I met and spent time with Martin during my Wellness Coach training at The Mayo Clinic in Rochester, MN. He lives in Florida and is a semi-retired Executive Coach and Organization Development Management Consultant. For the last 42 years he has worked to help organizations resolve critical people issues in order to improve the performance and productivity of individuals and teams. What is motiving him to become a Wellness Coach? Read on, my friends, for the remarkable and inspiring story of his own incredible health transformation, excerpted from his own written account. He is one amazing testimony to the power of plants.

Martin struggled with being overweight his whole life. He tried virtually every diet known: Atkins, low fat, low-protein, Weight Watchers, all with the same result. He would lose weight and then gain it all back again, plus more. His increasing weight gain was not his only health concern. He also had a congenital prolapsed mitral valve heart murmur that was getting larger, and in 2010 was diagnosed with atrial fibrillation. At which point, his health began to rapidly deteriorate. His heart enlarged, he had high blood pressure, swollen legs, shortness of breath, chronic back pain, overall fatigue, and insomnia. He was taking 11 different prescription medications to manage all these health issues. To make matters worse, he had become morbidly obese, weighing 266 pounds with a BMI of 40.4 and a 51-inch waist.

To Martin, it seemed all his cardiologist wanted to do was watch and wait, along with prescribe him more prescriptions for his ever-growing array of symptoms. So, in 2014, he decided to get a second opinion from a new cardiologist. After examining him, this new cardiologist said, “We can keep giving you poisons, in the name of prescriptions, to mask your symptoms.” Then he poked him in the belly and said, “But it won’t matter because you’ll be dead in less than ten years anyway!” He then wrote down the title of Dr. Joel Fuhrman’s book, The End of Dieting. He told him to read it if he was serious about changing his life and becoming healthy.

After a setback requiring him to undergo open heart surgery to repair his mitral valve, Martin knew he needed to make a lifetime commitment to make and maintain a complete change in lifestyle, with the goal of being healthy, instead of just losing weight. Here is what he did: he started eating a whole-food, nutritionally-dense, plant-based diet, consisting of fruits, vegetables, legumes, nuts, whole grains, occasional fish, avoid salt, sugar, dairy, white foods, meat, processed and fried foods. No alcohol or soda, but lots of water. He exercises 5 to 7 days per week, including 50 minutes of cardio and 15 minutes of strength training. He said the key for him was to set short term goals that he could succeed at, and to also set more challenging long-term goals.

And here are his results, three years later: he does not take any medications at all, he has a normal heart rhythm and blood pressure, no edema, no breathing issues, no back pain, no fatigue, lots of energy, and he sleeps well. His weight is now 146 lbs, which represents a loss of 120 lbs! His BMI is 22.2 and his waist is 32 inches.

Martin credits Dr. Joel Fuhrman and his new cardiologist for helping him save his own life. He said he’s forever grateful to both, but in the end, he knows he was the one responsible for making a complete change in his lifestyle. Martin found that his personal journey over the last three years towards better health and a longer life was one of continuous learning, occasional disappointment, and much accomplishment. And he’s passionate about sharing what he’s learned with those who are motivated to dramatically improve their health by permanently changing their lifestyle.

Here’s to you, Martin, for your commitment, perseverance and hard work. It’s an honour to have met you and to share your inspirational story.