Diver Down, Protective Diet Up

When Halloween 2021 rolls around, I will have been following a plant based lifestyle for 10 years. Huge step in my life making this transition from a diet that included meat and cheese, lots of fats and sugars. That first recipe from Julie, on her Plant Purity website I made, before I even knew what “nooch” was her Cheezy Scalloped Potatoes. I’ve spoke of this experience many times over, but that began my journey alongside Julie and Jerry, eventually joining a Protective Diet.

I’ve promoted the amazing results I experienced in previous posts; weight loss, improved cholesterol, increased strength, more regularity and increased stamina. While some of those results have been diminished over the last few years, I continue to have the mindset that “I’ve got this!” Much like running those ultra marathons, having the knowledge and envisioning crossing the finishing line kept that drive to succeed high. This resulted in crossing the finish line three times (a 50k and two 50-mile races). Since then my interests have gone elsewhere and while I would still love to get out and run, now is not the time. A new hobby I did take up, scuba diving. This too can benefit from a protective diet!

Let me start by saying, neoprene wetsuits are the devil and very unflattering. They are hot, tight and honestly very uncomfortable (coming in at 7mm thick!), but are necessary for diving in cold water (52F) in places like the Monterey coastline. Two years ago, along with my friend Val we earned out PADI Open Water certification. This in part because his son was involved in Boy Scouts and wanted to earn the Scuba Merit Badge, listed as one of the five most difficult merit badges to earn.

In March 2019, we found a local dive shop, Pacific Ocean Sports in Concord, California, paid our tuition and picked up our study materials Over the course of two weekend pool sessions, we learned the basics of scuba diving from buoyancy and breathing to BCD and BWRAF or “big white rabbits are fluffy” an acronym use as a pre-dive check of your dive buddy. Since earning our certification Val and I have really taken to the sport. Val was previously certified and didn’t need to go through the full training as I did, never having breathed underwater in my life.

Looking back on the certification, it’s been one of the best things I’ve ever done and ranks up there with finishing a 50-mile race. While certification isn’t cheap ($600), little by I’ve added  the Advanced Open Water Diver and Rescue Diver to my resume, along with numerous specialties. While training costs money, so does gear but the first 10-12 dives were completed using rental gear, before I started to invest money in my own gear. Now, approaching 50 dives I’ve got a complete line of scuba gear for different underwater environments, while the initial invest is great, we are reducing our cost each time we spend a day or week in Monterey Bay.

With May on the horizon, we will set out for Morehead, North Carolina at the end of the month for three days of diving off the Carolina coastline. This area is known as the “Graveyard of the Atlantic” due to the number of shipwrecks up and down the east coast of the US. It’s a trip we are highly anticipating with the potential to dive on World War II wrecks including a German submarine (U-352) that was sank in 1942. This will be the first time diving on any wreck with the potential to penetrate some of those wreck if the conditions are right. Needless to say, I am excited to view my first wreck.

This will be just the second trip outside the confines of Monterey Bay. The only other time was one of our first dives after being certified and we headed south to Carmel and dove Whaler Cove in the Point Lobos State Natural Reserve. This was one of the worst dives to date due to poor conditions and visibility. None of what we expected to see was seen but it is an area I would love to back to now that I have gain experience.

Monterey Bay is one of the most recognizable areas and popular when it comes scuba certification. Every weekend we are down there, hundreds of divers appear, setting their kits up in preparation to learn the sport or enjoy what the underwater environment has to share. This along with countless seals, sea lions, otters and cormorants. On our night dives we’ve been fortunate enough to see octopus and crustaceans. The bay is also teeming with plant life from grass and kelp to brightly colored fauna growing on the reefs. The Metridium Fields is a beautiful reef about 200 yards off shore with white anemones that covers the reefs.


I don’t judge myself by age, but following a Protective Diet can help me heal my body, lose weight and make me feel amazing. Remember, I said those wetsuits were tight, even more so if you need to drop a few pounds. I’ve started my five month timer, looking at that 10 pounds a month, but won’t need any scale to tell me if I am successful. As many of you know, your clothes will feel loose or you might end up with “BPS” or Baggy Pants Syndrome. Along with the weight loss, this makes me more streamline in the water and hopefully help to regulate my breathing better in order to stay underwater longer.  Dives usually later 40-45 minutes (depending on depth), but my buddy always surfaces with considerably more gas than I do.

While we only scuba one or two days out of the month, we do attempt to maximize our day and 4-5 dives aren’t out of the question. However in a wetsuit with a 42 pound cylinder, a BC (or buoyancy compensator) and 24-26 pounds of weight and a 50-100 yard walk can  cause overexertion before I even get wet. Dropping a few pounds will definitely help my knees, shoulder and back when it to this aspect of diving in Monterey Bay. I relish to have those days where I board a boat, ride out to the dive site, suit up and step off the back in a warm water environment. Until that day comes, I will continue to enjoy the 52-55F degree water in the central coast.



Doesn’t Happen Overnight

Day 2 hanging out with Julie and Protective Diet education. To be honest I don’t believe I have joined any of her live, online sessions, but it’s never too late to start. Last night I kicked out her Mix & Mac recipe in my Instapot, which was so quick and easy. I added in about a pound of spinach and chopped fresh tomatoes to add flavor and color. It was absolutely fantastic! While I am well off the path I want to walk when it comes to my healthy living this was a perfect recipe to start with.

While it might sound odd, I’ve gone back and read what I wrote years ago when I decided to “go extreme” (my doctor’s words) and change my lifestyle to take control of my health. While nothing happens overnight, it’s been very challenging the last few years attempting to restart a lifestyle that doesn’t include sugar, oils, dairy and meat products. While dairy and meat haven’t been in my diet, but I’ll admit there have been more times than I want to admit I’ve used sugar and oil in my cooking knowing it was going to drop me deeper into that unhealthy hole I’d been struggling to get out of. The key for me, restarting (again!) is that first 30 days and commit to the simple changes using simple recipes. Believe me, the recipes I originally started with were so damn simple, even easier than what Julie provides for her free recipes. Many of the recipes, which you can read in my 12 Day Journal came from a Dr. McDougall book.

As I sit listening to Julie I am reminded of the work and effort I put in to run and finish two, 50 mile races called the American River 50. You can relive the 2016 adventure. Why do I bring this up? This race was more than than just 50 miles of grueling pain, it was a test of just how far I could push my body. A demonstration of just how far I had come in taking control of my health. How I kept going, I will never know but at some point after mile 29, I found myself alone. My running partner had dropped out due to heat exhaustion and our pacer fell back to get him to an aid station. From this point on, the race was a mental battlefield. Thankfully, nothing was going to keep me from that finish line and while I was struggling physically, as you can see in some of the images, I stayed mentally strong, knowing I had I time on my side and I would complete this race.

It is that sort of mindset I approach PD with, knowing “I’ve done it before and I damn well know, I can do it again.” It’s very motivating to see the physical accomplishments since changing to a plant based lifestyle. Running, strength, health and a clear mindset were all beneficial in my life. Now, I know I am not where I want to be, but rest assured, it’s like running past mile 29 in 2016. I need that strong mental state in order to complete this race. I do appreciate all the support I’ve received the past few days from the Protective Diet Lifestyle Group on Facebook. As I stated in there, “you are all rock stars!” Now let’s win that race!

PD – Day 1

Now that 2018 is here, it’s time to refocus my efforts on those factors in my life that saw me improve my healthy over 10 months starting October 30, 2011. Seems such a long time ago I resolved to take steps and live by the teachings of a plant based lifestyle. The results in just 2 months were amazing! The dedication to follow through was even more of an achievement, sticking to a predetermined plan while continuously learning to live a healthy lifestyle.

Today is like being reacquainted with an old friend you haven’t seen in a number of years. While a plant-based lifestyle is one that I have continued to follow, I started cutting corners and introducing foods into my lifestyle that didn’t benefit my health. It was a conscious decision, know there would be repercussions with my healthy. It’s no surprise that much of the success I experienced is just a memory. I look back on my PD Testimonial and I am a shadow of the person I became by following a Protective Diet. The image alone is words a thousand words.

I have no doubts in my mind I can reclaim control of life and make better decisions when it comes to foods that can help me achieve my goals. A Protective Diet is many things to many people. One thing is constant, the outpouring of support from the founders, Julie and Jerry Christensen, down to the newest member of the PD family (who follow a PD lifestyle), the encouragement to be successful!

My journey has come full circle, but is starting another chapter. Once I was the new member, full of questions, not really sure if this was going to work, but willing to take a chance to better my healthy. In 2013, when I achieved “maximum health” I was the example for others to follow. Now, I am back to the proverbial “starting point” but armed with a knowledge and know how when it comes to being successful.

Today is day 1 and my commitment to myself to improve, both physically and mentally the person I want to become. This goes hand in hand with my 2018 resolution that centers around the word, “selfless.” The words I write and keep help to point me in the right direction. While my approach is different than others, I feel tracking my food and exercise helps me visualize the change in the numbers, which are seen in front of the mirror. As I said 7 year ago, “We will see how this progresses, it’s just the start and hopefully the change will be apparent and I can “live to eat” instead of “eat to live.”

Vegan Flip Flop


Plants. Nature’s medicine.

Three years ago I made the conscious decision to no longer include meat, dairy and added oil in my diet. This has been one of the best decisions I have made in life, as it allowed me to regain control of my health, something I had never had prior to following a plant based lifestyle. Yet controversy seems to swirl around how I eat.

Last week as I sat eating my Jalepeno Corn Muffins (thanks to Julie) and drinking my morning tea I read an article from the UK Daily Mail, EIGHTY FOUR percent of vegetarians in America eventually go back to eating meat. This Humane Research Council studied sampled 11,000 individuals with varied diets. As it stands now, only 2% of Americans follow a vegetarian diet and 88% of the populous has never tried a vegan or vegetarian lifestyle. Even a smaller percentage will remove harmful ingredients such as oil, sugar and additives in their quest for health.

Of the 12% that have made the conscious shift to a plant based diet, “five out of six people return to being carnivores.” It was interesting to note “that half of vegetarians who went back to eating meat did it for their partners.” What better way to say “honey, I love you and will fill my diet full of meat, dairy and oil so I can see my health decrease and take a handful of pills in order to maintain health.”

Other “reasons” from the articles sounded more like weak-minded excuses. “I took a bite of my friend’s pizza, which happened to have bacon, and then the next morning we went to brunch, and I ordered more bacon because it was delicious.” Sure sodium and fried fat is like an explosion in your mouth, don’t mind what it will do to your health (yes, even in moderation). Others claimed they missed holidays, like Thanksgiving and Christmas, describing it as “a sad time.” The only thing SAD is the lifestyle led by eating these foods that promote obesity.

Being plant based isn’t a diet, it’s a lifestyle. You don’t do it “part time” to achieve your goals, only to go back to poor eating habits that put you in the predicament to begin with. I have no intentions of reversing what I have done the past 3 years of my life. This IS how I want to eat, it makes me happy, provides me great energy and allows me to build on this new found health. The desire to consume foods and ingredients I once cherished continue to be nothing more than a memory.

I don’t miss feeling terrible every day. I don’t miss the aches and pains, migraines and the handful of pills some attributed to “getting old.” I am stronger, healthier and achieving things I never thought imaginable. I owe it all to a plant strong lifestyle. So while the statistics will never favor how I eat, my personal experience tells me all I need to know. I won’t become one of those “5 out of 6” who return to making poor decisions when it comes to how I eat.

Put Down the Fork


People need to put down the fork and pay attention to what is happening to their health. Many won’t, continuing to eat an industrial, Western pattern or “standard American diet,” characterized by high intakes of red meat, sugary desserts, high-fat foods, and refined grains. It also typically contains high-fat dairy products, high-sugar drinks, and higher intakes of processed meat (source).

Your worst enemy, the fork. This utensil has lead to one-third (34.9% or 76.4 million) of U.S. adults being obese. “Obesity-related conditions include heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes and certain types of cancer, some of the leading causes of preventable death” (source). Yet with obesity numbers continuing to rise and the top 11 pharmaceutical companies seeing profits of $85 billion (in 2012), the message continues to be largely ignored.

Just over 3 years ago I was the poster boy for these “sad” choices in my diet. I failed to heed warning signs as my body was continually poisoned. Sickness and maladies plagued me, headaches were becoming a constant in daily life and my weight continued to increase. I was misguided to believe my pants and shirts, now ill fitting were getting smaller, as there were always bigger, comfortable, better fitting clothes to buy. That lifestyle changed overnight thanks to Forks Over Knives when I took control of my health

As we approach Thanksgiving, I have much to be thankful for. I have a beautiful wife, wonderful son, a great job, good friends and most importantly, my health. That’s similar to what some of my co-workers would say, with the except of controlling their health. As traditionally happens at the workplace, a potluck takes place and each employees provides a dish to share. This year, many wanted to pass on the early helping of turkey, stuffing and mashed potatoes and opted to do breakfast/brunch.

givethanksWhile sharing ideas I was taken back by the negativity, jokes and rude comments when offering plant based suggestions to share. The responses were not surprising, the entire office knows I follow a strict plant based lifestyle, which some believe is void of flavor and no fun. Through education, experience and challenging myself with plant based recipes nothing could be further from the truth. I use my wife is the measuring stick, if she eats the plant based recipes I cook and likes it others will too!

The reality of the situation, it no longer bothers me but one would think I was offering servings of poison by the reactions I receive every time we discuss food and toss out truly healthy alternatives. Why? Can’t people accept he fact they can be healthy AND happy? As Dr. John McDougall says, “People love to hear good news about their bad habits.” That is how many individuals have chosen to eat and many willingly accept the future consequences to their health. Give plants a chance and be thankful.