Saturday, September 29, 2018

Sticking with It

Yes, another plant-based post. I realize that this may not be of interest to everyone in the same way that it is for me, and I'm sorry to consume so much air time on the subject. I do hope you will feel comfortable simply to roll your eyes at me and then move on to what will surely be a more interesting blog at another http site! I'm just here because it is my favourite venue to work out my thoughts and it's a way to share with family and friends and interest people what's going on in our little world...or maybe just in my brain.

I've been more than a little surprised that I've been able to stick with this plant-based eating thing for about four months now. That's a third of a year and we're all still alive...and, dare I say, flourishing?

I've rarely stuck with a food plan / diet for as long as this, though I've desperately needed to for many years now! The longest I ever stayed with a diet was my year at Weight Watchers, where I dutifully recorded everything I ate, counted points, attended weekly meetings for 52 weeks...and lost two pounds! Two! What a waste of a year that was; I will never, ever repeat it. I appreciate that many have benefited from Weight Watchers (and/or many other such programs) and are convinced of its merits; but it absolutely did not work for my body and I was very faithful, other than not exercising as much as was recommended at the time. I've tried other things, too, over the years, and finally gave up about 10-12 years ago when I just decided that maybe the simpler thing was to eat as healthily as possible and just accept my body.

I mostly have done this. For over a decade (until a few months ago), we ate pasture-raised, organic meats; organic produce as much as possible; organic milk (mostly because I was trying to delay the onset of my daughter's puberty); and so on. I meal planned healthy meals and served them up pretty dutifully. And gained/lost a few pounds along the way, depending on the year.

And then along came the documentary put out by Netflix: Forks Over Knives. I've explained in a previous post how Geoff and I watched that together while on vacation in early May of this year, and how it changed our outlook on food from that very day onwards.

Since the end of May, I have been eating a plant based diet, mostly whole foods (though junk food plant food is definitely possible and we have certainly fallen into that trap from time to time). And despite ongoing and intense cheese cravings and occasional mouthfuls of that lovely dairy addiction, I have stuck to this plant-eating thing. I have been calm about it, and undeterred in my pursuit of it, in a way that I have never been about any other diet.

The truth is that I don't view plant-based eating as a diet. Not at all. I have cringed even at the necessity of including the words plant-based eating in the same sentence as the word diet, except in that I'm using the word diet in the broadest possible terms to mean the food that we eat as part of our daily routine. The word diet conjures up bad and self-defeating associations for me. Somehow this way way of eating is different for me than any other way I've ever eaten. And maybe as a result of that difference, I feel like maybe it's more sustainable than any other way I've eaten before. It just make sense to me to eat this way, even while it's a challenge to re-learn everything I've lived with for so many decades.

Recently, while Geoff was out of town, he and I were texting about the latest plant-based book that  I'm reading: Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease, by Calwell Esselstyn. I got the cookbook to go with it and I'm finding some really good new options to add to my list of meal/snack ideas. Geoff texted  that he was impressed (maybe surprised??) by how I have pursued this new-to-us way of eating. Here's what I wrote back to him:

"In all honesty, it's the first way of eating that has ever truly, immediately, and deeply made sense to me. Deep down I don't believe that we should have to count calories or points, eat weird food, deny ourselves food when we are hungry, kill animals for our satisfaction, substitute fake ingredients for whole, etc. Deep down, I believe that the closer we eat to nature, the better off we'll be, simply because that's how God designed our world. So even thought I've tried (and failed at) many other food plans and diets and theories, this is the one that is most consistent with my internal beliefs and how I view God. I hope I can stay with it long term for this reason and believe it's why I've been able to stay with it so far."

That's exactly how I feel. It doesn't mean that I am imposing what I believe on anyone else; but for me, this is what makes the most sense...and I hope to be able to stick with it for the long term because it's so consistent with what I believe otherwise. And it really seems to benefit me: My insides feel so much better; I've experienced the healing of several skin, and other, issues that have plagued me for a very long time; I'm off of most of my blood pressure medication now (which I've been on for three years); I've lost a little bit of weight; I (oddly) don't need quite as much sleep as I used to; I have a little more energy than I used to (which I notice most in the evenings, when it seems like I still have enough capacity for one or two tasks that I didn't have before); and it feels intuitively like I'm finally headed in the right direction.

There are two more things that I want to change over the coming months, as I continue in this trajectory:

* first, I want to reduce the amount of oils we use. The more I read, the more I begin to believe that they're not necessary; and because I'm overweight, surely I could benefit from this reduction. I've already begun this process. Last week I eliminated oils from the frying pan; when cooking up veggies, as I do many times/week, I use water or a little veggie broth if the pan gets too dry, and this has been working beautifully without any noticeable taste change. My next step will be to eliminate oils from salad dressings - something that may prove a little more challenging. I've begun to look for recipes to experiment with, and know that this might take a little longer. But that's ok; I'm in this for the long haul.

* second, grrr, and I really don't want to write this down...I need to exercise more intentionally. Deep down I believe that if I were to exercise more, I would lose some of the bulk that I'm carrying. I've definitely lost a few just by changing how we eat, but I could kick that portion up a notch by exercising more. I'm contemplating rejoining the nearby Fieldhouse gym again...the one that the kids and I joined for two months earlier this year before my achilles tendon started ripping again (I think it's in better condition now, though). I truly despise all forms of exercise, weight bearing or non-weight bearing. I hate sweating!! And because I now experience the oh-so-lovely (NOT!) hot flashes that signify peri-menopause, I sweat so much at times that to contemplate exercising in order to bring it on intentionally seems more than I can bear at times. But sweat I must if I really want to continue this healthy trajectory. So I must pursue this again, like it or not.

And that's it for now. If anyone had said six months ago that this is what I'd be processing, I would have laughed. Loudly.

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