Thursday, April 27th – Day 4
Question: Have you ever experienced a series of events that felt eerily pre-destined? Like, way more than just pure coincidence and happenstance? That’s pretty much how I would categorize the last couple of months. Several “random” things have occurred in an almost humorous pattern that have, once again, sparked a much-needed renewed energy for a whole foods, plant-based life.
Let’s take it back a few years.
Eight years ago in 2009, I had just had my cholesterol checked (at age 35ish) and the numbers came back high – all of them. I was near 270 with elevated LDL and triglycerides. I used to joke sometimes and say, “Thanks, family” for the bad genes, but I’ve now been at this long enough to know that the blame game with your health only goes so far. After seeing the results, my primary care physician actually suggested that I adopt a more vegetarian diet. Shocked (and probably offended), I remember vividly thinking, “Heck no! I run marathons and train for Ironmans. I need my meat and protein!” Yep. That was me. The meat = protein girl.
Approximately six months after this check-up, I heard about this new book called The Engine 2 Diet, which was clearly serendipitous. First of all, it was written by a local guy (I live in Austin) who was a former professional triathlete (my sport of passion). I also knew many of the subjects who were part of his pilot program, many of whom were active in the triathlon community. If they could do this, why couldn’t I? I also distinctly remember thinking how easy Rip made this whole plant-strong diet sound. Nowhere did he mention the word “vegan,” which would’ve likely turned me on my heels. I didn’t necessarily want to be vegan, but I could certainly identify with “plant strong.” Today, I’m proud to identify as both vegan and plant strong. Eight years ago, it wasn’t my bag – until I tried it. For Lent that year (good ‘ol Catholic habits in full effect), I decided to follow his plan and then take another blood test to see what would happen. In just over eight weeks, I dropped almost 10 pounds, my total cholesterol dropped by 60 points and I set a personal best time at my Ironman that summer by over 30 minutes. Boom. Convert.
I love how the movement has become so mainstream and I appreciate how the lifestyle invokes questions and discussion. You know what? I even love answering THE protein question because it opens the door to a meaningful conversation. Over the last few years, however, I had started to become more than a little complacent. While still very much identifying as plant-strong and 95% vegan, I started to let a few things slide. A little cheese on my salad is no big deal, right? The hummus is drenched in oil, but it’s so yummy. Frozen patties, processed vegan cheese, etc. You get the point. I was losing my tread on a slippery slope. While I still maintained a healthy weight, I did notice the scale creep up little by little each year to the point where I was almost back to where I started eight years ago. It may only be 10 pounds on the scale, but it represented more than that. It was a sign that I was losing a little control. I could tell because, more than a few times, I found myself asking, “What’s this paleo thing all about?”
Rather than give up (which I’ve thought about a few times), Serendipitous Moment #1 Happened: I was called to go to HealthFest in Marshall, Texas this year after hearing Ed and Amanda Smith’s interview on Howard Jacobson’s Plant Yourself Podcast. That weekend was like a shot of adrenaline in the gut. Fortunately, my husband is also completely on board and we both took away notepads full of information from the likes of Dr. Carney, Dr. Davis, Chef AJ, Dr. and Mary McDougall and all of the speakers who surrounded us with their expertise that weekend. I wrote about that wonderful weekend HERE.
And, as if the Universe were dropping all the hints, they sent Serendipitous Moment #2 in the form of Rip’s new book, The Engine 2 Seven-Day Rescue Diet: Eat Plants, Lose Weight, Save Your Health, along with an appearance by the man himself at our local Whole Foods. His talks never fail to inspire with his down-to-earth, common sense, straight talk approach. He truly is the person who inspired this positive trajectory and it’s because of that talk that both my husband and I are now in Day 4 of the seven-day rescue along with thousands of others around the world.
On Day 1, I weighed in at 115.8. Not bad…That’s actually five pounds down since the first of the year when I first started cutting back on some of the processed foods and added oils. Let’s see what will happen in the next three days. Like I mentioned before, I am so lucky to have my husband on board with me 100%. Last year, he went vegetarian for Lent (sensing a Catholic guilt theme?) dropped 20 pounds, had some great race results and has stuck with it. Since HealthFest, he’s started his vegan journey now too.
We’re both all in this week with Ezekiel cereals, oatmeal, fruits, wraps, stir fry, beans, quinoa, rice, potatoes, pizza and, of course, plenty of greens. We’re locked and loaded with an abundance of E2 approved goodness. I’ll be honest, here. The part that scares me the most-the part that I knew would involve a ton of struggle and willpower – has been NO ALCOHOL. I haven’t gone more than 2-3 days without a glass of wine in over three years. In fact, my favorite part of the day is turning on music in the late afternoon, pouring a glass of red and cooking. It’s very meditative and a great way for good bonding time with the hubster. Well, this week (at least), it’s been a glass of sparkling water poured in my wine glass. The 5p-7p “witching hours” are tough (my daily pavlovian response kicks in), but I’m fine once I start eating. Still, though…as I write this, I can feel the urge…three more days. I can’t deny, though, that even in these last few days with no alcohol and other junk, I feel and sleep so much better.
And you know what? The Universe gave us one more large gift-wrapped package this week with Serendipitous Moment #3: An Austin screening of, “What the Health” with the Austin Vegan and Vegetarian Society. I mean, as if HealthFest and Rip weren’t enough, this movie was the knock-out punch to look up in the sky and say, “I get it Universe! I hear you!! Thanks for getting me back on track!” The pieces were put solidly back together for me over the last month, but this movie welded those pieces together. Brilliantly done…
Sunday, April 30th – Day 7
It’s been one doozy of a final three days. First of all, the alcohol cravings started to subside, thank goodness. Because the food we made was so nourishing, I didn’t feel the urge to drink my calories even though there were plenty of “test-worthy” events. On Friday night, I attended a USA Triathlon Coaching seminar on proper run form. I’m a triathlon coach and this is part of my continuing education requirements. My friends suggested a post-seminar beer, but I explained the situation and politely declined (score!). Then, on Saturday, I got up and rode 63 miles with a bunch of friends out at the Red Poppy Ride. My energy was solid and my body felt surprisingly good for having ridden 50+ just two days earlier. Most of my friends headed to a local brewery for a post-ride celebratory beer, but hubster and I went home because I actually had a small music gig that afternoon at 5:00pm. So, yes, I showered up, grabbed my guitar and headed to One-2-One Bar to play an original song with Girl Guitar Austin! Needless to say, by the end of the evening, I was exhausted! Did I want to settle down with a glass of wine? Hell yes. However, I knew I only had one more sleep until the Day 7 weigh-in.
Weigh-in: 113.2 (2.6 pounds down in one week!) Yes!! This was taken first thing in the morning before coffee or a workout. I was thrilled and relieved, quite honestly. There was no question I was feeling better, training better and clothes were fitting better, but the proof was right there. We did not starve. In fact, we ate loads of food. Cutting out oils, alcohol and unnecessary fats did the trick for both of us. Hubster also lost over 2.5 pounds in this first week.
I’m not going to lie…Sunday was a reward day after one hell of a week. I did drink some wine at a friend’s birthday party (that was at two wineries!) and I even went to Juiceland for an Originator smoothie – it had been almost three months since I had one! For most people, a “cheat day” would consist of a burger, fries and shake. My cheat day was a smoothie , wine and a few pieces of tofu at dinner. I think I’m doing alright…
In fact, we’re doing so well that we headed to Whole Foods last night to re-lock and load for another week of WFPB oil-free goodness. We have a Half-Ironman triathlon in two weeks out in Sonoma and I can’t wait to see how we feel going into the race. I’ll tell you this now, though, the day after the race, there will be a celebration with wine. We’ll be in wine country after all!
Cheers to the Engine 2 Seven Day Rescue Diet!