NEW: Plant Yourself merch designed by my daughter, Yael Zivan.


Hi, I'm Howard Jacobson, host of the Plant Yourself Podcast.

In my day job, I empower people to take control over their own health destinies. As a trainer, educator, and coach, I help our clients implement lifestyle changes that support vibrant health and fitness.

But 15 years ago I was overweight, unhealthy, stressed out, and constantly taking my sick kids to the doctor and giving them antibiotics.

I couldn’t find time to exercise, and wasn’t motivated anyway: I was usually suffering from back pain and just really tired most of the time. It killed me when my kids wanted to wrestle, or jump on me, or have me carry them, and I was too exhausted or in too much agony to play with them.

At the age of 35, I felt like an old man.

Even though I knew better, I still fed my kids lots of junk: McDonalds chicken nuggets, pizza, chocolate-flavored yogurt, pancakes, sugary cereals, candy, you name it. And I was the human garbage can, eating all their leftovers in addition to cleaning my own plate.

I can’t even count how many courses of antibiotics I gave my kids for their recurrent ear infections. We even got a prescription from a specialist to put tubes in my son’s ears to help them drain.

And boy was I stressed out. My blood pressure was through the roof. Which is ironic, because I got my PhD studying stress management.

Knowing Isn't Enough

My problem was not lack of knowledge. I knew very well how to eat, how to feed my family, how to be physically fit, and how to de-stress and relax. What I lacked was behavioral know-how: how to change my behavior and make it stick. And how to bring my family along so we could all be healthy and fit together.

Things changed when I read T. Colin Campbell’s book The China Study in 2004. When I really understood that our food choices would determine whether or not my kids, wife, and I developed heart disease, cancer, MS, diabetes, and dozens of other life-threatening conditions, as well as the chronic infections of childhood, I got motivated to clean up the way we ate.

I hired a wellness coach, read everything I could on behavior change, and started changing my habits. I removed most animal products and processed food from my diet. I started running 3-5 miles six mornings a week. I found moments throughout my day to breathe deep and relax.

Over time (a couple of years, actually), I discovered how to lead my family to fitness and health. I had to become a role model and cheerleader rather than judge and jury, and I had to focus on the positive rather than the negative. Valuable lessons!

Three Necessary Tools

Why did I succeed this time, when I had failed to maintain my healthy behaviors in the past? Because I used three tools together:

  1. Knowledge (what to do)
  2. Know-how (how to get myself to do it)
  3. Marketing (how to broadcast empowering messages to myself that drowned out the negative messages in my environment)

The three tools correspond to the three facets of my professional career: researcher, coach, and marketer.

Researcher (not doing this at the moment)

As the contributing author to three hard-hitting investigative books on health, I've spent thousands of hours poring over research studies. It turns out that modern medicine, far from being the miracle that most of us think, is still largely mired in treatments and diagnostic tests that are totally unsupported by evidence.

Almost no doctors prescribe the most powerful medicine of all: diet and lifestyle improvements.

And the big money that indoctrinates practitioners to prescribe and perform these mostly useless and often harmful treatments isn't going away any time soon.

So I help my clients go through the published research and weigh their options. Then they go back to their health care practitioner and inform them how to proceed.

That way, my clients don't have to find themselves in the position where they look back and say, “If only I had known then what I know now.”


As a coach, I help people identify their goals and take steps to achieve them. We overcome obstacles and resistance, and apply principles of human psychology to stay focused even when motivation wanes.

I'm a certified Tiny Habits coach (kick-ass behavior change meth0dology developed by Stanford University's BJ Fogg), and I'm on the board of advisors of the International Coach Certification Academy. My clients have included Equifax, VNR (one of Europe's largest direct-to-consumer publishing houses), and the Center for Creative Leadership, among many others.


But it was only when I started applying my marketing skills that I rapidly got the results I wanted.

gafd3-coverI've been a marketing consultant from 2001 to the present. I've written three editions of Google AdWords For Dummies, spoken at many international conferences, and in 2014 was named one of the 50 most influential online marketers by Entrepreneur magazine. So I know something about the topic.

Why is marketing so important when it comes to adopting healthy habits?

In 2004, junk food manufacturers spent more than $20 billion to promote disease-causing crap to Americans, while allocating less than $10 million to the “5 a Day” campaign to get us to eat more fruits and vegetables. That’s a 2000 to 1 difference!

It just wasn't a fair fight. And that's when I decided to level the playing field by becoming my own marketing agency.

I had to advertise healthy living to myself, because almost everything in my environment – billboards, commercials, restaurant options, what others around me were eating, what doctors were telling me – was undermining my motivation.

I had to become a ninja at what my friend Peter Bregman describes as “sneaking fruit into the movies.”

Over the past 10 years, I’ve helped thousands of people improve their diets, fitness, and mental states: kids and adults; entrepreneurs and busy parents; family members and strangers I may never meet in person.

Full Circle: Writing WHOLE and PROTEINAHOLIC

hj-tccIn 2013, I had the great privilege of helping my own mentor, T. Colin Campbell, write his second book: WHOLE: Rethinking the Science of Nutrition. That experience reinforced my commitment to spread the message of the power of a healthy lifestyle as far and wide as I can.

I work with individuals and groups, families and corporations, taking people through a simple process toward better and better health habits. They discover:

  • that big lifestyle changes don’t have to be hard
  • that eating better doesn’t mean deprivation
  • that movement can be joyful rather than painful
  • that vibrant health is our birthright
  • that our bodies are always moving in the direction of wellness

rp_Proteinaholic-cover-3D-300x300.pngAfter that, I helped Garth Davis, MD write Proteinaholic, another epic look at the evidence linking diet with disease and health. With 699 references to published research, it's the most comprehensive resource ever to be published.

In both cases, the evidence is overwhelming:

Using the triple tools of knowledge, know-how, and marketing, we can make changes that last, so we can stop struggling with our health and habits, and finally enjoy life to the fullest.

13 comments on “About

  1. Hey, Howard!
    I love listening to your podcast every week. It’s one of my favorites! Guests are great, and you make me laugh,,,like today when you askedDr. David Donohue if he had a paper route to help pay his mortgage. I’ve noticed that on many podcasts, including today’s, you knock the IIN Health Coaching program. Last month I just graduated from IIN, where you were one of the featured speakers in my curriculum. In 2014 I attended Plant Stock, and in 2015 I earned my Plant Based Nutrition Certificate from eCornell. I chose IIN for the coach and business training, and I thought it wise to understand more fully the philosophy behind these other dietary theories. Never did I waiver from my belief that WFPB nutrition was the optimal approach for humans. I am now a Plant-Based Certified Health Coach, and proud to promote myself as such. Of course, I’ll continue being a faithful listener of the Plant Yourself Podcast.
    Thanks for all you do!
    Patty DeMartino

    1. Howard says:

      Thanks, Patty, for your kind words, and for all YOU do to help people live healthy, joyful lives!

      I’m curious what you learned from IIN specifically in terms of health coaching. How do you feel you were empowered by their methodology? What have you found works best in moving people off the starting line and on the road to change?

  2. Shanhong Lu says:

    Dear Howard, I can not wait to meet you. I grew up in China until I were 24 and came to America to study the Etiology of hypertension. After 28 years in America, I realized as a medical doctor we are delaying healing and we are managing a sickness business….
    I heard from Tom Baker about you and I need to reach out to you to team up making plant-based clean living a new business that will pay medical doctors well so this planet will be finally saved from all the wrong ways of money making.

    1. Howard says:

      I look forward to meeting you!

  3. Hi Howard-
    As a primary care physician who wants to keep patients off medications and turn the tide of chronic disease, I am an eager student of your excellent podcast content!! I love the variety of topics and guests, from real life stories of weight loss using a plant based diet to the dirty little secrets of the healthcare system. Your podcast is one of the motivators that helped me find my voice and leave the conventional medical system to join a like minded colleague in a DPC practice that focuses on wellness using the tools of lifestyle medicine.
    I love your interview style. Your questions reflect a truly curious mind and an attentive listener. Your humor, excellent metaphors and palpable integrity and search for truth keep me coming back to your podcast week after week!!
    Thank you for all you do to spread the message that knowledge is power and chronic disease is preventable and reversible!! Be well!!
    Your devoted fan,
    Dr. Deb

    1. Howard says:

      Wow, Dr Deb, I’m so moved and delighted by your kind words! I’d love to hear more about your new practice!

  4. Robert Haskell says:

    Interested in becoming coach wellstart training

  5. Leslie Ann Farrar says:

    Patience is the calm acceptance that things can happen in a different order than the one you have in mind.

  6. Ronnie Landau says:

    Good heavens! Is that really you, Howie? I see you are now a most distingushed dispenser of American bullshit … just kidding!! You know me. Anyway, here I am in north-west London, a very youthful 73 years old. I have 4 chiildren (one technically step-) and eight grandchildren (five biological, with another on the way in Philadelphia, courtesy of Rafi who was married in Maine two years ago to the delightful Marie, who has the good sense to be Canadian. Why am I writing? Why did I think of you? Well, I caught 30 seconds of an American football game on TV and I was suddenly reminded of the one game I attended at Princeton when I was your guest (in your rental home belonging – fuck it – to Martin Gilbert’s sister (aarrgggh!) – back in 1989, I think). Anyway, I did write the book I came to you to research (still in print and used extensively throughout the American university system). Several other books followed, including an ill-fated collaboration (of a distinctly non-child-sex-trafficking nature) with Ghislaine Maxell’s indescribably evil parents. Several other books followed, including one on the Seven Deadly Sins (a light-hearted alternative to all that Holocaust stuff from which I have progressively distanced myself over the decades). Now retired, I have rather fortuitously carved out a post-retirement mini-career lecturing on ancient Greek civilisation and modern Middle East history aboard ocean-going cruise ships, sailing mostly to Italy, Greece, Turkey, Jordan, Egypt, Israel ,the UAE and Oman. Basically, it is, by some distance, the biggest wheeze of my life so far. Do find the time to tell me how you are (Mia? Children?) and I’ll answer any questions you may wish to pose about what I’ve up to these past 33 years. My kids, Michael and Danielle still remember your taking over our seder – they are now a senior attorney and a clinical psychologist respectively, while Rafi lectures in philosophy at Penn (not a permanent position, however.) Btw Nicki’s just had her first book of poetry published. My warmest wishes, Ronnie (still juggling!)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *