The journey to health can take us on many twists and turns. Never in my wildest dreams did I imagine I would be healthier at nearly 65 years of age than at any other time in my life. Yet, I am.

To give you a point of reference, the following is an excerpt from my soon to be released memoir. This is a snapshot of my life when I was just shy of my 25th birthday . Extremely overweight, unhealthy, a daily drinker and someone who had no direction whatsoever in my life, I couldn’t figure out how to get out of the mess I was in… other than to run away.

Sacramento, 1979

“Freedom!” I yell at the top of my lungs to no one in particular. Alone and with no one within ear shot, I’m convinced life is about to change in a big way. I feel such a sense of power, gunning the engine of my 1975 deep maroon Camaro Z-28.

Finally, I’m free.

Feeling the power of the car under me, I speed down the freeway. The unkept greenery along the middle of the freeway zips by with each passing mile. The roadway is tarnished with debris. Sprinkled with a cup, bag or whatever piece of garbage of choice a driver threw out their window decorates the roadside.

“God, I’m so glad to be out of there,” I repeated over and over. “This time it will be different.”

I’m not sure who I was talking to, but seemed convinced that whatever I said would be more of my truth if I said it out loud.

Certain I had somehow miraculously changed, I was now free from the prison of nightly (recently-turned-daily) drinking, drugging and sex with whomever happened to be handy at the time. Free from the dead-end jobs and daylong hangovers wherever I happened to come to. Free from my father’s increasing disappointment and anger at the dark world he didn’t think I could break away from. And free from every single person I kept letting down.

I could barely look myself in the mirror anymore. I was tired of the broken promises I made to virtually everyone I was close to, but most of all tired of lying to myself.

“I swear, I’ll stop,” had become my favorite line. Completely sincere when I said it, at least until the first sip, line or pill put in front of me. From that moment on, I never knew what would happen. I tired of hearing myself lie with every waking breath.

My eyes darted between the open road ahead of me and the rear-view mirror. Catching a glimpse of myself in the mirror, I’m determined to do things differently this time. No more booze, drugs or casual sex. “I’m done!”

The open road, stretching for as far as the eyes can see, is a perfect reflection of my life.

Glancing to the passenger seat, I reach over to the pile of 8 track tapes searching for the perfect musician to entertain me for a few hours.

“Bette. Yes, Bette will do,” I say to myself as I pick the tattered casing out of the pile and pop it into the player.

The sound of the music, hum of the road and mundane scenery are taking their toll on me.

“Oh shit,” I shake my head realizing I had nodded off.

The greenery was slowly changing to a burnt reddish color. Plants become rocks. The open road seems to go on forever, with no end it sight.

Not sure how far I had to go, red rock as far as I can see doesn’t leave much to the imagination. Peering in the rear-view mirror, my past continues to fade behind me.

My right foot hits the accelerator time and again, just wanting to feel the power and hear the roar of the engine.

Hearing some rumbling coming from the engine, I hadn’t given much thought to how I’d neglected the upkeep of this monster of a car. I couldn’t recall the last time I had an oil change, checked the tires, or taken the car in for a checkup.

The car was merely a reflection of my own self care… completely neglected. 

“No worries. I’m destined for greatness and things will work themselves out,” I convinced myself.

That’s how I had conducted my life up to now—fly by the seat of my pants and hope for the best. As I headed for a fresh start in a new town, with a new job and all new people around me, I saw no reason to change my M.O.

Complete Turnaround

Fast forward 40 years. At nearly 65 years of age, life is completely different. Today, I have a direction. Today, I care about what I do. Today, I’m in a nearly 30 year monogamous relationship.  Today, I am responsible and accountable to the person I choose to be. Today, I care about what I eat, who I surround myself with, how much exercise I do, whether or not I meditate and pray, and how I conduct myself on a daily basis. It’s all about choice.

The optimal word is “choice.” Our life is a series of choices. Sure, not everything is within our power, but how we respond to what’s happening is our choice.

One of the greatest choices we have is how we eat. As I reflect on the time in my life I was incredibly unhealthy, I recognize the choices I made around food, drugs, alcohol, and the people I surrounded myself with kept me in a very dis-empowered place. Until I changed virtually everything in my life, my life was not going to change.

As someone who has such an addictive personality, I’ve likely tried virtually ever diet plan known to man (and woman). I’ve crashed dieted, starved myself, drank only water for extended periods, lost weight only to gain it back… and some.

What I was missing in the equation was making lifestyle changes. As with my drinking, I had to get to a place where certain foods were not acceptable. I had to accept and embrace getting to the core of my weight issues. I had to be willing to release behaviors that simply were not serving me.

Enter Plant Based Lifestyle

Hands down, the greatest lifestyle change I’ve ever experienced is my transition to a 100% plant based eating protocol. I started the journey of a WFPB eating protocol to manage inflammation in my hand and wrist. The results were so incredible, I kept at it.

Five months in, a lot has shifted. Not only have I released 32 pounds of unwanted (and likely very unhealthy) weight, I have more energy, focus, clarity and much more endurance in my workouts.

I’ve often heard people say, “I could never do that,” when they ask how I’ve released the weight.

You know what? They are right. They could never do it. Why? Because that’s what they’ve told themselves.

On the flip side, there are those who are saying, “If you can do it, so can I.” They are sure to succeed.

My goal is to live as healthy a life as possible. Although some things are out of my control, so much is in my control. Like what I eat, how I exercise, who I surround myself with and what I focus on.

My focus is to live large, play big, and enjoy life as much as possible. A plant based lifestyle assures me more success on all fronts.