INDIANAPOLIS — At 29-years-old, Bridgett McDaniels-Russell said she weighed more than 300 pounds and was on several prescription medications for blood pressure, thyroid and cholesterol.
When her doctor recommended bariatric surgery, she knew she needed to make a change.
“I saw my mother having gone through ill effects from a bariatric surgery and my sister as well and so I said to myself this is not an option for me I have to be able to eat food I have to be able to move my body and that was really the stepping off point for me,” said McDaniels-Russell.
A chef by trade, McDaniels-Russell said food was too important for her to give up.
“I decided that I still want to be able to eat a lot of food and not feel deprived in any way, so I started looking at what I was eating and saying, 'Hey these things over on this side are ... not a lot of nutrition,” she said.
So, she cut out processed foods that we all already know aren’t good for our bodies.
“I also started weaning out things like dairy and meat products and ultimately found myself in a position where I was living for the plant-based diet where I could still eat a lot of food that made me feel really good, but I found myself just dropping weight like crazy and feeling better,” said McDaniels-Russell.
Since starting her journey nearly 10 years ago she has lost more than 100 pounds and has gotten off several medications and now runs ultra-marathons, something she never thought she would achieve.
“When I signed up to do couch to 5K and I couldn't run 30 seconds, I gave up about, I don't know, 100 times every day. I gave up 'cause (I thought) there's no way I'm ever going to do this,” said McDaniels-Russell
For McDaniels-Russell it wasn’t what about what she lost but what she gained.
“This whole experience is giving me the realization that I'm going to be there for my for my kids, my babies. I have 8-month-old twins and a 4-year-old, and it's given me the hope it's giving me the confidence to know that I'm going to teach my kids how to be healthy people and how to be compassionate people,” said McDaniels-Russell.
She was the American Heart Association's, Real People Real Change winner this year.
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