We have shared a lot of Success Stories here at Engine 2, but this one by fellow Engine 2 Diet follower, supporter and mother of two, Kari Campos will truly pull on your heart strings. What do YOU do, when Dr. Esselstyn gives you a call? Read on to find out. 

Two weeks before we were to become parents, my 36-year-old husband, Alex, stared having chest pains.  He thought he was having a reaction to the shellfish we’d had for dinner.  We didn’t expect to hear the words “heart attack” in the emergency room that night.  Two days later he was sent home with two stents, a bag of pills, and the advice to follow the American Heart Association’s diet of low-fat dairy and lean meat.  We were told heart disease was hereditary and something he would deal with for the rest of his life.

Alex and pregnant Kari in 2008. Three months before Alex’s heart attack. 

I first learned about the Whole Foods Plan Based Diet (WFPB) after reading Finding Ultra by Rich Roll and Eat and Run by Scott Jurek.  Wanting to learn more, I watched the Forks Over Knives documentary and learned that heart disease is reversible!  This was contrary to everything we’d been told by Alex’s doctors!  I immediately wanted my family to go plant based.  Alex, however, was skeptical.  He identified with his Hispanic heritage through food.  Carne asada, carnitas, and chili verde were family favorites.  I decided to try the WFPB diet myself before asking my family to make what seemed like an impossible change.  Alex was frustrated at first.  “You cook what you want.”, I told him.  “I just won’t eat the meat.”  He took my picking apart his meals as a challenge to learn to cook new things.  Within a few weeks our dinners were meat free.  Alex quickly realized how good he felt eating this way and started asking questions.  He was onboard.

At his next doctor’s visit, Alex asked about getting off his medication.  His doctor laughed and said he’d be taking them for the rest of his life.  I was livid.   A life sentence of medications with disturbing side effects?  I remembered Dr. Esselstyn’s interview from Forks Over Knives and bought his book, Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease.  More research led to the E2 community of thousands of people with amazing stories of recovery from debilitating health problems.  Still fuming from the doctor’s assurance that medication was the only answer, I emailed Dr. Esselstyn and explained Alex’s history and my frustration with the medical community’s apparent apathy toward heart patients.  I was discouraged and started to think maybe Alex’s doctor was right.  Within a few days, I received a call from Cleveland, Ohio.  “Mrs. Campos? This is Dr. Esselstyn.”  I nearly dropped my phone.  He took the next 20 minutes to reassure me that heart disease was not a death sentence and that adherence to his guidelines could lead to a long and healthy life.  This was the encouragement I needed.  The WFPB diet was going to be the key to keeping my family healthy.

Kari (pregnant with #2), Max (age 10), Alex. March 2018.

Learning to eat plant-based and oil free has been an iterative process for our family.  Alex remains on his medications for now, but this way of life has helped him regulate his weight since his heart attack and has been incident free for almost 10 years.  What started off as a plan to help Alex, became a passion for me.  After starting a WFPB diet, my weight stabilized and the sinus congestion and digestive issues that plagued me my whole life disappeared.  I maintained a WFPB diet through my second pregnancy and had none of the swelling and huge weight gains I had during my first, even though I was almost 10 years older!

Kari and her newest love Lucy. October 2018.

When you find something this life altering, you want to tell everyone you know and love about it.  So, when my sister called and asked for help with her journey to a healthier life, I had to share everything I’d learned with her.  She jumped in with both feet and has huge success with her health.

I’m so thankful to have found the E2 community.  Following the WFPB lifestyle has changed our lives and continues to inspire others around us.

Kari, Alex, Max, and Lucy Campos