199 lbs!

November 30th was a great day. Aside from being the end of the month as we go full tilt into the “holiday season,” which in my opinion started the day after Halloween (thanks to mainstream media and retailers), my son, Zachary turned 6 years old. That was an important event in itself, but the 30th was also the end of my first month in which I changed my dietary habits.

The month concluded with a check of the scale telling me I weighed 199 pounds (dropped 16 lbs. since October 30). It’s been a few years since I had my weight dip under 200 pounds. This goes to reaffirm the decision of taking my health into my hands and changing how I eat. Gone are the meats (except fish), dairy products, oils and a decrease in sugar and salts. The results I see are all the proof I need. I know many will think these are “extreme” measures, but not once have I been hungry since changing my diet.

I really haven’t set a weight goal going forward when I decided to make changes. Based on what I had read weight lose was just one of the benefits of changing my diet. Now, more importantly will be the results of the blood test I hope to get done next week. The driving factor behind this “lifestyle change” was the elevated levels of my cholesterol (236 mg/dL in July, 2011). With any luck when the blood test is accomplished my hope is that I am under 200 mg/dL (fingers crossed).

The true test of how I feel and look will be when I am able to fit into new jeans that have been in my closet for a few years. Obviously my poor decisions on what I ate were the contributing factor. Gone are the days I eat out 4 days a week in Chinatown, Oakland. I had to give up those good, Singapore Noodles from Phnom Penh. The noodles I might consider on a “special occasion.” I have been happy with the sort of meals I have been creating, many from the discussion boards at drmcdougall.com, as well as other vegetarian sites.

I might even update the Recipe section of my site with some of the dishes and meals I have been cooking. Gone are some of my favorites, at least now as I making personal changes for better health.

McDougalling

Wow! I don’t want to end up like this guy! It’s been approximately 30 days since taking my health into my hands and making what some would call “drastic changes” in my culinary lifestyle. After watching numerous documentaries on food preparation and industrial process, the FDA and what was been termed “SAD” or the “Standard American Diet.” Like many I cook with oils and butter and include dairy and meat (various) in many meals I have prepared over my lifetime. But after watching these documentaries followed by further reading and research I have made the decision to change what and how I eat.

At work co-workers think I am crazy for cutting out things like dairy, meat (not including fish) and oils in my diet. At first glimpse, you too might think I am crazy for doing this. While I have not officially started my 12-day program as outlined by Dr. John McDougall in his book, The McDougall Program and outlined on his website, drmcdougall.com. Over the last 30 days I have made changes that will hopefully turn my health around. I have not had any meat (chicken, beef or pork), cut way back on dairy including milks and creams, eggs and cheese as well as tried not to cook with oils. Compare this to trying to kick any addiction cold turkey. Not always the easy thing to do, but by the end of December I should have been able to cut many of the above items completely out of my diet in preparation for my 12-day program.

Now I am not advocating or promoting anyone to follow my ways. My wife will loves her meat, which I will cook for her and I continue to cook things like chicken nuggets, corndogs  and frozen meals for my son. Both have sampled meals that I have made based on “whole plant diet.” Meals like bean burritos, lentil stew and last night, pea soup with three bean salad. These are just a few examples of some of the meals I have found that fit my culinary changes.

Some people feel I am going to the extreme by cutting out many foods they consider delicious. I am okay with that because it’s not their health I am concerned about, it’s mine. If a change in diet can result in weight loss, being healthier and being able to eat as much as I want, whenever I want then dang it I am all for it! I have noticed a considerable weight gain since starting my new job 5 years ago. What’s difficult, yet tasty are some of the restaurants we frequent…on a weekly basis! Even the tofu tacos I have started to eat I will probably give up since they are prepared in oil, fried and include numerous sauces that I can only guess do not fit the guidelines I want to follow.

I an debating consulting my doctor, who’s opinion I don’t really hold in high regard because his answer ALWAYS seems to be medication. Headaches, he prescribed medication. Tennis elbow a Cortisone injection. Elevated cholesterol, a Simvastatin. Bone spur on my left foot, an anti-inflammatory medication. Ever ailment ends up being a pill or injection that potentially could have some nasty side effects. What caught me off guard was going to a routine check up with my dentist and I could not remember all the medication I was prescribe. This got me thinking there has to be a better way to live a healthy life. I did not want to start bringing all my medication in a plastic baggy just so I could recall what the hell I am killing myself with. Enter Dr. McDougall.

So what I have experienced in the last 30 days? Most notably has been weight loss, as I have dropped approximately 10 pounds, down from 215 to 205 pounds without being hungry. I have noticed my migraine headaches have disappeared, experiencing only one a week ago. While I have never had an issue with bowel movements, they are different, feeling more relieved and healthier. What I can’t account for are the (positive?) changes witnessed in my blood work. I have yet to get a blood test done, as a follow up to being put on Simvastatin to make sure my liver isn’t failing (another side effect of the medication, nice huh?).

When I approach my doctor I am going to ask for him to provide paperwork for 3 blood tests to be taken on day 1, day 6 and day 12 to see the changes in Cholesterol level, Triglycerides and blood sugar. I would also like to the doctor to follow my blood pressure as I can monitor my weight lose at home. Along with the change in diet I would include more exercise, as little as 30 minutes a day, which will start out as walking while at work and when I get home. The most notable number I want to see decrease is the cholesterol, which based on Dr. McDougall’s patients at his clinic, average a 28 point drop in 12 days!

So while many might not be accepting of my dietary changes in what I have to give up the results will be in how I feel and look, both of which should be enough reason to look at how you eat and make whatever changes YOU feel are necessary to make you healthier. These days leading up to the start of my 12-day program have been rewarding. I am educating myself on “living to eat, not eating to live.” There is a wealth of information and research that has been done. I want to see myself reap those same sort of rewards for a better lifestyle.

The McDougall Plan

Maybe you caught the post at the end of October titled, ‘Live to Eat‘ where I mentioned the movie Forks Over Knives, Food Matters and Food, Inc. Some eye opening information contained in these three films that got me looking at the food I eat, what goes into it and why there is questionable regulation from the FDA. Much to my chagrin I too have been “eating to live” off the “standard American diet” or SAD. After looking at my diet, yes indeed it is sad, but that doesn’t even begin to describe just how bad it has been for 41 years.

Upon further research I ran across a book authored by Dr. John McDougall titled The McDougall Program. This book I found after reading up on his clinic he runs out of Napa in Northern California. While I don’t have the money to spend 2 weeks at his clinic, the $20 book provides a “Step-by-step guide for changing your diet and solving your health problems.” This has been the first step in changing my diet.

It’s been the last week of October that I had any turkey, chicken, pork or beef. I won’t give up fish as many varieties contain high amounts of omega 3 fatty acids, something the body does not produce. Plus it will allow me to share a wider varieties of meals with my wife, who hasn’t bought into the idea of a plant-base diet, but it’s of little concern to me right now. So far the book has presented a nice case study that I can relate with, as I have a number of health concerns I want to improve on or eliminate.

While I said purchasing the book was the first step, now that I am reading and digesting the information contained, I have slowly started to change how and what I eat. As mentioned I have given up meat with the exception of fish. I am working giving up on oils and butters to cook with, find alternatives when it comes to sauteing vegetables or adding to a recipe. I am also slowly giving up dairy products. Right now cheese is still a minor part of my diet, but it’s being used in moderation. Finally, sugar. Anything that is processed, it’s amazing to see just how many “healthy” products seem to have some sort of corn sugar derivative included.

Along the lines of Dr. McDougall’s plan, I have now made starch the main staple of my diet that includes, brown rice, quinoa, potatoes and beans. To the surprise of my wife the last two recipes I have made she has absolutely enjoyed eating, which included a Lentil Stew the other night with brown rice or a baked potato. All of these recipes can easily include chicken or turkey if she so desires.

I have seen some results already since modifying my eat habits. My weight has dropped from 213 to around 206 since October 30. That averages out to about 2.3 pounds a week, which is considered healthy. While weight loss wasn’t the top reason for making a change, it’s nice to know I am also working on getting back to a weight I feel better at (190 lbs).