Meet our Herbie of the Week, Russ! After switching to a plant-based diet, he lost 119 pounds and went off ALL of his medications for high blood pressure, high cholesterol, high triglycerides and depression.
I also love that as fate would have it, our 100th interview in this series, lost 100lbs — err excuse me, 119lbs!!!
"Me and a friend this last Lent (Spring 2013), and I was down within 5 lbs of where I am now."
HH: What spurred your change? What made you get healthy?
About 2 years ago, I looked in the mirror and did not like what I saw. I went from my normal size 34 jeans to size 38 and they were getting too small. I knew I had to do something. I was also on four different medications. One for high blood pressure, one for high cholesterol, one for high triglycerides and finally, one for depression. I knew I had to make a change. But, I also knew I had a few months of major holidays ahead of me. So I decided to wait until February 20, 2012 to start my diet as that is what I intended to do, was diet.
Seeing how I still had 6 months before I was going to start, I’m not sure everyone believed I would really diet. After all, I was putting it off for so many months. However, my brother, my wife, and mother knew I could.
"Regarding the pictures in this post: I have to tell you I stopped getting photos taken when I was my all-time high. So the best pics I can give you are my about 259 lbs approx."
HH: How'd you learn about the plant-based diet and lifestyle?
In the months before my start date, I watched the movie “Forks Over Knives” — I got excited! Then “The Engine 2 Diet,” and as a former Volunteer Firefighter, it hit home.
Next I got my first book, “The Kind Diet”. I got even more excited, but could I really eat this way? I’m a great cook and, like everyone around me, I loved to eat meat. Also I would drink ½ gallon of 1% milk each day. Could I really do this? I was still not sure. Maybe I will just cut back and eat less.
Next I found via the internet “The Happy Herbivore.” I checked out Lindsay’s website and got really excited… I think I can do this. I ordered my first of her books “The Happy Herbivore Cookbook” — I loved it. Keep in mind, it is still not yet February 20th, but it was getting close. I started doing a little shopping, making small changes in my day to day diet and then came the BIG DAY! February 20th, 2012 had arrived.
HH: How'd you feel? Did you switch to a 100% plant-based diet that day?
I was scared! I’ve hyped this diet up so much, could I really live up to it? Day 1, I did a lot of things with my Vitamix!!! I love that blender. I am going to confess, the first 10 days were hard for me but by day 11, this was not only easy, it was fun! Then I started doing a little more from the cookbooks.
HH: Did you experience any benefits?
I was down 20lbs in the first 2-3 months! That got me really really excited and I went kind of hardcore. "I can do this, I really think I can," I told myself. I then got my next book, “Everyday Happy Herbivore”. Then I was really cooking!
I forgot to mention at the start of my diet I was around 279 lbs! After a few months I was down 40 lbs to about 239 lbs! I had not seen that weight in over 14 years.
HH: I've heard you have inspired other family members to adopt a plant-based diet. Tell us about that.
Around the time I'd lost 40 lbs, I took a trip to see my oldest brother in PA. The only problem was I had to go shopping so I could have things to make and eat.
He and his girlfriend could not believe how good I looked and how much I had lost. His girlfriend, who had been going to the gym for almost two years and lost 10 lbs, was excited. I showed some of the simple things I ate. When I left, I had over-shopped and left some things behind. She then started to try some of my food and went on a vegan diet. As of today, I think she has lost an additional 40 lbs. She was just here visiting us a few weeks ago and looks great! Now back to me.
HH: Ha ha! Yes! Back to you! Tell us more!
I never went to the gym to lose this weight but I sure watched what I ate and I was faithful to my new DIET!? No, this was no longer a diet, it was a lifestyle change. Now I’m off all my medication, my numbers are perfect!
I lost a total of 97lbs in a little over a year: February 20th 2012 – May 10th 2013.
I look and feel great. I’m now wearing size 30 jeans, and they are not tight. And I think I could fit in size 29s.
I just got my copy of “Happy Herbivore Abroad” and can’t wait till the release of “Happy Herbivore Light & Lean”. I am already light and lean, but I want to do more. I’m now 182lbs!
"Xmas photo of this past year (2012) — I was down 87 lbs to around 192 lbs"
HH: Anything else you'd like to add?
I just want to give special thanks to Lindsay S. Nixon, Rip Esselstyn, Alicia Silverstone, the folks at Forks Over Knives and so many others! Thanks for giving me the foundation for my new healthy life! Without all of you, I would not be where I am today. My sincerest thanks to you all.
I hope my story helps and motivates others.
Regarding the pictures in this post: I have to tell you I stopped getting photos taken when I was my all-time high. So the best pics I can give you are my about 259 lbs approx. And then the Xmas photo of this past year (2012), I was down 87 lbs to around 192 lbs, then the last photo with me and a friend was this last lent (Spring 2013), and I was down within 5 lbs of where I am now [Editorial note: noted in the captions above].
I don't like to get on a scale too much as I think it messes with my head :) but I was at the doctor's recently, and that's the scale I've used to track my progress. It's shocking... I have now lost 119 lbs!!!!! That's an entire person!!! I'm way excited. Anyhow, I took a few photos today. I'm so proud to be the 100th Herbie of the week!!!
You are an inspiration, Russ! Keep up the great work!
UPDATE: October 10, 2013:
Another update... I'm currently in Size 28 jeans, can't find 27's!!!!
UPDATE: October 14, 2013:
Check this out..... This was the launch of Omaha's first CNG Compressed Natural Gas fuel station in Omaha... and b.t.w. I own 3! 2 Honda Civics and 1 ford E350 van... at about 30 seconds into this video... for a few seconds you will see me and my wife/kids... pushing a stroller... WOW WAS I FAT!!!!
HH: But not anymore! GOOO Plants!
Myself, my wife Debbie and my mom Oodie, Ronnie Dunn (from Brooks and Dunn), Parmalee and Joe Nichols... missing from pic is Phil Vassar...