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How Lowell Committed to the Plant-Based Diet

Updated: Apr 11, 2021

Note: Below is a testimonial I actually received via text, image, audio, or video submission. It is the patient's reflection of his experiences during the course of or after using our services in some way or another. Since it is a personal experience, results do vary for each individual. The testimonial was given verbatim and edited for grammar, syntax, and brevity. My name would appear as the author because I posted this on this website as a blog/article under the category "Testimonials".

Hi, my name is Lowell Gillespie. I want to tell you why I changed to a whole food plant-based lifestyle. First, I will tell you a few things about me. I am 75 years old and grew up on a central Illinois dairy farm. We raised Jersey cows which produced a very high-fat content milk. Growing up, I drank as much of this milk as I wanted every day. I would also make eggnog from milk, eggs, sugar, vanilla, and nutmeg. We would butcher a cow and a hog every year for our meat supply. When Dad became unable to handle the farm, I changed our herd to beef cows. I took care of the farm for 30 years while I also worked at the local university, served in the National Guard for 20 years, helped lead a youth group in a small country church, and raised four children with my sweet wife Judy.

All these activities started wearing me down. At age 48, I remember my head being so numb I could not think straight. I was dragging myself around while trying to keep up with everything. At age 53, I had my first heart bypass surgery. For the next 22 years, I was in and out of hospitals with multiple heart problems. I underwent several tests and procedures, including heart stenting, another heart bypass surgery, x-rays, CAT scans, echocardiograms, nuclear stress tests, and an ablation to zap an extra heartbeat that was causing havoc to the rhythm of my heart. I remember the cardiologist telling me that all I had to look forward to was Hospice Care. It was explained to me numerous times that the cause of my disease is due to a build-up of plaques in my heart arteries. Most of this time I was overweight and still had my arteries lined with plaque, probably from all the fat-filled food I had eaten and the stress I caused myself by trying to do too many things at the same time.

Then in December 2018, three angels appeared before me in the form of three lady doctors. The first one was NP Kara Painton, who introduced me to the Plant Food Based Lifestyle. She told me not to eat anything that walks, flies, or swims nor eat any by-products that come from them. She said to me if I did not consume the cholesterol filled meat nor the by-products that come from the animals like milk and cheese, my body would clean out the plaque from the blood vessels including the ones that supply my heart. Remembering what my Cardiologist, Dr. Karen Wiarda, recently told me about Hospice Care, I committed immediately changing over to the Plant-Based LifeStyle. Kara sent me to talk to Dr. Edelita Jamis, who became my Lifestyle coach. I met with her every two weeks listening to her encouraging words as she tweaked my food choices and told me the importance of the change I was going through. Our follow up meetings went from close monitoring of my weight, blood pressure and blood tests, continued disease education, reading the labels on the packages of food in the grocery store. Most packages of food have too much salt and fat in them, so I have to learn how to spot unhealthy foods. Like anybody who is changing to a plant-based diet, I was concerned about where I get my protein. Dr. Jamis explained that plants have protein. In fact, they are the ones that make protein first. Animals eat the plants and convert plant protein to animal protein, which becomes saturated with fat and cholesterol. Plants that have lots of protein include nuts, beans, lentils, chickpeas, and others, including mushrooms (fungus). Living on a farm and planting a garden all my life made my changeover easy since I have always loved eating vegetables.

​When I went back to see my cardiologist, she was very excited about my decision to choose the plant-based diet. She thought all along that my problem with my heart was related to what I was eating. I had been unable to complete my exercises at the Heart Rehab room in the Carle Heart and Vascular Clinic. I could not spin the arms on the Armamometer without causing PVCs to develop in my heart.

​Three months into the plan, I had lost 35 pounds, and my head started clearing up. I was able to work longer on the machines. Seven months into the lifestyle change, my weight stabilized, and I seem to have lost my muscle mass. That didn’t worry me because, as I continued, I became stronger and more energetic. My muscles also started to tone. I am realizing now that this was all part of the cleansing process my body was going through. During this time, I learned how to cook for myself.

​On January 1, 2020, I flew down to Phoenix, AZ with my youngest daughter, Katina, and husband, Charles, for a much needed getaway time. While there, I walked 3 or 4 miles every day for four weeks. On the weekends, we would go out into the foothills and walk up and down the hills. One day we walked seven miles up and down a very rough terrain, and I was not at all sore from all the walking.

​Katina had a 20-lb kettle ball at her house, which I started swinging between my legs and up head-high in front of me every other day during my month-long stay in Arizona. As a result, my biceps and other muscles began to get firmer. Now I am getting the body I had when I was baling hay on the farm and while I was in the high school football team. I feel better now than I have for many years.

​All the changes that are taking place would not have happened if I had not listened to the three angel doctors God sent to me nor the loving care and concern of my family. To them, I owe my life.

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He continues to be an inspiration. I am grateful for his dedication to the plant-based lifestyle every day! Lowell is my dad and I tell his story as often as I can. He dedicated his life to so many outside his own and now after dedicating to self-care, he continues to shine brightly for those he loves.

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