picMy name is Gigi LaBouff and I’m here to tell you my story. As you can see I was obese. My friends viewed me as happy and outgoing. I was for the most part, but there was a part of me that felt depressed from battling my weight around 200 pounds. I as far as I knew, I felt very happy with my life. I mean, how could I not be? I am happily married to my successful husband and have three beautiful, smart children, but after going through an experience I had in 2011, I never thought my life would change so drastically. I went in for my annual medical check-up.  My lab results just came back from the week before. From the look on my doctor’s face, I knew she was going to tell me something about my weight problem, but I didn’t think I would hear such horrible news. She sat me down and I knew right away something was serious by the tone of her voice. She shared with me all my lab work and started telling me about my weight problem. Then, she proceeded to tell me that my cholesterol was extremely high, total 276, (a healthy range is 125-199). My doctor told me I was on my way to becoming pre-diabetic as well as on the verge of having high blood pressure. It stunned and took me by surprise. I thought I felt good. I felt happy, I was rarely sick. I knew I looked obese on the outside, but I hadn’t taken into account what was going on inside my body. She said the test results were very serious and I pictured myself as a walking time bomb ready to have a heart attack at any given moment. It scared me and I wanted to do something to turn my life around. My commitment was questionable since I wasn’t going to do this for the usual incentives. I wasn’t looking for a new dress to wear to a wedding or a class reunion, or getting ready for a new vacation, like I would normally do. My weight loss was going to be for me and my family. I didn’t want to be sick. I wanted to be healthy and available for them. The good thing is she gave me an option. Either I had to go on medication for high cholesterol or see a nutritionist. There was no doubt in my mind that my choice was going to see a nutritionist. Interestingly, I found out later that only 3% of people make that same choice as I did. I was so surprised by this, especially since all these commercials on TV showed warnings for terrible side effects from all sorts of medications. One thing was for sure, I did not want to take medication. On the first day of seeing the nutritionist, she asked me if I had support. I immediately told her yes, my family. My 2 sons, my daughter, and my husband were my support all the way. My appointments were set up weekly, and each week I would learn more about food. I began to understand what I was eating just by looking at the ingredients on every label. Before, I was fooled by the labels on the front of the package. Now, I was making a habit to turn the package over to read the ingredients on the back. Sounds easy, but the manufacturers do their best to try and capture it on the front of the package with fancy words like, all natural, gmo free, no msg, gluten free etc., but those are not ingredients, just marketing tactics. On a regular basis I used to cook or buy foods that were packaged, easy, and quick. With my three children and husband, our household was very busy. We were always on the go with a new adventure of practices, games, events, or traveling. We ate food high in sugar, fat, and calories. I never prioritized the importance of food. Sounds so weird now, but I didn’t. With what I currently know, I fed my family food that had practically had no nutritional value. Even when I prepared salads, I would pour on the processed dressings. I had a lot of work to do and I had passion to learn.

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Ten months later, I lost 85 lbs. My total cholesterol dropped to 174. My support group, my family, had also learned about eating real, unprocessed foods. When I cook at home, I make dishes from scratch using real ingredients. We’ve created new recipes using only whole foods, herbs, and spices. I even make desserts made from fresh fruits and natural sugars. I noticed my family started seeing positive results in their lives through their food habits, as well as an increase in their energy. My two sons were finding ways to enjoy exercise by going on adventurous bike rides or experimenting with fun workout videos. My daughter makes nutritious recipes using alternative ingredients and found more passion in her nutrition studies at SJSU. My husband and I hike on a regular basis just because we found ourselves loving nature more and more. It was actually pretty crazy. We all became so healthy from eating real foods. My sons Rob and Chris felt so strongly about my story and what we learned as a family, they had to share everything we knew with the public. Off The Stick opened in Sunnyvale CA in July 2014.

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