few weeks ago, I discovered your dehydrated soups in a local store.
They are wonderful, but that is not the purpose of my letter. Seeing
your name reminded me of my past, and how far I have come.
Approximately 12-13 years ago, I became extremely dissatisfied
with my physical life. I had painful arthritis in my knees and hands,
certain types of moderate effort would bring chest pains, and my
cholesterol was around 215. Also, illnesses like colds, flu, and
sore throats were too frequent and too long in duration.
Fortunately, my arthritis was only moderate. It was in no way debilitating,
but my knees did ache pretty much all the time. My hands would ache
and joints click whenever it was cold. However, doctors never really
offered a cause or treatment. My chest would tighten up and ache
whenever I expended a fair amount of physical effort, particularly
when using my arms. My doctor did not think my chest pain was heart
related, but did not suggest an alternative cause. My cholesterol
count climbed steadily for years. At least once, and frequently
twice, each year, I would get a sore throat so severe that it was
not unusual to miss work for four or five days.
Today, I have no doubt that diet was the primary cause of my problems,
with lack of exercise a close second. I was only slightly overweight,
because I controlled my weight by eating a moderate quantity of
food. However, the quality and content of my diet was terrible.
For dinner, I would sometimes have a bag of potato chips and sour
cream dip. I was raised on meat, butter, mayonnaise, and cream sauces.
Looking back on those days, I find it hard to believe I am a relatively
smart, educated person.
I started looking for solutions, and came across a tape/book program
by you. I found other resources, but your information was my first
major guide for change. I took particular note of your experience
with the Asian population of the Hawaiian Islands, and the vast
difference in health between those still on a traditional Asian
diet and those who had become "Americanized." With this
information in hand, I went on a virtually zero-fat vegetarian diet,
and began to get more exercise. Since then, after reading various
studies and theories, I have added a small amount of natural fat
(nuts, etc.) back into my diet, as I may have been too extreme.
However, I am still a vegetarian, and probably consume less total
fat daily then contained in one hamburger.
In addition to changing my diet, I decided to become more active.
My wife (who also became a vegetarian 95% of the time) and
I bought bicycles, and we started walking and working-out more.
I still remember my first bike ride. It was no more than ½
mile, and I was exhausted. My health changes did not come quite
as quickly as you suggested, but they did come.
Today, I am closing on 59. I have no arthritis, none. My cholesterol
is 155, and my blood pressure is typically 105-110 / 65-70. I rarely
get sick anymore, and when I do, the illness is generally mild and
short in duration. I ride my bike 1500 1900 miles per year,
with a typical ride being between 15 and 50 miles. If I didn't
live in Minnesota, where we are hermits for six months each year,
I would probably ride more like 3000 miles per year. I am 5'
10 ½" and weigh 165 pounds. I am probably in my best
physical condition since college.
Given my personal experience, and from observations of friends,
family, and co-workers, I am convinced that a high percentage of
health problems are self-inflicted. I wish more people would realize
the terrific benefits of a healthy diet and lifestyle.
I am very grateful that your diet program was available when I
needed it. Thank you.
"If I would have known I was going to live this long, I would
have taken better care of myself." So say many of the people
I meet now passing their half century mark in life. Making better
decisions everyday is as simple as "making better decisions
everyday." The most frequent question I get from people is,
"How do I stop doing bad things to myself (like eating the
wrong foods)?" The best answer is to follow Nancy Reagan's
advice. "JUST SAY NO!" Try it sometime. Like in the
morning when you are ready for that eye-opener, double-strength
espresso just say no, and say "I'll have the
herbal tea instead" and skip the indigestion, anxiety,
and constant trips to the bathroom. Or at lunch today, when your
favorite mayonnaise-drenched chicken sandwich jumps out at you
from the menu say, "No, I'll have the vegetable
soup and a veggie burger instead." You will be just as satisfied
and you won't have to taste your lunch for the rest of the
afternoon, caused by regurgitation of partially chewed chicken
parts and fat.
My favorite line for a commitment to start
living again came from my father several years ago. Our family
was out to eat at a Mexican restaurant, and even though all members
were vegetarian, some of the dishes passed around the table were
topped with cheese and swimming in oil. As a plate of especially
inviting nachos passed under my father's nose, I asked him.
"Isn't it hard for you to pass these up?" His answer
was simple and to the point, "Son, I have feasted enough
for a lifetime. I have had enough rich food. I've eaten more
steaks and ribs then 99.99% of people who ever walked this Earth.
Remember, I almost died from a heart attack. I've had my
good times at the dinner table now it is time to get on
with living. And one more filet whatever' isn't
worth dying for." How many of us can say the same, "I
have feasted enough for a lifetime, I want more out of life than
obesity, arthritis, pain, immobility and a shortened lifespan?"
We all should have the choice of the quality
of life we will live. When it comes to health, people who read
the McDougall books and newsletters do have control over their
future. If you haven't made the commitment to live an easier,
healthier life, then spend the next 3 weeks thinking about the
choices you are making and decide if they are really worth the
suffering and the risk. If you put some sincere mental effort
into this project and do some genuine soul-searching, then by
New Years Day, 2003 you will be ready to quote Nancy Reagan, and
then you can have the future health and appearance you deserve
just like the Lidbergs and others of us have done (and
are still doing) in order to get the most out of this too-short-lifetime.