Health/Weight Success Story

Many people have asked Tamara how she went from over 250 pounds down to a healthy weight for her height.  The following is her story:

From Tamara Schoch

Health/Weight Success Story  (August 28,2013)
Made a few adjustments (added some more info to my story), added some websites, added pictures of the cookbooks (September 1, 2013)
(Added June 14, 2014: See list at the very bottom of this page for the 8 steps to reset your "set points" after reading the story.)

From 250 lbs to a healthy weight!

I asked myself, "where do I start?"  Some say that a picture is worth a thousand words, so here are some before and after pictures.

Before Pictures:

1999 or a bit before


1999 (I was really sucking in my gut for this picture!)

Spring 2001 (do we look younger or what?)
2004 after my sweet little boy was born
2013 (in Africa)  42 years old - almost 43


When I was maybe only about eleven years old I started having weight issues.  About that time, I started in various athletics until getting out of school.  I was never happy with my weight or how I looked, even though looking back at pictures I wasn’t as heavy as I saw myself.  As an adult,  I fought to keep my weight in control using various diet programs, pills, powders, drinks, bars, various books, group support programs.  Shortly after I got married, I really lost the fight and my weight climbed and climbed until I refused to get on the scales after it said 250 lbs!  So actually I really don’t know how heavy I got.  I don’t have a picture of me at my highest weight.  Being so heavy, I didn’t like my picture taken.
I do have some picture of me at around 220 lbs.  I have posted some of those.

I really struggled with emotional eating.  Due to various challenges in my life and bad coping skills, emotional eating was my escape (not a good one, but anyhow.)  I know what it is like to struggle with eating disorders.

I had purchased so many diet books.  I tired Susan Summers’ diet books, Atkins, Weight Watchers, Herb-a-life, Slim-fast, Sugar busters, T-factor, various pills and other things (I can’t even remember the names of them all anymore.  It has been over a decade now!)

But one day, I went to a program that talked about how to get control of every area of your life according to the Bible.  I was interested.  When the speaker got to the part about health, I was very interested.   I had tried everything else, so I wanted to know what this guy had to say.  He gave us a very short, to the point lesson on what he did to be healthy.  Wow – it was simple, and short, and wasn’t tricky.  It was different, but I had tried all kinds of crazy things, so why not try something new?  I listened to what he had to say, and I tried it.  IT CHANGED MY LIFE!  And it can change yours, also, if you want it!

I finally learned (with the help of my Lord) to get my health under control.  WHAT A BLESSING THIS HAS BEEN!

Actually I have learned since then, that following this program (and being even more careful in a few areas) you can reverse atherosclerosis, high blood pressure, diabetes and other lifestyle related diseases.  And it will build up your immune system so you can better fight the communicable diseases, too.  Many have even healed from cancer.

Today there is are some GREAT documentaries that have some similar principles.  I HIGHLY recommend the film Forks Over Knives.  There are some companion books that go with it.

Back to my story.  This guy that was the speaker.  He was SMART.  He was quick, full of energy and looked like he was in great shape.  I was very interested in how he ate. 

So he made it really simple (but I can give more details later.)

First – he would drink water upon rising (or hot herbal tea.) 

He would eat a BIG breakfast of unrefined whole grains, fruits, and a small amount of nuts or nut butter or seeds. 

He would eat nothing between meals but only drink water or herbal tea (no caffeine)
between meals.  Then he would wait 5 hours between meals.  (By drinking enough water between meals we don’t interpret “thirst” for hunger pains, and it also keeps us from overeating at meal times.

For Lunch he would again have a big meal of whole grains and this time with vegetables – something like whole grain pasta with a salad and/or cooked veggies.  Lots of veggies.

Then again he would only drink water or herbal tea between meals.

For dinner he would either skip it completely or eat 2 ½ fruits (like ½ pear, ½ apple, a banana, and an orange) and maybe a piece of whole grain toast.

Then only water again.

He said he stayed away from “WHITE” – white sugar, white flour, milk – if there were other “whites” I don’t remember.
He also ate nothing that came from an animal (except honey.) 

I thought – well I have tried Atkins, and everything else, I can try this.

So the very next day, I cleaned out my fridge and freezer (was doing Atkins!) And I went shopping for some fruits, veggies, whole grain bread, whole grain pasta, brown rice and some natural nut butters (without added oils or sugar.)

For breakfast the first day I think I had oatmeal with lots of fresh fruit cut up in it with a few walnuts, two pieces of whole grain bread with nut butter, and maybe a little juice.  It was so good!  I ate until comfortably full. 

I had started my day with a lot of water and quit about 1 hour to 30 minutes before eating.

For lunch I had whole wheat pasta and stir-fried veggies.  (Sometimes I did brown rice or bread.)

For dinner, I just had a little fruit and a piece of dry toast. 

I was drinking a lot more water and I was starting to feel better on day one!

I have stuck with this program for about 13 years now.  The weight came off quickly.  I started feeling more energy.  I was able to think clearer.

My husband has also joined me and we are so happy.  It is not a diet, it is a lifestyle and it is a blessing.  Basically – it is a back to Genesis lifestyle of eating (Genesis 1:29, Genesis 3:18.)  We are eating what God first designed for us to eat. 

We eat lots of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, and seeds.
We drink a lot of water (and often non-caffeine herbal tea – without sugar.)

We don’t eat anything that has a mother or comes from an animal (except honey.)

We are totally plant based in our eating and drinking.

We avoid refined grains as we can (we use whole grain bread, pasta (not so much now that we are in Africa – I need to learn to make my own,) brown rice, millet, whole grain corn meal/flour, etc.

We avoid added sugars.

We don’t eat any meat, milk or eggs.  (And when I say meat, I mean anything that had to bleed when it is killed – fish and chicken, too.  I don’t know why some people think fish and chickens are vegetables.)

I ate simply for many months and then I got my first cookbook.  I have gone through many great cookbooks since then.  And I have learned to modify many recipes since then.
And my tastes have grown and changed over the months and years to enjoy the healthy taste of food more and more.

We have grown and adapted our menu a lot over the last decade.  We now try not to use oil at all.  We never buy white sugar, and use unrefined sugar very seldom (I use it to raise bread.)  Not having food from animals has been a HUGE blessing especially now, since we have not used a refrigerator here in Africa.  When we were in the US, our groceries would last longer without going bad since it was all fresh veggies and fruits.

We like organic, but sometimes you just have to do the best you can.  Even non-organic is better than nothing or something more harmful.

YOU KNOW WHAT IS REALLY COOL - GUILT FREE EATING!  I LOVE knowing that what I am eating is building up my body and not tearing it down!  I LOVE TO EAT, by the way.  That hasn't changed, but when I eat, and how I prepare my food has changed.  I have found MANY superb recipes.  (BEWARE - there are some CRUMMY recipes out there too.  Don't give up if you have some bad recipes.  You find those in the normal recipes too!)  And I have learned to experiment with herbs and various changes to make the recipes work in a health manner.  If a recipe calls for something we don't like, I just substitute.  It is sort of creative cooking.  :)

I cut WAY BACK on recipe books when we moved to Africa to be full time missionaries and these are the ones that I still have on my shelf:

Tasty Vegan Delights by Gloria Lawson and Debbi Puffer – HIGHLY RECOMMEND!  It is not being printed last I heard, but there are some used copies still available.  I learned how to make gravy and some “cheese sauces” and some other great tricks.  I love this cook book.  I still have a copy and use it often.  Here are some GREAT recipes to start with in this book:  Fluffy Mashed Potatoes, Scrambled Tofu, Breakfast banana splits (YUMMY), no-oil granola, Nut French Toast, Maple Millet Delight, Whole wheat crepes, almond milk, millet or rice milk, cashew milk, walnut milk, walnut-wheat crumbles (substitute for ground meat in many dishes!,) refrigerator bread and butter pickles or relish, tofu sour cream, tofu onion dip (oh, we loved this!), whipped nut butter, lentil stew, tomato soup, sloppy joes, mock chicken seasoning, (a bunch of “cheese recipes”), peanut butter cookies, split pea soup, AND MANY, MANY MORE! (200 nutritious recipes!)

Seven Secrets Cookbook by Neva & Jim Brackett (owners of two plant based restaurants.)  This had GREAT INFO IN IT and AWESOME RECIPES!  Just a few of my favorites:  light and tender waffles, tofu scramble, basic cream sauce (and many others,) vegetarian pizza, bulgur burger, croutons, simple butter, ranch-style dressing, pita pocket bread, calzones, Armenian lentil soup, mock salmon spread, pumpkin pie, fruit pizza, lemon cream pie, pineapple date bars, peanut butter n’ honey cookies, fruit thins, coconut macaroons, almond jewels, vanilla custard, AND MANY, MANY MORE!  (More than 200 recipes or variations!)

This next book looks great but I haven’t tried many recipes.  It has LOTS of pictures and simple design.  Over 150 recipes from the “StepFast Kitchen.  The Total Vegetarian Cookbook by Barbara Watson.  I made the mistake of looking in the dessert section.  I need to get back to trying some new recipes!  WOW.

Onward…  This next cookbook is SUPER simple, and for some, maybe too simple?   Quick-n-Easy Natural Recipes by Lorrie Knutsen.  “These recipes use only a handful of ingredients and take just minutes to prepare.”  Here are a few of the recipes I have made that I have marked as our family liking:  Basic Whole Wheat Bread, Whole Wheat Gems (don’t over mix or they turn to rocks!  So simple, and you can make so many options, add garlic, avocado, ginger, fruit, or nuts – so simple, quick, and healthy!), Date Muffins, English Muffins (OH YEAH!), fresh fruit muffins, fruit betty, simple granola, flour tortillas, cashew mayonnaise, tangy middle east dressing, carob candy (SUPER GOOD).

Country Life Vegetarian Cookbook (from the Country Life vegetarian restaurants.)  Here are a few SUPER GOOD ONES.  It has too many recipes for me to flip through all the pages.  Simple granola, crumble topping, flaxseed French toast, dried fruit butter, coconut cream pie, harvest nut roast, bread dressing roast, squash nests, cashew loaf, millet loaf, peanut butter – carrot loaf, tofu loaf, oat-burger bake, kasha au gratin, macaroni au gratin, brazil nut casserole, vegetable stroganoff, chickpea a la king, Persian dill rice, enchilada sauce, ketchup, hummus, zucchini fillets, French Onion Soup – these have very good, 3 or more stars or “excellent” written by them by my family.

Absolutely Vegetarian by Lorine Tadej.  There are a lot of simple recipes in here.  There are some great recipes, but for beginners I still recommend the first two on my list, and then some of these others later after your tastes have advanced.  This one it great because it has oil-less recipes.  This one has a lot of ADVICE also which is super nice.  Just flipping through quickly looking for my notes in the book I see these recipes as keepers:  Mexican avocado huevos rancheros, carob super fudge, carob syrup, date apple cookies, Danish apple cake, quick tomato gravy, Savory soybean patties.  I should use this cookbook more.  We don’t use many recipes now that we are in Africa, but I need to get back to trying some new things.

Country Cabin Cooking  - a total vegetarian cookbook by Allison and Emily Waters – Simple whole wheat bread, easy corn bread, whole wheat bagels, maple pecan rolls, cashew oat waffles – we love waffles you can do so many healthy things with them, oven French fries, bit-o-honey, carob fudge, and many more.

 Of These Ye May Freely Eat – by JoAnn Rochor – She also has a crockpot (slow cooker) cookbook.  There are a couple of recipes in the back of that book that are super good. I didn’t get that cookbook since I can’t use a slow cooker here.  This book (mentioned first) has over 250 recipes and is usually $2.95. Here are some favorites from this one.  Dixie Toast, banana ice cream, maple walnut ice cream, French tomato dressing, soy-oat waffles, oat-burgers, flax bars, and many more!

Forks over Knives – I don’t know if I have tried one of these recipes.  They are more complex, but I bought it for the book.  I just haven’t gotten to try any of the recipes.  It has 125 recipes.  It is a good book either way. 

So what does our lifestyle look like today?  It has grown and progressed over the last 13 years. 

We try to eat on schedule every day.  7 am and 1 pm.

Start the day with a large water or hot unsweetened herb tea. 
Stop drinking 30 minutes before eating.
Eating whole grains (usually bread, pancakes, gems, or brown rice, or other cooked whole grain) fresh fruit (sometimes dried fruit), natural nut butter (usually peanut butter here) and maybe a little honey, molasses and flax seed.

We try not to drink at least for one to two hours after this meal.  Then we drink water or herb tea until about 30 minutes before lunch. 

Lunch might be some of the following: potatoes, sweet potatoes, brown rice, bread, salad (our salads sometimes have lettuce, but we have to grow it ourselves, so often it might be mostly tomatoes, carrots, onions and garlic with some lemon juice, honey, salt for dressing, )  cooked greens, beans or something of the likes.  Being in Africa in the bush we don’t have access to food like we did when we were in the US. 

Then, drinking the same as before.

We seldom eat a third meal.  If we do, we try to keep it really light like some fruit and bread, which will digest quickly.

There is a lot of great science behind this lifestyle. 

We love this life style.  My blood pressure is super great (always under 120/70) as is my husbands even though many in our families have out of control blood pressures even on medications.  Our blood sugars are great (even though MANY of my family has diabetes.)  Our BMI’s (weight to height ratio) are in the healthy range (YEAH!)  Our son who will be eleven on September 3, 2013) has been on this plan (except when he was breastfeeding and when very young he had a third meal.)  His health and growth have been great.  He had blood test done when he was three when the doctor found out how we ate and all of his blood work came back perfect. 

We DO NOT eat between meals for many great scientific reasons.  If we feel tired or hungry between meals we DRINK, and it WORKS! 

We don’t use any caffeinated products, or foods from animals (except honey) and we try to avoid highly refined foods (white sugar, refined grains, etc.)

The closer to whole the food is, the better it is for us.  We do have a few more refined foods now and then (maybe at a friends house – like a gluten type meal, or a more refined bread, white rice, etc.)  But at home and when possible, we try to eat for health (and the glory of God   1 Corinthians 10:31  Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God.

We try not to use oil for cooking.  I use it to oil pans for baking, and sometimes we eat salad at friends’ houses with a bit of oil in it already. 

As we have learned more and more about true health (and not fads or people trying to sell their products) we have changed to be more and more simple and careful in what we eat.  So we also follow the following guidelines:

We avoid alcohol and all harmful substances.
We don’t use black (or white) pepper, we avoid spicy peppers, chocolate, refined sugar products (candy and such), soda (for many reasons), fried foods, or artificial foods.

Of course EXERCISE is so wonderful for you.   At least 20-30 minutes of brisk exercise each day is important, especially to prevent and cure disease.  Brisk walking is a GREAT exercise.  Walking immediately after meals is a great way to open up your cells for the upcoming surge of insulin and glucose.  Taking a 15 minute brisk walk immediately after each meal is super great for health.

Going to bed and waking up at the same times each day is very good, also.

Drinking enough water is VERY important since our bodies are mostly water.  We need it to allow our kidneys to do their jobs without harm, for our blood pressure, and so many important functions.  So many people could eliminate their headaches if they would drink enough water and at the correct times.  It is best to not drink with meals.

So here is my story.  I don’t plan to ever go back.  And I was a cheese and chocolate addict.  If I can change – I know with God’s help, anybody can!

I know of many people who have adopted this lifestyle and it has reversed diabetes, weight problems and much more.  What do you have to lose?  Some weight, some disease?  And there are WONDERFUL DELICIOUS foods that you can eat and learn to make, simply.  It is an adjustment, but not more than many other things people try.  And it sure beats having bypass surgery because your arteries are plugged up!   Some people say eating this way is extreme – but like one doctor says, having your rib cage cut open and cranked apart taking a vein from your leg and sewing to your heart – that seems extreme.  I prefer the Forks over Knives solution for sure!

I really recommend watching that movie.  It is EXCELLENT!

Because there is NO MONEY TO BE MADE BY IT!
There are no products to sell, no one to get paid for books sales, it IS NOT BIG BUSINESS.  So many people are out to make a buck.  But this program is simple and WORKS.

Here are some websites with information on the movie, recipes, more advice, etc.:

There are some great recipes on this site and lots of info

Recipes and more info:

Principles of health:

This website has some recipes and articles that could be very helpful:

OH, they have some of the cookbooks available also at this link (but I still recommend 7 secrets and Tasty Vegan Delights FIRST!:

This is a friend of ours site.  He has some awesome recipes!  I love the ice creams.  I hope to try some more recipes soon.  I have eaten his cooking, and I LIKE IT!  He was the chef at Wellness Secrets the last time we were there.  He still might be.  I don't know!  I LOVE THE ICE CREAM - I said that already.  I REALLY DO!

There are links to some great recipes here also.

(Added June 14, 2014)
Here is a great page for "resetting your set points" to help your body be ready to loose weight.  
The page has more details, and here are the 8 recommended steps:

To lower the body’s recognized set point for weight as well as for cholesterol; the following eight steps need to be followed:
  • Eat nothing between meals.
  • Eat nothing after 3 pm.
  • Eat no free fats.
  • Eat no form of animal products.
  • Eat more raw food.
  • Eat fewer varieties at each meal (3-4).
  • Eat no concentrated (refined) foods.
  • Exercise moderately after each meal.


  1. What a WONDERFUL testimony Tamara. I love it!! Keep pressing on sister. God is good.

  2. Oh, Tamara, you have no idea how much I needed this!!!!!!!!!!! Maybe I'll send you an email....maybe's Preparation Day! I'm going to print this off!!! I love you so much!!!!!!!!!!!

  3. Thank you so much for sharing your story! I stumbled upon your site while looking into Isagenix. A friend of mine said it has worked so well for her and she thought I may be able to stop taking my prescription medications. I already follow a lifestyle similar to yours, but I will amend it to follow yours more closely now. It makes so much sense! The food I eat is the same, the difference is the timing. I don't expect to stop taking medication, though that would be wonderful. I'm grateful God led me to your post to re confirm what I already know and say "no" to investing money into a product instead of nature. Thank you so much!!! :)