It was Fall of 2018 when my father, a loving and caring disabled veteran, temporarily moved in with us. I didn’t know it at the time, but the change marked what would ultimately change my entire life for the better. As soon as he arrived, we wanted to give him the proper care he deserved. I knew this would be a tough adjustment for all of us in the house, but it was important to me that my father’s health and well-being were being prioritized.

We were all pretty excited to have him with us, and we were excited to spend more time with him. I knew it would require a lot because my father took medication around the clock, and I would become his nurse to administer the medicine. I always knew the reason he was on so much medication, but I didn’t have my “aha” moment until I physically witnessed his day-to-day routine.

As a caregiver, you start to question small details and moments more than ever. Growing up, I remember my father being a bodybuilder, lifting weights, and being a very healthy eater. He always cared about nutrition and put his physical well-being first. However, I started to realize that my father’s lifestyle in the last couple decades had changed as he aged. It had played a part in him being diagnosed with diabetes and high blood pressure, and now, it was clear in his everyday routine. I was determined to keep dad healthy, and to do what I could as a caregiver to help him.

This realization opened my eyes to a path I was following. I realized I was not focusing on eating nutrient-dense foods. My focus was solely on food that tastes good or food that I was used to. One day, after checking my father’s blood pressure, I decided to check my own, and to my surprise, it was high. The number scared me, but it didn’t come as a major shock, considering my diet and lifestyle.

I started reading about plant-based living, which is a diet primarily based on foods derived from plants, including vegetables, grains, nuts, seeds, legumes, and fruits with limited or no animal products. I decided to give it a try and found a 21-day plant-based guide with recipes. I used small steps to change my habits, and I stayed committed to the plan for all 21 days.

I also decided to get back in the gym during this 21-day plan. Soon after I started working out again, I couldn’t believe how I was feeling. My energy level, attitude, and skin were amazing. After completing the challenge, I did not go back to my old ways. Two years later, I still keep a plant-based diet, and I stay very active in the gym. I now check my blood pressure periodically, and it’s always in the normal range.

My dad’s lifestyle has also changed and he’s eating much healthier than before. I’m so proud of him and his strength. If you are witnessing a family member’s health deteriorate or feeling unhealthy yourself, find out where your health stands by first visiting your doctor, and then do your research regarding how you can turn things around. Someone else’s journey might inspire you to become the best version of yourself.

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