PD – Day 15

This is the health I want to recapture from 2014. Trim, fit and healthy. Smiling after my first 50k finish with Otto.

Now 2 weeks in I get to look back on what has transpired since jumping into the PDL pool with both feet. As expected, the water is warm, refreshing and quite comfortable. Thanks in part to the many wonderful people who follow the principles set forth by Julie Christensen, creator of the Protective Diet. While I subscribed to the entire program, I have yet to achieve that 100% PD lifestyle, it’s a goal I will continue to strive to attain. Right now, day 15 as I look back what have I learned?

First, this lifestyle is an ultra marathon, not a sprint. While I have expectations, I know for a fact, if I follow the the Guide to Optimal Health I will see improvements in my overall life. Weight will be down, clothes will fit better. Energy will be up and I will be living to eat, instead of eating to live. The steps are simple to follow and to date, I am setting a good pace in the early portion of my journey back into the Protective Diet lifestyle.

Keeping a journal has been great fun, then again I enjoy sharing my experiences, not only to help myself but to help others who could potentially run into issues moving forward. It was great to hear Julie mention my previous success (56:00 minutes) in Class #200 Stop the Snacks Challenge. What made a difference recently, as Julie cited, was going back and re-reading my PD testimonial I posted  in October, 2013. Reading can influence our decisions, but “a picture is worth a thousand words.”

I know I fall back on this repeated in just 2 weeks. Looking at where I was, bloated, heavy, out of shape and otherwise miserable, living with pains and unsettling blood work numbers. The after picture, taken at a Tough Mudder event and just slim and trim I look. I still remember how I felt that day and may days after it. The feeling was one in a million! Comparable to crossing the finish line in one of my 50 mile races. It’s something that I just can’t describe, but that feeling is short lived if you don’t follow through and resolve to maintain that lifestyle you created for yourself.

While I am not one for excuses, I know I have slipped a few in on my wife, one too many times and they get tiring to hear, over and over. While I don’t have any excuses, I know the mistakes I made, they were made knowingly that it would compromise my health and start me down a dark path, that left unchecked would take me to a place I vowed I would not return to. Looking in the mirror daily I didn’t get a sense of the regression. Stepping on the scale it was more apparent that my poor decisions were putting weight back on that I didn’t want to carry at age 48.

Still a few years away from 50, I vow now to have the best health in my life when I hit this milestone! It WILL be done! Why? Because I have been there before and I have the road map and experience to get there. Setting goals and monitor progress aided me in my journey, thus the reason I continuously write about my experiences, weigh myself and track the foods I eat. All these working together put get me in “my zone” where I feel I have the best chance to succeed.

Next milestone in this journey is 30 days. I know what to expect and where I believe I will stand when I report back. It my intention to “stay the course” and remain engaged with the PDL community for the love and support of those who follow this lifestyle. That aspect alone is priceless. I appreciate all the feedback and comments from those on the Facebook group as we all continue on this journey together.

PD – Day 14

Now 2 weeks into the new year and “new me!” Actually, it’s the same me but with the mental fortitude and desire to “get it done” as my running partner always says. This time around feels very similar to how I started back in October, 2011 with a commitment to myself. Some called what I was doing, “short term” and “extreme” but 10 months later the results were shocking! The weight loss, eating a starch based diet was incredible.

This time around, I have found my Kryptonite. Snacking. I know Julie mentioned this recently in Class #200 – Stop the Snacks Challenge. Following her Guide to Optimal Health, I consider myself to be somewhere between Level #3 and Level #4. I’ve already eliminated the “food addiction and cravings” and understand the basics of a Protective Diet living.

While I may never perfect a Protective Diet, I know what my goals are, where I currently am and know what I need to do in order to achieve it. As Julie mentioned, I have achieved my goal some years back. I got a false sense of security that I was “heart attack proof” (remember Dr. Esselstyn?) and I let my guard down slowly. I lapsed into making poor dietary decisions and failed to follow what got me to where I wanted to be. It’s starts with a Protective Diet.

Not sure if its snacking in the true sense of the words, as I have been doing well, while at work avoiding the crap that shows up in the break room. Even during my days off from work, I am not caught in the kitchen too often ahead of a planned meal. My problem comes after I eat dinner, I find myself unsatisfied and wanting to eat more and have dipped into the pantry for some otherwise unacceptable bites.

Currently, I am trying to get myself to the point of feeling satiated when I eat. Right now, as has been the case for a few weeks I feel bloated even before a meal approaches. Eating on top of that only makes me feel like a fat slob, as guilt starts to creep in and I question my determination.

Being able to identify “true hunger” is what I need to key on. Being able to stop at “full and satisfied” is where I need to begin, while staying away from the between meal bites that are aiding that “stuffed and lethargic” feeling I currently have. It’s a terrible feeling I have been struggling with for nearly 2 weeks. Eating until satiated has been a challenge.

I fall back to what I have learned since 2011 and pictures of before and after. The motivation is there! I will succeed but need to fine tune some of the practices of mindful eating in order to take advantages of what a Protective Diet promotes. Reviewing the Goals of Protective Diet Mindful Eating Practices, there is work to be done of what allowed me to achieve my optimal health. For me, the most important aspect is, “experience and appreciate true hunger before meals.” Too many times I notice I am cooking and eating because the clock dictates it’s lunch or dinner time.

I can identify with Jerry and the need to snack because of all the calories burned when running. When I was at my optimal level, I would eat after I got done with a run and follow it up in a few hours with a meal. However, with a foot injury and my current health, I haven’t been all that active on the trails, putting in the miles to justify those “added calories” (snacking) to my lifestyle. In the future, when I get back to where I need to be and the running increases, snacking will return in due time, but that isn’t now.

Maybe writing on my experiences, when “overwhelmed,” sharing my previous and current challenges with others allows me a solution. Just sharing details of what I am doing helps me mentally on a Protective Diet. I know I am not the only one who has struggled. We all have at some point and time. Even Julie, as amazing as she looks and feels now has struggled.

In conjunction with watching Class #200 today, I am challenging myself to “Stop the Snacks!” One step I have already taken, as been attempting to drink more water daily. The past few weeks I start the morning with 32 ounces of water on the way to work. Once I am at my desk, I easily drink 4-6 cups of tea in a 2-hour period. I will revisit this challenge in 2 weeks as I near the end of January to see where I am.

PD – Day 11, 12 & 13

A Protective Diet, like life takes some planning. It is that key element that I am currently failing on. The first week was nothing short of amazing, but I have noticed once I fall behind, I struggle to catch up. While I would like to commit to a SUS, responsibilities around the house usually do not allow me hours upon hours to prep for the upcoming week. In a perfect world, it works, however perfect I am not, but continuing to walk the straight and narrow as I look to reacquire my health.

I started a meal planning Excel spreadsheet, which has assisted in planning out the week and what recipes I will make and what foods I will eat for each meal. Unfortunately, when it goes without an update, it’s back to square one to prep and start again. While I had planned week 2, I was unable to follow through with all the recipes, skipping dinner one night and falling back on a meal I made previously.

As I look forward to week 3, I will need to put more effort into the meal planning in order to make this journey successful. As it stands right now, I have one meal I cooked last night, which will last for 2 days, beyond that. Nothing.

It seems to be a constant struggle if nothing is cooked or available, ready to eat. That goes back to SUS and having prepared food for the upcoming week. Consider it a deficiency I need to improve on, if I want to be successful. However, I was successful before this video even came out. Maybe it’s just being lazy and not putting in an hour or two to prep some PD foods for the coming week. It was great to do a chipotle lime and pinto beans for my son, which I too, could partake. What made it even better was the fact I already had taco sauce and ultimate cheese sauce done and ready to go!

Just little steps help tremendously when it comes to following a PD lifestyle. That is the point of what Julie preaches. Make it easy and success will come. Right now, I appear to be tussling with success and I am attempting to make things more difficult on myself moving forward into week 3.

With one meal already cooked, I will work on putting together 2 weeks of meals, along with a shopping list in order to prepare for the upcoming meals I would like to prepare. All is not lost, I still feel better than I did last month, weight is slowly dropping. If I had food prepared I do think things would be accelerated. Since they are not, we will have to take things a day at a time and get the meals planned and prepped in order to be successful

PD – Day 10

This week hasn’t gone according to plan in the kitchen, which has been a bit frustrating,  as my menu planning hasn’t quite happened. Monday was cut short due to a doctor’s appointment with my wife, while Wednesday was spent at the pharmacy arguing with the insurance company over an approval for one of her back medicines. This was followed by scouting, which left me no time to put together my Sloppy Jerrys or Hoppin’ John.

Tonight! Tonight! Tonight! *queue Phil Collins* “I am going to make it right” by cooking up the Hoppin’ John with cornbread. Over the last 10 days, if there has been a weak spot, it’s putting in the necessary time to get the cooking done. While the weekend is set aside for SUS, I don’t really cook much on my days off. Maybe I should, given I have the entire day, but usually end up working around the house and after 8 hours, cooking is sometimes the last thing on my mind. Guess that’s a GREAT time for a one-pot meal, huh?

Yet today’s piece isn’t on food or where I stand on the journey just began. Julie had an interesting response to Dorothy’s comment on the PDL group on Facebook.

…one thing I’ve noticed is expectations are what we experience. Our minds are powerful and what we expect becomes our experience. Stephen Toumi has done this successfully once and knows it produces dramatic fast results. He expects them and there they are. We must all visualize and expect results while we take action to achieve

The mind is a very powerful tool when it comes to your success, not only on a Protective Diet but whatever you decide to do. While I never gave up eating a plant based diet, I did fall away from principles Julie taught, which had negative results in my life. There was weight gain, bloated feeling, aches and pains returned. At age 48, I don’t want any of those in my otherwise, healthy life. Experiencing the health I had, I want to regain control and continue to put into practice the principles she teaches.

Everything I had worked for over the course of 10 months was undone because I lost the mindset and started making exceptions. “Oh just this once.” “Just a little bit won’t hurt me.” Even friends and family would hop on this, “go ahead and try a bite.” With the cards stacked against me, it was the experience I had when I started this journey. Looking in the mirror and seeing the physical changes were a powerful thing. Wearing clothes that actually fit; jeans not too tight, shirts that actually hang properly. The new found energy I had, the positive mindset of knowing whatever I challenged I was going to end up victorious!

This was the same powerful mindset I had when I attempted my first 50 mile ultra marathon. With no training runs over 20 miles and just a 50k (31.1 miles) under my belt I made the decision (with my running partner) to attempt this race. From the first gun to the final cow bell, I knew I had this race won. For me, finishing is winning. While I like to consider myself competitive in my younger days, it’s now about having fun. I knew going into the race I wasn’t going to win or even come in hear the top of the pack, but it didn’t matter. Thus my motto for these longer races was “finishing is winning.”

The mindset early on was strong, as I kept positive thoughts, yet went through a whirlwind of emotions at different points of the race. I recall talking to my wife briefly, as she was at Disneyland and it was all I could to do, to hold back tears when talking to her. Her voice was a much needed motivation that came at the right time.

Approaching the final timed aid station, my running partner said he was quitting, as he’d been running on a twisted ankle for 20 miles and could not go on. I succumbed to the fact I would quit, in support of him. However, the combination of his words, telling me to go on, coupled with a feeling I will never forget as I rolled into the aid station.

I saw another runner I am friends with on Facebook, who’s local to my area. He’s a very positive guy with lots of energy, who appears to have lots of love for the running community in general. This was the first time I met him in person, but his smile, comforting hug and words of encouragement reinforced the mindset I started the race with 11 hours earlier. “I CAN DO THIS!” With just seconds to get over the timing pad, I was off for the last 2.5 hours of my race.

The mind is a powerful thing and the feeling I had as I achieved my health goals were nothing short of amazing. Just like hearing the cheers and my name as I crossed the finish line in my race. I find I fall back on these experiences more often than I think, when it comes to a Protective Diet, as well as running. As my running partner says regularly, “You got this!” You know what? I do have this. The past experiences play a major role for me going forward. While it’s only been 10 days, it’s been 7 years of living a plant based lifestyle. I can’t stress enough the amazing results I have achieved in that time.

While no results are immediate, each day builds upon the previous day and before you know it 30 days will be up and the results could astound you. They did me the first time around. At the end of 10 months, with little exercise and following the principles set forth the results were something I never thought I would experience. A picture is worth a thousand words. I think that sums it up.

(L) Before in 2009. (R) After taken 2014.

 

 

PD – Day 8

Growing up in Southern California, it wasn’t difficult to find good Mexican food, nearly every corner had a taco shop. Being minutes away from the San Ysidro border crossing, authentic was a car ride away. Growing up my mom was an amazing cook! Maybe it’s where I gained some of my culinary talents in the kitchen. While Mexican was a popular cuisine, Indian cooking was a virtual unknown in our household. It wasn’t until I moved out, grew up that I first experienced Japanese curry, but quickly moved for the Indian variety. In fact, I experience some of the best tasting Indian curry, down under in Australia, when I visited some years back.

Since that time, I have been fond of flavors out of India; cumin, tumeric, garam masala, coriander, ginger, cinnamon, mustard seed and cloves just to name a few. Now that I have my own kitchen, curry seems to be a regular dish in my repertoire, as I am always looking out for new and different recipes to try.

It’s quite easy to find vegan Indian cuisine, unfortunately many of these dishes are loaded with oil when cooked. There’s a local establishment that has some great food, while all  vegan I know I should have made a wiser decision and cooked my own. It’s one of those meals you bring home and the containers are laced with oil, but the favors are incredible.

Looking deeper for vegan recipes from India, the oil can be omitted in nearly every case. Last night I made the Protective Diet Tikka Masala. Oil free, plant based, this was one of the best dishes I have made! It was coupled with Indian Style Basmati Rice I found off All Recipes. I failed to use the PD Indian Spice Rice recipe, as I missed it when I was reading the instructions. Then again, failing to read Julie’s recipes ALL THE WAY THROUGH, seems to be a common theme with me. Funny because it’s usually the FIRST instruction she has when you start the recipe.

Last October I had two weekend long outings with the Boy Scouts of America. It was leadership training for adults, where were broken into groups of 5-6. Along with camping, we were told to cook our own meals during the second weekend. In our group we had a leader named, Praveen. As luck would have it, he was from southern India, vegan and asked if he could do all the cooking. While we pooled our thoughts for meals we could cook, he came up with some excellent Indian food.

While I had heard of Chana Masala (Indian chick pea dish), I had never cooked it but Prvaeen sold us the mean by another name, Chole. This was our main course for dinner the second night. This dish is created several ways depending on the time and richness you desire. He pointed me to this video by Vahchef as a guide.

 

While canned chickpeas and premixed garam masala can be used, the flavors are enhanced when can soak dried chickpeas and use individual spices to create your personal garam masala. Soaking the chickpeas you are able to control of hardness of the garbonzo, but usually overnight is adequate. Garam masala is a mixture of cardamom, cumin, clove, bay leaves and mace. This spice can be found in any Indian grocery, but also at nearly any market you shop in the spice section.

Accompanying our meal was a dish called upma. “Originally from South India, is a hot favorite breakfast food! Made with semolina and slightly spiced to make a tasty dish that can be eaten for breakfast, brunch or as a snack,” as described by Sanjay Thumma. The word translated;  “up” means “soft” and “ma” means “flat.”

 

The basic upma recipe as cooked by Vahchef:

Ingredients
1 tbsp channa dal
1 slice chopped ginger
1 small chopped onion
1 tsp cumin
8 leaf curry leaves
2 piece gr chillies
1 pinch hing
1/2 tsp mustard seeds
1 tbsp oil or butter
2 tbsp peanuts
1 pinch salt
1 cup sooji/semolina/rava
1 tsp urad wash

Directions
Add oil in a heavy pan ,add mustard seeds,cumin and add channadal ,peanutsand saute till they are cooked add urad wash, add chopped ginger,chillies curry leaves hing add salt and water bring it to boil add semolina/sooji slowly stirring continously so to avoid lumps mix well when all moisture is absorbed cover for 5 min and serve hot with chutney ,pickle ,sambhar and kids love to eat with some sugar (text from the You Tube video).

This recipe can easily be modified for a Protective Diet by removing the oil and the peanuts. In fact, when Praveen made it, there was no peanuts used, but he did use oil to heat the spices before the actual cooking started. However, it was the whole spices that really brought out a full, deep flavor in the upma.

One ingredient I had never cooked with, curry leaves. As I continued to search for more Indian recipes, I realized I had never seen curry leaves for sale at any market I go to, including the Middle Eastern markets I frequent. As luck would have it, a co-worker, who is Indian has a few curry trees growing in his yard and cut some branches for me. Fresh curry leaves are easily stored in a Ziplock bad, folded between newspaper in order to keep moisture off the leaves. Done properly, curry leaves could last up to 4 weeks in the refrigerator.