Watch this video.

For health-conscious people who feel frustrated, stuck on a plateau or exhausted… Learn the secrets to increasing your energy and being healthier & happier.

Do you struggle with your health or fitness?
Are you missing that energy you used to have?
Are you tired of the aches and pains?
Are you just tired?
Has your body taken on a shape that is not the real you?
Are you always on the go and never seem to have time to take care of yourself?
Are you exhausted at the end of your week?
Are you stuck on a plateau?
Have you given up trying anymore?

If you answered yes to any of these, then this program is for YOU!

HOW TO FULLY LIVE is a comprehensive program that will give you the tools to radically increase your energy and vitality!  You will begin the journey to transforming your health and fitness for a lifetime!

Your course leader is Ruben J Guzman, MPH, LMP (Masters in Public Health, Board-certified Lifestyle Medicine Professional)

The author of Evolving Health, and soon to be released How To Fully Live, Coach Ruben possesses over 40 years of experience in the health field: attended three years at the UC Davis School of Medicine, Master’s degree in Public Health from UCLA specializing in behavioral sciences/health promotion, hospital administrator, personal trainer, nutrition consultant, clinical exercise specialist and yoga instructor. Having gone through his own health challenge and then losing 50+ pounds in 1995, Coach Ruben provides a living demonstration of what it takes to enjoy a lifestyle filled with energy, vitality and productivity.

 “How To Fully Live presents a comprehensive guide to what you need to know about improving your health. In our research studies, we have found that it does not matter how old you are or how long you may have followed a less-than-perfect diet. Simple steps will get you on the path to the best of health. This book (program) provides a clear and precise map to those steps.”
    – Neal D. Barnard, MD, President, Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine


The intensive will take place over the course of four days in two consecutive weeks…

The program schedule each day: (all times Pacific Time)

  • 9 am to 12 pm
  • Lunch break from 12 to 1 pm
  • 1 pm to 4 pm

The intensive is followed by 12 weeks of once a week small group online coaching sessions that are strategically designed to empower you to transform your lifestyle habits and begin a new chapter in the health of your life. The day and times for these sessions will be determined in the program.

First Program. Online intensive sessions, July 13-14 and 20-21, 2024

To register for this program, click HERE or call Coach Ruben directly 916.821.8953 or email

Second Program. In-person intensive sessions, July 15-16 and 22-23, 2024

To register for this program, click HERE or call Coach Ruben directly 916.821.8953 or email
If you are a graduate of any previous program, a full-time student, nurse, physician, firefighter, law enforcement, active military or veteran, please contact Coach Ruben directly for you special offer.

For a more complete description about the Evolving Health Program, click here:

Video of the October 2021 program participants sharing what they got from the program…

Video of the June 2021 program participants sharing what they got from the program…

Video of the February 2021 program participants sharing what they got from the program…

Video of the October 2020 program participants sharing what they got from the program…

Video from Mark Rodriguez, one of the participants from the May 2018 program, who flew all the way out from New York to participate.


HOW TO FULLY LIVE! – Course Description

HOW TO FULLY LIVE, LIFESTYLE MEDICINE IMMERSION PROGRAM, Intensive plus 12-week Program is comprehensively designed to radically increase your energy and vitality!

 You will transform your health and fitness for a lifetime! First, you will be empowered to radically alter your thinking around health and fitness, and then you will be provided the most powerful secrets to enhancing your nutrition, cardiovascular exercise, strength, flexibility, weight loss and stress management and more. Then, you will be guided to create a new structure to sustain your new lifestyle.

Four major elements to creating a permanent lifestyle change:

  1. Einstein said “The significant problems we face cannot be changed at the same level of thinking we were at when we created them.” Therefore, we must create a shift in our thinking, mindset, attitudes, consciousness and paradigm around health. We must always begin from within.
  2. Einstein also said “Doing the same things over and over, expecting different results is the definition of insanity!” We need a NEW set of strategies, and preferably those that work. 
  3. We must create a new pattern of consistency, and develop a new set of habits. Only disciplined consistency produces long-term sustainable results.
  4. No one succeeds alone. We need to create a new structure for support and accountability – to help you sustain the positive shifts in your mindset and behavior. Otherwise, we will likely sabotage ourselves again.

By the time you complete the program, you will:

Understand how the energy state you are in determines your results

  • Create a new context for your health
  • Learn how to eliminate self-sabotage
  • Develop skills in reconditioning your sub-conscious
  • Discover the four-pronged approach to successful fat reduction
  • Learn how to eat for a higher metabolism
  • Learn how to break any plateau with effective cardiovascular exercise
  • Learn how to strengthen your body in as few as three exercises
  • Learn the science of how to create or dismantle habits
  • Create definitive goals and a plan of action for your success
  • And much, much more!!



The five secrets to creating a thriving, healthy, happy and prosperous life

       Creating Breakthroughs — Establishing the foundation for creating a thriving healthy lifestyle

Mindset – Recognizing where we are limited in our fixed mindset, and empowering our growth mindset

Eliminating Self-Sabotage – Identifying your survival mechanism pattern and dismantling it

Restructuring our beliefs – Exercises that empower you to continue reprogramming your subconscious to win

Integrity – the foundation for creating a thriving, healthy and happy lifestyle

Happiness – practices to empower you to live free of fear, stress and anxiety

Evolving Health Physiology – leading science-based information, neurological, physiological, cellular

Hydration – the most essential consideration for health

Nutrition — A logical approach to fueling the body based on cellular physiology and biochemistry

Cardio Exercise — Breaking the plateau forever! Learning to raise metabolism

Strength  – 3 core exercises for a total body workout and more

4-stage process for effective weight loss

Sleep – improving the foundation for rest and recovery

Creating new habits that stick

Setting a specific 12-week thriving goal

Set up for 12 weeks of follow-up


Feedback and testimonials from participants in Evolving Health program

About Ruben:

  • Great!
  • Well educated on subject plus life experience
  • Caring – wants people to do well
  • Knowledgeable, entertaining
  • Good, clear, funny
  • Warm, upbeat, optimistic
  • Very organized, passionate, genuine
  • Very enthusiastic – contagiously so!
  • Humorous and very knowledgeable
  • Awesome, great presenter, good interaction
  • Lots of fun and never boring!

A few of the testimonials about the program:

  • Fantastic, comprehensive, illuminating and amazing! Drs. Bettina Baiduc and Grigorious Chrisofakis, MD’s, Board-certified in Lifestyle Medicine
  • The best diet/exercise/health program I’ve come across! – Bob Vopacke
  • Absolutely excellent program! – Charlotte Parks, MFT
  • High quality and very enjoyable program – Kathy Fong, Wellness Coach, Sutter Health
  • Very organized and information-packed! – Brianna Mitchell, Holistic hypnotherapist

Some of the breakthroughs:

I had quit smoking a few months before attending. However, I was eating lots of sweets, sodas, junk food to replace my nicotine habit. My wife encouraged me to participate in this program. I wasn’t sure I wanted to attend. I thought I would be forced to become a vegan, and I wasn’t ready for that. She explained that the class was more about healthy living. What I discovered in the program was how to create more energy with aerobic exercise, and how to feel better by eating more vegetables and fruits. I now exercise 5 days a week! I feel better in all areas – physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually. I also noticed that when I don’t exercise regularly, I have much less energy. So, that keeps me motivated to keep exercising! – Harvey McDaniel, Insurance

Before the program, I wasn’t sure about the most efficient way to maximize my exercising, and I ate meat and dairy. I decided to participate so I could learn information for myself and my clients. What I discovered from being in the program was the most efficient exercise program, and a food ladder that I agree with and could share with my clients. I then became vegan fully for six weeks, and am staying mostly vegetarian with occasional fish, and have been regularly exercising 5 – 6 days per week! As a result, I feel clearer spiritually and have increased my energy!! – Brianna Mitchell, Holistic clinical hypnotherapist

I was aware of my poor health and physical state before the program, but I was unaware of the poor nutrition I had. I decided to participate because I had overheard part of the previous program and was impressed. Some of the key things I learned were the unfathomable lies we are told by the food and beverage world and manufacturers. Subsequently, I became a vegan and increased my physical fitness program. As a result, I have lost 15 pounds, and feel like I am honest with myself for the first time around food. I have broken my addiction to sugar and it feels great!! – Charlotte Parks, MFT

My goal was to exercise more regularly and eat healthier. I ate pretty healthy already, but I was irregular in my exercise. I chose to participate in this program because I wanted to know more about being healthy and I wanted to find strategies that would help me do more of what I needed. In the program, I learned why I had a hard time exercising consistently – my old blueprint was that adult women (my mother) did not exercise – what was important was to be thin and beautiful. I also gained a greater understanding about how my body works!! Subsequently, I decided to take responsibility for my exercise. I even worked out 6 days last week! I am really committed to exercising and getting even more healthy. I also gained the perspective of “living into possibility.” As a result of being in this program, I am getting stronger physically, I feel good emotionally, I am mentally alert and spiritually connected! – Kathy Fong, Wellness Coach, Sutter Health

Before the program I was confronted by lots of contradictory health and fitness information. I had experimented with lots of trial and error trying to sort things out. I decided to participate in this program because Ruben sounded like he knows what he’s talking about, AND John Early vouched for him. I learned LOTS! Red Zone, eating every 3 hours, increasing mitochondria in cells through aerobic exercise, strength exercises, why are we drinking another species’ milk, and especially why are adults drinking it? Glass of water in the morning, incline push-up, transformational principles reviewed, body-fat measurement. In fact, I was somewhat shocked by my percent body fat and what if should be! Subsequently, I began aerobic exercise 5-6 times a week. I quit drinking milk or using butter. I have water every morning and I do strength exercises. Because I quit dairy, I have stopped blowing my nose all the time. I have been consistently losing half to one pound of fat a week. When I went snowshoeing with my friends, I used to be in the middle or the back of the pack. Now, I’m way out in front and waiting for the others to catch up! How great is that! – Bob Vopacke, hiking enthusiast in his late 60’s!

Before starting Ruben’s program, my clothes didn’t fit comfortably, my blood pressure was too high, my stamina too low, I didn’t like the way my body looked in the mirror, I was concerned about my life expectancy, concerned over some physical and emotional areas that I want to be healed – and I couldn’t SEE how to heal in any of those areas. I then made the decision to change. “When the student is ready, the teacher appears.” That’s when Ruben showed up. I discovered that I desired to be healthier more than I desired to not be. I also saw that I could release my old concerns about how long it was going to take to see/feel results – it’s about the journey. My original physical goal was to have the healthy physical appearance that Ruben has (as close as I could with my body) by the end of the program. I also wanted to experience major steps forward in achieving visible/emotional/spiritual success over my concerns. My commitment was to follow the program faithfully. A goal is fine, but it also must contain the commitment, otherwise, forget the goal. The first day of class, the first actions I took were to get rid of all the foods in my home that aren’t part of the program, and replaced them with foods that are. Next, I changed my exercise routine; increased my cardio with more walks, jogging, and small weights done to dancing CD’s in my living room. I have made this whole program into a PLAY DATE. This is not work or drudgery, and I focus on the fun and the end results, not on where I am right now. Some of the results:

Physically : Clothes are fitting looser, wearing a suit I’ve not been able to get into for over 6 years, body looking slimmer, people noticing and commenting (how cool is that!), stamina up in all areas, blood pressure down.

Emotionally/Mentally : I feel the success, the determination, THE KNOWING, the patience, the joy, the willingness without the judgments of time or looks.

Spiritually : In my heart I see and know that I got the message at the right time because I’ve got a lot of personal accomplishments and exampling to do before I’m finished on the planet in this lifetime, and I am so very thankful for the time and energy to get at it. DO THIS PROGRAM!

– John Early, entrepreneur

I am recovering from cancer and all that it entails. Before I started this course, I was depressed, a couch potato, very weak and unbalanced. I was told by my doctor that at this age and weight, I would be stuck for the rest of my life. In Ruben’s program, I learned that what I had perceived as an obstacle, truly believing it to be an impossibility – just isn’t so! I have NEVER taken such a comprehensive, condensed health class that addresses ALL aspects of health – diet, exercise, stress, spirit – from a person of such great warmth, integrity, and who WALKS his talk! I learned specifics on nutrition and exercise to a whole different level. Ruben is not a “do as I say” kinda guy. He gives you the WHY of it all. He inspires you to feel joyful in the challenge and opportunity of living a life of great wellness. He is very clear and easy to follow. He uses multimedia, listening, reading, powerpoint, is very interactive… all types of learners will relate. He is an outstanding speaker and presenter! Funny, compassionate, total expert in his field, a very compelling and inspiring speaker. I now know that I will recover strength through daily exercise and a vegan lifestyle. I have given up meat and dairy. I meditate daily. I feel HOPEFUL now – dare I say CONFIDENT – that I CAN regain and improve my health following cancer. Some of my results so far are that my rosacea (which was really bad) has cleared. I have lost six pounds in six weeks. I have given up caffeine and sodas, and my urine is clear for the first time! I feel more alert and energetic than ever! This program is a MUST!!
– Elisabeth, cancer survivor, writer

Before I participated in this course I was unable to loose weight. I have been wanting to feel “light” for a very long time – years. I had also struggled with severe exercise-induced asthma for about ten years. As a registered nurse at Sutter, I thought I knew a lot about health and nutrition. In Ruben’s course I discovered the many “myths” about food and exercise, and learned the “truths” of how the body truly works – based on the physiology and biochemistry of our human design. Ruben’s presentation was excellent and well organized. He is clear, concise, motivational and REAL. I have now incorporated an entirely vegan food plan and have discovered exciting recipes! I plan to be more consistent with exercise, strength and cardio. As a result of being in the program, I have lost six pounds in seven weeks. I feel lighter! I have no more heartburn! I enjoy good food. And my breathing has improved substantially – I no longer have “asthma.”

– Laraine Carver, RN, Sutter Health


Award-winning speaker, Ruben J. Guzman, MPH, LMP lives as proof of what he presents. Having personally lost over 50 pounds of fat, he has completely transformed his health and fitness since 1995. Ruben – a health professional for over 40 years, has conducted programs for various organizations including the California State Capitol, City of Sacramento, Hewlett-Packard, VSP, Intel, UC Davis, Kaiser and Mercy Healthcare, the Los Angeles County Sheriffs, and several departments for the State. He is also an expert speaker for Vistage, the world’s largest CEO organization, and travels extensively training executives in health, leadership and communication. He holds a Masters degree in Public Health (MPH) from UCLA specializing in Behavioral Sciences and Health Promotion, spent three years at UC Davis Medical School, and is a Board Certified Lifestyle Medicine Professional (LMP) from the American College of Lifestyle Medicine and the International Board of Lifestyle Medicine. He has also been a professional swimming coach since 1978. Ruben is nationally certified as a personal trainer and nutrition consultant, and has successfully coached and trained many champions in sports, business and health. His dynamic energy is both inspirational and motivating!



“The doctor of the future will give no medicine, but will instruct his patient in the care of the human frame, in diet and in the cause and prevention of disease.”  – Thomas Edison

A few years ago, a client showed me this quote and asked if I had seen it before. I responded that I had not. He said, “Ruben, this is YOU! This is what you do and who you are!” In that moment I was moved. I realized that my journey had brought me to a place where I had become what truly resonated with the very core of my soul and my existence. I had not consciously intended to become this type of doctor years ago. But I am clear that my life has been divinely guided and that I am exactly where I am meant to be. All the lessons, the education, the pain, the struggles, the heartaches and the challenges have all shaped me to be the person that I am today – a person who is passionately committed to eliminating chronic disease from the face of the planet, and to empowering people to live a thriving, healthy, happy and prosperous life.

I’ll start my story in May 1980, when I graduated from California Lutheran University with my Bachelor’s degree in Biological Sciences, determined to go to medical school. Since I had to work to put myself through my college education, I hadn’t really had enough time and money to take the Medical College Admission Test and apply to medical school. I figured that I would work and study for my exam before applying to medical school. Opportunity knocked when a friend called and said they were hiring at the Los Robles Regional Medical Center in the pathology department. I started off as a phlebotomist (vampire that drew blood from people) and even started my training to become a medical technologist (backup plan in case I didn’t get in to medical school). I was an eager beaver and always willing to work. Within a few months, I got promoted to become a pathologist’s assistant.

This new job meant that I would prepare every specimen that emerged from the operating room for pathological examination. Every day, one of the three pathologists would come down to examine, dissect and dictate. I would then take all the dissections and prepare the tissue samples for histological examination (looking under the microscope). It was a fascinating process and I learned a tremendous amount about human pathology. The doctors were so great with me and answered so many of my questions. They were wonderful teachers.

One of the other duties I had as a pathologist’s assistant was to assist in conducting autopsies. These were fairly frequent – usually about one to two a week. Most of the cases were from deaths due to complications from chronic disease – heart disease, cancer, diabetes, intestinal complications, liver failure, renal failure, aneurysms, and so on. What I saw and learned was so fascinating. In the two years that I worked there before going off to medical school, I helped with about seventy five autopsies. The doctors trained me quite well and trained me how to do extensive dissection. And I always had the distinct duty of taking the entire intestinal tract out of the body cavity, placing it in a deep wash basin, and then cutting it open and cleaning it out by hand. All seventeen to twenty-two feet! Quite an education!

I noticed that with all the patients that had died from some form of chronic disease, their intestinal tracts all looked, felt and smelled very much the same. The intestinal lining was lacking the healthy folds in the inner walls that are normally there and was rather thinned out. There was often a thick, slimy coating in several parts of the small intestine. Frequently, I noticed polyps and diverticula (pockets) in the colon. It was also easy to see that meat chunks did not digest fully. And the odor was quite nasty!

One particular autopsy was especially memorable. A woman in her mid-seventies had been admitted to the hospital with shortness of breath. They had just started to do a workup when she passed away. Back then, if someone passed away within 24 hours of admission, an autopsy was required to determine the cause of death. The next day, I pulled her body from the cooler and prepared her for the autopsy. One thing I noticed right away – she did not have the same washed out pallor of the usual patients who had died from a chronic disease. She looked like a perfectly healthy person who was asleep!

As Dr. Glover started the internal investigation, he said, “Take careful note, Ruben. We will probably never see this again.” What immediately became apparent was that this woman’s organs were as pristine as a newborn! Completely beautiful, flawless and full of the rich color of healthy organs. Her organs were as clear and vibrant as those of a healthy teenage athlete. Careful dissection revealed that she had an undiagnosed defect in her heart – a ventral-septal defect. Dr. Glover said that most people with this type of uncorrected defect would rarely live past their twenties. But, here she was, having lived to her mid-seventies. She had beaten the odds by over 50 years! In addition, her intestinal tract was so easy to clean out. The lining was clear and thick with healthy folds. And, there was almost no odor.

Dr. Glover was intrigued and wanted to discover more about this remarkable woman. Since the attending physicians really didn’t know much about her, Dr. Glover asked to set up an interview with the woman’s family, and I got to attend. Dr. Glover explained to the family how she had a remarkable state of health in her body and how the heart defect had finally caught up with her. He asked about her life and her habits. What we discovered was that she was a Seventh Day Adventist that followed the rules of their lifestyle habits quite closely. No meat. No dairy. No sugar. No alcohol. No processed foods. A garden in the backyard for fresh vegetables. Plenty of water. No smoking. Walking every day about five miles. A strong faith. A strong connection with her family. This is what they knew of her for at least forty years.

This discovery led to many wonderful conversations that I had with Dr. Glover about the importance of lifestyle and its connection to longevity. Dr. Glover was a strong advocate for a healthy lifestyle himself. He was a runner. Was very knowledgeable about nutrition. And, he regularly checked his blood.  I would often draw his blood for him – it was quite the honor.

I did further research on the Seventh Day Adventists and the other population groups who lived in the “Blue Zones.” These are where we have the greatest density of the longest living people (centenarians) on earth. There are groups in Okinawa, Costa Rica, Sardinia, Greece and the Seventh Day Adventists, predominately in Southern California. The ongoing research with these groups has proven to be quite fascinating. We find that their diets are primarily plant-based, with very little meat or dairy. They consume almost no processed foods, are very active, get lots of fresh air and have a strong social support system. The most common food group between all these centenarians is legumes – beans, peas and lentils – which are considered to be a cornerstone for health.

The impression that this special woman made on me influenced me greatly, and still does. As a result of this autopsy and my conversations with Dr. Glover, I started to change my diet back in 1981. I had already had an extensive bout of diarrhea that got cured when Dr. Glover correctly diagnosed it as “lactose intolerance” and told me to cut out the dairy. My research on the Seventh Day Adventists and my personal experience of cleaning out those intestinal tracts led me to eliminate animal foods as well. I noticed I started feeling better and had greater stamina on the basketball court.

In the fall of 1982, I left my work at the Los Robles Regional Medical Center, moved up to Northern California and began my studies at the UC Davis School of Medicine. As I progressed in my studies of pathology and pharmacology and all the other “-ologies,” a nagging question emerged. “Isn’t there a better way?” I knew that I had seen it with the autopsy of the Seventh Day Adventist woman. I knew that I had seen it with all the autopsies of the people who had died from complications of chronic disease. I knew that I had seen it with every intestinal tract that I had dissected. Yet, the training in medical school was not directed at finding ways to empower people to heal their bodies from chronic diseases. What I discovered was that the training was directed at learning how to assess, diagnose and treat chronic disease with a prescribed approach. These were the three “boxes” we were being trained to function within.

We were trained to assess as objectively as possible using accepted testing procedures. We were not trained to extensively listen to the patients. (However, before I left for medical school, Dr. Glover imparted to me that “about 95% of what you need to learn to properly treat your patient can be discovered from asking questions and listening.”) We were trained to diagnose according to the conventionally accepted “diagnostic codes” that would allow for reimbursement from insurance companies, and not to waiver outside these codes. We were trained to treat only according to the approved protocols, and that venturing outside these protocols was taboo, risky or forbidden. As an example, I learned that in some states of the United States, if a physician diagnoses cancer in a patient, if that doctor treats the patient with anything other than chemotherapy, radiation or surgery, that physician could potentially lose their license.

The notions of changing diet, exercise, stress and lifestyle habits were merely conceptual at best and usually laughed at since there was no “hard” science to back this up. It was all about learning which drugs were best at altering particular symptoms.

I had opted to split my second year curriculum of medical school in order to pursue my own research into “lifestyle” medicine. I wanted to determine if lifestyle could be measured between healthy and non-healthy people. I conducted an investigative experiment between two groups of people. The first group were the “chronically ill.” Easy to find. I just went to the hospital. Emphysema, heart disease, hypertension, cancer, osteoporosis, arthritis, etc. The second group were healthy, vibrant swimmers in their 60’s, 70’s and older who worked out at the Davis Aquatics Master’s program where I was a member. I interviewed these people extensively about their previous forty years of lifestyle habits, including sleep, smoking, alcohol, reading, TV, stress, diet, exercise, work, faith/spirituality, family, etc. I then compiled my findings and presented them to my advisor. As you might expect, what my crude “experiment” showed was that there was a dramatic difference between the lifestyle habits of the chronically ill and the persistently well. I came to recognize that our bodies have an amazing capacity to heal and have an inherent drive to be healthy and vibrant. I discovered that if we pursue the correct mindset and habits, we could, in fact, support our bodies being able to heal themselves, much like we can heal from a scratch. I discussed my findings and my disillusionment with the medical school training with my advisor, who recommended that I take a break from medical school and explore the field of Public Health.

I had no idea about Public Health at the time, but as soon as I read the catalog from UCLA, I knew this was the direction I needed to go. I applied and was accepted immediately. I decided to specialize in behavioral sciences and health education/promotion because I felt these areas were important to promoting a healthy lifestyle. I absolutely LOVED my program! I was allowed to design a great deal of my program curriculum and learned from some of the most brilliant and passionate people I have ever known. I will be forever grateful for this education in my life! It was a proud day when I completed my Master’s in Public Health from UCLA!

During my master’s training, I also read Dr. John McDougall’s first book, “The McDougall Plan.” His book provided the research and facts that solidified the notion that diet could either contribute to chronic disease or heal us. This gave me even more validation that I was on the right track. I also became even more consistent in following a predominantly plant-based diet.

My master’s project was conducting a health promotion program for the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department in West Hollywood. I conducted full-day trainings for all the officers and staff that included information about attitude, stress, diet and exercise. The program was deemed a major success when six months later, 76% of the officers were still engaged in at least one new lifestyle habit that made a difference in their health. I even got some awards for my service! That felt so confirming for me – I was on the right track for my passion and my career.

I then chose to not return to medical school. I had become clear in my personal values – that I was passionate about empowering people to live a thriving, healthy life and that I was not willing to conform to a system that administered drugs and medications as short-term remedies. I greatly value my training in medical school and I will never regret it. There is tremendous value in allopathic medicine in the right circumstances, don’t get me wrong. However, I became clear for myself that there is a different and more effective way to address much of the chronic diseases that plague our nation and our world.

After graduating from UCLA, I returned to Sacramento in January of 1988. There were not many jobs available in the area of health promotion, so I decided I could use my training to go into the area of health care administration. I worked for the State of California for a few years and headed up an innovative program for AIDS prevention through drug-treatment centers. I am proud that we presented a paper at the International AIDS Conference in 1990 on the effectiveness of this program and that the program I directed became a model for holistic intervention for those at high risk. I then worked for Kaiser Hospital in South Sacramento where I served as an Assistant Administrator, in charge of Quality, Utilization, Risk, Infection Control, Discharge Planning, Repatriation, Accreditation and Licensing. I especially enjoyed working in partnership with the physicians to develop new efficiencies and protocols that improved the quality of care.

But as the story goes, a funny thing happened on the way to the Forum (an old movie title). October 9th, 1990 – a date that will live in infamy – for me at least. I was 32 years old, playing basketball during lunchtime at Roosevelt Park in downtown Sacramento. I had warmed up as usual, stretched out well and had even dunked the ball a few times. Late in the game, I pushed off to intercept a pass. Then, I heard a very loud pop! At first, I thought it was a backfire of a passing car. But then a moment later, I felt it. Searing pain in my left calf! I immediately went down – screaming. When I looked down, I could see my calf muscle in a huge ball. I couldn’t flex my foot. I realized that I had torn my Achilles tendon. The next morning, I had surgery. Afterward, the surgeon came in to tell me about the procedure. He told me that it was so badly ruptured, that it was like spaghetti on both ends of the rupture. He had to cut out another smaller tendon from my calf and used it to splice the torn ends together. He said I was lucky. I then asked him if I would ever be able to play basketball again. “Don’t even think about it! With a lot of work, you should be able to walk fairly normal, but that’s it.” Of course, I believed him.

I was devastated. Basketball was my “therapy” for mental sanity since growing up in south central Los Angeles. I loved playing basketball! Losing something that you love for the rest of your life…tough to swallow. Even though I wouldn’t have admitted it at the time, I became depressed – understandably. So, what does a good natured, responsible depressed person do when they are depressed? Eat, drink, or engage in behaviors to escape and numb oneself. And, if you recognize this in yourself, then you and I are now close friends!

My medication of choice was food. Junk food. Cookies. Ice cream. Donuts. Pizza. Sodas. Candy. Chips… Sound familiar? This food is EVERYWHERE! And, I helped myself to lots of it. Even though I intellectually knew what I was doing to myself, I JUST DIDN’T CARE ANYMORE. I would leave my office at the hospital at 5 pm each weekday. To prepare myself for the drive to coach my swim team in the evening I would first stop at the hospital gift shop so I could get my “fix.” A package of 6 Oreo cookies, a large Mountain Dew, a king sized bag of M&M’s and a 3 Musketeers’ Bar to top it all off! And the rest of my diet wasn’t much better.

For four and a half years, I stayed in this dark hole of depression. I steadily gained weight – over 55 pounds. My health started to deteriorate. Blood pressure of 140/90 (borderline hypertensive) but sometimes 170/110. Cholesterol 250-260. Blood glucose of 115-120. But I ignored these findings. Then, in early 1995, while I was coaching my swimmers at a meet, a friend came up to me while I was eating a buttermilk donut. He said, “Getting a little chubby there, Ruben!” Up to that point, I had never heard “chubby” and “Ruben” in the same sentence. I became infuriated! But, I couldn’t get mad at him. He was telling me the truth. The truth I needed to hear. I became mad at myself.

The next morning, I looked at myself in the mirror and dealt with me. I realized that I had caused this. I had been playing a victim role and now I was done! No one else was responsible for my health other than me. I made a solemn vow to get healthy and to never go back to being overweight again.

One of my teachers, John Maxwell, says that true maturity comes when a person can say “I am COMPLETELY responsible for my life!” In that moment, there is no one else to blame, there is no more playing the victim.

I used my experience from being an athlete to develop the strategies, practices and habits to change my lifestyle one habit at a time. I gave up sugar, then sodas, then processed foods, etc. I went back to a healthy plant-based diet. I got up earlier to exercise. I remembered the lessons I learned from that autopsy on the Seventh Day Adventist woman. I listened to tapes from motivational teachers and returned to reading positive books. Zig Ziglar, Jim Rohn, Tony Robbins, Norman Vincent Peale, Denis Waitley and many more. I kicked my own butt – hard! I put in the work. It took me about a year to lose all the weight and I’ve never looked back. It’s been over 20 years! And, I still have to work at it!

Approximately 70% of the United States population is now overweight or obese, and the prevalence has been steadily increasing over the last 40 years. (CDC information) At any given time, anywhere from 15 to 35% are trying to lose weight. (2) The data on weight loss in the United States shows that approximately 95% of the people who lose 50 pounds or more, usually regain most of their weight within two years. (3) Many of these failures come from the heavily marketed and popular programs like Weight Watchers, Jenny Craig, Nutrisystem, Medifast and medically controlled programs or from people trying to do it on their own. Only a small percentage, approximately 2-3%, are able to keep their weight off for ten years or longer. (4) I happen to be in this group. What I believe is this… The only way to keep the weight off is to change LIFESTYLE. And to do that, we must begin from within. It’s an inside job first.

What I have done since regaining my health has been to teach others how to do the same for themselves. I have conducted hundreds of seminars, dozens of programs and spoken to a great many people. I have given much of my information away for free in my seminars because I believe that people need to be empowered. I don’t believe in quick fixes. I do not propose any magic potions, incantations or spells. I do not advocate for special supplements, powders or secret formulas. I believe in using a long-term approach to gradually, systematically and progressively change lifestyle habits and create habits that stick for good. I also believe in using the wisdom of science and research.

When I completed my Master’s in Public Health from UCLA in 1988, I could not find an area of medicine that was a fit for my interests in Lifestyle Medicine – it didn’t exist back then. In the years since, I have continued to develop my personal education and training in this field by learning from many of the trail blazers – Dr. John McDougall, Dr. Dean Ornish, Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn, Dr. Neal Barnard, Dr. T. Colin Campbell and many others. Recent developments have led to a growing interest in the medical community to develop an evidence-based approach to providing Lifestyle Medicine. This has been so exciting for me to see! I am no longer such a strange bird in the forest. As of my writing this, I am now a member of the American College of Lifestyle Medicine! In October, 2018, I became one of the first health professionals to become board certified in the area of Lifestyle Medicine. I am officially a Diplomate and board certified by the American College of Lifestyle Medicine and the International Board of Lifestyle Medicine as a Lifestyle Medicine Professional. Truly, a dream come true!

I have committed my life to always learning, to always being a student. This book is an evolution of the lessons I have researched, learned, tested and taught many others. My learning is an ongoing process and I am happy to share what I have learned so far. One of my sons refers to me as a curator; I think that term fits. My intention is that you are empowered with this information in many ways. May it make a difference in your life, for your family, your friends, your community and even the world.

It is my honor to serve you. For this honor, I am truly blessed.

Ruben J. Guzman, MPH, LMP