The Fire-Driven Life: Love Yourself through Healthy Eating - Simply Woman

By on September 14, 2015

By Vanessa Chamberlin

What do you picture when you think of the typical American woman? For some, it’s baking pies, fussing over meat and potatoes, and fixing owies. For others, womanhood is a high-powered professional career fueled by coffee all day and takeout dinners at night. No matter what your idea is of average American womanhood, I think we can agree that the typical American lifestyle simply isn’t cutting it for women. We’re pressured to be everything to everyone without taking time to experience and regularly practice self-love, mindfulness, and balance. I think there’s a better way!

Here is what led me to become the woman I am today. I had an unhealthy first marriage and become a mother at nineteen, which turned my early adult years into a reckless downward spiral of self-destruction based on my self-esteem issues. I lost my husband and the father of my two younger children to suicide, which left me in an emotional and physical heap, unsure of how to move forward. I medicated my intense emotional pain with substances and behaviors that only made things worse. The whole time, struggling through bad relationships with other people and food and my psyche, I was just searching for love. Funny how you can find love in unusual places! In my case, I found love at the end of my fork.

After learning about the power of the vegan diet and the immeasurable health benefits of living a plant-based life, I decided to change the way I fueled my body. I distinctly remember one day several years into living this lifestyle that I had this profound aha! moment. Eating plants gave me the energy and passion to become present in my own life, and take charge of my situation. Plant-based living ignited the fire within. I could literally taste my self-worth because I finally cared enough about what I was putting into my body. Every meal became a joyous celebration of the beauty and possibility of health and life.

That was when I developed the PlantFire way of eating—a simple system classifying foods with the colors green, yellow, and red (and a “no-fire” category). Instead of relying on overly-complicated equations and counting calories, the PlantFire method allows people to easily understand that some foods (plants and vegetables) should be the basis of every meal, with other foods as complements, and occasional foods allowed as rare treats. To date, it has helped scores of women to see food in a whole new light.

After creating the PlantFire system, I went on to build an incredible community around a plant-based lifestyle. As a lifestyle coach, I was teaching women to love themselves from the inside out. I began sharing more of my own story along with the shame and guilt that I had felt about many of the choices and life experiences I had endured. My hope was to create a safe place for other’s to share and release their own personal baggage—to let go of what holds us back and allows us to beat ourselves up every day. I wanted to share with others the revelations that it took me forty years to discover.

I have used the PlantFire eating system to inform additional sections on stress management and exercise, too. After all, what good is healthy eating if you don’t know how to use your newfound energy to move your beautiful body? And what good is bringing peace and harmony to your body if you can’t calm your mind?

I encourage all women to learn more about living a plant-based life. Consider what being fire-driven could do in your life. If you could light a fire within, how would you be a different woman? How would that affect your life as a mother or partner or leader? Knowing that you’re worth it, and that you need clean energy to fuel your passions, what would you do differently?


vanVanessa Chamberlin is a Certified Holistic Health Practitioner and Lifestyle Coach and author of The Fire-Driven Life: How to Ignite the Fire of Self-Worth, Health, and Happiness with a Plant-Based Diet. For more information, please visit, and connect with her on Twitter, @vkchamberlin.

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