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tim-kaufman-pre-postWhen 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.

We spoke a couple of weeks after he finished his first marathon.

(Pause to let that sink in.)

As our mutual buddy Josh LaJaunie notes, when people make excuses about why they can't turn their lives around, they spit on Tim's story. He's got every excuse in the book at his disposal, but one day he stopped indulging and starting disputing them.

His mantra: “Eat plants, move your body, and do a little more today than you did yesterday.”

Our conversation ranged over many topics:

  • training for a marathon in the snow, at night, in Yak Tracks
  • becoming slightly famous in Buffalo
  • how a high school dropout became an engineering teacher
  • quitting college because he couldn't sit at a desk
  • growing up strong on a farm and on the line of scrimmage
  • discovering his EDS, and making sense of his childhood “clumsiness”
  • arthritis, painkillers, splints, crutches, and canes in his 20s
  • “get an office job”
  • learning a year's worth of trigonometry in 45 minutes when the application was obvious
  • using genes as an excuse
  • when it's better to attack symptoms than root causes
  • “one more year and I would have been dead”
  • the double-edged sword of sympathy
  • the double whammy of family cancer deaths that shook Tim out of his self-pity
  • change as pins in a tumbler lock
  • getting rejected for bariatric surgery
  • praying for strength to do more, rather than a miracle
  • the initial dietary transition (jerky and mozzarella sticks instead of wings and burgers and fries)
  • the life-changing magic of juicing (courtesy of Fat, Sick, and Nearly Dead)
  • watching Forks Over Knives twice at one sitting
  • buying produce wholesale
  • “my son is gonna die if you don't help him” – the pressure of Facebook advocacy
  • walking, jogging, and climbing mountains
  • “I'm just a fat guy who ate some apples…”
  • consistency (“It snowballs out the same way it snowballs in”)
  • everyone has 24 hours; it's priorities, not time
  • and much more…

Enjoy, add your voice to the conversation via the comment box below, and please share – that's how we spread our message and spread our roots.


Tim's site:

Tim's story on the Buffalo ABC news affiliate (complete with video with tearjerking music)

Fat, Sick, and Nearly Dead – documentary

Forks Over Knives – documentary

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The Plant Yourself Podcast theme music, “Dance of Peace (Sabali Don),” is generously provided by Will Ridenour, a kora player from North Carolina who has trained with top Senegalese musicians.

It can be found on his first CD, titled Will Ridenour.

You can learn about Will, listen to more tracks, and buy music on his website,


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