Commitment to Health

pd_comparisonThis October will represent 5 years since I have taken control of my health thanks in part to Dr. John McDougall and Julie-Marie Christensen of Protective Diet. It’s amazing and powerful to see the foods we eat and their effect on our health. While I don’t want to measure my success solely in terms of weight loss, there were many benefits that went along with losing 44 pounds in 10 months. Many ailments and problems I had seemingly disappeared as a result to my commitment to health, results of my blood tests revealed my high cholesterol had decreased by 134 points! Looking in the mirror I saw a new, slimmer, healthier person looking back. It was a great feeling! Here’s a quick video, look for me at the 5:21 mark.

Along with these benefits, I took up running, to help supplement the weight training I had started. With a renewed vigor I started participated in Tough Mudder with co-workers, which tested my mental and physical abilities. I wanted to push  and learn what limits my body could endure, so I signed up for my first half marathon, which I finished in 1:58, followed by my first 50k (31.7 miles) a year later in 8:53. If that wasn’t enough I have run three 50 mile races the past 2 years, posting a PR earlier this year of 13:40! The results were proof to me that without taking control of my health none of this would have been possible.

It’s amazing to hear Julie speak about her passion that is Protective Diet, she inspires many she touches with her (and Jerry’s) positive message about health and the foods we eat. Reading and hearing testimonies from other ‘PD lifers’ should be proof that what Julie teaches works. While I was never skeptical, I was impressed with how I further cleaned up a diet that already had removed meats, dairy and oils. Seeing the many vibrant and smiling individuals on the Protective Diet Living page only helped to reinforce her message and my life changing decision.

Somewhere during my journey, over the past 4 years I hit a bump, which turned into a slide and suddenly I found myself out of control, falling back on poor decisions and bad habits. Through it all I stuck to the basics that got me here; no meat, dairy and oil while following a starch based diet as Dr. John McDougall promotes. Yet the gains I had achieved were slowly fading into the past. I attempted to remain positive, knowing that if I achieved these improvements before I could do it again! A list could be draw up, excuses made but honestly, what good would it serve? None, I lapsed and now it’s time to refocus and get my health back on track.

Today was ‘Day 1’ and I am sure MANY Protective Diet Living subscribers know what I am talking about. As the saying goes, “tomorrow is a new day…” That is what today was, a new day, one in which I watch Lesson #97 on Protective Diet to get me pointed in the right direction and take control of my health, so I can look and feel like I did a short time ago.

At no point do I feel as if I failed myself or others when it comes to this lifestyle, as I was able to stick to the basic principles, but Julie is able to take that change to the next level. That is where I want to return to. Being able to confidently say I love what I eat and how I feel. No one should ever feel as if they “can’t do this” or “won’t have success.” I know both of these statements will not hold me back as I have bigger plans in the future.

With so much going on in life, free time hasn’t been abundant, but the time I had could have been spent more wisely with regards to running, an activity I thoroughly enjoy. Earlier this year I had plans to add two more ultra marathons to my list. The first, Pioneer Spirit 50, a 50 mile race from Cool to Folsom with a portion of the trail familiar thanks in part to running the American River 50 Mile Endurance Run, twice. This was supposed to be a training run in August, for the Folsom Lake Ultra Trail 110k, a a 68.35 mile race around Folsom Reservoir. Both races are more difficult and challenging, mentally and physically. Right now I am not at my best health, but both these races are on my calendar for 2017.

If that’s not enough running, I plan on attempting my first 100 mile race in March next year at the Razorback Endurance. This will be the first time at this distance with a 36 hour cutoff and relatively no vertical component on the 2-mile loop. This is truly the biggest challenge I want to attempt, even if it’s only one time. In order to be successful I need to be mentally and physically prepared for this challenge.

The 21 meal menu is complete, ingredients purchased as I look forward to the next few weeks using the Guide to Optimal Health as a reference to regain my health, fitness and feel better about myself. Lots of support from many individuals who are following the same lifestyle, so I am not going at this alone. If I can master this, ANYONE can! Time to eat…

Here’s a quick video, look for me at the 5:21 mark.

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Let food be thy medicine…

hippocrates_quoteI don’t expect many to understand my rational for changing my eating habits and opting for a healthy lifestyle, even when many consider my decision “extreme.” Yet it never ceases to amaze at what comes out of individual mouths as it relates to how I and many others eat following “a diet rich in whole plant foods, free of all animal products, saturated fats, oils, nuts, sugar, artificial sweeteners and food additives,” as Julie Marie Christensen explains over at Protective Diet.

Many question and criticize how I eat, but don’t give a second thought as what they put in their mouths and how it will affect their health. This as they pop another pill, or inject themselves to control a plethora of diseases that ravage their body. Good health comes in the form of food, it won’t be found a magic pill or fad diet or labeled on a box. These are a collection of quotes from many individuals when questioned about the plant based lifestyle they follow.

“I could never give up my meat. I love it too much.”

“But avocados and olive oil are healthy fats.”

“So, you don’t care about plants? You know carrots scream when you pull them, right?”

Where do you get your protein?

“So…you’re in a cult?”

We all have to die. So, why not enjoy yourself first?

Well, what did you eat when you were a toddler?”

“So all you eat are fruits and salads”

Wow that’s a lot of food! You eat all that?

“I can’t believe you eat all those starches.”

“You need to eat protein.”

“You can’t do it with diet alone.”

“I could never give up cheese.”

What DO you eat?

You can’t lose weight without exercising.”

” Well what’s left, what can you eat?”

You do not even use olive oil? Olive oil is healthy.

I will literally die if I don’t eat meat!

Nuts are good for you, why no nuts?

“You’re setting yourself up for osteoporosis and infertility.”

Everything in moderation!

You’re food is nasty, I wouldn’t eat it!

“What is hippie dust?”

“Carbs are so bad for you.”

Animals are meant to be eaten.”

I would get fat eating all those carbs!

Fish is not an animal, it’s healthy.”

I can’t afford to eat like that.

The bible says we should consume meat.

I don’t have time for all of that cooking from scratch. It’s not realistic.

“Come on…live a little!”

I could never give up cheese or ice cream!

You need healthy fats!

You need fat to absorb vitamins.”

Healing is much longer and harder when you are vegan (not enough protein).”

Why can’t you eat normal?

Do you think maybe your diet caused the kidney stones?

You have to spend all day in the kitchen.”

“It is too expensive to buy the proper cooking tools.

“You can’t tell me that you don’t miss a good piece of meat.

Why don’t you eat dried fruit? It’s good for you.

When you get to your goal weight, will you eat meat again?”

You can add some nuts back in when you get to your goal. They are healthy. It won’t hurt you.

Where do you get your calcium? You need to drink milk don’t you.

That so extreme!

I can’t do that. Maybe if I had someone to do all the cooking for me.

Carbs are not your friend…

You’re not getting enough good fats and protein. No wonder you feel tired all the time.

Why do humans have the kind of teeth we have if we aren’t supposed to eat meat?

One time isn’t going to hurt you!”

“No, I’m actually a healthy weight for my height.”

Are you trying to live forever?

“Well what CAN you eat then?”

“Okay, what did you give up this time?”

Humans need the vitamins found in meat.

What about all those GMOs and pesticides in vegetables, at least meat is clean.

I can’t do PD because I’m type O positive.

Soybeans cause cancer and soy gave me my thyroid problem.

I can’t give up coffee because I have to go to work.”

“I only eat organic fish.”

“You shouldn’t eat wheat it causes belly fat.

“That’s not a complete protein!”

“Do you eat fish?”


God created animals for us to eat.

Coconut oil is good for you, it is antibacterial, helps you lose weight, cures Alzheimer’s, cures cancer, blah, blah, blah. You can’t eat wheat or corn, those domestic crops are foreign to our bodies. I only eat grass fed organic meat and butter (grass fed butter?).

It won’t hurt you just this once to eat this.

It’s filled with things you don’t like to eat; meat, cheese, mayo…”

“You got to live a little.”

“One bite won’t hurt .”

Is it a religious thing?

“Your husband is going to get man boobs if he keeps eating all that soy.”

“Your kids are gonna crave meat anyway…why not give it to them and stop shoving your beliefs down their throats?”

“It’s extreme when you cut something, like meat or dairy out of your diet.

We each make our own choices, but with obesity levels continuing to climb something must be be done. Could it go as far as government intervention? Possible. The USDA 2015 Dietary Guidelines are up in public domain for comment before finalization (thanks Lani Muelrath). “The federal committee responsible for nutrition guidelines is calling for the adoption of “plant-based” diets, taxes on dessert, trained obesity “interventionists” at worksites, and electronic monitoring of how long Americans sit in front of the television.” There is a demand to “reduce unhealthy options,” limit access to high calorie foods in public buildings, “limit the exposure” of advertisements for junk food, a soda tax, and taxing high sugar and salt items and dessert.” *source

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Protective Diet

pdWith all the success I have experienced over the course of 3 years since viewing the documentary, Forks Over Knives, learning about Dr. John McDougall and adopting a plant based lifestyle I have yet to follow Julie Marie’s 30 Day Detox and Taste Bud Reprogramming. This is an integral part of her Protective Diet (PD) program that allows individuals to get on “your path to optimal health.”

By the time I learned about Julie and everything her program had to offer I was already on my way to optimal health, so I thought. It wasn’t until I enrolled in her PD-ed and took advantage of her online program and support that I achieved a higher knowledge and better understanding about food.

First and most importantly PD isn’t a diet, although changing what and how you eat will usually result in weight loss. Following a plant based diet is a lifestyle! Second her program isn’t special, nor should I consider myself better than someone else who follows a traditional whole foods, plant based diet (WFPB), but it does differ in a few areas.

As stated under Why This Works on the Protective Diet website:

The differences between The Protective Diet and other low-fat plant based diet plans are:

  • Physical cravings are eliminated by removing all forms of sugar (including dried fruit), food additives, coffee, juice, and all animal products.
  • We reprogram our taste buds by eliminating added fats: oils,and creamy, saturated fat-filled whole foods such as all nuts, avocado,coconut, and seeds (except for chia seeds for thickening purposes).
  • We eliminate the physical addiction in the first 30 days by removing addictive foods.  Our detox is then over and our taste bud receptors are not searching for the missing oils and fats any longer.  Then we can truly address eating to satisfy hunger vs.  emotional eating.
  • After 30 days our major challenges of food addiction are behind us.  It becomes easy to stay on track.  Then we are eating to satisfy hunger rather than to satisfy cravings.

This past October I submitted my Protective Diet testimonial because it’s a program I truly believe in! The results have been nothing short of AMAZING! Yet with all the success I have tasted (literally!) I have never gone 30 days following the Protective Diet 100%.

I’ll be honest, I still included ingredients I shouldn’t have in my diet, knowing full well they weren’t good for my health. Many of those included additives in the plant-based foods I bought, something many other programs never stress. For example, Winco doesn’t carry a “clean” soy milk. The Pacific Ultra Soy Original contains

  • Organic Soy Base (Water, Whole Organic Soybeans)
  • Dried Cane Syrup
  • Natural Flavors
  • Tricalcium Phosphate
  • Sea Salt
  • Carrageenan

Compare this to the Organic Unsweetened Soy Original that contains only soy beans and water. Yet I could not find a better soy milk locally, until I ran into Trader Joe’s and found their store brand organic, unsweetened soy beverage. Aside from being a much healthier option it cost less than what I was paying at Winco!

There were other products I purchased that I thought were “clean” but only recently found out there were. The flour tortillas I purchased for a few years were oil free but contained calcium propionate, which is a preservative added to prevent bacterial and mold growth. Dave’s Killer Bread was another brand I used to favor, carrying a USDA organic label as well as a NON-GMO symbol. Yet the bread, while good contains “organic dried cane syrup (sugar).” Not sure if I just missed this the first time around, but the nuts alone are something I accepted in this bread when I was eating it.

Tea…ugh! This is an entire piece all by itself, check out “Do You Know What’s Really In Your Tea?” It’s a good starting point. Another offender, hot sauce. I had a shelf full of hot sauce, which one would think would be compliant. One by one I tossed them out because of additives, leaving me with just 3 hot sauces, Tabasco, Crystal and Frank’s. Take a few minutes and read the labels on some of the food you believe to be healthy.

While some will find this tedious and unnecessary, it feels great to be eating my way to health. It takes some work and there are many ingredients and additives that we should avoid. Check out these hidden sources of MSG. “Natural” doesn’t mean “safe.” In this respect I have been working hard to educate myself on selecting foods that contain ONLY natural ingredients.

So while I don’t consider myself 100% PD as 2014 ended and the celebrations rang in the new year, I am working very hard to further reduce those foods that shouldn’t be included in my diet and close in on being 100%. I refer to a saying used in ultra running, “relentless, forward progress.” That is what PD is all about!

Visit Protective Diet. Register to receive access to 123 recipes to get you started. Check out the FAQ and resolve to get started.

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Thanks Michelle Obama

stuffyourfaceMuch has been made of the Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010, championed by Michelle Obama. Images of paltry meals with hashtags reading #ThanksMichelleObama and comments about prisoners eating better, could this new policy be failing when to comes to feeding our youth? “The Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act allows USDA, for the first time in over 30 years, opportunity to make real reforms to the school lunch and breakfast programs by improving the critical nutrition and hunger safety net for millions of children” (source).

This year brought about change to schools across the nation requiring all food sold during the school day to “to meet nutrition standards, which you can read in this summary. Some of the highlights include:

  • Grain items must include 50% or more whole grains by weight, or have whole grains as the first ingredient.
  • Food items must have ≤ 35%calories from total fat as served.
  • Food items must have < 10%calories from saturated
    fat as served.
  • Food items must have ≤ 35% of weight from total sugar as served.
  • Snack items and side dishes sold a la carte: ≤230 mg sodium or sold as entrée ≤480 mg sodium per item as served .
  • Snack items and side dishes sold a la carte: ≤200 calories or sold as entrée ≤350 calories per item served.

Regardless of what Michelle Obama has said in the past, politics play a role in how school aged kids will eat. They ALWAYS will! When I was younger, I rarely stood in lunch to receive a school lunch. Thankfully my mom made my lunch all the way through high school. School lunches were NEVER appealing!

Unfortunately nutritional education begins at home with good eating habits, not at school. Poor habits translate into wasted food, “some school officials say kids are throwing away fruits and vegetables that are required.” Schools are also being challenge meeting the limits on sodium and more whole grains.

dec_menuTaking a look at the December menu from the Oakley Union Elementary School District isn’t very impressive given that elementary lunches cost $2.50, with milk (dairy industry agenda) being sold for $0.50 (8 oz.). A Google image search for ‘U.S. school lunches‘ tells a different  story than does a Twitter search for #ThanksMichelleObama. Could that $2.50 not be better spent on feeding kids? The food our kids are eating at school are terrible! Hot dogs, chicken patties, cheeseburgers, bean burrito and Baja fish wrap are all staples in school lunches, little emphasis in feeding our youth QUALITY foods. Vegetables, fruits continue to play a complementary roll in school lunches, much like it does under My Plate.

A recent story from the Daily Caller compares what Obama’s girls eat at their private institution for lunch along with Twitter images from those in public schools. There is NO comparison! “Kids in America’s public, taxpayer-funded schools are not as lucky as the children of President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama” (source)

This is a topic that will continue to feature much debate, considering it was FLOTUS who backed this new school lunch initiative, but it still won’t receive the amount of attention of CCSS. Both of which are failing our kids in public schools.

While I don’t have an answer for school lunches, I know for damn sure I could put together a healthier, more satiating meal plan for school that kids would actually eat. It seems many of these new school meals are good for nothing more than posting on Twitter representing what they are being forced to eat, thanks in part to Mrs. Obama.

Pasta, vegetables, grains and starches would be the staple in my school lunch program, not as if that comes as a surprise to those who follow T6F. Is there really a need to feed kids highly processed crap that represents meat? I don’t think so. Maybe….”in moderation” but not every day, especially when there are healthier choices that are more satiating and probably cheaper ($3.00 a meal) to purchase in bulk for school districts.

Curious to hear what you think on the state of school lunches. I am just thankful my wife and I have time to prepare my son’s lunch so he is not left to eat the slop they call food in elementary school.

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Vegan Flip Flop


Plants. Nature’s medicine.

Three years ago I made the conscious decision to no longer include meat, dairy and added oil in my diet. This has been one of the best decisions I have made in life, as it allowed me to regain control of my health, something I had never had prior to following a plant based lifestyle. Yet controversy seems to swirl around how I eat.

Last week as I sat eating my Jalepeno Corn Muffins (thanks to Julie) and drinking my morning tea I read an article from the UK Daily Mail, EIGHTY FOUR percent of vegetarians in America eventually go back to eating meat. This Humane Research Council studied sampled 11,000 individuals with varied diets. As it stands now, only 2% of Americans follow a vegetarian diet and 88% of the populous has never tried a vegan or vegetarian lifestyle. Even a smaller percentage will remove harmful ingredients such as oil, sugar and additives in their quest for health.

Of the 12% that have made the conscious shift to a plant based diet, “five out of six people return to being carnivores.” It was interesting to note “that half of vegetarians who went back to eating meat did it for their partners.” What better way to say “honey, I love you and will fill my diet full of meat, dairy and oil so I can see my health decrease and take a handful of pills in order to maintain health.”

Other “reasons” from the articles sounded more like weak-minded excuses. “I took a bite of my friend’s pizza, which happened to have bacon, and then the next morning we went to brunch, and I ordered more bacon because it was delicious.” Sure sodium and fried fat is like an explosion in your mouth, don’t mind what it will do to your health (yes, even in moderation). Others claimed they missed holidays, like Thanksgiving and Christmas, describing it as “a sad time.” The only thing SAD is the lifestyle led by eating these foods that promote obesity.

Being plant based isn’t a diet, it’s a lifestyle. You don’t do it “part time” to achieve your goals, only to go back to poor eating habits that put you in the predicament to begin with. I have no intentions of reversing what I have done the past 3 years of my life. This IS how I want to eat, it makes me happy, provides me great energy and allows me to build on this new found health. The desire to consume foods and ingredients I once cherished continue to be nothing more than a memory.

I don’t miss feeling terrible every day. I don’t miss the aches and pains, migraines and the handful of pills some attributed to “getting old.” I am stronger, healthier and achieving things I never thought imaginable. I owe it all to a plant strong lifestyle. So while the statistics will never favor how I eat, my personal experience tells me all I need to know. I won’t become one of those “5 out of 6” who return to making poor decisions when it comes to how I eat.

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