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Change Your Diet, Change Your Life: The Rantings of a Former Fat Man
By Tim Kaufman

Walking out of the doctor’s office, reality had finally sunk in. I was not going to be around for another year. My wife and kids would very likely not have a husband or father within the year. My blood pressure was 255/115, I was on three medications to bring it down. My cholesterol (300) and triglycerides (279) were off the charts (literally). I was on a ton of heavy medications, I was also self-medicating, and I struggled with addictions of all kinds. My weight became so out of control that the doctor could no longer weigh me in his office. I was having trouble breathing and had severe sleep apnea. I was born with a genetic disorder called Elhers Danlos Syndrome and my joints are very loose and hyper mobile. The excess weight was too much for my already destroyed joints to handle.I was constantly on crutches, canes, and immobilizers. I was cast and fitted for very expensive leg braces that would stop my legs from buckling. My wife was actually putting my socks and shoes on me in the morning. Nothing was working and my life was spiraling out of control. I was going to die and I don’t know if I really cared. I would try diets and I would lose some weight and then gain it all back. It was a vicious cycle. The more I hurt, the more I medicated, the more I medicated, the more I hurt and as a result, I had lost my passion for life. I was just surviving, hoping I would wake up the next morning. I was committing a sort of slow suicide.

Every day I could see the hurt in my wife’s eyes as I grew more and more unhealthy. We were in the process of dealing with my father and her mother both being diagnosed with aggressive cancer. It was very hard to see the pain she was going through. One night I realized that she would soon have to deal with the same pain as a result of the choices I was making. I had become an expert on excuses and reasoning why I had become who I was. In the back of my mind I think I knew that at least some of what I was going through was self-induced. A very long story short, if I even had a chance to save my wife from more pain I was going to give it a try. Although I really didn’t care about myself, I figured it was pretty selfish to put her through another death that was self-induced. When you watch someone cling to life and struggle to stay alive, you can’t help but appreciate life no matter how hard you think you have it. While I complained about how bad my knees hurt, I watched as my loved ones struggled to just breathe. Perspective is an amazing thing!

I made some phone calls and started the process to get a gastric sleeve. I had done the research and this sounded like the best option. I was scheduled for the meetings and pre-op tests. I had to get clearance from my primary doctor. This was just a formality, or so I thought. My wife was skeptical which was weird because as an addict you learn to become a master at manipulation. I just couldn’t sell this one to her. I thought by taking her to my doctor, he would assure her of what a good decision this was. She and I sat down with my doctor and I told him my plan. He explained that he had approved everyone that had ever asked for the surgery. He said many people have had success with it. However, he would not sign off on the surgery for me. I was enraged to put it mildly. I was not healthy enough and he thought that my joints would become worse if I had the surgery.

So there I was. My last hope had dwindled. I have no idea what transpired in my head that night, and I am more than positive now it was Divine intervention, but I grabbed a notebook and wrote down tomorrow’s date at the top. And directly underneath I wrote, “This is the first day of the rest of your life.” I got on my knees and I asked the Lord to give me enough strength to change just one small thing a day. Underneath that I wrote: goal–get up from chair 2x.  This whole notion was way out of character for me; writing things down was for old people or weirdos.  Anyway, I figured if I could get up from a chair once, I could do it twice. The next day, that’s exactly what I did. If someone had seen me, they would have thought I had lost it. Every day I added just one small change. Sometimes it was to just walk up 4 extra stairs, but it was always a little more than I did the day before. I started to log my food, but I really had no idea what real food was. In time, my food choices started changing. I began to eat things that made me feel better, instead of putting me into a food coma. Little changes, many hours of research, and documentaries like Forks Over Knives, Vegucated, Engine 2 Kitchen Rescue, Fat Sick and Nearly Dead, and The Gerson Miracle, to name a few, gave me an entirely new perspective on food. The more successes and better food choices that I made, the more I wanted to stay focused.

Since I started to focus on change, my life has completely flipped upside down. Every single aspect of my life has changed. I hate going to sleep because I’m afraid I’m going to miss something. I’ve had so many opportunities, that sometimes I think it’s all a dream. I’ve climbed mountains, hiked on the Appalachian Trail, cycled 100 mile centuries, ran 5ks, 10ks, a bunch of half marathons, and a couple of full marathons. I had the pleasure of doing an Ironman 70.3 and, believe it or not, I did a 50k and a 50 mile ultra marathon on some crazy trails. Imagine that; I was supposed to be in a wheelchair! My doctor now refers patients to me for advice, how cool is that? The best part of this whole thing is this: My wife has been there by my side every step of the way. She has done nothing but support me and she has been my rock. She too has had some major changes in her life. As a result of my lifestyle changes, hers has changed by default. She has lost 80 pounds by eating plants too! We love life together and are making memory after memory. I thank the Lord for my health and happiness every day. I am truly grateful for the second chance He’s given me and I am on a mission to not only appreciate it, but to pass it on to anyone that will listen. It’s not magic, but quite simply, just do a little more than you did yesterday.

My wife and I are now thriving on a plant-based diet free of meat, dairy, and oil, with starch, vegetables, and fruit as our main fuel source. My cholesterol is 117 and triglycerides are 74, I eat more now than I did when I weighed 400 pounds, and I am never hungry and I never count calories. If you are even thinking about changing your diet, please watch the movie Forks Over Knives. Read the Starch Solution and the China Study, and Eat To Live is another great one! Also, check out Nutrition Facts.org

My mission for this blog is to document as much of the information and thoughts that got me this far. I have a long way to go, and I’m not even close to where I want to be, but I’m a long way from where I started. I don’t have all the answers and I may be wrong about some things, but I will do my best to be as real as possible and to help anyone that sincerely wants it.

Please don’t get freaked out about the plant-based lifestyle. If someone would have told me I’d be eating this way 4 years ago, I would have tossed my burger at them! Give it a try, it won’t cost you a dime.

“Eat plants and move your body, all ya gotta do is a little more than yesterday”

Now you’ve gotta hear this Video Interview from my series of Excuse Smashers. “But my young children are growing and they can’t possible get everything they need from a plant-based diet.” Derick and his wife, Kassi LaJaunie Harrington, are rock-stars! I love this one!

About Tim Kaufman:

Tim Kaufman was diagnosed with Ehlers-Danlos syndrome (EDS) in his early twenties.  He was in chronic pain most of his life. By the time he had reached the age of 37 he was addicted to Fentynal, alcohol, and fast food. At over 400 pounds he was unable to perform simple daily tasks and almost immobile.  He had lost his interest in life and had almost given up. Tim started a journey to regain his health by changing one small thing at a time. He is now an athlete that thrives on a plant-based whole food lifestyle and leads a healthy, happy, productive, and very active life that is free of all medications he was once on. Tim uses his platform as an international speaker to educate, inform and motivate people about plant-based nutrition, fitness, addiction recovery, overcoming physical challenges, and emotional and spiritual wellness. You can find him on Facebook, Instagram, and his webpage at fatmanrants.com.

Tim has appeared on Podcasts from around the world and has been filmed for an upcoming movie. He has been featured in Runners World Magazine, Good Morning America, Today, People, The Buffalo Newspaper, and many other media outlets.

Back to May 2018 Issue

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