PD – Day 3

It’s like riding a bicycle in some regard. I’m beginning to think it was nothing more than a lazy approach to maintaining a healthy lifestyle. On Julie’s Facebook recommendation, I viewed Class #181 – Keep It Out & Keep It Off. This class was a reminder as to how and why you got to where you are (or were, in my case). For me, seeing my before/after image on my PD Testimonal speaks volumes to me. In fact, it’s shouting at me as I reestablish myself, behind the values of living a Protective Diet lifestyle.

Like Julie and many others who have had success, I’ve had those moments where I try an old pair of clothes on and realize they are much to large for me any longer. The image of Julie standing in her size 22 pants is that reassurance that this healthy lifestyle is the key to success. While Julie holds the pants up, this is the realization of where I currently am. “Wow wee Julie, what a great visual,” exclaims Jerry! As she drops each pair pants and reveals her current healthy body. That is me! That is where I was and where I want to get back to.

That feeling of success was second to none, the only comparison I can draw from, comes from ultra running. The moment I crossed the finish line of my first 50k trail race, I experienced a “runner’s high” or “a feeling of euphoria coupled with reduced anxiety and a lessened ability to feel pain.” It was absolutely amazing to see and feel what I just accomplished and wanted to take my ultra running further, going longer distances. This is the same thing I want to do with my heath. I want to look good and feel good, full of energy to burn.

In my mind I have experienced success, but where did I go wrong? What caused my slow downhill slide over the course of a year or so to put me back to near where I started back in 2011? I believe it can be summed in with the term, “mindful eating.” Julie has discussed eating until full, this is where I have been failing. They talk about “too much of a good thing.” There are many cases where I have cooked a meal, only to see myself eating the whole damn thing. That satiated feeling gone, replaced by gluttony and lethargy.

This sort of eating saw me eat my way right back to where I was before making a change in my lifestyle, removing foods like meat and dairy, followed the oils and sugars. Time and time again, I would make an exception, “well just this one time.” Unfortunately that exception suddenly became the norm and I found myself losing control, slipping further away from optimal health.

Just three days in, I can already feel the difference in my eating habits. Work has been a big pitfall due to all the restaurants in Chinatown that cook amazing dishes, however very few fall into how we eat when following a Protective Diet. In the office, it’s a never ending cycle of sweet, sugary treats and the nonstop flow of coffee. Thankfully, I have been able to stick to the vegan basics; no meat and dairy. However, the oils and sugar, the “flavoring” of many addictive foods got a stranglehold on my eating habits. It was a long, dark decent back to a place where I swore I would never return to.

Like Julie and so many others, read all the testimonals, I know this lifestyle works! I have been one of those success stories, from the weight loss, to increased energy to great blood work numbers. Everything I did centered around achieving and maintaining my health. That is where I plan on returning to. Gone, but not forgotten are the daily runs I used to go on. Last year, I missed out on my 50 mile race I have completed the last 2 years. Plans were in the works to attempt my first 100 mile run, but seeing myself as I do know, that won’t be possible this year. Optimal health has been replaced with a lack of energy, a body I am not happy with, pants and shirts that don’t fit like they should. Pains have crept into my daily life. None of these things were present when I achieved my optimal health.

Approaching meals the past few days with the notion of “mindful eating” as the cornerstone to a Protective Diet lifestyle. It serves as a reminder reminder to eat until satiated. It’s a simple principle, but one I had failed to practice in order to maintain a healthy lifestyle.

Let Food be Thy Medicine

With all the fantasy football content moved, my time spent on T6F has been minimal over the course of the last month. That was to be expected, as this time of year its the fantasy game that dominates my free time. However, change is on the horizon as we look towards the new year. Why this time of year, it seems January is always a nice time to start something new or recommit to something lost.

I took the opportunity to look at myself with a critical eye recently and didn’t like what I saw. This isn’t the first time I have done so, but in the past taken steps to remedy the problem. This time around I find the position similar, but the outcome will hinge on my decisions.

As I saved on Facebook with the Protective Diet Living Group, a closed group of like-minded individuals who follow the plant based lifestyle as put forth by Julie and Jerry Christensen. Both individuals are great people, who moved from the mid west to settle in my hometown of, San Diego. With their active, healthy lifestyle they define San Diego and could honestly be mistaken for California natives.

I’ve known Julie, by way of her Plant Purity website, the precursor to Protective Diet for nearly 7 years. In that time, we have never met face to face, nor that of Jerry but they have remained a driving force on living a healthy lifestyle, more so then Dr. John McDougall, who’s starch solution I followed when I changed my eating habits 7 years ago.

Here’s what I shared with the Facebook group.

It’s the end of the year and time to look back on what has been accomplished (or not). Unfortunately, I have been occupied with my employee shortages at work, working on better my relationship at home and volunteering at school and scouting, which left me with little time for myself. This doesn’t include all those things we, as adult have responsibility for.

I have also struggled for well over a year, while I haven’t completely fell off the PD bicycle, I haven’t been compliaint, but still maintain and animal-free diet. The best health I have ever had came from following what Julie and Jerry promote. It was an amazing feeling, but one I have lost and look to regain.

Excuses are easy to make, but getting re-started is more difficult. Thankfully I remember just how much I missed the PD lifestyle putting together a Christmas dinner for the family, which included green bean casserole and mashed potatoes from the PD site. So good. So filling! Satiated was the first word that came to mind.

However, my eating habits have really been off course, as the running and the thought or doing any physical activity. It’s been a slow, downhill slide that continually has me saying, “I’m still healthy” as weight is put on, pains more noticeable and energy is further drained.

At 48 years old, it’s a different body I had when I started down the plant based road, but never do I feel it’s too late. It’s just time to recommit to what I know is true in order to better my body, my health, my sanity and the overall feeling I once felt.

While I would like to consider Christmas dinner “the start” the holidays are always a challenging time of year. You know what I am talking about. Hopefully I can reclaim my healthy and happiness. I know for a fact this is a great group of people who have seen and felt the benefits. Others who have started and stopped, only to start again. It doesn’t matter. Time to make that commitment to change. Hopefully you all can help push me in the right direction with support to get healthy back in my control.

This testimony is similar to what I wrote when I began “McDougalling” in 2011. Right now, I am not happy with myself and it’s food, not necessarily the PD variety that I turn to in times of anguish. However, making a commitment to myself, to a program that is proven is the best way to start.

I have been very impressed with my wife and her drive and desire to look her best and she’s been inspiring to me following Jenny Craig in hopes of dropping that last bit of weight. She’s back down to her wait the day we got married and looking incredible! She deserves a husband who looks and feels great!

As of last night, I took the first step, getting on the scale that tipped at 208.4 pounds. By far, my heaviest in the last 7 years. Maybe it’s a vicious cycle, but realistically, it was more failure to keep my commitment to myself, my wife and son to maintain “perfect” health in order to be around for them as long as possible.

I do have an order for a blood test, that I have been holding on to since I had a physical some 4 months ago. I guess I am hesitant to go, out of fear for my blood work numbers.

Remember the first step to take is always the hardest.

Las Vegas Eating Adventure

Eating healthy in Las VegasLast weekend was our weekend mecca to Las Vegas for fantasy football. It’s not typical that a fantasy football draft turns into a full weekend, but our group makes it more than just a draft. That is to be expected with friends of 25+ years getting together, many who haven’t seen each other since last August. This year was different for me, I would be headed to Las Vegas and faced with an eating adventure. Since changing my diet last October I have been plant strong for over 10 months now, consuming fish only on the rare occasion. This weekend in Las Vegas was to be biggest challenge since changing my diet.

With the exception of one friend, no one knew I had changed my lifestyle, making the decision to stop eating meat, dairy and oil. It shouldn’t matter what I choose to eat and thankfully there was a bit of ribbing from my buddies, but that was to be expected. All of them accepted my changes and some even asked questions. I took being called “skinny Minny” as a complement. I was faced with decisions on what to eat. I knew it wouldn’t be easy, but I made the best decisions I could and didn’t worry about.

Thankfully I have improved my health the past 10 months and was already at my weight goal. While this might not be a big deal, I didn’t really worry about how much or what I ate and alcohol consumed. The only meal that had me worried was dinner on Friday night. As our tradition has it, we eat at The N9NE Steakhouse located in The Palms Hotel. The past years I have let loose my carnivore instincts and ate steak, much like my friends. This year after perusing the menu before heading to Las Vegas I was hoping to order vegetables and a baked potato.

Let’s start with Friday morning, as a habit before leaving the house I had a bowl of Nutty Nuggets (Grape Nuts) with almond milk. I was going to be the first to arrive in Las Vegas and I figured I would not have many options while waiting in the airport. I was hungry some 4 hours later while waiting for my friends to arrive. I settled on a Naked Blue Machine and roasted peanuts, which I planned on being a snack, but ended up being lunch. Someone from McDougall Friends (Facebook group) suggested a potato from the Wendy’s in the airport but looking at their menu I did not see it available.

Once we got checked in to the hotel it was off the bar at the pool area. While I have been very good the past 2 months on consuming alcohol, I knew this weekend would be two steps backwards, but I was willing to accept this. Actually standing at the bar I consumed 3 beers in about 3 hours. Unfortunately I was still hungry and waiting to get a menu, but decided to hold out until dinner.

Dinner was the highlight of the trip, as it usually is. Good friends, good food and good conversation. While every one was considering their order I was sizing up the menu again for what I would order. While not completely “on plan” I decided to start with an assorted sashimi platter. I considered a salad, but realized I would be picking more stuff out of the salad that I would be eating, so I decided against a salad. Soup was another option, but their choices all contained out. So it was either no appetizer or the sashimi platter, which I started with.

The dinner order was actually easy. I told the waiter I didn’t eat meat, dairy and oil and said in his English accent, “No problem mate, we’ll do you a platter of assorted vegetables.” Excellent! I also ordered a plain baked potato and a side of steak sauce. When the veggies arrived it was zucchini, red and green peppers and portabello mushroom, all of which looked as if they had been grilled. Never having a portabello before I was amazed at the meaty texture and the flavor, which was drizzled with a balsamic reduction sauce. Prior to the dinner I had ordered a scotch and water and order two more with dinner. I decided to pass on dessert.

After dinner I found myself satiated and ready to spend the next few hours (now 1000pm) gambling and hanging out with friends. After a few hours of gambling, I found myself getting hungry again. By this time I was done gambling and decided to head to my room. It wasn’t long before I was headed back down to the Mr Lucky’s, 24 hour cafe to order something “light” before bed. I ended up ordering a Thai Tuna Salad. Instead of turning to something fried chose the best option I could based on the menu options. Again, it was fish with fresh mango, cashews, edamame, red pepper, cilantro and I was able to get the mint-lime vinaigrette, on the side.

The following morning I went back down to Mr. Lucky’s to watch early morning soccer from England and have breakfast. This was an easy decision ordering the Steel Cut Oats (served with carmel apple compote, raisins, candied pecans and cinnamon sugar, all on the side) and a mixed berry bowl (with the vanilla bean cream on the side). I was beginning to feel like Meg Ryan with my ordering and everything “on the side.” This was a very good start to the day, as I held off using the cinnamon sugar and limited pecans. Instead I opted to add the mixed berries (blueberry, raspberry and strawberry) to my oats.

Saturday was probably the day I made the worst decisions, but still I tried to eat as good as possible, but it wasn’t realistic. The late morning started out with all sorts of problems as we tried to get our Internet connection online to start our fantasy football draft. After 90 minutes and much swearing, we had resolved the problem, not the best solution, but one that worked. By that time I was hungry and decide to get a Tuna Wrap. There were no vegetarian sandwiches or salads to order. We had ordered a plate of fruit, but that only tied me over for a short period. I would end up ordering another Tuna Wrap later in the day.

After the draft, just hanging out talking about our teams I decided to order the hummus plate, which came with pita bread and vegetables. Oil-free, the hummus was not, but I consumed it anyway. It wouldn’t be the food that did me in on Saturday but the alcohol. I didn’t have any beer, but had three Long Island Iced Teas through out the day. By the time these were in me many of these were water down. It wasn’t long after that I started in on the Johnnie Walker Blue.

I wouldn’t make it dinner that night, as I came up to my room, started to do some work on my laptop and decided to lay down. I recall getting a call from my roommate for the weekend that they were waiting for me for dinner (Nobu, the sushi bar). He even came up, saw me crashed on the bed and didn’t bother me. I ended up having no dinner Saturday night, followed by no breakfast at McCarren Airport in Las Vegas at 6am.

Little did I know I would be flying to San Diego and then onto San Francisco, with a 60 minute delay. While laying over in San Diego, I bought a Naked Green Machine. It wouldn’t be until I got home, about 2pm that I would break into the refrigerator and get back to good, healthy eating.

Looking back it was truly an eating adventure. While the decisions weren’t perfect, I did the best I could with what I had. Never leaving the hotel limited my choices on what I could eat. I probably ate too much fish this weekend, much like drinking too much alcohol. This was one of those “treat” weekends and in only resulted in a 2.3 pound gain over the course of 3 days. Now that I am home and have had a few days I am back on my program like I never left. Potatoes, grains and leafy greens have been on the menu all week long. While the Vegas trip was enjoyable, thanks in part to my friends I do believe I could have made it a “healthier” eating adventure if I would have remember to bring some foods with me. Thankfully this adventure happens only once a year.

Lifestyle Changes

This is not a diet, this is how I eat.I’ll admit I have had very little support in deciding to change my lifestyle, beginning with my eating habits. Support is a cornerstone when it comes to making positive lifestyle changes. To say the results I have experienced are anything short of extraordinary would be an understatement. I ate a very unhealthy diet and working in a stagnate job, eating lots of fried and unhealthy food it was only a matter of time before it caught up and took a toll on my body.

While my wife initially called this changing in diet a “kick” she is proud of the accomplishments I have made in just 9 months. Nine months to see a positive change in how I feel with more energy, in how I look since shedding 42 pounds of excess weight and improvement in my lipid panels (blood tests), reducing my total cholesterol by 88 points (to date).

I have drawn support from many who have come before me using Dr. McDougall’s wisdom and program to achieve success. His Star McDougallers are just a small percentage of people who have made radical changes in their life for the better. Many of these individuals were more sickly than I was when they started, but to hear their stories and see the positive changes only reinforces that the decisions I have made for my health are the right ones.

I read many comments on the McDougall Discussion Board from people who can’t do this program or are going at it alone, with a spouse dead set on not giving up a diet laden with meat, dairy and oils.  Best thing to remember you aren’t alone, the discussion board is a GREAT place to communicate with others, some who have been through a similar situation. Educating yourself on this lifestyle takes time. I didn’t jump in with both feet initially, as I wanted to read more about Dr. McDougall, what he stood for and why I was not healthy or losing weight when eating an industrialized and processed diet.

Many look at me as unique because of my dietary requirements, I now believe this way of eating is normal and wouldn’t consider going back to eating meat, dairy and oils in my diet.  The opportunity to cheat is always present and for some it could be very difficult to pass up that chance telling yourself, “oh just this once, it won’t hurt me.” You then suddenly find yourself making excuses to sneak more unhealthy food and suddenly you are not seeing progress in yourself.

A discussion board regular, Pinkrose has “identified some of the major causes of failure and success related to McDougalling, especially weight management” in a thread titled, Why Fail? He breaks it down into three simple reasons:

1. People remember their history of eating!

2. Some are overly concerned about what others think of their food choices.

3. Some underestimate their ability to adapt to changes.

If you asked me this time last year, I never would have imagined I would be where I am today with my health. I have achieved my weight goal of 175 pounds and continue to work on improving my cholesterol numbers. I still remember what I was eating this time last year. Meats, dairy and oils were a regular part of my diet, it was also not suggested by my family physician to cuts any of these out, even though I had high cholesterol and was placed on medication.

One of my biggest concerns, what others would think. It was frustrating at times, confrontational at others when I attempted to justify this lifestyle. It got to a point where I didn’t care what anyone thought of my lifestyle change, because it was mine and would only benefit me. Many still feel they are registered nutritionist when I bring up my plant based diet, telling em what I need to consume in order to be healthy. I usually listen, with a nod of my head and then move on. Not sure why my way of eating is suddenly the hot topic in the office, when in reality it’s me who is concerned for the health of my co-workers.

Change. People usually hate change. Some don’t believe they can achieve it, while others procrastinate. This way of eating didn’t come easy, but I made progress each day. As I mentioned, I didn’t jump in with both feet, I sort of waded into the waters cautiously. Once I started learning more I gained a confidence that I could achieve results that would end up making me healthier and happier. I had some vices, still do. Along the way I might have slipped occasionally, but I continued make an effort and I saw the changes taking place. No longer did my fat pants fits (size 36), my belt is now on it’s last loop. Shirts that were too small for me, now fit and hang normally. No longer and I self conscience when I take my shirt off in public. At 42 I feel very good about myself. This change has taken time and I have made an effort at goals I felt I could achieve, but required some work.

Knowing what I do now, feeling and seeing the changes I would love to share the success I have had with others. Many start with the excuses as to why they can’t achieve what I have.  More importantly being able to share my experiences and read stories about other like minded individuals have helped me get to where I am today. I am very thankful that I found a solution that fits my lifestyle. A solution that will allow me to eat many wonderful foods without having to count calories or weigh myself to make sure I meet a goal. Don’t underestimate the support you can find online to help you achieve your health goals.

Fuel Your Desire

While my outlook and opinion on food has changed, thanks in part to Dr. McDougall, it has not been an easy journey convincing people to “think different” when it comes to what they eat. I swear by a plant-based, whole food diet thanks to the changes I have seen and experienced in just over 6 months. I feel better than I ever have and looking at myself in the mirror I am more and more pleased everyday knowing the decision I made was the right one. Can you fuel your desire by eating differently?

Now I am working on an idea to share this way of eating with a group of people who are very competitive in the hobby of amateur radio contesting or radiosport. Not sure it will be all that successful, but why would you sacrifice that edge by filling yourself with crappy food over the course of a 48 hour contest?

It comes as no real surprise that many amateur radio operators (or hams) are not the healthiest bunch; struggling with weight, diabetes, heart attacks, strokes. Generalizing the group, many are older, some not in the best of health. So it would only stand to reason that else individuals who make a 36 or 48 hour commitment in a radio contest using the best equipment and sometimes the best antennas would compromise themselves when it comes to what they eat during the contest.

As a youth I can remember my the smell of coffee, donuts, candy and many other sugary snacks that were in my dad’s ham shack during a contest weekend. These days, not much as changed as hams turn to that quick energy to get them through a challenging period. What if they had the opportunity to eat better and not suffer coming down from a sugar or caffeine high?

The food would have to be something that allowed operators to feel satiated, but also something quick that doesn’t require much time to eat. It would need to be food that could be pre-made and  warmed up within minutes. There must be better food to fuel the body when you are dedicated to a long contest. Then again, maybe it’s somewhat of a pipe dream, being able to share my food ideas in this hobby. Maybe it’s not worth the effort, but the logic makes sense. Fuel your body with good, healthy food and you should be able to excel in your endeavors.