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My 30 Day Vegan Diet Experiment | Recap — Week 2 & 3

It has been 3 weeks since I start­ed my diet exper­i­ment & over­all I’m very pleased with the results so far. (You can find all of my raw data here)

Observations:

As many of us have expe­ri­enced when try­ing to estab­lish a new habit, the begin­ning is often the eas­i­est part of the process. Nov­el­ty, excite­ment & the ini­tial burst of ener­gy can help get us mov­ing. Before too long how­ev­er, old habits along with our envi­ron­ment can pull us back to our old behav­iour & it is at these times when we may need to ‘dig deep’.

I’ve expe­ri­enced some of this. There were a cou­ple of times on week 2 where I thought — ‘wouldn’t it just be eas­i­er to go back to reg­u­lar eat­ing?’ There were chal­lenges encoun­tered in attend­ing a neigh­bour­hood BBQ & also in dis­cov­er­ing that there are very lim­it­ed options for veg­an or plant-based eat­ing when you go out to a typ­i­cal restau­rant.

The key to push­ing through these bar­ri­ers was remind­ing myself of the rea­sons why I chose to under­take this exper­i­ment. We’ve all heard this advice before, to get clear about the why of our actions & in order to more ful­ly embrace it, I con­tin­ued to read lots of infor­ma­tion about the ben­e­fits that folks have achieved through eat­ing more ‘real food’ as well as edu­cate myself about the poten­tial long-term prob­lems caused by eat­ing a typ­i­cal west­ern diet.

As I con­tin­ued to read more about the search for the ide­al diet, I was remind­ed of how easy it is to become defen­sive about one’s dietary choic­es. The abil­i­ty to com­ment on arti­cles and posts online in many ways serves to make this worse as folks trade insults about the pros and cons of Veg­an vs. Paleo eat­ing or the Mediter­ranean vs. the Atkins diet and every­thing in between. At times like this it it easy to for­get that most of are attempt­ing to dis­cov­er the same thing — a way of eat­ing that will help us live longer & health­i­er lives while feel­ing good in the process. Fur­ther­more, it is easy to lim­it our read­ing only to ideas with which we agree & thus get lost in an echo cham­ber.

I’m learn­ing to become curi­ous about the impact that food has on me and my body. My expe­ri­ence so far, is that eat­ing more real (min­i­mal­ly processed) foods, pro­vides me a lev­el of detail or gran­u­lar­i­ty not avail­able when eat­ing foods that con­tain a large num­ber of ingre­di­ents (espe­cial­ly those con­tain­ing ingre­di­ents cre­at­ed in a lab­o­ra­to­ry). By this I mean that if I do not feel good after eat­ing or drink­ing some­thing then because I’ve either made the item myself from scratch or the items I’ve bought have few­er ingre­di­ents, I can more eas­i­ly iden­ti­fy the pos­si­ble cul­prit.

Going for­ward, this will allow me to exper­i­ment more eas­i­ly with adding or sub­tract­ing cer­tain foods or even food groups. I’m look­ing for­ward to explor­ing this in more detail at some future point. Some imme­di­ate exper­i­ments that come to mind are things like exclud­ing wheat com­plete­ly for a short peri­od of time or exper­i­ment­ing with a raw food only diet.

So, what’s changed or has stayed the same?

Ener­gy
My ener­gy lev­els have remained fair­ly con­sis­tent at between 7 & 8 (out of a pos­si­ble 10) aside from a cou­ple of peri­ods where I felt tired after unusu­al­ly exert­ing myself phys­i­cal­ly (or in 1 case par­ty­ing a lit­tle too hard the night before 🙂 . My aver­age dai­ly score is now approx­i­mate­ly 7.5.

I rec­og­nize that while my food intake can and does impact my ener­gy lev­els in a big way, how I’m feel­ing emo­tion­al­ly can also have a sig­nif­i­cant impact. For exam­ple, feel­ings of over­whelm or frus­tra­tion or lack of progress on tasks or projects can also be big ener­gy drain­ers. Which begs the ques­tion — what might it be like to eat con­sis­tent­ly well for my body and elim­i­nate or great­ly reduce the pro­cras­ti­na­tion that can sap my men­tal ener­gy? What would supe­ri­or phys­i­cal & men­tal ener­gy look like?

Mood
This is con­sis­tent­ly pos­i­tive & sta­ble and it appears to be inch­ing up to an aver­age of 8.25 (out of a pos­si­ble 10) over the course of each day.

Sleep
My aver­age num­ber of hours of sleep per night seems to be com­ing in at around 6 & con­sis­tent across 7 days.

Weight
At the end of week 3, I weighed 163.5lbs/74.1kg. I have lost approx­i­mate­ly 3.5lbs/1.6kgs over the past 2 weeks. This rep­re­sents a net loss of 3lbs/1.36kg since the start of the exper­i­ment. I sus­pect some of this was trig­gered by 2 long hikes (10miles/16Km each over hilly ter­rain) last week­end in warm weath­er as well as con­tin­u­ing to reduce the amount of processed food in my diet.

I made a deci­sion to skip a fast day this week espe­cial­ly after hik­ing in the warm weath­er. After check­ing my weight at the end of week three, I was a lit­tle con­cerned to see the final fig­ure. I checked my new BMI and it is 21.6. This is direct­ly in the mid­dle of the nor­mal weight range (18.5 to 24.9 BMI). I will mon­i­tor this fig­ure close­ly over the com­ing weeks and check that fur­ther weight loss does not occur.

As a result of this, the fol­low­ing occurred to me.

In the UK & the US more than 65% of adults are con­sid­ered to be over­weight or obese (hav­ing a BMI greater than 25 is con­sid­ered over­weight and a BMI of above 29.9 is con­sid­ered obese). Because of this real­i­ty, are we los­ing sight of what nor­mal weight looks like? We have for years spo­ken about the unre­al­is­tic images of women used in adver­tis­ing. Are we now at risk of going too far down the oth­er end of the scale & accept­ing (from a health per­spec­tive) obe­si­ty as a nat­ur­al state for humans?

To put my BMI in per­spec­tive (accord­ing to a tool on the BBC web­site), with­in the UK I have a low­er BMI that 95% of males age 45 to 59 and glob­al­ly a low­er BMI than 75% of adult males in that age group. I am appar­ent­ly most like a male in the Demo­c­ra­t­ic Repub­lic of the Con­go. I find this both inter­est­ing and quite scary.

Phys­i­cal activ­i­ty
I have been con­sis­tent­ly active over the past 3 weeks. I took my first group exer­cise class in many years & have signed up for anoth­er. I’ve main­tained an aver­age of 10,700 steps dai­ly in week 2 & 15,000 in week 3 and have increased my atten­dance at the gym to lev­els not seen in 5+ years. Most impor­tant­ly, I feel that I have estab­lished momen­tum which now moti­vates me to expand beyond my usu­al reper­toire of car­dio & free weights to stretch­ing, pilates, yoga, & work on my core.

Food
I’m mind­ful of how my rela­tion­ship with food has rad­i­cal­ly changed over the past 3 weeks of this exper­i­ment (& the past 18 months as I’ve exper­i­ment­ed with dif­fer­ent ways of eat­ing) It is real­ly inter­est­ing to observe the inter­nal dia­logue that is hap­pen­ing dur­ing this ‘let­ting go’ process. There’s a sense of hav­ing cut off a piece of my human expe­ri­ence. I’ve become real­ly aware of the extent to which I reward myself with food & as I’ve done less of this I’m curi­ous to dis­cov­er what if any­thing will take its place as a reward.

I sus­pect that should I choose to con­tin­ue eat­ing in this way, this feel­ing would grad­u­al­ly dimin­ish & I would trans­fer my ‘rewards’ onto oth­er food­stuffs. So for exam­ple even though I’ve eat­en pret­ty much the same break­fast each day for the past 3 weeks, I still look for­ward to it. And, pre­vi­ous­ly where pol­ish­ing off a bar of choco­late or a large bag of crisps was seen as a giant unhealthy treat, hav­ing 2 healthy fruit & nut bars has start­ed to seem a lit­tle indul­gent.

Plan­ning & prepar­ing food ahead con­tin­ues to be key to suc­cess. This past week­end, I went away on a hik­ing week­end, stay­ing at a youth hos­tel. To help ensure that I stuck to my eat­ing plan & to do so in a health­ful way, I brought along all of my own food. While a lit­tle incon­ve­nient, it turned out to be a suc­cess­ful move.

I’ve noticed that it is easy to fill up the freez­er with processed soy foods or meat replace­ments. I’m mind­ful to not do this. So as well as keep­ing my food choic­es veg­an I am attempt­ing to have my foods be as unprocessed as pos­si­ble.

Update on goals

I iden­ti­fied 3 goals at the end of week 1. Here they are along with an update:

1. Expand the vari­ety of foods that I eat, be a bit more adven­tur­ous | This is a work in progress. To date, I’ve tried to keep this exper­i­ment as sim­ple as pos­si­ble which has result­ed in keep­ing many break­fasts or oth­er meals the same. Should I choose to con­tin­ue this beyond 30 days, this will become more of a pri­or­i­ty for me.

2. Take a gym class to chal­lenge myself phys­i­cally (I have not tak­en a gym class in many years, typ­i­cally pre­fer­ring to exer­cise by myself) | I took a group exer­cise class and am plan­ning to incor­po­rate 1 or 2 of these per week into my exer­cise sched­ule.

3. Ensure that I’m tak­ing any sup­ple­ments that I need to take | I have researched & pur­chased a vari­ety of nutri­tion­al sup­ple­ments to help ensure that all of my nutri­tion­al require­ments will be met. How­ev­er, as some of these vit­a­mins & min­er­als are sold in quite high dos­es, I want to under­take some addi­tion­al research on cor­rect dosages to ensure that I am not plac­ing myself at risk of anoth­er kind before I begin to take them.

At the time of writ­ing, I have 1 week left on my exper­i­ment. The weeks have passed quick­ly & I look for­ward to shar­ing my final obser­va­tions and report next week.

Orig­i­nal post: My 30 Day Veg­an Diet Exper­i­ment

My 30 Day Veg­an Diet Exper­i­ment — Week 1 Recap

My 30 Day Veg­an Diet Exper­i­ment  — Final Report

5 thoughts on “My 30 Day Vegan Diet Experiment | Recap — Week 2 <span class="amp">&</span> 3”

  1. Thanks for the update, Dave. Anoth­er very inter­est­ing read! I’m look­ing for­ward to the next post. Jean K

    1. Thanks for the feed­back Jean and for tak­ing the time to read the post. I’m look­ing for­ward to shar­ing the lessons I’ve learned in my final recap.

  2. Pingback: My 30 Day Vegan Diet Experiment - Week 1 Recap

  3. Pingback: 30 Day Vegan Diet Experiment - Final Report | MoreTime4Play

  4. Pingback: My 30 Day Vegan Diet Experiment

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