An Interview with One Inspiring Teenager

April 19th, 2013 at 8:08 am
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Let me preface this post by saying that I never cease to be amazed at all the sadness in this world. In light of our nation’s current events, it’s easy for me to grow very discouraged and disheartened, wondering what our world is coming to and why the human heart has turned so black.

I’ve learned that one of the best things I can do as little old me in this world—which often feels like a huge, chaotic messis to look for the light in this web of darkness. And when I can’t find it, I must be it.

I recently received an email from an inspiring teenage girl named Abby. Her story washed over me like bright beacon of light, illuminating even the dimmest, darkest corners of my world. Today I’m going to share her story with you, and I hope that it will brighten your life in a small but meaningful way as it has mine.

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One of the things I love most about writing this blog is the connections that I make with people all over the world in all walks of health and life. Some of the emails I get are either so inspiring or so sad that I am sometimes brought to tears. I recently received an email from Abby, a 14-year-old girl from Connecticut with a story that absolutely touched my heart.

About nine months ago, Abby’s doctor told her that she needed to lose some weight, so she decided to try eliminating gluten and dairy from her diet. And she saw amazing results. Abby lost almost 30 pounds in total! I know. I read that and my jaw hit the floor.

“In the process,” Abby wrote, “I fell in love with food and cooking, and now make dinner every single night for my family.”

Hold it right there.

As I read Abby’s email, I had one of those goosebump-inducing flashbacks that catapulted me to my own teenage years. Around 14 years old, I fell in love with cooking, baking, and learning everything I could about the world of food. My choices weren’t the healthiest at the time (that would come a few years later once my health declined), but reading Abby’s words took me back to the days when I would pour over cookbooks for hours at the kitchen counter, hanging on every word, trying to decide what to make for my family next.

To chronicle her adventures in the kitchen, Abby started a blog, Yes to Yummy. (I wish I would have thought of that name. So catchy!)

Abby loves cooking with healthy, whole, natural ingredients. Just take a look at her list of favorite ingredients. Everything on that list is super nutritious. Many of the ingredients are items stocked in my own kitchen. Abby knows her stuff!

After I read her note, I immediately replied and asked Abby if she’d be okay with doing a little interview here at Daily Bites. I’m so glad she said yes. This girl’s story clearly deserves to be shared! If a 14 year old girl living in today’s crazy world can change her life by eating healthier and making smart choices, it’s inspiration to all of us that anyone can.

{photo courtesy of Abby}

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Tell us a little bit about your story and what got you into healthy eating.

I have always loved food…although I used to prefer Kraft macaroni and cheese and Nutella over real, whole foods. When I’d go to friends’ houses or parties, I’d happily gorge on a bowl of chips or an entire bag of candy, not caring about how sluggish I’d feel afterwards. Just after my fourteenth birthday, my weight reached a tipping point, and I decided to try losing a few pounds and to see how it felt. I started eating more fruits and vegetables and refusing pieces of chocolate or cookies my friends would offer me at lunch. At home, I started experimenting in the kitchen with healthier recipes, and in the process, I gained a completely new perspective on food. Today, I am 30 pounds lighter and enjoy cooking dinner every night for my family. Preparing delicious, healthy meals has become my passion, and I truly don’t miss any of the processed fare I used to eat.

Did you notice any big changes in your health (aside from weight loss) after going gluten-free and dairy-free?

When I removed wheat and gluten from my diet, I immediately didn’t feel as “bogged down” after I’d eat a meal. My food didn’t make me sleepy or languid; it gave me energy. Once I ate more protein and fat instead of refined carbohydrates, I noticed I didn’t get hungry as often or as easily, and my cravings for things like bread and pasta vanished.

Did exercise play a role in your weight loss journey, or was it primarily your shift in diet that made a difference?

Honestly, I’m lazy when it comes exercise. I like walking, biking, and yoga, but neither of those really played a big role in my weight loss.

Do you have any siblings? What do your parents/family think of your commitment to this lifestyle?

I’m an only child and have an excellent relationship with my mom and my dad. Both have been very supportive of my eating habits, and many times, they’ve gone out of their way to make sure I’ll be able to find something healthy to eat. They’re always open to try my food and have been huge helps cleaning up the kitchen. :)

As a teenage girl growing up in our image-obsessed society, how have you made peace with your body image through your weight loss journey?

I’ve never been really critical of the way I look, but when I was heavier, I used to look in the mirror and think, “How can I suck this in? How can I look skinnier?” It’s so nice to look at myself and be satisfied with what I see. I feel so much more confident in almost everything I wear.

What keeps you motivated to remain committed to your healthy lifestyle?

From time to time, I’ll crave a greasy piece of pizza or some M&M’s, but then I remember how uncomfortable I used to feel afterwards and the desire goes away. I love how I look and how I feel, and I don’t want to give either up. Besides, I’d much rather eat sweet bell peppers and a grass-fed steak than French fries and a cheeseburger.

What advice do you have for others, young or old, who may be struggling with their weight or weight-related issues?

For me, the biggest help has been strictly sticking to my goal. At first, it’s really hard to pass up treats, but if you continue to refuse them, saying no will get easier and easier. Exploring new foods and ingredients also helped me a lot. I try to get a good variety of fresh produce and meat in my diet so I never get bored. If you’re ever tempted to give up and binge on junk food, think about all of the chemicals and artificial ingredients that go into so many of the foods we eat. Do you really want to be putting those things in your body? Will it be worth it for the second or two of pleasure you’ll receive?

Where do you see yourself 5-10 years from now? Any big goals or dreams?

My goal is to become a nutritionist and/or a personal chef so I can share my love of healthy food and cooking with others. I could see myself opening a restaurant in Hawaii, too!

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Abby’s Favorites

Favorite food: I think I was a rabbit in a previous life, because I’m kinda obsessed with carrots. One time, we bought a 5 lb bag from the grocery store, and I polished it off in about a week.

Favorite food to cook/prepare: I love cooking with all different types of meat. I visit a fantastic butcher weekly, and whenever I see something unusual, like quail or goat, I snatch it up.

Favorite recipes on her site: Banana Chocolate Chip Cake with Cashew Frosting, Orange Pistachio Scallops, and Goat Meatball Tagine

Favorite book: The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky is hands down my favorite book of all time. I think I read the whole thing in one sitting.

Favorite cookbook: I ADORE cookbooks and probably have at least a dozen or so favorites. My cooking bible is Mark Bittman’s How to Cook Everything, but I also frequently cook from Diane Sanfilippo’s Practical Paleo and Melissa Joulwan’s Well Fed.

Favorite thing to do in your spare time: Besides cooking (which is pretty much all I do in my free time), I like listening to music and traveling. One day, I hope to visit every continent!

Favorite subject: Biology! I have the best teacher EVER, and we talk a lot about the science of nutrition in the body. It’s so interesting to see how everything chemically works together.

Favorite indulgence: Chocolate. It always has been my favorite treat and always will be. I like REALLY dark chocolate, usually 85% cacao mass or higher. (I do really like unsweetened chocolate, too.)

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Thank you, Abby, for your commitment to a healthy lifestyle and for inspiring us ALL to make good choices, no matter where we are in our health journey. It’s stories like yours that make me 100% happy about what I do and give me so much motivation to keep going even when there are “down days.”

Make sure you swing by Abby’s blog, Yes to Yummy, for more about her story and all of her delicious recipes! (And you can follow Yes to Yummy on Facebook here.)

Comments

  1. Wow, what an amazing 14 year-old! We should all be that together, at any age! And love the photo. Thanks so much for sharing, Hallie and Abby! :)

  2. How awesome! You know how I love sharing personal stories! Abby is inspiring to us all. :-) Can’t wait to share this one on my gfe Facebook page!

    Thanks so much, Hallie and Abby!
    Shirley

  3. I find that when you have big life changes, especially at a young age, something incredible is in store! I am VERY excited about your future, Abby!

  4. Abby is an amazingly bright 14 year old!

    Think about how many people she will inspire during her lifetime, since she is starting to share her knowledge so young!

    I shared this post on a Pinterest board that I contribute to: I Am Going To Live Until 100 Years Old
    http://pinterest.com/Iamparisian/i-am-gonna-live-until-100-years-old/

  5. Oh my! What an absolutely AMAZING and inspiring young woman! Hallie, what a special post here. She has such an incredible (and HEALTHY) future ahead of her. THank you so much for sharing her story here and inspiring others…

  6. This is such a wonderful interview and I’m excited to find Abby’s blog (definitely a catchy title)! Such an inspiration!

  7. Congratulations Abby for finding a healthy way to lose weight! Thanks Hallie for sharing this inspiration with us. I’m sitting here thinking if only I’d known about this lifestyle at 14…

  8. Great story! I wish more teenagers had this desire and urge to be healthy.

  9. Wow Abby! I hope my kids are as amazing as you when they’re you’re age. I am so impressed by your positive attitude. It always has to start with us! Thank you for sharing your story, and thanks to Hallie too :)

  10. What a great story! (And can I get a visit? I need someone to cook dinner for me these days!)

  11. What a great story and thanks for the opportunity to “meet” Abby. What an inspiration. Very excited about your future Abby!

  12. I’m her grandmother and am very very proud of Abby. She is an amazing child. I hope that I was able to influence her in a good way. She has a great future in store for her.

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I'm Hallie Klecker, a professional recipe developer, author, and passionate gluten-free foodie. As a certified holistic nutrition educator, my goal is to inspire others to live a balanced, nourished life through eating well and living pure—one bite at a time. Learn more.