The Plant Rx

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Archive for the ‘Success Stories’ Category

Marc lost 55lbs in only 3 months! See how you can too… His amazing story!

Posted by Jenn on February 24, 2013


I’m happy to share another success story!  Meet Marc.  He’s a busy husband and dad who has lost over 50lbs in only 3 months and he’s only just begun.

Marc’s Story:

The Cardiologist came into the waiting room exhausted with his head buried in a cup of coffee. I could tell his performance in the operating room was laborious. He explained to me and my family that my Dad had a couple of close calls during the 5-hour quadruple bypass surgery, but that he was in a cardiac intensive care room with all indicators pointing to a successful recovery. Then the surgeon did something peculiar: he pointed to me and said “I know just by looking at you that I will see you on the operating table before you are

Marc's success after only 3 months!

Marc’s success after only 3 months!

40”.

I was 31 when my Dad, a retired physician, had bypass surgery. He had just turned 60 years old. While heart disease runs in our family, the conditions that brought us to the hospital for my Dad’s mega-heart alteration seemed too severe and too early to be written off as mere genetics. And the Cardiologist’s caution to me was offensive, which was just what I needed. At that point I was the father of a 7 month-old son, an active member of my community, the founding director of a successful leadership development organization for diverse and disengaged young adults in Indianapolis and I was very sick. I had so much to lose, but my health was taking it all away. Being young, morbidly obese, pre-diabetic and pre-hypertensive were all working against me: I was finally scared.

Over the next few years I set out to learn more about myself and about health. I read books and journals, had conversations with experts in health and behavior modification, searched my soul and experimented with different approaches to living. Having been overweight most of my life, I was very familiar with diet fads and ‘dieting’. I knew I didn’t want another top secret for losing weight or the next “10 steps for slimming my waistline”. I was looking for a new way of living. With the work of Dr. Dean Ornish, the Esselstyns, the China Study and others dancing around in my head, I went to bed one evening in February 2011 with grave physical and emotional pain caused by my food and lifestyle and I promised myself that the next day I would try a vegan diet. I stuck with it. Within days I felt better. I had more energy and less pain. I started losing weight and it felt good.

After a month or two of eating a vegan diet, I found ways around its healthy attributes. Oreo cookies, French fries, mad amounts of bread all became staples of my vegan menu. My weight crept up to a new high for me, 305 pounds, and my blood pressure and triglycerides were through the roof…again! I learned the hard way about the giant difference between a vegan diet and a plant-based diet. In December 2012, I changed everything. I started eating a plant-based diet consisting of mostly vegetables, legumes, fruits, whole grains and very little refined and processed carbohydrates. I started routinely going to a gym, the Chase Legacy Center in Indianapolis, which is a nonprofit organization that is run by encouraging and supportive members of my community – everyone should have a fitness community like this. I started the transformation.

With only three months of sticking to a plant-based diet and regular exercise, I have lost over 50 pounds, regularly have a normal blood pressure and have gone from a size 50 waist to a size 38 waist. The best part: I am not dieting! Rather, I have introduced new foods, recipes and flavors to my diet. Diet is no longer a verb, it is a noun – a thing. By eating a plant-based diet, I am not restricting myself but I am focusing on the assets that foods bring to me. I build my culinary life around those assets. This, coupled with a supportive community at my gym, family and neighborhood, has launched a life-long chapter of wellness and whole living. While the Cardiologist did save my Dad’s life through invasive and extreme surgery, I know now that he was wrong: I will not be on his operating table by the time I am 40 or anytime soon, for that matter.

Note:  Marc will be updating us on his progress every 3 months moving forward, so sign up for our email alerts of his progress and more!

Read More Success Stories Here!

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Think eating a plant-based diet is crazy? How about this…

Posted by Jenn on January 24, 2013


Ian Before: 235lbs / 262 cholesterol / 145:110 blood pressure

Ian Before: 235 lbs / 262 cholesterol / 145:110 blood pressure

People have often described my diet as radical, drastic and extreme. Eating a plant-based diet to them, even if they agree it is the most healthy thing for you, is akin to asking them to undergo torture.  They have a myriad of responses to me, most of them echoing something to the effect of ” If I can’t enjoy my life then why bother”.   It’s unimaginable to me that they perceive my diet as so radical, drastic and extreme yet they don’t think that cracking open your chest while simultaneously slicing open your legs to take out vessels from your legs to graft to your heart isn’t? I’m beginning to think everyone should watch what is really involved in one of the surgeries, maybe then, they will understand the true meaning of the words radical, drastic and extreme. It is truly very hard for me to understand how anyone would choose bypass surgery over eating plants.  Then again, maybe they think it just won’t happen to them…

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Those thoughts bring us to our first success story of the year, Ian Welch from Florida.  Ian can tell you first hand the difference between the two options I described above. Ian’s story is becoming the norm rather than the exception these days due to the overwhelming consumption of the Standard American Diet (SAD).  Fortunately, Ian is alive and well and is able to share his journey with us. When I asked why him why he wants to share it, he says it’s because he wish someone had shared this knowledge with him.

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Ian tells his story:

Two years ago I could not have imagined my life today.  At the ripe old age of 40, I was diagnosed with heart disease, four major blockages that if left alone would end my life quickly.

On March 23, 2011 I had Quadruple Bypass Surgery.  I had my chest sawed open.  It was singularly the most influential event in my life and in hindsight I would not change a thing.

Ian after undergoing quadruple bypass surgery at 40 only years old.

Ian after undergoing quadruple bypass surgery at 40 only years old.

The first week out of the hospital my wife, Alicia, started us on a plant-based diet.  By December, I had lost 37 pounds and my cholesterol dropped 109 points.  Since then I have learned that eating a plant-based diet and avoiding oil can drastically improve your health.  My last carotid artery sonogram showed substantial reduction in plaque; essentially reversing 40 years of buildup in a very short period of time.  Not to mention the 20-25% weight loss.

The lightning bolt moments are as rare as a strike of electricity to the head.  They either kill you or offer you the opportunity to walk away; a second chance.  It is precisely these moments that need to be deconstructed because they happen in an instant.  These moments exist a lifetime as either regret or epiphanies.

The reality is; we have no way of knowing how we will exit this world.  For some of us, we will lead long full lives and gently succumb in our sleep at a ripe old age.  For others it will be a tragic exit, leaving loved ones to question how this could have happened.

However, the majority of us will face the challenge of fighting for our years and it comes down to a simple question.  Do you want to spend your last years in a gradual state of decline; mentally and physically?  Or do you want to challenge the odds and finish up on your feet? Your physical body has very simple needs.  It is a fact of biology.  Run your body on the core ingredients it needs, run it clean.  Don’t let your mind dictate what the body wants.  A foundation built on this simple approach will drastically move the odds of avoiding disease in your favor.

I had no plan and it ended in a hospital.  I do not want to go back to that hospital.  I share my experiences for the simple reason; I wish someone had told me sooner.  It took a life-threatening situation to become the person I am today and I like this new and improved Ian.

momdadoregon

Ian in Dec. 2011 after adopting a plant-based diet. 198 lbs / 153 Cholesterol / 105:75 blood pressure

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Ian Welch: In 2011, at the age of 40, Ian underwent quadruple bypass surgery. Ian completely transformed his life, adopting a plant-based approach to wellness. Ian is currently writing his book; “Heart Disease Saved My Life: Harness the Power of a Chronic Disease Diagnosis.” His goal is to provide others with a plan of action when faced with difficult circumstances. Ian lives in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida with his wife. He is an avid long distance runner & Bikram Yoga practitioner.  He maintains a blog at www.WholeFed.org.

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Plant-based Health Study: Vanessa’s Rockin’ Results!

Posted by Jenn on April 13, 2011


The Plant-based health study concluded on March 15th.  Since then we have been testing our participants and gathering the final results and we are just about ready to present them all to you.  In the meantime, we will have some special posts on the individual participant’s results and their thoughts on participating in the study now that it is over.

 

Today I am very excited to present to you  Vanessa’s study results!

 

Vanessa's Plant-based Health Study Results

Vanessa entered our study as a 30 year old Dental student (who btw, is now a licensed Dentist! Congrats, Vanessa!) who consumed a Standard American Diet (SAD).  She was thin with a very good BMI.  Her pre-study lab work showed that she had hyperlipidemia with a total blood cholesterol of 255 (anything over 200 is considered “high”) and an LDL cholesterol of 130 (anything above 130 is considered “high”).  Her HDL values were phenomenal, among the best I’ve ever seen, and her triglycerides were also very good as was her A1C value.

After 30 days on a plant-based diet, Vanessa’s total cholesterol dropped from 255 to 206.  A 49 point drop! Her LDL cholesterol dropped from 130 to 86.  A 44 point drop!  These reductions almost brought her into acceptable blood cholesterol ranges.  Her LDL was now considered well within normal ranges and her Total Cholesterol was now only 6 points above what is considered to be the “normal” range.  All other values remained fairly constant including her weight and BMI.

After another 30 days (at the 60 day conclusion of our study), the results were even MORE impressive! Vanessa’s Total Cholesterol dropped another 28 points to 178! Further, her LDL cholesterol dropped an additional 28 points to 58! Talk about impressive!  In 60 days, Vanessa’s Total Cholesterol went from 255 to 178, a 77 point decrease! Her LDL Cholesterol went from 130 to 58, a 72 point decrease!  Thus, not only does Vanessa NO LONGER HAVE HYPERLIPIDEMIA, but she cut her LDL cholesterol (the bad cholesterol) more than in half!

As if that weren’t enough, her LDL values are now below what even Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn would consider safe and cardio-protective from the likes of heart disease and its co-morbidities!  Great job, Vanessa!

To read about Vanessa’s journey visit Vanessa’s Page under the Plant-based Health Study tab. Her final labs will also be posted on the main Plant-based Health Study page by weeks end in the interest of transparency.  Additionally, her final post and thoughts on her experience after getting her final results have been pasted below for you to read.

Please join me in thanking Vanessa for participating in our study as well as congratulating her on her amazing results!

Vanessa’s Final Post

(March 29, 2010)

The plant-based diet study has been over now for a few weeks.  I wish I could say that I have been keeping a strict plant-based diet since then, but that is not the case.  However, I am still keeping a diet which is predominantly plant-based.   I would say that over the course of two days, I might have one meal that includes some form of dairy.  Meat is a different story – I’ve never been a big meat-eater, so I don’t have as strong of a desire to include it back into my diet.

However, today may have been a game changer!

I just received the results from my final blood work and I am SHOCKED at the results.  I was pretty happy at the midpoint blood work when my LDL went down so significantly.  However, I had blood work done back in September that produced similar results.  I was happy that my cholesterol improved, but I honestly thought that things would probably plateau around these levels. Totally wrong! My LDL levels continued to plummet during the last 30 days.   My LDL levels went from 130 at the beginning of the study to 58! So now I feel like I need to rethink things…  I had originally decided that I didn’t want to completely eliminate all traces of dairy from my diet – a minimal amount would certainly make keeping this lifestyle a little easier without having a large impact on my physical health.  I think I still believe this, but I will definitely give pause before I opt to eat foods outside of a plant-based diet. Read the rest of this entry »

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Success story of the week: Lindsay!

Posted by Jenn on March 4, 2011


(This week’s success story is a little early, but better than late!)

Meet Lindsay:

Lindsay

 

 

Lindsay Wolf is a Los Angeles-based animal advocate, actress, and founder of Kiss Me, I’m Vegan!, “a blog for the happy vegan in all of us.” KMIV blends Lindsay’s personal vegan journey with the journeys of other vegan superheroes who endlessly inspire her, including interviews with authors Colleen Patrick-Goudreau of Compassionate Cooks, THE Skinny Bitch herself, Rory Freedman and Veganomicon‘s Isa Chandra Moskowitz, as well as Gene Baur of Farm Sanctuary, Jenny Brown of Woodstock Farm Animal Sanctuary and Animal Rights Hall of Fame recipient Zoe Weil. Lindsay has also guest blogged on The Kind Life, Your Daily Vegan, Vegan At Heart, and LeaveItBetter.com, and she’s a regular visitor and fan of Animal Acres Sanctuary in Acton, CA. Check more out at www.kissmeimvegan.com.

The Plant Rx’s Interview with Lindsay!

 


  • What your diet was like before adopting a plant-based diet?

Before I transitioned to a vegan lifestyle, my diet consisted of occasional trips to McDonald’s for midnight double whopper runs. That alone should tell you that I was not at all connected to the food I ate or my health! I definitely didn’t eat whole foods, but rather consumed a lot of processed, “low fat” junk food and animal products – cheese, steak, and ice cream being huge go-to choices, for example. I was completely disconnected from consuming wholesome, healthy food, but rather ate to get to a certain weight or ate from being stressed – not a good way to live, if you ask me. It wasn’t until I went vegan that I ever began to listen to my body to discover what foods I really need on a daily basis – and those foods are a far cry from the double whoppers of the past!

  • Why did you choose to adopt a plant-based diet? (health, animal ethics, environment, etc)

I am doing this 100% for the animals. After witnessing documented animal cruelty back in 2007, I could not in good conscience support a system where, in order to make me a delicious meal, an animal had to suffer, be confined, and die a painful death (you can learn more about my journey into veganism here: http://kissmyvegan.blogspot.com/p/about-me.html). What cemented my decision was the experience of learning that we don’t need animal products to live healthily, which made eating an ice cream sundae just because I liked ice cream not so enjoyable anymore. That’s not to say I don’t eat ice cream – I do now, and plenty of it! I just eat coconut milk-based or soy-based alternatives to my favorite ice cream dishes of the past. They are just as delicious, and no mommy or baby cows had to suffer for my dessert!

  • Was it hard/easy/as you expected?

The first few months were only difficult because I didn’t know how to cook or bake for myself. I had to basically re-teach myself how to make food! Besides that, it was super easy. Since I was choosing to take into account the well being of animals at every meal, I didn’t think twice about turning down a slice of cake when out with friends or butter-topped popcorn at the movies. It was the least I could do to help the world a little each and every day. Over time, I learned how to make my own delicious versions of the foods I used to love, and it got easier and easier with each bite. Now, the thought of ever going back to eating animal products just seems silly to me – I will be a vegan for my entire life, happily and healthily!

  • What changes have you seen as a result of switching; has it changed your life? If so how?

Well, for starters, I have more energy, I’m in better general health, and I actually care about the food I put into my body! Read the rest of this entry »

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Success story of the week: JL

Posted by Jenn on February 28, 2011


A Success story interview with JL!
  • What your diet was like before adopting a plant-based/ vegan diet?

I was on an eight year vegetarian journey before going vegan. I ate most vegetarian (still at fish) for four years and then for four years I ate completely vegetarian.  I ate mostly whole grains, “good fats,” veggies and lots (lots!) of cheese, milk, eggs, milk and tofu.  During these eight years I took up running and triathlon.

  • Why did you chose  to transition/switch (health, animal ethics, environmental reasons)?

I went vegan for dietary reasons.  I wasn’t feeling good (digestion) and had some recurring skin issues.  I went to a nutrition counselor to try a seasonal cleanse. By the end of the cleanse, which omitted whole wheat, dairy, caffeine, alcohol, and sugar, I realized I was an egg away from being vegan. I decided to try a vegan diet.  Several months after going vegan I noticed a shift in my thinking. I say that I became vegan for dietary reasons. I remain vegan for ethical reasons.

  • Was it hard/easy/as you expected, etc to transition?

It was surprisingly easy to begin and maintain a vegan diet!  But it’s because I surround myself with support.  I read vegan blogs religiously. I bought cookbooks.  I follow hundreds of vegans on Twitter.  I’ve never had an unanswered question and I think that it was has been key.

  • What changes have you seen as a result of switching to a plant-based diet? has it changed anything in your life? If so how? Motivated you to do things you hadn’t done in the past? Try new things?
Physically, I feel better than ever.  In addition to eating vegan, I have increased raw foods into my diet. I’m sleeping well, my energy is high and finally some of those nagging skins issues (eczema and candida-ish skin reactions) are subsiding.
But most importantly, I have fallen in love with food. I love preparing healthy, delicious vegan food.  My relationship to food has changed drastically. So much so that this January, when I would normally start my “annual” diet, I decided to simply embrace those 10 pounds that always found me by January 1. I realized that perhaps those 10 pounds were part of me and shouldn’t be banished.  I bought bigger clothes and quit weighing myself on a daily basis.  At 45, I feel free!
  • How do you feel now?

Never better. Seriously.

To read more about JL’s journey, check out her blog:  JL goes Vegan: Food & Fitness with a side of Kale

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Success story of the week: Alicia

Posted by Jenn on February 21, 2011


In Alicia’s words:

Hi, my name is Alicia and in 2008, when I hit my high weight of 299 lbs, my dad Rick, who I never knew, died from diabetes.  He lost both legs, went blind, and finally died of kidney failure. He was 47. Due to my weight my mom always worried about me getting diabetes which runs on both sides of the family. Then when she found out about Rick she was even more concerned, and suddenly so was I.

My cholesterol was high, my sugar was hovering right around ‘dangerously close to becoming diabetic’ and then I quickly dropped about 40 lbs since fear is an absolutely fabulous motivator, but motivation is fleeting. In July of 2009 I went veggie. I wasn’t eating very healthy stuff, boxed veggie burgers and too much pasta and deep-fried veggies. Turns out it’s just as easy to be a fat vegetarian as a fat meat-eater. I spent most of 2010 regaining 28 of the 40 lbs I had lost.

In October of 2010 I realized that although I’ve been in therapy most of my life and I’ve definitely suffered from disordered eating at both ends of the spectrum I had never once discussed food issues in therapy. I realized I was an emotional eater, my health was suffering, I was 30 years old and as much as I wanted to bury that thought of Rick dying so young, it kept popping up that I needed to do something.

Things happened pretty quickly after that. I got sick of the guilt and shame that came with binging at the Chinese buffet on all manner of deep-fried and overly sweet saucy veggie foods. I decided to discuss my disordered eating in therapy. I started back on plan on October 19th. I set a weight loss goal of 32 lbs lost in the first 4 months. By November I was eating a 99% whole foods diet and had stumbled on a blog about the deception of the terms ‘cage free eggs’ and the dairy industry’s part in raising veal.  So in November I went vegan.  Although my main motivating factor in eating a vegan diet is health, it was these few points that drove me from veggie to vegan.

It’s been amazing since I love to cook and it’s forced me to become seriously adventurous in the kitchen. Let’s be honest, no one wants to live on salad and rice packets or veggie burgers forever. I try not to eat things that come in a box with weird ingredients that I can’t pronounce. I love sweet potato spinach curry and I have come up with an amazing alfredo recipe as well (recipe is on my blog).

I’m having a good time learning to cook things in new ways.  People that I cook for are always so shocked that vegan food is delicious, this boggles my mind. I read my grocery list off to my mom once and she said “But what can you make out of that stuff?” “That stuff” she was referring to was mainly veggies, whole grains and beans. Really, this is what it has come to? As a society we have no clue what to do with real food?  Sadness.  Anyhow, I’m having a great time and eating amazing food that tastes great without making me feel miserable and guilty and worst of all, unhealthy.

I reached my first 4 month goal 3.5 weeks early, so I readjusted it from a 32 lb loss to a 37 lb loss. Read the rest of this entry »

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Success Story of the Week: Anastasia

Posted by Jenn on February 5, 2011


My name is Anastasia I. D. Brown, also known as The Veganbetic.  Here’s my story: In 2007, I was diagnosed with Type II diabetes three days after my forty-fifth birthday.  I like to say the warranty ran out. Of course, I knew a little about the disease because I have high blood pressure and hereditary high cholesterol, and for years I’d heard my doctors say that I was heading for trouble because of my lifestyle. I didn’t listen, natch.  I’ve never liked being told what to do.  Who does?

So, all of a sudden (or so it seemed to me), I had this disease, and—hey, presto!—playtime was over. I was a champion eater in my past.  One pound of pasta…I could eat that for dinner with no difficulty.  A pint of Ben and Jerry’s for dessert was easy. And I loved eating like that.  I absolutely adored it. And it was now kaput.

The first thing I learned about managing diabetes is that doing so is a discipline. Anyone here like discipline? Anyone? Bueller? Naaah, didn’t think so. The second thing I learned about diabetes is that the road to managing diabetes through discipline is the same as the road to hell: it’s paved with good intentions. So I bought the books, joined the websites, got my little medical tag to wear around my neck.  But soon I’d backslide, get rebellious, neglect to take my meds, and would fling myself back into the food orgy.  Then the guilt would smack me in the head, I’d resolve to take better care of myself, and for a few months, I’d be the model diabetic patient.  But then the cycle would start-up again.

Here’s the funny thing:  I am a Zen Buddhist.  No, that’s not intrinsically funny—wait; yeah, it is.  Anyway, my particular Zen Buddhist gig consists of pretty much one thing.  It’s called shikantaza, and basically what it means is to Just.  Freakin’.  Sit. And it’s boring.  Unless you do shikantaza, you have no idea just how horrifically boring it really is.  And it’s uncomfortable, you itch, you have to go to the can, your nose runs, and it just all around sucks at times.  Shikantaza makes doing your taxes look entertaining (I was going to write that it makes going to the Department of Motor Vehicles look entertaining, but then I remembered that visiting the DMV is actually a total scream). But if I could sit for a half hour a day and sometimes longer as part of a discipline which really seems to have no point at all whatsoever (that’s right!  No point, kids!), then why the hell couldn’t I take better care of myself as part of a discipline that has some defined goals—things like heading off lovely little issues such as neuropathy, limb amputation, renal failure, and more?

That’s when I realized that diabetes management is not just a discipline, just as shikantaza is not just a discipline.  It’s a practice.  What’s more, it’s a practice that takes practice.  You have to—as RuPaul says—work it, beeotch.

**** So, for the last three and a half years, I’ve been practicing.  And I’ve been getting better at this diabetes thing. About a year ago, I got me some H1N1 and was very sick.  I hadn’t been taking particularly good care of myself at the time, and swine flu made my Type II go to the outer limits.  Diabetics, prepare to faint: my HbA1c was 14.

Yes.  14!

After two months’ recovery (and because I was too sick to eat everything I could get my hands on), my HbA1c dropped to 12.  My poor doctor was almost in hysterics.  I promised him I’d take care of myself. It was about this time that I went to my local Borders and bought a book called Dr. Neal Barnard’s Program For Reversing Diabetes.  Dr. Barnard advocates a vegan diet in this program.  I read the book and was inspired.  And to inspire a wiseass cynic like me takes a lot. I had toyed with vegetarianism and veganism in my past, switching between both from time to time, but always returning to an omnivorous diet.  I had also been a natural foods chef for a number of years, so I was always preparing food for people who didn’t eat meat or any kind of animal products.  To me, going permanently vegan would also take discipline and be a discipline…but, first, it would be a practice that took practice. Read the rest of this entry »

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