Tag Archives: weight loss

Support for MM Veganauts

MM

I hope you caught my post titled ‘Twas the Night Before Meatless Monday yesterday. If not, feel free to follow the link before or after I profess my love for M.M. in today’s short post.

Exploring the world of veganism takes guts. Trying to adopt a healthier, more environmentally conscious, and compassionate lifestyle is a noble and sometimes daunting task. Some people rip the bandage off in a quick yank, while others pull gently over time to remove it. For those who need a more gradual entry into a herbivore lifestyle, Meatless Monday is a great place to start.

If you are new to the scene, MM is a weekly celebration of vegetarianism. While dairy isn’t strictly forbidden, I encourage Veganauts to use the day as a way to try out the easy and delicious vegan diet options.

With each Monday being a celebration of meatless living, each Sunday night is another Meatless Monday Eve. This carries with it all of the fun, family, and fellowship that comes with other “Eve” celebrations, like the New Year’s version, the Christmas version, and the Tax Day version. For this reason, there obviously needs to be a few songs and traditions to help tell the story of this weekly epic holiday. I’m happy to share this classic in the making, ‘Twas the Night Before Meatless Monday.

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Crushing Cravings

crushing-cravingsI will not lie to you, dear readers, I still crave meat, dairy, and eggs from time to time. It has been two and a half weeks, and I hardly ever think about the different foods I’ve removed from my life. Hardly, ever.

Smells can be overwhelming when they sneak up on a person. If I was to walk into a Circle K that had a Dunkin’ Donuts inside, I would have already braced myself for the wave of savory smells. I would have wrinkled my nose before pushing through the glass door, and reminded myself how much I detest sausage biscuits and their abominable cousin, bacon, egg, and cheese croissants.

An unexpected odor, by contrast, can be a sneaky salesman. A surprise office party filled with pizza can become a willpower torture chamber to someone still only a few weeks into a new vegan diet. A Pokemon Go gym next to a Sonny’s BBQ can become an unexpected reminder that meat is an addiction that takes time to overcome.

Again, my friends, these cravings don’t happen very often or with any great intensity.  During the first few days I’d say there was a gentle nagging but it quickly faded to an occasional pang.

My solution for these cravings is to stuff my ever loving face. I microwave potatoes in pairs and eat them at the same time, double-fisted. I indulge in a 1.5x Rip’s Big Bowl which is enough to slow down a hungry elephant. I eat all the insanely good food that Plant Based Diet Culinary Artisan, Shannon, makes as well as any leftovers in the fridge or on other people’s plates. For reasons I won’t bore you with, I suggest not trying the “other people’s plates” tip at vegan restaurants. They are very snobby about that kind of thing, and PLEASE LET ME COME BACK AGAIN, ETHOS!

It seems that stuffing your face with produce isn’t the same as stuffing your face with unhealthy food. While I will share my exact starting weight and progress numbers starting in the near future, I can currently share that in just under 20 days, I’ve dropped 14 pounds.

Can it be challenging for a vegan noob to eat a veggie burger while standing next to grill full of the old fashioned kind? You’re damn right it can be.

Can it be worth it? You’re damn right it can be.


Farmer’s Market Pre-Game

kim_jong_un_3

NEWS ALERT: Glorious Leader has become 90 pounds (41kg) more glorious in the last 4 years. I wrote a great post suggesting a plant-based diet for Kim Jong-il, but my editor read it and said that I should try to avoid pissing off all of North Korea and most of North America at the beginning of my comeback tour. I guess that post will have to wait to be part of the book.

Instead, it might be safer to guide this wagon train into a less inflammatory part of the prairie… like the farmer’s market! What’s up with those, amiright? They are so crazy and NOT inflammatory… with their various cottage industry produced mustards and the bushels of kale they have on sale…

…but seriously folks, I do love a good open air market. Our favorite farmer’s market is in Winter Park, FL near the historic train station. It requires getting an early start on Saturdays so you don’t run the risk of missing out on the loaves of roasted garlic bread and the best fruit cups. The thought of missing out on fresh pineapple and fresh bread has motivated me out of bed on many Saturday mornings, and it will be forefront in my mind when I wake up for tomorrow’s supply run.

In addition to fresh smelling and amazing tasting foods, there is also the people and dog watching aspect of a farmer’s market visit. Since these ephemeral outdoor markets attract hippies, with their dogs, and yuppies, with their dogs, the combinations and permutations of human/canine interaction unfold in front of the open stalls like a Shakespearean play.

Queen Gertrude and her overly manicured yellow Labradoodle (cross between a Labrador and a poodle) are not accustomed to jostling elbows and canvas bags of cucumbers with the likes of Second Gravedigger and his spotted Muttiger (cross between a mutt and possibly a badger). Queen Gertrude clearly has a “something is rotten in the state of Denmark” look about her while Gravedigger #2 is clearly giving off a “the lady doth protest too much, methinks” vibe.

Inevitably, the leashes intertwine and the dogs either start barking or trying to make Polka-dotted Golden Badgelabradoomuttiger puppies, and a micro-chaos erupts as the masses pull back for safety and a better camera angle. This usually ends when one of the flailing leash holders yells at his dog, “Out, damned Spot!” causing the gathered crowd to groan and dejectedly put their iPhones away and mutter to each other about screwing up a perfectly good Hamlet metaphor.

Tomorrow should be a great morning for watching the comedy unfold, for all the world’s a stage. Plus, we need some fresh produce… and I’ve been itching to get my hands on a few green pepper plants. Oh… and some kettle corn!

 


Day 232: Spare Tires

Please forgive the several days of silence this week-  I have been swamped at work.  There are jobs where that would be a bad thing, but when you’ve been lucky enough to find the job you love, swamped takes on a whole new meaning.  Since there is still more “work” to do, I’ll only be sharing a short moment of triumph.  Plus I’ll be writing fast with very little editing so thangs could get disjointed at points and potato.

My oldest child, the high school teenager, has been without braces for several months.  She is very proud of her straight teeth and shows them off by smiling a lot.  Especially at boys, but that is a topic for another blog post on knife sharpening and carcass hiding.

During this brace-less time, her new smile has been protected and maintained with the help of a retainer.  Then she lost it. Or, I did.  The details are murky and not worth looking at too closely.

Retainers are small, seemingly insignificant bits of metal and plastic that are made by super models and professional sports celebrities.  They don’t come right out and say that they have Brett Farve and Kate Moss working in a retainer factory but when I learned what the replacement cost was, it was rather obvious.

When our first child was first strapped with braces several years ago, we were a Gainesville family.  The monthly visits were a few miles away and hardly made a blip on the family calendar schedule.  Now as an Orlando area family, visiting the orthodontist as a day trip with four or more hours on the road.  I am not even remotely complaining though.  When I get four uninterrupted hours with one of my kids it is easily worth double the cost of gas, tolls, a sick day, and a retainer bill.

Plus, it doesn’t hurt that the orthodontist and his family are in the top .0001% of good human beings on Earth.  I’m sure you will hear all about them in future posts when we discuss moonlight sailing, hilarious hayride mishaps, and more… but for now it is enough to know seeing them is worth the 2 hour drive from Orlando.

Since I was driving on I-75, it was raining like absolute Hell.  Those two events are so closely linked that I am thinking of driving around the parched portions of our world and bringing water to all of those in need.  I’d be the Johnny Appleseed of precipitation.

Barreling down the wet road for a few hours ended when we slowed down and exited the interstate.  At first, the road seemed very uneven.  Construction cones and barriers helped me blame the bumpy ride on the standard road building conditions that exist throughout the city.  Gainesville, in case you didn’t know, is a Native American word meaning Under Construction.

Unfortunately, as we continued to slow down the front end of the car started to wobble and jerk the steering wheel from side to side and I could no longer hide from the fact that something was wrong with it.  At a red light I jumped out and looked but neither tire was flat, so we continued on our bumpy way until we reached our appointment.

After depositing the young lady in the waiting room, I went out to the parking lot to have a closer look at how much this was going to cost.  Seeing nothing at all wrong with either front tire but being completely unwilling to accept the nightmarish prospect of going to a mechanic, I decided to change the tire on the side that seemed to wobble the most.

The tire changing process requires a level of physical excursion that I have always been capable of- whether a muscled young 19 year old or a sickly 336 pound 39 year old.  Of course, capable is a broad term.  At my hugest, changing a tire was a painful event, but rather than list the negatives I suffered way back then, let me share the benefits I enjoyed during this experience at seventy-five pounds lighter.

I wasn’t winded jacking the car up.  I didn’t sweat through my shirt getting the lug nuts off.  Bending over to work on the tire didn’t cause a back spasm.  Working from my knees didn’t cause contusions.  It was a completely different experience.

I can picture myself as the Micheline Man now, white and pasty with a goofy smile and made of bulging tires.   The difference is, one of my biggest spare tires has disappeared and I can move a lot more than I could before.  Sometimes when I have some internal self-whining about not loosing weight faster I forget where I started and what I have to be grateful for.

Who would have guessed changing a tire could be such an enlightening moment.  Of course, the fact that the spare tire fixed the problem and saved countless dollars might have elevated the mood a bit.


Day 203: Cinco de Mayo

Today marks an exciting anniversary.  I have not been vegan for a year, but I have been losing weight for a year.

I’ve covered this in detail earlier in the ole’ blog but to recap, after several years of up and down weight loss with Atkins and weight gain with SAD, my family moved to another city.  The months following the move were a stressful and exciting period, both conditions that call for a lot of terrible food.  Before this, my weight was behaving the way we all want the stock market to work- some sporadic minor losses followed by steady gains.  After the move, if my weight had been the stock market there would have been a lot of millionaires running around and popping bottles of champagne.  I topped the scale at a shocking 336 pounds.

Today I weigh in at a much more reasonable, although still unacceptable, 261 pounds.  The weight loss is easily tracked using old photos and and my ever-changing wardrobe.  It is also evident in my ability to move around.  Getting out of a chair used to involve a shameful amount of effort.  Walking up a flight of stairs to tuck the kids in at night became so difficult, I’d find ways to do my tucking from the ground floor by blowing kisses or via text message.

Walking through a crowd was humiliating too.  The normal personal space that people create when milling around was only half of what I needed to slip between them.  This meant I got to say excuse me to hundreds of people for being larger than normal and needing them to move because of that.  I was already a little bit of a socially awkward penguin before I’d super sized myself.  Being a socially awkward walrus was MUCH more painful.

Obviously, in 70-80 pounds, I will be very pleased with my size, shape, and health.  However, after a year of pushing through cravings, desires, and a very manipulative inner voice, I am pleased with my progress.  It is a huge relief to be able to run up and down the steps in my house, practically hop out of chairs with seemingly no effort, and gracefully (by comparison) navigate crowds of people.  I am also enjoying the new clothes and the kilojoules of extra energy pumping through my body now.

I enjoy backpacking and used to do it a lot more when I was younger/smaller. I would start week-long treks with a pack weighing close to 50 pounds.  It was a huge weight to struggle into each morning and at the end of each day of hiking, taking it off felt like the weight of the entire world was lifted from my shoulders.  I could float around the campsite enjoying that sensation of relief for hours.

I can’t imagine shouldering THREE of those backpacks worth of fat, and yet I was on that depressing hike for a long time.  Sure, last Cinco de Mayo, I wanted to take all three backpacks off at once and enjoy the instant relief that I felt at the end of a day of hiking.  Since I couldn’t do that, I started the slow but sure process of taking the three backpacks off one pound at a time.  I have more than one and a half of them off so far, and the anticipation of slipping out from under the rest tastes much better than the deadly Standard American Diet or its demented cousin, the Atkins diet.  I’ll be prancing around the campsite in no time!


Day 202: May the Fourth Be With You

Happy Star Wars Day everyone!  Every May 4th, nerds across America celebrate this great holiday by saying “May the 4th be with you” to each other, and in some extreme cases, posting it on their Facebook pages.  This outpouring of enthusiasm still pales in comparison to what I think a proper national celebration should be for this society-changing epic saga.

In my humble opinion, May the 4th should be a day that practically everyone has off from school, work, and responsibility in general.  One notable exception will be the movie theaters that should be showing reel after reel of the movies to the general public, free of charge.  After a few years it would become fashionable to tip the employees ridiculous amounts on these days since they would be society’s heroes.  Costumes, street performances, flash mobs, and large friendly gatherings would punctuate the day as we celebrated the Star Wars Universe.

Too much?  Can’t picture it?  Not a fan?  I’m afraid I am in the minority on this one, but maybe with some general education on the subject this could take off and I’ll never have to work another May 4th again.

George Lucas created this empire over a span of almost four decades with six movies, countless books, multiple TV series, and more video games than even MY son can play.  George wove a tapestry of good versus evil on a loom made out of colorful planets and bizarre alien species.  Then he Bedazzled  the tapestry with storms of blaster fire and gripping light saber battles.

Throughout the timeline, characters may come and go, but the Force is always present.  It is a tangible force that many characters can harness in the Star Wars Universe.  Some use it to aid others and protect them from harm- the Jedi.  Others use the Force for personal power and control of others- the Sith.  In both cases, I am a gigantic nerd.

The Jedi Knights are the good guys.  They are very powerful, and like all good guys, they live by a code.  One of the many precepts of the code is to Honor Life.  It does not say to honor sentient life, or intelligent life, or fluffy bunny life… just life.  I can’t say that the Jedi are 100% vegan, but their beliefs are in line with compassion, caring, and a selflessness that we would all like to see in more people.

When Jedi part ways and offer their customary valediction, “May the force be with you,” they are wishing each other enough of the Force to do good and maintain balance in the universe.  It is a wish that I have for all of us- enough power to right the wrongs and defend the innocent.  Star Wars fan or not, you have to admit, that’s a pretty good message.

Here is a Star Wars video I think we can all enjoy, and of course, may the Force be with you, always.


Day 200: Cheers!

It was 200 animal-free days ago when this adventure began.  It was a direct result of fearing my own death.  My health was getting worse and worse, despite the weight loss I was experiencing from my Atkin’s dieting.  The Grim Reaper shouldn’t be such a concern to a 39-year-old guy, but chest pain, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, gout, colon infections, and kidney stones were breaking me down.  I was terrified.

As the days and weeks of clean, animal free dieting began to heal my body, I found my mind healing as well.  When I wasn’t cutting, cooking and eating animals I was able to look the system I’d been a part of more objectively.  It was somewhat horrifying to realize how brain-washed I’d been.  The realization was even more terrifying, when I was honest about how much of a part I’d played in my own brain-washing.  The change in perspective made it easy and necessary for me to switch from my simple plant-based diet to a complete animal free, vegan lifestyle.

I still have two leather belts that I wear when I have to.  They are from the old days and wont fit me much longer anyway.  I still have one last pair of Nike’s that I exercise in that will soon be replaced with a pair of Merrels, a running shoe that is vegan and not socially corrupt.  I’m sure there are hundreds of products that I still use that would not be considered vegan.  I just have not found out what they are yet.  When I come across an offending product, it is used up and not purchased again.  It is an ongoing weaning process.

I have not boasted about my shocking weight loss numbers for a while because unfortunately, I haven’t had any to boast about.  Throughout most of April I avoided getting on a scale the way that I often avoid balancing the family checkbook.  In both cases, I don’t want to quantify my worst fears.  It started when my loose pants stopped falling down as much as they had before.  Then a shirt or two that was overly baggy seemed to be less baggy than it had been.  I’ve gained enough weight to know the signs, but I didn’t want to make it a reality by getting on the scale and seeing the numbers.

Unfortunately, I’ve proven again that vegan does not necessarily mean healthy.  No matter how nice they sounded, the following statements were proven false by me: No animals died to make beer and potato chips, so they must be OK to gorge on during The IT Crowd marathons.  Tater tots are cruelty free and good for you, no matter how many you eat as long as you use organic ketchup.  Huge, oily pizza covered in vegan cheese from the Mellow Mushroom is reducing my carbon footprint, so it must be reducing my body mass.

I’d had the exciting fist-pump moment of seeing 251 on the scale before the tightening ‘mysteriously’ started.  It was a number I liked so much, I didn’t want to weigh myself and see the damage that I’d allowed to happen.  Of course, that couldn’t last forever.  In a moment of clarity, I tip-toed into the bathroom, stepped into the scale closet, and on the scale.  I checked three times to be sure.  My new fighting weight is 264 pounds.  Thirteen lost pounds missed me so much, they went on their own Incredible Journey, and found their way home.  It’s a heartwarming tale when it’s about lost pets, but it absolutely sucks when it’s about lost fat.

I have so many excuses and they all sound great on paper.  However, the detailed list of excuses, finger-pointing and poor-me stories does not make me any less responsible for my actions.  I know that vegan doughnuts are still doughnuts and that corn chips are not the same as celery.  I just allowed myself to eat on autopilot, following vegan guidelines instead of the plant-based diet guidelines laid out for me in the beginning by the Forks Over Knives/ Engine 2 Diet/ Happy Herbivore books and movies.

*Cue the comeback music*

Like any good story, the main character has to suffer a setback.  It should be the kind of obstacle that tests resolve and strength.  There are countless paths for the main character in this story to choose from, but only one that my heart knows to be correct.  I am firmly committed to continuing to live a compassionate vegan life.  At the same time, I have recommitted myself to eating a healthy, plant strong diet, like Rip and Lindsay tell us to do.  I have been back on the bandwagon for a week now, and I am already looking forward to my weekend weigh-in!

In celebration of Day 200, please raise a glass of green smoothy with me.  Cheers- to 200 days of living without meat and dairy and eggs.  Bottoms up- for seeking out the products in my family’s lives that are made with bits of animal, or with animal testing, and NOT buying them!  Here’s mud in your eye- for finding ways to further decrease our family’s carbon footprint AND foodprint, and here’s one for the road- in celebration of a summer filled with produce, exercise and healthy living.