbage dumps, and don’t require the killing of animals. And they’re easy and delicious!


      Tell us more about what you do:

      I love working with people to improve their health and the health of our planet! Don’t live in the Seattle area? No problem, I can work with you online—even cooking classes! 

      If you’re interested in learning how to get started in Zero Waste, head over to to this page on my website and download a copy of my Trimazing! Zero Waste Starter Guide. It’s full of tips and tools for reducing your waste and living more gently on our Mother Earth.

       

       

      Need help kickstarting your own plant-based transformation?

      Join the MamaSezz detox+reboot and unhook from processed foods so you can live your best plant-based life...in just two weeks! Learn more here.

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