By Steve Sharpton, Parsons Training Center, Tucson, Arizona
February 14, 2016
I’m going to tell you one thing, being a vegan is not necessarily the easiest thing to be. A lot of times it is like being single on Valentine’s Day, which is a much more apt description than you think it is. You see all of these people out and about, living they lives without a care in the world and here you are with a whole world of weight on your shoulders. Often times, I do miss the old days when I was driven by my food addiction, where nothing would phase me and make me wish for something different in my life. Heck, when I was stuffing my face and drowning my sorrows, relationships and dating and such wasn’t even on my mind. Being as overweight as I was, I figured getting drunk and stuffed was a far more suitable life for me at the time. I figured…why bother and why worry about anything? I wasn't good looking to begin with and the folds would drive most perspective dates away anyway. It was something of a vicious cycle I guess, only I kept feeding it because doing that was so much easier. I have to say, in the near four years I have taken this journey, which has been filled with plenty of ups and downs, I realize the differences from myself now to myself in the past. There is actually some hope that maybe, just maybe someone will want me to be their Valentine, which is kind of silly in it’s scope but I look at the alternative….my valentine of the past would have been a pizza (though some people I know would consider that a much better trade-off). And here is another thing worth mentioning, I won’t be in need of some kind of drug to help me cope with the fact that once again, I am alone on the supposed most romantic day of the year. Oh well, just another day I guess.
Now I guess it is kind of fortunate that I had a full work day today, one that was looking to be busy right from the get-go (30,000 orders on the queue. Yikes!) Of course, we will be understaffed and ill prepared, but hey, that is every day at my stinking job. I won’t have to worry about anything as I find myself up to my ears in Super Bowl Championship crap, which is a good thing I guess but you can only take so much orange and navy colored t-shirts before you start getting a little annoyed by the new wave of band wagoners getting on the train. And I guess it was a good thing the Broncos won, because we do have a lot of Bronco fans at work and the last thing I would have wanted to hear was the stinking moping and self depreciation of their team losing, with the bandwagon Patriots fans at work suddenly becoming Carolina fans (c’mon, we all have friends like that). As for me, I wallow in silence, because the only thing that happened to my beloved Giants is the fact our former Superbowl hero Justin Tuck is retiring after a relatively injury riddled career. At least he won’t suffer the indignity of retiring a dirty Raider. I’m pretty sure the break room will be filled with bad Valentine’s candy today as well, and the company might even whip out some cake to serve to people. Whatever, I will stick to my raw lunch of grapes, blueberries, apples, oranges and bananas. I do this because I need more fruit in my diet, but I also do this due to the fact half the warehouse is sick for some reason. Since I have been running low on antioxidants the last week (which was most likely the source of my sickness), I have been doing my best to get my health straightened out. Ragnar Del Sol, even though I cannot stop mentioning it, is a just a few days away and I really don’t want to be sick. Considering the weather is going to be somewhere in the high to mid eighties, I’m going be a suffering anyway. This is why I cannot afford to get some kind of stomach bug or something, because running i the heat will be bad enough without having some kid of head cold knocking me out. Three people that worked directly with me Saturday were coming off some kind of sickness or the other. Good thing I eat a well balanced diet.
Personally, that balance was kind of thrown off when I got sick, which was primarily from the fact the heat and the cold were reaching such extremes here in Tucson, my body kind of got knocked for a loop and decided to go into sick mode just to piss me off. You would think this sort of thing would happen more often with someone of my eating regimen, but in reality, it doesn’t. While I will admit that being vegan has its health challenges, it’s not like these challenges are so overwhelming that they drown me. I’ll admit, keeping my protein levels up has been something of a challenge as for late, especially since I have reduced my nut and bean consumption (but mostly by accident). Heck, my levels were too low when I went to donate blood plasma this past week, so I guess that means I will need to start eating more PHÖD bars if I want to try and combat that little problem for the future. Now it is not like this is something dangerous for me, but low protein can be a bevy of problems. The number one for me may have been slight malnutrition, considering I had not been eating very well the week before and was still getting over my sickness. Either way, now that my diet is back on line, I should be fine for next week. But this kind of expresses the sometimes tricky world of plant based eating. It is easy to get stuck on a few items, and this is why you need to really keep your diet open and free. I think this past week was the wake-up call I needed, that relying too much on a high carb diet can be a potential problem. I guess more fruit and veggies will have to make an appearance on the weekends, kind of what I used to do back in the day for work. Now trust me, I’m not really in a bad spot right now, just need to get back on a more consistent eating plan.
Now, when I tell people what I eat, suddenly everyone becomes a health expert or they become instantly intrigued. Only the most savvy of people will understand the one little thing I might have some issues with: B12. Now, unfortunately, B12 is much more abundant in all of the stuff I have sworn to not eat, which makes it a little difficult for me. Truthfully, B12 supplements are the only thing I really take to keep my levels at a healthy spot. Sure, I could drink some kombucha or put nutritional yeast on everything or maybe eat some B12 fortified tofu, but I find it easier to take the supplements. Kombucha is not really something I can get into, I have never really into the taste of nutritional yeast and I usually try to avoid tofu. No, it’s not because I think I will get man boobs, but it’s mostly because I can’t stand eating a whole lot of tofu. Small batches, that’s all I can really stand it in. Now, I have yet to really run into any B12 issues, for the main signs of a deficiency is fatigue, dizziness and a pale complexion. Since I am about as brown as whole wheat bread, I think I would have no issue with figuring out if I have a B12 deficiency. Now why is B12 important? Well yo need it for DNA building when the body creates new cells, and you also need it to maintain good energy stores within the body. Pretty simple, but also important.
As we continue to study the effects of the body and what it needs, this past year has brought some rather interesting monkey wrenches to the system. Calcium is not as good for our bones as we though it was. High fat meats have a direct link to cancer. Sugar is basically legal cocaine. All of these things that are happening in the health committee, and right now, people are either in denial about what they need to do with their overall health or are doing something about it. Now, in regards to B12, a new study is indicating just how important this little vitamin can be. http://www.livescience.com/53675-vitamin-b12-aging-autism-schizophrenia.html Over the years, some studies have been focusing on the link between low levels of B12 and the elderly. These kinds of studies have been very common the last decade or so, mainly because the Baby Boomer Generation is well into it’s golden years, and as the influx of elderly flood the system, having as much updated information on the growing age gap will be important. Many elderly people have shown signs of low B12, and are the same people that might be a bit forgetful and a bit sluggish. In later years, low B12 levels can contribute to these two problems within the elderly, which is something that needs to be addressed constantly. We don’t want our elderly sitting at home all day watching Dr. Phil, and we certainly don’t want them to keep re-watching the same damn episodes because they keep forgetting about them. Now, here is where the speculation comes when we throw in some other groups of people into the mix: the schizophrenic and the autistic. There are has always been some supposition within the medical community that vitamin supplementation might help with these two mental issues. This study, which was conducted by Nova Southeastern University in Fort Lauderdale, used a small sample size of deceased individuals to study B12 levels. Now some oh deceased were autistic and schizophrenic, and through the study it was discovered the individuals that were given these labels had very low levels of B12, much lower they they should have had of their age group. Amongst the brains of the artistic children, who were all under 10, they exhibited B12 levels of a person that was well into their 50s, not a young child. Now, the correlation with this discovery is due to the fact children need more neural activity to develop their brains and keep their neural pathways working actively. If B12 levels are low amongst the children, perhaps these issues can be alleviated with high doses of B12? Right now, due to the small sample size, no one is thinking about rounding up autistic children and giving them “super B12 shots” or anything, but this may be a good precursor to future studies that could help out the growing number of autistic children in this country. The same can be said for some possible treatments options for those who suffer from schizophrenia, which is a problem typically dealt with using heavy drugs and mental incarceration.
Now like I always predicate with these sort of studies, more needs to be done in order to find out if any of the preliminary stuff is real or just hogwash. But that is certainly the downside of the process. While might see a glimmer of hope, the benefit might be in the fact it was a small and unique sample size. All I can say is the need for B12 supplementation is certainly worth the cost for me right now. While I typically go with higher dose sublingual pills, I could certainly scale back if I wanted. But the last time that happened, I definitely felt a change in my workout regimen. But that was just that one incident, and that was when I had been off the B12 for nearly a week! So the only thing I can offer to you is keep eating healthy!
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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.