Jo Sims' Vegan Health Story: Completely off injectible insulin forever!
I've known Jo Sims, age 49, since I joined House of Light Yoga after finishing my cancer treatment 3 years ago. Jo has watched me recover my strength while practicing yoga and we always try to meet up every month at the outdoor "Yoga in the Vines" class at Strong Tower Winery here where we live in Spring Hill, Florida.
When I came back from my New York City certification class to be come a Certified Vegan Lifestyle Coach & Educator last year, I became focused on sharing my own personal success experiences using a whole food plant-based diet to avoid a breast cancer recurrence. I also wanted to share all the new information I had been learning about preventing, controlling and even reversing lifestyle diseases such as diabetes and heart disease through a whole food plant-based diet.
Dieting on ham and cheese cubes
When Jo came to "Yoga in the Vines" with little packages of ham and cheese cubes as an after-yoga snack, I couldn't continue to keep quiet. I had to tell her about the documentary, "Forks Over Knives" and how easy it is to lose weight when you eat whole plant foods, which was also my personal experience. She was struggling hard with her weight, erratic and high blood sugars as well as high cholesterol. But she wasn't ready to hear my message.
She wasn't ready to hear me until last July when her husband had a massive heart attack with 100% blockage to the main descending artery. When she told me that, I tried again to beg her to watch "Forks Over Knives," which is largely focused on preventing and reversing heart attacks and cardiovascular disease.
The "Forks Over Knives" effect
Finally, in September she got Netflix and watched the movie. Over the next few months she watched it several more times and tried to have her husband, while recovering from his life-saving heart surgery, watch it, too. On January 1, 2017, Jo Sims took the leap and went whole food vegan. Three months later, she had another appointment with her primary care physician.
"My doctor noticed that I lost almost 12 pounds in 3 months from the time I had seen her last and she saw my cholesterol and my blood glucose go down dramatically so she wanted to know what I was doing. I told her about the whole food plant-based diet and she said she was 100% on board with the vegan lifestyle and told me to keep up the good work."
Most doctors just don't know about the evidence for reversing diabetes and heart disease through a whole food plant-based diet (because they haven't been taught, read the research or tried to learn more about nutrition) and they just won't tell you that you can change your diet and possibly not need any medications. They also have no idea how to teach you how to do it.
"All you do is go to the doctor and get more and more and more medications and you get sicker and sicker all the while."
The proof is in the blood work
Jo says she knew that the amount of medications she was on was making her extremely sick while her waistline continued to swell. Once she switched to a whole food plant-based diet, the opposite happened.
"I've was already down 3 1/2 dress sizes in just 5 months. And every inch reduced in the stomach area reduces my risk of a heart attack. My goals is to get my stomach down to normal."
When I met with Jo recently she proudly showed off her blood work results. She said she was off 73 units of injectible insulin, proving you can reduce your meds. It is her goal to get off all her meds entirely.
Here is how her blood results have improved over this year, since August of 2016:
AUG 2016 (Pre-Vegan)
Blood glucose: 175
FEB 2017 (6 Weeks vegan)
Blood glucose: 133
MAY 2017 (5 months vegan)
Blood glucose: 113
JUL 2017 (7 months vegan)
Blood glucose: 98
After that last appointment with her blood glucose under 100 (considered normal) Jo said, "This was the first time I ever left my endocrinologist's office not feeling like crying or helpless!"
AUGUST 2017 UPDATE: Jo is off all injectible insulin as long as she maintains a normal waking blood glucose under 100, which she has.
She is still on a daily oral medication but is looking forward to reducing and eliminating that in the near future as well.
Jo still needs to check her blood sugars every morning and every morning its the lowest blood sugar numbers in 9 years. She also says her digestion is amazing now and that she never even knew how good it could be which was something she did not even expect.
April 2018 UPDATE: Jo has lost an additional 12 pounds as part of my Plant Power Team during the Great Hernando Weight Loss Challenge and is looking forward to new bloodwork results soon!
Jo's tips for going vegan for health
Jo spends a lot of time at work and someone is always bringing food into the office - and its not good food for your health.
"My co-workers will look at me and say, 'Oh, Jo can't have anything here.' And I always tell them I have my own food and not to worry about me. I no longer need or want what they're having and because of how I've changed, my coworkers have even gotten more conscious of what they are eating and also how to read labels."
Jo advises keeping a thick skin and not letting negative people interfere with your goals because you can always find 100 reasons not to do something.
"When you first decide to go vegan, keep it close to your heart and stay focused on yourself and what you want and need, because its just for you, " Jo says. "Of course, it's always easier to do nothing different than it is to be positive and works towards something you want that's important to you."
And she's learned the change towards a whole food plant-based diet is so much simpler than people think.
"What's simpler: Spending $140,000 on a life-saving emergency heart procedure or just eating some broccoli or Brussels Sprouts every day?"
Jo says to give yourself those first few weeks to give it a try to feel better.
"It's either really going to work for you and you are going to feel a difference you like or you're just not ready to entirely make the change," she advises.
Keep learning to keep motivated
Jo also advises watching as many documentaries as possible and to keep learning.
"I watched 'Forks Over Knives' 5 or 6 times by now and each time I glean something new from it. Learning about how animal protein affects weight gain, cholesterol, blood pressure and blood sugar levels is important to helping you keep up your resolve to make the change. I learned that those 'energy protein packs' I used to snack on with the ham and cheese cubes is just eating fat and cholesterol. That it's not even really food. You just don't know until you do the research. What a huge eye-opener."
Even though Jo started out on a whole food plant-based diet to improve her health, she has learned that being vegan has so many more benefits. She says she now thinks about the animals and the planet we all share.
"We are just brought up eating animals and animal products and we never give it another thought. I even fed my children animals. Now that I've learned more about what's in cow's milk and what's behind the advertisements showing cows roaming around on a farm, i know that dairy milk is not for me. It's some kind of fantasy that people like to think, but now I know better."
"Now I see my grandson drinking milk and he suffers from allergies so I try to give daughter ideas and different things to try such as almond milk. I think switching away from dairy milk is the quickest way to improve anyone's health and is a great place to start."
Jo says there's just not enough awareness.
"Imagine being young and eating like this...I think I'd be a whole different person and my life might have gone in a completely different direction. I really think I would have made different choices. But now that I've made the change, I really enjoy being vegan," says Jo.
What Jo's cooking now
Jo says she started off cooking with the "Forks Over Knives Cookbook" but also regularly searches Pinterest looking for new recipes to try.
"Pinterest is great because I can browse over my lunch hour and look at different pictures. that visual aspect helped me decide if I might like a dish or not. I almost couldn't have done it without Pinterest and I save the recipes to my own boards and print out the recipes I really like.
Jo says to try not to overdo it and rush out to buy a whole bunch of cookbooks and appliances or on the other end of the seesaw, to fall into a rut about foods.
"Keep searching for different things to put together. Try new recipes and try new foods and don't be afraid to fail. Just try again. I recently tried falafels for the first time and even my husband loved them. On the other hand, I haven't even tried to cook tofu yet and it's something i really want to try."
You can also learn to replace your old favorites with new vegan favorites.
"I don't miss the things I no longer have in my diet," says Jo. "I used to love chicken wings and if my husband comes home with chicken wings I make my own Buffalo Cauliflower Bites. Even my dog loves all my vegan food."
What Jo loves to eat every day
Jo says she eats as many whole foods as she can and when she only shops for food in the outside aisles at the grocery store.
"I make a lot of soups like minestrone or chili with 3 types of beans and I freeze those so I can just pull those out and take them to lunch or put on a quick dinner. For breakfast, my husband makes me vegan pancakes (he cooks breakfast and I cook dinner) or I have some whole grain cereal and almond milk. And, for lunch, I usually have leftovers from the night before or a salad with lots of vegetables, which is the only vegan thing offered at my work cafeteria. I love to snack on raw veggies and hummus or bananas and nuts. Me and the dog love to smacking on watermelon together!"
Jo says she recently had a friend come over who couldn't believe her transformation.
"All I've done is switch to a whole food plant-based diet! I've also embraced the vegan lifestyle and I'm never going back!"
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