I've been lurking around for the past couple of days and decided to come out and say hi! You seem to be a knowledgeable and friendly bunch, not to mention inspiring! I'm a 36 yr. old mother of two from the beautiful mountains of West Virginia. I became a vegetarian on a whim in 1996 but found it somehow cured the respiratory problems I had suffered since childhood so I stuck with it. I occasionally eat local fish and venison when it is available. I've tinkered with veganism in the past and have come up with a balance that works for me. I am basically lacto/ovo veg. in the fall and winter months and switch to a largely vegan (about 75% raw) diet for the spring and summer months. My problem is with my body. I'm 5'7" and currently weigh 147lbs. I'm most comfortable and feel I look my best at between 130 and 135lbs. Last year I did the Body for Life challenge and got down to 134lbs. and built a fair amount of muscle. My arms and legs looked good and my ass lifted back up after a drastic descent southward. My stomach was better...not large, but not as tight and flat as I would like. While I wasn't eating meat protein, I used a lot of whey protein and Boca burgers for my protein. I would like to change that to less processed foods and no dairy. I was working out six days a week - cardio three days a week and weights three days. All said and done, I looked and felt much better, but I seem to gain muscle while still holding on to some fat, so I would like a leaner, toned look. Unfortunately, I somehow fell off the wagon and over the winter managed to go back to my pre-fitness state. I feel I look worse now than I did before. I have been doing cardio and some strength training with low weight for the past two weeks and feel some difference in my arms and legs, but I feel like my stomach sticks out more than ever. Summer is close and I like a much more vegan/raw diet but worry about how to get enough protein for building muscle and cutting my carbs enough to lose my belly.