20 Mar Week of Inspiration, Day 3: Todd, Dave and Christine!
Today we have 3 wonderful stories to share with you!
These stories are from Valencia College –
Plant-strong eating can save your life! Adding more fruits, vegetables, and whole grains to one’s diet will lower the risk of heart disease, cancer, diabetes, and obesity. Partnered with the Valencia Wellness Program, Christina began sharing the plant-strong message and introduced the Engine 2 Diet to a group of Valencia employees in July. Over the course of the last few months this group has endeavored to become healthier by adopting a plant-based diet and by taking the Engine 2 28-day Challenge. Replacing meat, dairy, and oils with plant-based foods was certainly a challenge for these employees, but the end results are amazing. And thanks to the support of Rip Esselstyn, creator and author of the Engine 2 Diet, and the Whole Foods group, 15 employees came together on December 4 to celebrate their success.
One employee shared, “At my last visit to my cardiologist’s office, my cardiologist told me, ‘your heart’s great. You don’t need me!’ This was the first time in the ten years I have had heart disease that I didn’t have to schedule a follow-up visit in the next three or six months. The changes? Plant-based eating. That’s it. Last reported BP was 99/76 and my cholesterol is 123. Life is good!”
These are typical results!
Christina – Plant strong since 2011
(Christine’s plant-strong tattoo!)
How I became plant strong!
I suffered from IBS, GERD, and a host of other digestive problems most of my adult life, and in 2010 my doctor informed me that my gall bladder was diseased and I would need to have it removed. I was in with a sonogram tech, who was looking for gallstones, and I mumbled something about not wanting surgery. She told me that both her and her husband had suffered from gall bladder disease, but managed and reversed their pain and digestive issues by eating clean. She turned me onto The China Study, which led me to the Engine 2 diet, and a whole host of other books written about plant-based eating. I began making changes to my diet and quickly felt so much better. My constant indigestion went away, I lost a few pounds, and I didn’t feel sick ALL the time like I had for so many years. It’s been two years since I switched to a healthier diet and I have seen remarkable changes in my own life.
Further, in 2009 I watched both of my maternal grandparents die at the hands of myriad diseases including heart disease and diabetes. While research proves that these diseases are not 100% hereditary, I felt that it was my duty to take control of my life and fight off the possibility of one day suffering from them because so many of my family has.
After reading The China Study, The Engine 2 Diet, Eat to Live, and Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease, I was blessed to be able to obtain a certificate in Plant-Based Nutrition through T. Colin Campbell’s work at Cornell, meet Rip Esselstyn, author of the Engine 2 Diet, and I was able to attend a Farms2Forks two-day immersion event hosted by Rip and his family at their family farm in NY. I have read tons of research on plant-based eating and feel that this way of eating is the healthiest way to prevent the diseases that most Americans suffer. I have been plant-strong (NO animal products at all) for just over a year. I feel great, have tons of energy, and have discovered tons of amazing recipes to enjoy. Oh, and I didn’t have to have my gall bladder removed!
The best part of my journey has been sharing this story with others and watching them adopt the healthier lifestyle of a plant-strong diet. I have led seminars at Valencia College, just facilitated a 28-day Challenge for Valencia employees and their families, and have been invited to the University of Central Florida to introduce the plant-strong way of life to their faculty and staff. I have also arranged a meeting in January with Dr. Campbell, our Executive Dean at our newest campus in Medical City here in Orlando, and the dean of the Medical College at UCF. Dr. Campbell is very interested in bringing his message and curriculum to Valencia and to UCF, as well.
Dave – Plant strong since July 2012
In June, I was 290 and my cholesterol was 210 on cholesterol medicine. Six weeks into the diet, I was down over 30 pounds and my cholesterol (on medication still) had dropped to 156 (total) with an HDL of 42. At that point, I cut my medication in half for thirty days then discontinued it altogether. In mid November, my weight was down to 212, my total cholesterol is 160 (no medication for 6 weeks) with a HDL of 62. I attribute the HDL rise to my daily exercise and continued weight loss. Based on my blood work results, I went from high risk for diabetes to low risk for diabetes.
I was a tri-athlete when I was younger and my pulse was always very low, which the doctors attributed to my heart being big and strong. The only time my pulse is in the normal range is when I am out of shape. I’ve been doing 30-40 minutes on the stair-master and 30 minutes of weight lifting every night, so my fitness level is returning nicely.
I get comments every day about the striking change in my appearance, both from folks that see me regularly and folks that see me infrequently. The ladies in the office are a little mad at me for being able to lose weight so fast… just another burden that I must bear.
Todd Plant Strong since July 19, 2012
I was raised in a family where fast food and junk food were the norm. We celebrated with food and healed our wounds with food. Moderation was something for wimps. I was considered a husky child, and my parents had me on every diet you could imagine, but nothing seemed to work. Fast and fatty foods were all I knew and they shaped my pallet for years to come. There was a small stint where I was not “husky”. During the summer of my sophomore year, I experienced a growth spurt and I ran and surfed, which allowed me to get down to 195lbs on a 6’2″ frame. But my eating habits never changed, and over the next 7 years I went from 195lbs to 230lbs, and eventually got up to 320lbs. I was fat, depressed, and had a horrible self-esteem.
I began having health problems associated with my weight. I experienced severe pains that were assumed to be gall stones. I found a doctor and scheduled my first physical. He would immediately put me on BP meds and instructed me to lose 30lbs. After a few ultra sounds and meetings with my doctor regarding the gall bladder issues, he found a tumor under my right rib cage near my liver. My world would never be the same. On February 27, 2007, at the age of 34, I was diagnosed with Ewings Sarcoma.
Fast forward through a year of treatment and radiation, the birth of my second son and mediocre attempts to become “healthy” – I am now closing in on 6 years of being a cancer survivor, and after watching Forks Over Knives with my wife I realized something needed to change. I started researching healthy eating and after watching the Engine 2 Kitchen Rescue I realized that I could and should go plant-strong. I am someone who ate meat with all of my meals, cooked with ladles of olive oil, put cheese/sour cream on everything, and who considered processed foods the norm, but I knew I needed to give that all up. I could take charge of my eating and my health. So I did! On July 19, 2012, I woke up and asked my wife what a plant-strong person would eat for breakfast. Smiling, she hooked me up with an amazing spread of fruit and piece of whole grain toast with all natural organic peanut butter. That same day I purchased the E2 book and dove in head first. Since I started eating a plant-strong low fat-plant strong lifestyle, my energy levels are off the charts, I’ve dropped 50lbs, I’m off of my BP meds, and I feel sharper than ever!! Those that questioned my madness in July are now asking me about health and eating. I can honestly say that I have never felt so amazing. I am currently training for local triathlons for summer 2013.
As great as being a 6 year cancer survivor is, the biggest accomplishment with my health has been going plant-strong. ***Results typical!
Thank you for sharing your stories and for turning your life around and becoming plant-strong!