Success Stories

Change for Good

Changing bad habits to good can have a profound, lasting effect on your life. See how three women did it.

Change for Good
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The Diet Change
Six years ago, Lori Elwell was a vegetarian, "But not a very healthy one," she laughs. "My vegetarian friends said they never saw me eat a vegetable." Fueled by coffee ("I could make a pot and easily drink the whole thing over the course of the day," she admits), white flour, pasta, and other processed foods, Elwell had 175 pounds on her 5'5" frame and was a size 16. Since she hid the pounds well, Elwell says she was in denial about her actual weight.

The catalyst: On January 1, 2003, Elwell fell down the stairs inside the Broadway theater where she worked in the wardrobe department. "Because of the extra weight I was carrying, I couldn't keep myself from going down," she says. Suffering a sore neck and wounded pride, Elwell resolved to slim down. "I had never made New Year's resolutions, but I decided something had to change."

The shift: Elwell headed straight to the bookstore and read some of the latest diet titles, from Suzanne Somers' Get Skinny on Fabulous Food to The South Beach Diet. Gradually, she tweaked her eating habits, cutting out white flour, sugar, and processed foods, nixing the coffee, and adopting a vegan diet with plenty of proteinrich plant sources like quinoa and portobello and shiitake mushrooms. When her mother became ill and died from lymphoma, Elwell discovered that untreated celiac disease—a condition that makes the body unable to process gluten—can lead to lymphoma. Since a test showed that she was at risk for developing celiac, Elwell gave gluten the heave-ho and hasn't looked back.

The new life: Elwell has made a permanent shift. "Now that I'm accustomed to eating this way, I'm more apt to grab an apple as dessert," she says. She's also more likely to cook her own meals, and when she does crave something sweet, she has fun creating healthier versions of her favorite treats, such as gluten-free, sugarfree cookies.

The results: Dropped 45 pounds and kept it off. Lives with extra energy, a clearer head, and an ability to concentrate. Developed reflexive habits of making good food choices. "A lot of it was just learning about what ingredients like high fructose corn syrup really are and what options are out there," she says. Started a new career. Inspired by the change in her life, Elwell enrolled in the Institute of Integrative Nutrition in New York, and is now a holistic health counselor.

The lesson learned: "As I began to lose weight and feel better, I was more and more motivated to approach every aspect of my life in a holistic way."