The blog formerly known as   Fake Plastic Fish

January 9, 2014

Lose Weight Through Plastic-Free Living?

New Years Resolution #1:  Lose the 35 pounds I’ve gained since I went plastic-free in 2007.

Here’s me in January 2007, minutes after completing my first marathon and 6 months before I decided to go plastic-free.  Look at all that plastic crap, including (gasp!) bottled water.  Well, I’ve lost a heck of a lot of plastic weight since then!


But instead of keeping it off, I seem to have just transferred the weight to my hips, my butt, my tummy, etc.  Here’s me in March 2013 after living plastic-free for almost 6 years.  All natural, organic clothing.  Water in a stainless steel bottle.  Yet I am 35 pounds heavier.


This image is from a talk I gave with Danielle Richardet and Bonnie Monteleone at UNCW in Wilmington, North Carolina.  I was recovering from what would turn out to be only one of many colds I came down with last year.  And while I’m really proud of the talk, I was so embarrassed by my appearance (having gained so much weight over the years) that I never posted the video for anyone to watch.  (I know, that’s probably pretty shallow of me, but I’m human.)  Feel free to watch all or part of it here.  The talk went great, despite the cold I had.

 Wait! Wouldn’t Giving Up Plastic Help You Lose Weight?

Why would I gain so much weight after giving up plastic?  It doesn’t make any sense at first glance because over the years, studies have linked the hormone-disrupting chemicals in many plastics (Bisphenol-A and phthalates, to name a few) to the rise in obesity and diabetes.  Last year, Professor Miquel Porta of Spain and Professor Duk-Hee Lee of South Korea conducted a review of 240 scientific papers and concluded that the evidence suggests chemicals in plastics and other surfaces play an important and avoidable role in obesity and diabetes.  (You can read the entire review here.)

So, you would assume that reducing my plastic exposure would have helped me lose weight.  And I guess it might have if everything else in my life had stayed the same.  But you know what happens when you assume.  Everything else was not the same.  In June of 2007, I started blogging about plastic.  And researching plastic on the Internet.  And a few years later, writing a book.  I stopped running and started spending many hours–whole days in fact–sitting in front of the computer.  Staring at it.  Not moving.  And not paying attention to what and how much I was putting into my mouth at the times that I did manage to tear myself away from the computer long enough to eat something.

Doesn’t Reducing Plastic Packaging Reduce the Amount of Junk Food You Consume?

choc_almonds[1]When you reduce plastic packaging, you inevitably find yourself relying on more whole foods and fewer processed foods.  So the quality of the food you eat gets better, for sure.  But I gotta tell ya, the bulk bins are full of high calorie treats.  Chocolate-covered almonds, for example.  And then there’s plastic-free breadplastic-free cheese…  Even the healthiest foods (nuts, seeds, grains) are not so healthy if you eat too many of them and don’t exercise.

So, this year, one of my goals is to get back down to a healthy weight… what I weighed in 2007, which was not particularly thin but was within the healthy range for my height.   And before you start telling me that I shouldn’t be relying on numbers on a scale, let me stop you right there.  I’m an accountant.  Numbers are my life.  And the only way I have ever found to manage my weight is to pay attention to the numbers (number of calories in, number of calories out, number on the scale).  I can so easily lie to myself otherwise.

My friend Mark and I have been using an online program called My Fitness Pal, which lets us see each other’s numbers and daily diaries and encourage each other.  If you’re a member, please friend me.  I only have 22 more pounds to go (well, 23 after my birthday dinner Tuesday night) because I actually started this project on November 1 and have already taken off 13 pounds in  10 weeks.  I think that’s a good pace.

Can Losing Weight Help Reduce Plastic?

I don’t know if losing weight can help reduce plastic, but there are certainly ways I have found to reduce the plastics that might be involved in diet and exercise programs.  Synthetic workout clothes and technical gear, for example.  Running shoes.  Shoe inserts.  Anti-chaffing products.  Sports “foods” and “drinks”.   not to mention all the bottled water I consumed back then.   Check out all the synthetic crap I brought with me to my marathon in January 2007 (yes, I was so proud of it, I took a picture of my stuff all laid out in my hotel room the night before the race.)  Most of it, I have discovered, is unnecessary.


So, I’ll be blogging this year about strategies that are helping me lose weight and reduce plastic.  And I’ll have a few guest posts from some people who are managing to focus on fitness as well as their environmental impact.  One of them is coming up this week.

I’ve got several more resolutions to write about for this year.  What are yours?

(By the way, Danielle wrote a beautiful new years resolution post.   Check it out and get inspired.)



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Etsy handmade and vintage

I only post ads for companies I patronize myself. Your support helps to fund my plastic-free mission.

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Beth Terry p.s. Scrambled eggs are a fantastic substitute for ground beef in most recipes. They are my go-to food when I’m cooking for CatMan (who is still a vegetarian.)


Beth Terry Hey Beth… I actually was a vegetarian until a year or two ago – I had to give it up because a combination of food allergies and sensitivities took soy, most nuts, seeds and legumes, as well as fermented foods off the table – which made it pretty much impossible to get enough protein as a vegetarian! But, when I initially lost the weight I was a veggie – though I still ate eggs & dairy. Of course, my diet back then was full of processed meat substitutes which I’m not sure I’d recommend even if they didn’t… Read more »


Beth, you’re doing great! Last night I noticed my jeans were tight, stress is one of my eat lot’s of crap triggers (: As busy as you’ve been it’s only natural to compensate by making less healthy choices. I’ve got some diet reformation to do and I wish you all the best. Your honesty is wonderful and very helpful.

Beth Terry

Hi Beth! The “other Beth Terry” checking in! Good for you on your New You Resolutions! You can do it. Recognition of a need is the first step in fulfilling it! A couple of observations – 1) you have joined my world of traveling and speaking. It’s a lot easier to keep a routine when you are always in home territory. We speakers often run into this “creeping weight gain” thing just from inactivity sitting in airplane seats or even driving for long distances. It doesn’t help to spend hours in an office chair staring at a computer monitor either!… Read more »


This may seem heretical and I am NOT about to dis your desire to shed some pounds, but you look very happy and healthy in the photo from your talk. It never occurred to me, in looking at any of your pixes or videos, that you “needed” to shed some pounds! Just a warning from a Mom who mistakenly helped her adult child (not an oxymoron) lose 20 pounds too quickly: do NOT limit too severely your caloric intake: intake was limited to around 1000 kcal/day + reasonable daily exercise = no hunger, lots weight loss, but ultimately also loss… Read more »


Beth – I’m rooting for you and I’m certain you will reach your workout goal. Looking forward to reading your future blogs about plastic-free exercising :)


Going low-plastic is a new revelation for me, since I happened across your book in my local natural grocers. Well, I’m someone who tries to live low-impact, so I have already made a number of steps, but now I see how far I have to go! I am very excited about this challenge, and especially the resource of your book and this blog. So far (a few days in), I am finding that trying to eliminate single-use plastic helps me resist unplanned junk food purchases (hurray!), but I am trying at this point not so much to eliminate all plastic… Read more »


I suggest going with an ancestral approach. Not only is it plastic free friendly, but the pounds just drop off without counting calories or excessive hours at the gym; just listening to your body and eating when you are hungry! has some great resources with amazing science to back it all up! Great cookbook too!
Good luck! Let me know if you have questions on the ancestral approach!


I take a back pack with me when I go for a walk around the parks, lakes, rivers in my area of Calaveras County here in the California Sierra and get some exercise and pick up garbage along the way. In one months time I got $10 worth of recyclables.

Daxle McGee

I did, and sorry if my comment seemed a bit judgy. I am just very passionate about this issue. There is a lot of false thinking out there about weight being equal to health (check out the scientific review I posted). People are told that if they “eat right” and work out, they’ll lose weight and be healthier, but it’s not that simple. As to the cheese, bread, and chocolate covered almonds: those are all tasty foods that deserve a place in your diet, if you enjoy them, and they don’t make you feel bad. However, it may not be… Read more »


I love that you focus on numbers I just thing sometimes we only focus on 1 number (weight) instead of multiple numbers (weight, body measurementS, length of endurance, pace of our running etc) just like many things in our lives obsessing on 1 thing is not as healthy as looking at a bigger picture

Danielle Richardet

Ha! Of course :) btw… You should go roller skating again ;) (preferably out here)

My Plastic-free Life

Deborah, I don’t know about that particular diet, but I’m doing a lot of anti-inflammatory eating. Mostly fruits, veg, nuts, seeds, beans with limited whole grains. I have ginger, turmeric, cayenne, and garlic every day. Lots of water. No juice. No white flour or sugar as a rule, although there are days when I make an exception. I do eat a small amount of cheese and one egg (including the shell) every day. But the most important thing is to limit the number of calories. I have to do that or I will eat too much. It’s that simple.

My Plastic-free Life

Daxle did you read the post? My intuition tells me to eat cheese and bread and chocolate covered almonds. Seriously. I’m not promoting weight loss for anyone else, by the way. :-) The title is kind of a teaser.

My Plastic-free Life

Um… Danielle… I subscribe to your blog. :-)

Deborah Hall

I highly recommend Kathy Abascal’s anti-inflammatory diet. It has been tremendously helpful to myself and others.


Beth grooving, lower right corner…


I am about to write a post about how I have become healthier since giving up plastic. You are right about the nuts and seeds. Plus I try to use up all the food so there is no waste each week. It adds up. Sometimes i forget that just because i am eating healthier does not mean i can eat more.

I did recently buy a bike to help with shopping and getting to work resulting in incidental exercise as I do both activities. The plastic parts on my bike and my plastic helmet gave me guilt for a few weeks…

Daxle McGee

Oh, no! I am sad to see posts about weight loss from my favorite anti-plastic guru. Please, consider looking into intuitive eating before you go too far into this.


Aww Beth… you are just awesome. Thank you for being one of my most inspiring friends…. Come visit again soon (or better yet when the warmth creeps back in for beach season ;) ).

Danielle Richardet

Oh wow Beth… I don’t even know how you saw that… thank you :) x

Suzie Nelson

Awesome. I can’t wait to read it. I have gained 6 lbs since going much-less-plastic in Sept. I was thinking that it was the result of not understanding the strategies of cooking from scratch. I don’t often have meals ready in time and bread and butter/cheese are all too available. Maybe I can find a real from scratch meal planning strategy and report back. I’d love to hear how you deal with food prep, although it sounds like you are focusing on the exercise part of the equation right now. My running shoes have holes in them and I don’t… Read more »


I too am trying to loose a few extra pounds. Looking forward to more post on plastic free fitness and health. It’s so hard to find plastic free workout gear.


Hey Beth – I hear you about the chocolate covered everything in those bulk bins… DANGER ZONE!!!
Anyhow, I just wrote a post about how I lost 40 pounds and have kept it off for the past 20 years. I’m not sure it has much to do with eco-living, except that running most of my errands on foot or bike is a big part of my program. I am decidedly NOT a numbers person, but if you’re curious about what worked for me, here’s a link:

Best of luck in your journey!


Yo Beth – you got up & danced at PPC’s Outside Lands booth in San Francisco last year. SUPER FUN time. So let’s all do more of that & watch those pounds melt away!

Becky 'Jochman' Froehlich

This is great timing for me! After two kids in less than two years, I started working on my “baby” weight in September. I’m especially interested in plastic-free workout equipment/clothing as I’m sure most or all of mine is synthetic. Keep up the hard work, Beth!

Tracey TieF

Very cool. Bash on in Majesty!

Beth Terry

Danielle I linked to your awesome blog post. You As A Machine, I’m going to publish your guest post on Saturday. There’s a little teaser about it at the end of this post. Please feel free to comment.