My friend Daniel Hendrix and I work together at Majesty Music. When he recently shared with me how much weight he has lost, I asked him to share a testimony of the changes that he made to lose weight and improve his health.
Eating Less Healthfully in My Early Years
“You only live once!” I have heard this statement incessantly throughout my life, and I have usually heard it in the context of nutritional choices. When presented with options of what to eat or drink, people tend to use this phrase to encourage the consumption of a nutritionally inferior food product or to justify overeating.
An experience I had as a teenager on a church youth outing exemplifies the former. I was quite thirsty from a day of walking around in the hot sun, so I contemplated buying either a bottle of water or a sugary soft drink. The youth pastor himself came walking up to me as I was trying to decide, so I asked him for his sage advice. “Well, you only live once, Daniel; get whichever tastes best,” he replied. I bought the soft drink. I had two options, and I chose the one with fifty-two grams of sugar!
This is just one account, but it is typical of the first twenty-five years of my life; I would generally choose the less healthful of two options. The practice of consuming whatever brings immediate pleasure without thought of future consequences is prevalent in modern American culture, and I was completely caught up in it until recently.
Gaining Much Weight in College
When I went to college, I weighed 160 pounds, which is about where I should be. “Wait a minute, Daniel; I thought you said you had an unhealthful diet?” Well, I did, but I was incredibly active. Before I went to college, I worked outside for eight hours a day, so I could eat all the junk food I wanted and not gain weight. It actually worked out quite well for me; I could practice my love of eating without fear of getting pudgy in the middle!
All of this changed when I went to college. I was no longer burning more calories than I could take in. By the time I graduated, I was just above 185 pounds—I had gained over twenty-five pounds!
If you understand the diet I had, however, it should be no surprise. I would drink three or more soft drinks a day, eat fast food every day, and eat snacks whenever I desired. I had this same diet before college, but now it had caught up to me because of a lack of exercise. You would think that I would have been seeking to lose weight, but I had become content with carrying twenty-five extra pounds.
Hearing of Close Relatives with Diabetes Motivated Me to Change My Dietary Habits
In 2009, two years after I graduated, news came that two of my closest relatives had been diagnosed with diabetes. One of these two is only five years older than I am. This really struck a nerve, so I decided to start changing my diet.
Cutting out soft drinks and drastically reducing the consumption of restaurant food
It started very modestly. Simply by cutting soft drinks out of my diet, I lost ten pounds in a year. Now I was 175 and feeling a lot better. I was still eating a plethora of processed foods, and I did not increase my exercise regimen, but I had lost weight nonetheless.
Between 2011 and 2012, I drastically reduced my consumption of restaurant food. Granted, some of this was due to monetary reasons, nevertheless I saw my weight drop ten more pounds. At the beginning of 2013, I was steadily holding my weight of 165 pounds, which was well within the range I should be.
Getting more nutrients through an increased consumption of fruits and vegetables and a drastic reduction in meat consumption
“Okay, so the story is over, right?” Wrong. There is still an issue of nutrition. Losing weight is great, but I had not figured in proper nutrition. I had dramatically reduced my caloric intake, but I had not increased my intake of necessary micronutrients. As a result, I was constantly running out of energy and having to consume copious quantities of energy drinks. Every day by around 3:00 PM, I was ready for a nap. I also had constant stomach troubles. Sometimes my stomach would hurt so much that I would have to call out sick from work. My body was crying out for proper nutrition!
Early in 2013, my wife and I saw several documentaries about the benefits of fruits and vegetables, particularly in their raw form. I was quite interested in the idea that the nutrients in many plant-based foods can actually have a positive effect on preventing diabetes, the disease that has affected several in my family.
My wife and I decided to increase our consumption of fruits and vegetables, so we bought a juicer and started down the path to better nutrition. Later, after our health improved dramatically, we drastically reduced our meat consumption.
Reaping Multiple Health Benefits from These Dietary Changes
I am now under 160 and feeling great! I have experienced a dramatic change in not only my energy levels but also in my overall quality of life. For one thing, I can count on one finger the number of times I have had a bad stomachache since switching to a mostly plant-based diet.
Another positive effect is that I sleep much better at night. Losing twenty-five pounds has shrunk the soft tissue around the back of my throat, increasing oxygen flow and drastically reducing vibrations.
I truly feel more energetic and alert throughout the day. It stands to reason that taking care of your body means giving it the nutrients it needs not only to survive but also to thrive!
Encouraging Others toward Making Healthful Dietary Changes
This testimony is meant solely for encouragement. I am not asserting that my dietary choices are perfect, or that I have all the answers; I am merely sharing my experiences to help others who may have similar health concerns.
If you are like I once was, and you eat meat nearly every meal, perhaps this article will get you thinking. Perhaps you will be encouraged to introduce more fruits and vegetables into your diet.
If you are overweight, you should know that making positive changes in your eating habits could lead to great results down the road. It may take you years to get to where you need to be, but if I can do it, nearly anyone can. Just stick with it and take it one day at a time.
It is true that you only live once on this earth, but this is all the more reason to eat right and take care of your body!