If I Can Do It, You Can, Too – How I got back to good health
For those of you who think I’ve always led a healthy lifestyle, you’re in for disappointment. By the time I was age 33, I was overweight, my clothes didn’t fit and my blood pressure was already on the high side. My physician was talking about medicine—all at age 33.
Prior to my turnaround, my favorite sport was sitting on the couch, eating chips and pretzels and soda or an occasional beer. I would take the car even two blocks away when needing to go somewhere.
It was a stroke of fate that I had given someone a ride a few months before my doctor visit. My passenger gave me his business card; he was a personal trainer with a degree in nutrition. Working with him influenced major changes I made to my health, behaviors, and my life.
Over time, I became a runner. I was running about 30-40 miles weekly, lifting weights, working my abs, and stretching. I lost over 20 pounds, and I can safely say that in my upper 30’s I was in superior shape compared to even my teens and 20’s. My blood pressure dropped and I was eating far more vegetables and fruits, and much less junk food. Along the way, I did eliminate processed meats completely, too. Except for about 2 weeks in high school, I never smoked so that was never an issue. Everything seemed to be going really well.
Yet little by little, my good results were fading
As I got busier with my personal training business, I had less time to exercise outdoors with my clients. I was running a formal weight loss program, which also kept me busy. I was still exercising but much less, and I was getting a little careless on food intake. The mindset of “just exercise more” had kicked in a little and I saw my weight going up. No, I never regained it all, but I did gain too much. Foods with cholesterol and saturated fat were still in my diet enough to cause harm – and they did! Although I was getting more credentials in weight management and behavioral change coaching, I really wasn’t taking care of myself in the best way possible.
I now had borderline high cholesterol, high triglycerides, and borderline high blood pressure. These numbers were gradually climbing…
A few years before this, a dietician who had worked for me, and attended Cornell University, handed me a USB drive and told me to watch what was on it. It was the documentary Forks over Knives. It is now 10 years since this documentary was made and it may have had the single most pronounced positive effect on health of any book or documentary ever! Still it took a second viewing, a couple years later, followed by the documentary What the Health, that got me to make the changes I needed.
Improving my approach
I began researching what is known as Whole Food Plant Based (WFPB) eating. It’s pretty simple—you eat a lot of whole, plant based foods and remove processed foods and most animal protein, including dairy. I personally am a 95% WFPB eater. I eat fruits, vegetables, beans, lentils, and a big variety of whole grains, potatoes, sweet potatoes, some nuts, and seeds. I am never hungry!
I try to do brisk walking daily for a minimum of 35 minutes – some days there can be a lot more. My other exercise is now occasional.
After eating a whole food, plant based diet for nearly 3 years, I took a blood test.
I now have the lowest cholesterol reading in 25 years! My LDL (bad cholesterol) is so low one would think I take medication (I don’t, never have). My triglycerides dropped over 200 points, over the last 3 years, and my kidney function is going up—getting better!
As we grow older that shouldn’t be happening, right? Well, this program is defying that kind of gravity. My A1C measure of blood sugar is yet another 2 points lower. My weight is back down to acceptable levels. All of this happened slowly over 2 years. Things just got better and better. I have had clients who see results within weeks of making changes and that’s fine. Everyone is different. What is important to understand is that nutrition—food—is the prominent factor in what will make or break your health.
Now’s your chance
When you eat this way, do some minimal exercise, sleep well, don’t abuse any substances, and practice stress management, you make yourself at least 80% “illness proof.” Two studies already show the role of nutrition in protecting against Covid-19!
We can all prevent and even REVERSE heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol. Reversing all our inflammatory factors and can even prevent or reverse autoimmune disease. This applies to Alzheimer’s and arthritis as well.
It’s an adjustment but it’s not SO hard and impossible. It is very possible and if I could do it, so can you. Just make your life and quality of life important. Love yourself and get the guidance you need to help you do this. I promise you, you will “add hours to your day, days to your year and years to your life.”