51-year-old mum-of-five, Angela O’Callaghan, spent years battling with her weight, following the birth of her first two children. Sick of yo-yo diets that always ended in further weight gain, Angela was considering gastric surgery, when she came across our Happy Heart course online. This was the start of what would turn out to be a dramatic change for Angela, who, since following our Happy Heart course twice, has lost a massive three stone in weight, lowered her blood pressure, and changed her entire way of eating and living. Angela’s success on the course is phenomenal, and is a real testament to the powerful benefits that sustainable wholefood and plant-based eating can have. We hope you enjoy this inspiring interview with Angela.
What made you sign up to the Happy Heart course?
I had been overweight for a number of years, after having my first child. After trying numerous diets over the years, I eventually felt so desperate that I asked my GP to refer me to a gastric surgeon to enquire about surgery. After that consultation, I decided surgery wasn’t for me. It just so happened that on the drive home, as I was scrolling through Facebook, The Happy Heart course ad popped up. I thought that it was a sign, so I signed up there and then.
What was your health like before you began the course?
I had yo-yo dieted over the years, so, at times, I would be slim but then I’d fall back to bad habits and put weight on again. After having two children, I gave up work to become a full-time mum and then we began fostering. We now have five children, and before I knew it, I was so busy looking after them all that I was forgetting about myself, and my health and weight suffered.
What was your experience of the course like? What were your favourite parts?
I loved every minute of the course; there are lots of helpful tips, video demos, and easy to follow recipes. The online support through Facebook was great, as you get to interact with others doing the course. Dave and Steve are extremely helpful and generous with their time with online Q&A sessions.
Did you enjoy cooking all the recipes on the course?
I was amazed at the variety of recipes! I was never hungry and I really enjoyed making all the traditional favourites and adapting them to a Happy Heart format. My favourite recipes are the green lentil dahl, veg korma, and sweet potato and parsnip soup, to name but a few. I had never cooked lentils before the course, and the recipes helped me to learn how to use different spices and herbs. I cook with them daily now.
Were there ever times that you struggled on the course? How did you stay motivated?
I initially did the course last November, but I fell back into bad habits over Christmas. I signed up again in March and I felt I had a better grasp of it the second time around. I didn’t find motivation a problem, as I always felt satisfied and never felt deprived or hungry.
How did you feel while doing the course?
In the beginning, I felt like my tummy was talking to me (gas from all the extra fibre), but as I got used to this way of eating, I didn’t feel sluggish and, eventually, I felt as if I was walking on air! When my husband started doing the course, from as early as day two, he no longer had pins and needles in his arm when he woke up in the morning.
What have been the main benefits that you have experienced from taking part in the course?
Initially, I lost a stone, and I am now down 3 stone and my blood pressure is normal. My husband started a few months after me, after tasting all the delicious food and seeing how good I felt; he has now lost 2.5 stone, is no longer on cholesterol tablets, and is coming off his blood pressure tablets also. One of the best moments, was seeing my doctor’s reaction, as she knew how long I had struggled to lose weight. Making time for myself is now a priority. As my sister once told me, ‘You can’t pour from an empty cup’. I have to look after myself before I can look after anyone else.
What are the top three things you learnt from having taken part in the course?
If you can chop an onion or peel a carrot, you can do this course. It might seem daunting in the beginning, as it’s all new, but, eventually, it just comes naturally. I found planning my meals and snacks and using shopping lists (which are all provided on the course) very helpful. Developing a routine helps to make this way of cooking sustainable. I wrote down all my favourite recipes, meals and soups in a diary. It made it easier to select something when trying to decide what to cook. Also, including what vegetables are on special offer in the supermarket and vegetables that are in-season, makes meals tasty, as well as cost efficient. While making a recipe, I make extra for portions to put in the freezer. I bought a new freezer and filled it with a variety of frozen veg, so it’s very easy to whip something up if I’m not in the mood for chopping!
Has your life and diet changed much since completing the course?
My diet has changed completely. Since commencing the course, I have continued to eat a wholefood and plant-based diet. As a result, apart from weight loss, I have experienced a positive knock on effect in every other aspect of my life, both mentally and physically. Learning how to use spices and season and flavour foods was an eye opener for me. Discovering the variety of foods and meals on the course was astounding. I now surround myself with healthy food, I make food I enjoy, and I try to do some form of exercise. Being part of the Happy Heart experience has opened a whole new way of life for me and my family. I am now more active and have a more positive attitude to health and wellness that I never thought was possible. I wish everyone could experience what I’ve experienced. I feel like I’ve found the Holy Grail of weight loss, good health and tasty food, and it all starts with what’s at the end of your fork!
Lastly, Angela, can you finish these sentences for us?
Life no longer passing me by.
Being part of something bigger than yourself.
If you have been inspired by Angela’s story, then why not give yourself the gift of health this Christmas by signing up to our four-week, online Happy Heart
course which kicks off on 8th January 2018
! Packed with delicious, wholefood and plant-based recipes that are quick and easy to make, our course is guaranteed to boost your health and leave you ready to take on the year ahead – all in just four weeks! With tips on how to eat healthily on the go, as well as motivational videos and live Facebook Q&A sessions with Dave and Steve, the course is the perfect opportunity to reboot your health and shift those pesky Christmas pounds. Just like Angela, we have had thousands of participants experience weight loss, lowered cholesterol and blood pressure, and increased energy levels!
We are also holding a blended online and classroom-based course, beginning 8th January in our Clondalkin café. Our Clondalkin Happy Heart course will offer a combination of convenient online meal plans and shopping lists, tasty recipes, nutritional information, as well as two evenings of cooking demos with Dave and Steve, and two Happy Heart Meetups with other Happy Hearters and other inspirational speakers all in our lovely Clondalkin café.
The course will take place on Monday 8th January, Wednesday 17th January, Wednesday 24th January, and Monday 29th January. Cooking demos with Dave and Steve will take place on Monday 8th January and Monday 29th January, 7pm- 9pm, and two Happy Heart Meetups with inspirational guest speakers will take place on Wednesday 17th & 24th January, 7.30pm-9pm. Participants will have access to online recipes, meal plans, shopping list and nutritional information, as well as two live Q&A sessions with Dave and Steve, access to an online Facebook group of other Happy Hearters, and additional support with our online Happy Heart team.
For more information on our Happy Heart courses, please visit thehappypearacademy.com