When my friend and best man started on social media, Facebook, twitter and blogging, I could not have cared to even ask what that was about. I’ve always been the very busy kind of guy, whether I was doing anything useful, or just busy thinking about doing something. Consequently, sparing the time to even consider, let alone take part in social media was just not possible. Though I felt left behind the curve, I always managed, rather successfully, to justify my misplaced attitude. Of course, with time, the power of social media has been ploughed into my face (we all remember the Arab world early this year). Now, I am here blogging. The big question-why?
While relaxing in the house on the 6th of August 2011, browsing the CNN website, I came across an article that has changed my life-The Heart Attack Proof Diet?. Since then, I have read almost everything Esselstyn, and his book has just been delivered at my door from Amazon.com at noon today. Shockingly, it cannot be found in a single bookstore in Nairobi. I read into the early hours of the morning everything I could find online on his work. Why the obsession? Well, let me give some background.
I had an affluent upbringing, so it is no surprise that I battled weight problems literally all my life. Having been brought up very well, there was all I could eat available, and boy did I have a good appetite. As you can imagine, I reflected what went in, and was considerably larger than ALL my peers (though it was nothing compared to what I see today). From very early on, the use of my actual name subsided so much that at one point I also wondered who I was. Publishing something I’ve always been too ashamed to utter aloud is scary, but here goes. I went by the name-“Kidadu”. What it meant I have no idea, all I’ve always been sure about is how it conjures up an image of something big, large, round, blobby……. When I got to 12 years of age, by the mercy of my hormones, my growth changed from the ever-present horizontal to a more vertical. Having been accustomed to so much weight, I found that suddenly, when everyone had to run in one direction, I was no longer guaranteed to be at the end of that line as previously. Someone gracious and forward thinking decided that my nickname should now be changed to “Dash” (I suspect they were getting constantly surprised not to find me so far back in a race as I was used to being, so it seemed I’d suddenly dashed off somewhere). The change in self esteem that resulted was one of the strongest reasons I decided I was never going to be overweight again! It took 15 years to achieve any results I could be impressed with, and a constant obsession with weight, nutrition and exercise.
The power in Esselstyn’s work is not as much the actual message itself (as powerful as it), as what it could mean. Working in the healthcare industry, I have seen so many people, rich and poor, suffering from diseases that Esselstyn talks of reversing into oblivion. I have seen young fathers die; new grandmothers spend months in hospital fighting symptoms of a disease, not even its actual causes. I have seen children taking care of their parents. I have seen ignorant people ravaged by a disease they just do not understand, and successful people who have solved mighty problems and won many battles struggle with finding a solution to a disease that seems like a smoke screen. I have seen colleagues run out of ideas on how to advise their patients on the way forward. In my short life, I have seen a lot of suffering. If getting onto the social media train could help alleviate this suffering, just a small bit, then it would be a sin for me not to. When Dr Esselstyn talks about reversing heart disease, diabetes, hypertension and says weight loss is just a side effect of the process, he had my attention 150%. But when one of his clients gives a testimonial on how they should have been dead from disease, but now they’re enjoying life, 25 years after their expected death, then I see the potential for all the patients I wished I could have helped. Everyday I keep quiet about this is a day a part of me dies. Yesterday was the last. Over the next few weeks I will be discussing a bit of what I have learnt in my own personal struggle with weight, linking to Esselstyn’s work and why this could have far reaching implications for all of us. Just like getting started on this blog is ridiculously simple, yet incredibly difficult, most of what I’ll explore will challenge what you’ve always known to be true.