Category: Nutrition

I went vegan for a month… and lost 7 lbs

I survived!!!

Okay, so it actually wasn’t all that big of a deal. The first couple of days were kind of tricky, but that was on us. We hadn’t really planned it out too well leading into the vegan way of life. However, after we had things figured out it, we found it pretty easy to do. And pretty tasty too.

Tofu is the chicken of the vegan world. It doesn’t have much flavor until you season it. And it’s a great source of protein. And if tofu is the chicken of the vegan world, then tempeh (fermented soybeans) is the ground beef of the vegan world. And it’s heartier than tofu so it works in other dishes where tofu would not. And then there is seitan (pronounced say-tan) which touts itself as the ultimate “meat” substitute. And while I admit that I enjoyed this wheat protein, I didn’t feel it really lived up to its name. And since most of the questions I received were in reference to protein (in that, where did you get it from?), here is a list of the sources of protein we ate. And yes, we got plenty of it.

  • Tofu (love it’s versatility)
  • Tempeh
  • Seitan
  • Ezekiel bread
  • Nuts, nut butters, seeds
  • Edamame
  • Soybeans (roasted these are an awesome snack)
  • Chickpeas/hummus
  • Beans (we had a LOT of beans)
  • VEGA vegan protein powder (my post workout shake)

There are others that contributed in a smaller way, but these were the big ones.

What I noticed and my final takeaways:

  1. It’s best to ease into this slowly. The increase in fiber is larger than you think and we um…. noticed. Things settled down after the first week though.
  2. If you plan this out, it’s no big deal. This includes social situations. You learn after a bit what you like, what’s easy to make, etc. Just not all that hard.
  3. You’ll likely save money. Meat is expensive, man. Beans aren’t.
  4. It’s (probably) healthier than your current diet. We ate tons of varieties of fruits and vegetables and even found myself eating fruit and nuts for snacks and absolutely loving baked carrots. Perfect snack.
  5. You eat more cheese than you think you do. We are cutting way, way back on this moving forward.
  6. It’s easier to get your protein than you would think. See above.
  7. The recipes we made were almost all really, really good. We will continue to make them.
  8. We did miss traditional pizza, but did find ways around it. Shout out to WB pizza here in Indianapolis for their creative ways of making vegan pizza really tasty.
  9. You’ll lose weight…. maybe….

Which leads me to the title of this post. Yes, I did lose 7 lbs in 30 days. Man, that sounds like a headline you’d read on a magazine cover of Cosmopolitan doesn’t it? But it’s true. Here’s the kicker though. I intentionally lost weight. This really ended up being a timing issue. Coincidentally, October 1st not only marked the end of our month of veganism, but it also marked the day of an Olympic distance triathlon I had signed up for a while back. And to prepare for the race, I wanted to get back to what I feel is my best “race weight”. I could have, and would have, lost the weight on any diet really. I simply cut back on calories (mostly from fat as I kept carbs high for training purposes) while simultaneously running, biking, swimming, and lifting weights each week. With the triathlon over (whew), it’s highly likely I’ll creep back up 3-4 lbs…. and that’s okay. Or maybe I’ll stay keen on what I’m taking in and it will stay down. And if you’re wondering how this weight loss was determined, I weighed in on my super cool scale here at my office on day 1 and weighed out on September 30th. Starting weight was 168.6 lbs and final weight was 161.4 lbs. And for the record, I weighed in today at 163.4 (scale tells me thats almost all water though).

Final thoughts here: Megan enjoyed it so much that she is done eating meat. However she will still on occasion eat seafood. This technically makes her pescatarian, or a vegetarian who still eats fish. As for me, I will eat meat again, however it’s pretty clear that I will be eating quite a bit less, and that’s fine with me. The biggest change back from being vegan will be my addition of cottage cheese, eggs, and Greek yogurt. And speaking of eggs, I picked up a carton at the store yesterday… and proceeded to make my tofu/bell pepper/onion/bean breakfast. It’s really good I promise.

At the end of the day, it wasn’t bad at all and I enjoyed many parts of it. I’ll keep many of the pieces I picked up during my time as a vegan and carry them with me moving forward. And I think that’s a good thing.

What do you think?

Nutrition and Exercise: It’s a game of inches

You’ve maybe heard that football is a game of inches. And I suppose that’s true to a point. I guess whenever I think about football being a game of inches I always think back to the late Steve McNair throwing to Kevin Dyson (had to look the receiver’s name up) on the final play of Super Bowl XXXIV (yeah I had to Google that one as well). If you’re not familiar, McNair threw near the goal line and Dyson caught it, but he was tackled literally 1 yard short of the goal line for what would have been the game winning score. But alas, it wasn’t meant to be and the St. Louis (now LA) Rams won the Super Bowl.

1 yard short.

So this got me to thinking about how this relates to the world of nutrition and fitness. And actually the more I think about it, how it really is relative to most anything we do. It’s just that last little bit of effort. That extra 2 percent.

I was working with (training) a client a couple of weeks ago and he was doing step-ups onto a box. He had dumbbells in his hands and I was instructing him to focus on lowering himself to the floor as slow as controlled as possible. Ideally, I’d be aiming for him to lower on a 3 second count. As the exercise rolls on this becomes more difficult, but we’ll not address that stuff in this post today. Now fast forward 2 weeks and I see him again for the same program. He’s a former collegiate athlete and has a good training background which makes my job easier because he remembered my cue to lower slow and controlled. After a couple of sets he tells me that the difference in how much more difficult the step-ups are because of this is extraordinary. He also noted that after the session 2 weeks ago he felt it made a big difference in how his legs were getting bigger and stronger (spoiler alert: he’s correct).

Now I’ve been in a lot of gyms over the years and I can tell you I’ve seen some really poorly performed exercises. And the step-up is certainly one of them. Nearly ever time I see it performed, the person is stepping up and then…. smack! That’s the sound of their foot contacting the floor. They plop right back down. No control. No slowing down. And you know what? It’s why they aren’t getting any stronger too. That 1 second fall to the floor as opposed to a 3 second slowed descent to the rubber is all the difference.

The last 2 percent.

Now how about nutrition? What’s the tie in with the whole “game of inches” when it comes to diet? Well this kind of coat tails off of the last post I put up regarding the difference between intensity and consistency where I explained that someone who puts in decent effort over the long haul will have much better results than someone who “kills it” for a few weeks, then wears out and reverts back to poor eating and exercising habits before “killing it” again a couple of months down the road. I could get deeper into that, but I already have so I’ll move on. The way I see that last little bit of effort with nutrition is all over the place. It could be not having that last bite of food on your plate “because it’s there” when you’re already satisfied. It could be opting to use spices on your chicken as opposed to slathering it in sugar-laden BBQ sauce. Maybe it’s ordering a 6 oz filet instead of the 8 oz.

Now none of these things seems like a big deal. I mean, what’s the big deal with an extra 2 oz. of steak? It’s only about 150 calories or so. And so what if you have 50 or 60 calories coming from BBQ sauce as opposed to 0 from the spices? Who cares if you finish off the last bite on your plate? It’s only 1 bite!

The last 2 percent.

The devil is in the details…. done consistently over time. Is anybody else seeing a pattern with these blogs lately or is it just me?

Til next week!

What kinds of foods does this dietitian eat?

‘Tis been quite the busy week so far and it’s only Tuesday! For anyone who is friends with me on Facebook you probably saw that we 100%, officially opened for not only nutritional counseling, but also fitness training as well (finally). So I’m pretty excited about that as you can imagine. Nonetheless I wanted to get the weekly blog out there and I didn’t know what I was going to write about at first, but I just came back from a walk on the Monon because it’s pretty much perfect weather out right now. In fact, my weather app says 74 and sunny with a light breeze and loew humidity. Like I said, perfect.

Well on my walk I was thinking about how I was pretty hungry and trying to remember what snacks I had remaining at the shop in the fridge and in my desk drawer. I eventually settled for a piece of string cheese and mixed nuts and washed it down with water. But then I was thinking back on what I had for breakfast this morning and what I had for dinner last night. That lead me to start thinking about what I was going to have for dinner tonight and so on and so forth. Well first of all I’m in a bit of a pinch because we made a bunch of healthy food to last us for the week this past Sunday afternoon/evening (took longer than we thought). However, today is Tuesday. And not just any old regular Tuesday. It’s national taco day too! And I love me some tacos. So dinner tonight is still up in the air.

But with all this talk of food it got me to thinking about what I typically eat. And I thought that you guys might be interested to know what someone in the field of fitness and nutrition eats. So while it obviously varies quite a bit, there are certainly some staples in my diet. But outside of those staples I’ve come to believe that the more meals I make and eat with my girlfriend, the more I realize that I eat better when I’m with her. It’s probably because she eats (mostly) really healthy and we also both enjoy cooking. In the past I’d just steam up some veggies in the microwave, bake some chicken, and throw some rice in there too and top it all off with hot sauce. I’m just not that picky of an eater. But now we’ve gotten pretty savvy in the kitchen and make some pretty solid meals. And a lot of the time those meals are vegetarian. We eat a lot of portobellos, black beans, quinoa, tofu, and fruits and vegetables in general. In fact, the other day I was at my chiropractors office and we were talking about it (he’s a former amateur body builder and really into nutrition). I mentioned that the night before we had made tofu and Brussels sprouts. It came out of my mouth rather casually, but then I stopped and thought about what I had just said. Tofu. Brussels sprouts. What the hell happened to me?!

Well, Megan isn’t a big meat eater. Me? I could have steak, chicken, or turkey with every meal. But it turns out I don’t miss eating it as often as I did in the past like I thought I would. Although now that I’m writing about it and it’s 1:00 in the afternoon, I’m kinda craving some skirt steak tacos for dinner tonight….. mmmm tacos.

But anyways, now that you know a little more of the background of how I’m eating these days, I wanted to list out some foods I have every or almost every day. And I eat them every day not only because I think they are good for me, but also because I just really like them. I’ve listed them below:

  • eggs
  • bell peppers
  • spinach
  • Ezekiel bread/oatmeal/whole wheat toast
  • avocado
  • cheese (string, 2% shredded sharp cheddar, and feta are my favorites)
  • mixed nuts
  • Greek yogurt or low fat cottage cheese (varies day to day)
  • berries (raspberries and blueberries are my favorites)
  • mixed vegetables (or whatever is in season locally)
  • turkey or chicken (almost every day for lunch. Old habits die hard, man.)

I’m sure I’m missing some, but those are definitely staples for me. Obviously dinners are going to vary a lot, but I think I covered most of that above. But maybe you guys noticed one food was missing. And if you’re a health nut, dietitian, or personal trainer, then it probably sticks out like a sore thumb. What is NOT a staple for me?

Peanut butter. There, I said it. Look, it’s not that I don’t like peanut butter, I think it’s great. I just don’t crave it like it seems every other health professional does. I swear every time I read an article about what other folks in this industry consider their guilty pleasure the answer is peanut butter. I’m sorry, that’s not a guilty pleasure. Fried mozzarella sticks are a guilty pleasure. Cupcakes are a guilty pleasure. Deep dish pizza is a guilty pleasure. Peanut butter? No. Sure it’s high in calories and all, but overall it’s pretty good for you. Not sure how that comes across as a guilty pleasure. Okay, I’ll get off my soapbox. I’ve just been wanting to write that for a while now and the opportunity presented itself pretty well there.

So there you go! A look into what I eat on most days of the week. Although I feel like I left out pizza. It’s true. I have pizza once a week. Usually Friday or Saturday. And sometimes the leftovers on Sunday for football. Oh, and a few beers.

The Complicated World of Nutrition

Yeah I know, the title kinda sucks, but I couldn’t think of anything clever. I just wanted to get some info out there today. Now as a quick side note, are you guys like me in that whenever you read an article or blog that says something like “7 Ways to Lose Your Gut by Summer” or “6 Secrets to a Strong Core” you find yourself skipping the stupid intro/filler/fluffy stuff and just getting to the meat and potatoes part of the text? Most of the time it’s bullet pointed or in larger, bold letters. That just dawned on me as that is exactly what I am doing right now. I mean, seriously, everything I’ve written so far has told you nothing and yet you chose to read it. Or if you’re like me, you didn’t. Ok, actual content below.

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Sports Nutrition “Rules” That Aren’t

My last post was about nutrition labels, so I thought I’d get back to my true passion and discuss some things about sports nutrition that bother me. I’ve been wanting to do this one for a while now. It is not going to be a series of negative rants on various topics. Rather, I’d like to rearrange your thinking about what we’re told we should do in terms of refueling our bodies post exercise, what fluids we should be taking in, and general sports nutrition information that quite simply, does not apply to most people.

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Nutrition labels: Why so confusing?

Hello again, Feel Good Followers! Today’s subject is from a reader’s request. She was confused about the differences between her cereal’s nutrition label and her husband’s cereal label. It sounded pretty simple at first… until she sent me pictures of both of the labels that is. One label was incredibly long and detailed. The other, more simplified to a certain extent. However, it included information that you don’t normally see on most labels (it was an organic granola cereal). So, why all the confusion?

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