When Lexi Tavares graduated from North Eastern in Boston she was known as the bubbly cheerleader type and a dancer who everyone wanted to be friends with, but inside, she felt empty lonely, and depressed. Growing up, she had dealt with migraines since she was five years old, and they became more intense every passing year. Lexi had seen a parade of doctors from neurologists, allergists, and others who tall did their best to address the problem but none of them could find anything physically wrong. She found herself out of college and sinking deeper into a depression, which led her to eat, smoke and drink, and stop taking care of herself.

After graduating college, Lexi received a job offer in Austin, Texas, and packed up to move there and work as a choreographer, but things got worse and the stress of balancing work, play, and living far away from her Connecticut home meant that one day came when she decided to just up and leave and she moved back up north to focus on her mental health.

Tavares Dealt with Extreme Depression and Anxiety For Two Years

Life didn't work as planned: Once living back home with her parents, Lexi's stress levels skyrocketed and she would lay awake in bed during daytime hours and struggled to find the motivation to get up and start to enjoy life. On the rare occasion when she left her bedroom she would graze in the pantry eating all sorts of chips, cheeses, and highly processed foods, and then after all that, she would light a cigarette and smoke it on her front porch to cope with the stress and depression.

Friends would call and check in regularly to check in and see how she was doing, but Lexi felt distant from the world and couldn’t help but ignore even the ones she loved most. But she recalls that back then she yearned for support. She screened her calls and let them all go to voicemail and no matter how often her mother or sister cajoled her to quit smoking and get back on track it fell on deaf ears.

She couldn't or wouldn't give up her cigarette and junk food addiction, and she didn’t want to hear their advice for what felt like the millionth time. At the time, Tavares’s emotional outlet was sleep, food, booze, and cigarettes, and days felt like hours and hours felt like years.

In her late 20s, she hit rock bottom and was in the worst shape of her life. At 5 feet 2 inches, she weighed herself for the first time in years and was shocked to see 168 pounds when she stepped on the scale. Instead of wanting to clean up her diet, she used the weight as another excuse to be sedentary and avoid walking up and down her stairs, leaving her with the only option but to lay in bed all day and night. She starred at the wall in her room most of the day, never imagining that her life would change completely soon after.

Finally, something clicked and she knew it was time to make drastic changes

In February of 2019, when Lexi’s sister called, she picked up. Her sister, who lived in Austin at the time, asked if Lexi would come down to help her move out of her apartment and since the trip was two months away, Lexi knew she could say yes and begin to pull herself together.

Tavares knew that two months was long enough that she could set a goal to feel better within that time frame and when she thought about visiting her sister, it meant also seeing old friends, which meant socializing, which meant she would have to change her diet and lose some weight to look and feel happier. Lexi also realized that she would be no help to her sister unless she was strong and fit enough to be packing clothes and items into boxes. For her, at that moment it was as much of a reach as if someone were going to try to run a marathon. Lexi had not worked out in years.

Something sparked her to accept her sister's invitation and she booked her flight to Texas, with two months to work on herself because she didn't want anyone to see her this way. "I knew this trip was my one shot to get it together," she says. "I had to turn my life around."

In a panic, Tavares researched different types of diets and stumbled upon the book Fit for Life by Harvey and Marilyn Diamond, a guide to eating mostly fruit and one raw vegan meal at dinner. “It’s an incredibly accessible book, especially for people who are eating a standard American diet and who are unaware of how eating animals can negatively impact their health and the planet,” said Tavares. “I sped through the book in three days and immediately started eating a raw vegan diet,” she added. This was the beginning of turning her life around.

A fruit-based diet helped Lexi lose 60 pounds and quit smoking

"Overnight I felt amazing and my migraines disappeared," said Tavares. Finally, she thought, the diet was the answer to her prayers. On a normal day, Lexi would have lit a cigarette around lunchtime but on the first day of eating fruit for breakfast and lunch, she was feeling light, clean, refreshed, and so "brand new," she didn't even want to have a cigarette. The smell actually turned her off. She loved the way she felt eating mostly fruit and the weight started to drop off. Lexi stuck to her regime and followed the guidelines of fruit until noon and a combination of raw vegetables and plant-based foods for dinner.

She "suddenly" felt 10 pounds lighter, even though the scale didn't yet reflect that number. "I felt light in my body, and I felt less pain in my joints, so I was able to walk up and down the stairs." Lexi's eating schedule was fruit for breakfast, salad for lunch, and more fruit for an afternoon snack, and for dinner, "super satiating salads." Lexi adds: "As I kept going along this path, I looked back and realized that I was actually following a raw vegan diet."

She Lost 30 Pounds in the First Month

After a month of following the fruit-based raw diet, Tavares lost 30 pounds and weighed herself every day, from there on out, saying, "On average I would drop a pound a day." She had just one more month to go until heading down to Austin and was feeling more motivated than ever to reach her goal, which was not a number so much as a feeling. She even found the courage to exercise and get back to her love of dancing which led her to do other cardio. She could feel herself gaining muscle and definition in her arms and legs which she had not had since her undergraduate days as a dancer. By the time she boarded the plane to Austin, Lexi had lost 60 pounds since starting her new lifestyle. "The amazing thing is I had never realized how easy getting my life back on track could be until I started. I saw how the body is able to heal itself through a raw vegan lifestyle."

Two years later, She continues eating this way and is down 60 pounds

It's been two years since Lexi changed her life and she has kept off the 60 pounds by sticking with what she describes as a "fruit-based diet." Her menu varies from day to day, depending on what is fresh or in season. She loves going to the market and picking out the freshest fruits such as watermelon, honeydew, cantaloupe for breakfast, and then more fruit all day long, and ends her day with a big salad for lunch. "

She doesn’t always eat three square meals a day but eats when she is hungry and stops when she is satiated. Some days I eat four mangos a day," Lexi says. She listens to her body and eats when she is hungry not when she isn't Not classifying meals in a traditional sense allows Lexi to think about food without strident rules and restrictions and instead she allows her body cues to be her guide.

For some people, this kind of intuitive eating can be confused with eating an entire chocolate cake because that’s what you think your body is asking for. But when you eat a raw vegan diet or one that is a whole food plant-based diet, you learned how to distinguish between needs for healthy nutrients and cravings. Sometimes Lexi eats a whole pineapple, depending on how she’s feeling or how much energy she’s been exerting during the day with dance moves and other cardio routines. Lexi now couldn't be happier with her life, and no longer feels as if she needs to weigh herself daily to stay on track, as she did in the past. I feel like I had never truly lived before I changed my diet and now I feel like I have a whole new life."