Before + After

468 comments

I hesitate to call this page my “Before and after” because I really don’t think there is an after. My journey to health is just that – a journey – and each year has its ups and downs and different challenges along the way. One thing I do know for sure is that I’m at a much better place than I used to be. From the age of 11 or 12, I struggled with an eating disorder until my mid-twenties. I would restrict my intake too low, over-exercise, and engage in binge eating. As a result, my weight – and mood – went up and down over the years. I had amenorrhea for a couple years because my body fat was too low to function. It’s a common misconception that you have to be deathly thin to have an eating disorder. If you saw me, you probably wouldn’t have thought that I was suffering as much as I was. Eating disorders come in all shapes and sizes and much of the grief is mental.

After entering recovery and getting professional help, I’m now at a place where I don’t count calories or restrict my intake. I eat a plant-based diet that makes me feel amazing and I do activities that I enjoy, not to burn calories. I’ve experienced a huge shift in my perspective over the past 4 years and I finally love life again. Food used to be the enemy, but now’s it’s a huge source of pleasure in my life. I no longer feel the desire to binge eat like I used to because my body doesn’t feel deprived. I still struggle with a negative mindset at times, but I’m better at dismissing those thoughts and sticking on this healthy & happier path.

Here are some pictures that document my journey over the past 10+ years:

Last year of high school:

My weight was steady around 125 pounds. I met Eric, my highschool sweetheart, when I moved to Ontario from New Brunswick with my mom.

We started dating just a month after I began at my new school. It was puppy love that blossomed into a real, beautiful, can’t-be-without-each other- love. I always say the reason I moved to Ontario was to meet my soul-mate. :)

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2003 (2nd year university):

I had gained about 20-25 pounds since 1st year university. My highest weight was 148 pounds.

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My eating disorder, something I had been struggling with since 12 years old, surfaced a lot in 1st and second year university. Exam stress, living in a dorm, and new social opportunities led to late-night binges, alcohol, and unhealthy cafeteria food.

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I was trapped in a starve-binge cycle.

2004:

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I lost a bit of weight, but I was still struggling and going up and down on the scale.

2005:

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2006:

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I went through lots of hair changes! Eric’s did not. ;)

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I also graduated university with an undergrad degree in social psychology.

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We moved to Toronto because I got accepted into graduate school for psychology. I lost a lot of weight- but not in a healthy way- due to the stress of grad school and the demands that it brought.

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2007:

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2007 was a tough year due to the pressures of grad school. I dropped more weight and was really struggling on the inside.

However, it ended on a great note- we got engaged in December 2007 in Mexico.

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2008:

2008 was a year of ups and downs like no other I have ever experienced. I was stressed to the max and my weight kept dropping. My lowest weight was around 114 pounds.  I was juggling being a full-time Master’s student, writing a thesis, part-time teaching assistant, working at a new FT research job, and planning my wedding. I defended my thesis at the end of July 2008 and we got married just one month later- all while working a stressful new position.

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I looked happy on the outside, but was really struggling on the inside. Everyone told me I looked great, but they had no idea how I truly felt.

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The summer of 2008 was when I first dabbled with running. However, I did it mostly to burn calories and did not appreciate fitness for fun.

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Then I finally graduated, passed my oral defense, and got married. I had so much pressure lifted off my shoulders and we had such a great wedding and honeymoon.

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2009:

2009 was a monumental marker in my life. I finally got the courage to leave my job after being miserable for a year. We also moved out of the city to a town that was a better fit for our love of nature and peaceful surroundings. Things were starting to come together.

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I learned to have FUN with food and I fell in love with cooking! This is when my mindset about food started to shift.

In 2009, I started up my own business and started being good to my body again. I stopped obsessing about my body and weight. I worked out for fun and not to burn calories. I decided to ditch the scale and to go by how my clothes fit instead. It was the best thing I have ever done. I did things that made me feel happy. I also switched to a vegan diet after many years of experimenting on and off with a vegetarian diet. I felt amazing eating plant-based foods.

After battling back from a pelvic injury from Jan- march, I ran my first race ever in June- a 10k- and got hooked on running! This time not to burn calories, but to enjoy it.

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We also celebrated our first wedding anniversary! What a year it had been.

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2010:

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2010 brought an even better year. I trained for my 3rd half marathon and my first try-a-triathlon (with Eric). These challenges keep me motivated to stay on a healthy path. I need lots of food for energy to keep up!

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I am learning to be good to myself a bit more each and every day.

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Eric also experienced many healthy changes. He went from a highest weight in university of 210 pounds to 172 pounds (April 2010). He has cut down his meat and dairy consumption by about 75% and he has recently eliminated pop out of his diet for good in March 2010. You can read about his changes and see his progress pictures here.

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2011:

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As the years go by, I find myself getting stronger and more confident in who I am. I appreciate my body (most of the time, I’m not perfect though) and what it does for me each day. I try my best not to take my life for granted and worry about things that don’t really matter in the grand scheme of things.

December 2011:

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2012:

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(Sorry for the poor picture quality, was taken on my phone!)

The saying “life is a journey not a destination” really rings true for me as I update this post in 2012. I’m trying to appreciate each day and live in the moment. Who knows how long we have while we’re here.

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2014:

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Stay tuned for updates on my journey!

{ 468 comments… read them below or add one }

elle moss January 10, 2012

You inspire me so much! You may actually have convinced me to ditch my scale!

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Lissa January 10, 2012

Thank you so much for sharing your story with everyone! I have a very similar story to you and want out of this negative mindset as soon as possible! I have my good days and my bad days! I look forward to reading your story as you move forward with your happy and healthy life. I find you to be a huge inspiration to me trying to find peace with food and my weight! Thanks again!

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marla January 14, 2012

Hey girl! Just came in for a screen grab to update your piece from last year….love the new photos :)

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Tessa Maddy January 16, 2012

Hey Angela, I just became vegan from pescatarian, and while I’m really excited, Im also a little nervous. Can you post a grocery list of some sort? I love your recipes but I’m a little lost when it comes to what I should always have on hand to be able to easily whip them up.
Thanks!

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Angela (Oh She Glows) January 17, 2012

Thanks Tessa, I will certainly keep this in mind for a future post!

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Ashley January 18, 2012

Wow! I can’t believe how gorgeous your skin is regardless of how you were eating! Mine was up and down until I became obsessed with green smoothies. Great site, I have had a similar life experience except that I am still in the wedding planning while in grad school stage. Its hard not to count calories right now but hopefully I will move past that once I have less stress in my life. Thanks for the inspiration!

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Eve Gotch January 19, 2012

Gorgeous bride, Lucky husband, loved your story!! :) I’m in love too….with your blog! I’ll be on here for the rest of the day.. well, that is until my (vegan) kids get hungry and yell “mom, get off the computer!” lol! (They think I make all the kitchen magic myself.. shhhh…our secret!)

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Jessica January 20, 2012

I googled avocado sauce and found your awesome blog — how cool is that? I indentify with everything you posted here! Truly. I’m going to forward to all of my friends in program (an eating disorder 12 step group). Thanks for sharing. I love hearing your honesty.

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Angela (Oh She Glows) January 21, 2012

Thank you Jessica, glad you found the blog!

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Krista Groen January 23, 2012

Hey! I grew up in NB and moved to Ontario for school, where I met my hubby and got married in 2008 as well:) How funny – I’m on a journey to start enjoying foods and not feel limited all the time as I have something called PCOS which stems from insulin resistance and hormonal imbalance! I am so enjoying looking through your story and recipes, thanks!

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Tanya January 23, 2012

I found this website from a recipe a friend posted on facebook. I am always looking for new ideas to cook for my family. I never thought I would be using vegan recipes. But our lives were turned upside down when our son was diagnosed with dairy, egg, and nut allergies. Now I am constantly searching for recipes and new things to bring to the dining table.

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Laura@missfitcolorado January 23, 2012

You are truly an inspiration! I have struggled in the past with similar binge-starve cycles. Exercise and health food saved me! I am so happy that you shared your story. Thank you for the amazing recipes as well.

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Amanda February 1, 2012

I just discovered your blog, like, literally ten minutes ago through a random Google search that led me to your salt & vinegar roasted chickpeas recipe (which I’m making tonight, by the way). I have to say that I’m totally impressed by your blog, your drive, and your attitude. You are definitely a beautiful person, inside and out, and I wish you only more success through the years. Consider me a new fan of your blog. I will be back!

Take care.

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Angela (Oh She Glows) February 1, 2012

Hi Amanda, so nice to meet you! Thanks for your lovely comment!

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Cailey February 1, 2012

Hey, Angela! I often find myself coming back to read about your journey when I am feeling ambivalent about my own eating disorder recovery. It doesn’t feel like it right now, but I am trying to believe that there is life worth living beyond this obsession. Often I feel trapped within the ED-bubble. I know that it’s not healthy to stay here, but the world outside just seems so scary! Thank you for showing that recovery is possible and is worth it!! :)

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Jeanette February 7, 2012

What a beautiful girl inside and out! I love your blog, you are an inspiration to people with body issues and young girls. I have shared the link to your blog with my beautiful 13 year old daughter who has body issues, and my best friend. Consider me a huge fan!

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Monica February 10, 2012

Thank you so much for posting this – I too struggled with disordered eating in college. I’m pumped to follow your blog! :)

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Blair February 10, 2012

Angela,
I discovered your website on an oatmeal cookie search. My wife and I have been vegan now for over a decade and it is the best thing I have ever done in my life. It’s so natural once you switch. I can’t believe we ever ate that @#$%^&. There’s every reason to do it: ecology, ethics and health. A lot of what you describe is part of Buddhist teachings from over 2500 years ago. And they go hand in hand with a vegan lifestyle. Keep up the good work. Be vegan and be blessed.
Blair

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michelle February 11, 2012

if i looked like you, i would be at peace with food too. with thyroiditus, adrenal disease, and lyme disease and more, going vegan is not the miracle cure. besides, i am doing what you are doing anyway. just saying.

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Angela (Oh She Glows) February 11, 2012

Hey Michelle, I agree with you- I don’t think going vegan is a miracle cure. I always advocate that each person find what works for them personally. I wish you all the best with everything! Take care.

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gina February 12, 2012

i have to say, this was really touching. i’ve been struggling with an eating disorder since i’ve been 11. when i met my boyfriend, he gave me the strength to stop doing this to myself. i put on 20 pounds over the last year and recently had 2 relapses (i suffer(ed) from bulimia). this totally shocked me, because i actually thought i was done with that. but for me it was a sign that i had to change and finally start loving myself. i’m now on a healthy diet and started doing sport again. i want to be at peace with my body and with who i am.
your blog is really inspiring.
x

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Syd February 16, 2012

y’all are such an adorable couple!

- s

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Natalie Michael February 17, 2012

Angela

Thank you for being so courageous to share your journey in such an authentic way. It was so refreshing!

I soooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo appreciate your blog and daily stories. Last night we made the veggie burgers and they were amazing, and today we made the bean/squash burritos. My whole family is loving you!

Natalie

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Vicki February 19, 2012

You are an adorable couple. If you have kids, they’ll be gorgeous. Congratulations on making positive changes in your life; you’ll never regret it. Take care of your body, take care of your mind. Keep being kind to yourself. Talk good to yourself. Always have hope and dreams. Limit your worries with confidence and faith. Balance spontaneity with a little bit of planning so you can be prepared for opportunities that come your way. Love each other and nurture your friendships. Seek out new experiences and always have something to look forward to. Fear not. Be productive, but know how to relax. Have an attitude of gratitude. Get outside and let your senses assault you in a wonderful way as you listen, see and feel in the natural world. Play; have fun. Work and reward. I know of these things because I’m older. As you age, time seems to speed up; don’t waste a day of it. There may be no greater gift than the blessing of a full, happy and healthy life!

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Angela (Oh She Glows) February 19, 2012

Thank you Vicki, that’s beautiful

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Louisa February 19, 2012

Now THAT’S a good-looking couple! I can relate to your story. I’m so glad you came out ahead of your illness. Thanks for the inspiration!

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Linda February 20, 2012

I enjoyed reading and learning about several of positive results that come from just being aware I am a vegetarian 27 years and I have to share its a constant juggling act for me, balancing all the necessary supplements to have balanced energy. I am certainly going to read more about the proper recipes and food to give me balance.
Keep up the great writing I will be looking for updates.
Thank you
Linda

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Tiffany Youngren February 21, 2012

Thank you so much for sharing your story! You look beautiful :) I can’t wait to try some of your recipes!! Take care!

~ Tiffany

Transfer of Health
Healthy Recipes and Wellness Tips

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Meghan Berry February 23, 2012

Hello!
Reading your life chronicle just brought me to tears.
Fifteen years of my life were consumed by eating disorders, anxiety, depression and a distorted body image. I was a vegetarian and a runner, but for all the wrong reasons. I’m five foot – ten, and had pants ranging from size 8 – 16, depending on how “sucessful” I was at starving myself. I had hoined the military, but was discharged for medical reasons after demonstrating I couldn’t handle the stress and several treatment programs were unsucessful.
Developing a respect for myself and my body was a long, slow journey, but I am now married to a wonderful man, have a beautiful, healthy daughter, am a junior in college (at the age of 30), a runner, and a vegan.
I don’t know you, but I am so happy for you.
I’m also delighted to have found your website. Your recipies are fantastic.
Have a wonderful day,
Meghan

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Angela (Oh She Glows) February 23, 2012

Hi Meghan, I’m so happy for you too! Congrats on all the wonderful changes you’ve made. All the best, Angela

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Jill March 31, 2013

Megan, I realize this is a long long ago comment….but I’d love to “chat” if you would. Not sure if you automatically will get this or not. Love how you have been finding peace. Hopefully hear from you somehow?

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Jill February 25, 2012

You are absolutely beautiful!! May God bless you!

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Silly Sally February 28, 2012

Angela you’re so beautiful and such an inspiration. I’ve always been struggling with my body image. Especially since I gained 10lbs last year during my freshman year of college. I started being a pescetarian last month and I’m loving it. Thanks for such an amazing blog!

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Valerie February 29, 2012

Angela, thank you so much for being so open about your struggles with food. You’re absolutely gorgeous (at any weight). :) I started my food blog in ’09′ as a way to face down my own ED demons. From about 2003-2008, I battled with what I can now say was anorexia. I’m only 5’2″ and I felt pressure to be super-thin…at one point I was down to 92lbs. It was a horrible, dark time. I was a slave to the scale (same time every single morning), exercise (If I didn’t work out for at least 2 hours, I was a train wreck), and of course, the food restriction. Saturdays were my “binge” days, which in turn, turned Sundays into pure hell.
Anyway, it’s so good to know that I’m not, nor was I ever, alone. I’m still haunted by the residual demons who whisper that I’m nothing unless I get back down to a 00, but I’m better at shutting them out. They’ll always be there though.
Wow. I didn’t mean to ramble on like this, sorry. :p I never brought up the issue on my food blog because I know my mom sometimes visits, as well as her friends, and she’s always been in denial about the “problem.” Knowing that there are others that I can open up to is so refreshing…Thank you.

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Denise Miller March 2, 2012

You are so inspiring. I started doing vegan about 2 months, while I was doing a Daniel Fast for 40 days. Slowly got off of it, and have gained some weight back. I can now see how dairy and meat do not agree with me anymore. I do have fish occasionally. Your news letter was inspiring!

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Eleanor Davies March 2, 2012

Nice to see that a vegan can be healthy. So many people tell me I will be pale, skinny and unhea;thy on a vegan diet, but you have proved that you can be healthy, and indeed glow, on a vegan diet. A real inspiration, it’s nice to see someone totally at ease with food and exercise. Aa so many people have said, you are an inspiration.

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ella birt March 2, 2012

wow! this is so inspiring, and yet it just makes sense. :) you look so happy and healthy!

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Belinda March 6, 2012

I really enjoyed your fitness journey I can truly relate; from reading this I am going to begin to record my feeling,eating habits and so on. I am so glad you are at a happier place now. This was a great article.

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Michelle K. March 7, 2012

Very very inspiring. I am impressed, and feel inclined to pursue a Vegan lifestyle. Cheers to you!

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Kim March 7, 2012

Hey Angela :)
Just wanted to stop by and let you know how much of an inspiration you’ve been, I love all of your healthy/yummy recipies and the way you view the world & health, always positive! Id also like to thank you for being so open about your journey through recovery, its always motivating to see someone be so honest about their past and share it with others. Here’s a quote I’v enjoyed through the years & thought you might enjoy as well :)

“There came a time when tiny green fruits appeared. Life wasn’t so hopeless then. Yet all the tiny fruits fell as most of my attempts to wellness seemed to fail. Reaching this maturity is no magic; it’s by facing the tornadoes that we grow.”

-Keep up all the awesome work!

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jamie lea March 8, 2012

Hi, I have 2 questions for you (or any one who can answer them). I have noticed that a lot of healthy recipes call for coconut oil. Why coconut as opposed to any other oil (olive, canola, safflower?) Coconut oil is above my budget level. Number two: what are chia seeds and where can I find them? Thank you. I am trying to eat healthier, but it is so tough on a tight budget…

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Stacey March 9, 2012

This is so inspiring! I went through similar eating habits throughout the past few years and I feel like I have just recently gotten a grasp on eating and fitness for my health rather than appearance and self-image. The Vegan diet makes it easy to transform into that mindset.

Thank you for the inspiration and amazing blog :)

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Karen March 11, 2012

Hi there, I was googling for a lentil patty recipe and came across your site. I really liked what I read and it was a great moral booster. Im not in a good place at the moment and being very obsessive over my weight/looks. Just turned the big ’40′ single mum of 9 years to 3 full on kids, and just graduated my nursing degree…and walked away from a vehicle ‘right off’ 12 months ago…still recovering from 2 blown out discs & PTSD and began living on chocolate etc :( I sort of hit a wall I guess when my study finished. So Im trying to eat better and incorporate an exercise plan I can manage. Your article gave me encouragement to keep pressing on and upward! Thanks Karen :)

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Angela (Oh She Glows) March 12, 2012

Goodluck with everything Karen! Thanks for your kind words.

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Kayli March 14, 2012

You have inspired me! Thank you! It IS possible!

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vegangsterARNP March 16, 2012

Although to many, your changes physically that can be seen by some of us, will not be seen by others, as they are not very drastic. But I have a very keen eye, and your face looks SO much happier and healthier now, and your plant based diet has truly done wonders for you it seems. I hope you are buying cruelty free products as well, meaning products neither tested on animals, nor containing animal products, as that is another part of vegan philosophy, as well as ditching the animal skins, feathers and furs. I hope that your husband follows suit ASAP as supporting the horribly cruel, and malicious lies of the dairy and meat industries only lead to misery and suffering of other species as well as our own. Good luck.

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Willow March 22, 2012

I love your story, Angela, I really do… but there’s one thing I absolutely have to say. I LOVE that you are smiling in every single photograph – through the hard times, and the good times, both. You’re so beautiful, I can’t get over it! Keep smiling, girl – it makes me smile. :D

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Nichole March 23, 2012

This is SO amazing to me!! I too have the same struggle..I do great with eating right and running and working out but never see results so then i fall off the wagon and it takes me forever to get back on. hard to stay consistent when you aren’t seeing the results…i do have a question (and the answer I am sure is somewhere – I just didn’t see it) what is it that does make your skin glow the way it does? Is it one particular ingredient in the smoothies you make or is it the combination? Also, do you do the smoothies once a day as a meal replacement or snack? THANKS!

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Angela (Oh She Glows) March 23, 2012

Thanks Nichole! I always say the glow comes from being happy & the vegan diet doesnt hurt. I get far less breakouts than I used to. I also exfoliate my skin several times per week.

For GM’s I enjoy a few each week, sometimes for breakfast (if so I make them over 400 cals for more staying power) sometimes for a snack.

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Nichole March 27, 2012

What do you recommend as a good exfoliant? I use St Ives but I would like something more natural….I HAVE to exfoliate everyday or I will have horrible breakouts….

thanks for the response by the way…

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