Monday, October 31, 2011

October 31

The end of the month and the end of my challenge.  Lunch was plain and not worth pictures.  Steamed veggies consisting of cauliflower, yellow pepper, white beans, zucchini  a few walnuts, and sweet potato with rice.  Dinner was similar, but a bit prettier with grape tomatoes.
Steamed veggies for final challenge meal.
My last supper of October
Final Thoughts
The month went by fast.  The last couple of months have been beneficial for me.  I have learned more about my hunger, lost some weight, saved some time by no longer eating breakfast, and improved my health a bit.  It has also been a good month for introducing others to healthy eating.  A friend has avoided surgery and resumed her active life.  Several others have asked Farley about the plan.  Several people here have benefitted.

The internet is an amazing place because it is possible to interact with just about anybody.  That is great when it comes to exposing people to Dr. McDougall's ideas.  The people who have participated here have all been wonderful - even those with whom I don't entirely agree.  I think that this October Challenge has been good in giving folks a view of what a whole foods plant based diet can look like, and convincing them that it is not some pie in the sky ideal that could never really work.  It has worked for Farley and I over the last 4 years, and it just keeps getting easier.

I may take a bit of a break for awhile, but will always check here if anybody has questions or ideas that they would like to discuss.  I do feel that I deserve a break.  I am intrigued by Dr. Fuhrman's discussion board.  I may sign up for awhile just to see what it is about.

When people are ready to get healthy, the information is available, and the books and DVDs from such people as Drs. McDougall, Esselstyn, Fuhrman, Novick,  Lisle, Barnard, etc. is plentiful.  For those who are not ready to get healthy, there will never be enough help available.  I hope that all the readers here are ready to get or continue being healthy.

But in the final analysis I would have to rate my person-to-person results and satisfaction way above my internet results and satisfaction.  I just can't deny that I am much more effective dealing face to face, and much happier too.  I want to think about that for awhile.

Finally, I have dedicated my efforts on this challenge to those who have helped me the most.  First, my wonderful wife, Farley.  There is no way to express my love for and gratitude towards her.  She is more than a life saver - she is a life giver.  Then I must thank and pay homage to the courageous health professionals who chose the good of their patients and the public over financial success and professional accord.  John McDougall, Jeff Novick, Caldwell Esselstyn, Joel Fuhrman.  In one hundred years, scientists and the public will be asking why people did not listen to these great men.  They will have to settle for the posthumous honor which will certainly come.  Perhaps the greatest thing that can be said of anybody here is that they made the world a better place.  Without a doubt, each of these men know that they have done this.  My personal thanks to each health professional that is on the team.  And thanks to everybody who has read and/or contributed to this blog.

October 30

Sunday was another busy day - too busy to take food pictures.  We all took a rolling session with instructor Dan Crandall in Lotus, Ca.  Here is a picture of or son, Charley, warming up for his session:
Charley rolling his kayak
If you are interested in viewing some photos of Charley running the Chile Bar rapids on the South Fork of the American River, you could see here.
Photos of Charley's run through Troublemaker rapid / Chile Bar

I put these here in case anybody thinks that being vegan would impair a child's health or make him a wimp.  Charley has been vegan his entire life.  As you can see, he is a healthy 6'4".  He is a straight A student, a black belt in karate, a school leader and a very happy and healthy boy.  As you can see from the photos, he has plenty of courage too, and everybody remarks on what a great kid we have.  I am totally proud.

We were up a bit late since we attended a dinner party the night before.  This is a dinner group that has been meeting on a rotating basis since 1977.  Nobody else eats like us, but it has not been a problem.  Others will eat our food, and they generally have at least one dish that works for us.  On this occasion, there was no food for us, so we just sat down to dinner and had time to talk and sip a glass of wine.  I say this because I have seen many people who seem compelled to eat bad food if it is put before them as the only option.  Farley and I both had a great time without eating, and I don't think anybody else was bothered by our not eating.  You never have to eat bad food to accommodate anybody else.  If you need to say something, just say that you are on a doctor (McDougall) prescribed strict diet.

Lunch and dinner were the same today.  We had the last of the chili leftovers with greens, rice, fresh bell pepper, and sweet potato.  When you are hungry, variety is not important, and the food always tastes great.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

October 29

A Perfect Day on the River

No food pictures for today - we were too busy.  We arranged to paddle with friends on the beautiful Mokulumne River.  If anybody wants to see some pictures of the day, our friend Jim took photos here.  One of the great things about this lifestyle is enjoying our physical health.  Tomorrow we will be rolling in the whitewater near Lotus, Ca.

Another great thing is sharing our lifestyle with others.  Pictured above is our friend Penny, a veterinarian, horsewoman, scrapping enthusiast, and sometime paddler.  We noticed that Penny was not paddling this summer and asked her why.  She told us that she had been diagnosed with heart disease, was having too much chest pain, and was scheduled for heart surgery.  Of course, I was not going to let that go without telling her about Dr. Esselstyn and Dr. McDougall.  She was interested, and we had Penny and her husband over for lunch and watched some DVDs.

It was August 1 that Penny decided to try the diet, and she is so happy and grateful that she did.  She no longer experiences any chest pains, her surgery is cancelled, and she is back paddling, riding, and enjoying life again.  She has lost 20 pounds and has 20 pounds to go.  She is feeling so much better all around that she can't believe it, and loves the food.  She had no transitions symptoms either - lucky girl.  Just like us, her husband joined in and has lost 33 pounds already himself.  It was so much fun to see how much Penny was enjoying her reclaimed health.  She has even helped some of her staff at her office to improve their health and diet.  Way to go Penny!

As for our food, Farley got up early and made a salad to go into Bento boxes.  Cubed Japanese sweet potatoes, white beans, rice, chopped bell pepper, with a Dijon/balsamic dressing.  When we got home, we ate the leftovers with leftover chili over greens and rice.  We had a dinner party to go to also.  We ate nothing, but take a demerit or two for a few tastes of wine.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

October 27

I will get to lunch later.  But you may be interested in watching Dr. McDougall on TV or over the web.  When I taped an episode for Lifestyle Magazine last year, Dr. McDougall was taping a number of episodes.  They are starting to appear now on TBN network.  Don't worry if you didn't tape it or don't get TBN.  Once the shows air, they are available over the air.

The latest episode interviewed Dr. McDougall along with Drs. Matt Lederman and Alona Pulde.  It is a great episode, and you can view it here.

"It’s really very simple to get healthy and to stay that way, according to Drs. Alona Pulde and Matthew Lederman. They’re the authors of Keep It Simple, Keep It Whole: Your Guide to Optimum Health. Dr. John McDougall joins the discussion."

The white beans and fresh celery were nice touches to todays lunch.  Other than that, I'm sure that the concept is familiar by now.  The  base is really a huge pile of chopped greens that practically fills the bowl by itself.
October 27 Lunch
Farley made her roast vegetable dish which made a great dinner.  She added brussel sprouts and included the cubed Japanese sweet potatoes, which made for a bit different flavor.
October 27 dinner
I'll start with my demerits - a glass of wine and some "lightly" salted pumpkin seeds which I ate while birding this morning.  My body let me know that they were in fact heavily salted, at least by my standards.  My bad on that one.

I have been thinking quite a bit about addiction lately.  Joel Fuhrman says that just about everybody in this country is addicted to food.  He makes a remark in his speech on the Get Healthy Now DVD that people often get angry with him, and he believes it is because he is perceived as a threat to people's addiction.  I think that the main reason that some people do not get healthy after attempting this diet is because of addiction to SAD food.

Food addiction is a lot different than most other addictions, however.  If you are addicted to illegal drugs, you can go to prison for your addiction.  If you are addicted to alcohol, you will be shunned by many in society.  For a second, I'd like to compare food addiction to methamphetamine addiction.

Both meth and food addictions can kill quite effectively, and ruin many lives.  But what if almost everybody in the country was on meth.  What if it were advertised legally on radio, TV, everywhere .  What if meth stores were on many corners and it could be obtained legally, and people exchanged their favorite recipes for cooking meth.  What if the government had meth organizations to promote its use?  You can see how everybody would react to the people that were saying it needed to stop.

If you have ever tried to deal with an addicted person, you see the problem.  Virtually everybody in this country is in fact addicted to foods that are harmful to them, their families and friends, the country, and the future.  I don't know of anybody who has gotten through the tough withdrawal period in trying to change their diet that has not been glad that they did it.  But it is very unpleasant for some during the transition.  It is a very tough problem, and in fact, it is very similar to trying to convert a meth addicted population to sobriety.  It will not be done without a lot of anger and protest.  Today's post is dedicated to those people who are in the process of turning their life around by learning to eat a healthy diet.  It is dedicated to those who are enduring unpleasant symptoms from withdrawing from the life sucking addiction that we call the Standard American Diet.  Good luck to you, and spread the word.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

October 26

Breakfast and lunch were simple today.  I sure this looks familiar, and you can see what is in the bowls.
A simple but tasty and satisfying lunch bowl.
Similar Dinner.
Today is my wife, Farley's birthday.  Anybody who knows us knows that I am one of the luckiest guys in the world.  Of all the good breaks I have lucked into in my life, the luckiest was meeting and marrying Farley.  She is the best person I have ever known, and I never tire of her.  Each year she gets better and I love her more.  If I had to justify my life with a single sentence, it would have to be that Farley loves me and is my best friend.  Happy Birthday, and thank you sweetheart for another great year in your life.

I am in my final week of this October Challenge, and will look forward to taking a break.  But although I may take an internet break, I will not be taking a healthy food break.  The whole point of the challenge is to build momentum.  If you and I keep improving our diet, it can only bring good things to us.  During these last four years, I have come to appreciate how much of our happiness and success is founded upon a good diet.  I have restored my health and met a number of wonderful people.  Some have helped me, and some I have helped.  I wake up happy every morning and have to attribute that in large part to the people who have helped me so much - Jeff Novick, John McDougall, Caldwell Esselstyn, Joel Fuhrman - the list is a long one.

If you are at all considering giving this program a try, please do it.  There are few things in life that are all positive and no negative - but this is one of them.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

October 22 - October 25

It was a busy long weekend for me.  More concerts, an all day debate which I judged, preparations for Farley's upcoming birthday.  I am tiring of posting so many repetitive pictures of the whole plant food we eat.  So I am  not going to post more repetitive pictures.  I have put some more on the web at where anybody can see all the pictures for the October Challenge.

The only things of note to report over the last few days -
 - I used steamed kale a lot for my green in my bowls.  Like any green vegetable, it works great and tastes fine.
 - We celebrated some accomplishments of our amazing son with a bottle of wine.  1-2 glasses per day.
- I had to buy some new jeans -  the old ones were falling off.  Size 33, which is three inches less than my old ones.
 - My blood sugars are doing well.  Yesterday's FBS was 98.  I was running in the 170's before this challenge.  Weight continues to drop.
 - I ordered and received the Get Healthy Now (Red) DVD set from and have watched the first DVD in the 3 DVD set.  This included 2 lectures by Dr. Fuhrman - one dealing with various aspects of hunger, and the other various aspects of cancer.  The hunger lecture was particularly interesting because Dr. Fuhrman added some details to the already excellent presentation in his book "Eat to Live".  I would like to talk about these details.
Redefining My Concept and Experience of Hunger
Dr. Fuhrman has redefined my concept of hunger.  I was aware from Dr. McDougall and Jeff that their concept of hunger differed from my own, but I did not really understand what Dr. McDougall was talking about when he discussed the problem of the "volume eater."  Jeff mentioned in some his posts that hunger was a pleasant sensation that was felt in the mouth and throat, but because the physiology of hunger was not his specialty perhaps, I did not understand much beyond that.  I was also too complacent.  I had reversed my medical problems, restructured my diet around whole plant foods, lost a lot of weight, and been designated a Star McDougaller.  I thought I had it down pretty well.

Dr. Fuhrman's "Eat to Live" really challenged me.  He emphasized the importance of being slim - not just ok, and the importance of getting my blood sugars into the normal range rather than being happy with levels that just avoided medication.  He definitely challenged my concept of hunger.  His description of toxic hunger is exactly the only hunger sensation that I experienced since childhood.

After several weeks now, I am experiencing very little in the way of toxic hunger, and becoming much more familiar with my body's true hunger sensations.  But one section of Dr. Fuhrman's talk in the Get Healthy Now lecture really resonated with me.  He stated that when you eat, you should not eat to being "full."  You should not eat to the point that your stomach expands and you do not feel like exercising.  When eating the correct amount of food, you should still feel like you could go out and exercise.  That is not how I have done it.  Because I have been eating fewer meals, I have allowed myself to continue eating a lot of food at meals - usually having seconds.

For the last few days, I have eaten according to this idea and it is working great.  When I do this, I feel really good after meals, and by the time for my next meal comes around, I am experiencing some true hunger.  If I understand Dr. Fuhrman on this, the ideal is to never feel stuffed, and to time the amount you are eating so that you will be truly hungry when the next meal time comes around.  Because I have such a long history of not doing this, it is taking some time.  But the work and patience is really paying off as I move towards healthy eating habits for quantity as well as quality of foods.

I had previously underestimated the importance of learning to manage my hunger.  I thought, as per Dr. Lisle, that my hunger would take care of itself with a whole plant food diet.  This is probably true for most people.  It was true for Farley.  She became very trim, with a very low BMI, simply by eating the same foods that I do.  But she long felt that I ate way too much, and I agreed that I ate a high quantity of food.  I am in the process of reeducating my hunger.  This seems to be a very important concept to me, and I am sure many others.  It is definitely a step beyond where I was before, and I am excited to see where it will lead in the future.  It would be wonderful if getting slim was the answer to my high blood sugars.  Dr. Fuhrman says that some people are sensitive to even a small amount of extra fat.  Those people need to get slim to get their blood sugars back to normal.  I hope to get slim and to be one of those people.  I do believe that understanding and reeducating my hunger drive is going to be key on this journey.  Today, I eat much less than I did a  year ago, when I was about 15 pounds heavier.  I don't suffer and feel even better than before.  There doesn't seem to be any downside.

I would recommend that anybody who is eating healthy food, but has yet to reach their goals, to get some of Dr. Fuhrman's books or lectures and investigate whether they are eating in response to toxic hunger rather than true hunger.  There is a great chance that you can do a lot of good by refining your own concept and experience of hunger.

Friday, October 21, 2011

October 20

I ate only a single meal on the 19th, due to playing an evening concert.  I noticed that I felt fine, and thought I would try a single meal on the 20th.  It was leftovers over rice - nothing worth a photo or recipe, but was tasty and satisfying.  As I  write this, on the morning of the 21st, I have a new weight low of 182.6.  That is about 2 pounds lower than my previous low, and shows the folly of worrying about the scale on a daily basis.  When you focus on what you are doing, the scale will reflect the quality of diet.

I saw Dr. McDougall's video, The Fat Vegan, recently.
It got me thinking about why I am doing this blog, which is to promote healthy eating and help people realize their goals.

Sooner or later, everybody in this country and on the planet even is going to convert to a whole plant food diet.  I would rather that this be sooner, and that is going to require everybody who supports healthy eating get healthy themselves.  A fat and unhealthy supporter of Dr. McDougall and Jeff etc. is not an effective advocate for the program.  You can't tell friends to believe you and not their own lying eyes.

We have to start with ourselves.  It is just too easy to focus on other people's issues and fail to address our own.  That is one of the purposes of my challenge to myself here.  Although I have made a lot of progress, that it not good enough.  The better I can do, the more effective spokesman I can be for the program.  The better Farley and I look and feel, the more credibility we have.

The reason credibility is so important is because this world is so full of spin and false claims, especially where obesity and diet are concerned.  It is said in the bible that a good tree does not bear bad fruit, and that is so true.  The world needs to see that following a healthy eating plan always bears good fruit.  I have personally witnessed obese people telling me and others how I should eat.  I paid no attention, and neither did anybody else.

Knowing the right message is not enough.  We have to show that this program works.  If we are going to change the way the nation and the world eats, it has to start with us doing it properly.  The change is unlikely to come from doctors, who have little training in nutrition and less incentive to promote such a simple and effective therapy as proper nutrition.  It is unlikely to come from government, which is so heavily dependent upon special interests that depend themselves on the status quo.  It is going to have to come from people like Farley, me, and you.

Farley just returned from a convention.  Several people there wanted to know about her nutrition plan.  As I write this, she is sending links to one of these nice ladies.  Surely, one of the main reasons that people asked is because Farley looks so healthy.  It is obvious that what she is doing works.

I hope to get something from my friends Penny and Steve, with whom I kayak.  Penny was being recommend heart surgery.  She is now doing great on Dr. Esselstyn's program without the surgery, and she is very grateful that she heard about that program from me.  I doubt if she would have investigated Dr. Esselstyn without my obvious success on the program.  So charity begins at home, and so does good nutrition.  Let's do our best to have everybody who knows about healthy eating look and feel healthy themselves.  That is how the message will get out.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Taking blood samples for glucose testing

Using your ear lobe for blood sampling
Before I got better and stopped taking diabetes meds, I used to test my blood levels frequently.  As a type 2 diabetic, I always wondered why.  There was nothing to be done about the results - maybe go to the doctors and get stronger medicine, which wouldn't do anything for me health wise, but make the doctor del better.  With Dr. McDougall's and Jeff Novick's help, I lowered my blood sugar to the point where my doctor agreed that I did not need medicine.  But my blood glucose has crept up slowly over the last 4 years, and I wanted to test how a very strict application of Jeff's "plate test" (basically seeing that 95%+ of the calories on your plate is whole plant food), I am taking my fasting blood sugars again.

Modern glucose meters are amazing, and they need very small samples.  My objection to sampling is using my fingers.  I play several stringed instruments, and seem to always be doing something with my fingers.  I found it very annoying.  Some lancets are now designed to use areas such as the legs, and "suck" the blood out for the sample.  But this rarely provides as good a sample as a capillary bed.

I wanted to share here a solution that I have used, and which may benefit others.  Long ago, when I was deciding between law and medical school, a spent a one year internship as a clinical laboratory scientist which led to licensure by the American Society of Certified Pathologists.  One part of our training was in collecting samples for the tests we performed - I'm not sure if that is done much these days.

For some of the patients, it was extremely difficult to collect blood.  This was especially true for drug addicts, whose every vein seemed to be scarred beyond redemption, and very sick individuals who had much bruising from previous venipunctures.  I was frequently asked to handle some of the really difficult cases.  Although I disliked it at first, I did develop some talent, and did my research and learned from my mentors.

For some tests, we had micro assay methods, using very small amounts of blood.  We also had heparin coated and marked glass pipettes.  This was much as the modern glucose meters use today.

The lobe of the ear contains great capillary beds where smaller samples can be express with a lancet.  The ear lobe is also much less sensitive than finger tips.   It occurred to me that that would be a fine site for obtaining samples for modern glucose meters.  And it is.

At first, I collected samples from both finger and ear to make sure that they compared well.  They were virtually exact every time I tested.  I am not sure that they would be the same right after a meal, but I only tested fasting and 2 hours p.p.

The way I do it is to simply use the lanced to push firmly into the ear lobe while pressing the trigger.  If sample size is too small, you can try to express the blood droplet with your fingers.  If you are constantly qns (quantity not sufficient), you can adjust the needle deeper, try a heavier gauge, and probably the most effective is to warm the ear lobe with a hot moist wash cloth first.

The ear lobe usually heals in a day, and you have two lobes.  You can also try several different sites on the lobes.  With experience, you will figure it out.  It is a little tricky to get the test strip to the blood droplet, especially if you are older with poorer eyesight.  I use a magnifying shaving mirror and have no problem.  It might take a few tries, but if you hate using your finger tips, you might try this.

October 19

Oct 19
Lunch was a collection of things in the refrigerator mostly.  We still had some leftover mix of chopped veggies in the refrigerator, as well as some mixed fruit and of course chopped greens.
Assortment of some food available for lunch
The brown rice was added, and what really made this meal a tasty lunch was what Farley did to the Japanese sweet potato.  I was simply going to throw it in the bowl, but Farley had a bit of the leftover chickpea curry.  She peeled and chopped the sweet potato and put the pieces into the curry mixture and warmed the lot in the microwave.  It was really a delicious treat.  I can picture that combo as a sauce that could be used in many situations.  Anybody would find it delicious.  Here is what everything looked like when ready to eat.
The curried sweet potato was a great idea
I had seconds because it tasted so good.  I also had some walnuts, since we had some after being out for a week or so.  I ate a bit extra because I was playing a college concert that evening.  I am playing trombone, which takes a lot of air.  I didn't want to be playing that evening with a full stomach, and knew that I would be returning home late, which I did at about 10:30 pm.  I was a bit hungry, but not ready to eat dinner at that time.  Too bad, because Farley invented something new to us, and she said it was delicious (she was home - is coming to the Monday performance where my son and I will be playing together in a joint band / orchestra performance).  I will write Farley's comments on dinner even though I didn't have any.  It did smell delicious.
Tonight's dinner was something I dreamed up just today and was easy and fast to prepare, (and delicious!) then slow-cooked for 3 hours.

White Navy Beans and Banana Squash with Kale.

Into a slow-cooker add
1 15 oz can of no-salt added Navy Beans, rinsed and drained
1 28 oz can of Roma tomatoes, chopped plus the juice
1/4 banana squash, peeled and cubed
3 ribs of celery sliced
1 orange bell pepper chopped
1/2 Cup of red wine (I use Zin or a Cab)
1/2 tsp dried Thyme
1 tsp dried Basil

Cook on high for 3 hours and then keep warm

1 large bunch of kale, washed, stemmed and chopped

Steam kale for 30 minutes until very tender.

I served this over brown rice, layered with the kale and then the bean stew. A splash of balsamic vinegar is just the perfect finisher.

Learning about my hunger
It occurred to me that I am learning the difference between true and toxic hunger and just about within the common time frame that Dr. Fuhrman discusses in his revised "Eat to Live."  (Did I mention that this is a fantastic book?)  A few months ago, I would have been feeling miserable missing dinner.  I would have felt weak, with stomach growling and probably head beginning to ache.  I would have been anxious to feed my toxic hunger.  Now, it is not a big deal to only eat one meal.

I am hungry as I write this (Oct 20 am), but it is not an unpleasant sensation.  I am really looking forward to lunch.  Because I am hungry, it will taste better.  I mean that literally, too.  Doug Lisle explains how our hunger mediates our pleasure response from food.  Our brain gives us more pleasure from eating when we are truly hungry - it is encouraging us to eat.  Eating when hungry makes the food taste better.  Between that, and becoming used to a lower calorie density diet, I think that I am getting more pleasure from my food than others who stuff themselves frequently with high calorie density SAD treats.  Plus I get the undeniable health benefits.  Learning what hunger is, and how to deal with it, was a real missing piece of the puzzle for me.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

October 19

October 19 Lunch
Before covering lunch, take note of dinner.  Farley tried something a bit different and it turned out really tasty.  She is also trying something new for dinner tomorrow 
FBS of 102 is good for me.
Lunch was simple because we had some left over chopped vegetables and mushrooms.  Fruit was in the refrigerator, and chopped greens, brown rice, and sweet potatoes (not pictured) are always available.

It's easy to see if your lunch is healthy with Jeff Novick's "plate test."  Look at your plate and check that you are eating at least 95% high fiber whole intact plant food.  Today's lunch passes at 100%.  We strive for over 95%, and often 100%, for every meal every day.  It has made a huge difference for us.
Lunch starts with chopped greens, mixed fruit, mixed and chopped veggies.
Add brown rice and tomatoes and there is lunch.
This turned out great.  Here are Farley's comments:

I'm always on the lookout for short cuts for meals and last night was no exception using leftovers from dinner the night before.

Steamed leftovers:
Bell Pepper
Red kidney beans

To the above I added 2 more medium heirloom tomatoes, chopped and an already baked Japanese sweet potato, cubed.  No seasoning or liquid was added.  I just poured it all into a baking dish, and heated it for 30 minutes at 350 degrees.  It was outstanding.
A new original and tasty dish

I forgot to put down my demerits for two glasses of wine.  Since we opened the bottle yesterday, I couldn't let it go to waste.  Well, we could have, but we didn't.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

October 17

Celia's Story
Different Strokes for Different Folks
I hope my friend Celia won't mind if I use her case to illustrate a point.  We worked in the same Office for my entire 33 year career with the Attorney General, and in her earlier career she was my secretary.  We had a lot in common - some good and some not, but I had tremendous respect for her as a person, and also as a musician.  She was not my secretary for long because she soon got the first of many promotions.  That is the trouble with having a good secretary in civil service.  You know it won't last.

Celia had a worse weight problem than I ever did, and it followed her for most of her life.  In her younger days, she succeeded a while on Weight Watchers.  But she was my second secretary to do that and then regain the weight.  By the end of my career, I too was pretty obese.  We would always exchange "Hi"s when we saw each other, and for awhile we played in the same college orchestra, and even a small chamber orchestra of AG employees.  During my heart disease diagnosis, I did not run into her, and was myself absent at times from the office.  One day we met in the parking lot and she was shocked at my weight loss, and I, of course, told her how it happened.  She didn't say much, but a few days later she followed up, asking for some books and web sites.

She soon decided that she wanted to give the program a try, and I, of course, recommended that she start straight away.  She did not want to do that, since her son was home from school at the time and she wanted to maximize her time with him.  She thought that 45 days or so into the future would be the ideal time.  I was skeptical and advised against it because I had seen too many people fail by putting things off until tomorrow.  But Celia was right, and found a plan that fit well for her, and she executed that plan very well. That is why she was such a good secretary and later executive.  I want to discuss what she did because it was very intelligent and worked so well for her.

Instead of delaying all action for 45 days, she used her time wisely.  She slowly weaned off bad foods and developed new recipes and dishes that she liked.  She researched web sites, read books, and got a good background on healthy eating.  She did not stress at all about what she ate during this time.  By the time that her predetermined date came around, Celia was really prepared.  She started and never looked back.  Interestingly, she never experienced any transition problems, as I thought she would.  It was effortless for her, and I wonder if the preparation and patient approach was what worked for her.  I haven't seen her since retirement and need to look her up.  Perhaps she would write something here.

Since I am praising Celia's patience here, I should note that this is a double edged sword.  Too many people are clearly going nowhere, failing to take corrective measures, and praising themselves for their patience.  There is a real difference between proceeding deliberately with a good plan and wasting time on a bad plan.  For obese folks who reach a stable weight over several weeks, there is no benefit to patience.  It is time to see what they are doing wrong.  Praising their patience or persistence over years of futility is . . . well . . . futile.  The same would hold true for goals of blood pressure, blood sugar, cholesterol, etc.

So I would say that learn from Celia if you are the deliberative type.  Her approach was brilliant and successful.  Or do what I did, and bite the bullet from the start.  There are several ways to succeed, and several ways to fail.  Just don't let a month's failure turn into a year's failure which turns into a life's failure. Get healthy and get there with all deliberate speed.

October 17 Lunch
Much of this looks familiar, but yesterday I broke out a package of pre washed green beans.  This is not the most economical way to buy veggies, but it is very economical of time.  You just rinse and put them in the steamer for 25 minutes or so.  In the meantime, I chopped some fresh bell pepper and greens.  By now, nobody should be surprised that I added rice, a Japanese sweet potato, and ate.
Prepackaged and washed green beans
Just place the green beans in the steamer
Add chopped fresh greens and bell pepper
Add sweet potato and rice, and into the bowl
It's so nice to have Farley back home.  Not only is she just wonderful to be around, but she put together dinner tonight which was delicious.  Fairly simple and straight forward.  The ingredients are obvious and familiar if you have been following this blog.
Mixed fresh veggies
This type of bowl should look familiar by now

Monday, October 17, 2011

October 16

Comments today instead of pictures.  I ate the same thing for lunch and dinner.  Farley had left me some of the chickpea recipe frozen.  I thawed in and poured it over rice and greens.  The recipe and pictures are shown earlier in the month.  I take 2 demerits for two glasses of wine I drank with my wife.  We were so happy to see each other after the week apart that it called for a celebration.

I don't worry about the occasional glass of wine because it is something that I can control.  It is important to recognize when you can control something.  I think that almonds are something that I can't control.  I bought some last week because I couldn't find the walnuts.  Walnuts I can control, but I found myself overeating the almonds, and eating them between meals.  No more almonds.  The interesting things was that, the day after eating way too many, my fbs was down to 96.  Go figure.  My comments today are about
Working on the Right End of the Equation.
I failed previously trying to apply Dr. McDougall's teachings, and I always look to others who are either succeeding and failing to see what I can learn.  One of the turning points IMO is which end of the "equation" people work on.

I am talking about how our food tastes to us.  We can try to emulate the SAD (Standard American Diet) foods we used to eat by making, e.g. vegetarian mayonnaise, or we can learn to like plain fruits, vegetables, and whole grains.

I see a lot of people focused upon how to make vegan treats.  This is easy to do, because you can use the same tricks as with SAD food.  Just add salt, sugar or its equivalents, fats or their equivalents, processing, and increased calorie density.  Popular foods with this approach are rich sauces, processed vegan foods like fortified cold cereals, baked and flour goods such as brownies, dried goods, such as puffed cereals, rice cakes, baked tortilla chips, etc.  While these are ok for just about everybody occasionally, I don't see a lot of success with this as a general approach.  By doing this, we are trying to appease our taste and or addiction for calorically dense food.  It is an easy approach, since it is not hard to find or make calorie dense vegan food.  Vegan ice cream, here we come.

The other end of the equation, which is too often dismissed, is to adapt our tastes to healthier foods, such as plain fruits, vegetables, and whole grains.  When I found out how sick I was, one of the smartest things I did was hire Jeff Novick as a dietician and food coach.  Jeff explained to me very clearly that if I wanted to reclaim my health, I need to focus upon plain whole plant foods.  The plainer the better.

This seemed like a daunting task at first.  My food pleasure went way down.  It was so bad in the first few weeks that at times I considered abandoning what I was doing.  But I stuck with it, and the concepts of Dr. Douglas Lisle were really crucial to me in keeping up my resolve.  Dr. Lisle is co-author of a book entitled "The Pleasure Trap."  Dr. McDougall also sells some of Dr. Lisle's DVDs on his website, and they are excellent.

I had to  rewatch the DVDs and reread the book often during the transition to better foods because I knew that I could not suffer like I was for the long term.  What Dr. Lisle assured me was that I did not have to suffer long term - that shortly my tastes would adapt to the new foods.  Of course, he was correct.  In a matter of a few weeks I was enjoying the whole plant foods as much as I ever enjoyed any foods.  In fact, more, because I no longer experienced the indigestion or drugged out sensation I experienced with the old foods.

So many people know about the benefits of healthy eating but cannot pull it off.  I think the main reason is that they do not understand how quickly good foods begin to taste great, and how quickly your body responds by feeling so much better.  But there is not question that there is a steep hill to climb at the outset.

The bottom line to me is that it is so much better to adapt your tastes to the foods you know are healthy than it is to adapt healthy foods to appeal to your existing tastes on a SAD diet.  We think of our tastes as static, but as Dr. Lisle explains, they are not.

Another important thing to consider when "down regulating" our tastes to more simple food is that total abstinence is required.  We crave calorie dense foods, and sadly, we know how to refine and combine foods to increase their appeal to us.  As long as we indulge our taste with little bits of this high calorie density foods, our taste mechanism never down regulates.  Those little tastes are all it takes to make the healthy food continue to taste bad.  As long as we are tasting chocolate now and then, vegetables are never going to taste great.

So the one thing that you need to take on faith is this.  If you commit to a healthy diet, and abstain from processed and calorie rich foods, you will soon be liking the new food as well as the old.  And you will have all the benefits of the healthy diet, which are tremendous.

But as long as you are searching for the perfect vegan brownie or ice cream recipe, you are never going to like healthy food.  So work on the right end of the equation - your tasting mechanism.  You will be so glad that you did.

October 15

October 15 lunch looks like yesterday's because it is.  Simple and fast.
Vegetables added to starch is fast and easy.
Same thing for dinner.  It was a busy day, so little time for being fancy.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Oct. 14

This has been a difficult week for me because Farley has been in Wisconsin and I have been playing Mr. Mom.  I have tremendous respect for everything my wife does for the family, but am acutely aware of how much she does when she is away and her work falls on me.  Thank goodness she is back.  I am a happy guy.  I will try to catch up on my meal posting and hopefully discuss a few more important topics for those trying to adopt this lifestyle.

October 14 Lunch

Not much need for explanation.  The pictures tell it all, and you have seen it before.  Simple.  What was exciting is my blood sugars which have been very low for me.  120, 96!, and 110.  I have not seen 96 in years.
I like carrots, zucchini and greens
Served in a bowl with rice and some almonds.  Add a sweet potato.
Dinner starts with greens and rice
Topped with some of Farley's chile and mushrooms

Friday, October 14, 2011

October 13

Today I wanted to talk about fighting the correct battle.  There are many battles and challenges when it comes to improving diet and health.  There are challenges in understanding what needs to be done, developing shopping and cooking skills, changing habits, coping with family and social situations, coping with travel, overcoming food addictions, understanding and applying the principle of adherence, and getting slimmer just to name a few.  I would like to discuss some of these challenges in upcoming posts if anybody is interested.

The reason I want to discuss this topic is because, in my observation, too many people are getting nowhere because they are fighting the wrong battle.  I have experienced this myself and had to learn the hard way.  I used to comment on the boards when I saw this happening, but found that it infuriated others - mostly people themselves who were fighting the wrong battle.  So I stopped.  Perhaps I can discuss it here in a general way.

An example of this is somebody I have quietly followed for over year.  This is a person who is very overweight with serious health problems and has made no significant progress over the last year.  This person perceives her battle to be a daily conflict over whether or not she will overeat.  When her weight is on the way down, she posts and tracks enthusiastically.  When her weight goes back up, she is in a more somber mood and fails to track what she is doing.  I have never seen her look back at her posts as a whole for the last year.

If you researched the persons posts over the entire year, you would see frequent comments concerning things like chocolate, brownies, cakes, restaurant and coffee shop food, coffee drinks, candy bars, pastries, Cheetos and other junk food etc.  There is always an excuse offered - typically stress.

So this person thinks that she has a battle with stress when it is apparent to me that she has a battle with addiction.  I have never seen her use that word for what she is doing, nor have I seen her make an effort to deal with her problem as one of addiction.  But it is clear from looking over the year that she can never go long without some type of high calorie density treat.  I don't think her situation will improve over the next year unless she realizes that she has to deal with her addiction, and experience total withdrawal from these foods.  As long as she teases herself with tastes, the problem will continue.

Another example of sabotage from fighting the wrong battle is a grossly overweight individual who said he wanted to change.  With encouragement from others, he resolved to completely adhere to a very healthy vegan diet.  Of course, he failed miserably, repeatedly, and perhaps completely.

This person failed to fight the early battles.  He had little understanding of the principles of healthy eating (which is different from an understanding of "rules"). Further, he had no idea of how to shop or to cook and did not have the proper kitchen tools to do so.  By taking on an advanced challenge of total adherence to a very strict plan, he ensured his failure

The reason that I am so concerned about this issue is because earlier in life I knew of Dr. McDougall and his teachings, and had his books.  However I failed because I elected to follow the "rules" of his plan rather than the principles.  Rules are easy to bend.  You will see people with vast amounts of weight to lose who rely upon things like bread, popcorn, tortillas (perhaps baked to chips), rice cakes, cold cereals, and other high calorie density foods making up large portions of their diet.  And then they wonder why they fail.  So did I.

In summary, getting to a healthy eating place is perhaps a never-ending series of battles.  And it takes thought and effort to determine which battle you should be fighting.  One thing is for sure.  If you are not experiencing success, you are likely fighting the wrong battle.

In my own case, I believe that I was recently fighting the wrong battle.  I thought that my weight plateau, which was too high, was about what I was eating.  In fact, I had to learn (from Dr. Fuhrman) about toxic hunger and how it differs from true hunger.  Right now, I think I am winning this battle.  My next battle may be how to include nuts into my diet without over consumption.  Again, when I follow Dr. Fuhrman's advice and only eat them with meals, I do ok.

As for amount of nuts, I am trying to follow a path that everybody likes.  2 oz. of nuts per day seems to be ok for everybody, and seems to work for me too.  If I stop losing weight, I may drop that to 1 oz.  I can't eat nuts alone - even when I have made a mistake on my hunger levels and am very hungry.  I wish everybody luck in identifying their own correct battles.  
When you have a good starch ready to go, lunch can be simple and fast.  I always have warm brown rice in the Tiger rice cooker and Japanese sweet potatoes either in the oven or in the refrigerator ready to warm in the microwave.  All that is needed is some of my favorite fruit and or veggies.  On this day, I had chopped spinach, zucchini, and bell pepper.
Some of my favorite veggies chopped and ready to go.

I also had a can of black beans, and there is lunch.

It looks a lot like lunch, because basically, it is.  I added a bunch of mushrooms and added almonds (I had too many) and no beans.  I did add another Japanese sweet potato.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

October 12

I liked yesterday's lunch so well that I had it again.
Yet another version of the Japanese Sweet Potato Salad

Since I will be strapped for time for about a week, I am eager to fix foods that need little preparation time.  I have brown rice and greens handy all the time.  I had some leftover lentil/cauliflower/tomato dish.  I had a cooked Japanese Sweet Potato.  I washed and chopped some veggies, put it into a bowl, and was ready to go.  Broccoli, zucchini, bell pepper. walnuts added to the greens and sweet potato and rice was quick, easy, and tasty.  All intact whole plant foods, which are always the best foods.

Addendum -
Since I am logging all my food, I returned hungry from our dress rehearsal for our next band concert.  Since I was tight for time at dinner, I did not finish all the spinach and veggies, and did not have time to eat the sweet potato.  I finished those off and felt great.

October 11

October 11 Lunch
With plenty of leftovers and veggies in the refrigerator, Lunch is never a problem.  There is always brown rice and greens available too.  It is always easy to throw together a salad of all whole plant foods, and it always tastes good.  Here was todays, filled with familiar ingredients and leftover lentils/cauliflower/tomatoes from day before yesterday.

We are under the gun time wise for a week or so.  Luckily, eating healthy whole foods does not take too much time if you are prepared with warm brown rice, greens, and veggies and beens.  Here is what I threw together.
The grape tomatoes and fresh carrots were a nice addition.
veggies ready to go

An easy, tasty salad of whole plant foods

October 10

October 10 Lunch
This is the beginning of a fun time for Farley and a very busy time for me.  I will be doing the cooking for awhile.  A simple and quick lunch was in order.  Steamed vegetables over rice and greens is quick, simple, and easy -  not to mention nutritious.
Steamed veggies over rice and greens.
Farley did the dinner.  She was going to make the baked banana squash dish again, but found that the banana squash looked like it was past its prime.  With some creative thinking, she turned this negative into a positive and developed what is sure to be another favorite dish.

She hoped to have some other type of squash or large vegetable to cube and use in place of the banana squash - but no luck.  She did have some Japanese Sweet Potatoes, and simply cubed them and used them in place of the banana squash.  Usually, one type of starch can be substituted for another.

The finished dish was great, and the  Japanese Sweet Potatoes had a crunchy texture and an increased sweetness that was really tasty.  Here is what it looked like.
Cubing Japanese Sweet Potatoes

The finished dish 
Of Course, this was served over a large bed of greens and topped with a few walnuts.  I like it better than the banana squash version of the recipe.