Since turning 35 years old I have made it a priority to have a yearly physical. The 5 years leading up to turning 40 I was in relatively “good” health (so I thought). In 2009 I suffered a torn ACL in my right knee which required surgery. Since the procedure my knee has never been the same. A year later when I went for my yearly physical the physician said my cholesterol level was rising, but he was hesitant to put me on medication. He opted to take a chance on me being able to control my diet.

In July, 2011 I went back for my yearly physical and the usual battery of tests were run. Unfortunately the cholesterol level was up from the previous year and the physician made the determination to put me on Simvastatin, in order to help me control my rising levels. I was more worried about the side effects, “abdominal pain, diarrhea, indigestion, and a general feeling of weakness.” My physician wanted me to get my blood tested 3 months later for the early signs of liver damage, “statin use causes an increase in liver enzymes. If the increase is only mild, you can continue to take the drug. If the increase is severe, you may need to stop taking it, which usually reverses the problem. If left unchecked, increased liver enzymes can lead to permanent liver damage” (source).

Reality seemed to set in when I had a dental visit and they wanted to update their information as to medication I was taking. I could not remember all the different medications I was on. At the time in conjunction with the statin, I was taking medication for my Plantar fasciitis, as well as reoccurring migraine headaches, which had been going on for about 6 months. I realized this was not the way I wanted to live, relying on medications and physicians to try and heal me.

Thankfully the answer seemed to come rather quickly when I friend at work recommended the documentary, Forks Over Knives. While my friend at work considers herself a “vegetarian” the documentary examines the “profound claim that most, if not all, of the degenerative diseases that afflict us can be controlled, or even reversed, by rejecting our present menu of animal-based and processed foods” (source). That 90 minutes changed my life and began to examine more about the claims in the documentary as well as the doctors, thus my introduction to Dr. John McDougall.

Until now I cooked and ate like the typical American. I enjoyed barbequing my meats, using oil to fry many of my food and heaping loads of cheese on my foods. It was not often I combine green and yellow vegetables in my diet and tried not to eat too many starch, for fear I would pack on the pounds. Many of these “myths” were dispelled after viewing Forks Over Knives, Food Matters and Food Inc along with further reading on John McDougall, Caldwell Esselstyn and professor of nutritional biochemistry T. Colin Campbell.

On October 30, 2011 I made the choice to change my lifestyle and “live to eat, not eat to live.” While many family, friends, co-workers and readers will consider my decision “extreme” it was MY decision. I decided to stop eating meat, dairy products and to stop using oil in my recipes and cooking practices. Since we were just a few months from 2012, I gave myself a 2 month “transition” to ease into this lifestyle change. Meat has probably been the easiest to give up, while I have stopped using oils in recipes and cooking I still use small amounts of cheese now and then.

Here were the blood test numbers in July, 2011 when I had my yearly physical and when the medication was prescribed. Just beneath those numbers my blood test results from December, 2011. I think the numbers speak for themselves.

July 26, 2011
Weight: 216 pounds
Chol: 263 mg/dL
Trig: 269 mg/dL
HDLC: 37 mg/dL
Chol/HDLC Ratio: 7.1 H
LDL: 172 mg/dL
Non-HDLC: 225 mg/dL

December 20, 2011
Weight 193 pounds
Chol: 199 mg/dL
Trig: 210 mg/dL
HDLC: 37 mg/dL
Chol/HDLC Ratio: 5.4 H
LDL: 120 mg/dL
Non-HDLC: 162 mg/dL

From October 30 until December 20 I lost 23 pounds. More importantly my total cholesterol dropped from 264 mg/dL to 199 mg/dL. That was a 64 points dropped by going on a whole-plant based diet. All the other numbers were trending down as well, but there is still work to be done. The above results were posted on Dr. McDougall’s Online Discussion Board.

On January 9, 2012 I will go on Dr. McDougall’s 12-day plan. If I had the discretionary income I would join Dr. McDougall at his 10-day live-in program in Santa Rosa. Thankfully he makes the entire 12-day plan available on his web site for free! I also bought his book, The McDougall Program: 12 Days to Dynamic Health and since the end of October have been reading, learning and preparing myself for this challenge.

My goals for the 12 days are to drop seeing a decrease in weight. Currently I weigh about 195 pounds and would like to drop another 20 pounds, to 175 pounds. The cholesterol number is now on the upper range of “normal (140-199), but I would like to get that number closer to 150. With the loss of fat I will spend 20-30 minutes a day walking and another 30 minutes of exercise in order to build some muscle on my physique.

Since changing my diet at the end of October I have felt great! I have not had a bout with the migraines I had leading up to trying the McDougall Program. There has been a notable difference in my weight and the blood work confirms a positive change on my life. It hasn’t been easy, but I have been dedicated to the choices I have made for better health.

I will track all 12 days on my site in a simple to read journal. It will include what I eat for breakfast, lunch and dinner, my weight for each day, the exercise I accomplished and how I feel overall.

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