The story of the month for September 2010 comes from Alejandro Arce-Gonzalez.

I was acquainted with Alejandro through a blog he used to run called The Fittest Vegan. This led me to getting to know Alejandro and his story of health and wellness, as well as his wonderful writing about all aspects of vegan nutrition.

Alejandro wanted to lose weight and he did it. He wanted to get in awesome shape and be super physically fit – he did it. He didn’t want to get sick anymore – he did that too! And he wanted to learn more and have fun along the way – he did it!

And what is so amazing about Alejandro and his whole wellness journey, is he is an awesome role model for many males out there that it is “cool” to take care of oneself in an optimally healthy way, care about your health as well as show a compassionate side toward animals by not eating them. He breaks the misconceptions about needing insane amounts of protein or meat to be able to work out, build muscle and look great physically.

Please welcome Alejandro as he shares his story of weight loss, fitness and optimal health:

Area(s) of My Health and Wellness that Needed Change

I’ve always battled with my weight and also poor health, but I’ve been too busy with “life” to stop and pay attention to why this was happening.

The first thing I did was to stop and analyse the way I ate and the way I exercised to see why it wasn’t working and also to see where I could improve.

After much trial an error, I found that the best diet for me was a raw vegan diet as it gave me the highest return.

In regards to exercising, I’ve always gone to the gym, but I looked at it as a source to an end result (improved physical appearance) so it was almost like a job. The first thing I did was expand and made an effort to start having fun again, I got outside and started playing, lots of running, biking, hiking, snow shoeing, dancing, yoga, Ultimate Frisbee, etc. The key is to have fun the rest takes care of itself.

Strategies I Implemented & Their Results

What I’ve found to be the most important thing is to put your objectives on paper. If the goal is to lose 30 pounds then put that on paper and analyze what steps are needed to make that happen, therefore always start with the end in mind and work backwards. Set up schedules for exercising. Also plan ahead with your meals, to ensure your calorie intake is within your objectives and this way you are also prepared so that you don’t “have to” eat fast food.

The second point is to celebrate the small achievements, such as the first 5 pounds lost or the first time those pants become a little loose, celebrate after a month of consistent training, etc. The point is to ensure that you attach positive feelings to your brain for this effort, this way you stay motivated.

Picture a kid that you congratulate when she rides the bike by herself for the first time, she will have such huge pride that she will continue to do it, get better and want to show everyone. As adults we work the same way except that we can be our own motivators by feeding positive messages to ourselves.

Another important point is to note that not everything will work for you. You might not enjoy certain foods or your schedule might impede you from going to the gym, however you have to test everything to find out what works for you and when you find it, celebrate!

Last but not least is to realize that health and wellness is a way of life, not an end result. You might have objectives for strength or physical appearance but in the end what’s most important is to be aware that your body is a machine and that if you maintain your machine fuelled with the best foods, strengthened with exercise and oiled with stretching, you will perform better in every part of your life. You will have more energy, you will release endorphins and be overall happier.

How My Changes Benefitted Me

Ever since I changed to a vegan diet and began to exercise consistently I have not been sick, as my immune system is balanced, which also meant that I could say bye-bye to seasonal allergies. That was a HUGE relief.

At the same time a vegan diet is very high in fibre and since it is so full of nutrients I did not need to eat as much, so I lost a little over 30lbs which brought me down to my natural weight of 185lbs.

Another benefit is the fact that since fruits and veggies are so easily digested, the body does not require tons of blood to go to your stomach to process it, therefore I always have energy and I get to avoid the “afternoon dip” which means that I don’t need coffee anymore.

There are so many more benefits such as my deep rejuvenating sleeps, my mood, my appearance, my skin is better than it was when I was in my early 20’s, my strength, etc.

The saying is true “You really are what you eat”.

Next Steps on My Health and Wellness Journey

In the near future I plan on taking a yoga teacher’s training. I really enjoy yoga and the way I feel because of it, so I would like to evolve my knowledge and go to the next level on that side. I will also be taking courses on nutrition and do my best to help others achieve their goals.

My objective is to keep on learning, this is an amazing journey and I’m enjoying every minute of it. I’m always trying new recipes with real food, and since I am in much better shape I get to do different physical activities and be competitive, as I have become much more athletic.

My hope as well, is to encourage as many people to pay more attention to their health and not wait until they are sick or the doctor tells them to. If you become pro-active with the way you eat and add physical activity to your lifestyle you will be much happier, it’s a fact.

Wisdom & Inspiration for Others

I’ve been struggling with my weight since I was born; I used to eat out daily and had an addiction to food. The problem was not my genetics or slow metabolism, it was that I ate too much.

I did a little research and I realized that getting in shape required a 6 month commitment to a strict change in my diet, and then I would be in management mode. I figured that 6 months is a short time if you consider the fact that I had been overweight for about 29 years.

The one thing I was not expecting was to fall in love with this way of eating. It rocks, and I would have never known that unless I made the choice to try it.

My message is to go out and try it – try healthier foods, real foods, you just might like them.

Try exercising more, try walking up the stairs instead of taking the elevator, try walking to the store instead of driving. That is all it is – just a little effort.

Remember that it takes 21 days to create a habit, so after 21 days it’ll just be a part of your lifestyle; you have nothing to lose and everything to gain.

Believe me, I did it.