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Meet our Herbie of the Week, Dustin. Thanks to a plant-based diet, Dustin lost weight (156 lbs.!!), no longer has high blood pressure, and his lipids and blood sugars are normal!
HH: Give us a little history. What was your health like before?
As for my health, I had almost every weight-related issue you could have. High blood pressure, high triglycerides, sleep apnea, umbilical hernia —you name it. I also had all of the symptoms of type 2 diabetes, I just wouldn't go to the Dr. to confirm it.
HH: What motivated you to make a change?
I had been interested in doing something to get my weight under control forever. I finally decided to do something after I got pneumonia in February of 2012. While not the most life-threatening of things, it made me realize how bad I was letting my health get. I literally got it out of the blue; it wasn't like I had just walked across Antarctica or anything. So it scared me a bit. I began to think, "what's next?"
HH: How did you find your way to a plant-based diet?
Well, I have a small obsession with documentaries and had seen Forks over Knives. The first time I saw it, I thought to myself, "none of those people look like me!" Let's be honest, I was over 400 lbs. —it's tough to take the advice of people who don't look like you or, at the very least, had looked like you at one time. So although I found everything about a plant-based diet sensible, I went about with business as usual. Until I got sick.
HH: Sick? What happened?
While I was sleeping sitting upright in a chair from pneumonia, I thought maybe I should watch that again and take a closer look at it.
HH: What benefits have you experienced since switching to a plant-based diet?
The benefits have been amazing. I really want people to know that by making this pretty simple change, you really can take control of your weight and health. I no longer have high blood pressure, my lipids are great, and I have normal blood sugar. I have tons of energy. I am 41 years old, and my libido is like I am 18 again. Sorry if that last one is T.M.I., but I think for men this is something that worries us. But the biggest thing of all is that I no longer have any fear of ever getting to 400 lbs again. It just can't happen. I know how to eat.
HH: Anything else you'd like to add?
I feel very blessed that I have adopted this lifestyle. The food possibilities are just as endless as an omnivore's diet. Cooking is no more complex. You won't go bankrupt. You don't have to live in a health food store. I had every excuse for why this could be too hard, too tough, too expensive. We have 3 children ages 5, 11, and 13. Our middle son has autism and, as a result, has a feeding tube in his stomach and some crazy food issues. This has meant that while we would cook for us, we would also have to cook completely differently for him. So if it was too hard, too expensive, took too long, didn't taste good, or any of that —I wouldn't be 156 lbs lighter and healthier than I have been in decades.
HH: Thank you, Dustin, for sharing your story with us!
UPDATE (3/27): "When I started, I weighed 415 lbs.; now I am down to 255. My waist size was 56, now a 38, and my shirt size was 6X, now XL :-). I broke my foot running and even though I was basically down and out, there was no weight gain due to being plant-strong. On another note, we just started trying to make our son with autism plant-strong. He has severe eating issues and has a feeding tube, so we are juicing veggies and giving it through his tube. We are only a couple of weeks in, but so far, he seems more attentive and pees a lot more, lol. We will see how it goes. My 13-year-old daughter has been getting more involved in picking meals lately, and she is surprising us with some of her choices. Overall, I just can't say enough great things about going plant-strong. I have lost all of my insecurities over food and weight issues, and I am SO excited about the future."