Late 2012 I learned that my 54-year old mom had developed pre-diabetes and my dad had a heart attack, the news hit hard. Misfortune struck me more personally in February 2013. I work as a truck driver and was 500 miles from home. I slipped off the back of my trailer and fell nearly five feet. I suffered two compression fractures in my lower back, and excruciating pain kept me from working during the next four months. I feared that I’d never regain my mobility. Fortunately, I didn’t require surgery and remain active to this day. And I now see the injury as a blessing in disguise. In fact, I consider it the best thing that has ever happened to me.
My injury forced me to introspect. I thought, “I’m much larger and eat far worse than either of my parents. They’re clearly not bulletproof and neither am I.” My doctor reinforced this message. He told me that my excess weight contributed to my fractures and recommended that I start to eat more fruits and vegetables. My diet consisted mostly of sheet cakes, ice cream, pizza, chicken wings, and hamburgers, so he did make a fair point. I was someone who traveled long distances to restaurants where celebrities accepted eating challenges, and I was typically out-eating the TV-personalities with pride.
As doctors routinely do, mine checked my vitamin D levels, my level was 4 ng/mL, which is not only deficient, but about as low as can be. I had no intention of finding a way to get vitamin D through my diet so I decided to take a supplement. I searched the Internet for a multivitamin that could deliver vitamin D and all of the other vitamins and minerals I needed to be healthy. I came across a Cornell University study that implicated folic acid, an ingredient in virtually all multivitamins, in cancer development. It blew my mind to think that most multivitamins could contain this destructive ingredient, and this led me to hunt for a folic acid-free multivitamin. It just so happens that Dr. Joel Fuhrman has developed such a product.
I looked into Dr. Furhman’s work to learn what he advocates. More fruits and vegetables… Not particularly exciting, but I felt curious to learn more and bought his audiobook, “Eat to Live”. I listened to the entire book in one day. Everything he espoused was evidence-based, backed by study after study. It just made sense. It left no doubt in my mind that a plant-based diet was the healthiest way to eat, though I still didn’t feel ready to give up meat and sugar.
The following day, I recall eating a very unhealthy lunch with my mom and sister. I told them about the book and laughed about the low quality of the meal we had sat down to. I shared my conviction that if everyone in our country adopted this eating style, we could shut down most hospitals. But I also told them that there was no way I could eat that way. It was far too strict.
The following morning, I felt different. My mindset had changed. I weighed more than ever before, a whopping 342 pounds, and for the first time in my life, I knew what I needed to do to become healthy. I didn’t eat my usual junk food that day. Instead, I bought a Nutribullet, broccoli, plums, carrot, flaxseed, and kale. It tasted disgusting but I choked it down.
I did this day after day, making small modifications to make it increasingly palatable. I also began to eat large salads and make my own dressings from nuts instead of oil. I took advantage of the recovery time allotted for my broken back and used to heal my entire body.
Since that day, I made leaps and bounds. My discipline increased and the weight came off. As happens to all of us, I had my share of setbacks and unhealthy meals. But invariably, I got right back on the horse. I lost nearly half of my body weight, dropping to 180 pounds within just one year of following this plant-based eating plan. I got a new job, still truck driving, but now I work for myself. People try to blame their “crazy” work schedules on not being able to eat healthy but that is just a bad excuse.
It is not uncommon for me to be on the road for weeks at a time and I still prepare all healthy food in my truck and my wife will also send me with some healthy meals she prepares before I leave.
Jason and his Wife Sarah have a wonderful Facebook page called ‘Real Food is the Cure’. https://www.facebook.com/SOSfreeVeganRecipes/
Sarah’s Story is HERE.
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