After years of wanting to lose weight and struggling with anxiety, Jennifer Niles made some drastic changes—she started practicing yoga regularly, changed her once “beer and pizza” diet to a vegan, plant-based one, and ended up leaving her job in “Corporate America” to live on a small tropical island in the South Pacific.
The results? She’s lost over 95 pounds and is now empowering others to do the same as a health coach and the founder of The Organic Transformation Program (not to mention she’s also the author of two books!).
Admittedly, all of this sounds a little daunting. The idea of an extreme lifestyle overhaul can’t be enjoyable, right? And yet, Niles says it’s easier than you think and is convinced anyone could do it, without leaving their desk job.
“There is nothing to lose (except weight) and everything to gain by adopting a natural and simple lifestyle,” Niles says. “Don’t let the fear of the unknown prevent you from moving forward in a new direction.”
So whether you dream of dropping it all and moving to an island where you can practice yoga undisturbed, or are craving a healthier, happier spin on your current lifestyle, she's going to walk you how to do it.
When I knew I needed to change
"I had been feeling 'inspired' to lose weight for many years before the transformation actually took place. What ultimately pushed me over the edge was the realization that my love of fattening food and beer was fueled by a deep-seated feeling of unhappiness. Once I realized that I was allowing toxic people and unhealthy situations to indirectly affect my health and well being, I eradicated all negative influences from my life and became serious about bettering myself."
How I found my first weight loss method
"A lot of trial and error! Like many people, I unsuccessfully experimented with every fad diet and magic weight loss pill on the market, until I ran out of steam and gave up, reverting back to my old ways. Eventually I stumbled across yoga and a plant-based diet. I finally ditched the 'quick fix' mentality and opted for a long-term lifestyle change."
Sometimes you need to be “selfish”
"My weight loss journey was a solo effort. For the first time in my life, I allowed myself to be selfish. Improving my health became more important than anything or anyone else. My priorities definitely changed when it came time to get serious about losing weight.
I have now lost a total of 95 pounds (and counting!) over the course of the past 5 years."
Why you should consider yoga
"First off, there is nothing to be intimidated by! Even those graceful and perfect looking yogis had to start with the basic postures that you rarely see plastered all over the Internet.
When I first rolled out my yoga mat 7 years ago, I couldn’t even come close to touching my toes. Nothing about the practice came easy to me. However, by the end of the first month, I was finally able to (quickly) graze my feet with my fingertips! Now years later, I can literally slide my hands underneath my feet while in a standing forward fold. Like anything else in life, the more you practice, the easier it gets."
Exactly what type of yoga to do to lose weight
"Sun Salutations (aka Surya Namaskar) are vital to torching calories. They are the perfect combination of cardio and strength training. During the years (and even now to this day) when I was losing all the weight, Power Yoga and Vinyasa Flow were the styles of yoga that I practiced six days a week."
How I switched to eating vegan
"I personally took baby steps when it came to my transition. First I went vegetarian, and then vegan, and then vegan and gluten free. Consuming natural food is a constant evolution. The better you eat, the better you feel. The better you feel, the more you want to keep that feeling going."
My healthy splurges
"I love pretty much anything that resembles comfort food. For me, potatoes are my favorite go-to. Not only are potatoes incredibly healthy, they are delicious, low in calories, inexpensive and can be prepared in so many amazing ways. My favorite recipe would have to be classic pan-fried spuds served with a delicious basil pesto for dipping."
Why alcohol can sabotage you
The mimosas are just not worth it! Drinking completely throws your body out of whack and it takes a full week to recover from its damaging effects.
If Sunday brunches are something you can’t live without, try ordering a fun fruit smoothie instead of a mimosa. If it’s not easy to socialize without a few alcoholic beverages, maybe it’s a good idea to make your Sunday brunches a monthly occurrence vs. a weekly one.
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