I am not sure where the old saying comes from, but I know it holds a lot of truth.
Sometimes, we can feel very desperate in life. Situations can be out of our control – in extreme situations the desperation can be the result of feeling like you are literally facing a life or death situation – as could often be experienced by soldiers at war. For your average person, these life or death situations will not be so extreme – rather, life can feel like it is being taken away from you as a result of some chronic illnesses – both diagnosed and undiagnosed.
Pain and Sickness is a Slow Killer of Life – and Your Enjoyment of It!
What pains you in particular that has led you to feeling “desperate” for change will no doubt be unique to your own personal situation. What is truly miserable for you may look and feel like nothing to flinch an eye at to someone else. This subjective experience is important when trying to better yourself – because at the end of the day, even with a doctors input, you are still in charge of your body and mind – and only you can really know what your body is feeling.
Of course, with this comes some additional truth that sometimes we don’t realize quite how bad of a rut we are in until we are in the thick of it.
This could easily be connected to the way we are raised and the society we live within. Growing up in rural Pennsylvania comes with plenty of positive and negative traits. I have always been a relatively active and outdoorsy type of person, which is no doubt to my benefit as I approach my later years.
On the opposite side, it is so common place to have a poor diet as has been passed down by our parents and even society as a whole.
Scientific research is catching up with our body’s desire to feel better – A tobacco case study
Some of this is understandable – for the longest time growing up there was not a whole lot of scientific investigation and research into the food we eat and how different aspects of our lifestyles can significantly impact our longevity on this earth as well as our enjoyment of this time, too.
But, things are changing now.
An easy example of social change regarding things we consume is our perception of tobacco cigarettes.
In the 50’s, they were everywhere, and it seemed like virtually everyone smoked. The negative impact of them on health and well-being was not really known – and what was known was well hidden by the tobacco industry (sound familiar??).
It is only in more recent decades that they have started to be viewed negatively by society. The government has increased taxes on cigarette sales, and a ban on advertising in many areas has reduced the ability for big tobacco companies to spread their message. With cigarette smoking decreasing around the country, it is a powerful case study for what may happen in the future as more foods we consume that were once thought good for us (or at least: harmless) are investigated.
Science is catching up with diet as a whole, too!
This is already starting to come to fruition. Much like cigarette smoking has been associated with a number of acute and chronic conditions such as cancer, emphysema, heart disease, addiction, etc.; so too have many of the foods we were trained to enjoy eating growing up.
Red meat has been linked to increased cancer and heart disease risk. The use of preservatives and high levels of sodium have been linked to these and other conditions as well.
We are at a pretty significant turning point in the world – but unfortunately not one that is so simple as cigarette consumption because this impacts just about everyone in the Western world in a significant way. Don't take this lightly either - as cigarettes were an unneeded pleasure source that is still a difficult habit to kick - it's just that food in general is required just to exist!
A large source of this conflict begins with objective scientific research, and ends with huge corporations with vested interest in meat and dairy industries (just to name two that would be largely impacted) that have a lot of money and political power through lobbying efforts in Washington D.C. and local governments. We did a piece about MilkLife leading up to the 2016 Summer Olympics about this sort of involvement of big business if your interested in learning more about the powers some of these organizations have.
All of this background and discussion has no meaning without some real life implications.
I can admit, just a few years ago I felt legitimately desperate. Desperate for change – but in a place where finding a solution that I could stick to was difficult.
There would be days just searching for a possible solution among the millions of things advertised on television, online, and even through word-of-mouth by friends and family that it would feel overwhelming. One diet says eating just carbs is the solution, another says eating all meat is a solution, another says consume just baby food for 30 days, and further still we have recommendations to do a water fast "cleanse" for 40 days like Christ in the wilderness.
It is certainly difficult to feel motivated when your mind can get into a fog so quickly just trying to figure out what the best route is to take as we all have the same end goal in mind: feeling better, healthier, and more energetic.
For a long time, I expected that a part of my problem could be narrowed down to diet. Like I’ve said already, I was used to being fairly active, though as I became increasingly overweight even my activity levels started to drop off.
I started to evaluate the foods I was eating on a regular basis. A big void on my plate was a larger selection of fruits, vegetables, and other “plant foods.” Like many people, these were just foods added to a larger meal. Big Italian meals like pasta with extra cheese, sauce will a ton of oil, and some red meat or chicken to boot were common place. They were tasty and felt good – but in retrospect were not good for my health.
A whole foods, plant-based diet is about learning how to reprogram your body and mind…
One of the biggest hurdles in changing diets is learning how to do without the things you enjoy – or have been conditioned to enjoy. It would be a lie to say a meal like the one I just described does not make me salivate – it probably does the same for you. But with that said, I have successfully found alternatives that I have learned to crave.
If this is a struggle you have, you should know that you first have to break the cycle of what is essentially addiction to these foods, and find ways to replace them comfortably within new diet guidelines.
Anyways, after accepting within myself something had to change about this diet of mine, I began exploring plant-based alternatives. I did a good deal of reading early on without making a change – The Starch Solution by Dr. McDougall was a great starting point in addition to some other well regarded books that have come to help shape the lifestyle.
By this point, it really felt like I was making a “desperate” attempt to better myself. I was in a lot of pain, carried a lot of extra weight, and didn’t want to be the subject of many medications to keep my blood pressure under control and pain at bay. I felt doctors up to this point never helped me treat the root cause of the problem – so I took things into my own hands.
I made an active decision one day several years ago to adopt a whole food, plant-based diet and have not looked back since. With this change came a gradual decline in a significant amount of weight, a decrease in pain from some chronic conditions I faced, and the ability to no longer need medications to help keep my body regulated artificially. It is a powerful thing, and I can feel the impact on my body from my head to my toes.
What comes next after such significant change?
I like to share my story because I have been keeping notes about my transformation for a long while. I knew my feelings and have photos to showcase how overweight I was, and just talking to friends, family, and my wife about my previous self – I can fully understand how I am a different person today than I was a few years ago.
Today, I am in a far better state of mind and body. I feel healthier and rejuvenated. Going for walks, hiking, lifting weights at the gym, maintaining my garden, etc. have become far easier on me. These are things I have generally always enjoyed – but started to lose the ability to do well and without pain over the years.
Reclaiming my health has significantly improved my way of living, and is letting me enjoy myself even into my 60’s.
Fortunately, I can say the “next steps” in life are easier to make because of this change. Right now, I continue to work with my contracting business, and enjoy the little things in life that make it better for me like hiking and canoeing with my dog Bailey (seen above). I can also get down on the ground and play with my grandson Hunter – another reason why I decided to commit to changing my lifestyle.
You can make big changes in your life, too!
The most important reason why I take the time to create YouTube videos and write content on this website is because I like sharing this with you. I hope you are able to see some hope if you are in a dark place – and see that it is possible to make big changes in your life regardless of age or situation.
Feel free to share your thoughts or concerns in the comment section below! I try to respond to all comments if I can – especially those well thought out and helping to generate discussion!