Friday, May 27, 2016

Progress Report and Holiday Plans

As we celebrate Day 10 of our 30-Day Vegan Challenge (which, incidentally, I highly recommend if you are considering adopting a vegan or even vegetarian lifestyle), and as I celebrate my own personal decision to become a vegetarian on April 6, I'm ecstatic to be able to share with you my progress so far.

On December 2015, at age 55, I had a routine physical.  I weighed in at 208.3 pounds.  My total cholesterol was 213 and, LDL was 165.  Physical issues at the time included acid reflux daily, joint pain in my hands, frequent headaches, and detection of a polyp, which resulted in further testing and thankfully, a benign diagnosis. Instructions of my medical provider were to reduce my caffeine and alcohol intake, stay away from other acid triggers, lose 20 pounds, and take two Zantac daily. Realizing that careless eating and a lackadaisical approach to exercise had brought me to this point, I decided to make some changes.  Here is a snapshot of my progress.
  • January 1 -- weight: 203.5 lbs. 
  • March 1 -- weight: 198.5 lbs.
  • April 3 -- I returned from vacation weighing 202 lbs..  One of my goals during vacation was to eat favorite foods I haven't found since moving to Virginia:  Memphis BBQ, southern-fried catfish, Gibson's Donuts -- you get the picture.  Mission accomplished, but at what cost?  
  • April 4-5 -- After watching the documentaries Vegucated and Food Inc., I began to seriously consider a lifestyle change.  Prior to going on vacation, Joy and I had already decided that upon our return we were going to begin eating more whole, and fewer processed, foods.  But after watching these documentaries on food production and the animal cruelty involved in producing the foods I've eaten and enjoyed my entire life, I began to weigh the effects of my dietary choices not only on my health, but also on our environment and the welfare of other living beings.
  • April 6 -- At 201 lbs., I decided to become a vegetarian, choosing to live without meat and to eat a whole foods, plant-based diet. (At that time, I decided to be an ovo-lacto vegetarian, consuming no meat, but consuming dairy and eggs.)
  • April 16 -- weight: 198 lbs.
  • April 18 -- Began Joy's 12-week program of eating "mostly vegan" (little or no dairy or eggs) coupled with targeted, regularly scheduled exercise  (see "The Gauntlet")
  • May 18 -- I joined Joy in taking the 30-Day Vegan Challenge.
  • May 25 -- Just one week into the 30-Day Vegan Challenge, I weighed 191.5.  TOTAL WEIGHT lost since my physical in December:  16.8 pounds!  Off all medications, including Zantac.  Seldom have headaches or reflux!  No joint pain!  Increased energy!
At the end of the 30-Day Vegan Challenge I will have more blood work done so I can see the effect this new lifestyle has had on my cholesterol levels.  By then I will have lost the 20 pounds recommended by the doctor -- weight that I won't regain because this is not a diet, but a lifestyle.

As we look forward to a long Memorial Day weekend, we are making plans for our first social and family gatherings -- two cookouts -- since adopting a vegetarian/vegan lifestyle.  Our contribution to these traditionally meat-centered meals will be foods we can eat and everyone can enjoy, such as fresh fruits and veggies, green beans seasoned without meat but loaded with lots of love, and vegan brownies.  We have made arrangements in advance to bring our own "meat" -- veggie burgers to throw on the grill in lieu of the steaks and beef burgers intended to be the main course.  For us the focus is not going to be food for once, but rather the sweet fellowship of family and friends.

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