Social media maven Tabitha Grace Smith, aka "Tabz," her mother and father, Mrs. Melodee Smith and Dr. Matthew Smith, collectively have lost more than 90 pounds! Through her blog, tweets, videos and podcasts, Tabz is sharing their progress with thousands of followers and helping people navigate The Daniel Plan, which caught our attention.
Tell us the "before" story. What were your habits and overall health like before The Daniel Plan?
As a family we were overweight and getting worse. We struggled with fatigue, not getting good sleep, heartburn, plus general aches and pains. I've had several bouts with kidney stones; mom has had skin and uterine cancer; and dad has been staving off high blood pressure and high cholesterol. We had parts of the healthy habits like eating whole grains, switching our oils, not eating out a lot, but our portion sizes were out of control and we each had our sinful snack foods that did us in every time. I was a certifiable Mt. Dew addict and would often finish a case of it each week by myself.
I have to also say that my family thought that all this "organic," "raw food," "shop at Trader Joe's" stuff was laughable. While in Chicago I got interested in eating healthier because of vegan friends, but I kept telling myself isn't that for hipster hippies?
Why did you, your mom and dad decide to give The Daniel Plan a shot?
Each of us individually knew we had to get healthy, but our epiphanies came at different times. Dad started 7 months before the Daniel Plan came along, but he had only lost 18 pounds by January. Mom and I started exercising more regularly in October 2010. When I started I didn't necessarily want to lose weight, but I was tired of feeling so sluggish. It seemed like work to get anything done. I knew I was at the cusp of an explosion in my personal life in 2011 – I'll be graduating with my Masters and turning 30. I needed to feel better to keep up with the whirlwind of activity.
Yet, on our own we weren't getting great results. The exercise helped some, but only saw small losses and, by January, I had gained back all the weight I had lost. My parents went to the first Daniel Plan rally (I was actually away at grad school), and before they even got two sentences out about how great it was I told them I was committed. We all wanted a change that would work and Pastor Rick's message about being healthy to accomplish God's will really convicted all of us.
What were the key learnings that have had the most influence on your lifestyle? How has doing the plan with your family helped?
For me, I've learned the most expensive food is the cheap food that harms your body. I've been unemployed since September of 2009. My parents have been unemployed since March of 2010. Despite this God's provided for us in this new lifestyle to buy healthy, organic, and completely new foods. For my family the key teaching was to avoid the "white drugs" (sugar, salt, white rice and white flour), while we knew about sugar and salt the other two were mind-boggling. Especially understanding why those four are so bad for you and what they do to your body.
Going lean with protein was a huge one for my dad, who is from the Midwest and (before the Daniel Plan) didn't think it was really a meal unless it had a good chunk of beef, ham, or bacon. Now we only have grass-fed beef about once a month and, when he had ham for the first time since the Daniel Plan a couple weeks ago he didn't even like it and threw it out!
I didn't realize how important doing this together was until the three of us spent time around some 'food pushers' recently. "It's okay to cheat once in awhile," seemed to be their motto! Without each other, teaching what we've learned, shopping and cooking together, I don't think we would have incorporated this lifestyle of eating healthy.
What have been some of the results from this new lifestyle?
Dad has lost 40 pounds, I've lost 28 pounds and mom's lost 24 pounds. Dad's had to give away two sets of clothing (his "fat" and "skinny" clothes) and is now wearing a size pants that he hasn't worn the entire time I've known him. I've dropped sizes too and 5 inches off my waistline. Mom was taking a daily heartburn medication for the past 30 years and is now off it. We've all completed huge projects that have been on our list to do because we have more energy.
Tell us about your blog and latest video. Business card handout. Other interesting repercussions.
I've always been, what my friends call, a social media maven. I've got thousands of followers all over the world who follow my podcasts, blogs, Twitter and Facebook accounts. Many of them have seen pictures of me or met me in person so they know my weight. When I started talking about my weight loss and the Daniel Plan a lot of them wanted to know more. I started a series of blog posts on my blog, www.fanTABZulous.com, to get them started. Then I started hearing how a bunch of them didn't know how to cook so I decided to start doing some video blogs to help them out and our first one was a Cinco de Mayo theme dinner that Dad and I worked on together.
God keeps bringing people into our lives (that we could have never dreamed of talking to about church) that we can talk about the Daniel Plan. Dad and mom have even made up business cards that point to the Daniel Plan website because they kept having people stop them and say, "Wow! You look great, what are you doing?"
Where are you and your family going with The Daniel Plan?
Dad: I have another 30 pounds to go to lose all of my weight for my goal, which I hope to have done before Christmas. Then I plan to maintain this weight and lifestyle until eternity.
Mom: I want to be able to lose another 30 pounds by the end of 2011. My ultimate weight loss goal is 100 pounds by the end of 2012. I would like to be able to jog for ½ hour. I haven't jogged since I was in high school (35 years ago).
Tabz: My long-term goal is to lose another 74 pounds by the end of 2012. Short-term goal is to not have to shop for anything bigger than a "large" by Christmas. With all my extra energy I'd like to finish writing my next novel (I write books for kids) by Christmas (the last one took me over a year to write). This is not going to be something I just do for the Decade of Destiny, it's going to be my new lifestyle for life.