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    My journey started back on 3/13/13 when I was awaken by my father's phone call telling me my Mother had passed away due to a massive heart attack.  She was only 58...One month after my 39th birthday.  It was a complete shock and devastating.  I felt I was in good shape.  Went to the gym regularly, ate what I thought was a healthy diet. But after about 9 months of depression I found myself almost 200 pounds with high cholesterol, border line high blood pressure, and pre diabetic sitting at the doctors office listening to him tell me I am headed in the same direction as my mom if I don't make some changes.  He gave me 3 months to make a significant reduction in my cholesterol otherwise he would put me on medication for the rest of my life.  He didn't tell me how to do this however...but I thought it logical to remove any food with cholesterol in it.  I admit, I was naive.  I didn't know what a vegan diet was.  My wife was vegetarian when we met and I converted her back to eating meat. My dad grew up on a chicken ranch, my Aunt lives on a milk farm.  Growing up eggs, milk and meat were a staple in our diet.  I had no intention of living a vegan or plant based life style, come on I hated vegetables, right!  Well that's what I did.  I went home from the doctor and removed every trace of cholesterol from the house.  Turns out that was all of the animal products....

    At the same time I began to run and worked towards a goal to do my first Half Marathon on the 1st anniversary of my mothers passing.  Before this, I had never run.  Getting to one mile was a struggle.  Doing so while trying out a new diet seemed almost impossible.  But I soon realized, I felt better, I had more energy, I found a new passion of cooking and most importantly I enjoyed the food!  I got a lot of push back from family and friends when I started my vegan lifestyle, they would say, "just take the pill, it's easier", or "how do you get enough protein", or "can you eat...???"

    1 year after my Mothers passing, I ran my first Half Marathon at age 40!  In addition to loosing 20 pounds in the 3 months, my cholesterol dropped from 283 to 194 and my blood pressure plummeted.  My doctor was shocked and said, "what the hell did you do?" My family and friends thought, oh good now he can go back to eating "normal". But, this was "normal" for me.  It made me happy, made me feel good, and made me healthier than ever before.  It had become my lifestyle... I've lost nearly 40 pounds since that day and my cholesterol is now in the 140 range and my triglycerides dropped into the 70 range. 

    I continued to run and soon began to swim and bike.  I enjoy training everyday and age group competing as often as I can in swim events, running events and triathlons.  I soon found I enjoy longer distance events and completed my first Ironman in 2017.  Being so active people are shocked when they find out I am vegan.  I still get asked all the time, "what do you eat? how do you get enough protein?"  I don't get annoyed by these questions because years ago, I didn't know either.  It's an opportunity to have a conversation, to have some influence on other peoples food and lifestyle choices they make.  Oh and this was when I began to grow the beard as well.  It was my way of reminding myself I was on a new journey...

    In 2019 I was certified as a Vegan Lifestyle Coach & Educator from Main Street Vegan Academy and received my certificate in Plant Based Nutrition from eCornell Center for Nutrition Studies.  As well became an Ironman Certified Coach.  My goal is to use Vegan Powered Athlete and Vegan Powered Nutrition as a platform to influence, educate and provide resources for an Athletic Vegan Lifestyle so nobody has to face the pain of loosing a loved one to a disease that is highly preventable with proper diet and lifestyle changes.   Please share your stories, recipes, or ideas through Facebook, Instagram, or email to ieatplants.vpa@gmail.com I love hearing from you!