My discovery of true health began in about 2011 when I realized that I was just 1-year shy of my mother’s age when she was diagnosed with breast cancer. I wondered how I could prevent the same diagnosis in myself. At the same time, a friend of mine who was taking a nutrition course asked if she could do a 3-day study on my eating habits. Being an almost life-long Vegetarian, I thought my friend would come back to me with glowing comments on my diet. I ate better than so many of the people I knew and thought I had a reasonably healthy diet. It came as a shock when her comment on reviewing my 3-day food diary was (in significantly more graphic words), “you eat horribly.” She suggested I give up my junk food and cheese addiction to improve my health and even cooked for me for a month. As I didn’t know how to cook healthy foods and hated salads, her help was vital. She started feeding me smoothies with lots of greens daily along with a variety of delicious meals that you can now get delivered to you through on-line food plans.
My palate changed, and I started craving healthy options over the next month. During that time, I read The China Study by T. Colin Campbell, watched movies like Forks Over Knives, and researched how diet and health were connected. By the end of the month, I had dropped over 10 pounds without changing my daily activity. My cholesterol plummeted from what, as a physician, I had been taught was normal, my energy level skyrocketed, and my exercise tolerance had improved drastically.
I was amazed that the information I was learning had not been taught in medical school and wasn’t standard of care. I was angry that I had spent most of my life struggling with weight and often failed at dieting. Yet, here I was eating way more than I had in the past, loving the food, and losing weight to the point of having to eat more to keep weight on. That had never been the case in my life before. Unlike my patients and peers struggling with menopause, I had no similar symptoms and felt younger, thinner, and healthier than I had in my 20’s. And all of this was without any medication.
This realization and lifestyle paradox prompted me to start questioning my medical practice. I started going to medical seminars for whole food plant-based medical providers, taking nutrition courses (which we were never taught in medical school), and became board-certified in Lifestyle Medicine. When I had the time to share this new knowledge with my patients in my traditional Family Medicine Practice, the results were astounding. Like me, they would get better from their chronic diseases, get off medications, and feel younger and healthier.
Unfortunately, my busy walk-in practice didn’t allow me to spend the time I wanted with my patients. Nor did it allow me to practice what I was preaching in terms of other lifestyle modifications. Hence, I decided to drastically change my life to “walk the talk.” I left traditional medicine and started teaching the group-oriented CHIP, Complete Health Improvement Program, with my partner, who himself lost over 60# and got off five medications for high blood pressure and high cholesterol following the same diet and lifestyle changes. We also started working with patients individually through our DOKS Lifestyle Medicine practice. After learning about the Rochester Lifestyle Medicine Institute, I took their 15-day Jumpstart and Lift programs. Seeing the benefit for myself, I encouraged family members, friends, and patients to join the great programs they offer.
With my improved health, I no longer worry about getting the myriad of health issues in my family, including breast cancer, colon cancer, and Alzheimer’s disease. My arthritic knees do not hurt me the way they used to, even though I am even more active than before. I feel and look younger and healthier than I have in decades – AND I AM HAPPY! What a wonderful thing to have your health and feel great.
Unfortunately, I don’t have “before” pictures since I hated how I looked and threw out the photos from when I was not thriving. You can see from my “after” picture, I am happy, healthy, and (I think) look more youthful than my years!!!