By: Brad Clark
In March 2013 I was 43 years old, 281 pounds, eating the standard American diet, working long hours, and generally not taking care of myself. My wife and five kids (aged 5 to 15) were used to my low levels of energy and high levels of frustration. I had recently given up on yet another diet program sponsored by my work which “worked” because I’d lost 20 lbs on it, but it was also a failure because just like the dozens of times I’d tried to lose weight before I’d put the weight back on. And that is when I started to notice some discomfort when I’d try any activity more than casual walking.
At first I just thought it was a new low in my level of fitness and that if I stuck it out and got on a treadmill I could raise my fitness. But no, the pain persisted. It took more than a month for me to get the guts up to make an appointment with my primary care physician. The day I called to make the appointment the receptionist asked why I wanted to visit. The alarm in her voice as I explained my symptoms—and the fact that she made an appointment for me to see him the same day—scared me even more.
I worked in the middle of San Francisco, so leaving for the doctor mid-day meant having to walk almost a mile to the BART (transit) station. On the walk I was alarmed that the pain I had been hoping to brush under the rug was now intense enough that I was relieved each time I got to stop at the crosswalk. The reality of my situation was finally sinking in, and I knew I was in trouble. That was Wednesday, May 22, 2013. By that Friday I was on my cardiologist’s treadmill and though the official diagnosis took a little longer to receive, that Friday is also the last time I’ve eaten any animal products and the day I started on my return journey to health.
Having lost both parents to heart disease I had previously researched preventative programs. Years earlier I had even followed the Ornish program for about six months before falling off of it. But because of that experience, the day I was diagnosed with heart disease I knew exactly what I needed to do and was finally motivated enough to do it.
Making the transition to a whole foods, plant-based diet meant changing more than the food I ate. I was now different than other members of my ward. I found most member reactions ranged from puzzled to mildly supportive. Four years later I am still explaining my choices at every social event that involves food.
By choosing a plant-based diet I was also choosing not to follow the advice of my cardiologist who insisted the only solution was stenting and/or bypass surgery. I found the scientific evidence supported my decision. I also had faith that the Lord knew my days and that they would not be less. I was just taking action to keep whatever time I have on the earth as illness-free as possible.
It has now been four years since my diagnosis of heart disease. My original thallium stress test indicated “moderate” heart disease. A year ago I did a follow-up test that was in the normal/mild range. I am also 110 pounds lighter, my total cholesterol is below 100, and my blood pressure is consistently on the low range of normal. I credit this way of eating for this success.
I am grateful that the Lord allows us not only spiritual repentance, but physical repentance too. I know that this way of eating is in line with the Word of Wisdom and will allow our bodies to heal from many of the common diseases out there.
Brad Clark is 47 years old, lives in Pleasanton, California with his wife of 24 years and his 5 kids. Brad has a B.A. from BYU an M.S. from Florida State, and an MBA from U.C. Berkeley. He works for a high-tech firm in the Bay Area and loves to spend the extra energy he’s received from this way of eating actually doing activities with his kids.