One Year ago, 11/11/14, I quit smoking cigarettes for good, started a Plant Based Lifestyle (no dairy, no meat) and started working out like a Beast. It all started when my friend, Brandi MacLaren(Personal trainer, Plant Based Nutritionist) Brandi Maclaren Fly Fitness challenged me to a 30 day Plant Based Challenge. My Journey had been moving me in this direction my whole life, but it took a friend to push me into a Leap of Faith. Leap I did, all the way in and decided to quit smoking cigarettes at the same time. I called it, “My Body is a Temple Plant Based Challenge”. Little did I know at the time, I would find the strength inside to reach my Full Potential and remove the obstacles that kept me from that reality.
One of the things Brandi (Coach) told me, was when I wanted a cigarette, to do 10 pushups. I could do 10 in the beginning but was huffing and puffing a little. I kept pushing myself to go more and got to the point I could do 3 sets of 10 push-ups and then 15, 20, 25, 35, until I could do 3 sets of 75 push-ups.
Brandi has a degree in Plant Based Nutrition from Cornell University and took me shopping at Kroger, Trader Joes, Whole foods and taught me how to look at the ingredients so all the food I was eating was void of all meat and dairy products and that was mostly organic. I also took most all sugar out of my diet, stopped drinking all sodas and began using stevia(natural herb with no calories) for anything I wanted to sweeten(Tea, lemonade, etc). My morning meal became a grapefruit and organic cereal with almond or coconut milk. After my workout, ( lifting weights, running and later, yoga) I would consume a Kale smoothie, that eventually included flaxseed, chia seed, organic oats, orange, banana, stevia, Kangen Alkaline water, cayenne pepper, turmeric, ginger and cannibas oil.
Every day I was loyal to my new lifestyle and did not cheat once, even though after 2 days of not smoking and with such a radical change in lifestyle, I was literally hallucinating. I was committed and there was no turning back. I’m an all or nothing guy. One of the things Brandi asked me when challenging me to the 30 day challenge, is “Are you strong, you say you’re strong, prove it”. I can’t tell you the depths to which I was willing to go to prove I was strong. I had no idea I was going deep into my past and facing things, relationships and feelings I pushed down and hadn’t dealt with. It was all exposed. The cigarettes and not great eating habits were masking the pain and keeping me from being the real me- FREE. So I faced it, I dealt with it and I began to grow in ways I’ve never experienced before all while going through a total mind, body and spirit transformation. In every moment, I realized I had the choice to live or die. To die meant to cave, give in and let the temptation beat me. To win meant to choose faith and bear the temptation at all costs to choose life and to be FREE. I have had so many friends die of cancer and many other forms of disease, and I was convinced I wasn’t going to be one of them; A victim, a statistic. I knew too much and though have tried to quit smoking and go to a plant based lifestyle before; I didn’t have the strength to follow through. I was trying to quit smoking every day. I would get through most of the day, but then cave in and buy a pack that night. This time was different, I was committed and there was no room for failure. I knew in my full potential I had envisioned myself since my youth, the old me was gone and the new me was a Peaceful Warrior, a champion that would NEVER give in to defeat.
I kept track of my weight loss and was quickly losing pounds. I lost at least 15 pounds of fat in those 30 days and was transforming the fat into solid muscle. I had much more energy and my attitude became better and full of gratitude. I began to appreciate every breathe and every bite of healthy food I was consuming. It wasn’t a diet, as I didn’t count calories and I ate all day, just healthy food and my body was pleased and quickly showing results.
I knew after 3 days into this transformation, it wasn’t going to end after 30 days. This was a radical, yet healthy change of my life for good.
After the first month, I began working out harder, running faster and longer and pushing myself every day to take it to another level. Yet, at the same time, I was facing some of the toughest challenges and most difficult times in my life. It was my faith in God that sustained me. 1 Corinthians 9:24 “Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize.” At the same time as my “Body is a Temple” transformation was happening, my prayer and meditation was getting deeper. I was going to the deepest parts of me, places I had never gone and God was healing me. I started forgiving everyone and all the broken relationships, I handed to God and decided they would no longer be an anchor holding my soul down. I released it all and loosened my load. My prayers became less about what I wanted and more just pure Gratitude for all I had and was able to see, I felt ONE with the Great spirit light inside of me and it became Powerful as my light had strengthened. I noticed music and playing the guitar had become absolutely effortless and I was performing live and in the studio at my greatest levels and all my friends noticed the difference instantly in my attitude, weight loss, healthier skin and my ability to play music on a higher level. Luke 11:33 “No one lights a lamp and puts it in a place where it will be hidden, or under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, so that those who come in may see the light.”
I can thank my mother, Carolyn Hagen, for building in me, a health foundation and instilling alternative/preventative lifestyle applications in my life at an early age. She was an herbalist, health advocate and activist since I could remember. My brothers and I hated it as kids, because we were different from the other children. We had to eat green spaghetti, carob instead of chocolate, had no sugar cereal in the house, would get food from the co-op and get/catch and bottle fresh spring water back in our Michigan days. Later, she became an herbalist and helped thousands with their health.
About 6 years ago, my brother, Michael Hagen’s life had been changed drastically for the better by discovering Kangen Alkaline water. He got my mother on the water at a time she was really sick and had low energy. It turned her life around, gave her more energy and the two began the beginning stages of helping thousands overcome major disease by drinking this magic water that is a registered medical device in over 200 hospitals in Japan. It uses electrolysis to convert tap water into alkaline water and raise the ph level in your body, to decrease chance of disease and sickness. As proven by Nobel peace prize winning Otto Warburg in 1931, disease and cancer can’t live in an alkaline environment.
I got my own Kangen alkaline water SD 501 machine and drank the 9.5 PH water all day. I lost all lifelong allergies and haven’t been sick once in the 5 years since drinking the water. It was life changing and I began helping hundreds of people get healthy. It changed my life forever. I was sharing the water and educating many on the positive benefits of an alkaline lifestyle. I told people that in an ideal world, we would all drink alkaline water and eat all alkaline raw fruits and vegetables. There was a problem, I felt like a hypocrite. My talk was greater than my walk as I still smoked cigarettes and my diet was far from alkaline. I was only halfway there and it ate at me.
Psoriasis- All my life I struggled with this disease with “no cure”. I had dry, scaly skin and big red blemishes in random places that embarrassed me to no end. It was a true thorn in my side. My parents took me to a doctor at an early age, but there was no hope and I was on my own to suffer most of a lifetime. There wasn’t even a name for the disease at that point and there was most certainly, no cure. Years later, I took every kind of prescription and homeopathic remedy and none of them made a noticeable difference and the list of chemicals on the prescriptions were toxic and no doubt, disease causing. I knew the problem had to be dealt with internally as the topical approach was hopeless. A couple years back, I started researching foods that dealt with the issue internally. All roads lead to a Vegan diet as the cure, as well as the fact I would have to quit smoking. I tried both, numerous times and failed over and over again.
I have cured my psoriasis now, 100% through quitting smoking and eating a plant based diet only. I have proven it is curable. I have so much more confidence now. It is Amazing!!!
I have lost over 25 lbs and feel and look the best I’ve ever felt. I decided not to do the standard photos before and after this lifestyle change, because I never liked the concept of diets and the presentation of them, don’t like to do things like everyone else, and the truth, I didn’t have the confidence to get the before photos taken out of embarrassment of my once huge beer gut that would never go down since my metabolism slowed down in college. I could do all the sit ups in the world and I would only have a big, tighter stomach, but could never lose the stomach. The plant based lifestyle is the only thing that got rid of the beer gut and that’s why I had the confidence to do a photo shoot(Courtesy of kohlphoto.com) this week to show the “after” photos of one year of a plant based lifestyle and working out/running the hardest and most consistent I ever have. What I realized, is my stomach used to be an “animal graveyard” and some things stayed there and wouldn’t go away or come out. I have learned everything should come out of you that you eat and anything that stays behind is potentially, eventually disease causing.
I’ve always been a huge animal lover my whole life. I am a man of principle and think we either believe in a principle 100% or 0%. There is no in-between with me. I am a big supporter of the non-aggression principle which means the only time violence is EVER justified is in self-defense of an individual or property. Never is pre-emptive violence acceptable to me. One of the biggest things that convinced me to make this leap of faith initially, is that my friend Brandi called me out on the non-aggression principle. She asked me why it didn’t apply to animals and said, “Why does your cat get a free, safe and protected ride in life, in your home, but not that cow, pig or chicken”? She was right and I couldn’t deny it. I realized making this choice in lifestyle would mean many innocent animals’ lives would be spared and I could no longer justify violence as a means of life, especially after I became educated and dispelled the “protein myth”. The myth, that we need animal protein or any type of animal product for survival. It is a lie and I get plenty of the right protein from the right vegetables (much research supports this scientific fact). Most people are consuming too much protein and getting disease from it. Our society has been totally and completely brainwashed altogether by powerful lobbyist groups that have interest in a mis-information campaign that began before we were born.
The other thing I’m happy about, is not participating in all the chemicals it takes to factory farm that go back into the earth and pollute our water supplies. The answer to so many of our problems is to “think green and eat clean”. I think the earth can re-create itself if it gets sick of our abuse at some point and start over. Humans, not so much. We have to choose to live here and to be healthy.
For over 20 years, I have envisioned the future of medicine, a combination of Eastern and Western concepts and practices. Eastern medicine, for its holistic, herbal and preventative medicine approach and Western, for life saving surgery innovation. If we look objectively at the fact that the US is #55(last I checked), in life expectancy and Japan #1, and then examine that Japan is much more true to a plant based lifestyle, it isn’t hard to see diet plays a huge part in health and life expectancy. We must choose to live and the quality of our life and being healthy matters. Who wants to be sick and die of disease? Not me.
I have come to learn and now experience firsthand, we are “what we eat”, and I choose to live and eat healthy. “Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food” ~ Hippocrates
I used to think that the concept of “I wanted to change the world, so I changed me,” was a cop out and an excuse to not get involved and make positive change. I have now come to believe all we can do is change ourselves and if we do something positive and significant enough, that maybe we can inspire others. We can’t save everyone, people and animals, but we can inspire and save some, and every one of them is worth it. All lives matter!!
A couple resources I encourage checking out, that I have learned much from on alkaline plant based lifestyle: Watch the Documentary, Forks over knives(on Netflix) and read the book “The Enzyme Factor” by Dr. Hiromi Shinya. There is plenty of research out there on all these subjects and I encourage you to look into it. One thing I have learned firsthand and very unfortunately so, is that it is important to seek and learn this information and apply now, before you are a sick or have a disease. Watching friends go through having stage 4 cancer, at that point, the ability to have time to research and apply these concepts will be more difficult. Possible, but difficult, as the pressure from family, friends, doctors and most of the world will make it more difficult to seek the natural cures, that do exist. Knowledge is power and application is essential.
I leave you with a question; Do you want to live or die? Prove it. Do the research. Take the time. Invest in you and your body as your greatest investment. It is worth it. You are worth it.