I’m going to fill you in on a little secret, something that has been in progress for sometime and only now am I starting to accept it. It all started about 6 months ago and was cemented into place around 3 months ago. Since around 2014 I have been sick constantly, in fact somewhere around 2-3 times a month from anywhere between two days to weeks at a time; to say that is has been difficult to keep to a training regime is an understatement. I figured I wasn’t getting enough sleep, or my child was making me sick, or I became allergic to something. In any-case I figured it would go over soon enough so I never bothered with going to the doctors.
On top of always being sick I have had very little energy over the last couple of years. I figured it was part of getting older! However after finally getting sick of always being sick I decided it was time for a change. I was sick of being sick and tired!
Before I go any further let me roll back my timeline another two years about the first time I tried to get into running, it was after I read the phenomenal book Born to Run by Christopher McDougall. It was this book that inspired me to start running, and with that I also learned that I couldn’t keep any routine as I kept getting sick all the time. I also figured that losing some weight and running more is probably a good idea considering my “adventurous” lifestyle.. or backpacking.
I kept giving it a shot, and whenever I needed some extra motivation I would go back to reading Born to run. Well, getting sick and being tired has a bad habit of sapping what little motivation I had to move and at the same time I started to get more fat than usual around my stomach and chest. Man boobs started to form and where I once had a slight visible muscle definition was now replaced with fat and mushyness. My thin muscular face has been replaced by a somewhat gooey one. To say I was aging bad, in my opinion was an understatement.
I had always followed the Paleo diet or carb free diet for most of my adult life, not religiously but it had definitely become my lifestyle. I preferred a steak a plate full of broccoli and sweat potatoes to a pizza. I believe that this kept me from getting overly fat, as the diet does work as a diet. I never thought that it was my diet that was leading to my sickness and getting fat. Then I watched a documentary called Forks over knifes a while ago, more like a year or so ago, and it stuck with me. So I decided to watch it again as well as read a few books on the subject of a whole foods plant based diet. To my amazement these are some of the absolute best researched books i’ve ever read of diet and nutrition such as the China Study and Whole by Colin t. Campbell. How not to die by Michael Greger and a few others. I also read Rich Rolls book on his similar journey from half dead to making a change; Finding Ultra.
After reading these books I realized that there was a very real possibility that it was my diet that was killing me and not some unknown infliction that came up from hell and has decided to plague me personally. So I figured that I could at-least give the idea of the whole food plant based diet a try for a short while and see if there is any difference. What is a whole food plant based diet? (WFPB diet = VEGAN) Or sort of, in reality vegan could be chips and coke cola, WFPB is a healthier alternative.
At about the same-time I started to make my progress over to a WFPB diet, I finally made my way to a doctor to get my blood work and so on done. The test results came back negative on finding any reason on why I am sick, but came back positive on that I will probably die a young and horrible death due to heart disease as my cholesterol levels where much higher than normal for my age. What did my doctor prescribe? Pills and lots of them or change my diet and start exercising more (this is Sweden, doctors are allowed to prescribe diet and exercise as their not yet completely owned corporate subsidies of the drug industry). I decided I would try diet instead.
My process has been slow, it has taken me several months to replace my typical meat recipes with WFPB alternatives, to empty my shelves of my meat and dairy recipe books, and to restock my fridge and cabinets with vegan goods. When I got the test results from the doctor, my WFPB transition was more or less complete, with the test results pushing me over completely.
Disclaimer: I hate the term Vegan, when I think of the word vegan all sorts of strange shit pops into my head, the PETA people throwing paint on fur wearers, the hippy dread lock guys refusing to shower or wear shoes, or the creepy vegan gangs standing outside McDonalds terrorizing bystanders. With that said, I certainly think animals should be able to live their own lives, but It simply doesn’t sell me on being a vegan, I love bbq chicken wings and a lovely juicy cow on my plate.
No, my motivation for a WFPB diet is this: I don’t want to die a horrible slow death. I don’t want cancer, diabetes, Alzheimer’s or any other number of afflictions that can be attributed to the typical western diet. I would love to write a lot about the research done and used in the books I listed above, but I won’t. It’s just too much and I prefer everyone to do their own research before listening to me. There are studies of patients, hundreds of patient on their death beds with heart disease and diabetes who went over to a WFPB diet and within months their health improved so much that they didn’t need pills anymore. Many of them in the control groups lived an extra 20 years or more while the subject who continued their traditional diets and moved over to pills and operations died within the first year or two of the studies. I could go on and on, but I will leave that to you. You will know when the time is right, you will feel it in your bones and when you feel it, you will read these books and make the changes.
Stopping to drink some cocunut water and eat a banana on a 70k bike ride
So what are the results so far? Since I converted over to a WFPB diet I have not been sick, not even close to being sick. My energy levels have increased ten fold – I feel like I’m 18 years old again. I have so much energy that in-order to not go crazy I have to get out the house and run! How much do I run? Hundreds of kilometers every month on top of several hundreds kilometers biking. I don’t get tired, I just keep moving. My muscles and bones are completely recovered from one day to the next. I’m sleeping better, I don’t get tired after eating and I’m losing a lot of weight. My energy levels increased so dramatically that I quit drinking coffee altogether – from a liter or so of coffee a day to nothing. To say that the side effects of eating a WFPB diet are far beyond my expectations is again and understatement. The new me is so addicting that the idea of ever going back to a traditional western diet with dairy and meat is simply not a possibility. Another plus side is that most restaurants only have one or two vegan dishes, AWESOME! I don’t have to spend time debating on which of the 20 different meals to choose from.
Left: Just finished the Stockholm tunnelrun 8k
Right: About to run my third competition for the year. 10k which I came in at 56 minutes.
I have no idea what my test results will show the next time around, but honestly, I’m not too worried about it. There is no doubt in my mind that my cholesterol will be radically reduced and my heart will be thumbing at full blast without interference for many years to come.
My mousli banana crunch. A vegan breakfast that taste amazing
So heres to the new me, and my own continued progression, I am even thinking of making a simple VLOG to document my journey. I am also in the process of converting all my backpacking recipes to vegan alternatives and so on. With all this said I hope that you two will do the research and find the motivation to change. It will change your life and make you wonder what the fuck you where doing all these years killing yourself slowly, when you could have been living life to the fullest. Focused, energized and on fire.
Some tips for your own transition:
- Watch the documentaries Fork of knives, Food matters and the newest What the health
- Read some books The china study, Whole, How not to die
- Buy some new recipe books. Fork over knifes has a great app as well as recipe book. The plant power way is a good book. Green kitchen has a great book and App.
- Replace your favourite recipes with vegan alternatives. Experiment! you can’t be afraid to try new dishes when making the transition.
- Be patient and realistic, the transition is not going to happen overnight. Give it a month or so to take the first steps, then go all in! The feeling of being unstoppable and awesome is addicting.
- Remember: on a pure health basis if you want to avoid cancer and all the other diseases and sicknesses attributed to the western diet meat and dairy should not exceed 5% of your total consumption. So in other words, it’s perfectly ok to eat a little cheese now and then if you get the urge!
- You don’t need dread locks and wear hemp clothing just because your diet changes. But if you feel like it go for it!
Great post! I really enjoyed it and will be checking out your book recommendations…
Good article. Nice to see someone that takes charge of their life like this. There is no question that the kind of diet you discuss here is a better way in general.
One thing, though, is that I think it’s not *necessarily* meat that is so bad, it is where it comes from and how it is raised, what chemicals are involved, the health and well-being of the animals, and stuff like that. There are many examples of traditional peoples in the world that relied largely on animal products…Eskimos come to mind..there’s no vegetables in the Arctic really, and I know that studies on them found them to be healthy. And a lot of coastal people eat plenty of wild seafood..there is no shortage of evidence that wild fish and other sea animals is very good for health…and that’s meat, right?
Perhaps, next time you feel that urge for meat or cheese, instead of eating some factory raised, drug-filled cow meat or cheese from a horrendously brutalized dairy cow, if you did a little hunting or fishing or clam-digging or ate a little goat milk cheese from goats that are free to run around and live like goats were meant to, you might find that such things would increase your health.
Maybe even go spear yourself a nice juicy seal and eat off that for several months.
Still though, eating plants is probably the better choice. It’s what I’ve been doing for years myself, and I feel great.
Thanks for the comment. I do feel that taking charge of my own life is extremely important.. it’s not too unusual for most people to wake up one day and wonder what the hell happened with my life. I have always been very dedicated to living my life the way I want without hinder. Sometimes it works out sometimes not.
With regards to food I used to think the samething as you state here. But research show a completely different result, the truth is that the meat itself (though not helped by the antibiotics and chemicals and so on) is a strong Carcinogen in and of itselft. This is meat from any source (bird, cow, pig, fish) and even from dairy products. These books are very fascinating in the amount of details and sources and studies used.
Interesting. I had read that cancer was considered a recent phenomenon, but then I wonder if there was any way to detect it until some of the modern microscopes and tests were developed? If what you say is true, then why would mankind have evolved to crave meat, to find it delicious and easily digestable, to have canine teeth, to hunt in packs like wolves do, etc.? Shouldn’t those with the genes to digest meat have died out long ago, as so many of them would have died of cancer? And wouldn’t it be common knowledge after all these millions of years that meat is a poison?
After all, people know about the medicinal qualities of over 10,000 plants and animals, people know which plants to avoid eating, people know it is dangerous to be out at night just by instinct, and so on. Is evolution (or even some kind supernatural or extraterrestrial creator) so flawed as to have allowed us end up desiring and enjoying a mortal poison? I find this a bit odd… Typically the human tongue and nose and digestive system finds bad things offensive, for one thing, and as I say, it would seem that people with that kind of genetic makeup would have died out with the Neanderthals or whatever…
Hmmm…..what do you think about this line of thought?
I’m not saying your wrong. Humans have evolved to survive in just about any condition or enviroment. There are studies as you say that suggest everything as you say.. But watch the documentaries and read the books.. it will give you a different outlook.
What I can say is this, perhaps we have been able to survive with many different means, and in some cases thrive. But perhaps as the studies would suggest, with knowledge and as anything else that has evolved through the millinium, with science, we can be better than we have been.
If studies, mountains and mountains of studies with hundreds of thousands of people suggest that eating meat leads to a worsening of health, a deteroation of the body and in many cases a leading factor in weight gain, cancer, diabetes, alzheimers and so on.. perhaps with knowledge we now know what works best for our bodies as a species.
Hi! I posted a comment last night but it seems to vanish into thin e-air.. 🙂
I wanted to thank you for this post. I was really unhappy with my weight and (un)fitness so last summer I decided both to get some exercise regularly and after that – also to try to reduce some weight – after some reading I tried just skipping on sweets and bread/pasta – basically a “lite” version of low carb diet.
Now, after 9 months (and it was far from strict LCHF diet over the course of winter) I am 20kg lighter and much more fit.
However, even though I am not aware of any health issues at the moment I have been getting rather worried about any possible outcome of such a diet in a long run.. So thanks again for this post – I will do my homework and read and watch and try to change my habits again… 🙂
Wishing all the best to you – and looking forward to more posts on this topic.
Awesome with the changes you’ve already made! Making the next transition won’t be a problem at all.. you’ve already taken the most difficult task: Realising a change was/is needed. Keep up the good work!
You might be interested in some radio documentaries from CBC Radio in Canada.
* Ideas: “CBC Radio’s program of contemporary thought.” http://www.cbc.ca/radio/ideas/
“Jill Eisen explores the complex, and sometimes contradictory, science of nutrition – and tries to find clarity amidst the thicket of studies and ambiguous research.”
– Fat & Sugar, Part 1: http://podcast.cbc.ca/mp3/podcasts/ideas_20161223_13811.mp3
– Fat & Sugar, Part 2: http://podcast.cbc.ca/mp3/podcasts/ideas_20161230_31806.mp3
* The Current: “a meeting place of perspectives, ideas and voices, with a fresh take on issues that affect Canadians today. Hosted by Anna Maria Tremonti, one of Canada’s most trusted and listened-to journalists.” http://www.cbc.ca/radio/thecurrent/
– Sugar acts similarly to alcohol or cocaine in our brains, says neuroscientist. Gary Taubes make the case against sugar this week, The Current looks into treating sugar addiction.
– The truth about fat: the body’s least understood organ. Body fat is obsessed over but how well do we understand it? Biochemist Sylvia Tara went on a quest to learn about the fat she’d been battling all her life and shares her findings in The Secret Life of Fat.
Thanks for this post, Chris. The timing couldn’t be better for me. I’ve recently consulted a cardiologist as my LDL cholesterol levels are very high and I have a strong family history of heart disease (My father and 4 of his siblings have had angioplasty).
I’ve been prescribed a low dose of statins, but I’m declining to take these drugs.
I’m considering giving the Whole30 eating plan a shot next month, and I’ll have my booods done beforehand; so, I’ll have a baseline to compare with afterwards.
I’ll definately check out those documentaries, thanks for the recommendations!
*Ken, My bad!
Give it an honest shot! You have motivation already knowing your life depends on it! Start slow like I wrote, remember it’s not a diet, it’s a lifestyle change… for life
Enjoyed the read.
I’ve been a vegetarian since 1980 and a dairy free vegetarian since having cancer in 2012. Today I find that I am feeling 68 but that maybe because I am.
Difficult to avoid bad health but we don’t have to feed it to ourseves :0)
Brilliant article! I have pretty much totally transitioned over to WFPB-SOS and Dr Greger’s “How Not To Die” recommendations over the last three months after switching to vegan in January. It is on my hitlist to get properly fit again (I used to be a long distance cross country runner in my teens – now 42 and only just lost 3.5 stone to now being in the Overweight category :/ )
I’ve got Rich Roll’s Finding Ultra sat ready to read as well after seeing him on various documentaries.
Would love to see your WFPB Backpacking recipes (which is how I found your blog, while searching for these for a forthcoming 10 day trip to a festival I work at – while there are some Vegan options during the festival I have 5 days on either side with zero food outlets close by). Especially any dehydrator meal recipes.
Keep up the great journey and I will be following to help keep me inspired 🙂