Letter from a Reader

I received an e-mail today from a Don’t Die Early reader. Knowing that my book is helping people obtain tangible, measurable improvements in health and quality of life is what makes this effort worthwhile.

Here is the letter in its entirety…

“Daddy, are you obese?”

I still remember when my youngest son posed that question to me. We had just purchased a Wii Fit for the family—my wife had actually wanted it, and at the time I was not really looking for another way to remind myself that I was out of shape.

But there it was, glaring at me from the TV screen as I stood on the Fit pad and it measured my weight, calculated my BMI and showed the result in a colorful, if depressing, bar chart next to my avatar.

My answer was typical…I rationalized, using facts to hide the truth, not from my son, but from myself. I remarked on the ridiculousness of the BMI as a measure, that it fails to take into account a person’s frame. I explained how metabolism slows down over time, and that age alone can make it difficult to stay healthy.

Half-truths, excuses and outright lies, really…told to my son and to myself.

It would be another 5 years, 30 pounds and the onset of PSVT before I would take my health seriously again.

I could be blithe about this testimonial and say that the information so carefully researched and compiled in this book finally got me on the path, that some lightbulb went off in my brain that got me headed in the right direction.

If I were honest, though, I would have to say that I played skeptic, overlong perhaps, in my own review and acceptance if the information contained herein, owing mostly to my own ingrained preconceptions about the medical establishment, their purpose, their accumulated knowledge and the training they all receive. In short, I gave them far too much credit in areas where, by and large, they have not earned it.

I started to recount the times, over the years, that my own physicians provided nothing more than a prescription for one of three antibiotics (or all three in a couple of cases) in a meager effort to address a range of maladies. I can’t honestly say that any of those efforts made a difference, or if it just gave my mind and body enough of a placebo-like effect to let it do its job.

And then I started to think seriously about the most alarming medical incident I have had in my life: the (first) instance of sudden onset SVT, which scared the living daylights out of me, as I sat at my desk at work a number of years ago. It didn’t drive me to the ER, but I was in my doctor’s office the next morning.

He ran the standard cardiac battery to see if we could find out why this happened, but the results were what one would expect. My cholesterol was fine. My follow-on stress-test was fine. Ultrasound, ECG, blood-work, all good. No indicators of a possible risk, except, perhaps, that I was heavier than I needed to be.

None of this gave me any comfort, nor did anything the doctor said, which amounted to 20 minutes of “we don’t really have a clue what happened or what might’ve caused it, but we’re concerned about this development, too.”

Despite all of the questions I still had, and the mountain of answers I was missing, I proceeded on as most of us do, not really changing any of my habits or being as concerned about the situation as I should have been.

My weight continued to rise, I had additional instances of SVT (though none as alarming and severe as that first one) and I continued to eat the whole-grain, high-carb, fruits & fruit juices (natural sugar is good sugar, right?) diet I’d been on most of my life—because that’s what all of the experts say is either good for you or, at least, won’t kill you if you do it in moderation.

Then I read “Don’t Die Early.”

To be fair, I’d been exposed to the work of several of the authors and physicians cited throughout this work over the years. Of course, I had dismissed much of it out of hand, not after a thorough review, but because I was comfortable listening to ‘experts’ tell me just how not-far-off-from-a-balanced-diet-and-lifestyle I was (in general).

But this book made it pretty hard for me to ignore so many reasoned and, in many instances, unasked questions about modern medical practice, nutrition, food production and consumption. What we do and don’t know (or more correctly, what we know but don’t want to really acknowledge and act upon) about heart health and the real impacts of glucose, fructose, and gluten on the body.

I took it in, I gave it lip service, and then I talked to a friend who was struggling with some of the same issues, had some of the same questions, but was preparing, along with his spouse, to jump in with both feet and see if the ideas detailed in this book might bear fruit. As part of this effort, he he set me a challenge, the same one he and his spouse decided to take, and one I could not ignore: “A person can do anything for two weeks, right?”

It sounded simple enough.

The real challenge for me…well, the challenges, let’s be fair, were that I despise most vegetables, I am a certified sugar junky, and I have the willpower of a turnip (which I still refuse to eat).

But two weeks—I have to find the will to do this for at least two weeks.

And so I stepped into the fray, just to see….and it was the most important decision I have ever made in my life.

I had suffered for years with multiple issues I had erroneously chalked up to age and my ever-increasing weight: near constant fatigue, regular migraine headaches, chronic congestion, allergies, irregular insomnia, countless stomach and gut issues including heartburn and acid reflux, joint and back pain, and numerous other issues that occurred irregularly but were noticeably detrimental to my health.

That has all changed, and it is undeniable in my specific case.

Within 72 hours, my stomach issues, congestion and joint pain were all but gone.

Within a week, my sleep patterns had regularized, and on nights when I had issues (mostly of the kids-up-until-Conan-replays variety), the next day I was still attentive and alert…little to no fatigue.

I wasn’t grazing anymore. I had re-learned the difference between hunger and cravings, and more importantly, my body had relearned what I spent years forcing it to forget…that it doesn’t have to be stuffed every 4 to 6 hours with more food in one sitting that my body probably needs in any two-day span, and it sure as hell doesn’t need gluten or grains!

To be clear, it wasn’t obvious to me that all of this had happened until the second week. It was then that I started taking stock of my own health in the wake of that challenge, and the results, as detailed above, were compelling.

As I write this, I’ve hit two weight plateaus in my weight loss, but I am once again losing the pounds (32 and counting with 46 more to go before I hit what I have set as my minimum target). I have range of motion in all joints the likes of which I have not had in at least 15 years. I sleep well most nights, and when I don’t, I’m not the carb-zombie the next day that I used to be. And believe you me, picky as I am, I do NOT go hungry. :)

Most of all, my wife and children have noticed how big and how positive the change has been in my health, and as a result, I have some new travelers joining me on this journey.

I must confess that my own pickiness, and my avowed addiction to SOME foods do keep me from following every recommendation laid forth by the author.

But it seems clear to me at this juncture that most of what is presented is not only do-able; it’s fundamentally necessary to my longevity and the quality of life that I want, and really need to have, for me and for my family.



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