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The Health Science Podcast | Episode 082. | May 30, 2024
082: From Over 300 Pounds to Thriving: Andrea Sereda’s Plant-Powered Journey
082: From Over 300 Pounds to Thriving: Andrea Sereda’s Plant-Powered Journey

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Roughly 40% of adults in the United States grapple with obesity, and for the majority, maintaining weight loss poses a significant challenge. Research suggests that individuals with excess weight typically make about seven earnest attempts to shed pounds over time.

This was Andrea Sereda’s reality. Andrea knew if something didn’t change, she was destined to a life of limitations. 

From a young age, Andrea faced significant challenges with her weight. At the age of six,  a thoughtless remark about her weight marked the beginning of her awareness and struggles with obesity. Raised on a traditional North American diet, Andrea’s weight fluctuated between overweight and obese throughout her childhood, teenage years, and adulthood.

Health Complications and Discoveries

During her university years, Andrea experienced severe health issues, including symptoms of thyroid disease and diabetes. Despite initial difficulties in obtaining a proper diagnosis, she eventually discovered she had Hashimoto’s hypothyroidism. During her search for health solutions, Andrea encountered a vegan internal medicine doctor who helped her understand the benefits of a vegan diet. This was a turning point that led her to explore dietary changes more deeply.

Transition to a Plant-Based Diet

Andrea’s transition to a plant-based diet began with a vegetarian approach influenced by the book “Diet for a New America.” However, it wasn’t until she watched the documentary “Forks Over Knives” that she fully embraced a vegan lifestyle. 

Despite initial challenges, including gaining 35 pounds due to a lack of understanding of whole food, plant-based nutrition, Andrea persisted. By focusing on high-nutrient, low-caloric-density foods and eliminating oils, she began to see significant improvements in her health and weight.

Overcoming Personal and Family Health Challenges

Andrea’s journey was not without obstacles. She faced a plateau in her weight loss journey, which she overcame by incorporating regular walking into her routine. Her determination was further tested when her husband suffered a severe burn injury and required extensive rehabilitation. Throughout this period, Andrea managed to maintain her weight loss and continued supporting her husband and family.

Maintaining Weight Loss and Continuing the Journey

Maintaining weight loss proved to be more challenging for Andrea than losing the weight initially. She emphasizes the importance of ongoing support and self-compassion, applying behavioral change principles from her background in social work to her personal health journey. Andrea’s story highlights the need for continuous effort and adaptation in maintaining a healthy lifestyle.

Addressing Self-Perception and Consistency

Andrea’s journey towards sustainable weight loss and mental well-being is a testament to the power of consistency, self-forgiveness, and reprogramming one’s perspective. Her weight fluctuations were gradual, with her self-image often lagging behind her actual appearance. This disconnect was influenced by pervasive messages in popular media and her upbringing, where she was constantly labeled as a “big girl” due to her Dutch heritage.

A crucial aspect of Andrea’s transformation was addressing her broken communication pathway with her own body. She realized she was eating for reasons beyond nourishment, a behavior she initially viewed as flawed. However, she came to understand that everyone eats for various reasons, such as celebration and connection, and this does not make one inherently broken. Accepting this allowed her to forgive herself and make healthier choices consistently, without feeling like a failure.

Holistic Approach to Weight Loss

Andrea emphasizes that significant weight loss is not solely about diet and exercise. While these are essential, they are just small components of a larger picture. True transformation requires consistency, grace, and a complete shift in perspective. She adopted the mindset that if she got off track, it’s crucial to get back on track quickly, without self-punishment. This approach is encapsulated in her analogy of fixing a flat tire without puncturing the other three.

Sustainable Lifestyle Changes

Now focused on helping others who grapple with weight issues, Andrea’s counseling approach focuses on sustainability. She advises clients never to adopt practices they can’t maintain for life. Instead of providing rigid diet plans, she encourages realistic lifestyle changes tailored to each individual’s circumstances. Andrea’s method involves gradual steps, like reducing portion sizes or incorporating simple healthy choices, ensuring that changes are manageable and lasting.

One notable success story involves a client who initially refused to cook and relied solely on restaurant meals. Through small, sustainable changes and encouragement, this client eventually began cooking at home, leading to significant health improvements and a successful surgery. This example shows Andrea’s belief in meeting people where they are and guiding them towards sustainable habits.

Professional Life and Holistic Health Leadership

Andrea’s professional life extends beyond individual counseling. She works in health leadership, managing rehabilitation services for Canadian Armed Forces veterans. Her program takes a holistic approach, addressing physical, nutritional, and mental health needs to help veterans live fulfilling lives post-service. This role allows her to apply her expertise in mental health and interdisciplinary team management to make a significant impact on veterans’ well-being.

Personal Well-Being and Community Engagement

For her personal well-being, Andrea relies on activities that bring her joy, such as teaching Zumba classes, cooking with her husband, and going for walks. These activities not only keep her physically active but also reinforce her sense of community and joy.

Andrea’s journey underscores the power of determination, self-advocacy, and the profound impact of dietary choices on overall health and wellness. 

Andrea’s work inspires others to embark on their own journeys towards better health and well-being, one small, consistent step at a time.

Episode Highlights 

[00:00] Introduction 

[02:00] Andrea’s start with obesity began in childhood. 

[07:00] Type II diabetes,  non-alcoholic liver disease and mobility issues take the

[0915] A local television appearance reveals the truth of Andrea’s weight and health.

[12:00] “As long as I didn’t give up I wasn’t failing” became Andrea’s battlecry.

[15:00] Understanding caloric density proves to be a game changer. 

[17:30] Life throws a wrench in Andrea’s routine. 

[19:30] “There” is never there…you never arrive. 

[23:00] Digging into the disconnect between what we see and reality. 

[28:50] When you have a flat tire, you don’t puncture the other three tires. 

[31:00] Addressing the pandemic of obesity. . 

[36:00] Andrea meets clients where they are at. 

[40:30] Andrea’s day job is health leadership with the Canadian Armed Forces.

[44:00] If you haven’t figured out the “yet” don’t give up. 

About Andrea Sereda 

Andrea Sereda has battled her weight since childhood.  At her highest weight of over 300 pounds, she had Type 2 Diabetes, non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, and could barely walk some days due to debilitating joint pain.  After losing more than half of her body weight and reversing two chronic diseases through a whole foods plant based diet, Andrea’s life looks completely different. After her weight loss she shifted her work, spending seven years supporting others through health coaching – five of those years in collaboration with a team of physicians in a family practice. Known for her fun and engaging ways to get people eating better and moving more, Andrea helped countless clients improve their health and surpass their goals by eating more plants.  

The years since her weight loss have brought a number of hurdles including her husband’s traumatic burn injury in 2018 and her own leg reconstruction requiring two surgeries to break her femur and reset her right leg in 2021 and 2022 so that she could keep moving.  While these challenges have resulted in some regain, Andrea continues to treat her obesity everyday with a whole food plant based diet and movement and she is thrilled to report that her chronic diseases remain in remission. 

Andrea was thrilled to have the opportunity to share her story in Forks Over Knives Magazine, Impact Magazine as an Athlete With Impact, the Chicago Tribune and through numerous television appearances and podcasts.

By day, Andrea supports veterans of the Canadian Armed Forces to live their healthiest lives through a national rehabilitation program, while in the evenings she continues to teach fitness classes and inspire people to make small, sustainable changes. On the weekends, she can be found walking along beaches on the south shore of Nova Scotia with her family of 6 or cooking up something delicious in the kitchen with her favorite sous chef, her husband David. 

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About Dr. Frank Sabatino

As a recognized authority on the benefits of a plant-based lifestyle, Dr. Frank Sabatino has cared for and inspired thousands of people for over 40 years. Dr. Sabatino has a PhD in cell biology and neuroendocrinology and has done extensive landmark research on calorie restriction, stress, and aging. He currently is on staff at the TrueNorth Health Foundation in Santa Rosa, CA, and serves as the Director of Health Education at the NHA.

Dr. Sabatino’s passion and life’s work include raising awareness about the benefits of whole-food, plant-exclusive nutrition (without added salt, oil, or sugar), health rejuvenation and stress management.

About NHA

The National Health Association (NHA), founded in 1948, is a nonprofit organization that promotes the benefits of a plant-based diet. The Association provides educational materials, educational events, and services to thousands of people around the world.

The mission of the National Health Association is to educate and empower individuals to understand that health results from healthful living. The NHA recognizes the integration of all aspects of health: personal, environmental, and social.

The NHA also provides travel experiences around the globe through the NHA Plant-Based Travel and cruise division.

More information: 


A unique benefit of the NHA Conference is the selection of two medical students who receive a full scholarship to the conference.

Contact Wanda Huberman for more information on how to apply for the scholarship.  [email protected]

NHA membership

For a very nominal investment, you can enjoy incredible benefits of the NHA membership.

Members of the NHA enjoy a subscription to the award-winning quarterly health journal, Health Science, access to the “Members Only” section of the NHA Website (which contains all 43 years of back issues of the magazine),  the ability to download for free many classic out of print eBooks on the history of the Natural Hygiene Movement, including Fasting Can Save Your Life and The Greatest Health Discovery, discounts on books, and early notice of the NHA events.

Only $35 a year for basic membership within the United States.

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