McDougall 12 day Program: Conclusion

Today, January 21, 2012 marks the end of the 12-day plan on The McDougall Program. In the overall picture this is day 85 for me since changing my diet to include a plant based, whole food diet. The two months leading up to the 12 day program had been a “transition” period, not wanting to give up meat, oils, dairy, caffeine, alcohol at one time. Even during this period of time many people whom I told about this way of eating considered it to be “extreme” and would comment on “not being able to do it.” Many people I spoke with couldn’t give something like meat, for me it was a change that needed to be made for my health.

Giving up meat has been easy for me, to this day it includes fish, but I won’t hesitate to grill or broil fish for a meal. The dairy has been a bit more difficult over nearly 3 months, like many I enjoy my cheese. Vegan cooking usually includes oil and cheese, trying to use an acceptable substitution has been challenging. I have used some of the vegan cheeses to vary degrees of success. Still cheese has been much more difficult than meat. The problem with the cheese has been the amount of oils included in these vegan/non-dairy cheese, which approach 10% of the total calories from fat.

Since oil is one of those foods that causes atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries) and heart disease, it has been something I have been working very hard to cut out completely. Yes, even olive oil, which is sold as being “healthy.” I have been amazed at just how many foods include some form of oil when reading the labels. The same goes for HFCS or “high fructose corn syrup” the most common “consists of 24% water, and the rest sugars.” (source). Oil is commonly found in many vegan cookbooks, so “going vegan” isn’t exactly what I was trying to accomplish, while “McDougalling” or following a plant based, whole food diet has shown excellent results in less than 3 months.

The remaining items I had to cut out were caffeine and alcohol, which I have successfully done for 12 days. Coffee has not been too difficult, opting for decaffeinated green tea through out the day. I find this allows me to drink more water as well, as I will continually drink tea for 8 hours of work, where previously I would stop drinking coffee by 9am. Alcohol usually consisted of beer, anywhere from a single beer during the work week to 12-24 during my days off. Lots of beer, I won’t lie but not to point where I would call myself an alcoholic. Losing 26 pounds over these 3 months combined with not having alcohol for 12 days I have seen a substantial decrease in snoring. My wife would agree, hopefully that has more to do with the weight loss than the drinking, but I can’t confirm that.

Remember what I said about moderation? I will problem reintroduce beer back to my diet, but not in the quantity I had been drinking before. Instead of buying a 12 pack, it will be a 6 pack. Hopefully I can limit my intake to a beer a day for my two days off and I follow my wife’s request of not drinking during the work week. This has been the most difficult to give up, but I have not experienced any sort of withdrawal, like some reported making the transition to this sort of diet or even just giving up caffeine.

The part of this lifestyle I will have to work the hardest on will be exercise. I have been fortunate to introduce walking to my daily routine. Thanks in part to a Omron HJ-113 pedometer I bought I averaged about 2 miles a day without walking. Tack on 30 minutes of walking I can double that average to 4 miles a day, while putting in 2 miles on my lunch break at work. In addition to walking, I am going to restart Power 90 by Beachbody with Tony Horton.

I ordered Power 90 back in 2003 and started the program on March 16. Judging my my starting post on the Team Beach Body Forums, I made it about 45 days before getting discouraged. At that time I was about 5 pounds short of my weight goal (190 pounds), but continued to shed weight down to about 175 pounds later that year. Instead of the work out I could possibly attribute the weight loss to limiting my caloric intake.

Even with that said, I can remember how I felt after completing the 45 minutes routine daily. I had lots of energy and much like the way of eating I have adopted, I felt great and ready to take on the day. This time around I am expecting bigger changes in my physical appearance. My weight goal is between 175-180 pounds (currently 192 pounds). Adding the P90 workout will push me pass this 192-194 pound plateau I have been struggled to break through.

At 42 years old, I am not too old to reap the benefits of this WOE (way of eating) and altering my lifestyle to improve my overall health. While I had planned on organizing 3 separate blood tests, I never did get around to contacting my physician. He put me on a Statin last July telling me diet alone would not drop my cholesterol level to a normal level. I remained on the medication about 3 weeks before I took myself off it due to some side effects (sore legs) and potential damage to my liver. Popping pills to live out the rest of life was not want I wanted to do. I believe I have proved him wrong and the 64 points I have shed on my total cholesterol level is a testament to this way of eating. Couple that with the loss of nearly 26 pounds in under 3 months and I cannot wait for my 2012 physical to arrive (July).

While this is the end of the 12-day program, it is a solid start to a new lifestyle. With new found knowledge and continuing education on nutrition and diet I look to expand my horizons as I move forward. I am not out to convert anyone to a plant based, whole food diet, as change requires commitment and not everyone wants to break from their daily routine. It hasn’t been easy, but I expect to get easier moving forward. There will be times I might slip and have a food I know better to avoid. It’s my choice, but I now understand how and what I should be eating for my health. Thanks to my wife and aunt for going along with me for 12 days and introducing them to a different way to see and eat foods that are good for your health.