On October 30, 2011 I decided to make a lifestyle change. On a recommendation from a co-worker, I was told to watch Forks Over Knives. I was surprised with the information that was presented and thus started my search for knowledge. I Googled the documentary and names of doctors who were presented in the movie. I stumbled upon Dr. John McDougall and his life changing way of eating that I have been following since. Unlike "going vegan" I don't include added oil into my diet and avoid all dairy and meats.
What led me to lifestyle change at age 41 was the the inability to remember all the medication I prescribed when I was at my dentist office for a routine visit. Wanting to update my medical profile, I knew I had about 6 different medications, but I could not recite what they were. At the time I was suffering from constant migraine headaches, pains in my sides, foot pains, carried extra weight and struggled to keep my cholesterol within "normal" levels.
Here were the blood test numbers in July, 2011 when I had my yearly physical and when the medication was prescribed. Just beneath those numbers my blood test results from December, 2011. I think the numbers speak for themselves.
July 26, 2011
Weight: 216 pounds
Chol: 263 mg/dL
Trig: 269 mg/dL
HDLC: 37 mg/dL
Chol/HDLC Ratio: 7.1 H
LDL: 172 mg/dL
Non-HDLC: 225 mg/dL
In just 10 months of changing my diet, with very little exercise I experienced amazing results! In preparation for another physical I had my blood work tested. Here are the results:
July 31, 2012
Weight 173 pounds
Chol: 130 mg/dL
Trig: 162 mg/dL
HDLC: 35 mg/dL
Chol/HDLC Ratio: 3.7 H
LDL: 63 mg/dL
Non-HDLC: 95 mg/dL
By my visit I had dropped that last 10 pounds (44 pounds overall) and was just below my goal weight (175 lbs) at 173 pounds. My total cholesterol (TC) went below that magical number of 150 mg/dL, now at 130 mg/dL (total drop of 134 mg/dL). Only a year prior my doctor told me that I could NEVER reduce my TC by diet alone to a healthy number. More importantly my triglycerides dropped to 162 mg/dL (46 points since March). This told me that reducing my alcohol intake was the reason my triglycerides remained high. There was a little fluctuation in my HDL (good cholesterol), up a single point, while the LDL (bad cholesterol) saw a 33 point drop to 63 md/dL.
The blood work results combined with the weight loss had me on cloud nine as I walked confidently in for my yearly physical. After the initial weigh in, I had my hearing and eye sight checked, as well as an EKG administered. As I waited for the doctor to come in, I kept playing back in my mind my answers for his upcoming questions since I knew he was not pleased with my “extreme” decision last year to cut out meat, dairy and oil.
January, 2012 brought me to start working out on a Bowflex Revolution. It was a good introduction to exercise, but I felt it was lacking. In May, I joined the local sports club and started lifting weights with a co-worker friend of mine. He had been into powerlifting and provided me a very good introduction to using free weights, as well as exercises to accomplish. Unfortunately, in October, 2012 he passed away due to a heart attack, which left me high and without direction when I went to the gym. I continued to do split routines, but was not sure what I wanted to accomplish.
In October, 2012 I started following the Stronglifts 5x5 program and have seen some excellent strength gains. Following this program I lift 3 times a week doing squats, bench press, overhead press, rows and the deadlift. It continues to be part of my weekly routine lifting out of my garage using nothing more than a power rack and a barbell.
I wanted to add some conditioning to my training, so I resolved to compete in a half marathon in August. I started running on April 1, on a 16 week plan to get me prepared for the 13.1 miles I will be running. I will also be competing in my first Tough Mudder event at Lake Tahoe in July.
Hopefully I can continue to see positive changes in my life thanks in part to my diet, the weight lifting and conditioning I am doing. Maybe I have set personal expectations too high, but I was hoping to see more changes now 16 months into this new plant based lifestyle.
building plant based strength