Interview with a Nutritarian: Terry

For years, Terry, a former high school and college athlete, could “eat anything” and work it off with lots of exercise through sports.  However, in his late twenties, the weight began to pile on as his social eating and drinking increased, and his exercise decreased.  The once fit athlete ballooned into an obese and unhealthy, middle-aged guy who felt miserable. Thankfully, a mutual friend and vegan proponent, Heather Mills, posed a challenge to Terry to get his health back and introduced him to Dr. Fuhrman. The rest is history. He’s now more than half way through the challenge, and it has changed more than just his medical stats.  Welcome to Disease Proof, Terry.

                      collegiate and middle aged male             

Tell us about yourself and how you decided to take the plunge to get your health back?

For more than a decade I’ve been overweight and unhappy with how I’ve looked and felt. I’ve wanted to lose 75 lbs to get down to what I weighed when I played collegiate rugby. I grew up playing sports and ate lots of high fat food, but never had a potbelly until I was twenty-five; and even then, when rugby season would start, I could always run it off. However, by the time I was thirty I was a heavy drinker and hardly exercised anymore. My career as an advertising executive in Manhattan requires dining out with clients late into the night as a significant part of my job. There seemed to be no end to my disease promoting lifestyle. Two years ago, when I turned forty, I thought I was a hopeless case. I didn’t think I’d ever be fit, active or happy again like I was in my early twenties.

Heather posed a challenge for me to go vegan for six months to see what effect it would have on my weight, blood pressure and cholesterol. She wanted me to do it “right” so she introduced me to Dr. Fuhrman, who took the challenge a step further. He wanted me to focus on eating high nutrient vegetation for optimal health, and become a nutritarian for life.     

At first I thought Heather’s idea was crazy, because I loved meat and cheese; and it was even suggested that I give up alcohol! She offered to provide the food for six months and arrange monthly check-ups with Dr. Fuhrman if I would write a blog about the experience. After thinking about the challenge for many weeks, I decided to go for it. By this time, I had tipped the scales at 302 lbs [6’4”].  
   
I started the six month quest with 100% gusto on November 1, 2009; just as I was entering my favorite eating and drinking season of the year. A couple of days prior I had my first consultation with Dr. Fuhrman and he laid it on the line just like a coach would, and Eat to Live became the playbook.


How did you feel before committing to Eat to Live? 

I was tired all the time, and it was a struggle to perform even the simplest of tasks such as bending over to tie my shoes or climb a flight of stairs. However, even though I was obese, I didn’t look more than 50 lbs overweight and I lived a “normal” life. I could still fit in airplane seats and was never in want of a date; therefore, I ignored my extremely unhealthy body. I thought I ate relatively healthy and didn’t consider myself to be a junk food addict. For those rare times that I did look in the mirror and become shocked at my size, I would order a giant steak, creamed spinach, bottle of wine, and a few Scotches to make me happy again. 

I naively assumed that if I just cut back on food intake and exercised more that I could achieve my weight loss goal; however, Dr. Fuhrman quickly set me straight. I was surprised to learn that my steaks with creamed spinach and 12” subs were junk food; causing my cholesterol to be dangerously over 300! When Dr. Fuhrman stated, "We got you just in time," I knew it was not a hyperbole. My life was truly at risk

              

What's happened to your body so far?

By the eighth day of following Eat to Live, I had lost 12 lbs and within six weeks my cholesterol dropped an incredible 100 points! I’ve lost 41 lbs in the last 3½ months, and feel great and closer to “normal” again. My body is now conditioned to enjoy healthy food. I love this new way of eating! 

                 before and after obese male

 Are others noticing changes about you? 

Yes, someone recently commented, “I didn’t know you had a chin!” My girlfriend said that my skin looks healthier and more alive, and friends from years ago now see the same person they first met. However, the biggest change that others notice is my attitude. I was never without a drink and luscious spread of food, and now I’m surprising everyone. Many are encouraged and motivated because I’m the last person in the world they’d ever expect to see change eating and drinking habits. Now, the common response is, “If Terry can do it, I certainly can!”


Do you have any success tip(s) that you’d like to share with others in their journey to health?

  • Yes, be selfish.  In my case, I love to write, and the prospect of documenting this journey through a blog seemed irresistible. I told everyone I met that I was going on this radical quest to lose 75 lbs., and that I would be writing about it daily. [It’s easy to set up a blog. If you tell everyone about it, and commit to writing about your journey, you are under pressure to stick with it!]
  • Also I looked at the weight loss challenge as a sporting event. I’m competitive. I love to win. My ego was at stake because if I lost, I would not only be losing to myself, I would be losing to my doubters, and that got my competitive juices flowing!

 

Any final thoughts to share? 

  • Just because you feel "fine" doesn’t mean your cholesterol is not life threatening.
  • Just because you can still buy clothes “off the rack", or fit in an airplane seat, doesn’t mean you’re not dangerously obese.
  • Just because people love you, doesn’t mean you should ignore poor health and not do something about it.

     

Almost daily I hear the words of Dr. Fuhrman echo in my head, "We got you just in time." 

 

Terry has 2 ½ months left of his six month quest to get his health back. I’ll check in with him on the victor’s platform in a few months! In the meantime, check out his blog.  [By the way, since eating out with clients is a big part of his career, he uses his blog to encourage others, like himself, who are committed to eating for health while living in a big city full of challenging temptations.]

Congratulations Terry ~ we are cheering for you! 

 

Are You a Food Addict?

  • Do you enjoy eating a fresh mango or juicy slice of cantaloupe?
  • Do you get excited over the taste of seasoned bok choy with roasted garlic and shiitake mushrooms simmered in carrot juice?
  • Do you look forward to some steamed greens, zucchini, beets, and onions poured over a bowl of warm lentils, currants and sun dried tomatoes?
  • Do you enjoy sweet peppers, red onions, sliced plantain, and shredded carrots in your salads?  Doesn’t a dressing made from blueberries, cashews and a little blueberry vinegar poured over sound good?

  • When cherry tomatoes have ripened on the vine, do you pop the delicious  morsels into your mouth like you used to pop in junk food?  And, feel good that you enjoy the health giving sustenance from nature? 

 

If you don’t genuinely enjoy eating nutrient rich foods, it’s a telltale sign that you have not broken free from toxic food addiction.

If eating for health is a burden, but you force yourself to do it anyway to lose weight or survive; or because you know it’s better than the alternative of premature death, then you are still held captive to the standard American diet.  You are a food addict.  Most likely, when no one is around, or when the food is right there in your vicinity, you make excuses to yourself and eat toxic foods at almost every opportunity.

Many people have trouble breaking free.  For them they need a prolonged period of abstinence to conquer their perverted cravings for destructive food.  Like any drug addiction, in order to be free from food addiction and its all-consuming cravings, you have to abstain from the toxic American diet for a full 8 – 12 weeks, no matter what. 

If you do not strictly follow nutritarian eating for at least that amount of time, your taste buds will never adapt, and consequently you’ll never get to the point that you prefer eating natural, healthy food.   

You have to put in the time of abstinence up front to get the results.  If you’re always jumping back and forth due to toxic cravings, you won’t build the strength and sensitivity in the taste buds that make natural foods so delicious.

In other words, just do it!

You can’t live with one leg in nutritarian eating and one leg in standard American (self-destructive) eating.  It just won’t work, and you’ll miss the wonderful privilege of living in freedom from food addiction and enjoying optimal health.  Yes, there’s a seemingly sacrificial price to pay up front because cravings can be strong and withdrawal symptoms can be uncomfortable, but these disappear shortly and the results will pay you back a hundred fold for the rest of your life!  

Stephanie and Carol's Progress Updates

It’s time to check in with Stephanie as she continues the journey to get her health back. I’m also going to include an update on Carol, who committed to Dr. Fuhrman’s high nutrient eating-style this past July. Welcome back to Disease Proof ladies!

portraits of a woman

Stephanie hit a weight loss plateau, and is the first to admit that she was “testing her limits.” She learned a valuable lesson: one cannot mix nutrient dense foods and the standard American diet together and get results. She realized that old habits die hard, and that rationalizing poor food choices is unproductive to optimal health.  

Stephanie also realized that she LIKES feeling healthy and has been craving exercise for the first time in her life. She’s been feeling better about herself every month.

“My nursing classes started again in January, and for the first time as an adult, I’m able to fit into a [classroom] desk!  I've started wearing make-up because I’ve started caring about how I look again. I actually find pleasure in taking care of myself now.  This month I smiled at myself in the mirror ... SINCERELY ... I have never been able to look at myself without shame and disgust.”

   

                               images of a woman

Carol is thrilled to be down 88 lbs now since July. Her waist has decreased a total of eight inches so far, and she describes her size 20 pants as “roomy.” She can’t wait to get below 200 lbs next! 

Lately, she’s been noticing that her complexion is smoother from eating lots of high nutrient foods, and someone commented that she looks younger than her actual age. Her favorite smoothie is comprised of blueberries, strawberries, a banana, spinach and a teaspoon of cinnamon.  

Carol says she feels so GOOD, and is excited to be increasing in stamina each month. She’s even started using exercise equipment for workouts a couple times a week! 

 

Stephanie and Carol, we are cheering for both of you!