This past spring I went in for a checkup. It had been awhile. At the time, I was continuing to struggle with my weight despite regular exercise (typically 5 days per week) and eating what I thought was an incredibly healthy diet. I was puzzled. I had tried several “sugar detoxes” and would eat approximately 1200-1500 calories per day but my weight wouldn’t budge. I did have a bit of a binge on cheese, nuts or chocolate once or twice every week. I was also having breast pain every day. Driving over bumps in my car hurt.
The pain is what led me to a plant-based diet. While I awaited the barrage of tests to determine if the pain was cancerous, I read up on The Gerson Therapy and Chris Wark’s success with a plant-based diet in fighting cancer. In light of my only full-blooded sister dying at the age of 37 the year before, I figured I would do what I could in the realm of diet to try to be anti-cancer.
At my checkup, I learned that my cholesterol was stupidly high. It’s always been high-ish. This was something else. It’s kind of like when the scale doesn’t move but you’re within 5 pounds of ideal and lifting weights, versus being obese and seeing it clearly in a photograph. Obese is obese and it is unhealthy. Stupidly high cholesterol is the same.
With that, I embarked on a mostly plant-based diet. I still had eggs, cheese, and some meat until the end of April. Something about seeing human flesh at the cadaver lab I attended for massage therapy school killed my desire for meat entirely. I did try fish three times after that. I continued to eat nuts (and I know no moderation with them) as well as add oils to my food until probably mid-June.
So here we are in mid-August. 3 months roughly since I’ve had meat. More like 2 months for dairy and eggs. I dropped 92 points in total cholesterol and 68 of those were LDL. My blood pressure and resting heart rate are picture perfect. My weight is down 15 pounds. My energy level is steady most days. My bowels are happy (hey, I’m a nurse, I like talking about bodily functions) and most nights my sleep is good.
I was worried what all these evil carbohydrates were doing to my long-term blood sugar control. After all, I’m the one who invested $1200 in Primal Health Coach Certification recently! I was The Paleo Girl. Carbs = baaaad. Don’t eat too much fruit! Pasta?! Rice?! I thought they were horrible for you! I tried to keep my carbs under 75 grams per day.
It. wasn’t. working. I was diligent. The model paleo spokesperson. Except I was chunky and tired. I couldn’t lose a pound. And my lipid profile was in agreement that it was not working.
So, this time I retested my hemoglobin A1C which is a blood test that gives a good sense of average blood sugars over the last few months. On March 29th is was normal at 4.9 with a calculated average glucose of 94. Mid-August after eating a daily carb intake around 80%….. drum roll please….. 4.7. Estimated average 88. I feel like I’ve been wrong this whole time. Starches keep me full. Fruits are a great snack – super convenient!
Regarding proteins and people’s obsession with getting enough; did you know that the World Health Organization recommends 5-10%? Did you know plants provide that? And easily! I’m not wasting away here. I continue to gain strength and vitality in my 40’s. I am competing in obstacle course and mountain bike races, having a great time and feeling good! Oh, and the breast pain is GONE. Completely. I do supplement iodine on a regular basis and the rest of my nutrients come from whole foods.
I don’t feel the least bit deprived. I eat a lot, actually, and most days my caloric intake is 1200-1700. I’m so full right now. I ate a lot today and came in under 1800 calories after a couple of indulgences 🙂
So, here’s a rundown of what I eat in a day when I’m working from home. My exercise regimen is pretty much running 1-3 miles each day and doing some form of bodyweight strength 2-3 times per week. I mountain bike sporadically for fun, paddle the kayak when I feel like it, and this week my strength training looks like power yoga.
Breakfast was cabbage, a few bell peppers and carrots roasted in the oven at 400 degrees for 30 minutes. It was a huge bowl, with balsamic vinegar and Benson’s Table Tasty no-salt seasoning.
I snacked on 2 pieces of sprouted grain rye sourdough, plain. It’s amazing how taste buds really change. The plain bread was quite delicious. I was working and didn’t have to put any thought into it.
Lunch was something I’ve been craving for days. Roasted sweet potatoes and broccoli (the broccoli was from an awesome local farmer!) with smoked paprika and granulated garlic. Plus a dash of hot sauce.
Not pictured was a very thick smoothie – more like ice cream – made from a splash of unsweetened soy milk, frozen banana, frozen dark cherries and a tablespoon of cocoa powder. Super refreshing and yummy! It’s such a treat.
Supper wasn’t the most beautiful dish I’ve made but so creamy and satisfying. It’s a recipe from Epic Vegan Instant Pot Cooking and it’s a creamy, low-fat pasta dish that really hits the spot. I absolutely love everything I’ve made from that cookbook. Low-fat, no-added-oils, vegan and delicious!
These two kitchen gadgets have made my life so much easier. Instant Pot Duo80 and a used Blendtec Total blender.
An evening glass of dry red wine, 2-3 cups of coffee per day, spring water and green tea are my beverages. Life’s too short to give those up, in my opinion.
I did change my diet for health reasons, but I’d be lying if I didn’t acknowledge how much better my conscience feels on a plant-based diet. I personally see animals as sentient beings. I look at my snoring, loving dog next to me and I know she’s not made a whole lot different than a pig. Or a cow. I do have 3 ducks yet who reside in my back yard. They’re pampered pets and they do lay eggs. They are beautiful birds with personalities. You can say whatever you want, but I’m happy not to contribute the the inhumane conditions our nations livestock live in. I cry when I see the megafarms. It’s such a blatant disregard for God’s creation and it sickens me. I’m done supporting that. Further, I’m not a baby cow. The thought of an artificially-inseminated cow spending it’s short life indoors on a grate, calling out to it’s calf which has been taken from it and then when her milk production drops, she’s slaughtered…. I can’t. I’m done. It’s not healthy for anyone, and you’re kidding yourself if you think milk from any species isn’t a hormone-laden beverage. Of course is is! It’s made to grow a 60 pound calf to 600 pounds in short order.
Also, my food budget is feeling much better. Starches, locally-grown veggies, some fruits, some foraging… I can afford to eat organic now and feel good about it!
In conclusion, my health has improved. My conscience is much more aligned with my spirit. My energy is good and those I come in contact with comment on how they can feel it. My clothes fit. My checking account is happier. My impact on the planet is less. I will check in on lipids again in November when I approach my 43rd birthday, but it looks like I’m heading in the right direction!
If you’ve been plant-curious, contact me about my 4-week health coaching program. You will receive weekly menus and shopping lists, a custom exercise plan, personal training services and massage 🙂 Thanks for reading!