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Anvils in America, THE book about anvils

Health and Diet

The Guru's Story : Part I

Digging out of 35 years of poor diet and lack of exercise resulting in a weight of 390 pounds and a 68" waist. . . Will this be a success story or a failure?.

Around the end of 2009 I stepped on the scales and was shocked that I was getting close to needing to put ANOTHER 100 pound poise on the scale. . I was 390 pounds (177 kilos)! I was wearing the largest Carhartt coveralls made (60 x 32) and had to have them modified to add 6" to fit around my belly.

When I was young I was a very skinny kid. So skinny that the doctors kept telling my parents to feed me peanut butter sandwiches and milk shakes. They did not as I was not the only skinny one in the family. At age 14 I weighed 70 pounds. I walked as much as 10 miles daily going to school, playing in the woods and just doing "stuff". When I got married at age 22 I weighed about 110 pounds and my wife weighed 98 pounds. I am average height, 5'8" and my wife 5'6.

During these early years I worked as a mechanic, service station manager then a blacksmith for a number of years. My diet was lousy (junk food, fast food, snacks and fairly "normal" meals at home) but I was young and active. I put on muscle and my weight increased to about 130. At age 26 I was probably my healthiest weight despite the high quantity of junk food in my diet.

Then in 1980 I went to work in our family business as a machine designer. It was a desk and management job. The most regular exercise I got for years was a 25 mile commute in a pickup truck and climbing steps up to the office several times a day. Over the next decade I gained 110 pounds eating pizza or similar for lunch and dinner during the week. By 1990 I weighed about 240. During most of the next decade I worked part time at a desk job and part time at home, also at desk job. This was the time of the computer revolution and I was heavily into it. I now had a Mt.Dew habit and was drinking a 2 liter bottle a day and weighed about 320 pounds.

In 1998 I launched It rapidly grew into a 16 hour or more a day desk job and my Mt.Dew habit increased to two 2 liter bottles a day. I was the stereotypical computer geek living on pizza and soft drinks. Then my marriage fell apart and I was living alone. My weight increased to 350. Then about 2002 I stopped drinking soft drinks and tried to improve my health by eating better and eating less. I lost about 15 pounds over 6 months but was still eating too much fast food. In 2005 I moved in with a woman friend who had worked for Weight Watchers and knew something about diet. But she liked to cook for me and we both enjoyed going out to eat at least once a week. I started drinking Diet Mt.Dew with Aspertame. . . Sheri kept the refrigerator full of cheese, turkey. ham and bread in the cabinets and I ate myself up to 390 pounds by 2009. I had not weighed myself in a couple years and was shocked when I realized I was close to the 400 pound point.

It is easy to get into this predicament. All you have to do is gain 10 pounds a year for 25 years. For many years I did not gain weight but in those that I did I gained most of it between Thanksgiving and New Years.

Besides the weight gain sitting all day long was resulting in circulation problems and my lower legs swelling to nearly double their size. When it started they would lose the swelling over night and then swell again during the day. By 2008 my legs had stopped shrinking at night and occasionally I noticed my hands swelling as well.

It was now difficult to walk and I could only spend a few minutes at a time on my feet, especially in the shop. I was still putting in over 12 hours a day maintaining anvilfire. Sometime in late 2009 I developed some sores on the calves of my legs that did not heal. Over the next months they got worse and worse even though we were cleaning the wounds daily and applying antibiotic ointments. The cellular fluid in my legs was leaking through the sore and I was using up large heavy pads and dressings on my legs every day.

From January to April 2009 the wounds on my calves had not changed but now I was having needle like pains in my legs. These became excruciating and did not go away. By May I knew I HAD to do something. I had no money for doctors, no insurance. I had to do this on my own.

jdd at 345 and -5 inches

Time for a Cure

Desperate times require desperate measures.

On the first Monday of May I fasted and stayed in bed all day. My good friend Josh Greenwood had told me about Dr. Joel Fuhrman and the great things he was doing with nutrition. He had told me enough that I immediately changed my diet to no meat, no cheese, no wheat. I also stopped drinking diet soft drinks. Better REAL sugar than Aspertame!

That is me to the left AFTER I had last 40 pounds and 6 inches off my waist.

I looked up Dr. Fuhrman's web site and printed out his food pyramid and ANDI rating chart with about 100 food items and put them on the refrigerator door. This was to be our primary dietary guide for the next month.

For a number of years I had thought about going vegetarian for my health but would have done it wrong without the guidance of Dr. Fuhrman's FREE information on-line. Going vegetarian wasn't hard but doing without bread, pasta and cheese was the worst!

My new diet now consisted of:

Breakfast : Bowl of Cherrios, 2% milk and a sliced banana in the cereal.

Lunch : A green salad with fresh spinach greens, tomatoes, cucumbers and Sheri's beans (a multi bean and vegetable stew). We topped the beans with Herdez Salsa (the closest thing to the REAL traditional Spanish salsa). Then fruit (an orange, apple or peach).

Dinner : The same as lunch plus steamed vegetables (frozen broccoli, frozen Brussels sprouts, onion and garlic). I topped this with Herdez Salsa OR occasionally Ragu Chunky Vegetable Spaghetti sauce. A fruit salad for desert.

The above has been modified. First by changing the 2% milk with skim milk then with Silk Almond Milk. I no longer eat Cherrios every day. The salsa was found to be too high in sodium and now we make our own. Sheri's beans now have no meat for flavoring, no added sodium and have the bean protein balanced with lintels, sesame seeds and barley then fortified with spinach or kale (the number one green vegetable).

See Sheri's Balanced Beans recipe.

In two weeks my legs had healed 98% and the swelling was gone. I stayed in bed for the entire Month of May. I lost 30 pounds and was down to 355. But about the first of June I developed a sudden and very painful infection in my right knee. It felt like it was in the joint so we looked up an orthopedist. It turned out to be a staph infection with an abscess just below my knee cap (source or reason unknown). Two weeks on antibiotics, $700 later and more bed rest to get straight then another week to get over the antibiotics. . .

Meanwhile I had ordered Dr. Fuhrman's books and read Eating for Life. It was a revelation. I learned things I never knew and about all the things that are just out and out lies and misinformation by the U.S. food industry, Beef and Dairy industries and the U.S. Government (which was taught to us and to our children).

Among the things I learned:

  • There is NO science behind the first and current updated USDA food pyramid. It was simply based on what Americans ate at the time. Among the lies taught to us and deeply ingrained into U.S. psyche are the statements that you need meat, eggs or fish for protein (green vegetables have as much and better quality protein) AND that you need dairy for the calcium. The fat in dairy actually causes you to excrete calcium and the same green vegetable that have plenty of protein also have lots of calcium which you retain more of.

  • Fuhrman's formula for healthy eating, H = N/C says that low nutrient per calorie foods like wheat and processed grains should be a VERY small part of a healthy diet yet the USDA food pyramid says you should eat more breads and grains than anything else. They USDA food pyramid is almost upside down!

  • Diabetes can be CURED by diet in a relatively short period of time and coronary heart disease artery disease could also be cured in a bit longer time. The sodium in salt, which most of us know is a factor in high blood pressure is in fact the ONLY factor in high blood pressure (now found to be only half true). If you want to reduce your chance of stroke or heart attack you want a VERY low salt diet. To cure existing coronary heart disease artery disease you need to combine a low fat diet (to lower your cholesterol) with the low salt diet with healthy omega-3 fats from nuts, seeds and seafood. Fuhrman backs up his claims with science and actual case studies.

  • The probability of cancer can be reduced greatly by a high antioxidant, high micro nutrient meat free diet. Global studies prove it. A diet free of animal protein AND with high antioxidants can slow the progression of existing cancers and possibly be a cure.

A life Change, Being a Nutritarian

Changing to a "Nutritarian" diet is a life change, not a short term weight loss diet. It is also NOT moral vegetarianism or veganism. It is based on science, not a philosophical construct. You do it for yourself and your family, to live longer, be healthier and avoid outrageous medical bills.

A Nutritarian diet requires learning new ways of eating, new recipes to cook, new ways to deal with eating out. If you think a vegetarian has a hard time dining out, a Nutritarian has an even harder time. While Nutritarians are not moral vegans and do not panic because some meat flavoring was added to their beans, finding low salt food can be even more difficult. Almost anything processed, canned, or prepared in a restaurant is high salt. Most salad bars are pretty bland and except for fresh broccoli is often pretty low nutrition. However some larger food bars have a fair selection of fresh and cooked vegetables. So it IS possible to eat healthy in some restaurants IF if you try.

With a new dietary plan it is easy to find a few things you like and to have a very limited and boring diet. So there is a lot of learning involved. We were lucky in that one thing we had on a regular basis, Sheri's Beans, were a very good thing to have on our diet and a near meat replacement.

With research and talking to friends we learned about raw Cacao nibs, Goji berries, Acai juice and Almond milk. The exotic seeds and berries are very high in vitamins, nutrients and antioxidants, good additives to salads or eaten with as nutrient snacks. While these are not necessary or suggested by Dr. Fuhrman, they do add some variety and are high in micro-nutrients that Dr. Fuhrman and others such as Dr. T. Colin Campbell claim, prevent or are protect against cancer. There is also some evidence indicating cancer cures from a high antioxidant high nutrient diet. See, Vegetarians, Vegans and the Nutritarian.


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