So, there I am. Look at me…all of me. Too bad the Sopranos ended. I could have been Gerry Bacala! I’m short, fat, out of shape, and I hardly feeling good about myself. Look at me! I’m a mess. I’m not ashamed to say it. What the hell happened to me? Let me explain.
In December of 2005 I was hired to write for DiseaseProof and that’s exactly how I looked at the time. Hard to believe I was going to be a HEALTH-blogger! When at that time I was eating nothing but pizza, boxed rice, cheese, Chinese food, cookies, bread, candy, butter, and a lot, lot more!
Quite the paradox—to say the least! By day I’m extolling the benefits of the healthiest diet on earth and at night I’m gorging myself on the standard American diet. As someone who prides himself on honesty and integrity, I was hardly living up to my DiseaseProof mantra, but that wasn’t all.
I was also sick and had been for many years. I was plagued by some mysterious illness that landed me in the hospital once or twice a year with agonizing stomach pains. It’d been happening since was thirteen with no end or diagnosis in sight. It was a mystery, and, it was about to get a whole lot worse.
A few weeks after I was hired for DiseaseProof, I again landed in the Emergency Room with severe stomach pains and nausea. There I was, in one of those drafty hospital gowns, hurting, and looking and feeling pathetic. All I could do was sit and absorb the heavy doses of intravenous morphine. I hated it, I hated myself.
My health had hit an all time low, but this time it was different, a diagnosis—AT LAST! A physician’s assistant determined I had gastritis—basically a chronic inflammation of the stomach lining—which wasn’t exactly being helped by my crappy diet. I felt so ashamed. What was I doing with my life?
I’d always eaten healthier than my peers, I was in good shape in college, but there I was being discharged from the ER with a lifetime prescription for Protonix, Zofran, and Sucralfate. The guy who hated taking pills was now being permanently shackled to the pharmacy. I was defeated and depressed.
The depression tore me apart, for over a year I did nothing to improve my health. I stayed fat, took my pills, ate poorly, and didn’t exercise. I kept dragging myself deeper and deeper into my own personal hell. Life sucked! The spunky college kid was gone. I was now…a lump.
But one day I just said ENOUGH! I can’t live like this. Everyday on DiseaseProof I was blogging about healthy eating and living. So why was I killing myself behind the scenes? I couldn’t do it anymore. “Gerry,” I said to myself, “Its time to kick some ass…my ass!”
So, I joined a gym and I started going everyday; running, lifting, and sweating my way to a new me. I also began changing my diet; each day I was inching closer and closer to Dr. Fuhrman’s Eat to Live. Within months I was hell bent on not only losing weight and restoring my health, but going above and beyond the fitness prowess of my college years. Soon, my health and fitness revolution was firing on all cylinders!
Now, many months later, I’m reborn. I’m a total gym rat. I eat tons of fruits, veggies, nuts, seeds, and legumes. I don’t eat any meat or dairy. I cut my hair, shaved my beard, pierced my ear, burned my fat clothes, and changed my look. Just take a look at me now…
That’s the guy I’ve always wanted to be—next to Batman of course—that’s the guy who was frantically trying to claw himself out of the fat-suit I’d eaten myself into. Ultimately that’s the guy who kept pushing me every time I wanted to quit…and stills does today.
At my heaviest I weighed over 240 pounds and as of this morning, I’m a very hunky 178. Ladies and gentlemen, that’s a 62 pound weight-loss! And 12 pounds lighter than my “fit” college weight of 190. Not to mention my flexibility, speed, endurance, stamina, and strength are through the roof. Speaking of strength! All my exercising has definitely helped me pack on some new muscle—pretty cool, right?
In addition to my gym regimen—which includes running, elliptical machines, weightlifting, and lots of abdominal and back work—I’ve also been doing Yoga for over five months now. I LOVE it! Yoga has really helped change my life, both physically and spiritually. Check me out…
Yes, it’s not exactly easy holding yourself in those positions on a brisk and windy November day, especially while your father fumphers with his “new-fangled” digital camera. Yoga pants and a sleeveless shirt do not a warm Gerry make. Speaking of clothes!
Okay, at my worst my pants size was fast approaching a 40 waist. At 5’5 and with a pants length of 30—that’s INSANE! Any fatter and my jeans would’ve been square. But now, I’m swimming in a 33 waist, and, I wear fitted jeans, no more “relaxed-fit” for me!
As for shirts, I used to wear large, but now I fit comfortably into form-fitting medium. Which—and not to toot my own horn—is great because I’ve got a decent build and don’t mind showing it off a bit. Ding, Ding, Ding! Dinner’s ready. Come and get it ladies! Growl!
Clearly, my self esteem is also much improved. Honestly, I feel like I could conquer the world. My smart-alecky wit is super-charged, my natural intensity and grittiness is back, and my zest for life and challenge has been renewed! In fact, this past Thanksgiving I ran my first 5K, that’s 3.1 miles. Here’s a picture of me in the runners pack:
Sorry it’s so tiny, but I’m short—unfortunately a nutrient-dense diet can’t fix that! Now, my goal for the race was to finish around 25 minutes; maybe a little more, maybe a little less. In the end, I completed the course in 27 minutes and 17 seconds and I never stopped once. Mission accomplished!
Honestly, I’m shocked enough that I’m doing Yoga, but running? Running has never been my strength. I’m dense, built like a tank—me run? Please! No, seriously. Its piece of cake! I’m a running machine. On and off the treadmill I run about 12-15 miles every week.
As for my diet, I’m now a card-carrying Eat to Liver. I eat my fruits and veggies. I only consume a little low-contamination fish each month. Hardly eat any salt, sweets, bread, rice, or pasta. I avoid dairy like the plague and eating this way is delicious and I NEVER go hungry.
And the best part of all…I’m still losing weight. I’m not sure where I’ll level off, but I’m eager to find out. Although having to buy new pants every few months is a drag, but as much as I hate shopping. It’s a problem I’m happy to have. In fact, very soon I’ll be a size 32 waist, my smallest ever!
Now, a big part of my learning to Eat to Live comes from doing Eating to Live on the Outside. If you follow the series from start until present, you’ll see my diet sensibilities have changed. I went from a casual healthy-eater to downright anal about it—I can be very intense.
But to be honest, that’s the fun part. Learning to eat greatly has helped me discover lots of healthy restaurants; like Just Salads, The Natural Café, Counter, Down to Earth, and my favorite hotspot, Sacred Chow. Feast your eyes on this…
I told you, I really do eat at the places I review—being a guinea pig is underrated—and that’s why I do it folks. My hope is that in some small way I’m doing my part to inspire all of you to stay healthy and encourage others to Eat to Live!
Granted, Dr. Fuhrman—or Joel as I call him—is my boss. It’s his agenda I’m paid to promote, but I’m no mercenary. Just like all of you, I’ve been exposed to all kinds of diets and gimmicks and as coincidence would have it. Dr. Fuhrman’s approach makes the most sense to me.
Sure, you can take that with a grain of salt and I doubt I’ll ever convince the skeptics, but I’ll tell you something about me. My biggest flaw is I’m honest to a fault—just ask all my ex-girlfriends—I wear my heart on my sleeve. When I say something I mean it. I’m no shill. I’m just me, Gerry.
And Gerry is not afraid to put himself out there. Again, being a guinea pig can be a lot of fun. Now, about a week ago Dr. Fuhrman took my blood and ordered some tests. Sadly, I didn’t think about doing my “success story” beforehand, so we don't have any old results to compare them to, but nevertheless, Dr. Fuhrman suggested I flaunt my cholesterol numbers. Here they are…
Dr. Fuhrman was more than pleased with all of my results, but especially these. And I’ve got to be honest. I am really proud of myself. I’m healthy as a horse, feeling physically fit, and mentally rejuvenated, but as I just explained, I wasn’t always like this. Just ask my friend and mentor Henry Abbott of ESPN TrueHoop fame. Take it away Henry…
Oh man. When I first met Gerry, he was a smart guy. He was a hard-working guy. And he was a friendly guy. But was not what you'd call an "athletic" guy.You might remember Henry. He was actually DiseaseProof’s first blogger and he’s the dude who hired me to write for blog. So if you don’t like my stuff you’ve got him to blame. Just kidding Henry! Thanks for your ongoing support and infinite wisdom.
But man, things have changed. He's so skinny and buff and all that that it's almost hard to remember that he didn't always go for a run, or to the gym, for fun.
Now, at first I thought it’d be cliché to ask Dr. Fuhrman to comment on my newfound health, but, I slept on it and figured what the hell. So, with out any further ado, here’s Dr. Fuhrman pulling no punches and boy does he let me have it…
Okay, so Henry introduces me to this overweight comedian who is going to write for me. Yeah right, I'm thinking to myself, he'd be more in his element writing for Pizza King or Burger Hut. Reminds me of all those cardiologists and other specialists who say to me, "Yeah, that might work for you, but none of my patients would ever do that."Let me point out. I actually asked Dr. Fuhrman to be very snarky in his comment. I figured the sappy success story thing was too played out—so this was perfect! This is exactly the kind of tough-talk a guy like me thrives on. Thanks Joel. As I always say, you da’ man!
I'm thinking, just because you don't see the tremendous personal benefits and enhanced enjoyment in life from eating healthy, you assume none of your patients would want to forgo bypass surgery, dialysis and dementia and learn about a great tasting disease-protective, disease-reversing, life extending diet-style.
Yet, I did almost the same thing with Gerry. I figured, about one chance in a hundred I am going to convince this junk-food addicted guy that healthful eating is worth the benefits, I thought to myself. Was I wrong! You can never sum people up and assume anything; they all deserve your best shot.
Alright, its one thing when a friend and a boss tell you you’ve done good, but its something special when it comes from your mother. I mean come on! I’m an Italian guy from Jersey, oh course I’m a mama’s boy! Here’s what my mom had to say about me now…
The first words that come to mind when I look at you now is, happy and confident.This from the women who used to scold me with a wooden spoon and then seconds later would tearfully apologize for doing it. Love you mom! But seriously, happy and confident? At my most unhealthy I was neither one of those things—far from it in fact. Those words are great to hear and they’re doubly sweet coming from my mom. Thanks mommy.
Don’t worry folks. I won’t close on a sappy note, but I will say this. When you’re feeling down and out, when it feels like life is chewing you up and spitting you out. You got to show teeth. Don’t go quietly. Don’t give in. Don’t let the standard American diet or anything else ruin your life. Don’t be another sad statistic.
Knuckle up! Put your nose to the grindstone and kick some ass. That’s what I did. Whether I’m running a 5k, attempting a difficult Yoga pose, or scanning an unfriendly restaurant menu for SOMETHING Fuhrman-friendly, I know I’ve got what it takes to live healthfully, and so do you! Keep Eating to Live my friends and thanks for letting me share my story.
I’ll be around all day to answer your questions and respond to comments. Please don’t hold back. Anything you want to know, just ask. Oh! And don’t worry. Tomorrow DiseaseProof will be back to normal; with all the news, tips, and smart-alecky remarks you can handle. Peace.