Note from Blaze: Many of us have heard the phrase, “You are what you eat.” We know that what we put into our body fuels us or breaks us but it can be so difficult to change our eating habits. I attempted to join Travis on this journey to wellness. I had a wonderful 1st week that was very cleansing but the next thing I knew, I was eating super salty corn chips 24/7 and wondering why my stomach hurt so badly. Clearly, I wasn’t ready. But, the seed has been planted! Thank you Travis for your willingness to share your journey of reclaiming your health. It has been incredibly inspiring to witness your self discipline as you make empowering choices.

I was sick and getting sicker.  Despite an outward appearance of health, my arteries were becoming clogged with cholesterol and my blood was awash in uric acid causing painful and debilitating episodes of gout.  If it weren’t for this extreme pain, I would have probably never gone to the doctor and would have continued to ignore my other minor symptoms such as less energy, increasing frequency of chest pain and an overall sense of physical decline where every day it seemed a different part of my body ached.

My doctor said I should get used to the idea that I would be on medication for the rest of my life to treat both the gout and cholesterol.  I could understand the cholesterol, it seems like many guys my age are on medication for that, but I thought gout was an old man’s disease. Still at forty two, she said I was going to do permanent damage to my joints by allowing these recurring gout attacks to go untreated.  I was committed to overcoming gout without medication, but despite my efforts, the attacks came at greater frequency causing my feet to swell, several days of wrenching pain and a trip to the doctor’s office for a prescription for colchicine.

As if the gout wasn’t bad enough, each time I went to the doctor, she drew my blood and lectured me about my chronically high cholesterol levels.  I confessed to her I was having recurring episodes of chest pain and she countered with stories of other patients who had waited too long, to their own demise.  She said with medication I could alleviate both disorders and that at my age, it was time to act.  I finally gave in and started taking daily doses of simvastatin to decrease my cholesterol and allopurinol to reduce my uric acid.

Two years later, I was still religiously taking my two pills every day.  My cholesterol was down and I hadn’t had another gout attack, but I felt sicker than ever.  I was still having regular bouts of chest pain and lethargy and had a general sense that my overall health was in steep decline.  Now in my mid-forties I wondered, Is this normal?

Despite my repeated attempts at improving my health naturally over the years, deep down I knew I could do better.  I had never really seriously modified my diet, and instead, relied on extreme exercise to manage my weight.  This left me appearing fit on the outside, but riddled with disease on the inside. Not only that, but I was plagued with the gnawing disappointment that I wasn’t living up to my own expectations or potential.

mindovermedLast fall, I reached a low point with recurring bouts of chest pain and knew once again I needed to make some changes.  More medication was not the answer, but wasn’t sure how to go about it. That’s when Blaze lent me a copy of Lissa Rankin’s book, Mind Over Medicine which energized and renewed my belief that I had the power within myself to improve my health.  I didn’t need to resign myself to a lifetime of daily medication and accept a steady physical decline toward an early death.  I still didn’t have a plan, but shortly thereafter, I stumbled upon the documentary movie Forks Over Knives and was reminded of the numerous health benefits of consuming a plant-based, whole foods diet.  I was ready for change.

On October 8, 2014 I adopted the dietary plan espoused in Forks Over Knives, consuming only plant-based foods and avoiding all hyper-processed foods which are usually packed full of additional fats, sugars and chemicals and stripped of nutrients, fiber, and the natural essence humans have relied upon for eons.  I had already greatly reduced my intake of caffeine and alcohol, and had a regular exercise routine, so these changes with my food intake were the next step in a natural progression.  A month later, with agreement from my doctor, I stopped all medication.forks

The effects were immediate.  Within the first few days I felt lighter and had more energy.  After the first week, I lost over five pounds and after eight weeks I lost 15 pounds and was back down to my “natural” weight, the same I was in college 25 years ago.  People commented about how much younger I looked.  I slept better and felt more vibrant.

It has been seven months since I started this new way of living and it has been one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.  I’m medication and disease free.  No gout attacks or chest pain and I feel great.  The most amazing part of all of this has been that this has been all natural.  By simply consuming a plant-based, whole foods diet, I’ve cured myself from the doctors said would be two lifetime diseases.

The journey is not over.  It feels like I’m just getting started, but for me it basically comes down to is this: what I put in my body matters.  It is up to me, every time I lift a fork to my mouth, to be mindful of that decision.