Archive for osteoporosis

“Dang it, there go the hamburgers”

Paul & Orva Johnson closeupBy: Paul Johnson

My wife and I have always tried to eat with a mind toward health. But I enjoyed a good hamburger, barbequed tri-tips, chocolate shakes, ice cream, etc. In fact I would have been perfectly happy to have hamburgers for every meal. I still would—but I can’t do it, because I know too much about what that would do to my body, not to mention the cows’ bodies.

So my journey toward a plant-based diet came slowly. As my wife became totally plant-based, I supported her (easy to do since she looks amazing). We had mostly plant-based food at home, except for cheese and a few other things like that. She learned to cook meals that could be done completely plant-based or with a little bit of cheese or even meat thrown in.

At 46 I was in very good health, or so I thought. I was in a kick-boxing class, could do 80 pushups, and could run forever. But my feet started to tingle a lot. The tingling gradually grew into outright pain. Terrible, unbearable pain. I went to several doctors who simply couldn’t figure out what was going on. When they took x-rays of my feet they were astounded. My bones were disappearing. I was osteoporotic as an otherwise healthy 46-year-old male: practically unheard of.

After numerous tests, they discovered my kidneys were throwing out all of my calcium, causing my parathyroid glands to grab the calcium from my bones so that my body would have enough to function. The docs gave me prescriptions to help my condition. Nothing worked and the meds had weird, unacceptable side effects. During this time they also discovered I was pre-diabetic, glucose intolerant. Apparently my feet found out I was about to become diabetic and decided to get peripheral neuropathy early—thus the tingling, numbness and sharp pains in my feet. (I realize that numbness and pain don’t seem too congruent, but just ask anybody with neuropathy about that. They won’t be able to explain why, but they’ll make a pretty convincing case that it happens.)

So now I had two problems: diabetes and the kidney thing. I had also had two very bad kidney stones, requiring three surgeries between them because they would not pass on their own. I was given more medicine for the diabetes issue and was told to cut way down on carbs: go easy on the fruit and bread and eat meat. My wife was very supportive and went out of her way to make sure I could follow the standard American diet for diabetes.

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“I’ve started wearing belts and much snappier outfits!”

Bob and Carolyn AllenBy: Carolyn Allen

I was 12 years old when I saw a picture of myself that would impact my entire life. As an adolescent I had put on some weight, but not any height. I’m so short-waisted and short-legged that there was no place to hide any extra weight. Even five pounds is a big deal for me. In the photo, I was chubby and had an unflattering outfit, but more than that, my face was sad and unhappy. Looking at myself, I felt distressed.

So at age 12, I started to exercise and watch what I ate. I didn’t tell anyone, but when my mom commented that I looked different, I told her I’d lost 5 pounds. My weight went up and down by as much as 30 pounds during the next 8 years. It greatly affected my self-esteem. I also had a strange genetic disorder that resulted in my starting 7th grade as toothless as a first grader. Ages 12-18 were spent trying to lose weight and waiting for teeth to grow in. Needless to say, I was not a cheerleader or prom queen. Add the typical woes of adolescent acne and social challenges, and no one could pay me enough to do those years again!

I was chubby when I went off for my freshman year at BYU where I gained more weight. As I returned home for the summer, in my frustration of gaining the 10 pounds, I gained another five. I reached what was later my top maternity weight. I could see myself ballooning into a very overweight girl, much like my paternal grandmother and aunts and uncles, so in desperation, lonely and scared, I went to the local Weight Watchers. Thankfully, I lost the ten pounds and got a moderate grip on things.

As the years went by, I returned to Weight Watchers many times, and I thank this program from the bottom of my heart. It saved me from becoming obese. My happiness level went up and down through these years, but as I look back, it could have been much, much worse. Eventually I became a Weight Watchers leader. My years of sharing the importance of “A Balanced Diet of Fruits and Veggies! Meat! Dairy! Protein! Be Healthy and You’ll Be Happy!” were a lot of fun and were the foundation of my current writing and business.

During these years, Weight Watchers actually came out with a vegetarian program where you could “eat as much as desired of these foods until you are satisfied.” As I look back on it, it was pretty much a whole-food-plant-based program that I dismissed with “Who would ever do that!” I loved my skim milk, cottage cheese, weekly allotment of cheese, beef meals, etc. And with a sweet tooth that was never really under control, I sure wasn’t going to go that route!

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