PYP 195: Milan Ross on Losing 250 Pounds and Finding His Purpose and Passion

Milan Ross weighed about 500 pounds and suffered from diabetic neuropathy, hypertension, and high cholesterol when he took a job at Whole Foods for the health insurance. His wife had just been diagnosed with severe and progressive MS, and they were going to need a lot of help with medical bills as the disease took her mobility and quality of life. Read more »

PYP 189: Dave Wiskowski on the Simple Practices that Healed His Depression

In 1987, fresh out of college, I took a job as a teaching intern at a fancy prep school in central New Jersey. One of the students who never made it across my radar was a quiet, blonde fifth grade boy named Dave Wiskowski. In his class photo, he’s not smiling, unlike many of his classmates. He told me that he was struggling with depression at that time, any for many years later. Like many people who find themselves overwhelmed by life and negative emotions, he became adept at self-medicating through food, alcohol, and self-pity. Read more »

Thanksgiving and the Calculus of Integrity

The movie Airplane features a running joke in which air traffic controller Steve McCroskey (played by Lloyd Bridges) announces after each new catastrophe, “I guess I picked the wrong week to quit smoking… drinking… amphetamines… sniffing glue.” I woke up yesterday morning, watched a terrifying video of a white supremacist gathering in Washington, DC, and thought, “I guess I picked the wrong week to feel gratitude.” And some of my clients and students will look at all the turkeys, gravies, pies, turduckens, piecakens, and other festive dishes and tell themselves, “I’ll indulge just a little today, and tighten back up tomorrow. After all, progress, not perfection.” To all three examples, I say bullshit. Read more »

PYP 176: Ken Botts on the Power of One Plate at a Time

Ken Botts has been in food service for over 35 years, since he discovered the financial rewards of frying chicken and slinging pizza as a teenager trying to pay for his own car insurance. At age 18, he discovered Diet for a Small Planet, by Francis Moore Lappé, and made the connection between the food we eat and the world we inhabit. Read more »

PYP 163: Tim Kaufman on Doing a Little More Today Than You Did Yesterday

When Tim Kaufman was in his late 30s, he weighed about 400 pounds, struggled with addictions to pain killers, and figured this was how his life was gonna be from now on. After all, he had been diagnosed with Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome (EDS), a genetic disease that messes with connective tissue and left his knees essentially useless. Read more »

PYP 156: Howard Jacobson on Motivation and Transformation

Hey there, it's me, Howard. My mind has been buzzing lately, full of input from some of the guests I've interviewed over the past few months. It's like they've been talking with each other, in my mind, and I have these momentary revelations and confusions as I go on runs, sit down to write, and lay awake at night when I'm not tired enough to sleep Read more »

PYP 155: Jamie Gannon on Brain Cancer, Golden Tickets, and Silver Linings

When Jamie Gannon was 27, he was an aspiring actor living the dream in Hollywood. Reading for films, TV, and commercials. Working his day job. Working out to keep his leading man physique. Taking voice and acting classes. And living a healthy, active life. When it all fell apart, thanks to a golf-ball sized malignant tumor at the base of his brain. A tumor that, even after its removal and long courses of chemo and other intensive medical therapies, left Jamie with a 10-15% chance at survival. Read more »

PYP 153: Bob Cafaro on Beating MS

Bob Cafaro was enjoying a successful career as a professional cellist with the Philadelphia Orchestra when he was struck with Multiple Sclerosis (MS) in December, 1998. After some serious denial and three increasingly nasty attacks, he was forced to confront the reality and severity of his diagnosis. With Bob's eyesight worsening to the point of blindness and his hands unable to control the cello, it was only natural for his doctor to write him a note for permanent disability. And slip him a script for an antidepressant to help him cope with the loss of his profession, his livelihood, his passion, and his independent existence Read more »