At the young age of 33, I suffered a heart attack. I weighed 285 pounds and was a smoker, my cholesterol was at 210 and I had a family history of heart disease. I had a stent put in to open my clogged right coronary artery, which was 90 percent blocked. It was one of the scariest moments in my life.
For five years I was in denial of my condition even though I quit smoking and started eating better. I lost weight by counting calories but that soon faded, and I was right back where I started again and again. Yo yo diets, they really stink.
I would occasionally still feel minor pain in my heart but never anything to be concerned about, or at least that was what the doctor said. I believed it was only a matter of time before I suffered another heart attack.
I have been on Lipitor and Metoprolol and a baby aspirin. This has always concerned me. I do not want to be saving my heart by killing my liver in the process. So I have been thinking about trying to make changes that will help both. The main goal is to get off my medications completely.
Lipitor did drop my cholesterol from 210 to 120, which is great. The medication did what it was supposed to do.
So I was considering the benefits of a vegan lifestyle when my wife mentioned a movie called "Forks Over Knives." This movie changed my life from the second it started. After the movie, I was determined to eat a plant-strong diet. I started removing all animal food products from the house. I really do not like the term diet, as that implies that you will go back to how you were eating before. I like to call it a lifestyle change instead.
After three months I visited my cardiologist, and my cholesterol was at 69 total. I was taken off Metoprolol, and the Lipitor dose was cut in half.
I have now been off Lipitor for roughly three months. My cholesterol is 129 total - LDL of 70 and HDL of 33), and the doctor is very pleased with these results. All medications have ceased except for the baby aspirin.
I feel great. After meals I never have that feeling like I want to lie down and take a nap. I never feel overly full no matter how much I eat. I have found new tastes and loves for food. I am completely baffled about how much I love this new lifestyle and how easy it was for me to transition. In the 10 months or so that I have been doing this new lifestyle, I have lost more than 50 pounds and continue to drop weight.
I really focused on eating a plant-strong diet and have successfully transitioned to this lifestyle. Now I will start to focus on exercise. I would recommend making one change at time and really focusing on that task. Taking on too much may lead you back to the beginning again. If you try and fail, remember that there is always a new day to start again.
Another big motivator in my life was the birth of my baby girl, Beatrice. She has been a shining light for me to making changes for me to be a better person so that I can live long and watch her grow and be there for her in many years to come.
I love my sweet Bea Mae!
I will be giving a talk with a showing of "Forks Over Knives" at 6 p.m. Saturday, April 13, at Dos Gringos in Carbondale.
Matthew McDonell works in information technology for Colorado Mountain News Media.