March 20, 2014
Meet our Herbie of the Week: Rob!
I heard about Rob's amazing transformation when his wife April posted the following on HH's Facebook page:
"Yay! My hubby has finally crossed over into Herbieland! We were at a market where they hand out samples and they had a lentil English pea medley to try so I took one. He grabbed it from my hands and yelled no it has cheese on it...what he did not know is I asked for one without cheese...he has turned into the food police for our family and I am happy to hand over my torch to him. He also lost 50+ pounds without dieting by going plant-based. In addition his seasonal allergies and acid re-flux are 90% under control! Yay! for Plant Strong!"
I immediately asked if her hubby would share his story for the Herbie of the Week series, and luckily he said yes!
Most of my life I struggled with weight. I was labeled the “fat kid” in school. Coming from an Italian family we always ate, well, meat, meat and more meat at every meal. I grew up in the meat business. My grandfather & father were butchers. They started what is still a thriving meat processing business. Many years later my father opened up another meat market in Los Angeles, where for many years I worked alongside him…so yes, I was in the meat business. Little did I know my filleting skills would come in handy with a mango in the years to come.
I eventually left the family business and started my own automotive repair business. At 38 life was great! My auto repair business was thriving, I was very active, loved racing, working on motorcycles and race cars. Unfortunately, an auto accident caused my life to come to a screeching halt. I was left with broken bones and nerve damage in my neck; to say the least I was a mess. I was deemed partially disabled and told by doctors I would have to learn to manage my back pain through pain management, which meant here are some pills for the pain see me in a month. The pain medication caused a new ailment: acid-reflux. They also triggered very bad allergies and worst of all weight gain. For the first 2 years after the accident I was not active at all and the weight just piled on.
Because I could not be as active as I once was, losing the weight was a constant battle. I tried all kinds of fad diets, supplements, and miracle protein shakes. You name it, I tried it. But nothing worked and I would always go back to my normal diet of meat, dairy and some veggies.
During all of this I met my wife April. At the time she was vegetarian, and she wanted me to try her way of eating. After many, many food battles I agreed to give it a try. This was, however, a huge step. Remember my meat background? What would my family/friends think?
Little by little I was losing weight, but I backpedaled many times. I put on the weight again, still on pain meds, acid pills and allergy pills/shots. I had all kinds of symptoms ringing in my ears, could not focus, had trouble breathing, was always tired and still in a lot of pain.
Meanwhile Facebook was becoming popular and my wife was using it to do research. She found T. Colin Campbell, Jeff Novick, Caldwell B. Esselstyn, Jr., M.D., Rip Esselstyn from Engine2, which finally led her to Lindsay, The Happy Herbivore. Everything my wife read and passed on to me made complete sense and was really hard to argue with.
In addition to our health, our compassion for animals and not wanting another being to suffer so that we could live was a huge factor in deciding to go plant-based. We saw so many videos of how these poor animals suffer that we just had to stand up and do something different, which is a complete turn-around from where I was in my younger years.
I was also really tired of feeling unhealthy and being just plain fat. At one point I was up to 258 pounds with a 46 inch waist line! The yo-yo dieting was just not working for me.
So, one day about 2 years ago I decided enough was enough! My wife seized the opportunity and we jumped right into a plant-based lifestyle feet first. Since going plant-based, I have lost a total of 62 pounds, my waistline went from 46 inches is 34 inches. Not bad for a 51 year old man!
I am in less pain, I have more energy, my allergies and acid reflux are nearly non-existent, I rarely get sick with seasonal colds or the flu, I am more mentally focused and feel so much stronger. I will always have times where my back goes out and that is a fact I will always live with, but losing the extra weight for good has eased the pain immensely. I also learned there are so many foods that can ease inflammation, which of course causes pain, so I need less pain medication.
Even though I resisted a plant-based lifestyle in the beginning, I could not be happier because I feel great! I get to eat amazing food, including pastas, cookies, cakes and muffins! I do not miss eating meat at all and I will never go back to any other way of eating. I still have some weight to lose, but now I know what works and will reach my goal!
I would like to thank my wife April for not backing down when I was being a food bully and caring enough about me to be the self-appointed food police (her words). I can now look forward to a long healthy life thanks to her support and efforts to make me whole again. Also a big thank you to Lindsay Nixon and The Happy Herbivore team as well as the Herbie followers who gave my wife the support she needed when I was being a pain…oh! and my wife has now passed the food police title on to me!
Live well everyone!
Thanks Rob for sharing your story with us!