Our 6 Week Eat to Live Challenge Recap

On December 30th Ron and I embarked on a totally vegan diet. We used Dr. Joel Fuhrman’s Eat to Live book and website as a guide.

Here are the basics of the diet in a nutshell:

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I’ve dabbled in veganism before and made it about 2 weeks one time so I was no stranger to this at all. Also, I was completely vegetarian for 10 months back in late 2010 and into 2011 so I had plenty of confidence going into this challenge. (Note: Vegans have no animal products whatsoever. No milk, no cheese, no eggs, etc. Vegetarians have no flesh. They can have the dairy and the eggs.)

Weeks 1-3 were very good. We started off following the diet to a T and the weight slipped off very easily. We enjoyed trying all kinds on new recipes.

One of our favorites was the Creamy Cauliflower Soup.

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I loved how creamy the cashews made it. I’ve read that cashews are great for lifting your mood and since I’ve had a lifelong battle with mild depression, I always look at this little nut as magic!

One of my least favorite recipes was this eggplant lasagna.

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Ron put some ginger in it and didn’t dice it very fine. I got a big piece of ginger that put a bad taste in my mouth from the beginning. Not sure if I can ever love eggplant again.

Everything was going along very well but after a while, those huge salads 2 times a day started getting hard to do. They would fill me up so much that was all I was eating. That’s a good thing I know but as much as I love a delicious salad, sometimes you just want something hot. When I’d eat the salad at dinner, I couldn’t eat another bite. What I ended up doing was eating the cooked veggie creation first and then I wouldn’t have room for the salad. I promise you. 1 pound of raw veggies is a lot. And…it takes a long time to eat.

That’s the reason the salad at lunchtime started slipping away. I often eat at my desk at work and it just got too difficult and time consuming for me to eat the salad. At lunch, a hummus sandwich and a piece of fruit are about all I am interested in.

That’s were another trouble entered in. You are not supposed to eat between meals so if I did have a light lunch and skipped the filling salad, I would be famished by dinnertime.

Weeks 3-6 I stayed mostly all vegan but I veered far away from the 1 pound of raw and 1 pound of cooked veggies 2 times daily. Also during week 3-6 Ron and I started eating what I call vegan junk food. Get some fake chicken and smother it in an awesome buffalo sauce and you can have one heck of a delicious and satisfying dinner. Do this and I guarantee you won’t have room for the healthy raw veggies.

Out of the 126 meals (6 weeks x 7 days x 3 meals per day) 4 times I had a non-vegan component. First came a piece of my mother’s famous cornbread. All she had in it that was non-vegan was the buttermilk and then I did add some butter to the top. It was out of this world delicious. I didn’t feel bad at all about this.

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Second came some cheese on a wrap at Chick-fil-A. I got a chicken wrap and asked for the chicken on the side but I forgot about the cheese. (I gave the chicken to my daughter.) When I had the wrap in my hands, I saw the cheese but I ate it anyway. Didn’t feel too bad about this either. We were traveling and I did the best I could.

Third came a veggie hoagie from Jimmy Johns. I knew it had the cheese on it when I ordered it but I got it anyway. Man was that good! This was when I started feeling guilty. I didn’t need to eat the cheese. It was lunchtime at work and my boss had treated me to Jimmy Johns. Like I said, I knew it had the cheese and I ordered it anyway.

After 2 slip ups with cheese, I was driving home from work one night and I really cheated big time! I have to drive far distances 1 time per week and this occurred on a 3 hour trip home. I veered into Hardees. I have no idea why but I ordered a cheeseburger. And.a.milkshake!

So as you can guess, weeks 3-6 the weight loss really stalled. I don’t attribute it at all to those 2 times having cheese or even my big cheat meal at Hardees. What I attribute it to was the huge decrease in raw veggies. It could have been the handful of nuts I was having daily too. Also was probably the extra bread that kept slowly slipping back into my meals.

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Ron ended up losing 10.8 pounds and I lost 9.6.

At the end of the 6 weeks, Ron went as fast as he could and bought some grass fed beef and other meats. He announced he was Paleo! What I am learning is that Paleo and Vegans are really very similar. Both advocate the importance of whole foods and to stay far away from anything processed. The biggest difference to me is the meat for Paleos and the beans and legume’s for vegans.

At the end of the 6 weeks I ate a whole sleeve of Girl Scout Thin Mints. I ate some of Ron’s delicious beef stews. Just a little but man were they delicious. My car veered into Cookout on one occasion. Pretty much, I ate anything and everything I wanted. Not very much meat at all but still it was not healthy.

After one week of debauchery, I had all I could take. I was feeling physically terrible. Back came the vegan lifestyle for me. This time I downloaded some recipes from the Happy Herbivore (HH) and in only 3 days, I had dropped the 2 pounds I had gained during my cheat week and also another 2.6 pounds! I am feeling great again!

What I am learning from the Happy Herbivore is that I really can’t have all the avocados and the nuts if I want to lose weight. Yes, they are very healthy fats but I just can’t have them if I want the scale to drop. Also a huge difference was in the first smoothie recipe I made from HH. I always put 1/3 cup of raw oats in my breakfast smoothies. HH called for 2 tablespoons of raw oats in my smoothie. Also, hummus and me are great pals. I can eat a ton of hummus if you let me.

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HH called for ½ of bell pepper with only 2 tablespoons of hummus. Measure out 2 tablespoons of raw oats or hummus. I dare you. It is such a small amount! However, it really is enough. If you dip sparingly, you can have hummus on each bite you take of the pepper and your smoothie will be just as delicious and satisfying.

What are our long term plans? I have no idea. Ron is already complaining about feeling sluggish and about the huge increase in the amount of money he is spending on the meats. He says he wants to try Happy Herbivore when we get back from vacation.

What I do think that I am leaning toward are the famous words of Michael Pollen:

      eat food

Vacation begins for us tomorrow. We’re celebrating our 26th year of wedded bliss. I fully expect to have some cheese. I fully expect to have some desserts. I even know already that I’m having a famous chicken dish from the historic Chalet Suzanne Inn that we are staying in. My goal is to try to eat smaller meals for breakfast and lunch so I can splurge a little at dinner.

My plans for when we get back home and back to reality are to stay mostly vegan. The big thing for me that I’ve got to get away from is the wheat. My sister and nieces have been preaching to me the horrors of gluten and I’ve got to admit they may be on to something. Here’s a book that my sister recommended I read.

Grain Brain

Ron is even on board with the no wheat. When we go to Mexican restaurants he orders his veggie burritos without the flour tortilla and gets corn tortillas on the side.

Happy Eating. Happy Running. Happy Living to us all!

“Missy! What do you eat?”

I traveled to Wise, VA this past weekend to spend some time with my mother and step-father.

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On all my trips, I always call Mother when I get to Wytheville as that is about 2 hours away from Wise.  This gives her an idea of when to expect me.

When I called her on Saturday, the first words out of her mouth was, “Missy! What do you eat?”  She sounded so frustrated I simply answered that I mostly ate fruits and vegetables but that I would enjoy whatever she had in mind.

That made her happy and after we hung up, I realized just speaking those words made me happy too.

My friends, I have to report to you all that my veganism only lasted for 3 weeks.

Lydia does ok with my vegetarian meals most of the time but she was getting very frustrated too.  So, last week, I made her chicken spaghetti following The Pioneer Woman recipe.

She loved it.  And so did I.

After that one meal of meat and cheese, I ended up going back to more or less a vegetarian diet.  The yogurt and cheese proved to me to be very difficult to get away from.

I still feel very strongly that you can be a successful vegan athlete but what I discovered is that to be successful, you must plan, plan, plan, and more plan.

If you don’t have your meal ready to rock-n-roll, it is very hard to get a balanced diet.  I wasn’t prepared some days and a peanut butter sandwich was about all I could come up with.

I have 2 nieces that are big Paleo fans.  When I told one of them that I would never be convinced that good wholesome grains were bad for you she gave me this example:

What does a rancher feed his cows and pigs when he wants to fatten them up?  Grains!

I will give her that but I don’t think it is healthy to eat a lot of meat.

Another thing that happened that made me get to thinking was 2 weekends ago when I was at my sister’s, she had a huge piece of wild salmon.  She was cutting and wrapping it in small single serving size pieces.  She said she and her husband loved having salmon once or twice a week.  Sometimes on salads and sometimes just by itself served alongside a favorite vegetable.  I wanted salmon again too!

So, what I have decided for now anyway, is to make my plate as colorful and healthy as possible and ease up some on any set rules.

Now back to more of my weekend at my mother’s.

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I went out for a run on both Saturday and Sunday while mother was taking a nap.  On my Sunday run, I picked her these flowers and as I ran I composed this little poem.

I picked some wildflowers for my mother,

who’s love for me is like no other.

I pray she doesn’t get a chigger,

for my love for her could be no bigger.

I know, I know.  Pretty bad.  But she liked it.  Smile

On my Saturday run I found these on the sidewalk in downtown Wise.

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First person to correctly identify them gets nature expert bragging rights.

Here are a few more of the sights that I encountered on my runs:

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We had an awesome weekend.  Dinner with family.  Going to church together.  Just sitting and talking.  Watching family videos on the computer.

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I love you Mother!  See you again soon.  Until then, keep singing this song.

“When He reaches out His Hand,
Billows cease at His command.
Winds and waves obey His will
When He says to them, “Be still!”
What man is this they all did say
Whom the wind and waves obey?
He’s the One who sails with me;
He’s the Master of the sea.”