“I am no longer obsessed about food or how much I weigh”

Doug WeberBy: Doug Weber

I’ve been studying nutrition and fitness as a hobby for about 20 years. During this time, my weight has been all over the map. I’ve been very thin at times—when serving in the Air Force, I was on a calorie-restricted diet and doing lots of running and got down to 150 lbs. I’ve been overweight most of the time—up to 230 lbs at one point.

My diet has also been all over the map. I’ve tried the good old calorie-restricted diet many times and succeeded in losing a lot of weight each time, only to gain it all back each time. I also saw success with the Shangri-La Diet (google it) but didn’t have the will power to stay on it indefinitely. I saw success with the Atkins Diet; however, I had the same problem, an inability to stay on it long term. The same with Nutrisystem—I did that for a year and lost 55 pounds, then gained it all back.

In late 2015, I decided to try the Ketogenic Diet where 75% of calories come from fat, 20% from protein, and only 5% from carbs. It is an extreme version of the Atkins diet. During this diet, I was eating a lot of meat, a lot of extra fat (bacon grease on everything!) and was checking my ketones each morning to try to hit the magic range of 2.0 to 3.0 mmol/L. My lab numbers all got better, but in hindsight I believe it was due to my no longer eating highly processed foods.

During this time, I was corresponding with my daughter and her husband in Provo. We had an on-going discussion about nutrition and fitness for a few years. My son-in-law challenged me on my interpretation of D&C 89:12-13. I interpreted verse 13 to mean it’s okay to eat meat sparingly all the time, not just during times of winter, cold, or famine. He forwarded an article to me that included a reference to Jane Birch’s book, Discovering the Word of Wisdom. I read her book and decided I was completely wrong. I now understand those verses to mean that it is pleasing to the Lord if we never eat meat unless we must in order to survive. I was inspired by Jane’s notion that she had eaten more meat during the first half of her life than would ever be pleasing unto the Lord, so she is committed to eating no meat the second half of her life to try to make up for the first half—that has become my desire as well.

In May 2016, I transitioned from a strict keto diet to a strict vegan diet in just a few days, and I’ve never looked back. My old ailments of being overweight (borderline obese) and suffering from high blood pressure, chronic heartburn and other digestive problems, high cholesterol, seasonal allergies, fatigue, sore joints, inability to focus, and inability to recover quickly from workouts are all gone. My ability to enjoy the tastes of plant-based whole foods has really taken off. I don’t miss any of the unhealthy foods I used to eat.

My daughter and her husband have joined me in this new way of eating, and we frequently exchange articles on the subject, as well as personal experiences concerning how other people react to our “radical” diet. So far, they are the only family members who have taken the plunge; however, I believe others will join in when they get curious enough to want to give it a try. I’ve committed to avoid “preaching” about the diet, so I just answer questions as they come up. I try not to be judgmental—I have to remind myself that it took me until my 50s to really understand the Word of Wisdom—I can’t expect all my loved ones to jump on board just because I did.

By now, everybody knows I won’t eat meat or dairy, but my refusal to eat processed foods isn’t quite as easy for others to understand. Certain foods such as doughnuts, breakfast cereals, and candy bars can be “vegan,” but they’re definitely not healthy! And, after all, isn’t good health the very reason we eat this way? I still bring doughnuts to work every now and then for my employees and coworkers. It was tough not to have one (or three) during the first few months, but as I stated, I no longer miss those unhealthy foods. Now when I see a doughnut, I just see some highly-refined flour with a lot of sugar and processed oil—gross!

Since the transition, I’ve read The China Study and The Starch Solution, and I’m in the middle of a book called Strong Medicine that shows how an unhealthy diet causes chronic inflammation and chronic oxidative stress at the cellular level. I continue to be fascinated by nutrition and fitness, partly due to my 21-years in the Air Force when I was more-or-less forced to be physically fit. I learned a lot about fitness, but I struggled to understand nutrition. I always believed that enough exercise could overcome a poor diet. Since then, I’ve learned that fitness and nutrition support each other, and you can’t get very far by relying on one and ignoring the other. Since I’ve been eating vegan I find myself enjoying running and other exercises even more and I recuperate rapidly—no more sore muscles the next day!

As I approach the end of my first year on a whole foods, plant-based diet, I find myself no longer obsessed about food or how much I weigh, and I’m excited at the prospect of being very healthy during the second half of my life! Lately, I’ve noticed that this very simple and basic way of eating has even awakened in me a desire to simplify other aspects of my life and focus on being a more supportive husband and father.

Doug Weber (age 53) lives in Idaho Falls, Idaho. He is married with five children, the youngest is currently on a mission in the Philippines (no grandkids yet!). Doug has an MS in Human Resources Management and works as a logistics manager. He enjoys reading, physical fitness, traveling, and researching family history.

Comments

  1. It is hard enough to read the Word of Wisdom with an open mind. It is even harder when you are committed to a particular diet that might be contrary to what the text in D&C 89 tells us. I’m so impressed that Doug’s love for truth enabled him to question his bias and his humility enabled him to make a course correction. To see his joy in his decision should inspire any of us who hesitate to seek the truth. Congratulations, Doug!!

  2. Thank you Doug for sharing this inspiring story. It is similar to mine, I’ve done keto and have now been vegan for 2 months. May I also recommend How Not To Die by Michael Gregor.

  3. This is a wonderful story! I too have been fascinated by health and fitness for 30 years and feel I have been guided to this lifestyle. It’s the only one I’ve been able to stick with. The truth will set you free! Thanks for sharing

    • Thanks Brittney. It was a fun and rewarding experience to write it all down. It helped me to more clearly see how I was led to this way of eating.

  4. Wonderful story, and isn’t it amazing how the taste buds change so dramatically? I use very little salt, and continue to be amazed at how wonderful everything tastes; my taste buds have come alive after more than a year of eating a plant based diet. I don’t have to walk up and down every aisle of the grocery store anymore…produce, grains, seeds, nuts, spices. I have started posting food photos on Instagram, @handcartwoman with the hashtag #vegan, and I am getting so many comments, as well as people following me from around the world. I have to figure out a way to include the word of wisdom in my posts! My relationship with food has totally changed for the better. I don’t worry about weight, and I honestly don’t believe you can be fat eating this way. My exercise regimen has changed as well. I still am very active, and I love to swim, but I don’t feel the need for extreme exercise. Eating plants also seems to perfectly fuel the body for anything it is asked to do. I work hard, and my work days are sometimes very long, but I never feel the crashing sensation I would sometimes experience when I ate meat, dairy and sugar. Thank you everyone for your support, comments, and I always especially like to thank Jane for all her effort.

    • I thought of a way I can post future photos on Instagram. I am inventing the hastag #discoveringthewordofwisdom I just thought of yesterday after church during a conversation with another member that also began eating a plant based diet after reading Jane’s book, Discovering the Word of Wisdom. Renée Berry aka @handcartwoman on Twitter and Instagram.

  5. Renee – I agree about the taste buds becoming more sensitive. I used to loathe vegetables and fruits! I would smother everything in butter and cheese and add salt and pepper because I knew I needed to eat vegetables. I had never been a fan of fruits – especially after reading articles that said fruits are only healthy in limited amounts and it’s actually better to avoid them altogether due to the high sugar content. Please read this article that I discovered just yesterday – it not only promotes the health benefits of eating fruits, but even goes so far as to suggest you can have as much as you want! https://authoritynutrition.com/how-much-fruit-per-day/?utm_source=newsletter&utm_medium=standard

    • Thank you for the link, and I have stopped counting how many pieces of fruit I eat daily as well. When I am full I stop and when I am hungry I eat. However, when I eat a piece of fruit, I usually eat some nuts along with it.

  6. Doug, what you have told us has even fortified my stand on eating only in accordance with the Word of Wisdom! I have been eating the Word of Wisdom Way since I turned eighty because my daughter Jane Birch significantly helped me trust in how the Lord advises us to eat. I turned eighty five years of age several weeks ago. Because I have been strictly eating in full accordance with verses 10 through 17 of Section 89 of the Doctrine and Covenants, I actually never get sick any more!

    Before I began eating the way the Lord teaches us to eat in those verses I referred to above I suffered from several severe physical ailments. I really don’t have to worry about my health any more because of the way I have been eating during these last five years. I actually feel I can live for a very good number of years more!

    I also exercise six days a week at our city’s recreation center on a machine (A Precore Adaptive Motion Regulator that gives me a very vigorous workout each time I use it. At the end of each exercise session a dial on the machine I use tells me that I have gone the equivalence of one mile. That takes me just fifteen minutes. Along with eating the way the Lord advises and doing that exercise routine very faithfully six days a week I believe I will live a sufficiently long and healthy life and be an example to help many others to eat the way the Lord advises us to eat!

    Thank you for being a good example to me and to many others who have or will have read what you submitted to Jane.

    • Mr. Birch, what a treat to hear from you! I’ve read some of your comments to other peoples’ stories and they are always interesting and informative. I really appreciate your compliments regarding my story. I’m amazed that a healthy diet combined with proper exercise can not only stop the progression of many ailments, but even eliminate them entirely and undo prior damage done to our bodies. Hearing you say that you don’t have to worry about your health anymore at age 85 is an amazing testimony about the Word of Wisdom and a great inspiration to those who will want to give this way of eating a try.

      I’ve always wondered how the pioneers who crossed the plains were so strong and robust – it finally occurred to me that they ate healthy foods and performed physical labor throughout their lives. Our current Standard American Diet and the possibility of never having to exercise or perform physical labor has caused great harm to millions of people and, sadly, the damage is so widespread that it has become normalized and accepted. I know, however, that there is a ground swell of people in our country, both inside and outside of our church, who are waking up to this problem and making changes to their way of eating and exercising – I’m happy and blessed to be on that bandwagon.

      I had to look up the machine you mentioned – it looks like a great non-impact way of getting some intense exercise in a short time. I’d like to share what my exercise routine looks like. First, I have a gym-quality treadmill that has a user-programmable function enabling me to enter my own High Intensity Interval Training program of running/walking, including elevation. That’s my foundational exercise. I also own a Jacobs Ladder that is similar to a stair machine but more intense – it’s like climbing a perpetual ladder at a 45-degree angle; again, intensity without impact. I get on it once or twice a week and perform between 500 and 1000 steps. Finally, I have a bunch of kettlebells ranging from 15 to 106 pounds and I perform all sorts of kettlebell exercises a couple times per week. These are also low or non-impact, but very intense.

      I’m glad I got to correspond with you – I wish you many more years of health and happiness. It goes without saying that I was inspired and motivated by Jane’s book to make some significant changes in my life and as a result I will also not worry about my health anymore.

  7. Nice thoughts and interesting interpretation. Didn’t the mortal and resurrected savior eat fish? Hmmm just wondering. Seems like the word of wisdom is a law of moderation including avoiding a command to abstain from meat.

    • Hi Fred! Thanks for your thoughtful comments! Jesus also drank wine, but I’m not sure that means drinking wine or eating fish is best for our health in the 21st century. I think we all agree we are not commanded to abstain from meat. The Lord ordained it for our use, but He says it is pleasing to Him if we don’t use it except during certain times. What do you make of that counsel? And where do you find the word “moderation” in the Word of Wisdom? Would you include using alcohol, tobacco, coffee and tea in moderation?

  8. Doug, Earlier I gave you a partially incorrect name for the exercise machine. It is a “Precore Adaptive Motion Trainer.” I gave you another word in place of the last word, which actually is: “Trainer.” You probably figured that out on your own in your research. Using it is just challenging enough to make you feel like you are making progress as you use it for however long you use it. You are younger than me (I just turned eighty five) and you probably could go for a half hour or even more on it. Several years ago I went actually longer than that, but at age eighty five, fifteen minutes (or a calculated “one mile.”) seems to work very well for me.

    May the Lord continue to bless you and your family!

  9. I love your story! Thanks for the last three paragraphs especially and for writing about simplicity. I care about fitness too a d like to exercise. My husband is in the Army (his weight has recently gone down again as he’s eaten more unprocessed foods and more salads, plus exercised almost daily).

  10. Wow! Great story. Thanks for sharing. It took me a lot longer to get rid of food cravings than you, but it did happen for me, too.

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