Approaching his late 40s, Ed Smith noticed friends who he grew up with dropping dead of heart disease. Looking at family history of a grandfather who had experienced heart bypass surgery and a father who had prostate cancer surgery, plus Smith having cholesterol at 220, Smith had a wake up call and decided to make some changes.
Prompted by his then-girlfriend, now wife, Amanda, Smith started to read the “China Study” by Dr. T. Colin Campbell. Two-thirds into the China Study, Smith decided to give up chicken, turkey, fish and cheese. He lost between 35-40 pounds and his cholesterol went down to 150.
The Smiths travelled to Washington, D.C. on city business and decided to stop at the office of The Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM) and met Dr. Neal Barnard. The Smiths became involved in the different meetings, lectures and events on how a plant-based diet can help reverse heart disease.
In Texas, Rip Esselstyn, a firefighter at Engine 2 in Austin, was challenged during a bar bet to see who had the lowest cholesterol. One of the firefighters had a cholesterol level in the 300s and the next day Esselstyn helped his firehouse embrace a whole foods, plant-based diet. The firefighter with the 300 plus cholesterol went down to 200.
Smith began thinking, “Why can’t we host something like this at the city level?”
Smith contacted Esselstyn. In July 2011, Rip Esselstyn challenged the Marshall Fire Department to undergo a 28-day whole foods, plant-based diet. As a result of the challenge, the Assistant Fire Chief, Reggie Cooper, lost 35 pounds and got off insulin shots, the Fire Chief lost 20 pounds and got off his blood pressure medications.
In the following month, August 2011, the Smiths hosted the Engine 2 Immersion for the citizens of Marshall. Smith thought maybe 50 people would attend but over 200 people showed up for three-day event.
Monthly potlucks, grocery store tours to show people who to buy healthy items, how to read nutrition labels and cooking classes by celebrity chefs were soon started.
With everybody deciding to make new years resolutions, the Smiths decided, at the last minute, to do an event to get information out to people and thought they might get 50 to 75 people would attend. At the first “New Year, New You” event in 2012, 160 people attended and listened to PCRM doctor, Dr. Neal Barnard and plant-based dietician, Julieanna Hever.
This year, the Smiths are expecting to more than double last year’s attendance with attendees coming from all over the country and as far as Canada. Plus there are non-stop seminars and events from a vegan chili cook-off to a 5K race.
The keynote speaker for the 2013 event is Dr. T. Colin Campbell, author of the "China Study."
They have added a fitness component including Ellen DeGeneres’ personal fitness guru John Pierre, vegan body builder Robert Cheeke.
Be sure to wear your workout clothes because Shannon Johnson, owner of Shake & Move in Marshall, Emily Smith, vegan and owner of The Yoga Place in Longview, Texas and the fitness team from Social Fitness will show techniques to get people moving.
Cooking demonstrations and samples will be provided by some of the industries leading chefs including Lindsay S. Nixon, Chef AJ, Chef Del Sroufe and Ellen Jaffe Jones, author of the bestseller “Eat Vegan for $4 a Day.”
For more information on the January 11 – 13, 2013 three-day New Year, New You Health Fest event, go to www.newyearnewyouhealthfest.com
Copyright © 2012 Robin D. Everson. All rights reserved.