Updated May 7, 2013
I am sure you don’t remember me. Back when you practiced in Hawaii, I was a patient of yours for a short while (that was over 17 years ago). I used to eat heavy fatty foods urged on by terrible non-stop cravings, and headaches if I didn’t satisfy these urges. Life was miserable, everything hurt always, I wanted to die, and food only gave me temporary happiness – then followed by extreme guilt. I tried calorie counting, portion control, various weight loss drugs, gastric surgery*, and a ton of fad diets. The last straw was a severe bout of depression that convinced me that I must either die or get better; I could no longer live this way.
A friend of mine was a patient of yours and he convinced me to see you. After attending a vegetarian potluck dinner with my cousin on the mainland, I realized there were many healthy foods that tasted delicious that I was unaware of. So my love of food sent me on a quest to discover new foods that were good for me. It became an adventure, a hobby, not a denial thing.
I took some of your advice and lost 100 lb., and then I took more of your advice and became about 98% Vegan and have lost another 165 pounds. From 450 pounds down to 185 pounds, this is almost right for my 6’1″height. I’ve gone from 25 prescriptions a day, diabetic injections, and terrible arthritis, to no pills, no medicines, no arthritis pain, and normal blood sugar levels. I used to have all the fat diseases, to name a few: severe diabetes, arthritis, gout, sleep apnea, insomnia, back pain, neck pain, congestive heart failure, my heart stopped, and all this chronic pain led to deep depression. I used to spend several hundred dollars a month just on co-payments for drugs and diabetic supplies (thousands in actual costs). After losing 265 pounds my health has gone from dripping wet from sweat from walking to my car parked in the garage to being able to walk 30 miles non-stop with hardly a drop of sweat. I am on no medication at all and most of my health problems have disappeared. I now can actually play ball, run, and swim with my kids. Everyone used to be so worried I would die. Eating a healthy diet is so much easier than fighting hunger and being sick all the time.
In my former life I couldn’t have met my duties as a parent. I’ve been married for 22 years and my two daughters, ages 7 and 9, need a healthy father. I am able to play with the kids for hours without tiring. Now, a lot of my pain is gone and I rarely tire. I feel 20 years younger and act it. I can fit through turnstiles. I can now fit in rides at the fair and in seats in movie theaters and on airplanes. I no longer have to ask for a seatbelt extender in a car or when I fly. I save a lot of money by driving a compact car these days. I’m able to buy normal clothes, at normal prices. It’s life’s daily experiences that remind me where I am today – and where I would have been if I hadn’t discovered the truth about a healthy low-fat vegan diet and exercise I now enjoy doing. My life is worth living again.
*After I lost the first 100 pounds by incorporating some of your advice, I had stomach stapling surgery in 1993, which I hoped would solve the rest of my weight problems. I lost 80 pounds in 6 months and then regained all the weight back to where I was before I started. In June of 2000 I became 98% vegan and went from 360 pounds to 290 pounds. Because I was afraid I would never get all the weight off I agreed to another gastric surgery that promised miracles (Roux-en-Y gastric bypass). As it turned out my weight loss slowed after the surgery and after a few months my stomach pouch, which the surgery had created, stretched out and I could eat far too many fatty foods if I chose to. But this time I stayed with your low-fat vegan diet and the weight came off. I don’t know how much (if any) the surgery helped me. I know the diet made the difference because so many others who have had the surgery have failed to get the results I have gotten. Those who have the surgery and continue to eat lots of fatty foods after the surgery put it back on. I think the surgery can be a great kick start, but to really succeed with health and weight you have to get the diet and exercise right. (Review of the scientific literature shows this surgery is reserved for morbid obesity and is accompanied by many significant side effects and complications. Average loss of excess body fat is 55% to 70% in one to two years.)
People often say to me, “I believe you’re right, but what you recommend is far too difficult.” Let Mike tell you about difficult: seatbelt extenders, insulin shots, breathlessness, embarrassment, gastric surgery, and much more. Easy is a bowl of oatmeal every morning and a daily walk. Unfortunately, few people have this proper perspective. Last March while climbing the steps of a Mayan pyramid in Tikal, Guatemala, I asked my 70-year old climbing partner what his friends at home might be doing this afternoon. His answer, “Most likely, they’re sitting in their doctor’s offices waiting for their monthly medication refills.” So who has the more difficult life? Obviously, being ill, overweight and incapacitated are tremendous burdens that no one would willingly choose.
I know some of you are thinking, “This worked for Mike, but I could never get my health back.” That’s not true. Everyone who changes from the unhealthy American diet to the McDougall diet and exercises gains health and loses excess weight. That’s just as sure as the fact that all smokers breathe easier when they give up cigarettes, and all alcoholics are rejuvenated when they stop the booze. The principles of clean air, water, and food are basic to human survival, at least to a high quality of survival.
For those of you who have been traveling the rough road, it’s never too late to change. Every difficult day is a day that you could have enjoyed much more by being in better health. Once you discover how satisfying and tasty our food is you will wonder why you waited so long. And like Mike, you will never go back.
There are several ways to learn the McDougall Program:
1) Six national best selling books, all with recipes.
2) Video and DVD courses. This is $5000 worth of educational material.
3) A McDougall Adventure Trip.
4) The 10-Day Live-in McDougall Program in Santa Rosa, California. When you are serious about getting your health and appearance back.