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The Last Straw that Made Me Change My Diet

If you’re reading this, I’m guessing you’ve toyed with the idea of changing your diet.

Maybe you’ve done it successfully or maybe you’re still on the fence. The following post is from Rachel, a nutrition intern here at Pilates Nutritionist, who has a truly inspiring story to share.

Like so many, she grew up eating processed foods but hit a breaking point – a last straw, so to speak – that made change her diet. Now, over 8 years later, a few changes turned into a lifestyle overhaul and she’s healthier and happier than ever. I hope it motivates you, no matter where you are in your health journey. Be sure to check out her before/after pic that she so bravely is sharing with you.

(Here’s a little more about Rachel: She recently graduated Magna Cum Laude from Texas State University earning her Bachelor of Science in Nutrition and Foods with a concentration in Dietetics. She is an aspiring Dietitian who enjoys working out and spending time with her loved ones, especially her corgi, Rocky. She shares food/healthy life inspiration on Instagram @racheyrenee and her blog,

The Last Straw that Made Me Change My Diet

I’ll never forget the moment I stepped on the scale for the first time in a long time.

I knew I was overweight so getting on the scale was the last thing I wanted to do. But I was there and I remember looking down and seeing the number. It was so much more than I expected.

Sure, I knew I needed to lose weight, but the number was just so real. Right there staring at me. I felt ashamed. I knew I didn’t want to experience that shame again. That’s when I knew I had to make a change.

I was around fifteen at the time and I knew nothing about healthy eating. I had played sports on and off, but wasn’t currently playing or exercising much at all. I had always been a picky eater and my diet reflected that. I was the typical kid that didn’t eat vegetables and ate a ton of processed foods.

My mom was a single mom who worked long hours and always had us in the grocery store adding up our items with a calculator to make sure we didn’t go over budget. We were under the impression that eating healthy was expensive and time consuming, so we didn’t try. I thought there was no way I was going to find food I can make, that I like, that we can afford AND that’s healthy.

Seeing that number on the scale lit a fire in me to figure out how to get healthy.

I started by looking online for healthy options I could get from the grocery store. I realized that I was mostly able to get the same types of food I was getting, but that I just had to find a healthier alternative. For example, switching from refined grain products to whole grains and switching to Greek yogurt with less sugar than the high sugar, low protein type I was eating. During this time I also made the switch from drinking juice in the mornings and soda during the day, to drinking water.

In addition to switching what I was eating, I added in some exercise to my daily routine. I couldn’t afford a gym membership so I started off by jogging around my neighborhood and then eventually found an apartment gym I could go to and started lifting weights there.

Making this healthy lifestyle switch wasn’t easy.

I was used to being lazy after getting home from school and enjoying my snacks (all processed foods). I kept to this new “plan”- but, honestly, it wasn’t a plan. It was me incorporating a healthier lifestyle. I still got to enjoy the foods I wanted and didn’t have to completely cut the foods I was used to eating out of my life. It took time, but I actually started to lose weight – and more importantly, feel better – and that kept me motivated.

Fast forward a good eight years, and I just earned my Bachelors of Science in Nutrition. This lifestyle change led to my passion for nutrition and fitness. Since that time when I was fifteen, I have gone through many ups and downs with my weight, I have experimented with new “diets” and new workouts. I have learned so much about nutrition and health.

Back then, when I was fifteen I shouldn’t have been ashamed of my weight. But with the media these days, it can be difficult. Not only did my weight loss journey lead to a healthier body, it has absolutely led to a healthier mind. It excites me to share my story because I want to show others that it’s not super difficult to make the change to a healthier lifestyle.

If you are feeling the way that I did – shocked and upset at the number on the scale, but feeling like it’ll be too hard to change – I want you to take a moment to acknowledge that you’re not alone.

And you don’t have to change everything overnight.

I started with simple changes and over time those small changes have encouraged me to adopt an even healthier lifestyle.


I hope Rachel’s story has inspired you.

Anytime I bring on a new intern, I ask them what made then want to study nutrition and what they hope to do with their career. I can tell Rachel will be drawing from her personal health transformation in her future work and looking back at “The Last Straw that Made Me Change My Diet” to help others find that same motivation.

You probably noticed that she made gradual changes to get to where she is now. And the changes she made were not from a place of punishment, but from a place of caring for her body and striving to feel good in her own skin.

Sometimes a few little changes are enough to kickstart a whole new way of eating and living.

Here are a few questions you can ask yourself to come up with the first change or two (remember, start small, so you can keep the momentum going):

  • When you look at your current diet, what’s one healthy swap you could make at breakfast?
  • What about lunch or dinner or snacks? Think of foods that you actually enjoy eating. (It can be something other than kale salad! Go for the low-hanging fruit here first.)
  • When it comes to beverages, can you think of any lower-sugar options that would work, even if it’s just one drink a day?
  • How many spoons of sugar do you add to your daily coffee or tea (or sweetened creamer)? Could you get away with less, just as an experiment?
  • What’s your favorite way to move your body? Dancing? A walk after work? Yoga class? Tennis? How can you make that a more regular part of your weekly routine?
  • What’s one healthy meal that you enjoy, but don’t know how to cook? Could you take a Saturday to learn to make it?

I’d absolutely love to hear your take-aways from Rachel’s story.

OR if you’ve read through the questions above and are willing to share the next step on your new health journey, post it in the comments below.

It’s amazing what a little public accountability can do.

Until next week,

PS – I really, truly, want to hear your aha moments from reading this. Let me know in the comments below.

PPS – If eating more veggies is one thing you know you need to do to get healthier, but just haven’t figured out how to make it happen, grab a free copy of my ever-so-popular guide, How to Make Vegetables Taste Good, right here. When they taste good, you don’t have to “force” yourself to eat ’em. 😉

Veggies: Eat them because you want to, not because you have to

Your guide to making vegetables taste seriously good

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Lily Nichols is a Registered Dietitian/Nutritionist, Certified Diabetes Educator, researcher, and author with a passion for evidence-based prenatal nutrition and exercise. Her work is known for being research-focused, thorough, and unapologetically critical of outdated dietary guidelines. She is the author of two bestselling books, Real Food for Pregnancy and Real Food for Gestational Diabetes.


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  1. My husband and I have gradually changed a lot of things in our diets. One thing at a time so that it really became just the way we do things. We stopped buying soda first, then juice. We don’t have it in the house, so we just drink water. Then we gave up breakfast cereal and switched to eggs for breakfast. I’m type 2 diabetic and morning numbers are the hardest to control. So this was an important change for me, but I resisted it for a long time because I LOVE cereal. But, not buying it at all has really helped me stick to the egg routine. My kids are so used to it they will ask for eggs even when we’re at Grandma’s and cereal is an option. The most recent and most difficult change has been to cut out the “after the kids are in bed” treats. We would get out the ice cream or cookies before, and now, we have Greek yogurt with honey, or something much lower carb as a bedtime snack. (Eating at bedtime is necessary for me to keep my fasting blood sugar down) it’s definitely easier to make permanent changes when you do it one thing at a time. The biggest thing for me was to stop buying the foods I struggled with altogether. If it’s not in the house I’m not tempted to cheat.

    • Way to go, Krista! You’re setting a wonderful example for your children as well. 😉

  2. Thank you for sharing this post and thanks to Rachel for sharing her story. This just gave me the wake up call that I needed to put my health first on my long list of priorities. I’m going to start this week by buying 2 new vegetables at the grocery store. Lily, I got your free ebook on veggies, so I’m going to start with 2 of those recipes and make an effort to keep bringing in more variety. MY biggest issue is getting stuck in a rut with eating, then just relying on take-out, but I always feel better when I cook. By default, I know when I eat more veggies, I eat less junk, so it’s a no-brainer.

    • I love the approach of adding in more good stuff, which by default, results in eating less “junk.” 😉

  3. Ahh I relate to this so much! I definitely always thought of eating healthy as difficult, time-consuming and expensive. I only recently decided to make my lifestyle change (starting Jan 1), and I started slowly just like Rachel described. It’s true that this has a snowball effect—you begin to want healthy options more and more, and unhealthy less and less. I had to wean myself off of my sugar addiction, but it has not been nearly as hard as I imagined it would be! The hardest part was convincing myself to try…once I got past that fear and actually dove in, I was surprised by how do-able this diet overhaul really can be! Thanks to Lily for her guidance thus far, and to Rachel for sharing her story.

    • Awesome to hear, Kristy! Thanks for sharing about your journey.

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