After eight weeks following the vegan path, my total cholesterol was down by 20% and LDL cholesterol was 25% lower. That’s the takeaway from this post. If you’re in a hurry, you can skip the rest. Nutrition affects our health. You knew that. This is just another example, with some numbers.
I didn’t do anything in a logical, well-planned way, but those results speak for themselves.
Looking back now from just over a year later, I smile at my rushed purchase of a slow cooker (still in its box) and a (now very well-used) blender. Thank you, blender, for all those green smoothies. I’ll get around to using the slow cooker someday.
Nana lent me a great cookbook and gave me a pack of index cards to copy out the recipes I liked. I enjoyed flipping through that book and looking at the pictures, but I did not prepare any of those meals. I returned the book a few months later and I still have the cards … somewhere. I also have a year of vegan living under my belt, so it was all for the good. Thank you Nana.
Last October my doctor told me my cholesterol was twice as high as it should be, well into the danger zone. He said he was going to put me on medication that I would have to take for the rest of my life. “I want you to start right away but I’ll give you eight weeks to change your diet. Eat less red meat, eat chicken breasts—the white meat only, and fish … ” I had already been eating this way for quite some time (as the rest of my life was falling apart, I’d thought this was the one thing I was doing right) but I said nothing as I panicked and my morale sank even lower into something beneath depression; I went underneath that and entered the realm of sub-depression.
His clear blue eyes looked straight into mine as he continued, “That might lower it a bit but it won’t be enough, so we’ll do another blood test in eight weeks and then I’ll put you on the medication.” I think the good doc might have been doing some sort of psychological aikido motivational thing here, because without saying a word to him I decided right there at that instant that I was going to be—no, I was now from that moment on, a vegetarian.
Back home, I sent a message to my friend Nana: “Can you recommend one book or resource to start off with? … I’m concerned about getting enough protein and about finding out what can actually help reduce cholesterol and oh, yeah, on top of that, I have to lose 25 pounds. So a few lifestyle changes are obviously in order. And I hate tofu! So I’m sort of up the creek, here. I’m off to a vegetarian restaurant … Never thought I’d see the day …”
Half an hour later I sent her another message: “So I nixed the restaurant idea … and am enjoying (?) my own bizarre creation: a spinach, cantaloupe, almond and sesame seed salad (without dressing). Can’t say I’m a fan, and I’m feeling slightly bogus, like an imposter or something …
Nana got back to me a half hour later. She mentioned something called The China Study, and provided a link to a video of Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn, who she told me “is famous for treating Bill Clinton.”
She suggested following the video with a look at a vegetarian/vegan food guide pyramid, and mentioned a Dr. Greger and a Dr. Barnard. I didn’t get far enough to actually read anything. I Googled the China Study and saw way more reading material than I had the energy to confront. I got halfway through the video and stopped it. I had no mental energy left to figure out whether or not I was going to use olive oil or something else. I’d made the decision. I was going to make this as simple as possible: vegetarianism was now already behind me – I was now a vegan. Done.
I had no idea how to proceed or what groceries to buy and I felt overwhelmed and terrified but I knew that one thing: I was now a vegan. Done.
So that happened.
It’s almost a year later I’m still on the vegan path.
(Very Important Note: Women can be Vegan Yoga Dudes, too. This is written in stone but as always, I’m open to discussion or debate.)
The first version of this “How To …” elicited a comment which made me reflect and reconsider. As a result, I’ve changed it up a bit. The new thing allows for temporary states of Vegan Yoga Dudeness. It’s an inclusive program: there’s room for all in this tent.
1. Say “I am a vegan yoga dude” before or after eating something that is not meat, fish, eggs or dairy. You can also say it between mouthfuls, but only after swallowing. Don’t talk with your mouth full.
2. Say “Namaste.” Ideally to another human being, if anyone’s around. If not, say it to your dog, your cat or the fridge.
3. Do any form of yoga whatsoever. You can even just mimic and make fun of whatever you think yoga looks like, and hey! make jokes while you do it, too! Strike a pose. “Hey, look! Sideways cow!* Ha ha ha!” Go wild; it’s all good. If you say you’re doing yoga, then you’re doing yoga, according to the Vegan Yoga Dude guidelines.
4. Right up until your next intake of meat, fish, eggs or dairy you will be a temporary Vegan Yoga Dude. Rock that Dudeness. (That’s the action step right there, okay? Rock your Vegan Yoga Dudenesss.)
That’s it. Congratulations.
*Thanks, Franklin, for the “sideways cow” thing. I like that.
So I hear about a free Hot Yoga class, and I remember that my friend Greg did some of this Hot Yoga stuff a few months ago, and, well, he’s still alive, so … feeling a wee bit adventurous, I decide, “Hey, okay! Let’s give it a shot!” Famous last words.
Now here I am, with thirty women, none of whom I can see through the perspiration that’s running into my eyes. All I can tell is that I’m surrounded by a bunch of blurry figures. And even without the sweat, I’m squinting from the pain and the effort, and I’m grunting and gasping and I can’t see the instructor through the sweat, so I’m trying to follow what the person next to me is doing, and my eyes are burning and my body is screaming “Stop! Get the f… outta here!” Because, of course, it’s HOT! Now I’m from the tropics, but this was HOTTT! Holy heat wave, Batman! Hose me down and drag me outta here by my ankles … please!
And on and on it goes: All the other people are breathing calmly together, and I’m panting away at twice their speed. At one point I nearly pass out. And all along, I’m questioning my sanity and trying for the life of me to remember what possessed me to even think of trying this.
So, fast forward to THE END. A bell rings three times, everybody says “Namaste,” and the instructor says to get up when you’re ready. All the ladies pitter-patter outta there rapido-presto and I can’t move. So I decide that I’m going to spend the night right there on my mat. She said get up when you’re ready, right? So I’ll be ready some time tomorrow, thank you. Except, of course, that it’s HOT! I gotta get outta here!
I lurch and wobble to the dressing room, probably looking very drunk, but I’m not. And as I start cooling down, I start feeling big-time … what’s that? It’s like … yeah, SERENITY! I’m feeling … happy … and all the regular aches and pains are gone, and I’m getting that “I love everybody! Life is great!” vibe. And this is with no booze! I wanna sing and dance! (But I don’t, of course.) And I just KNOW I’m gonna sleep great tonight.
So … on the way out, I put my money down and sign up for more classes. My next post will probably be from a stretcher in the Emergency Ward of a hospital, but dammit, I’m gonna be SO SERENE. And that’s that. Thank You and Good night. Out.