Jul 042013
Image courtesy of Paul Downey via flickr

Image courtesy of Paul Downey via flickr

I’ve Seen Better Days Than This One
I’ve Seen Better Nights Than This One
Tension Is Rebuilding
Something’s Got To Give
Something’s Got To Give

– The Beastie Boys, “Something’s Got To Give”, Check Your Head

In the interest of avoiding repetition, I’m going to do my best to avoid spending much time on the “I’m going to really focus on putting content here” part of this blog post. The small handful of you that are still following this blog have heard it before, and it isn’t worth my time or yours to spend time on empty promises. We all know it’s going to come down to time, interest, and motivation. If I post, I post. Same goes for Rafe and Tessa.

Sure, that sounds kinda negative and defeatist, but it’s not. It’s just reality. We’re busy, we have active lives, and ShrinkGeek is a labor of love for us.

Obligatory apology/disclaimer done. Moving on.

My wife and I have been on a food movie kick recently. In the last week or so we’ve watched Fat, Sick, and Nearly Dead, Hungry For Change,Vegucated, and Forks over Knives. To say those movies were eye-opening would be an understatement. Not from an animal abuse standpoint at all, although I do realize that makes us sound kind of callous. We are not naive people, and we were both aware of the abuse that animals endure in order to be turned into food. It’s sad and unfortunate, but it’s never been enough to make us consider giving up animal products. Like John Travolta said in Pulp Fiction, “Bacon tastes GOOD.” Knowing about the horrible things that animals go through has never quite gotten us past that fact.

No, what really got us thinking, and talking, was the information we took in about the health benefits of a whole-food, plant based diet.

Now I’ve tried vegetarianism twice before in my life. Kinda. The first time was when I was living in Polk County in my early 20’s, when I went on my first major weight loss journey as an adult. I spent a year or so on Slim-Fast, and I cut red meat out of my life. I still ate poultry, fish, eggs, and dairy, but I tried to avoid the actual animal flesh part as often as I could. I lost a lot of weight, and had plenty of energy (which is good, because I was working full-time, going to school full-time, and involved in every theater production at my college due to a scholarship I was on). My second foray into the world of vegetarianism happened a few years ago, and while I had lost the weight I gained back after I stopped drinking Slim-Fast my meat-free experiment had nothing to do with weight loss that time around. I was diagnosed with gout in early 2011. I spent several months limping around while the medication they gave me took time to work its way through my system, which completely derailed the exercise routine I had at the time. Once the pain went away I could walk again, I decided that the best way to deal with my gout was to give up meat. Unfortunately, at the time, there were three meat eaters living in my house (and two of them were incredibly picky). The best I could do was attempt to replace meat products in our diet with meat substitutes, as moving to a plant-based diet was pretty much out of the question. As a result, I ate a whole lot of textured vegetable protein products, pastas, and starches. That diet didn’t help my gout, and my energy levels tanked. I never got back into my exercise routine, and I started to put on weight again. Then, in early 2012, my personal life kinda blew up in my face. I started smoking again, drinking more often, and eating pretty much whatever I wanted whenever I wanted. In the last year I’ve put on anywhere between 60 to 80 pounds, depending on where the scale is on any given day. I am tired all the time, and I constantly feel like I’m in a thick fog. I’m not sleeping well, and I’m hardly exercising. I’m up to 300mg a day of Allopurinol to control my gout, on top of the drugs I take for my acid reflux and roseacea. I’m so out of it that I failed a class earlier this year due to simply not being able to focus on the material at hand, and I’ve had to buy new clothes because hardly anything I was wearing a year ago fits properly today.

I am, for the most part, incredibly happy with my life. I am not, however, happy with my health. Something has to change, and it looks like that change is going to be giving up animal products completely.

Yeah, going Vegan.

Now, to be honest, I’m not completely sure at this point. My wife and I still have a great deal of soul-searching to do over this. Her goals and motivations are different than mine, but we’re committed to finding something that we can both live with. The thought of giving up cheese frankly makes me miserable, but when I consider the possible health benefits of a plant-based diet I can’t help but think it’s worth trying. I mean, if it doesn’t work a quick trip to the store sets us back on the cheesy, meaty path again. Right?

So our first step is going through a 3-Day juicing “Reboot”. We went out last weekend and bought a juicer, and we’ve experimented this week with a few of the juices from the plan. For the most part they’ve been pretty great (although this morning we discovered a juice that was…less than yummy). We’re going to spend the rest of today celebrating Independence Day with food and friends, but tomorrow we’re starting our three day fast. We may end up fasting longer than that, depending on how we feel at the end of the weekend, but we’ll make that call on Monday. In any case, it looks like we’re going to do our best to go to a whole-food, plant based diet once we start eating again.

My personal goals in all of this are pretty simple. I want to lose weight. I want my energy levels to come back. I want to reduce or eliminate the medications I’m taking. I want to be able to eat without having to obsess over calories (I realize that there is still a possibility that I won’t lose weight on a plant-based diet if I’m not tracking calories, but I’ll cross that bridge after I figure out whether or not I’m actually able to live with the diet in the first place). I want to reduce my chances of getting cancer.

Basically, I just want to feel good again. If replacing tasty animal products in my diet with tasty plant-based products gets me to that goal?

Totally worth it.

[Obviously, I’m inspired to write about my journey here on ShrinkGeek. Over the next three days in particular I’m going to keep a live blog of the three-day juice fast that my wife and I will be on. I hope it will be interesting, and it will also be a good record to submit to the authorities to explain what happened in the event that will kill each other in the process. The live blog posts should cross to the ShrinkGeek Twitter feed, so if you’re interested in timely updates make sure you’re following us over there.]

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  2 Responses to “On Veganism, Juicing, and Making A Change”

  1. To be honest, I’m kind of nervous. You KNOW I don’t do well without food and the only time I get headaches are when I don’t eat. So, yeah, this is making me a little twitchy. I think it’s going to be fun, though, in a twisted kind of way. I’m dying to know how we feel by Monday and if we’ll end up deciding to extend it. I promise to try not to kill you this weekend. 🙂

  2. If you do go vegan – or even want to just cut some meats from your diet, I can’t recommend the Appetite for Reduction cookbook enough. Every dish I’ve made has been awesome – but check out the chickpea piccata first, on some caulipots. 🙂

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