I want to make sure as close to 100 percent of what I put in my body is as nutrient-dense as possible and as close to its original form. That’s why I and my family eat a whole food, plant-based diet.
I was dozens of pounds overweight (probably still am…) and was feeling helpless. It’s not that diets weren’t working. It was that I wasn’t able to motivate myself to try something. I had great success a few years ago just by counting and limiting calories, so I knew I could do it. I just needed something inside to snap.
I had worked at Whole Foods Market for about a year between SID jobs and was introduced to the Engine 2 Diet’s 28 Day Challenge. It was a challenge to try their diet for 28 days and see what happens. The diet was exactly as I stated above. No refined or enriched products and minimally-processed food. No meat, dairy or eggs; totally vegan. No added oil, salt or white sugar. A plant-based diet can lower your cholesterol to a nearly heart attack free zone of under 150. It will give your body nothing but super-powerful micro-nutrients that will help keep your cells healthy and fight off the diseases that kill most Americans – cancer, diabetes and heart disease. Along with that, it will help you lose weight without having to count calories. I tried the 28 Day Challenge back then more to prove that I could do it and not so much to make a healthy lifestyle change.
For the most part, I passed the 28 days. I wasn’t very well trained on finding 100 percent whole grains and avoiding things like salt and oil as much as possible (very hard to do when eating out…). I hadn’t read the accompanying book, The Engine 2 Diet, and didn’t fully understand the amazing health benefits I could achieve by adopting this lifestle. My wife didn’t partake in the challenge and when the 28 days were over, I instantly joined my wife with our old ways. A Little Caeser’s Hot and Ready pizza and a two-liter of Diet Mt. Dew was my first meal off the diet.
Move forward about two years and I was still eating the processed, high-fat, high calorie foods that are low to non-existant in real nutritional value. Add to that the fact that I was back in the SID business, sitting at a desk all day or taking long road trips with fast food in the car and pizza in the press box, and you can see that a healthy lifestyle was not being actively sought.
At around this time my son was born and we had to take him into the hospital almost daily to get his bilirubin checked for about two straight weeks not long after he was born. We went early in the morning to avoid missing as much work as possible and most of these visits involved trips to get fast food breakfasts. Lunch with my wife at other fast foods places and dinners out at our favorite restaraunts were also common. This was a stressful time and the time together sharing a warm, well-cooked meal felt like quality time and stress relief.
Seeing myself in the mirror the next morning was no relief at all.
Not long after our son was cleared from his daily blood tests, my wife and I had a check-up of our own for life insurance plans in February, 2012. Along with blood tests, we had to get weighed and I tipped the scale at 277 pounds, the most I ever knew myself to weigh. This was very distressing, but thanks to healthy cholesterol numbers and a family history that didn’t involve too many problems, we both got approved for relatively cheap life insurance.
I had always tested pretty well for cholesterol, never had high blood pressure and never suffered any other major health problems. I was only 31 and wasn’t thinking ahead that much, but I knew that with the extra weight I was carrying, there was a big chance one of the major killers, heart disease, cancer or diabetes, could arise.
A few months later, on May 21, we watched the documentary “Forks Over Knives.” The movie gave plenty of scientific data to back up the Engine 2 diet and featured interviews from doctors who have spent much of their careers studying the affects of a plant-based diet and treating patients suffering from several of the major killers out there I mentioned above. The movie also showed that animal proteins, including meats and dairy, can do a lot to damage our bodies. They can make your cells more susceptible to getting cancer and they produce an acid in your body and in order to remove the acid, your body uses calcium from your bones to neutralize the acid (read more here and here). So, more dairy and calcium can mean more chances for osteoporosis. Proteins from plants, and nearly all plants contain some proteins (and any variety of plants will give you complete proteins), don’t leach calcium from your bones or make your cells more susceptible to cancer.
I didn’t select this movie on Netflix with the intention of getting my wife to join me on another 28 Day Challenge, but the second the movie ended, she said to me that we should do it. Not just the challenge, but a full committment to the diet. I didn’t think twice, and that night we started. The next day we cleaned out our kitchen and did our first plant-based shopping trip.
For my wife, it was preventing diabetes that did it for her. She wasn’t pre-diabetic, but she had just lost her father after suffering from diabetes and he had relatives who also died from the disease. The movie shows countless examples of people who adopt a completely plant-based diet and reverse their diabetes and are able to get off their medicine.
For me, it was my obesity that I want to fight because I know that obesity can be a symptom for most of the diseases our American diets can give us (cancer, heart disease and diabetes). Six months into the diet, and I’ve lost over 50 pounds. My body fat went down 11 percent in a year and my cholesteral, which was in the “healthy” under-200 range, is now 133, well below the 150 that doctors think is fantastic. By the way, this diet works wonders on lowering cholesteral, far greater than prescription drugs, and the only side effects are weight loss.
I highly recomend the movie and accompanying books, The Engine 2 Diet and The China Study. No one has ever said that eating more fruits, vegetables and whole grains is bad for you. We’re taking it further and not eathing much else. The information in the movie and books shows that it is very possible to eat this way and get all the nutrition you need while avoiding the worthless, nutrient-low foods that only harm our body.