On October 30, 2015 I celebrated my 4th year following a plant based, whole foods lifestyle. Notice I did not call it a “diet” because this is a great and healthy way to live life. Sometimes its difficult to believe I have followed through on this commitment to change. Yet the results have been nothing short of amazing. You know, it’s like those infomercials of a product that sound too good to be true. Now I see my before/after picture on Protective Diet and I this way of eating works. While I know it would work for many others, especially those who are overweight, suffering from health related issues, life threatening disease or individuals who rely on a handful of medication daily to get through their day.
While I have not gone to my family physician this year for my physical, I might in fact skip it. Why? Because I know I am healthy and don’t feel the need to support the medical industrial complex, only to hear my doctor tell me I need to take <insert supplement here> because I am “deficient.” That is what happened a number of years back when my weight was at its lowest and my cholesterol had dropped 134 points, I was told my Vitamin D was deficient. Serious? You MUST find something wrong instead of congratulate me on what I had achieved. Nope, he wouldn’t extend those positive comments, instead I get, “you know this is a very extreme diet.” Needless to say, I lost all respect for my family doctor at this point.
As for the last year, it’s been a mixed bag when it comes to living a plant based lifestyle. I am so pleased to be following Julie Marie and Jerry Christensen at Protective Diet, without them I would have probably fallen off of the “plant based kick” (as I have had some call it) and resorted to those damaging foods that contribute to obesity and disease. Aside from some of the best tasting recipes I have seen on the Internet, PD food is truly “clean eating.” Many lay claim to clean recipes, but Julie promotes ” an oil-, sugar-, nut-, and additive-free whole food plant based diet and lifestyle.”
At the end of 2014 I was in some of the best shape of my life, I was running on a regular basis and following a strength training program called Stronglifts 5×5 (thanks Mehdi!). Unfortunately continued shoulder pain after a surgery in 2013 caused me to go back under the knife to resolve a frozen shoulder issue. It took physical therapy to realize that the impingement and pain I was experiencing was from my running form. Who would have thunk it? After about 8 weeks of PT after my second shoulder surgery, we came to realize that I was causing the pain in how I held my shoulders. Thankfully with the help of two therapists we were able to reteach my shoulders to maintain a proper position and the pain eventually decreased. Strength training was minimal as I gave up lifting weights and focused on running.
On April 2nd I participated in my first 50 mile race, The American River 50 that saw me complete the course in 13:52:50! Just 8 minutes ahead of the 14 hour time limit, it was my best accomplishment to date since changing my lifestyle. If it were not for losing all the weight and getting healthy, there was no way in hell I would have ever considered running this sort of distance. During the race I remained plant based, focusing on boiled potatoes and bananas through out the race. I did however have a breakdown about mile 38 when I grabbed a handful of Red Vines and took off out of the aid station, as if I had stole something. Not that the Red Vines pushed me through, but it was a momentary weakness, but damn! It tasted so good after 10 hours of eating potatoes and bananas and drinking water!
Unfortunately 7 months later I would attempt my second 50 mile race, Dick Collins Firetrails 50 located in the Oakland Hills. This course was much more demanding, as if running 50 miles on a level course is challenging enough, this trail run included 7,800 feet of elevation. A lack of training took it’s toll and I struggled all day long. My running dropped out just 3.2 miles into the race, which played into the psyche of the race. The heat coupled with the climbs absolutely destroyed me, while I remained mentally vigilant, I knew time was against me and at mile 21.06 I had to call it day. I recorded my first ‘DNF’ and learned more about myself and just what it takes to push your body when it doesn’t want to go any longer.
At home I have become more comfortable cooking Protective Diet recipes. Unfortunately I usually fail following Julie’s first rule; “Read all the directions before starting.” Even with that said, the recipes still come out tasting amazing! I continue to subscribe to her website in order to get access to the premium recipes. More importantly, it’s the support, the coaching and the videos that make the price so worth it. Julie and her husband are so positive when it comes to what and how we eat, as well as taking control of your life and living how YOU want to live it. They are an amazing couple who have changed my life. I feel very fortunate to have found Julie years ago when I made her scalloped potato recipe. Never thought it would be a true life changer.
Another reason I don’t want to go for my yearly physical, I know my blood work numbers will have increased from last year. While I am still pleased with where I am at, I have fallen victim to craft beer and have a very difficult time giving up that libation. I spoke of damaging lifestyle, alcohol can be very destructive when it comes to your health. Where I notice it most, in my waistline. My weight as of this morning was 185 pounds, which is up from my lowest of 175 pounds. That is 10 pounds, might not sound like a lot, but when it comes to clothing it can make a shirt a bit tight in the chest or might have to suck the belly in just to get those size 34 jeans buttoned.
For me, the last 10 pounds to achieve my goal were the most difficult and there was a 3 month period I stopped consuming alcohol. I now believe I did that just so I could lay claim to achieving my goal. With all the positive change in my life and committing to a belief and a lifestyle, removing something as destructive as alcohol should be a no-brainer! Yet, I fall victim to a new craft beer or “just one more” as I continue to work towards getting back to where I was before my shoulder issues in 2013.
Life in general has been much busier than I recall it in the past few years. I seem to have my hands in too many different pots, being pulled too many different directions that sometimes see me fall behind on those things that are important in my life. Along with a 40 hour work week at BART, I am the PTA treasurer at my son’s elementary school, where I also organize the haunted house in October and dress up as the turkey for the Turkey Trot. My duties also have me sitting at the month PTA meetings, as well as attending school board meetings in order to keep up on current events in the district. Did I mention I had never been a treasurer before?
My son has reaped many of the benefits, as I work in his classroom on Tuesday and Wednesday each week for a few hours a day. I love being involved and more importantly engaged so I, as a responsible parent don’t fall behind and can help answer questions my son has when it comes to his school work.
Last year, Zachary and I became involved in Cub Scouts. The first question out of my mouth to the Cubmaster. “How do I become more involved?” Needless to say I was welcome with open arms and took on the role of Quartermaster in our pack, a relatively new position that has me in charge of all the gear the pack owns. This also means helping set up and tear down at our monthly pack meetings, while attending up to two den meetings a month, as well as scheduling time off to go on camping trips or other scouting related events.
While I no longer coach Little League, I did get my first taste of managing soccer, as an assistant coach for my son’s team last year. This meant helping to organize and manage practice twice a week and play up to two games a week. It was a terrible season, not because of how the boys played but how poorly the league was organized. What started off on a bad foot progressively got worse as the season rolled on with no answers to emails sent to the league. As I told my son, “do your best” and “stay positive.” There is more to youth sports than the final score, learning new skills, learning how to be a better person are qualities that you can take with you in life.
Along with soccer, we enrolled Zachary in karate last October, two months later I decided to join because my son wouldn’t listen to my constructive criticism because “you don’t do karate, dad.” So what better way to add some cardio, strength training and self defense to your life. Two days a week, Tuesday and Thursday I spend an hour in class learning Isshin Ryu karate. Much like Protective Diet, the instructor brings a positive influence to the class to better you as a person.
Life had hit a low last October, but thankfully with an understanding and loving wife we got through this rough patch and move forward. It was mentally and physically draining for all parties involved. After counseling and communication, as well as some tears and hard work, things started to turn around. In fact at one point I felt a showering of warm light that reassured me everything was going to be fine. It was an amazing feeling and now I am pleased to report there is a healthy, loving relationship and strong immediate family ties.
Moving forward I working on organizing my life, as I continued to feel very scattered right now. When I was making good progress I was recording what I was eating, logging all my exercise and looking for positive and negative trends when it came to my health. While logging and recording details such as this isn’t for everyone, this is what works for me. Menu planning and grocery shopping is where I want to begin. I don’t like going to the store not knowing what I want to cook for the week. I love the idea behind prepping on Sunday (as Julie promotes) for the coming week. This is something that I can benefit from and probably save a bit of money when I go shopping.
I have graduated from an older PC based program called Fit Day to My Fitness Pal, which works in conjunction with Garmin Connect and my Forerunner 920XT. I strive to get 10,000 steps in a day. Currently I am averaging about 13,752 steps a day since I began tracking my fitness in April. I am a real sucker for numbers and data and charting progress, it helps me measure how I am doing.
It’s be a great 4 years, I have met many wonderful and supportive people who all have very inspiring stories, all of which provides that ongoing reassurance that my decision to change my lifestyle was worth it. Reading many different success stories motivates me to recommit myself daily to continue to improve what I eat and make sure I am taking the right steps to improve my health and fitness as I approach age 46 so I can be there for my wife and son in the coming years.