Interview with a Nutritarian: Marty

Marty is your typical, middle-aged male that knew his health was precarious, but he was living in denial of the seriousness of it. Being a Store Team Leader for a Whole Foods Market he wanted to become a better leader by getting a grasp on healthy eating so he signed up to attend one of Dr. Fuhrman’s week-long Health Immersions for Whole Foods team members. His decision to attend was mostly a professional one for the betterment of his career, but he did have a slightly personal goal to lose some weight in the process also. He wanted to lead by example; not just have a bunch of head knowledge. However, he discovered a shocking surprise at the Health Immersion. Welcome to Onlyourhealth, Marty.

  

What was your life like before attending the Health Immersion?

I was 41-years-old and had reached my highest weight of 286 lbs. (5’9”) last spring.  Even when I was obese I was a happy person; I had a great family, wife, and job, but I was clueless about my health. I played sports all the time, even when I was that heavy. I was on a soft ball team and was embarrassed to be an obese athlete and so out of shape. I clearly recall one game where I was running to first base and suddenly became out of breath. I thought, “What’s happened that I’ve let myself get this out of shape? I can’t believe I’ve let myself go this far.”  

I attributed my declining fitness to working sixty hours a week at a sedentary desk job. I never made any connection to the food that I was putting into my body. My body ached all over, and I was lethargic and thirsty all the time so I’d drink a six-pack of caffeinated soda every day. The caffeine caused sleep deprivation which created a vicious cycle of fatigue and the need for more stimulation to keep me awake during the day.   I started having blurred vision, but associated all the negative symptoms in my life to “old age” creeping up on me. I never liked to go to doctors so I had no idea that my health was rapidly deteriorating. 

 

What happened that changed your life around?

On the first day of the Health Immersion my blood was drawn. A short time later the nurse sat down with me, and looked at me straight in the eyes and asked, “Do you realize that you have diabetes?”

At first I was shocked to hear those words, but then I had an “ah ha” moment. I instantly made the connection: unquenchable thirst, blurred vision, and overwhelming fatigue. My younger brother had been diagnosed with diabetes just a few years earlier and everything made sense to me in that moment. All of a sudden attending the Health Immersion became very personal to me. Then I found out that I had hypertension too. My blood pressure was 156/96 and that was shocking as well! I was also told that due to my  declining health numbers and body fat percentage that I had the biological age equivalent to a 72-year-old! 

The events of that morning were my wake-up call. The denial had ended, and I suddenly had a piqued interest to learn all the information that Dr. Fuhrman was going to be presenting that week. I was no longer there just to learn information to better my profession, but to save my life. I felt like I had just heard the worst news of my life, yet I had won the lottery at the same time! I realized that I had this incredible opportunity in front of me to change and be in control of my future health, and I accepted the challenge!  

 

How do you feel now?

I’m down to 205 lbs. so far, and I feel AMAZING! My fasting blood sugars are between 70 – 80, and my blood pressure averages around 105/70 with absolutely no medications!  My body doesn’t hurt anymore, and I’m no longer tired and thirsty all the time.   I have energy for the first time in years.  The guys on my soft ball team are continually amazed at my progress, and I’m a totally different person because I feel so good now. I no longer have shortness of breath, and people who haven’t seen me in the past six months don’t even recognize me anymore!

 

What success tips do you have to share?

 

  • Don’t be ignorant and in denial of poor health. If you are continually tired, thirsty, and/or have shortness of breath, go to a doctor and get a diagnosis as soon as possible. Don’t put it off. 

  • Knowledge is power. You can change your health destiny. I am the same, happy man that I was before, but now I’m much healthier and in control of my life. If you follow Dr. Fuhrman’s program you can fix your health issues and be off medications. It will save your life!

  • “Good things will come to those who wait”. It took me two months of eating nutritarian foods before I enjoyed them. I fought it. I did not enjoy eating unsalted food, or vegetables, and I did not like giving up sodas. It took two months for my taste buds to change. It was tough, but I discovered that you have to give eating this way a chance. You can’t give up if you want to see results. If you stick with it, and don’t go back to old habits, you will eventually enjoy it! I love eating this way now!

   

Congratulations Marty on winning the lottery of discovering the way to excellent health ~ keep up the great job! You are an inspirational role model to many!

Does It Really Hurt?

by Kathleen Callahan 

I've been thinking of that a lot since my battle with a packet of graham crackers in the nurses’ lounge yesterday. As I stood in front of the bin of crackers, willing my hands to stay by my side and my feet to walk out the door, that old, familiar, time-honored voice whispered in my ear, "Just this once won't hurt." Would it? I mean, really, in the grand caloric scheme of things, I'd had a beautiful lower-calorie nutritarian day. How much damage could a hundred calories really do? I'm sure if I'd had the graham crackers and stepped on the scale today, I'd still have lost weight.

Graham crackers. Flickr: Sterlic

Here's what I've figured out. Just this once wouldn't have hurt at all. In fact, it would have felt darn good, especially when whatever empty dopamine receptors I had that were crying out for a hit got that first blast of the sugar/salt/processed combo that brings such a sweet release. How many of us have felt it? You're at the church supper, eyeing a gorgeous piece of pie. You're out to dinner with friends, perusing the menu, trying to convince yourself that you're going to order the salad with broccoli and lemon wedges instead of the fettuccini alfredo . You're trying with everything you've got to avoid the cabinet that holds your husband's stash of Doritos. Most people sharing space with you at that moment would have no idea of the epic battle going on inside you as you ferociously and desperately debate yourself over your upcoming food choice. Sometimes we win that battle, and sometimes we don't. We may reach for the pie, smile at the person standing next to us, and  say, "Oh, well. Just this once won't hurt." And, it doesn't. If anything, it brings on a full-body wave of release. We actually sigh out loud sometimes with the bliss of it. Our shoulders drop as our muscles drain of tension.

Our eyes may even glaze over a bit as we go to our happy food place where our taste buds sing and our heart soars. Dopamine, after all, is the very same chemical that is released when we fall in love.

So, it's true, then. Just this once really doesn't hurt at all. In fact, it feels really good. However, when I close my eyes and picture myself having that bite of pie followed by the full-body melt, it's hard not to also imagine the images we've seen of crack addicts in the movies. Just picture the wild-eyed, jonesing addict on the floor, leaning up against the dirty wall of the crack house, tourniquet tight around her upper arm. She inserts the needle into her vein, pushes the plunger, and we see that same body melt, the same release, the same eye glazing we ourselves get when we eat the pie.

Aren't we so very fortunate that our addiction is socially sanctioned, that it takes place in clean, sparkly church halls, restaurants, and our very own kitchens? Aren't we lucky that we don't have to hide in dirty alleys to get our fixes? And, isn't it incredibly tragic that we share the same exact sort of dopamine-craving, soul-crushing, health-destroying compulsion that the crack addict does? My heart just breaks and my eyes fill to think of the enormity of it.

Just this once doesn't hurt. But, here's what does: The next day, when we're standing in front of the bin of graham crackers and doing battle yet again with the craving, we have no rational reason to avoid them. After all, we already know that once won't hurt. We proved it to ourselves the day before. Physiologically, we've primed our dopamine receptors to look for the blast of dopamine that comes from our fix. We all know it's awfully hard to fight biology. We tell ourselves we don't want the crackers as our hands are tearing the packet open and our mouths are watering in anticipation.

Here's what else hurts. Not only are we eating crackers every day now, but we're also eating a bagel with butter in the morning. And, because we're feeling so tired and drained from a lack of nutrients, we're too tired to cook when we get home, so we're grabbing take-out. And, then we see the scale nudge up in the wrong direction. Because here is a universal truth—our minds can be fooled by our addictive brain, but our bodies cannot. We can tell ourselves that we won't gain weight just by treating ourselves every now and then, but our bodies will always tell us the truth.

And this hurts, too: We feel demoralized. We feel weak. We feel desperate, and let's face it, we feel terrified. We may have the specter of serious health problems looming over us. We may have watched a loved one die of their addiction and like Scrooge, feel we've been shown a vision of our future by the Ghost of Things Yet to Come. Anyone who's lain in bed at night with a head full of visions of diabetes and heart disease knows exactly what I'm talking about.

But, does it have to be this way? Are we destined to die in the back alleys of our clean lives? I suppose it's preferable to die in a sterile hospital rather than in a dirty crack house, but must this be our only choice? I don't think so. I believe with all of my heart that we can change our futures. We've all seen people on Dr. Fuhrman’s blog and website do it. We've read of our Fuhrman forum friends beating heart disease, holding cancer at bay, ditching the insulin and cholesterol meds. We know of people who run marathons in their 80s. We know of others who were reborn after losing a hundred pounds. Why can't this be us, too? It can, my friend, it can.

Here's what I learned yesterday: resisting that graham cracker was an incredibly painful experience. It caused me far more pain than eating it would have. I mean, the pain was truly visceral. I swear every cell in my body felt it. But, you know what? When I walked out to my car after work last night, I felt triumphant. I felt victorious. My belly felt blissfully content from the gorgeous homemade harvest soup I'd fed it. And, I knew that I was one step closer to breaking that devilish food addiction once and for all. For me, that kind of intense pain is worth it.

It's tricky for us, because unlike the crack addict who decides to go clean, we cannot avoid our crack houses. There will always be church suppers, restaurant outings, and, yes, even our own kitchens. There will be Super Bowls, birthdays, Mother's Day, the Fourth of July. And after the summer, we've got that sugar-orgy holiday of Halloween with Thanksgiving and Christmas following right on its heels. How will you navigate your way through these dangerous waters? Will you go for the addict's release, or will you fight for your life? Will you fight for your family, so that unlike my dad, you won't leave them with an empty chair at the Thanksgiving table and steal from them the chance to hear your voice say that you are thankful to be alive and thankful for them?

I know what choice I'll make  from now on.  I will take care of this one body I've been gifted with. After all, I can't turn it in every few years for a new one. It requires my love and protection if I am to live free of addiction and disease. 

 

Image credit: Flickr - Sterlic

Interview with a Nutritarian: Talia Fuhrman

Talia Fuhrman, the oldest daughter of Dr. and Mrs. Fuhrman, may possibly be one of only a handful of young adults in the US that has now been eating high-nutrient foods since birth. I thought it would be motivational to interview Talia, age 25, not only to inspire the young people of America, but also to encourage all the parents who are doing their best to raise children to eat for health in a culture that promotes just the opposite.

 

What was it like for you growing up in a home that had ample selections of delicious and healthy foods to eat at all times?

As bad as the American obesity and disease epidemic is today, times were certainly different when I was a child and a teenager. These days people know what a vegan means, more people are vegetarians and overall, we are seeking the birth of an increasingly health-conscious America. When I was younger, my family was an odd anomaly in our community of standard American eaters. My feelings about living in this healthy-eating environment evolved over time and became so much more positive as I grew from my childhood and into my early teens.

I definitely felt different from my peers! It would be impossible not to feel different when my parents were preparing cashew cream kale for dinner and zucchini filled “brownies” in my lunches when my friends were opening boxes of cookies and obsessing over their Lunchables lunch boxes and Lucky Charms cereal. Prior to middle school, I wanted to be like my friends and would beg my parents to have the pizza served on Fridays at my school’s cafeteria and cake at birthday parties. Fights with my parents about food often occurred at home, but they allowed me to have some of my favorite “junk foods” like pretzels at the mall and pizza at school every now and then. If they had been too strict and didn’t allow me to eat any conventional foods, I think this would have put a dent in our relationship as I grew older.

I did absolutely love the foods my parents made for me at home and I didn’t feel deprived with the plentiful selection of healthy fruits and vegetables, and it was only in social settings that I desired to be like my friends and eat what they were eating. As a child, some of my favorite foods were strawberry banana “ice cream” made with frozen bananas and soymilk, and sweet potatoes mashed with coconut milk and cinnamon. I loved organic strawberries and I have vivid memories of running around our living room while eating lettuce leaves. When my dad began preparing homemade date-nut balls, which he now sells on DrFuhrman.com as “date-nut pop’ems,” that was a very good day.

 

What did your parents do to help you make the transition into social settings away from home?

They taught me why it was important to eat healthy foods and the negative consequences of eating junk foods. My parents did a good job of teaching me that their desire for me to eat healthy foods was out of love for me and wanting me to be a healthy person. Once I was old enough to make my own eating choices, they let me make my own decisions in social settings. I never went to a birthday party in which my parents wouldn’t let me have a slice of pizza or piece of cake if I wanted it, and if I decided to make a poor eating choice, I was taught that I would be the one to pay the price with a stomach ache, runny nose or feeling ill.

 

What were the teen years like for you? 

Understandably, my teenage years were very different from those of my childhood. I matured and took it upon myself to read and educate myself about nutrition and had no desire to eat the same foods as my peers. I packed my own school lunches filled with hearty salads and whole-wheat avocado, hummus sandwiches, for instance. I was the girl who ate dried persimmons and macadamia nuts for lunch and I wouldn’t have it any other way. I never dealt with weight gain, fatigue or acne and always had energy.      

 

Tell us about your young adult years. Why did you pursue an undergraduate degree in Nutritional Sciences from Cornell, and why are you now working so hard to develop a blog for young people? 

Throughout my life, I had exposure to seeing how what we eat affects the quality of our lives; not simply whether or not we will get cancer in our later years, but how we feel on a daily basis. I spent my childhood and teens hanging out in my dad’s office where I got to meet patients who got rid of debilitating health conditions by committing to the nutritarian lifestyle. My passion for nutrition and living a healthy lifestyle blossomed when I was a teenager from the combination of seeing these success stories and my innate love of science.

When I was a freshman in college, I did go through a doubtful phase and questioned whether or not I would get sick of studying nutrition. I pursued a few other career choices but none of them gave me as much satisfaction as studying nutrition. I am passionate about helping people get healthier and never suffer from pain due to avoidable health conditions, and this is why I am developing a blog for a younger audience. The teen years and our 20s are when we start to form our lifestyle and eating habits that we will take with us into adulthood.

My goal for the blog is to foster a positive community in which healthy eating is fun and learning about nutrition isn’t boring. I want to provide all the information that I know about nutrition to a younger audience in a way that is easy to understand, enjoyable, and even stylish. My dream is that living a healthy lifestyle will become what younger people will want to do because it makes them feel good, and because they can have fun with it too. It’s not as difficult as most people think to make smart, health promoting eating choices. Yet, teens and young adults I’ve encountered are totally in the dark, and have no idea they are laying the groundwork for their future health with that they eat today. The first step will be to have the knowledge about which foods are good for us and why it’s important to consume them. After that, people just need to learn how to prepare tasty meals that incorporate these foods. It can become a creative process of trial and error and a rewarding one too. My blog will have easy to prepare, tasty recipes to help people get started in making meals and desserts that are both healthy and delicious as well as nutrition advice that is written in a fun and youthful way. 

 

Thank you Talia ~ we wish you all the best and can’t wait to see what unfolds in the days and years ahead!  To view Talia’s blog click here

 

 

image credit: portrait by Esther Boller

 

 

 

 

 

 

Interview with a Nutritarian: Carrie

I first got to know Carrie and follow her health and weight loss progress through Dr. Fuhrman’s Member Center when she joined the first Holiday Challenge back in 2010. Then this past summer I met her in person at Dr. Fuhrman’s Health Getaway on Amelia Island. Carrie’s skin just glowed, and she was the epitome of vibrant health and fitness! One would never have known that just two years prior she was overweight and suffering from multiple ailments. Welcome to Onlyourhealth, Carrie.

 

What was your life like before discovering Dr. Fuhrman’s nutritarian eating-style?

I remember being a sick child, always getting colds which forced me to stay home from school a lot, and I wasn’t any healthier as an adolescent or young adult. By the time I turned 35, I was a mess: overweight and suffering from chronic migraines, allergies and anxiety, not to mention that I would get sick anytime I went on an airplane.

The last straw for me was when my migraines got so bad that I was taking prescription medication and over-the-counter painkillers every afternoon and living in fear of the pain. I could not keep up with my husband or friends nor could I make plans for my future because I was so debilitated by headaches. When I asked my doctor about my options, his only suggestion was for me to consider taking an anti-seizure medication that had been shown to help people with migraines; he never said anything about improving my diet. Fortunately, I discovered Dr. Fuhrman before I began taking them.

 

How did you find out about Dr. Fuhrman and Eat to Live?

I had already switched to a vegan diet prior to discovering Dr. Fuhrman because I was concerned about animal welfare. I listened to a podcast by Colleen Patrick-Goudreau who mentioned Dr. Fuhrman and his book. I was intrigued by his nutrition-based approach to health issues so I asked a friend to give me the book for my upcoming birthday. Little did I realize that reading Eat to Live would be the turning point in my life. I felt so inspired by the section on recovering from headaches that I joined the Holiday Challenge 2010 that was about to begin.

Those first 6 weeks were tough. Although I thought I was eating a healthy diet because I was vegan, I still had tons of changes to make. I cut out caffeine, quadrupled my intake of greens and other vegetables, ate more fresh fruits, got rid of salt and cut way back on added sugars. My husband joined me and ended up experiencing his own health transformation, losing 40 pounds and getting off of two blood pressure medications.

 

How do you feel now?

 I feel better now than I have in my entire life. All my unhealthy eating for all those years, and perhaps combined with environmental exposures, resulted in my being diagnosed with thyroid cancer last year; a slow growing cancer that I could’ve had for more than ten years. I don’t know if I would’ve pulled through so easily if it wasn’t for my new eating habits. I came though that experience with flying colors, and the cancer was small and completely removed. My doctors could not believe how quickly I recovered from surgery. My migraines, allergies and anxiety are distant memories, but I will never forget how far I'e come, and I am so grateful to Dr. Fuhrman for giving me my life back.

 

Do you have any success tips to share?

Preparation is an absolute. I know that the time I spend on the front end will benefit me on the back end, so I often wake up early to cook beans, prep vegetables or make a salad dressing. I also make sure to freeze leftovers so I don’t get caught without foods during those inevitable busy times when I don’t have time to cook.

My husband wanted me to share his tip for getting rid of the salt shaker and that is to use balsamic vinegar or fresh lemon juice on meals; it is amazing how the acidity brightens up the flavor of natural foods.

 

In a nutshell, what has nutritarian eating done for you?

My life now revolves around promoting a whole foods, high-nutrient eating style. I am almost finished with a master’s degree in public health nutrition and I write a blog called Carrie on Vegan where I discuss my journey.

While the numbers speak for themselves, they can’t begin to capture the extent of my personal transformation. I feel like I am living my life to the fullest because I have the energy and freedom from pain to do so.

 

 

Before

After

Weight

138

113

Total Cholesterol

224

165

LDL Cholesterol

102

79

Triglycerides

123

47

Migraines

 

gone

Allergies

 

gone

Anxiety

 

gone

 

Thank you for sharing your story with us Carrie, and all the best of continual health to you!