June 21, 2012
Herbie of the Week: David
This week we're meeting David, who after several life threatening traumas and surgeries (which also led him to battle addiction and other medical issues) he overcame all his pain and regained his mobility and body builder strength with the help of a plant-based diet.
HH: Tell us a little bit about yourself and your history.
David: I am 51 and have been on a plant-based diet for almost a year. In the past, I have had significant physical trauma and was told I would always have pain, always be on meds, and never be able to exercise again. I did not walk for many months. It took almost a year to walk a block, and I was up to 290 pounds.
HH: Okay I have to ask, what happened? Can you tell us a little bit about these traumas and surgeries?
I have had a series of physical traumas, several of which were very serious and life-threatening. At age 11, while hiking, I climbed up on a boulder that (unbeknownst to me) was unstable. I fell and as I tried to get up, the 300 pound boulder fell on me, shattering my pelvis and pinning me in the water. I had severe organ damage and did not walk for almost a year.
Thankfully I recovered, did karate, played lacrosse in high school, football in college, and lifted very very heavy weights. I was benching over 400 pounds, was a black belt, and was pretty sure I was bulletproof. Then the lumbar discs started to go.
I have had 9 spinal surgeries - ruptured lumbar discs were the first surgeries, followed by over 50 (fifty!) epidurals, translaminals, facet injections and other injections.
One night I got between a guy, his knife, and his girl who he was intent on killing. I suffered 8 puncture wounds and a 14 inch laceration resulting in partial evisceration and a partial colectomy. I spent a month in the hospital.
Years later - fractured cervical vertebra, full cervical fusion with a full titanium cage. 6 surgeries in 6 months, along with a near fatal staph infection.
All these past traumas resulted in a variety of issues - addiction to pain pills, alcohol.
Finally, in December of 2011, the scar tissue from the knife attack resulted in a rupture of my intestines. I was rushed to emergency surgery. After a 12 inch solarplexis to pubis incision, I was in the hospital for a month.
HH: Oh my goodness! Did you have any other medical issues or conditions outside of these physical ones and the addictions?
I ended up severly hypertensive (180/120 or so, resting pulse of 110) with lipidemias, arrhythmia, chronic pain and SIRS (Systemic inflammatory response syndrome). I was on Norco, Morphine, Soma, Flexaril, Ativan, Ambien, Metropolol, among other meds.
I also had dangerously high triglycerides and VLDL levels, as well as cholesterol levels. I was on massive does of pain meds and anti-inflammatory meds, sleeping pills, and muscle relaxers. Everything hurt.
HH: What brought you to a plant-based diet?
About a year ago I was diagnosed as Celiac. I started reading a lot more about food. I started getting a CSA delivery. I saw Robert Lustig's "Sugar - The Bitter truth" and Forks Over Knives.
HH: Have you experienced any positive changes since adopting a plant-based diet?
As soon as I quit the aracadonic acid barrage (eggs, chicken and whey), the changes started. The pain vanished. I am now off all meds. I have near perfect labs and virtually no pain. I train 20 hours a week, spar in Muay Thai 4 days a week, lift and do brutal HIIT/Crossfit training as well.
HH: That's incredible! You went from a life of pain and immobility to being fit and active! Aside from these impressive changes, and getting off the meds, have you experienced any other benefits?
I have lost 70 lbs, 7 inches of my waist, going from a 38 jean to a 31 in a year's time. I was 38 percent bodyfat - now I am 9 percent at 6'1" 195 pounds. I am the easily the strongest guy at UFCgym in Concord, and have maintained all of my lean muscle mass eating just plants. The most flattering thing is when the jaws drop when I say I am "vegan", as the common perception is not one of a man of my build.BP is 110/60, pulse 45.
HH: You're a body builder, what is different about your diet now?
As a bodybuilder, I felt I needed a lot animal protein, so I took HUGE amounts of whey - 15 pounds a month. I spent 200 dollars a month just on chicken breasts! I now use Warrior Blend - pea, hemp and rice proteins. I am stronger than ever - stronger than anyone at the UFCgym here (benching over 500, leg press over 1400 - at 51 years of age, at 6'1" 195 lbs.) I am leaner, faster, and have increased my cardiac output and am stronger than I have ever been in my life on a plant-based diet.
HH: Any closing comments or advice to body builders and those thinking about switching their diet?
The switch to a plant-based diet has been a complete catharsis for me. I am a reborn soul. I am kinder, gentler, healthier and happier. The most beautiful part of all of this has been a spiritual awakening. My anger and sarcasm are virtually gone.