Eat on $3 a Day

Back in October I was being introduced to just how made the American diet is when I viewed Forks Over Knives, Food Inc. and Food Matters. This led me to learn about a plant-based, whole food lifestyle, Dr. John McDougall and others leading the way when it comes to taking your health into your own hands. Since October I have lost 27 pounds and improved my blood work numbers, namely my total cholesterol by 64 points!

Since mid January I have become reacquainted with exercise and the added benefits to my healthy, now that I have my diet under control. Weekly exercise consists of 30-45 minutes of walking, daily. When I get home it’s been either weight lifting on our Bowflex Revolution or doing Beachbody’s Power 90 (yes, the original). Unlike seeing quick results with the diet portion of a healthy lifestyle, I figure it will be 6 weeks before I start to see physical changes in my appearance, outside of shedding pounds and looking thinner.

About 10 days ago I started keep track of my daily food intake. Back in 2003, when I first started Power 90, there was a recommendation to purchase the program, Fit Day, which allows you to track food, nutritional information, exercise, set goals such as activity and weight and track your progress.

I have taken it a step further. Using the online site, Spark Recipes, I can now entire all ingredients to any meal I plan and break that meal down into a ‘per serving’ size. For example, the Fit Day database, as extensive as it is doesn’t have my Potato Enchiladas. I built the recipe and I can now enter the nutritional data into Fit Day and see just how much I eat a day. A great little program that allows me to track all things food/exercise related to improve my health.

The next step…why…I don’t know is to start tracking the amount of money my wife and I spend a month on food. I can tell you right now it is down in the past few months since we have not spent a penny on any meat. Last time I opened our freezer in the garage there was a plethora of chicken, turkey, pork, beef and fish just waiting to be cook. Outside of the fish, I can’t see me preparing any of the other meat in the freezer.

Dr. McDougall, in his March, 2008 Newsletter discussed Cutting Food Costs in These Times of Economic Downturn. “On average women consume about 2000 calories daily and men 2500 calories…The cost of animal-food centered meals cooked at home for one person could easily be $10 a day or more,” says Dr. McDougall. For those individuals who favor dining out as opposed to eating in, “spending $14 for a full day’s worth of fast food meals would not be unusual.”

For those not following a plant-based, whole food lifestyle buying 20 pounds of brown rice or 25 pounds of pinto beans might seem extreme. When the numbers are broken down by unit cost and compared to the cost for 2500 calories you can see the extensive savings. For example, a Taco Bell Taco costs $.99 and for a man to get 2500 calories would require $14.56. By comparison 2o pounds of potatoes cost $6.99 and for a man to get 2500 calories would cost $1.75! Savings you can see and taste!

Being able to eat or feeding a family for $3 a day per person is possible, but will require a larger up front cost. That is a cost I am willing to make since I know I will use 25 pounds of brown rice or 20 pounds of potatoes. Dr. McDougall’s wife, Mary has recipes for her “Stove Top Stew cost $1.40 (fills up four adults) and the Pea Soup ingredients cost $1.80 (fills up 6 adults).” These days when money does matter and you are trying to better your budget, you might consider this as an option.

As Dr. McDougall sums it up, “A person spending $14 a day eating at fast food restaurants could be spending $3 by eating a starch-based diet at home. This translates into $11 per day savings. (This means $330 a month and $4015 per year saved, which happens to be enough to attend the McDougall 10-day live-in Program in Santa Rosa, CA—so you might consider the McDougall Program as a free program.)” Then again, a starch based diet is not widely accepted, but even minor changes can be positive.

Exercise & Me

The results never have ceased to amaze me since changing my diet and taking my health into my hands since I don’t believe my personal physician has the best intentions for me. That based on his recommendation to supplement my “deficiency” with 50,000 IU of Vitamin D weekly. I continue to discuss my disappointment, Vitamin D, possibly changing doctors and “playing doctor” with other individuals who follow Dr. McDougall’s way of life. But why harp on that? I can control each aspect I just brought up. I have added exercise to this lifestyle change this last week.

I dusted off the copy of Power 90 I purchased from a late night infomercial back in 2003 and made it through Sweat I/II and Cardio I/II four days this week. This after breaking my red, 13 pound resistance band when performing the lawnmower exercise. Probably all the better since the 20 pound, blue band seems to answer the call. Friday was a rest day, but I was back at on Saturday, pulling off the sheets that cover the Bowflex Revolution.

While no where near the level of “expert” or even casual user, I spent time at work sifting through the the manual and looking at the different exercise routines possible. I then settled on two routines that were similar in nature after comparing 3 different work outs. The first was a 20 minute upper/lower body workout that would alternate body parts every other days.

The other 2 work outs are circuit training one listed as ‘Anaerobic/Cardiovascular’ in nature and the other as ‘True Aerobic” work out. The aerobic work out lists some of the same exercises as the anaerobic, but adds 30-60 seconds of aerobic rowing in between each exercise. I did a circuit of each yesterday, before finishing up with some bench press exercises and calling it a day after about 45 minutes.

Aside from getting healthier with this way of eating, the addition of exercise should help me achieve my goals come April, which should coincide with my next blood test to see where my Vitamin D level is after supplementing on a weekly basis. After a week, the exercising has been fun, I have enjoyed it and I think breaking up the routine will help keep things fresh and keep me interested. I have a long way to go before I can say I am where I want to go. Three months of training should be a very good base from which to build.

Neither exercise or this way of eating will cease after April, which will be approximately 6 month since making the decision to change my diet, giving up meat, dairy products and oil, while going to a plant-based whole food diet or in the words of Rip Esselstyn, living “plant strong.” This will go to show my doctor that even though the improvement on my blood, the loss of weight and overall health I gain is just a start, the next 3 months should speak volumes when we meet.

Welcome Back Tony

It’s been 9 years since I purchased Power 90 with Tony Horton from a late night infomercial while working the graveyard shift at United Airlines. At the time I felt I was overweight and wanted to get into shape. I had tried diets and gyms and had not really had much luck. My daily diet consisted of a burrito from Chipotle, a few Red Bull Energy Drinks and a some chicken sandwiches from a fast food joint for dinner. Not exactly the image of health. I don’t believe I was cooking many meals at all, it was always food on the go or eating out at local establishments.

I started the program at a weight of 210 pounds on March 16, 2003 and over the course of 30 days I saw a 10 pound weight decrease and looking at the pictures (the ugly truth) I took of myself on day 1 and day 30, there were some minor changes in my body. Most notably, a 1″ increase in my chest and a 2″ loss on my waist. Still after 46 days, when I stopped keeping up a journal at Team Beachbody, I was not where I wanted to be.

This time around, I have half the battle already won, as my diet is under control and I have already dropped 26 pounds since October 30, 2011. I know I seem to bring up that number every time I talk about how I did it, but I am still in awe that I could see changes so quickly. Since moving to a plant-based whole food diet I have more energy and have my cholesterol under control. Unlike my 2003 attempt I was still not eating healthy while using Power 90, but I was loading up on recommended supplements as advertised on their web site.

Today was my reintroduction to “Tony and the kids.” Tony being fitness guru, Tony Horton who leads us in “combined quick, intense cardiovascular exercises with moderate-level strength and weight training moves” (source). His kids are the male and female he used in the video to help those, like me accomplish the moves in this DVD series.

I started with Sweat Cardio I/II today and I’ll be honest couldn’t keep with the simple moves. I had a few added breaks in the 36 minute workout. This DVD combined cardio moves, kickboxing and Pilates before moving on to 100 ab moves in 10 minutes. I know I don’t feel it now, but coming tomorrow or the next day I am sure it will start to take effect. I am a bit tired after the 45 minute workout, but like my previous attempt, I feel good and better about myself as I know I can break down the barriers that prevented me from being successful in 2003.

Combine Power 90 with 30 minutes of walking at work and my “plat strong lifestyle” and my health outlook is nothing short of spectacular! Looking forward to it in fact. the most telling sign will be when my wife begins to notice the changes. She can tell a difference in the loss of 26 pounds and damn if I can notch my belt over one more loophole. It’s the small things, right?