If you look real close the next time you are in a supermarket checkout line or a store which sells magazines, you may recognize Cabri native and current Redcliff resident Rondi Neuven.
Neuven is currently on the front cover of the well known popular magazine Woman’s World. She a focal point of a story on Dr. Michael Gregor, author and a licensed general practitioner specializing in clinical nutrition.
As the magazine states on the cover, Neuven has shed 213 lbs. in a journey where there was no exact diet, fad or otherwise, and no invasive surgery.
Neuven knew she had to arm herself with the most comprehensive information in regards to the calories and overall nutrition. She totally altered her diet eating many more planted-based foods.
After her weight loss, she read up Gregor’s website https://nutritionfacts.org which has a team which examines many food-related studies, completely free with no advertisements.
Neuven ended up on Woman’s World by chance. Women’s World had contacted Dr. Gregor to see if there was anyone he knew that would make for a motivational and educational article.
Coincidentally, Neuven had sent a testimonial in to Gregor’s website outlining why a lot of the website’s information worked as she used herself and her journey with whole plant-based food as an example. Neuven was excited to see the scientific evidence which was outlined on Gregor’s website prove why what she did worked. In essence, she went to the proof of this food nutrition information after she lost the weight, not before.
The timing must have been right and Gregor suggested Neuven for the article. A local photographer took some glamour photos and got some information from Neuven and the rest is history.
Like it is for many struggling with size, diets didn’t work for Neuven, who was well over 350 lbs. at her largest point. Her father offered to pay for bariatric surgery on numerous occasions, but she declined.
Neuven wanted to fix the issue despite the fact her doctor told her she was a health enigma. Despite her weight, she didn’t suffer from diabetes, high blood pressure or high cholesterol. She knew being over 40 years old, she was on a ticking time clock.
“I knew for years, if I was going to lose weight, I was going to make a whole lifestyle change, from looking at all these people doing Atkins or Nutrisystem or Ideal Protein (which wouldn’t work for her). There are many many ways to lose weight, I don’t deny that but what are you doing to your insides while doing it.
The Redcliff native started by changing her breakfasts from high fat, protein-rich like combos of sausage, bagels and cheese/crackers to healthier smoothies. She incorporates a whole plant-based system, designed on her own. She would pick and chose certain aspects from different diets and then figured out a plant that would work best for her.
While that goes against the widely-assumed of method of following some sort of strict diet plan. It was July 2016 was when she started to change her lifestyle. It took a year and half to two years of self discipline to lose all the weight. In reality, she swamped in healthy choices to push out the unhealthy ones. She found out the information on what foods she was eating and discovering the nutritional value in some foods. She knew she couldn’t consume that anymore.
“I stopped telling myself ‘I can’t eat that. I said ‘I choose not to eat that. I soon as I tell my brain I can’t eat that, my brain is going ‘Excuse me? We can do whatever we want!’
“I can tell you that most big people that I know know what they should eat and know what’s healthy more than most thin people I know. We are always focused on it and you know this information. I knew what I had to do…it’s a lifetime thing. This isn’t done.”
Neuven didn’t suffer from any self esteem issues as she will tell you she loved herself but she had a goal and it was accomplished with sheer willpower and a deep desire to have the freedom to do what she desired.
“There’s two things to know about me: I love food and I’m cheap. And what happened was, those two things clashed because I wanted to travel,“ the affable Neuven said. “In order to travel, I needed to airplane seats and I could go to the doctor and get (certification) .the doctor had to say ‘yes you are too big for one seat’ so I could get a second seat in Canada but I couldn’t get the super hot deals to go to Mexico because I would have to pay for the second seat. So, when the cheap side and the ‘I love food side’ started to clash, all of a sudden I really want to be able to travel. For me, it was about I was tired of that inconvenience of being that big, of going into restaurants and not being able to get a chair with arms, not being able to take advantage of things others could. I wouldn’t be able to bungee jump, I couldn’t Zipline, you know what I mean? It was not really about the appearance…(even though) I could only shop in one store.
“When people ask me why I was successful… I learned to love myself as a big person. I accepted myself the way I was. I used to say to my dad ‘I think I’m fat to teach you tolerance,’” she explained.
“I didn’t care if people looked at me. I didn’t care what people said. I would try to do the things I wanted to do even when I was fat. When my son went skiing in kindergarten I went because I could ski when I was a kid and hopefully I still could. I last half an hour but I could still ski.
“I got to the point though where ‘if I love myself then I maybe I treat my vessel a little better and start taking off some of the weight.”
Neuven had a family member tell her when she was younger “you have such a pretty face” and to her that meant the rest of her wasn’t. She was told she was fat so many times that it absolutely engrained that into her belief about myself and she became what she believed she was.
“I was always a stocky kid. I was stockier then the other kids. I was the fat kid in class. It is really funny, when I think back I remember myself as fat but when I look back at pictures, I was just a stocky kid. It is hard to explain,” noted Neuven. “My memory of myself doesn’t match the actual pictures of myself, because that self image from being the fat kid is so engrained in my head. I was bullied as a kid. I don’t harbour resentment. When you grow up you can look back and think kids do what they have to do to survive.”
Her family all struggled with weight and it was an issue when she in her preteen years.
“It was always something that was in the forefront and we are always worried about what we were eating, but I grew up on a farm and it was meat and potatoes. And the vegetable was chosen on the colour and how it formed the plate. You know you didn’t have corn with the turkey. You have peas. Wasn’t a focus on health.
“My mom shows to this day and still does to this day and shows you that she loves you through food. Sunday morning was waffles and bacon…to this day she still has a hard time when I go over there. I don’t want the (unhealthy food). I don’t want that anymore. She will say 'you’ve worked so hard you deserve a little (junk food). Who doesn’t have that mental conversation? I still do.”
Her infectious confident smile in Woman’s World is found at a store near you. She also writes a blog found at: https://harnessthehangry.com/
While she has achieved a lot of success, it is not easy and it is still a daily struggle which she outlines in the blog. She says ‘hangry’ is the little monster in her head that wants to eat all the food. The blog has been popular.
“People have always been super supportive. I think the reason I ended up with a blog was that I couldn’t really go anywhere without people asking, what are you doing, how are you doing this and I finally got to the point where I could just say go check out my blog so that I could keep going with my day kinda thing,” explained Neuven who added people are seeing the magazine now. “Everybody has been awesome. My mom and dad are super excited. The community of Cabri and the librarians looking for copies, just that kind of stuff, it is awesome.
“Right now the recognition isn’t so high as everyone has to wear a mask everywhere you go (laughing). I actually got recognized in Costco more from my blog before (having to wear a Cover-19 mask), it is really, I mean I don’t mind I, but it is really weird having somebody come up to you that you don’t know and go, “oh my goodness, I saw you and on your blog…”