It has been said that a person doesn’t know how strong they are until being strong is the only choice they have. Three years ago I found this out the hard way. After watching my father beat cancer only to later die of liver disease I ran my life into the ground. I weighed 455lbs and had 20 different verifiable clinical states of disease including diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, anxiety, depression, a mood disorder, OCD, an eating disorder, a 90% loss of feeling in both feet from diabetic neuropathy, PTSD, and many other co-morbid disease states and disorders. I had stopped living and started dying. The lifestyle I chose was literally killing me.
When you hit rock bottom you have two choices: die or climb. My choice was clear. On November 28th of 2009, I made a commitment to myself, my family, my friends, and most importantly to the spirit of my deceased father. I decided to either get and stay healthy or die trying.
I was told by medical professionals at that time that what I was intending to do was impossible. My specific goals were to not only drop all of the extra weight that I was carrying but keep it off and re-create the kind of body and level of athleticism that I enjoyed while in my youth. I needed to think long-term in order to build and maintain a healthy, fit, lean physique that was free and clear of the diseases that came about as a result of my lifestyle. Affirming the commitment that I made to myself and my friends and family I began a self-created immersion program designed to help me reach my goal. So what happened?
In one year, without surgery, I dropped 215lbs (from 455 down to 240) and completely eradicated all twenty states of disease. Not just the symptoms…the actual diseases were gone. My program – which included meditation, a plant-based whole foods diet, regular exercise, multiple healing modalities including Reiki and other types of energy work (don’t knock it until you try it), faith, patience, and for a short time a partial hospitalization program – had done in one year what western medicine couldn’t do in forty.
So why am I sharing this story? I would suggest that much of what worked for me can work for you, regardless of what your goals are. So if you’re looking to lose weight, get in better shape, or just improve your overall health, give these a shot.
1. Practice meditation and yoga. Along with increased strength and flexibility, yoga and meditation will reduce the amount of stress in your life and help you better cope with it when it shows up.
2. Eat a plant-based or at least plant-strong diet. This means eating a whole foods diet abundant in fruits and vegetables, seed grains like amaranth and quinoa (both of which are gluten-free), and beans and legumes. This way of eating will, among other things, provide the fiber, nutrient density, anti-oxidants, hormone balancing benefits, and increased energy levels necessary to maintain a healthy, active lifestyle. There are a number of verifiable reasons to include raw or live foods in your meal plan too, especially sauerkraut, kimchi, and sea vegetables (which are a great source of essential minerals).
3. Buy organic, local, and sustainable produce. Although organic foods can cost more, you will reap the rewards tenfold. If you eat meat choose grass-fed, free-range cuts, and if you eat fish select wild-caught or organic-farm-raised. Opt for organic, cage-free eggs as well.
4. Remove all processed foods, products that contain high fructose corn syrup, and simple sugars from your diet.
5. Drink alkalinized water, or at least stay away from the municipal water supply. Every life-supporting biochemical reaction in the body takes place in a medium of water so it’s important you drink the highest quality form available.
6. Make a “vision board” and learn how to use The Law of Attraction. Vision Boarding helped me tremendously to identify and manifest my career and lifestyle goals. Life Coaches often recommend visualizing success and affirming it by using images, symbols, inspirational quotes, etc. Get these in your line of sight so that your subconscious mind is getting the right messages.
7. Establish and maintain a sense of community and surround yourself with like-minded successful people. This is integral for a support network. It has been said that it takes a village to raise a child; I think it also takes a village to make a success story possible. Having a confidante to confer with, an outside perspective (removed from the proximity you have to your goals), and a fresh supply of helpful resources can make or break any action plan.
8. Exercise regularly and spend time outside whenever possible.
9. Find and maintain the balance between work and play, and make time to let your inner child out. Better still make spending time with animals and children a priority in your life. They are two of our greatest teachers.
I’m on a mission to help people realize how great life can be when they chase and reach their dreams. If you’ve hit a rough patch and are down on life, know that there is hope. Sometimes it takes hitting rock bottom before you can truly live the life of your dreams. I did it. So can you.
Mark Eisenhart is a sponsored athlete, actor, and motivational speaker who transformed his life through healthy lifestyle choices and a radical sense of purpose and passion. After dropping over 215 pounds without surgery Mark competed on American Ninja Warrior and is currently training to climb Aconcagua, a 7,000-meter peak in Argentina.
photos of Mark by Ed Dasso