The Daily Beet

14 Jan The College Greens: Roy’s Story

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This week, The College Greens are sharing Craig’s dad (Roy)’s story.  He’s come a long way in the past year and is an inspiration to all of us.  We are so proud of him!!

I owe my current state of health to The College Greens.  This is my note of thanks as I approach my one year anniversary of being plant based.

As a very busy vitreoretinal surgeon, my days are often long and stressful.  I never know exactly what my day will entail.  I don’t know if it be straight forward or filled with emergencies where I could be in the operating room at night.  As the years have gone by, I continued exercising to some extent, yet my weight continued to climb.  I thought that if I am exercising I can get away with eating all the junk food I craved.  Why not?  After a stressful day I deserved to eat what I wanted.

Last year, in December 2011, at 53 years old and 5’ 11”, I hit an all time high of 240 lbs.  I had constant knee pain.  As a runner most of my life, I thought the time had finally come where I just couldn’t run anymore.  I started biking as my new form of exercise to take the stress off my knees.  Fatigue would set in each afternoon around 3 or 4 o’clock.  I could feel myself falling asleep while talking to patients.  By 5 or 6 o’clock I would routinely get a headache.   This was a daily occurrence that I could count on with my hectic schedule.  My total cholesterol was routinely around 260 mg/dL (below 200 is desirable).  I had a fasting blood glucose of 148 mg/dL (normal 74-100).  That’s diabetes!  I was of the mindset that I would keep pushing as hard as I could until my 1st cardiac event, which at some point was inevitable; a wonderful mindset for a physician to have.  After all, I’m a physician, that makes me invincible.


Tara came into Craig’s life and subsequently into mine.  They introduced me to the benefits of a plant based lifestyle.  After a week or two of research and watching the documentary “Forks Over Knives” and reading Rip Esselstyn’s “Engine 2 Diet”, I was sold.  January 10, 2012 was the last day I knowingly had any animal products or processed foods.  I have not looked back for a second.

As I write this I am 4 days away from my one year anniversary of being plant based.  The changes in my health are nothing short of amazing.  First off, I am down to 195 lbs.  Thankfully I saw the light before my 1st cardiac event.  After reading Caldwell Esselstyn’s “Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease”, I now realize that heart disease is not inevitable.  I can control my destiny by controlling what I eat.  I have not had a headache in months.  I no longer feel drowsy in the afternoons.  My knee pain is gone and I am back to running again.  In fact, I just registered for my 1st marathon; a life long dream which I thought unobtainable is now in my reach.  My total cholesterol, taken 2 months ago, was 140 mg/dL and glucose was 92 mg/dL.  I am taking no medicines.

I feel my immune system is stronger. Each winter I could count on at least one or two upper respiratory infections.  I have not been sick since adopting a plant strong diet. My office and surgery days are no less stressful, but I seem to be handling them much better.  My staff has commented on how much calmer I seem.


And the list goes on:  I had joint pain in my fingers which is gone.  Certainly a concern as a surgeon.  I had trouble running in cold weather as this would cause an exercise induced asthma and I would wheeze for a day or two.  I just completed a 6 mile run outdoors with a temperature of 18 degrees Fahrenheit; no wheeze what so ever!  Just amazing.  I had occasional hesitancy with urination indicating some degree of prostate enlargement.  This is no longer present.  Finally, I’ve had tinnitus or ringing in my ears for years.  You guessed it – almost completely gone.  And then there is the trickle down effect.  I am a positive role model for my patients.  A few of them are now plant based and reaping the benefits.  Unfortunately, too few.

Thank you College Greens for changing my life.


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The College Greens
The College Greens

The College Greens: Tara, Jenna, and Craig. Tara is a junior at Bucknell University, currently majoring in Education and minoring in Creative Writing, and planning to do a nutrition program upon graduation. Jenna is a sophomore attending Duquesne University, and she is studying to become a Physician Assistant. Both Tara and Jenna are certified in Plant-Based Nutrition through Dr.Campbell's eCornell program. Craig is a senior at Bucknell University. He is majoring in Chemistry and minoring in English, and is planning to go to medical school to become a pediatrician, where he hopes to incorporate lifestyle medicine in his practice.

  • Struggling
    Posted at 10:50h, 15 January

    Thanks so much for sharing! It reallys sends a message when a doctor shares his experiences since so many doctors are pushing statins and other medication. It is great to hear the other benefits (I wonder if my tinnitus and knee pain can be reversed) too. I have been struggling to be 100% plant based and am not sure what my roadblock is. But reading stories like these really help.

  • Lynnette
    Posted at 12:11h, 15 January

    What a wonderful story. So glad to hear about the positive changes in your life, and that they happened before things got too bad. I know you must be so proud of your son too.

  • Pam Honthumb
    Posted at 12:15h, 15 January

    Great story, thanks for sharing and keep up the good work.

  • Julie C
    Posted at 12:18h, 15 January

    Thank you for sharing your year’s journey into ultimate health with us. I too, have been plant strong for almost a year and could repeat everything you’ve said. Congratulations on an extremely successful first year, and look forward to a healthy and happy life!!!

  • Kendra
    Posted at 12:19h, 15 January

    Way to go, Roy! What a huge accomplishment! I’m so glad to hear that you are able to balance your unpredictable schedule with plant-based eating and exercise, because it’s been a huge challenge for me not to backslide when I get unexpectedly busy. You are an inspiration!

  • Hillary Dickman
    Posted at 12:23h, 15 January

    Incredible, Roy! Thanks so much for sharing. Your story is encouraging and such a great example to everyone around you. Great work!

  • Kathy McLean
    Posted at 12:33h, 15 January

    WOW!!! Thanks for sharing…

  • Quinta Peterson
    Posted at 12:50h, 15 January

    Congratulations Roy! The amazing difference that plant powered eating makes – it’s wonderful!!

  • Ami Mackey
    Posted at 13:06h, 15 January

    So great to hear about your progress Roy! Congrats on all of the amazing changes. I have had the same wonderful side effects of a plant-strong lifestyle happen to me. I never thought I’d be a runner either! Keep up the good work, you are doing great!

  • Kate
    Posted at 13:51h, 15 January

    Thanks for sharing your story. I’ve just started my journey of plant based diet. Started for very similar reasons. I’m 59, work nights as an RN, weight has topped at 175 lbs and my joints ache.
    Hopefully, by my 60th birthday in September, I’ll be healthier and able to complete a half marathon. Thanks again for your inspiring story.

  • msrobin
    Posted at 13:53h, 15 January

    Congratulations, Roy! It is wonderful news. Thanks for the inspiration.

  • Ybaird
    Posted at 14:08h, 15 January

    Such an inspiration! I am plant strong for little over a month. As an RN, the medical research is what convinced me. At 51 years old and 6 foot tall, weighting 196, A1C of 6.1, i saw the writing on the wall! it was time to do something. I am now 179 and feeling so much better! Your story encourages me to keep pushing forward! Congratulations!

  • Tara Fraser Kemp
    Posted at 16:52h, 15 January

    YOU ARE AWESOME. Living proof of the power of plants 🙂 So much yay for ya, Roy!

  • Tammie
    Posted at 05:41h, 16 January

    Congratulation Roy. So proud of you.

  • Roy
    Posted at 00:29h, 17 January

    Thank you everyone for your wonderful comments!

  • E2X Anne
    Posted at 10:01h, 17 January

    You’re a living example, Roy! The details you share on the change in your cholesterol numbers and the change in symptoms you were feeling are fabulous. Congratulations! You will inspire many others here and you are in a position to be a positive influence to all those around you. Thank you for sharing your inspiring story…way to go!

  • RWEvans
    Posted at 21:36h, 13 May

    Great success story! I’ve lost 33 pounds and dropped my cholesterol by 40 points. This is a great way to eat and live.

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