Today, because you’re here, I’m going to guess that you’re probably looking to improve your health, and just maybe you’re where I was just a few years ago …
“I have fifteen – maybe only ten — seconds to live.”
Those were among my first thoughts following the two loud BOOMS(!), one-immediately-after-the-other, that shook me awake in my bed. A fraction of a second later I could hear my house shattering around me. I felt an uncomfotable ‘moving’/being-pushed (hard!) sensation. And, the next thing I knew, I was pinned underneath an SUV, unable to fill my lungs with air because of the pressure on top of me.
I could feel, against the back of my head, one of its tires spinning slowly to a stop as its busted-flat-tired ‘flopped’ against my crushed mattress. I heard the *ding* *ding* *ding* of a seatbelt off as the engine slowly died, leaving only the headlamps and radio on (playing a commercial).
I realized that the SUV might be leaking gas.
“Does it hurt to die?” I thought; then briefly remembering that I had heard that “burning to death isn’t supposed to hurt.”
That’s when I used all my strength and frantic energy to crawl out from under the debris pile. Then, while looking at my mangled left hand (which was painless) and through the hole in my bedroom and into the neighborhood, I realized that I was in shock, and that my life would never be the same again.
My sleepless nights and weight-gain began immediately. Other issues, like the poor gums I had, frankly, I did to myself because of poor dental habits following the accident.
Yes, there were many other consequences that began immediately after that night . . .
Sleep became elusive — practically non-existent; and sleep apnea set in. Over the following nine months I gained 30 pounds.
In the process, my blood pressure skyrocked so high that my dentist sent me home instead of filling a cavity (more on this later). My hair thinned. I lost the ability to see clearly at night, and eventually used both reading glasses and a giant magnifying glass to read (sometimes, even together!).
If you knew me then, and if you spent a little time with me, you would have seen a guy in his mid-30s fast-walking his way to a heart-attack, on the train to an early death. As my mom says: I was in my 30s but looked like I was going on my 70s.
But, it was even worse than what it appeared. My memory and ability to think were shot — I couldn’t remember what I said or did just a few days before. I constantly asked people questions they had just answered a day or two earlier. I told the same jokes, and made the same comments to the same people — it was SUPER-embarrassing!
My mind quit working.
Basic math required a pen and pencil (for reference, I have an engineering degree), and writing even a good sentence became a struggle.
One day, about six months following the accident, I felt a little better and I thought my brain was back (I constantly lied to myself and told myself that I was improving faster than I really was . . . and, while I support ‘positive thinking,’ being in denial is just plain harmful).
That evening, I sat down to work on a letter that was overdue. As I sat in front of my computer, working on draft after draft, I felt like magic was flowing through my fingers. Finally, I was finished. It was just perfect.
Fortunately, since I was in high school I’ve had a habit of setting what I write down overnight so that I can review it the next day with fresh eyes.
I’m thankful I did. Because, the next day when I sat down to review it, I was at first stunned — the document was gone, or so I thought it was gone.
I searched my computer’s ‘Finder’ and ‘Recent Documents’ and checked the time I last hit save . . . It took a few minutes to sink in, but it did . . .
At first, I was just certain that I was reviewing an early version of the letter, but I was wrong.
The fourth-grade gibberish nonsense and horrific grammar I was trying to review was, in my own mind the night before, the best-written letter ever. In reality, it was just a little more than random words.
My heart raced. I was scared to death. I thought I just might lose everything — or worse, everyone. I began searching the internet for trauma-induced dementia, and what I found only caused me to despair!
The sleeping pills and blood-pressure medications I took at that time barely masked the symptoms. I was disintegrating from the inside.
And, just as bad, I hid it — or rather, tried to hide it — from everyone over my fears of losing work, friends, or just plain losing face. I withdrew . . . from everyone.
And, I ignored ‘the calls’ to get back to health. I didn’t want to admit where I was mentally and physically, and I dreaded doing the work to get there — the embarrassment of being the out-of-shape guy at the gym, and the struggle that even little efforts required.
But slowly, reality began to sink in …
I’ll never forget the day I panted at the top of a single flight of stairs. As I gasped out of breath, I remembered the “me” that ran three miles two or three days a week back in grad school, and wondered ‘what the heck happened!?’
Then, just few days later, I was slowing to a stop at a red light and literally felt the momentum of my belly, and realized that it was resting over my seatbelt. It was depressing, and was at the same time the wake-up call I finally answered (at least as far as my weight was concerned).
Slowly (too slowly) I made positive changes.
I began exercising again — even trying out “the British Method” of walking 50 steps and then jogging 50 steps (because actually jogging any more than that was out of the question). Slowly, I improved. I remember the day I ‘jogged’ a 12-minute mile, and was kinda proud of it.
But, my sleep cycles were still aweful. I tried using bright lights (you know, those light-blue ones), and eye-mask / shades to induce a sleep pattern. They didn’t work — the mask just irritated my eyes. So, I continued to depend on sleeping pills to get me to sleep.
But, on the better side, I also began eating better and taking vitamins. At first I added some vegetables and salads. But, because I have Chrones Disease, solid veggies caused me more pain than benefits (in case you’ve never heard of Chrons (or Chron’s), it’s a type of inflammatory bowel disease).
So, I started juicing.
Unfortunately, I found the WORK of buying and keeping (the right) veggies fresh, and the time required for juicing … and ESPECIALLY cleaning up, just overwhelming. The result? I only sporadically juiced.
But, slowly, whether because of the juices, vitamins, or just plain time (which heals all wounds . . . maybe) small improvements began . . .
Still, even after three years of seeing slow progress, I was far, far from being half the person I used to be.
Being unable to keep up with my business (and the economy) eventually forced me to sell my home of 15 years. After moving into a rental room in a home, I was embarassed, frustrated, unable to do all the things that before the accident came effortlessly. I was at my last gasp, and looking for a life preserver — soemthing to hold onto until help arrived, realizing that it might be my last resort. And, more than anything, I wanted to get a good-night’s sleep!
After years, I had not had a full, sound night of sleep since meeting that SUV. I believe I tried truly everything: sleeping pills, vitamins, exercise, meditation, prayer, and even alcohol (to sleep — lots of alcohol; even pills and alcohol together) — nothing was bringing me closer to getting my life back from the sleepless fog that enveloped my life. My other conditions were only slowing improving; I was far, far from being the healthy, active, thoughful guy I used to be.
Then one day while jogging I stumbled upon a suggestion in a time-management audio by a guy named Eben. In it, he stresses building healthy habits and routines — most of which I was already trying to do, but one thing stood out in my mind: I wasn’t drinking a fresh healthy juice every morning and every afternoon (he specifically advocates juices based on leafy greens).
Years before, I tried a green juice and literally vomited the whole thing up. But I knew inside nothing else was working. In quiet desperation, as much as I HATED the thought of drinking green juice, I resolved to try twice-daily juicing and see if it could help me recover just a little more, or a little faster.
Little could I imagine at that moment that juicing would completely change my life!
Starting December 2, 2014, I began juicing twice a day at a local juice bar (it was half-way between my residence in Plano, Texas, and my office in Allen, Texas).
Suddenly, five weeks later, I was driving to my office one morning and I was absolutely awe-struck: I could see all the traffic lights for about two miles down the road whereas before I would just notice the next-traffic light on my journey.
Colors went from ‘flat to full’ — I began seeing nuances and textures. It was wonderful!
Then, at dusk, I began to be able to see bunnies running around lawns at night (they’re everywhere!) . . . my night vision was returning!!
I was beginning to wonder if the improvements were permanent or just a ‘flash’ since I was drinking at least one carrot-based juice a day. But, I wasn’t about to take a chance and stop!
It was just three weeks later one evening when I startled myself . . . I realized that I had not picked up my reading glasses in over a week, and I hadn’t picked up that giant magnifying-glass I used since just after the start of the year!!
I was becomingSO motivated about juicing!
My eyesight improvement alone would have been enough to convince me to keep juicing, but even more results kept showing up . . .
In early June, at my annual dental check-up, my hygienist noticed that my gums were improving . . . I’ve never had anyone (even a dentist) actually comment positively about my gums before (frankly, I don’t think that I had ever thought of it).
But, it didn’t all go well . . .
I knew my blood pressure had gone up since the car accident (I was briefly prescribed Atenalol, which has what I can only describe as demonic side-effects), but on this trip to the dentist I also had a tooth that was sensitive to the point that I could tell that pretty soon, it was going to be really painful.
Little could I imagine what happened next: the hygienist took my blood pressure before the procedure, she mentioned it to my dentist. He literally cringed, turned and said to me “Steve, we can’t help your tooth today. In fact, if your blood pressure were any higher I would probably be driving you to an emergency room right now.”
I think my blood pressure that day was about 170+s/100+s, but what I didn’t tell the dentist or anyone else was that in the prior years it had skyrocked at times to the range of 210s/140s (arguably, in that range, I should have been dead)!
But, what’s crazy looking back now, is that when I heard the hygienist say my blood pressure out loud, I was actually smiling on the inside because I knew that my blood pressure was on its way down (and today, it’s completely normal).
If better eyesight and gums don’t get your attention . . . hang onto your seat . . . because at the end of June something truly amazing happened:
I got tired!
For the first time in over seven years, on June 2, 2015, my nighttime routine of laying in bed, staring at the walls and eventually falling asleep from exhaustion was interrupted. Around 11:00 PM I had this crazy sensation: I just needed to go to sleep! I had literally forgotten how it felt to be ‘sleepy’ tired instead of ‘exhausted’ tired, and it was wonderful!
Now, when I get tired, I LOVE it! (and when it happens in the afternoons, usually honor the cycle with a short nap).
Waking up in the morning after a full night’s drug-free sleep is simply AMAZING! I savor it!
Don’t get me wrong — the sleep cycles didn’t suddenly return back to 100%, (and I do have insomnia three or four times a year). That said, within just a few short weeks of that June evening (which were largely spent tapering off ‘sleep-aids’) my regular sleep patterns returned and continue to this day, more than two years later.
Looking back on it now, what I didn’t realize at the time was so much more profound than restoring my sleep . . . my brain was healing.
And the unexpected surprises kept building . . .
The next time I went to get my haircut, the lady who’s cut my hair for 20 years said “Steve, you’ve been taking collagen haven’t you?” she continuted “Your hair is thicker . . . your thin-spots are filling in.” Well, I thought, the only change I’ve made in my life this year is juicing … it simply HAS to be the juices! So, I told her pretty much the story you just read.
Oh, and I stated taking collagen 😉
She was the first person I shared my ‘juicing journey’ with. I surprised myself with my intensity, and the enthusiasm I had for it!
That’s the day I realized that I was on my way to becoming a bit of a ‘fresh/raw juice evangelists.’
Did the benefits continue?
You bet they did!
July was time for my annual eye appointment, and I was wondering if my optometrist would be able to measure any of the improvements I had seen for myself. But, ever since the accident I had dreaded going to the eye doctor because my eye-pressures were pre-glaucoma. In fact, my optic nerves were “squishing” into my eyeballs.
That day, my optometrist’s typical routine continued as usual until she used that puff-test to check my eye pressures. Then, she looked at me weird and suddenly left the room, mumbling that she needed to get another instrument.
Crap! I thought. My heart raced and I said to myself ‘after such a great trend I’m about to go on glaucoma meds!’
The next tool she brought in puffed a little nerf-thing direct on each eye.
After the puffs, she stepped back to review the readings and as she turned to pick up and write in my folder-file she said “That’s surprising — your eye pressures are normal [again].”
And, she became another person I shared my juicing journey with.
Here’s another kicker . . . I was losing weight. By that time I was 15 pounds lighter than my highest weight. And, as you know if you’ve lost weight before, one of the great things about losing weight is that as you lose it, it becomes easier to exercise and you’re less hungry, and as a consequence you lose more weight.
It’s like being on ‘a weight-loss slide.’
I was beginning to ‘jog’ ten-minute miles (still just one or one and a half mile at a time), but I was really beginning to feel much better. And, I added P90X routines (which I did poorly) to my weekly regimen (incidentally, I recommend P90X and my ‘coach’ Sara Whiteside to everyone . . . she can recommend programs for any stage of fitness).
In the interest of brevity (I know, right?!), I’ll fast-forward to that December, about one-year into my juicing journey.
It was time for my next dental check-up. This time, my blood pressure, while still elevated, was out of the emergency-zone, and for my gums — those pesky ‘gum pockets’ had completely disappeared (I was told on other dental visits that this couldn’t happen without medication!).
I was getting full, complete, sleep-cycles of eight hours a night.
My weight was down 20 pounds from my highest weight.
My blood pressure normalized, and my eyes were young again.
My hair was thicker.
My energy was restored.
And perhaps most amazingly, my ability to write (I initially wrote this blog in one sitting), to think clearly, and to do complex math were all back. Even lost old memories were being restored (although I have only sporadic memories of the first two-to-three years following the accident).
Most importantly . . . I felt like I was back.
I thank God for opening my eyes to juicing in 2014. It’s over three years later, and I still juice at least once — usually twice — daily.
I run five miles or more regularly.
My blood pressure this morning was 126/66, with absolutely zero medications.
It’s been a long journey, and I’ve learned a lot. And, I know that if you want better health, there’s a path to take. And, I want to show you how to travel it faster, and to actually enjoy the journey!
Maybe you’ve had ‘your’ SUV moment in time. Maybe you’ve gotten where you are slowly. Maybe you even feel like you did it to yourself — or that you’ve been lied to and mislead by this crazy thing called ‘the food pyramid.’
Whatever the reason, you’re why I’m starting this blog.
Over the last two years, I’ve shared my story with anyone who’ll listen (which turns out to be too few of my closest friends). Some listen, but few have made changes. Maybe they’re just not ready to change their health. Which is why I’m turning to blogging . . . to reach (hopefully) thousands of people who have reached the point in their life — maybe your own life — where you are ready to change your habits and change your life.
The question for you is are you ready for a change — what will happen if you do nothing? Where will your weight be this time next month? Next year?
Where will your energy level be?
Your blood pressure?
Your eyesight, skin, nails and hair (which are all related)?
Are you failing to get good sleep because of poor nutrition?
Are you ready to quit spending all that money on medications and crazy fads?
Look, if you can unwrap and consume a twikie, you have all the skills you need to juice fresh fruits and vegetables and begin enjoying the life of you were born to enjoy.
You can do it! And, I believe juicing can play a large part in making it happen, and happen faster.
Just keep reading the posts, and follow this blog to discover how.
All the best, Steve