41yo Vegan - need help!

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41yo Vegan - need help!

#1 Postby abluesky » Tue Oct 03, 2017 11:07 am

Hello, Everyone!

My name is Stephan. I'm 41 (almost - birthday is in December) and I'm having some big challenges achieving the fitness and aesthetics on a whole foods plant based diet that I did previously.

A little background about myself: I'm a long time Ashtanga Yoga practitioner, an avid swimmer and have lifted weights of and on all my life. I also have the T. Colin Campbell certification in Plant-Based Nutrition for eCornell. I also have a law degree and am pursuing a Masters (Engineering) in Computer Science. I first became vegan (not wfpb) in 2004. That didn't last long, and I regularly ate eggs and fish (but no dairy). I began to eat meat again in 2011. It was during this time that I followed a dieting program that I developed by incorporating principles from the Zone Diet and a book called What, When, and Water. This diet mandated that I eat 60% calories from protein and fat (30% each), and 40% calories from carbohydrates. I did try to eat as much plant-based as I could but that is very difficult with such ratios (at least it was for me). At the time, I stopped practicing yoga every day, ran 3-4 per week, swam 2 per week, lifted weights according to Strong Lifts 5x5, and rode a fixed gear bicycle as transportation. I achieved phenomenal results and looked the best I ever did in my life - chocolate bar abs, something I never ever had before. In 2013-14 I repeated this process and looked even better. Both times, I had ample time to dedicate to training.

About the same time, in 2014, I decided to recommit to a whole food plant-based lifestyle and for the past 3+ years (not quite 4) I've been very disciplined about it. No oil, no salt. All whole foods. Onluy recently did I start eating bread again (Dave's power seed bread). Less than a handful of time over these years, I did not eat wfpb. Up until August, my training program consisted of yoga, swimming, and body weight strength training. Since sep 1, I've added a 5x5 strength training program because I have access to a gym again.

My challenge is that over the past 3 years, I have been unable to achieve the same level of fitness. I clearly have and retain body fat no matter how much I eat, and no matter how many calories I burn. The exception was this summer, when I was able to swim every day, and became very lean but also very slim - 143lbs. Since I've stopped swimming so much and started lifting I've gain 7lbs but is lots of fat - and to be honest, I really don't like it.

I'm going to be very honest - I'm writing all this because I don't know what to do anymore. My intuition and experience is telling me that I respond better when I don't eat so many carbohydrates, no matter whether they are refined or whole. Yet, everything that I've studied tells me otherwise, and I do see many stunning examples of people that look amazing on a whole foods plant-based diet. I really don't want to compromise my health for my fitness, but I'm really feeling weak. And it's not just looks, its also performance. My muscles don't seem to respond like they used to, and I wake up always feeling cloudy and unclear. My body also has a difficult time responding to so much fiber, and if I don't eat enough I'm not getting the calories I need for growth.

I don't want to compromise my diet and lifestyle because these values are very important to me, more important than aesthetics, and I realize that age might be creeping up on me. I also don't have time to do the massive amounts of cardio I did before. But I really want to improve my fitness too. I don't want to accept that it might be "too late" because I'm too old.

But I'm feeling that simply eating wfpb isn't enough, that somehow, it's not working, and I don't know what to do about it because everything I've read says it should be enough and it should simply work.

So I'm here seeking some advice, some guidance, and maybe some friends to help me figure out what I need to do.

In case anything I've written resonates with anyone, my goal is to achieve 12% body fat. I am at about 18% now. I would like to achieve this goal in 1 year. Other goals include improving my swimming performance and learning new gymnastic bodyweight skills.

Are my goals unrealistic? Any advice?

Thank you for your time,


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Re: 41yo Vegan - need help!

#2 Postby jmf » Thu Oct 05, 2017 5:22 pm

When you say something like "have and retain body fat no matter how much I eat, and no matter how many calories I burn" ...sound like a possible hormone imbalance. Start with a blood test.

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Re: 41yo Vegan - need help!

#3 Postby abluesky » Fri Oct 06, 2017 9:55 am

Thank you. I've never thought of that.

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