By: 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.