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Dan Brotherton: Overweight, High Blood Pressure

The fundamentals of the McDougall Program are simple yet often difficult to implement. Star McDougallers have either adopted the Program themselves by learning from our website and books or joining one of our programs. For personalized help, learn more about the 12-Day McDougall Program. For questions on whether a change in diet can help your ailment, learn more about our consultations.
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Age 60 and getting younger

dan_brotherton-3619784After years of being overweight with high blood pressure – and being told to take the weight off, but never how to take the weight off and keep it off – in 1991 we purchased some McDougall tapes and somewhat followed a vegetarian diet. From 1991 to 2000 my weight did drop from 220 to195 lbs. However, my blood pressure remained at the high level 140 – 150 over 90 – 110. In June of 2000 we decided to attend the McDougall Clinic at St. Helena Hospital and became strict with our diet. In the summer of 2000 we went with the McDougalls to Costa Rica for one of our best vacations ever – great food, nice people, and unforgettable adventures.

From that time at St. Helena on, we have been low-fat vegans. For the last 2 1/2 years my weight has remained between 165 and 175 – I eat like a horse and am never hungry. My blood pressure in the last three years has stayed around 125/75, plus or minus 10 points without medication. My Lichen Planus (common chronic condition of the skin and mouth) has almost cleared up & the trigger finger on my left hand that kept locking doesn’t lock any more. My gums no longer bleed. My golf handicap has also dropped a couple of strokes. I thought losing weight would mean losing distance with the driver – it hasn’t. I don’t know if the golf equipment is getting better – I do know I have been getting physically healthier.

My mother was 60 pounds overweight, had diabetes, and had her leg removed prior to her death at age 74. My brother, who is a year older than I am, is 100 pounds overweight and has type-2 diabetes. I don’t want to follow in their footsteps. I shudder to think how heavy and unhealthy I would be now if I had not changed my eating habits.

Prior to going to St. Helena for the 10-day program, my primary physician informed me that he would not approve the program – which meant it would not be covered by insurance. When I returned, and after three months he saw the results, he approved the program 100% for me and 50% for Jan. What a deal – even if my insurance would have covered nothing, it still would have been the best money I ever spent.

As an Engineer I like charts and real numbers – the following numbers say it all:

Diet Year Wt. B/P Age
None 1961 165 ? 18
None 1972-1991 175-220 140/90 32-48 (quit smoking in 1972 after 11 years.)
Veg. 1991-2000 220-195 150/100 48-57
Vegan 2000 195 150/90 57
Vegan 2003 165-170 130/80 60


Jan says, “When Dan goes looking for something to snack on, anything he finds is fair game – and as much as he wants! So one of my jobs is to support him and keep the junk out of the house. I try to be creative with meals (using herbs is a big help) and I adapt dishes to our way of eating. The McDougall cookbooks are helpful, but I am more prone to throw my own menus together. With little effort, I can come up with 50 variations of rice dishes alone. Each week I set aside a cooking day so I can make meals for the next 3 days ahead. I tend to spend a little more on groceries than before; due to the fact I shop for more organic items. However, we don’t eat out as much now, so I really think our overall food costs are about the same. When we do eat out, we don’t give in to the menu. We ask for modifications. Our favorites are Chinese food (no eggs with fried rice and no added oil) & salad bars with soups. This way is so much easier than having Dan overweight and sick. I never even think of going back and trading my piece of mind for constant worry about Dan’s health.”



“Behind every successful man is a great woman” – or better said, “Behind every great woman is a supportive man.” One of the most important criteria I use to distinguish between those who are going to follow my program and regain their lost health and appearances, and those who are going to fail, is the kind of support system they have in place. Of course, it is possible to make these life-saving changes on your own, and even when living amongst un-supportive people; but it is a whole lot easier when those close to you all work together for the same ends.

Another essential quality of persons able to put my principles into action is; they are already successful in other areas of their life. For the most part, these winners have shown their interest in a good life by obtaining a first-rate education, building flourishing businesses, and establishing productive family and community relationships. A proper diet, exercise, and clean habits are just more ingredients they understand are required to obtain and maintain the life they deserve. Dan and Jan are excellent examples of people who want it all – and warrant having it all. The effort they now put into their health is miniscule compared to what they have already expended in education, business, and family matters to make happy, productive lives – and without their health, they realize all of the above is irrelevant.

One of my most brutal tactics for encouraging people to think seriously about their health is to threaten them with pain for their loved ones. I ask, “OK, you are a real tough guy (gal) – you don’t care if you die. But how do you feel about the suffering your disability and/or death will cause your spouse and/or children? Or business associates? I cannot tell you the number of patient’s relatives who have confided, after the fact, that they would have fed their mate cardboard for the last 10 years rather than suffer the days and nights of loneliness they are now going through.

So during this season of Valentines – a celebration of love – you have an opportunity to show those around you that you really care by becoming as healthy and functional as possible – and that means a no-cost diet and exercise program. And those of you with loved ones who are in need of your support, you also have a precious opportunity to help. What are you waiting for? An elephant to sit on your (their) chest?