Go Plant-Strong!
The Daily Beet: Tips, Advice and Stories

Good news from Ben!

It is Friday, which means we’re ending the week with some good news! We loved Ben’s story, and we think you will as well. ”

“I wanted to share my story of how E2 started my health revolution – enjoy!

In Feb 2009 I returned to Fort Hood, TX from a 15 month deployment in Iraq and immediately proceeded to gorge myself on standard American fare and lots of alcohol.  The result was a 20lb addition to my weight.  I thought that getting back into physical activity would curb my weight gain, but to no avail.  I tried meal replacement bars/shakes and other caloric restriction diets to no avail.  For the first time in my career as an Army officer, I started to worry that I might fail my height/weight/bodyfat test.  I was extremely frustrated and felt helpless – condemned to the “inevitable” weight gain caused by an aging and declining metabolism.

One April day while driving home from work, I heard Rip being interviewed on my favorite Austin radio station.  I was intrigued to the point that I sat in the driveway until the interview was over.  I immediately got on the E2 website and decided to order the book.  I read it cover to cover in less than 2 days and although much of the information went against most of what I had learned in school and as a high school and college athlete (especially the protein issue), I had nothing to lose.  I decided that I didn’t have to “buy into the whole vegan thing” but I could commit to 28 days.  And I did.

April 27, 2009 I started the E2 diet with an all-or-nothing attitude.  Every morning started with a weigh-in and recording of my weight by date on my bathroom mirror with a dry erase marker – there for me to see daily.  Within 2-3 days I noticed differences.  I felt better, better elimination, more energy, less afternoon slump, better sleep, and of course, the pounds started coming off.

My biggest “ah-hah” moment was the following Saturday when I went grocery shopping without having prepared my morning coffee.  At 10:30a.m. coming home, I was shocked to realize that I was not suffering from the intense brain-fog and pounding headaches I had experienced my whole adult life when deprived of caffeine.

At the end of 4 weeks, I had lost 13.2lbs and felt great.  With no cravings for “old” food habits and a new-found passion, I continued on.  My weight plateaued after about 2.5 months, with a loss of 27lbs from my starting point, just over 30lbs from my heaviest.  I maintained that weight within 1-3lbs for months on end with no difficulty, eating as much as I wanted, when I wanted.  I cut my caffeine intake from 8-10 cups (or equivalent energy drinks) before lunch to just 1 cup.  My decade long bout with insomnia trigged (I believe) by over-caffeination and a resulting overworked adrenal gland, disappeared.  My skin improved.  My workouts improved.  My recovery times shortened.  My self-image rocketed.  Mid summer, after about 3 months on the E2 diet, I had blood work done.  My total cholesterol was 127!!

In February 2010 I deployed to Iraq for a second time, and although my options were limited to mostly potatoes and white rice for complex carbs, I was able to maintain a plant-strong diet with only minimal negative physical effects.Two-and-a-half years later I’m still plant strong.  In the journey I met a beautiful vegan woman – truly “my person,” now my wife.  We are incredibly passionate about our food lifestyle, passionate about our health, and that of our families and communities.

The Engine 2 Diet changed my life in so many ways that I can’t list them all, but after 2.5 years, here’s the proof that this is a sustainable lifestyle change with lasting results:

- still 20lbs lighter than when I started- cholesterol under 150
- next door neighbor borrowed my E2 book after seeing my weight loss
- she’s plant strong and loving it (2 years +)
- my younger sister adopted a plant strong diet (2 years)
- our families, while not completely free of animal/processed products, have incorporated more and more plant based meals into their diets
- I haven’t had a caffeinated drink in 8 months
- I have more stamina; mentally, physically, sexually than I’ve EVER had
-It took me a while of being plant-strong to make the decision to quit smoking, but when I did, I quit a 10-year cigarette habit with ZERO cravings!

I know this was long, but my life, health, and future have truly been revolutionized by the Engine 2 diet.  Thank you so much for being trailblazers in this field and bringing the truth, empowerment, and freedom to so many of us!”

We wanted to know if Ben had any resistance when he decided to go plant-strong, this is what he had to say:

“To answer your question – I got responses all over the spectrum, probably similar to many people.
I would say most responses were in one of three “groups.”

▪ The male ego group: Being in a male dominated environment (Army), I did get a LOT of “real men eat meat” or “I can’t believe you call yourself a man and don’t eat meat” type of comments.
▪ The concerned/skeptical (protein/nutrition) group: How do you get your protein?  You’re not going to be able to stay healthy or keep your energy.  I knew a vegan and he/she was pale and sickly.  You’re going to lose all of your strength/muscle mass.
▪ The hippie group: I can’t believe you’re such a hippie you’re a vegan now. (Similar to the male ego group – people try to marginalize and discredit a lifestyle by placing it in a group that allows them to refrain from looking at their own food choices.)I’m a mesomorph body type and at this point, the results speak for themselves.  Most new people I meet as the generic protein question, and usually express surprise that I’m not skinny and frail.”

We want to congratulate Ben on his decision to become plant-strong! And we want to thank Ben for his service to our country.

Leave some plant-strong love in the comments for Ben! And if you have a story you would like to share, please send it to: engine2family@gmail.com

About the author

Engine 2 Team
The Engine 2 Team is dedicated to helping you become plant-strong! Each of us are on the plant-strong journey right along side of you!
  • Quinta Peterson

    Congratulations! How wonderful that you were open to trying a plant strong diet!
    You are inspiration to many! Thanks for sharing your story!!

  • Dina

    Thank you for sharing your inspiring story! It’s refreshing to hear that even in the service you can be plant-strong. Real men eat plants :)

  • Kirsten

    Fantastic story…I love hearing about everyone’s success stories with this plant based “diet”…it really is BETTER and it WORKS!!!
    Thank you

  • sheree

    Ben, I am so impressed by your determination and especially, your intelligence! So many people would have turned the radio station because of their inner belief system about eating meat, etc., and never have given it a chance. And I’m not surprised you met an amazing woman who is on your same path~~that is what happens when we open ourselves up and have a true calling in life~~congratulations on all counts!

  • Danna

    Ben, so glad you found your soulmate by virtue of being plant strong. Thank you for your service to this great country but many personal congratulations are in order for taking control of your destiny in a time of hurried convenience.

  • Nancy

    Hi Ben,
    What a great story. And thanks for the influence you and Heidi have had on all of us in the family. Now I must get back to making my kale and spinach salad!! Never thought I would say that.

  • http://www.omnivorerunner.com Rachel

    This is a great story – it’s amazing how we can trick our brains into just doing something for 28 days – and then at the end it just becomes this boulder that wants to keep rolling along – we’ve been done with the 28 Day Challenge for months now and have never looked back!
    Congratulations on the maintenance of you healthy lifestyle – nobody really knows how easy it can be until they actually try it!

  • Pam

    Way to go! I think you are a mark of a true man. How wonderful that you gave it a shot and no surprise you got results. Way to share with others around you. Awesome story! Thanks so much for sharing!

    Now if I can get my husband on board with me. I need to drop the fats, caffeine, processed foods. I just finished reading the E2 book and hope to start in the next month.

  • Ann

    Way to go and thanks for your service to our country! Plant strong is the only way to go!
    And Pam, I understand, I would love to get my husband on board. Got my son…

  • Jill

    Thanks so much for sharing your story. I’m 2 weeks into it and needed reminding that it really does work – on so many levels! Best wishes to you both on your new life together!

  • Julie

    Ben, what a wonderful story! Great job on not only being confident on your decision but becoming plant strong as well as quitting smoking!! Thats wonderful. Me, my boyfriend and my mom are starting this in the next week. Good luck to you and thank you for serving our country!!

  • http://coachbj.com CoachBJ

    Congrats! Our GS is in the Army, celebrated his 1st year anniversary last week. He is currently taking nutrition classes, it’s a start. He called asking us for help in making black bean dip. So we’re encouraging him by sending spices. It’s a journey, better to be starting at a younger age…

  • Peggy

    Thank you for sharing your inspiring story, Ben. You look so vibrant and healthy!

  • Teresa

    I found this site because I was searching for more info on Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn’s diet. I have his book, but had a question about plant based milks – is it ok to have almond milk? Sorry to leave a question here, but wasn’t sure how else to find out. I was inspired by Ben’s story – I too have been losing weight. My husband and i have adopted this lifestyle change for better health and we have both lost 10 lbs in less than three weeks. I know that will slow down at some point, but losing weight is an exciting benefit of eating healthier. Our Doctor told us he didn’t care what we weighed as long as were getting healthy. He believes that if you eat right you will weigh what you should. He recommended that we read Dr Esselstyn’s book, and that ultimately lead me to this site. I will be back for more tips and updates.
    Eating plant based has been much easier than I thought it would be.

    • Engine 2 Team

      It is ok, so long as it is unsweetened, we also use it on our cereals and in some baking, but that is about it – we don’t drink tons of it.

  • About Engine

    The Engine 2 blog will feature tips, plant-strong success stories, how to make plant-strong work, answer your questions and feature special guest experts. Our goal is to provide you with the tools to help you become and stay plant-strong. Please be sure to jump in the conversation by leaving comments on each post!
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