I always thought “I’m a doctor, I’m not supposed to be a patient”, yet there I was on the brink of death. I’m Akil Taher, a family practice physician raised in Mumbai, India and trained in family medicine, practicing in the US for almost 40 years. I was an experienced physician, a couch potato, and a pampered consumer who feasted over the best foods without worrying about unhealthy consequences. I was a go-getter, type-A personality, and thinking I was in pretty good health, until because like many, I believed that “Heart disease won’t happen to me.”
I died on the operating table at age 56 undergoing angioplasty and having stents put into my heart and in August 2009, at the age of 61, open-heart surgery knocked at my door and my world came crumbling down.
Fortunately, determination ran deep in my veins. I decided to completely change my life and reincarnate into a new life to stay true to the meaning of my first name, Akil−the “wise.”
A year after my bypass surgery, I undertook a mountaineering trek to Mount Kailash (altitudes of 19,000 feet) in Tibet. In October 2011, I ran my first full marathon (26.2 miles or 49.19 kilometers), the Chicago Marathon, and in September 2012, I climbed Mount Kilimanjaro, the highest free-standing mountain in the world.
Over the last decade, I have overcome acute and chronic medical ailments to indulge in century cycling, triathlon Ing, skydiving, hang gliding, scuba diving, and white-water rafting.
As a resurgent physician, recovered bypass surgery patient, septuagenarian athlete, heart-healthy speaker, and proponent of a whole-food, plant-based vegan diet, and lifestyle, I had to take even more purposeful action.
I changed my lifestyle to incorporate healthy eating habits, an exercise regimen, and regular practice of yoga and meditation. I pushed myself into areas that tested my vulnerabilities and capabilities.
As an eternal optimist, explorer, adventurer, author, and speaker, I stay focused on spreading the message of living a heart-healthy lifestyle.
As an athlete and whole food, plant-based veganism proponent, I have benefited tremendously by adopting a plant-based diet and fostering a deeper connection with nature and spirituality.
As a resurgent physician, I leverage medical science and lifestyle medicine to treat the underlying cause and not just the consequence of the disease.
I am thankful to live a life of greater meaning, my legacy!