Disease Proof

Successful People Aren't Born that Way


“Successful people aren’t born that way.  They become successful by establishing the habit of doing things unsuccessful people don’t like to do.  The successful people don’t always like these things themselves; they just get on and do them.”  - author unknown

composite pic of weight loss success stories

For over three years I’ve interviewed those who’ve been successful at getting their health back through nutritarian eating.  As an interviewer I get the unique opportunity to hear the "rest-of-the-story" that often doesn’t make it to Disease Proof.  I’ve discovered a few common threads among all of them; in fact, not just their stories, but also those from the member center of DrFuhrman.com who’ve also successfully earned health back.  The following are a few commonalities:


  • Each successful nutritarian made time to thoroughly study and understand the science behind Dr. Fuhrman’s nutritional recommendations in his books, teleconferences, TV programs, and articles.  That was a given. 


  • Success had nothing to do with their economic status, nationality, education, social standing, professional training, or career choice.  It had nothing to do with past childhood memories or dysfunctions, or lack thereof.  And it had nothing to do with religious backgrounds or affiliations.  A key component to their success was their mindsets; what they understood and believed to be true, and then acting upon that truth.  They no longer accepted the belief system of the status quo; the moderation myth from physicians, counselors, influential leaders, friends. co-workers, or relatives that eating for health was extreme, or that "just one bite won't hurt."  Instead, they understood that bypass surgery, paralysis from strokes, cancers, leg amputations, and a myriad of other diseases were totally preventable and extreme.  They no longer felt sorry for themselves, or allowed others to feel sorry for them for choosing health over disease.  And thus, as their minds were changed, their bodies transformed as a result.  


  • They each had a desperate tenacity to hold fast to earning health back, no matter what.  This steadfast resolve caused them to do things that weren’t necessarily pleasant and easy at the time, but they did it anyway.  For instance, Scott, who lost 333 lbs, started riding a bike at 501 lbs.  He lived in Minnesota and that first winter he rode in minus 43 degree weather.  No excuses.  Isabel, a die-hard people pleaser, was sick of being depressed, tired, and ashamed to be seen in public due to obesity.  She finally got desperate enough and chose to put her health before pleasing others; regardless of what anyone thought.  No excuses.


"Once the determined individual has their mind made up and fully committed to let nothing stand in their way, they can break off the chains of addiction.  It only takes that one firm decision and to make it work no matter how difficult it may be in the beginning.  The problem is compounded when people have a hundred excuses to feel sorry for themselves. They revel in their own misery and feel special for their suffering."  

- Dr. Fuhrman


  • For everyone, there was a steadfast determination to cross over the threshold of unhealthy food cravings; all had to overcome this hurdle.  However, as the cravings for unhealthy foods decreased and taste buds changed, the natural desire for nutrient rich foods took precedence over low nutrient foods.  They no longer felt deprived, and as a result, eating actually became more enjoyable and pleasurable than before.  Most everyone expressed a whole new world opened up to them of what they “could” eat instead of the traditional, restrictive dieting mentality of what they “couldn’t” eat.  This freedom created a momentum for continual success. 


  • One member of Dr. Fuhrman's member center, who has now been a nutritarian for several years stated, “Unhealthy food eventually became unappealing, unappetizing and ‘un-tasty’.”  Laurie, who is now free from yo-yo dieting and MS flare-ups, resolved in her heart to never cheat on the Eat to Live plan because she was desperate to be medication free.  Now, nutritarian eating is a way of life for her, and she actually feels sorry for those who don’t eat high-nutrient foods.


  • Most importantly, as everyone experienced significant improvements in their health and energy levels, it motivated and exponentially increased their confidence to keep going.  Many described it as feeling tremendous, youthful and vibrant.  Some, like me, were so malnourished and miserable that we noticed the improvements immediately.  Others had to make it through rough withdrawal symptoms first, but everyone eventually got to the point of feeling energetic and well for the first time in his/her life.  This “feel good” attitude has propelled all of us to maintain this excellent health for life!  There’s no turning back.        


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Comments (27) Read through and enter the discussion with the form at the end
Jeane - April 27, 2010 8:39 AM

Yesterday I had terrible digestion problems (rare for me, and I hate feeling like that) This AM I feel fine, but perhaps I should take the day off on exercise. ?? Well, your article fixed that. NO EXCUSES Bless you all. I am getting ready to go work out right now.

Emily Boller - April 27, 2010 9:44 AM

Yes, if Scott can ride a bike in minus 43 degree weather, while being morbidly obese, anyone can exercise!

Go for it ~ freedom to all!

Amanya Jacobs - April 27, 2010 12:17 PM

Great reminder! "No Excuses"-a powerful, motivating phrase and so easy to remember. Thanks!

Zach - April 27, 2010 12:22 PM

As far as the toxic hunger thing is concerned, I don't get why I haven't "gotten over the hurdle" yet. I've been eating on Fuhrman's Eat to Live "6 week program" for 8 weeks now and I've lost a lot of weight (down 35 pounds from a starting weight of 235), I generally enjoy the food, feel healthier and don't have much desire for animal products (with the exception of my beloved but now forbidden cheese) however, I still have the same stomach crampy feeling of hunger between meals and when I read these blog posts I can't help but feel alone.
For the record, I eat fruit for breakfast - typically a grapefruit and a banana, and start to feel uncomfortable about an hour later, then I eat either a spinach/spring mix salad with other veggies and a few nuts with little to no dressing for lunch and typically some more greens, some beans and a grain with more nuts for dinner. Dessert will be fruit if any. I have a couple hours of the same typical "hunger symptoms" as always - and probably a little worse than before - before each of these meals. Anybody else have a really long detox period?

Wendy - April 27, 2010 1:16 PM

Zach-It's all about volume eating. See my blog: http://healthygirlskitchen.blogspot.com

try a big green smoothie for breakfast, with flax meal or chia seeds--very, very filling and yummy.

Michael - April 27, 2010 1:21 PM

A grapefruit and banana is likely less than 250 calories. That is too little for most people. I would eat a larger breakfast and add some greens, seeds and maybe some beans.

Linda - April 27, 2010 1:35 PM

Zach, I know the feeling exactly. However, I find that if I start the day with a handful of nuts instead of with sugary fruit, this seems to keep my hunger in check. Also, perhaps you are not eating enough. I am a small woman, but find that I can consume gigantic salads and hearty helpings of soup made with low carb vegetables and legumes, and still lose weight. If I feel hungry inbetween meals I'll have a steaming bowl of (pre-prepared) vegetable soup and a few nuts no matter what time of the day it is.

Kat - April 27, 2010 1:40 PM


I'm a tiny short little woman and I eat more than that!!

20 oz spinach, almond milk and fruit (mostly berries) smoothie with omega three, macha tea powder and flaxseed.

lunch is usually a homemade lentil soup to which I add veggies and finish off with nuts and an fruit

dinner is a pound of shredded cabbage salad and either beans or grilled tempe and finished off with fruit.

I work out pretty intensely one hour each day and I lost weight even though I was of normal weight when I started.

hope this helps

Emily Boller - April 27, 2010 2:18 PM

Zach, congratulations on your success!

Yes, add greens for breakfast (a smoothie is a perfect way to get in the extra greens) and include a few nuts and seeds with each meal. Try deleting bananas and grains and increase the greens; fresh and steamed, and beans, and include berries too - all of the above will help significantly thru detox. For some it may take up to 3 months to get over SAD detox. withdrawal symptoms. Dr. Fuhrman always reminds everyone that because of our former, highly toxic eating habits, for some it can take several months of superior nutrition to see significant results. Be patient. You WILL get there!

Sue Philipson - April 27, 2010 7:25 PM

Zach--Dr. Fuhrman has recommended only 1 grapefruit per week. It has some estrogen-like effects, which may or may not be problem for you, but why take a chance? So cutting back on that may be better for you, too.

Horsecrazy - April 27, 2010 7:47 PM

As always, well written Emily. Excellent choice of photos. They really show people what can be done with nutritarian eating!

Greg - April 28, 2010 12:05 AM

@zach For me the best part about changing the way I eat is how much more I eat now. I used to eat high density foods. My portion sizes were a lot smaller.

Now, I eat *alot* of plants. If you are hungry an hour after you ate breakfast, then the you didn't eat enough healthy food for breakfast. Hungry people make poor food decisions. The reason fruit and vegetables are in the unlimited category is because you are supposed to eat ALOT of them.

I'm about 135-140 LBS and I eat 3-5 pieces of fruit for breakfast, or make Dr. Fuhrman's "special oatmeal" which includes LOTS of fruit and berries. When I eat salads for lunch I almost always have to eat two because only so much lettuce fits on a plate.

When I exercise heavily, I make the salads so huge that I can barely pile them onto a plate.

Grover - April 28, 2010 3:45 AM

I also had the same issues as Zach but unfortunately I completely fell off the wagon a few days ago. My issue is everything seems so bland (Except the green smoothie, I LOVE IT). I'm also not a very good cook.

I suffer from IBS and behold, three days after being off-diet, I'm suffering attacks that are making my life miserable. Even my body is screaming to get back on the diet.

I'm 418 lbs (I was 450+ before I got on) 27 years old, and I've tried every single diet out there, and this is the only one that doesn't force your body to do things is isn't meant to do naturally. It's not even a question of "Should I keep trying?" but more, "Keep trying or you're going to eat yourself to death!"

Cindy - April 28, 2010 11:16 AM

Grover, Three cheers for your successes! So you fell off the wagon--what you've learned from your unfortunate IBS attack just reconfirms the value of eating this way. You'll be even stronger now. And, don't worry, that sense of blandness should improve as your palate adjusts. Try adding a little hot pepper to dishes if your digestive system tolerates.

If you haven't joined the member center, consider it. There are ongoing cooking discussions and plenty of encouragement. Best of luck!

Zach - April 28, 2010 12:34 PM

Really? No more than a grapefruit a week? But that's my favorite breakfast - I love those things. I almost went out at midnight last night becasus I discovered we had run out and I didn't know what to do for breakfast. I'll try eating more, but I am frugal and already struggling with the costs of eating healthy - for those that are getting off of expensive medications, I can see how it would be a money savings for you, and I keep telling myself that if I can avoid cancer this will be a huge win for me financially - for someone like me who was young and relatively fit, and didn't have some costly medical issues, the increased cost of my food is hard for my family.

StephenMarkTurner (formerly Steve) - April 28, 2010 1:56 PM

Zach, I think being careful about grapefruit is even more important when you are taking meds.


Sara - April 28, 2010 7:41 PM

Zach- Grapefruit interferes with the elimination of estrogen from the body. This is relatively new info in the last few years. Become an expert in which healthy foods are in expensive like kale and cabbage, There have been many discussions about economizing while eating healthy.

Dawn - April 28, 2010 10:43 PM

That was my thought too when I started eating this way. But, meat is expensive too. Look up a fruit/veggie coop in your area. The one I have found is bountiful baskets and I save at least 50% on my produce.
Good luck!

Mottke - April 29, 2010 8:36 AM

According to Lawrence J. Peter in The Peter Principle, pull is more important than push. It is who you know rather than what you know that counts.

mmk - April 29, 2010 10:44 AM

Congratualations Zach!!! Try some plain, no sugar oatmeal (read the labels to be sure) with fruit. I have a hard time with just fruit in the morning sometimes too.

Emily Boller - September 17, 2012 6:53 PM

With regards to the grapefruit topic, Dr. Fuhrman has stated that the concern is in women, not men; and a more recent study contradicted the earlier findings.

So Dr. Fuhrman is uncertain if any caution needs to be applied here.

Tammy K. - September 17, 2012 8:45 PM

Great post, as usual, Emily! Thanks for your encouraging words!

Diana Zybala - September 17, 2012 8:59 PM


I so needed to hear this info today. I had coffee with a group of women who are all on a weight loss journey. The negativity was obvious. I remember Dr. Fuhrman mentionning that it is not a good idea to keep company with obese people (excluding ETL'ers)...I have found this to be true.

I do get energized by associating with folks who are focused, well read, committed and willing to do whatever it takes...its just that so very few people do...makes it abit lonely at times. Its just not worth it saying anything about weight loss. (However, I have had many people come up to me privately and ask me what it is I do to stay thin).

AnnaB - September 19, 2012 11:12 AM

Zack, when I stopped eating bananas in the morning, I stopped being hungry and wanting to eat again before lunch. Bananas are pretty high on the glycemic index. I agree with mmk that sugar free oatmeal, preferably steel cut, with no sugar added non-dairy milk (almond, etc.) is a great way to go.
I'm not giving up my grapefruit!! Thank you, Emily for alleviating that concern.
Ditch the banana, and stick with the grapefruit and other fruit.
For lunch, add some beans to your salad, or some avocado, or tofu.

Steve - March 26, 2013 1:39 PM

Charles De Lint is the 'author unknown' of the initial quote.

Lee - August 21, 2013 4:59 PM

Hi Grover, congrats on your success so far!

Setbacks happen; the important thing is to shake them off and climb back up on the wagon. (I've done that quite a few times now!) You can find lots of nutritarian recipes on my blog to help keep you on track: http://www.veggie-quest.com

Just keep shaking things up (no need to have great cooking skills). How about strawberry & jicama salad, lentil tacos, Indian-spiced cauliflower and peas, or butternut squash with cumin?

Making your own salad dressings keeps things fresh, too! Easy formula: Dried fruit + vinegar or lemon juice + small handful nuts + water + spice blend. Yum! My favorites are sweet ginger dressing with almond butter (great with raw kale and mango) and Dr. Fuhrman's dijon-date dressing (good on everything).

Rachel - August 22, 2013 8:41 AM

I am celebrating 4 years vegan/nutrarian this month. Many comments in this post column remind me of my struggles to make the change. And I am still SO glad I did!
My craving for a turkey sandwich lasted for a year. I am over the hump and enjoy learning new recipes. My food expense remained the same: although I spent more on some veggies I spent less on dairy/meat - it all evened out. It was, at first a little lonesome. I joined my local vegetarian society for support and comraderie which helped immensley. I read and reread Dr. Fuhrman, Esselstyne, Campbell and others books for continued support and inspiration. If I made a mistake and fell of the wagon I just got back on - NO SELF-CHASTISING. It took a while. But I'd made a promise to myself . . and kept it. I'm "there" now and I am glad I stuck with it. I hope you will too Zach - I have faith in you.

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