“I used to eat such large quantities of greasy globs of guck that taste was never the issue. Today food is an experience of pleasure. Now I actually taste my food.”
Ever since I was a child, my whole life has been centered on food. Whenever things with my alcoholic father got too bad, my mom would pack me and my sister up, and we’d all go on an eating binge of candy, hot dogs, potato chips, whatever was quick and cheap. By the time I was in 6th grade I weighed nearly 200 pounds. I have sought solace in food ever since.
I did manage to get my weight down in high school, and was able to enlist in the United States Marine Corps after graduation. However, it didn’t take long for me to reach over 300 pounds after I was discharged at age 24. I picked right back up eating the same fare I had grown up with, including lots of meat and cheese, and for most of my adult life my weight fluctuated between 200 and 330 pounds (staying over 300 more often than not).
In 1983, when I was 28, I picked up one of Dr. McDougall’s books in a Manhattan bookstore. He said in his book that you could eat “all you want,” and I immediately thought “Yeah, right!” So, I went out and bought ten pounds of potatoes and said to myself, “I’ll show him!” I got on my scale the next morning and it showed a loss of about two pounds—I had discovered Nirvana! But it wasn’t long before I was adding sour cream and butter to my potatoes, and that’s when the weight loss stopped. Back then I also liked to drink beer, and after one beer too many it was invariably “goodbye McDougall, hello McDonald’s.”
In January of 1997 at age 42, I managed to get my weight down from 331 pounds to 232 pounds. I have no idea why I stopped there; I think I felt that I could lose more weight faster by going on the Atkins diet for a while. My thinking was: I’ll use Atkins—which I know is deadly—just to get below 200, and then I’ll McDougall my way back to health. Sheesh, what was I thinking?! In 2002 I hit 300 pounds again and stayed there for a few years. The fact that SAD (standard American diet) food was, and still is, so readily available made it very difficult to stick to a healthy diet.
In 2005 I decided to revisit the McDougall diet, and by August of that year I weighed 288 pounds; by early December I weighed 229 pounds. Unfortunately, this was right during holiday season, and my co-workers were bringing in Christmas goodies by the truckload. I was also getting so many compliments that I began to get a bit cocky, thinking to myself: “Well, I’ve lost most of what I need to lose, so I guess I can eat like everyone else now.” The problem with this is that most everyone else is overweight. After the holidays I ended up going back to my old SAD eating habits, and my weight shot back up to 270 pounds in less than a year. In 2007 I tried Medifast and lost 34 pounds in 30 days, but I also developed kidney stones for the first time in my life. I have never felt worse pain.
By the end of 2008 I was hovering around 260 pounds. I absolutely knew that the McDougall way of eating was the only way I could feed my large appetite, lose weight, and get healthy, so I committed once again to Dr. McDougall’s Maximum Weight Loss (MWL) program. I didn’t have any support from my family, which wasn’t easy, but I did have support from Dr. McDougall, who in between seeing his patients, writing books, producing videos, giving lectures, and running his 10-Day programs, always found the time to answer my email questions.
In March of 2009 I was again contemplating speeding up my weight loss (I had lost only about 30 pounds since January 1st), and I was motivated by something that Dr. McDougall said to me years back after I sent him one of my many email questions. Never once did he ignore my questions, and most times I received email responses in less than 24 hours. His response was, politely, “You know what you need to do.” He was right, of course.
I pulled out my Maximum Weight Loss book and truly committed to it, 100 percent. I stopped counting calories (why I ever did that I’ll never know), I ate only when I was hungry, and I ate only from the approved MWL list. Each week the scale crept lower. I set a goal of 175 pounds for myself, even though I honestly can’t ever remember weighing 175 pounds. I’ve heard the expression “Can’t see the forest for the trees” a million times, but I never really understood it until recently. I’ve had the McDougall Program in front of me for over 20 years and I’ve never really “seen” it. Intellectually I’ve always known its power but, for some reason, I never really understood it until this year.
Today I am 54 years old and weigh 165 pounds (I still feel like I’m lying when I write this). I eat when I want to, and I’m not self conscious around new people. Food is a complete non-issue for me. Well, that’s not completely true—today food is a delight! Mary’s recipes and the ones I learn about from Dr. McDougall’s website and in the DVDs have made food absolutely delectable. I’ve also spent a large part of my adult life as an ethical vegan (I just can’t deal with the fact that innocent creatures must suffer for my pleasure), and with the McDougall program I can still remain ethically vegan.
I used to eat such large quantities of greasy globs of guck that taste was never the issue. Today food is an experience of pleasure. Now I actually taste my food. Every week I try a new McDougall recipe, and I even make up my own recipes. One of my favorites is my “McDougall’s Right Pie.” I boil a five-pound bag of potatoes, and when they’re almost done I throw in about three bags of frozen broccoli. Then I prepare two or three McDougall Right Foods instant meals. When the veggies are tender I mash them into the potatoes and then add the Right Foods meals and mix well. I put it all into a large casserole dish and bake it. This is enough for about a week’s worth of meals. I absolutely love the taste, texture and the fact that I never have to count calories or worry about how much I’m eating (I can, and often do, have seconds).
Today I can honestly say that the McDougall Maximum Weight Loss Program is responsible for my entire 166-pound weight loss, from 331 to 165 pounds. If I could pass along one message to anyone who is considering the McDougall Program it would be to do the program exactly as Dr. McDougall prescribes. Do not count calories or do the McDougall Program with Weight Watchers. You can’t do the McDougall Program with any other diet because it is not a diet, it’s a lifestyle. It has taken me years to finally get this. Everything is on his website, for free (I haven’t come across anyone else who does this).
My blood work is in the normal range, and while I never had really high blood pressure (usually around 130/80), today I consistently get readings of around 100/70 mmHg. My BMI is also normal, at 22.9. For the very first time in my adult life, I wake up in the morning excited about the day ahead and I feel better than I have in years! The most fun I have is when people ask me what I eat and I tell them about 85 to 90 percent carbohydrates. I love their reactions! Some even accuse me of lying, with one lady responding, “So, don’t tell me then!”
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(weight: 308 lbs.)
Dr. McDougall has been screaming the truth from the mountaintop for years, and while millions have heard him, few have listened. Millions have stayed sick and a few got better. I was one of those who heard but didn’t listen, and so I stayed fat and sick. But I kept listening until I really got it—and now, the rest of my life is optimistically ahead of me.
Dr. McDougall’s Comments
Obesity has become the socially acceptable norm in the US. Our nominated Surgeon General, Regina Benjamin, is obese.
Advertisements on TV use obese actors to sell most any product, not just fast foods, to the overweight public. Even actors playing doctors in commercials are obese. No doubt this is all done purposefully so that the public can relate to themselves, since two-thirds of people are overweight and one-third are obese. This common phenomenon is called the “the fat gap,” where the majority of overweight people are unaware that they are too heavy, and have a blurred perception of what is a healthy weight.
The popularity of surgical solutions to this epidemic suggests that most people now consider the problem unsolvable by their own will. With the discovery that gastric banding and gastric bypass surgery can reverse type-2 diabetes, bariatric surgery is now viewed as a medical necessity; paid for by insurance companies. The burdens on our financially strapped healthcare system deepen as human suffering spirals out of control. This growing trend can be reversed with some long overdue changes finally made:
1) Mandatory education on proper nutrition, including implementa- tion, will be taught to everyone from grade school to medical school to the workplace. People will learn that the human diet is a starch-based diet, and that “the fat you eat is the fat you wear.”
2) Heavy taxes will be levied on rich foods: Meats, dairy products, confectionaries, candies, sugar-filled sodas, oils, etc.—just like those “sin taxes” that are placed on alcohol and tobacco. The money collected will be used to finance healthcare based on diet and lifestyle medicine.
3) Subsidies will be given to promote the consumption of starches, vegetables, and fruits, ranging from commercials promoting foods to food stamps for their purchase.
4) Diet and lifestyle education programs will be attended by patients before surgeries and medications are prescribed for chronic diseases. Doctors will have to take training to learn how to practice conservative medicine.
5) Rewards, such as lower premiums on life and health insurance, will be given to those who are fit and to those working towards better health.
6) The US Dietary Guidelines, which determine what is fed in schools, the military, and government agencies, and influence everyone else, will no longer be written by the food industry.
Changes are beginning, but slowly. Almost all research articles on diets being published these days focus on the hazards of excessive protein and fat (like the diets promoted by Atkins, South Beach, and the Zone). The dangers of eating meat, and occasionally dairy products, are being discussed in the media. “Vegan” is now a universally recognized word, and with favor. Tough economic times are making the consumer take a closer look at their grocery basket. The day is coming when eating a diet centered on animal foods and oils will be considered as disgusting as smoking cigarettes and public drunkenness. Health through better nutrition is happening. The only question is the speed of the upcoming revolution.