Today on BeginAnyway, we bring you Eric Cooper, the Founder and CEO of Pressed Vibrance. A former hedge fund manager who suffered from a near fatal gastro-intestinal disease, Eric radically changed his lifestyle and thus his vitality through the power of holistic nutrition.
Correct, Our firm was designed to be a merchant bank, tied to an economic think tank – having invested with outside hedge fund managers to having in an in-house fund as well. I deeply enjoyed my work in the investment world!
During this period, you were diagnosed with a chronic autoimmune disease and were prescribed many of the typical courses of treatment used in Western medicine – eventually manifesting into taking nearly 40 pills a day. Tell us about this period and the toll these arduous and, ultimately, unsuccessful treatments took on you and your family.
In 1999/2000 I was diagnosed with Ulcerative Colitis. A gastrointestinal disease. My doctor – who was one of the top gasto docs in Chicago – really only just gave me drugs to take. I didn’t ask any questions, I didn’t due any due diligence, I just did what was told. What was a pill a day, to two pills per day, manifested itself to several dozen per day and 75mg of prednisone (a steroid).
After about 8/9 years of this regiment and several flares per year, I couldn’t shake the symptoms of UC for a good solid year. As a result of taking so many drugs, my body started to break down, from my bones, muscles, skin, hair, eyes, nails to my liver, my kidneys, to my shortness of breath, this disease, and and the drugs I was taking was a huge detrimental toll on my body and mind. The disease left me bedridden for weeks at a time, to a few months at a time! This really was a shattering feeling of despair and emptiness of sorts. To simplify it, I was sick of being sick and tired all of the time.
Ultimately, poor advice and health management from well regarded doctors and institutions caused you to nearly lose your life.
Yup. I think much like many of us, we don’t take our own health in our own hands. Meaning we don’t ask a lot of questions, do our own research, or question the process or procedures – and as a result, we lose sight of the power we all have.
Tell us how that terrifying experience created the ‘spark’ for you and caused you to re-evaluate your approach to healthcare.
Looking back at these times, I was really just a passive patient. I didn’t ask many if any questions, I took the drugs, I refilled the drugs, and I wasn’t getting any better. When I left the Mayo Clinic to recover from my first surgery, my wife sat me down and expressed I had to own my own health. Her message was that I had to figure “this” out and not let anyone dictate how you feel! I took that message pretty deeply. I had just had my colon removed, reconstructive surgery of my small intestine, and was given a few weeks to live – just a few days prior! It’s not a moment I wish to have again, or that I would wish upon anyone else. Through this experience and reflection created a spark that’s really a blazing light today.
How did you apply your skills as a ‘shark’ in the business world to healthcare for you and your family?
In my businesses I always did a huge amount of due diligence – I truly love research, science, learning, and all of these things were deeply beneficial in my business. Just before I started on this path, I can recall the moment I had this insatiable thirst to figure “this” out. I started applying the skills and passion I had for finding great businesses or investments to learning how our bodies work, how our bodies function, and how our bodies can thrive living in an anti-inflammatory and high alkaline way. My wife’s message was to own it, to figure it out.
During my first surgery, it was discovered I have an auto-immune disease. So as much as I’m cured of Ulcerative Colitis (because I don’t have a colon, and that’s where that disease lives) I’m still challenged with my autoimmune disease as it’s part of my DNA – can’t take that out. So I turned all the abilities of my natural skill set to focus on prevention of my autio-immune disease from turning itself back on.
You’ve said that you realized you needed to be your own advocate – discovering your own treatments and solutions. What, specifically did you study and learn?
After diving into functional medicine and prevention, I was deeply interested in the science of nutrigenomics – how food communicates on a cellular and genetic level with our bodies– meaning, you are what you eat. I had gleaned that we have more power over our own DNA that has ever been shared – or at least with me. So when looking back at my lifestyle – I was living a deeply inflammatory lifestyle. For example, I sat at my desk everyday for 12/14 hours – got little to no outside exposure – I was super dehydrated – I ate a huge amount of fake foods, processed foods, food like products, sugars, etc. Outside of the foods I was eating, I also was super stressed all the time, and using lots of chemicals either from the body washes I was using to deodorant or toothpastes. Every touch point, was an inflammatory touch point.
Food is information. When we consume real, living, plant based foods the connection these foods have with our own cells is TRUE COMMUNICATION. When we eat the opposite – processed foods, food like products, fake foods, these items don’t communicate with our cells – so there’s a communication breakdown. Internally, our bodies are trying to figure out what we’ve just eaten, or drank, and since it doesn’t recognize it, our body sees these items as invaders of sorts, and will create an inflammatory environment to fight the invaders.
Eventually, this research manifested into a total restructuring of your daily diet. Tell us how eliminating certain foods from your diet affected your physical and mental health.
I provided my body an anti-inflammatory environment by eliminating meats, dairy, sugars, processed foods, white flour, and a few other items, and focusing on raw, living, plant-based foods. This affects every organ, and cell in our bodies – which in turn creates an oxygen rich environment (or alkaline environment) in our bodies. The result simply allows our body to function the way it was intended to. Research has shown that the more our body is alkaline or anti-inflammatory focused, the better chance it has at preventing disease. I’m eating to live today, and owning my health by doing so.
Tell us about the importance, to you, of sharing what you’ve learned and experienced with others.
I’ve always believed that my story may sound a bit like most others’. Maybe not as extreme as having a body part removed, or given a few weeks to live, but we’ve all struggled with figuring “it” out.
With owning our health – there’s a lot of information out there, and a lot of misinformation out there. It’s important to me to share this information I’ve learned because I know there are so many people struggling with getting on the right path. For us to make a societal impact, we have to be more open with sharing – if we don’t, the outcomes don’t look so great.
All of this knowledge and the desire to share what you learned eventually lead to the project you’ve been working on for the last few years. Tell us about Pressed Vibrance and what your company offers.
We’re an ultra wellness and longevity company helping people get on the right lifestyle track. Think of us as a lifestyle brand. We customize everything that we make for the individual’s needs using a deep anti inflammatory and high alkaline approach. Everything we touch is organic and of the highest quality of ingredients.
We truly believe you can feel the difference with our products – as they’re designed to make you feel great! From cold pressed organic juices, nut and seed milks, to our whole foods nutritional supplements, bone broths, vegan soups and awesome salads to our beauty and personal care items such as bath salts, melts, salves, oils, and lotions, to specific pain points that address specific ailments such as diabetes, cholesterol, lupus, gastrointestinal issues, skin issues etc.
We also have a performance side of our brand which is focused on professional and non-professional athletes seeking to optimize their performance. And corporate wellness offerings in conjunction with our partners over at LulaFit.
We spend a lot of time on the important things, the things that matter, the experience of our products and how they make you feel. This is what’s important to us, and it means everything.
How does your pressed juice company differ from others that are currently on the market? What is the unique focus of Pressed Vibrance?
Our main differentiation is that we’re not just a “juice company”; but more of a lifestyle brand that can customize right down to your own DNA with the types of testing we can do. Another difference is that we’re a lifestyle company rooted in science and research that is actionable and impactful with products delivered right to your door.
What advice would you give to someone looking to follow an entirely new path, as you did, from Hedge Fund Manager to entrepreneur in the wellness industry?
Plan, have a vision, see the vision, be able to pivot and be comfortable with being uncomfortable. I’ve met so many folks who make changes in their life, be it professionally, or personally, and the one mistake I see the most is not having enough experience, or skills to change.
If someone is interested in learning more about your approach to diet and self-care – perhaps speaking with you one-on-one, what’s the best way to get in contact?
Email, phone, text.. I’m always accessible!
I always love a good cocktail. (I assume your drink of choice might be on the healthier side.) If you could sit down with any one person in the world over a drink, who would it be and what would you be drinking?
Ha, great question! The first name that comes to mind would be Alan Watts. My drink of choice would be a drink named Vibrance – The energy that drink provides me is the same energy I get when reading Alan Watts work. During my recovery process – his work around “waking up” was instrumental in creating the path I’m on today. Certainly would love to say thank you, but also pick his brain for a few minutes as well.
Eric, thank you so much for sharing your journey with us, and, more importantly, your learned knowledge on health and wellness with your community. Keep up the great work!