Sunday, June 10, 2012

The Newbie Nutritarian

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It’s been nearly 2 months since I’ve been home after snowbirding in the Southwest all winter.  Transitioning from one home to another is always the opportune time to try doing something a bit different and not simply falling back into the the same old routines.  So when I got home and stared at my empty fridge and pantry, I knew this was the ideal time to to make a major lifestyle change— to become a VEGAN!!!

Meeting fellow View owners, Evelyn and Steve, this past winter, I started learning more about their recent change to a plant-based “nutrient-dense” vegan diet.  Evelyn also introduced me to fellow RVer, Tessa, who Evelyn had been getting lots of tips and information from.  They encouraged me to get the book “Eat to Live” by Dr. Joel Fuhrman and watch the video “Forks Over Knives” to learn more about this way of eating.

After failing so many diets in the past, and feeling totally helpless to control my weight (or my ever-worsening cholesterol, BP, and glucose numbers), I knew I had to do something radically different if I wished to slow down or reverse the pathway that I was on towards diabetes, heart disease, and cancer.

Over a year ago, I stopped eating most meat (but continued to eat fish and dairy).  I thought this vegetarian diet was a step in the right direction, and it probably would have been had I not ate so many sweets and salty frozen/fast-foods in place of the meat!  Consequently, becoming vegetarian wasn’t enough of a change to reduce my weight or improve my health.

But a quote while watching “Forks over Knives” really stuck with me. The doctor said that while many Americans think moving to a vegan diet and eating only whole, unprocessed food is “radical”, they don’t seem to consider how radical it is to have their chest opened up and undergo bypass surgery as a result of abusing their bodies with the “standard American diet” for so many years!  The movie compared our health statistics to many other countries and the results were sobering—our diabetes and cancer rates are off the charts compared to countries that eat primarily plant-based whole foods.

So after a bit more web research (and continuing to only find positive feedback on this kind of eating), I decided to give it a try.

I’ve now been eating this way for 1 month, and with no changes other than the food I’m eating (i.e. absolutely zero exercise this month), I’ve already lost 12 pounds!

Now that my body is finally getting real & sufficient nutrients, I’ve got a ton more energy and “mental alertness” and no longer suffer the “yo-yo effect” of sugar levels spiking up and down all day long.  Best of all, my 3 meals a day are now providing so much nutrition density, I no longer get hungry in-between meals and no longer crave sweet or salty snacks.  Since there’s no sense of deprivation, this is truly a way of eating that I can stick with for the rest of my life. 

This month, I’m starting to re-introduce exercise again.  But now, I can pick and choose activities that are fun since I know I can control my weight-loss with food alone (rather than having to do lots of slave-driven boring repetitive exercises just to lose weight).

Evelyn and Tessa have been fantastic coaches for me throughout this transition, and my success has apparently been motivational to them as well!  The 3 of us RVers have started a blog called Vegan Vagabonds to track our progress and serve as a spot to store the book/video/web resources and recipe’s we discover.  We also have a Vegan Vagabonds Facebook page to share daily news stories and collaborate with readers. 

If you’re interested in giving this “nutritarian” way of eating a try and regaining your health, give the blog’s Getting Started and Resources pages a look!

15 comments:

  1. Lynne,

    I've been following your blog for a while now. I'm in the market for a small motorhome that would double as an office-on-wheels. Do you find the View is a good choice for working on the road?

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    1. YES! Especially after some recent improvements I've just made to my View (not yet posted details yet, but I removed the dinette table and got a portable fold-down table (an "original" table-mate 1 that has legs on the side rather than criss-cross). The table is big enough for 2 to dine at, and nice-sized for working from. I then just also bought a small rocking/swivel office chair that fits nicely between the 2 dinette benches.

      I considered removing one or both dinette benches, but do still occasionally like to take my mom or godkids camping, and need the dinette as a bed. So on those trips, I'll leave the little office chair at home, and plan to build some wood "slats" to fit where the table used to so the dinette can convert to a bed at night.

      I have toyed off and on with the idea of moving to a small Class A, but even the smallest ones have always felt too big for just me. So now with these new changes, I'm satisfied once again with my View. Really happy too now that diesel is cheaper than regular gas-- makes the View an even better deal! I'm waiting to see what the new class C motorhomes will look like once the new Ford Transit chassis replaces the E350/450. There have been rumors that Ford will also have a diesel version Transit, so if true, this might bring different options than the Sprinter Mercedes chassis (which is limited to only 24'). I'd kill for a 28-30' class C diesel if it gave me a permanent bedroom while still giving me a long sofa and dinette/office space. So, we'll see what the 2014 or 2015 model year brings, but until then, I'll stick with my View!

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    2. Thanks for the info. Yes, I would love a 24 ft. class A but apparently we are a niche market. (Though Winnebago has the 25 ft. VIA. I've yet to see one in person and the price tag is pretty scary).

      I look forward to the day when manufacturers offer an "office" floorplan. You know, a desk that can (or can't) convert to a dining table/bed? And perhaps a drawer for hanging files? But rigs seem designed for families i.e. to sleep as many as possible.

      Look forward to hearing about you newest mods!

      Kim

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    3. Jennifer from Living in my Car is selling her 24-footer.

      http://www.rvtrader.com/listing/2006-Gulf-Stream-Vista-Cruiser-4230-104171195

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    4. Wow, Kim, you could own a legendary RV with this one! Rox-- thanks for sharing. I had no idea Jennifer just had a baby--wow, has she been thru some life changes lately!

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  2. YES!!! We watched Forks Over Knives a few months ago, and it changed our lives. We went back to vegan the next day. I then read The China Study, which is very interesting and motivational.

    So, last night (after serendipitously reading your Vegan Resources page), we watched Fat, Sick, and Nearly Dead. Now we're strategizing our reboot. We feel lots better after being vegan for a while, but I think we have a little way to go still.

    Thanks, you all, for creating the blog!

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    1. Rox-- You and Annie are my green (and vegan) heros! Really liked your recent post on the various concentrated/green alternatives you use for cleaning & personal care. I also recently went "No-Poo" and was ready to explore more natural alternatives to all the chemicals in soaps, deodorants, moisturizers, etc so your post was quite timely! Also, wanted to thank you too for the great post on the dehydrated foods you've found. That's a great idea for RVing vegans (where small-town grocery stores often don't have all the foods we need).

      Fat, Sick & Nearly Dead was the first video I watched and got all excited to do it, but once I read Eat to Live and realized I could still eat real food (and drink smoothies rather than juice), I decided to try that approach first. It's nice to know that if this approach ever stops working for weight-loss, that the "all juice" approach will be an option.

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  3. I was thoroughly amazed at just eliminating carbs from the diet, what happens; although am not going vegan, I have been pleased with the loss that I have experienced just eliminating carbs and a lot of sugar. Even soda pop doesn't taste good any more! As you said the energy level that comes around, the brain clarity and just wanting to eat smaller portions. Wishes for continued success.

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    1. Very good point Emily! Dr. Fuhrman (Eat To Live) doesn't say a fully-vegan diet is required to see the health benefits (i.e. lower cholesterol, BP, glucose). He recommends limiting meats, dairy, oils & processed foods to 10% of total calories, and grains/potatoes limited to 20%. But he suggests that full-vegan for the initial phase will help "detox" your system and lead to faster weight-loss (both of which I really needed). I've never done well with calorie-counting or portion control, so I'm liking that I can eat all I want, but amazed that I'm not usually that hungry for larger portions anymore due to eating nutrient-dense foods. Continued good health to you!

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  4. My son and DIL who are both graduates of Loma Linda University, which is in the City of Loma Linda, CA and is home to one of the premiere Heart surgery hospitals, Loma Linda Hospital, read a book while in college titled The China Study and they became vegan. I, like you did have just about gone completely vegetarian. I am not sure I could go completely vegan. But I do get close some times. My cholesterol and BP are better but I haven't lost weight. I probably need to get more serious about it. But good for you loosing 12 lbs and going cold turkey. I son, DIL and their two boys 5 and 4 all love the diet and as my grandson says "We don't eat animals." Ha ha.

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    1. The "Forks Over Knives" video was really compelling, and featured Dr. Campbell from The China Study. It's currently available for streaming via Netflix or Amazon Prime/Roku.

      As I mentioned above to Emily, Dr. Fuhrman says that small portions of meats/dairy are still perfectly fine if rapid weight-loss is not desired.

      Last year, after watching "Food, Inc", reading "The Omnivore's Dilemma", and happening to drive past a few pretty disturbing "big corporate livestock" sights in my RVing travels, I was pretty motivated to eliminate as much meat from my diet as possible.

      I recently read that the leading causes of greenhouse gas emissions are:
      1. Coal-fired power plants
      2. Livestock production
      3. Transportation (i.e. all cars, planes, etc)

      Livestock being ahead of Transportation just simply blew me away!

      While I still plan to eat some turkey at Thanksgiving or maybe some BBQ ribs or fresh seafood on occasion, the point is that those meat meals are now rare special occasions for me and not a daily/weekly thing anymore.

      Imagine how much nicer we'd leave the planet for our youngsters if everyone could reduce their meat intake to even just 3/4 or 1/2 of what it is today!

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  5. Thanks for creating the new blog. I started with green smoothies at least 5 years ago but have not gone totally vegan, yet. I did give up dairy about 2 weeks ago - I was eating a lot of Greek Yogurt. I am also gluten free because of a psoriais type rash that I have read can be caused by gluten. I am always looking for recipes, but mostly just eat fresh fruits and veges plain.

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    1. I thought giving up dairy would be impossible for me, but so far, I've been pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoy Almond Milk (especially in green or frozen fruit smoothies!). Soy yogurt hasn't been too bad either.

      I've been downloading some vegan Kindle app cookbooks and discovering new iPhone/iPad apps (such as the excellent, free Whole Foods Recipes app) so I can always have good recipe ideas with me when I'm home or on the road.

      I've never been much of a cook, so only look for the fast/easy ones. Have been enjoying lots of cold salads and lettuce wraps on hot days, and trying out soups/stews and one-pot meals when it's colder out.

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  6. I wish you the best as you transition to this new way of eating and lifestyle. I am always excited when I hear of someone making a commitment to walk in the direction of better health and fitness. It encourages me too to do the same and I thank you for that!

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