I am so thankful on January 17, 2016 I made the decision to go 100% plant-based. Based on data from my blood tests, inputs from my doctor, and the horrific trajectory my health was on from the foods I was eating, I probably wouldn’t be here today if I didn’t make the switch. Witnessing my body change and hearing my blood results, my ex-wife, Karen, asked me often, “Do you want to be around for Morgan?” She knew where I was headed. Here I will reflect about my decisions and consider what is ahead in hopes a nugget or two could help you in your own health no matter where you are. I also documented a list of benefits going plant-based has done for me at the end of the blog.
When I look back now at why I changed it comes with sadness, frustration, and extreme satisfaction. I am sad now knowing what is called, the Standard American Diet (SAD), contributed to and/or caused significant pain and taking the lives of both my parents prematurely. My father died at 58 years-old from prostate cancer and my mother at 73 years of age from multiple chronic illness issues. When in the hospital and rehabilitation centers for a few years with my mom in the last years of her life, it began my education on how warped our health care system was/is, how consuming animal products contribute to the plethora of chronic illnesses and premature death, and realizing ultimately the only person accountable for my health and well-being was me.
The communication break downs in our health system were quite an eye opener and realizing I knew more than my doctors regarding the impact of nutrition on overall health was quite frankly astonishing, sad, and extremely frustrating. Our system is broken quite severely and I am quite fortunate I found the openness in my head and heart to consider another path and take my health into my own hands. We are set up for failure with how things are marketed, with the intent of confusing consumers on what is healthy and not, and with a health care system focused on treating the illness vs. the root cause(s). I think I have heard it described by Dr. Zach Bush and other doctors as a – sick care system – not a – health care system. Hopefully we get to a point of promoting health or treating sickness but I’m not counting on it.
I received pamphlets from my doctor on how to reduce cholesterol that actually promoted it by eating foods that are extremely high in saturated fat and cholesterol. It’s the standard process here in America. This was when I had a 327 cholesterol and prime for a heart attack not to mention my high blood pressure and many other data points indicating something was severely wrong. On Crestor and many other pills I was prescribed to get my vital numbers in acceptable ranges I was told to take them and see if and when I could go off them. I would still be on them as Crestor was not making a dent nor were the other drugs on my numbers. Never a consideration of the root cause…
I could take as many drugs prescribed to me but it was like I was putting diesel fuel into a gasoline engine – how was this ever going to stop or get better? It never would and that’s what is wrong with our system and education today. We do not look at the root cause. When I was open to learn about what was going on, I realized if I put diesel fuel into a diesel engine or gasoline in a gasoline engine I wouldn’t need to have a mechanic fix the issue. There wouldn’t be an issue.
I can really feel this good? Are you serious? I can really feel this good? Why didn’t I know this growing up? Why doesn’t everyone know this? Why don’t they teach us this in school? These are questions that puzzled me and I was one that just didn’t know or put the effort in to being open and learn about the impacts of nutrition on my health. Nutrition and fueling our body optimally is not a part of a medical school curriculum…sad, frustrating, and an epic fail in our system. No wonder why America is a leader in chronic illness in the world. It is a SAD diet for sure…
When I said “no more” on January 17, 2016 I began living life in a most tremendous way. First of all I am literally alive. My body feels different. I feel so alive. I thought I was feeling the way someone in their 40s must feel getting older. With the amount of diesel fuel I was putting into a gasoline engine I know I was close to ultimate failure but I stopped fueling myself with that diesel fuel just in time. No more animal products ever again…none, ever, never again.
Over the five years I have learned so much. Not only did I save my life and feel so good in the process, I then realized I had a competitive advantage over my competition in races who consume animal products. The inflammation it produces slows recovery and restricts blood and oxygen flow to muscles. Not to mention the arthritis in my left knee. Hold on, where did the arthritis feel go?!?! Holy crap, that went away too on a plant-based diet? Pretty darn cool side effect…
What I have learned that sucks…
I then discovered the brutality, inhumane conditions, fear, and painful slaughter animals endure for humans to consume. Chicklets not needed immediately get thrown into a grinder to end their live while fully conscious? Male dairy calves who not needed are executed and thrown in barrels to be hauled away? Dairy cows who are finished with their production lives are hauled away to slaughter while being beaten if they don’t move correctly or fast enough? Thousands of chickens under one single roof who can’t support their own weight due to the amount of hormones and other drugs pumped into them to make them larger is ok? What the heck is wrong with this model and why didn’t I and everyone know how this process works? We may think chickens, cows, pigs and other animals are roaming free in an open field until the end of their lives for consumption but that just isn’t reality. They live the most horrific lives.
I feel terrible this is happening and feel better that I am not contributing to their suffering. It’s hard to explain but it really did make a positive difference in my headspace about the consequence of not harming animals any longer. After I saw the brutal conditions and suffering, I finally made the connection. I never made that connection before… When you think how smart these animals are…they know what is happening and going to happen. The video footage is gruesome. Why do we treat dogs and cats differently than a pig? Look at the intelligence of each… Kinda crazy when you consider it this way. Again, I never made that connection…but do now.
Consider how COVID-19 started in live animal wet markets. We are primed for another pandemic at any time and the experts have warned this for decades. Why didn’t I know this? I also find it sad there isn’t mass discussion or awareness about this connection but I’m not surprised. In most situations it comes down to money. There is too much money at stake in pharmaceuticals, farming animals, animal products, etc. that trumps any action to be taken for overall health. Look at our dietary guidelines…no wonder we suffer from so many chronic illnesses in this country. The animal agriculture and pharmaceutical industries have too much invested here…
Back to the positives…
In addition to the benefits of overall health, a performance advantage, and saving the lives of animals, I also feel I’m contributing to saving the planet (global warming) from the ill effects caused from animal agriculture. What we are doing to the planet to consume animal products is moving us pretty close to a point of no return.
I love the statement from the President of the American College of Cardiology, Dr. Kim Williams who stated, “I don’t mind dying, I just don’t want it to be my fault.” Not only do I not want dying to be my fault, while living I want to live life to its fullest. So many people live long but do so on drugs and while in and out of doctors offices and hospitals to save them from one chronic illness or another, but not living their lives. Many people are just hanging on miserably and I was about there myself.
By eliminating animal products, eating a whole foods plant-based diet and exercising regularly we can age functionally well and live life, not just hang around. I just asked my daughter, Morgan, if she would run a 5k with me on Father’s Day, 2049. I will be 80 years old and I know I will be running that race with her some how, some where, some way.
At my last race of 2020 in Daytona Beach, Florida I met an 80 year-old man compete in the triathlon who was full of life after the race. The way he was conducting himself you would swear he was 60 years-old. It was so inspiring see someone being active and have the ability to race that day. The conditions for the swim were brutal and this gentleman did it at age 80. I want to be like that guy – living life to its fullest. Whether it’s a triathlon, a run, playing with grandkids or doing whatever jazzes you, we have the ability to age functionally well with of course the risk of things occurring that are out of our control. But control what you can control and live life…we only have one chance at this thing…
At 52 years of age, I can say I’m healthier than at any point in my life. I fuel myself with high octane gasoline otherwise known as whole plant foods. The engine is firing! My body feels better than at age 50, 45, 40, 35, 30….. what the heck? Am I getting younger?
I hope this helps you in some way. If you are considering making a change in your health and need some education or a deeper understanding, I recommend you go through the resources on my, Get Started, page. These were and are resources that have made an incredible impact on my life transformation. I’ve had several friends and family make the switch to a plant-based diet over the years who are thriving and several others reach out recently considering and making the move. It’s been so rewarding to help in any way possible through their exploration and it fuels me to continue on sharing in this forum and other means. Please reach out if you have questions or need assistance. I want to learn from you as well.
Lastly, to answer Karen’s question. I want to be here for a very long time to be a part of Morgan’s life. I want to be around to live life with my family, friends, and loved ones. My actions, decisions, and behaviors now support that answer.
– Add Health to Your Life
Featured Blog Photo:
- Top Left – The cows of San Antonio, Florida I stop and sing to when I’m there doing a workout
- Middle Left – Grain bowl filled with all kinds of whole plant foods
- Bottom Left – Running clean in my youth one week ago at Ronnie’s Run
- Top & Bottom Middle – The unhealthier version of me pre-plant-based
- Top Right – Pushing my body to limits I could not do before living and performing on a plant-based diet…representing Team USA in Duathlon
- Bottom Right – A most glorious Pitaya Bowl full of plant power and antioxidants
All the incredible things going plant-based has done for me:
- So much more energy!!!
- Not a single migraine in over five years (used to be weekly and once every three months I would be in a room with the lights turned off without the ability to move the pain was so severe)
- Cholesterol went from 327 to 132 (without a pill…just whole plant foods bringing it down!); Crestor just wasn’t doing the trick and the side effects sucked
- Blood pressure from High/Hypertension to Athletic Level
- Weight from obese to normal … 224 to 159
- Deficient in multiple health measures with blood work to ZERO currently
- Arthritic left knee to the pain disappearing…woah!!! Doc told me not to run anymore…sorry doc, eliminated all the inflammation from the animal products, dropped five bowling balls of weight and currently run 55-60 miles a week on my up weeks along with 150-200 mile cycling weeks …. with zero arthritis feel… where did it go????
- Can’t feel the pressure in my face that I used to…it’s such a freeing feeling handling stress so much better…hard to describe
- Thinking clearer…not the brain fog…although some will dispute that…
- I am intentional about my life vs. the auto pilot prior…
- No more being on diets (yo-yo effect)! No calorie counting. I eat as much as I want and when I exercise a lot I eat more.
- I can taste the actual food…not some concoction of salt, oil and/or sugar making meat taste good. Removing the processed salts, oils, and sugars eliminates the cravings…
- I am faster running now than ever…
- I am stronger on the bike now than ever…
- I am stronger mentally now more than ever…
- I have more energy now more than ever…
- I run on high octane fuel for my high octane engine (no diesel fuel allowed)
- It feels great to feel great!!!
- Reduced my risk of the following by a huge margin:
- Heart disease/attack (love that 132 cholesterol)
- High Blood Pressure
- Type 2 Diabetes
- Alzheimer’s Disease
- Colon Cancer
- Prostate Cancer (more important what I put in my mouth vs. genetics from my dad…in a big way)
- Other cancers…
- Chronic illnesses caused by being overweight or obese…visceral fat can do so much damage…
- List can keep going…