A Fortnight of Fitness: Day 13 and 14


Due to starting my Spring semester of grad school classes on Monday, I balked on logging a post on Day 13 of my two week challenge to follow a vegan diet. So this post combines Days 13 and 14, the final two days.

I can't say there was much change in measures over the last two days. But the measures were good. My weight bottomed out at 213 pounds and would not go below that, notwithstanding good dietary adherence and almost daily moderate exercise.

My Day 14 blood pressure was 109/70. I failed to capture it on Day 13, but it has been trending lower throughout the challenge. That is a fantastically good BP by clinical standards.

I have decided to continue on a vegan diet for at least another fortnight, since the results of the first fortnight were generally good, and it is clinically shown to be one of the best weight loss and health-promoting diets. For this second run, I will probably record just before and after measurements, not daily. Deborah and I went to the grocery store after our gym workout today and stocked up. At the wellness expo we attended over the weekend, we scored a handy-dandy veggie peeler that does both thin and julienne slicing. I made some great hash browned potatoes with it last night. It is good for harder root veggies, but I still prefer the spiralizer for making zucchini pasta, for example.

Anyway, we are stocked up on animal free foods. I scored some vegan cheese and some tofu-based noodles that I am going to experiment with. I have a goal to make some homemade veggie burgers.

KEYWORDS: lifestyle coach, best weight loss diet, vegan diet


A Fortnight of Fitness: Day 12

Deborah and I are in the home stretch of our fortnight of fitness, to follow a plant-based, whole food diet for two weeks and measure the health effects: objectively, weight and blood pressure; subjectively, mood and overall well-being.

I'll cut to the chase. My weight on the morning of Day 12 was 214 pounds. This was up a pound from Day 11, but it is important to note that my weight was 222 pounds when I began this fortnight-long challenge. My blood pressure on the evening of Day 12 was 118/70. My blood pressure has been variable during this challenge, but this is on the very low end of measured values. At its peak, my BP was around 130/80. I cannot say with certainty that the precision of the Walgreens brand home BP monitor that we are using allows me to call this change in BP statistically significant, but I am happy with the current numbers.

My mood has been generally good. I have some anxiety, but I believe this is due to starting my second challenging semester of graduate school tonight, and nothing to do with my lifestyle changes. Since returning from vacation a couple weeks ago, I have felt a little bit bored and unsatisfied with life, but this is because I have not had enough activities to focus my brain energy on and studying should remedy that. Additionally, January and February in Wisconsin are notoriously brutal months for getting outdoors, which enhances my mood. However, I will continue to track my mood and see. In February, I have February Album Writing Month to preoccupy my creativity through to March, when I hope my rock-n-roll band GUPPY EFFECT will start to play some shows again.


A Fortnight of Fitness: Day 11


After a decent gym workout yesterday that included 45 minutes of aerobics and several laps of swimming, Deborah and I attended the Well Expo downtown and ended up spending too much money on stuff we only marginally maybe need (most notably some vegan protein powder for our morning smoothies).

My weight has stabilized at 113 pounds, where it has been for the past three days of the challenge. I'd like to knock it under 210 before this challenge ends in three days. My blood pressure has dropped way down, however, to 109/67. I'd like to measure my cholesterol and blood sugar after completion of this challenge, if I can finegle it with my doctor's office...

KEYWORDS: lifestyle coaching, health and wellness, vegan diet, best weight loss diet, losing weight


A Fortnight of Fitness: Day 10

Deborah and I are 10 days into the fortnight of fitness - to follow a plant-based, whole food (vegan) diet for two weeks. There is no caloric restriction on this diet, only that no artificial or animal-based foods may be (knowingly) eaten. We are objectively tracking weight and blood pressure, and subjectively tracking general well being and mood.

The dietary part is not that hard and we have been 100% compliant, to the best of our knowledge. Although there is no requirement to exercise during this challenge, I have gone to the gym every day (I think), and Deborah has gone most days.
I forgot to measure my blood pressure yesterday, but that was the only day I missed. Today I had a doctor's appointment where my blood pressure was 122/76. I measured it again before bed on our home blood pressure meter for consistency with prior measurements and got 117/65, definitely trending lower.

On the left is a graph showing my 10 day weight loss thus far on the diet. The trend is downward, as you can see.


A Fortnight of Fitness: Day 9


I weighed in at 213 pounds this morning, a substantial two pound drop from my Day 8 weight. I attribute this to an hour long gym workout on Day 8 that included weight lifting, as well as nominal caloric intake (though at no point in the day did I feel hungry).

Blood pressure was not measured today.

KEYWORDS: lifestyle coaching, health and wellness, weight loss, best weight loss diet, vegan diet


A Fortnight of Fitness: Day 8


After a week of this, I guess you know the drill by now.

Weight was down to 215 pounds today, from 216 on Day 7. Blood pressure was 120/77 at bedtime. Not bad.

I worked out at the gym for about an hour today. I was 100% compliant on the plant-based, whole food diet and did not over eat.

KEYWORDS: vegan diet, plant based diet, whole food diet, best weight loss diet, health and wellness


A Fortnight of Fitness: Day 7


The first week of my wife's and my fortnight of fitness to follow a plant-based, whole food diet has drawn to a successful close. One week to go.

Breakfast was once again oatmeal porridge with fruit (apple and banana) and unsweetened almond milk. I did not eat lunch, per se, but after going to the gym in the late afternoon, I ate a Larabar (whole food dates, coconut, and almonds) and some mixed nuts. For dinner, Deborah made us baked potatoes and I seasoned mine with organic, sugar-free marinara sauce. It was OK. I also had some leftover pinto beans and brown rice. For a snack while we watched TV in the evening, I shelled some pistachios and peanuts and air popped some popcorn.

My weight was down slightly this morning, at 216 pounds. My blood pressure before bedtime was 117/72. I'll graph the trends in weight and BP after the fitness challenge ends a week from today, but it feels like both are trending downward. My mood is good. I feel happy and positive.

KEYWORDS: forks over knives, best weight loss diet, vegan diet

A Fortnight of Fitness: Day 6


Fantastic day! It was a holiday and, notwithstanding crap weather, my wife and I had a fun time. We slept in. We made breakfast smoothies using a new Nutribullet blender that Deborah had ordered online. I also had my usual oatmeal porridge. In the early afternoon, we paid a visit to my buddy Stefan's house to visit with him and his charming one year old toddler, Teddy, before running a few errands and then going to the gym. We worked out on the exercise floor for about 45 minutes (stationary bike for me, as usual) and then swam for 15 minutes or so in their 25 meter lap pool. We went out for dinner at the Great Dane, seeking plant-based whole foods, per the guidelines of our current two week fitness challenge. It is one of the few restaurants in Madison WI that has mostly vegan options (we can't even do eggs or cheese on this challenge). There may have been a light amount of butter on some bread that accompanied one of the dishes, but otherwise I think we stayed within dietary specifications. Pretty wiped from our gym workout, we returned home after dinner to relax for the evening.

I weighed in at 217 pounds this morning, up a pound from yesterday (Day 5), which surprised me a bit, because I exercised and stayed well within dietary guidelines. My blood pressure was 125/80 when I measured it before bedtime. I attribute the slight elevation to being aggravated about having to clean up some poop that my dog Foster decided to deposit in the house, after also accidentally stepping in it and tracking around the house. Grrr.

KEYWORDS: best weight loss diet, best diet plans, health and wellness, best exercise for weight loss, swimming


A Fortnight of Fitness: Day 5


My weight was 216 pounds this morning, Day 5 of the fortnight long fitness challenge I am doing with my wife - to follow a plant-based, whole food diet for two weeks. This weight measurement was unchanged from Day 4 of the challenge. However, this is actually a good thing, because I had expected it to go up as a consequence of a greater than usual calorie intake on Day 4. You see, this is my officially recognized birthday weekend, and although we stuck to the dietary protocol, I indulged in a significant number of blue corn chips (whole grain blue corn, salt, and safflower oil) and deluxe mixed nuts (roasted and salted) on Day 4. That said, we also went to the gym, where I burned at least 600 calories on the exercise bike. But enough about Day 4...this is my Day 5 summary.

After the weigh in, I made a breakfast of oatmeal with half a banana, about 20 grapes, and some unsweetened almond milk (my usual breakfast on this challenge). We went to the gym about noon, where I burned around 600 calories on the bike. For lunch, I ate leftovers - vegan chili and some pinto beans with brown rice. I spent most of the afternoon rehearsing songs for my band GUPPY EFFECT's performance at Funk's Pub later in the evening. Before heading to the show, I ate a baked potato that Deborah had made, seasoned only with a bit of salt. At the pub, the smells of restaurant food made me hungry, but I did not succumb. We drank water and that's all. However, when we got home, I sauteed some vegetables (3/4 of a potato, a medium sized zucchini, half an onion, and some celery) in olive oil with some herbs and spices.

My blood pressure was 110/67 before bedtime, reclining. Nice.


A Fortnight of Fitness: Days 3 and 4

Due to a number of other endeavors, I did not record an entry on Day 3 of this fitness challenge to follow a plant-based, whole food diet for a fortnight, along with my wife Deborah. So, I am combining both entries today, which is Day 4 of the challenge, officially.

My mood is elevated. This may be due to the fact that my Day 4 body weight (216 pounds) is down three pounds from my Day 3 body weight (219 pounds) and, additionally, that my culinary attempts proved more flavorful on Day 3. I made pinto beans, mildly spiced, and brown rice for dinner, using dried raw pinto beans instead of canned. I also baked potatoes for Deborah and me and they tasted fine without any seasoning. Once the potato cools, some subtle flavors come out in the starch and skin that you don't notice when you load the potato full of butter and salt.

This challenge does not require any caloric restriction, so we can eat as much food as we want, as long as it is plant-based whole food. However, I have noticed that I don't crave food and don't over eat on this diet. This could be due in part to the increased effort involved in the preparation and consumption of this type of food (what I refer to as "chewy" or "grainy" food), but that can't be the only explanation. Indeed, I prepared enough pinto beans and rice for several servings, but felt no compulsion to eat more than one. I have an initial hypothesis, which will need to be borne out, that the nutritional profile of this kind of food is satisfying all of my body's metabolic needs, thereby activating the satiation sensors of my digestive tract and brain.

My blood pressure was 126/72, down significantly from yesterday. I was somewhat stressed yesterday, due to the aforementioned endeavors I was pursuing, so that may explain some of the change. Today is a Saturday and I have nothing significant on my TO DO LIST, other than to get to the gym for a moderate workout and perhaps work on some music, in anticipation of a possible rock-n-roll set with my band GUPPY EFFECT on Sunday night.

This morning, I had my usual breakfast of oatmeal and unsweetened almond milk, adding banana (half), grapes (20), and raw cashews (10). Deborah also made smoothies in the food processor, using frozen fruit, cinnamon, unsweetened almond milk, and oats. They were not bad, albeit a little bit "grainy."

KEYWORDS: weight loss, whole food diet, healthy diet, weight loss, blood pressure


A Fortnight of Fitness: Day 2


Veganism is tough. I won't lie about that. Last night for dinner, on Day 1 of this current fitness challenge to adhere to a plant-based, whole food diet for a fortnight (two weeks in the vernacular), I made a vegan chili and some black beans and brown rice, accompanied by a salad. I wasn't my best work, flavor-wise. Part of this could be the fact that my taste buds have been neutralized by the awful tasting zinc lozenges I have been sucking on due to a recent cold. In fact, that's probably a big part of it. That being said, Deborah did not seem too impressed with my culinary skill either, although she said she thought the food was overly spicy, rather than flavor-less. Perhaps I was overcompensating for my own lack of gustation. Hopefully, my vegan cooking skills improve over the next 13 days. But if they don't, at least this is just a short term challenge that will be over soon enough.

This morning, I weighed in at 220 pounds, down two pounds from yesterday. That was not unexpected given that yesterday's weight was artificially inflated due to the birthday pizza we ate the evening prior to starting this fitness challenge. Still, it is trending in the right direction. My blood pressure was a bit elevated at 133/79.

Qualitatively, my mood is not great. Part of that is my disappointment that my vegan cooking attempt was not more successful yesterday. Also, the weather outside is dreary and the forecast indicates increasing dreariness along with plummetting temperatures over the next couple of days. On the bright side, I got to walk one of my favorite dogs this afternoon, for a neighbor client. It's an Australian shepherd puppy, full of energy and incredibly bright. I also got to the gym for a decent workout, although I spent some of my time on the exercise bike shopping for textbooks for this semester of grad school, which was financially a bit demoralizing.


A Fortnight of Fitness: Day 1

Last night, Deborah and I watched the documentary "Forks Over Knives," which is pretty much the film version of the book, "The China Study," touting the strong scientific evidence that a whole food, plant-based diet is optimal for health and can prevent or reverse chronic diseases, like heart disease and diabetes.

It came out in 2011, but surprisingly I wasn't made aware of it until recently. It's a very watchable film. It doesn't get boring or bogged down in political ideologies too much. It pretty much just follows the history of some of the strongest scientific research to date on the health benefits of plants, and its proponents (one of whom is the author of "The China Study"). Most of this evidence doesn't make it into the popular press because the food industry is a major gatekeeper on corporate mainstream media and the advertising that underwrites it, and frankly veggies don't sell. The food industry makes its profits on value-added processed foods, as well as meat and dairy, all of which are strongly linked to the prevalence of chronic diseases (especially dairy).

Now that the holidays and my birthday are behind me, I am going to attempt a fitness challenge for a fortnight, where I adhere to a strictly plant-based, whole food diet and measure the results quantitatively (weight and blood pressure) and qualitatively (energy levels, mood, focus, etc.). I will continue to do everything else as I normally would, like going to the gym three to four times per week for a moderate aerobic workout.

I weighed in this morning at 222 pounds, my baseline for this challenge, and about seven pounds over my pre-holiday/birthday weight. Last night's birthday pizza did not help and may have artificially inflated my baseline, which is usually about 215 pounds. My target weight is 199 pounds, and I have not been at this weight since before I can remember...but probably before college.

My baseline blood pressure today was 126/83, using a Walgreens brand consumer blood pressure gauge my wife has that seems to be somewhat accurate. That's slightly high for me. I'll also attribute that to the pizza.