if anything, it is kind of becoming a hassle. While I am certainly not one to be offended by the eating choices of other people, the holiday rhetoric of the pro-meat crowd is getting kind of annoying. Throw in the fact the season seems to coincide with a lot of state’s hunting seasons, and the photos of dead animals becomes a never ending stream. I’ve seen more pictures of bacon crusted turkeys and hams to last a lifetime. Even when I was a meat eater, I still thought that stuff was kind of stupid. Anyway, my family has become something of the exception, as health issues are slowly but surely making for some better eating choices. While we will still have a standard turkey and probably a ham, at least I know there will be some good whole-food selections, namely my delicious couscous dish that I am going to make and the salad one of my aunts is going to create (usually she makes a chopped kale salad, so it should be good). My mother will once again try her hand at making a vegan meat load, which is basically comprised of lentils and rice and various peppers and spices. When she made a tofu and sweet potato based loaf last year, I was in heaven due to the exceptional taste and how it meshed so well with the vegetable gravy and the “unleaded” mashed potatoes I ate. All that stuff will be available once again this year, so I’m kind of looking forward to the celebration. Plus the other good thing is I will be awake to enjoy whatever festivities are abound, considering I did not fall asleep halfway through the celebration the last couple years. Maybe I will play some basketball this year since the celebration will be at my aunt’s house, who has a brand new kitchen to show off that yours truly helped bring to life (a lot of sweat and pain came from that day, for I fell off a ladder, hurting my back and my ankle….but on the other hand, it ultimately forced me to start seeing a chiropractor on a regular basis when the residual pain came back a week or so later, so there was some good to come out of it). The best part about plant based holiday celebrations is the lack of heaviness I feel the next day, for I’m typically ready to take on some sort of physical activity like running or weight lifting (and no, fighting some random idiot for a crock pot at the Black Friday blowout is not exercise!). In fact, I intend to run past a huge mall the morning of Black Friday, so I will get to witness the crass consumerism of the general public. Too bad I won’t get to see up close how quick humanity can turn into animals when a cheap HD television is on the line.
Anyway, this year I will have three participants with me in regards to my plant based celebration as my aunt and my mother will decide to shun the animal products and try out my style of eating. Thankfully, this year I will get to avoid having to cut the ham, which was kind of a sick irony when they had the family’s only vegan do the cutting due to the fact my dad didn’t want to do it (he was the man of the house, it should have been his duty! hehe). I’m also kind of happy that my mother is finally trying out my lifestyle, for the last few months have been pretty tough on her and she looking to see if a complete change in her diet will help. With all the troubles she is having with her heart and residual effects of the multiple procedures she had a few months ago, she is still a little down in the dumps due to the day-to-day inconsistency of her personal health (she might be fine for days and then have a bad day). But the biggest change in her life has been the reduction of her diabetes risk, for she was on the cusp of diabetes nearly two years ago when she started working out with Parsons Training and is now in pretty safe and healthy blood sugar ranges. While she didn’t remove meats and cheeses from her life completely, the replacement of vegetables over animal products helped bring about a profound change in her health. And she is not alone in this change, for research is consistently proving that a more plant based diet is healthier for a person in the long run.
Now, I’m sure I will hear the catcalls of people saying “there are a lot of fat vegans!” wherein my only answer is “Show me!” Yes, there are a lot of unhealthy vegan products out there, like processed soy replacement meats and cheeses and vegan friendly pastries. But what I am talking about is a mostly whole food diet sprinkled in with occasional baked goods and complex carbohydrates. What I’m talking about is that salad with deep leafy greens and tomatoes, not the pre-packaged iceberg lettuce that has little to no nutritional value in it. I’m talking about the whole fruits, not the canned ones drenched in syrup. I’m talking about the foods that nature has given us, not what some people have created in a lab that is free of animal products (I’m looking at you Oreo scientists!). For years, there has been worthy research from unbiased sources that have illustrated the benefits of eating more plants. Just this past week, another new study illustrated the benefits of eating more vegetables by looking at a multitude of studies through the years, creating a cross abstract to illustrate a diet high in plant foods is far better than anything medicine can provide in the battle against diabetes. http://www.express.co.uk/life-style/health/185165/Veggie-diet-better-than-drugs-to-beat-diabetes?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+daily-express-life-and-style-health-news+%28Daily+Express+%3A%3A+Life+%26+Style+Health+Feed%29
Now of course, if you have a more aggressive form of diabetes like Type 2, plant eating will not fully cure the problem due to the genetic links of the disease. What I’m mostly talking about is Type 1, which can be diagnosed much quicker and can be more preventable with diet and exercise. Over the years, many studies have indicated the benefits of eating less meat and cheese in the diet. During my research for this blog post, there seemed to be a new study that indicated this sentiment each of the last four years. Heck, I have a pretty good example to see for myself in fellow Parsons Training client Geoff, who not only lowered his blood sugar but also regained a part of his life by getting his pilot’s license back (it was suspended due to the fact his blood sugar was too high). All he really did was change his eating habits, not even going the more difficult route of going vegan like myself. While I would promote a full-on plant based eating regimen, isn’t the preferred end game freedom and health rather than living under the will of your insulin shots and pills? Right now, diabetes is one of the biggest health problems accosting our country, and the idea of making drastic changes in the diet is considered “weird” in some circles. Searching for news in regards to the diabetes rate all seem to revolve around the growing number of people being diagnosed and poor estimates in regards to the actual rate (which keeps ringing to the tune of “diabetes rate higher than expected). If anything, the acknowledgement of the problem is the first step, but fixing it is always going to be an issue. Like everything, obesity is an industry, and according to some research, a rather expensive one (or lucrative for some).
According to some new research by the McKinsey Global Institute, the cost of obesity and the various obesity related ailments is reaching some rather expensive proportions. http://www.newrepublic.com/article/120373/obesity-costly-burden-employers Drawing upon a cross section of various factors, the institute estimated the cost of obesity and the various ailments is costing two trillion a year in global expenses. How did they comes up with this number? According to the actual study, the researchers studied the number of work days lost in regards to obesity related problems. The estimated loss of work is then compared to the healthier workers. In the United States alone, 8.65 billion dollars are lost a year in regards to lost productivity, for when someone doesn’t keep their part oft he machine well oiled, other parts will suffer. When you consider all countries in the equation, the number can bloat to some incredible heights. However, this study is pretty much a blanket statement on lost productivity, not really factoring in other problems. What about the other costs such as higher premiums for the company provided in the insurance plan as well as the providing of services and medications? The numbers grow when you throw in the number of medical procedures as a result of obesity related illnesses, as well. If anything, the two trillion dollar estimate might even be low (but it is probably pretty close to being correct when you consider all of the factors involved, like companies having to pay sick days so people can see the doctor or people paying money to phony industries like diet pills to help them lose weight).
I’ll admit, it is pretty hard to maintain a plant based diet. Restaurants don’t really cater to your needs, and the disappointment of finding out certain foods you liked were not vegan friendly is kind of a gut punch (when you notice just about every flavored chip out there has whey products in it, one can start questioning their ethics right off the bat!). But I also have to recognize the fact that change comes slowly, especially in a stubborn society that continues to troll each other at every turn. It took a good thirty years before people firmly believed that eggs and bacon were the healthy breakfast of choice when the egg and pork industry set off one of the biggest advertising cons of all time. The idea of the vegan diet has been around since 1960, and it is still making small steps in popularity as opposed to leaps. The only thing I can really do is prove to people that a life without meat and dairy is not so bad. People complain their freedom is being stripped from them every day, but then they eat a huge rack of ribs with garlic fries and spend a good 20 minutes on the toilet asa result. Good health is freedom, and one thing to help with that freedom is instituting better dietary choices in your life. Yeah, you will “feel” satisfied after eating the unhealthy stuff, but what good is satisfaction when you can’t even enjoy the outdoors or walk your dog or play with your grandkids? I look at it this way. I have a massive running path being built by my house, which would allow me to never have to go anywhere else for my running needs (but I will still go to Reid Park from time to time!). Due to the contours of the path, I would be challenging myself everyday and giving myself a reason to stay healthy. Bettering yourself is something we all want in life, and where do you think that process begins?
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Steve, a Parsons Training Client, went from 400 pounds to Running half-marathons, from lifting pizzas to lifting hundreds of pounds through training with us.