a different kind of coffee break with Gerry and Ray Coffey

Disease-Free Living Through Fitness and Nutrition


WHY VEGAN?????  
By Gerry Coffey

People most often embrace vegetarianism for reasons of personal health, their love of animals, or their concern about the environment. Although initially I became a vegetarian, and then a Vegan, (omitting dairy, eggs, fish and foul, as well as Red meat: ANYTHING with a face!) because my health was threatened, I’ve since come to conclude ALL reasons need addressing in order to experience total health: emotional, physical, spiritual and environmental.

During my early adult years I thought exercise was the answer to every physical problem and invested heavily in learning from the best teachers available so I might become an instructor.

When my family and I moved to Southeast Asia, my adroitness at exercise and tumbling led me to teaching Voltige (gymnastics on horseback), as well as Yoga. But my over-riding interest in people introduced me to the world of journalism and when I became a Reporter and Society Editor at the top English language daily in the burgeoning metropolis of Bangkok, Thailand (a city of 4 million), the unaccustomed parties, night life and travels that
took me to Europe, Africa, Vietnam, Hong Kong and the Philippines (interviewing royalty, world leaders, celebrities and other newsmaker) eventually took its toll on my health.

On returning to the States after nearly a decade in that fast-paced and exciting environment, I worked for the Chamber-of-Commerce in Decatur, Alabama, as the Official City Hostess and Tourism Coordinator, and then in  Huntsville, AL, as a TV and Radio Reporter.

On moving to Atlanta, GA., I became a Health Educator in the Maternal and Infant High Risk Care Project at a major metropolitan hospital, and went back to college to complete a degree in Radio/TV & Journalism.

Through my work at the hospital, and as a reporter, I had access to the world's authorities on health. Combined with that, and my the fact I was also a Fitness Instructor, I thought I had an edge on health. My complacency was shocked to the core when I was diagnosed with an Ovarian Cyst that grew to the size of a cantaloupe. This led to copious research of the Medical Literature where I learned the cyst was precipitated by doctor-prescribed Hormone-Replacement-Therapy called Premarin, the most prescribed drug in America.

What doctors fail to tell us is that 75% of women placed on HRT come down with some type of tumor, cyst or growth. And that complications from the traditionally prescribed surgery results in thousands of deaths annually: due not to the disease, but complications of treatment.

Much to the consternation of family, relatives and friends, I refused the surgery and immersed myself in research and study which eventually led me to Natural Hygiene (strict veganism) and fasting. Adapting to this new regime was a drastic change and my new life style was not readily accepted by my loved ones.As my family came first, I tried to accommodate their wishes, but as I grew sicker and more depressed I realized I would become a burden to them if I didn't change my ways.

Summoning all the courage I could muster, I prepared to sever relations with my family and follow my own convictions. In the process I called and spoke with the handful of doctors around the world who supervised fasts and settled on a clinic in California. There I began an education and health regime that would take me on a 3-year trial and error  journey that
included 3 major fasts and a close bout with death before my body had the resources to resolve the cyst (minus drugs or surgery) and rebuild health.

An unexpected bonus came when, after 3 years of skepticism (“If eating a plant based diet prevented most diseases, don’t you think doctors would be shouting it from the roof tops?”), my spouse had his own health crisis. By a fluke of fate he had to undergo numerous tests before undergoing exploratory surgery so was required to abstain from eating for a period of 3 days. With no food to sustain it, the problem healed itself, the surgery was unnecessary, and my husband had a new respect for the things I’d been trying
to tell him. He read my materials voraciously and changed his diet immediately. Before long the arthritis in his feet that caused him to hobble around in the mornings was gone, along with his prostate and severe sinus problems. Another bonus: he lost about 25 lbs. of “excess baggage.”

My own successes were equally eventful: About 6 weeks after my first 20 day water fast, at the age of 48, mother of 4 adolescents, I was tested by NASA (National Aeronautics & Space Administration) doctors --along with college Pre-med and Physical Education majors the age of my offspring – and found to be in the top 5 percentile of female college athletes aged 18 to 29 (male athletes aged 24 to 37).

Test Administrator, Mark Noble,  a former Olympic Coach and consultant to the Air Force and Astronauts, thought my spirometer test (ability to utilize oxygen) had malfunctioned, so had me take it again. He was amazed at the results. I was too, because I knew I was not in good health. If I tested so well, what did that say for our youth?

For the past 15 years my spouse and I have invested the majority of our time, energy and finances learning from the few world luminaries on this subject. Because we have put our (re)education into practice and not just theory, we have been able to fine-tune what many of the experts just discuss. Also, due to our high profile in the community and the rumor that I
had died, people seeing me in good health began requesting consultations.

Though reluctant at first, when one woman insisted, we finally obliged. The results were excellent, so this led to others wanting help. Through simple lifestyle changes, those with the discipline to follow our program saw almost immediate improvement in conditions like asthma. diabetes, arthritis, ulcers, etc.

For people in need or desire of more in-depth counsel and improvement, we devised Wellness Weekend Retreats. We also guest on radio and TV programs and do food demonstrations for clubs and schools. Our articles and newsletters provide information and health updates.

In order to reach more people I devised a method to “give back to our community” in a unique way, and now we are about to celebrate our 9th year of teaching free monthly classes at the regional library called HEALTHY ALTERNATIVES: Disease-Free-Living Through Fitness & Nutrition.

An adjunct to this was my former radio and TV show called “Coffey Break: A Healthy Alternative.” The TV Show featured a guest (Governor, Congressman, Educators,etc.) and live studio audience, similar to OPRAH, on a local level. The Radio program (to be resurrected soon) was a call-in-talk show with a similar format based on Health, Nutrition and Fitness.

We’ve also had the pleasure of hosting some of the Natural Hygiene doctors and Fitness luminaries and arranged Press Conferences and speaking engagements for them. Over the years, through our classes, media visibility and success stories, we’ve begun to make a small, but respectable dent. And the non-monetary rewards are ongoing.

One of our prize pupils, 74-year-old Opal Bridges, had a cholesterol reading of 609. (Anything over 150 poses serious heart disease risks.) Doctors told her medication wouldn’t help and to “go home and wait” because her days were numbered. After our first class Opal and her husband, Truman, stopped at the grocery store, loaded up with produce, and began our program.

At the class the following month, Opal announced she felt tremendously better, had lost 22 lbs., was walking 3 miles a day, and most importantly, her cholesterol and dropped to 245 and was still plummeting. Truman, originally a skeptic, bragged he had lost19 lbs. and had weaned himself off the 5 medications he’d been taking since back surgery and chemotherapy for cancer.

Recently the Bridges celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary by taking a 6 month motor home trip around the Nation. That was of special significance to Truman who says the medications he used to take kept his mind so muddled  “I used to get lost every time I drove to Walmart.”

Two of our five adult children (one adopted) have fully embraced this way of life. The others pay it lip service and are “working” at changing. Our youngest daughter became a Vegan when she learned she was pregnant. Her (former) husband did not think much of vegetarianism, but her will prevailed and the baby was born in our home with the aid of midwives. (My big regret is I didn’t have the knowledge to be so wise with my pregnancies and births and my children have suffered as a result.)

Valerie's baby, 8 lb. Jon Isaac, uttered one little peep when he entered the world, and except for a small speck of blood on one shoulder, was clean as a whistle. The midwives found none of the usual thick mucus (caused by animal and dairy products consumed by the mother) that must be scrubbed from most newborns’ fragile skin. As the midwife held him up he looked around at us with luminous and serene brown eyes that seemed to be filled with wonder, and then was laid gently at his mommy’s breast.

It was 3 days before Jon Isaac found reason to test his lungs with a good, hearty cry. Valerie welcomed it as she was afraid there might be something wrong. She thought new babies were “supposed to cry all the time.”  

Jon Isaac is now 8 years old and contrary to most children that age, has NEVER had cause to see a doctor, be vaccinated or hospitalized.

In conclusion, I’m still trying to decide what I’d like to be “when I grow up.” It would be nice to make a living traveling the world and teaching people how to enhance their lives and finances by avoiding drugs and surgeries while enriching our own through the people we meet.

But if that doesn’t pan out, I wouldn’t mind being an on-site writer, consultant or assistant director for the remake of “The King and I.” Surely my first-hand experience as the only journalist privileged to travel with the King and Queen of Thailand would prove an invaluable resource.  

–Gerry Coffey

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