October 2016: The update I never posted

What Happened man?

I followed the McDougall plan religiously for about 2.5 years. I lost weight, reversed my diabetes, my blood pressure and cholesterol dropped to normal levels. All of this progress was made with diet and exercise and no pills. I ate foods I loved like potatoes, beans, rice, squash, oatmeal, bean burgers, polenta, pasta….you get the idea.

Backstory to the back story

Growing up, I had horrible self-esteem issues. In 3rd grade when they started requiring us to wear Speedo swimsuitson the swim team I was too self-conscious....so I quit instead. I considered myself fat by the 4th grade.  I believe I went to my first weight watchers meeting before I left elementary school. Looking back at photos of myself I know this was total and complete nonsense. But I believed it and I used food as a source of comfort until eventually I was overweight.

little benjamin with ribs showing (at this young age I was already convinced I was overweight)

Fast forward to 2012-after losing 70 pounds and reversing this killer disease I had, for the first time, a positive self-image. When I looked in the mirror and I wasn’t disgusted. I had found the key to a healthy life and I wanted everyone to know. For good reason, right? I started this blog. People told me that I inspired them. I gave talks at large functions at work speaking in front of 200 people. My blog got picked up by newsletters and had close to 30,000 page views. All good right? Only on the surface.

As I began to share my story my tone was more like an Evangelical preacher than a good friend who had found something special that he wanted to share with you personally. I became very preachy on social media and in the process turned off more than a few people. Ultimately, my ego started to get more and more inflated. They say that not everyone can handle the attention that success can bring. I guess you can count me as one of those people.

Today, when I tell the story about my health transformation, I like to explain that it was just the beginning of discovering who I am. That I started to get some perspective and learn about how I coped with the stresses (and the successes) of life. I took my first Yoga class and stood up straight (mountain pose) for the first time in my life. I started to become open to all forms of activity. There we innumerable benefits for sure.

I spent 2014/15 really examining who I was and how I treated people. I went back to therapy, meditation and started to accept who I really was at this stage of life. Not some fantasy about what I thought I deserved. It was humbling to put it mildly. It was a lot of work and wasn’t easy. At the same time my wife and I had some very serious challenges with our kids who are both adopted and special needs kids being raised in a trans-racial family, which I won’t get in to details about here but if you are interested in learning about this type of challenge you can check out Brown Babies Pink Parents.

My life was filled with stress and anxiety (mostly self inflicted) and I needed to focus on repairing the close relationships and my own sanity/self-worth. But something had to give. At least that is how I felt at the time. Slowly but surely in very small ways my diet and my activity deteriorated and became that something.

Now it’s October 2016. My relationships have greatly improved through a ton of hard work. Unfortunately, my diet has really gone to shit and I only exercise about once a week, sometime once every two weeks. As a result my diabetes has returned, my cholesterol is high again and I have elevated blood pressure. I have also gained back 45 of the 70 pounds I had lost as well.

Well….let me tell you something. Once I took the “blue pill” the prospect of staying sick and miserable was not a long term probability. The last 2.5 years has been a major setback as I just described.  But once I truly opened my eyes to the diet that has reversed my sickness it is impossible for me to go unconscious long term and just eat “whatever” regardless of the effects on my body. To use the parlance of our times after McDougall I had no choice but to #STAYWOKE.

October 2016

Fast forward to this week….guess where I am. Yep, back at McDougall’s 8 day live-in program. Most people, if they are lucky and in my position get the opportunity to go to health immersion once. Well, I guess I ain’t most people because I managed to get a slot here for another 8 days. I’m on day 3 and I gotta tell you that I feel fantastic! It is so nice to be back here, eating amazing food 3 times a day, exercising 2-3 times a day and spending the rest of the day hearing lectures and seeing cooking demonstrations. I am hitting the pause button one more time. No family, no work, no distractions. Just focusing on getting back in the saddle and prioritizing my health. As I wrap up the week and into the coming months I will keep you all posted with my progress. For now I can tell you that the night I checked in my blood sugar was 484. Just before lunch on my third day it is down to 208. The journey back has begun.

I really appreciate all of you who have inquired about me and asked me if I was ok. I apologize if I didn’t respond. To be honest, I wasn’t ok and I didn’t know how to say that.

To my wife I just want to say a massive THANK YOU!!!  I know I said it to you before and you really have no reason to believe me more than the first time around but I am doing this for you and our family. I hope my actions speak louder than any words I can write or say. I love you.


  1. I love you Ben. You are loved by God. He is able...❤

  2. Good to know you're on the upswing again. Sounds like you've made a lot of brave choices. You would likely recognize me as I worked in cs at frk for many years. Keep blogging, it's a great reinforcement for other McDougallers!


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