Dear Holly: Your 3 Day Long Virus with a 106 Degree Temperature

1 year, 5 months.

Dear Holly,

While getting tubes put in your ears a couple months ago definitely has helped prevent you getting more ear infections, it doesn’t prevent you from getting sick beyond that. So the weekend before last, you woke up in the middle of the night with a 106 degree temperature!

It definitely was scary for Mommy and me, but the nurse on the phone advised us to give you a bath to cool you down, along with pain reliever/fever reducer. When Mommy took you to the doctor the next morning, we learned that you simply had a virus that would end in 3 days; no prescription medicine would help cure it any faster.

Nonna and Papa were already planning on coming up to our house for most of the week because your brother’s school was on Fall Break. But because of your condition, they rushed up early by a few days to help take care of you; as Mommy and I still had to go to work.

You definitely needed extra cuddle time with Nonna as your body was fighting off the virus, and she was happy to oblige. And your naps were much longer as well; 3 hour naps compared to your usual 45 hour naps.

But as the doctor had predicted, your fever went away and your energy returned. The pictures starting streaming in from Nonna, as she sent them through Facebook Messenger.

I saw you playing with Papa and going on a stroller ride with Nonna.

You eventually even went to the park and wanted to go play in the creek with your brother. Too bad you didn’t have rain boots on!

We are so grateful that you are okay now and that Nonna and Papa were able to rush to the rescue! Thank God our little girl is okay.

Love,

Daddy

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Dad Bod Vegan Weight Gain: The Struggle is Real (The War against Saturated Fat, Not Just Cholesterol)

It’s been over a week now since I revealed that I can barely fit into most of my pants anymore, as I have gradually gained weight; even though I’ve been a vegan since March 2013. While my size 31 pants comfortably fit for the first couple of years of my vegan lifestyle, that began slowly changing around the time my wife become pregnant with our daughter, in June 2015.

I began eating more desserts with my pregnant wife, like vegan chocolate bars and vegan cake. The calorie increase didn’t stop after our daughter was born in April 2016, or since then.

It didn’t help that I found a loophole in the vegan lifestyle in that it’s actually fairly easy to eat at Mexican restaurants. Most Mexican restaurants cook their food with vegetable oil now, instead of lard. And most Mexican restaurants have a veggie fajita option. So I would just order that, without the cheese or sour cream. (But that’s still a lot of oil!) Plus, most Mexican restaurants around here have cheap Margaritas. (That translates as extra sugar!)

Yes, I had been living the life of a vegan king.

I had taken advantage of all the ways to increase my fats and proteins without eating any meat, eggs, or dairy. All the while, I was never consuming more than 0% of my daily cholesterol intake. And I was so successful, that I gained enough weight to keep from fitting in to my pants.

So how do you lose weight when you’re already a vegan, but only 3 pounds away from being overweight?

This past week, I went back to the mindset of when I first became a vegan 4 and a half years ago. I asked myself, “What was I doing then, that I haven’t been doing the past couple of years?”

Ultimately, 5 things came to mind:

1.      I was mountain biking back then, not running.

2.      I wasn’t consuming as much chocolate or peanut butter or sweets.

3.      Instead of having the equivalent of a glass of wine or 2 a day, I only had that much per week.

4.      I was actually eating lunch every day; typically leftovers from dinner the night before. Compare that to the past couple of years, I’ve either just eaten oatmeal or sometimes Ramen.

5.      I wasn’t drinking orange juice back then, as my eczema was still remission at the time. 

So to simplify that even more…

I was A) doing exercise that engaged more of my muscle groups, including my core, B) I was consuming less saturated fat, and C) I was consuming less sugar, whether in the form of desserts or alcohol.

This past week has served a sort of trial run for figuring out how I need to make adjustments to what I thought was already a strict diet.

One of the huge discoveries I made this week is that by default, I was subconsciously consuming foods with higher amounts of saturated fats; despite consuming 0% of my daily cholesterol allowance. It was my body’s way of finding ways to consume extra calories, since I had stopped eating a solid lunch.

I realized that the cocoa powder, peanut butter, and coconut milk had high percentages of my daily saturated fat intake; along with the chocolate I was consuming in my oatmeal each day. In theory, I was easily consuming more than 100% of my daily saturated fat intake each day.

On top of that, the sugar from the alcohol and the orange juice was helping ensure that the extra saturated fat I was consuming was staying in my body.

And even with all the running I was doing, my body wasn’t getting the overall workout that mountain biking can do for me.

This are the things I taught myself this week. So obviously, there are permanent changes I have begun applying, which will get me back to my proper pants size of 31.

For my breakfast smoothie, I have switched to unsweetened vanilla almond milk; as almonds have much less saturated fat than coconuts. I have also switched to carob powder, as it contains zero fat, as compared to a decent amount of saturated fat in cocoa powers. And as for the peanut butter in my smoothie, instead of using a huge heaping spoon of it, I’m barely using a tablespoon of it now.

Similarly, for my oatmeal, I’m switching to almonds, instead of trail mix; which contains peanuts and dried fruit which is high in process sugar.

As for alcohol, I have literally been drinking only one ounce of wine after dinner; as a way of symbolically finishing my meal, and my calorie consumption, for the day. I have not consumed any vegan treats this week either. And I’m back on the mountain bike, as opposed to running.

I am proud to share my story with the world. This is the “before” part of the story. I will eventually get to the “after”, but first, I have to earn it.

In the process, I will prove that I can predictably get back to those size 31 pants, by permanently adjusting my lifestyle, and without going hungry.

And again, the obvious irony, is that while there are still people out there who believe vegans don’t get enough protein, I’m having to proactively and aggressively figure out how to lose the weight I’ve gained during the years of my vegan lifestyle.

Dear Holly: Nixing Your Baby Bottles and Pacifier in the Same Week

1 year, 4 months.

Dear Holly,

This is the last new picture of you with a pacifier.

The time has come. The days of “no more pacifiers” have begun. This picture was taken on your final day with a pacifier; last Saturday.

Things changed on Sunday. That marked for the first time you had to learn to fall asleep without a pacifier.

I helped you cry it out. I laid on your bedroom floor, next to you, as you exhausted yourself in tears; eventually giving up the fight and allowing me to wrap you up in a blanket and rock you to sleep.

Since then, each time has been easier for you. Sure, you sort of form a make-shift pacifier out of your little burp rag, but you’re getting there.

Personally, I didn’t care or think much about you still having a pacifier. But Mommy had been telling me that it was past time for you to still be using one.

So I used this opportunity to help, but with a personal selfish motive…

Mommy had also been telling me that it was time to get rid of your milk bottles; that you should be drinking out of sippy cups instead.

It now is safe to say that you no longer drink out of your baby bottles, nor use a pacifier. I personally saw to it. In just one weekend, it all ended.

There were two reasons I didn’t want you drinking out of those bottles:

First, those bottles were just extra trouble to be cleaning every day.

And second, I am personally opposed to you drinking any more dairy than you have to. I know you have the same genes as me; you can’t process dairy either. It just leads to eczema and sinus issues.

Since taking your baby bottles away, I have already noticed you naturally don’t even want to drink much milk anyway. I want to see you eating more solid foods.

I guess this means we’ll be able to see your whole face in pictures now, and hopefully, less skin rash as well.

Love, Daddy

Vegan Friendly Review of Boone, North Carolina: Featuring the Best Veggie Burger I’ve Ever Had in My Life!

As the Manliest Vegan on the Internet, I revealed this week that I can no longer fit into my size 31 pants, despite being a vegan for 4 and a half years. That’s right, I have undeniable gained weight and gained a dad bod. Looking back, it might have had something to do with my family recent “Road Trip to the Boonies” in the 2017 Toyota Sienna.

Why go to Gatlinburg when you can just go to Boone, North Carolina instead? Seriously, Boone is undeniably a vegan-friendly city and it also has the private woodsy atmosphere of Gatlinburg.

Sure, we cooked some of our own meals in the cabin, but we definitely enjoyed visiting some of the many vegan-friendly restaurants in Boone.

Let me start my proclaiming that I’ve now had the best veggie burger of my life! It was at a place called BBQ, Burgers, & Brews, just a few miles from the cabin where we were staying.

Openly, I admit: I didn’t specifically ask the waitress if the veggie burger was vegan. That’s how I am when I am travelling. I turn a blind eye to the possibility there are add whites in the veggie burger, knowing that traces of egg whites are consistent with the “0% cholesterol” aspect of my vegan lifestyle.

Why was this veggie burger so awesome? Let me tell you…

First off, the bun. It was big and round with sesame seeds; reminding me of what a good hamburger bun is supposed to taste like. (Again, there may have been traces of egg in the bun as well, but I didn’t ask.)

Next, the veggie burger was topped perfectly with the classic veggies I want on a burger: Lettuce, onion, and tomato.

As for the burger patty itself, it tastes so good that I legitimately feared they accidentally had served me beef. However, I’m confident wasn’t actually meat because after nearly 6 years of not eating meat, I speculate my digestive system would have immediately rejected any meat.

(Needless to say, I had no digestion issues whatsoever during my trip. Of course, becoming a vegan over 4 years ago pretty much illuminated all those problems. Before I stopped eating meat, I suffered reoccurring stomach and sinus issues.)

Lastly, the BBQ sauce! Seriously, that stuff was legit. My brother-in-law, who was sitting next to me, joked that he should see if he could get a huge gallon size container of it. My favorite was the BBQ mustard, though there were several options including sweet, spicy, and vinegar based.

But I can’t not talk about the fries and the onion petals!

Though I love fried pickles, which were also on the menu, I decided to upgrade my side (for an extra dollar or so) from fries to onion pedals. Like the burger, they went so well with the BBQ sauce.

Lucky for me though, my son didn’t finish all his fries, so I got to try them as well. They are my favorite style: big and crispy.

I endorse BBQ, Burgers, & Brews 100% percent. In fact, if you don’t visit them on your next visit to Boone, North Carolina, then it would be a crying shame. Ah, I already miss that place! But it wasn’t the only great place for plant-based food.

In addition to picking up some vegan groceries from Fresh Market and Ingles supermarkets to make meals back at the cabin…

There was of course Mellow Mushroom, a fine establishment we visit on every single road trip in the South…

And the extremely vegan-friendly Barberitos, where my family perfectly loved our burritos.

I also want to point out the glory of Higher Grounds, where we all stopped for coffee each morning. I particularly loved their spicy Mexican Mocha. But of course I would, as my recent DNA test confirmed I am like 53% Latino.

It was a fun place for the whole family to hang out before we began our activities for the day.

There you have it. If you are a vegan or vegetarian, go to Boone, North Carolina right now.

Just pass “go” and just pass Gatlinburg… you’ll enjoy Boone more anyway.

If Vegans Don’t Get Enough Protein, Why Can’t I Fit into My Size 31 Pants Anymore? 5 Ways To Get Rid of My New “Dad Bod”

Amazingly, in the year 2017, there are still people who still assume vegans don’t get enough protein. They should just take a look at me then.

For the first time in the 4 and a half years I’ve been a vegan, and more than a year of being a vegetarian before that, I can no longer fit into my size 31 pants, which is the size I moved down to when I converted to the plant-based lifestyle. Even size 32 is becoming an issue now.

It would be one thing if I never exercised, but that’s clearly not the case. I have been very vocal about how for years now, I have been mountain biking, walking a minimum of 30 minutes a day, doing pull-ups, and even adding skateboarding to the mix this year.

Plus, all this summer, I have been running 2 miles, at least twice a week; even in 93 degree weather or rain.

Even this past Saturday while our family was on fall vacation, I ran down and then back up the mountain our cabin was on (the equivalent of 2 miles), without ever stopping. Later, I saw a very muscular guy who looked younger than I am, attempting to run the same course, but he had to stop to walk.

I’m healthy and I’m physically fit, especially for a 36 year-old… but I’m also gaining weight.

For a guy who consumes 0% of his daily cholesterol allowance, and who gets all his protein and nutrients from simply vegetables, fruit, beans, grains, nuts, and seeds, it would be easy to believe that a guy like me would have no issues with my pants no longer fitting.

Clearly, I’m getting enough protein. And enough exercise.

The fundamental problem? I’m simply consuming more calories than my body actually needs; even with all the exercise and my 0% cholesterol vegan lifestyle.

If I am to get back to size 31, I suppose it’s a matter of deliberately changing my lifestyle again, in addition to remaining vegan and continuing my regular exercise routine:

  1. Eating smaller meals and not going back for seconds.
  2. Not having vegan desserts anymore, like cashew ice cream and vegan chocolate bars.
  3. Eating whole fruit after dinner, to take the place of going back for seconds or dessert.
  4. Using balsamic vinegar for salad dressing again, so I can further cut out oils from my diet.
  5. Nearly nixing alcohol intake all together.

I am currently 167 pounds, which nearly puts me in the “overweight” category. I am 3 pounds away from being overweight. I am not okay with this. For me, it’s an attack on my identity. I have control over my weight… my weight doesn’t control me. I don’t have to settle for an expanding waistline just because, “This is just what happens when you start getting older.”

It’s funny because, in theory, I don’t eat a lot anyway:

My homemade smoothie and black coffee in the morning, my oatmeal or vegan ramen noodles at lunch, and a solid meal at dinner consisting of whatever Italian or Mexican dish my wife prepares along with a dark green salad. And the equivalent of a glass of wine or two.

No meat, no fish, no eggs, no milk, no cheese, no yogurt.

But it’s time to reduce my intake, so that I can also reduce my waist size and comfortably fit into my size 31 pants again.

I am not a victim. I am victorious. I shall overcome!

So yeah… I think it’s safe to say that as a vegan, I’m getting enough protein.

How to Prepare Your Toddler for His First Dentist Visit (By Guest Blogger, Jack Kennedy)

 

Can you imagine your toddler sitting perfectly still in the dentist’s chair with their mouth obediently stretched wide open? You are not alone if you think this picture resembles a far-flung fantasy. However, a little preparation goes a long way in making the first dental check-up go as smoothly and as painlessly (we hope) as possible.

Preparing yourself

The early years are anexciting time and full of firsts. When the first tooth erupts, or at about one year of age, is the general recommendation of when your child’s first trip to the dentist should occur.

The first step is to choose your dentist. This may not be your own dentist unless they have experience in dealing with potentially squirming, crying kids. Choosing a paediatric dentist – one who specialises in these yowling youngsters – can be worthwhile. Do your research to see which trustworthy and kid-friendly dental practices are in your area.

Prepare yourself so you can answer any questions your child may have confidently and accurately. Often dental practices will provide you with information about the first dental visit. If not, it pays to ask exactly what to expect. Make a list of any concerns or questions you may have, such as how to choose the right toothbrush. Remember to inform the clinic of any allergies, medical conditions and medications beforehand.

Children look directly to us as experienced adults for guidance and support about how to behave and respond to new situations. Children are excellent at picking up on cues and can sense when we are happy and relaxed or are worried and scared. As their attitude and temperament are likely to reflect your own feelings,continue striving to be a positive role model, laying aside any fear or trepidation you may have. Your child has not yet been given any reason to dislike the dentist, so try to keep it this way.

Talking to your child

Children often learn by mimicking the things we say and do, even if it can get a little tiresome at times. Brushing your teeth together demonstrates good habits at home and is a great way to teach your toddler about oral health. This is an easy lead-in to talking about “going toa special kind of doctor that looks after your teeth”.

Like any new experience, visiting the dentist can be daunting the first time around and can be associated with feelings of anxiety. Knowing what to expect removes some of the trepidation associated with the unknown, as does constant reassurance that you will be with them throughout the entire visit. With young children, use simple and positive language. Tell them exactly what to expect, such as “the dentist will count your teeth” and “the dentist helps us keep our teeth strong and healthy.”

There are many entertaining resources at your disposal to help begin these discussions and introduce your child to proper dental care. Picture books with colorful illustrations about going to the dentist can be read together. Educational toys and models show exactly what their teeth look like and you can practice counting them, just like the dentist will do. Computer animations and other online resources can be both entertaining and informative, ultimately helping your toddler cope with their first trip to the dentist.

Role playing games can be used to great effect to show what will happen at the dentist. A stuffed toy or doll makes for a willing patient to practice on, and your child can act out the roles of both dentist and patient, helping to overcome their fears.

Even trips to the museum and zoo or watching the nature channel is a prime opportunity to promote curiosity and discussion. For instance, compare their teeth to the massive teeth of lions. They will be fascinated!

While at the Dentist

When at the dentist, take toys and books to keep your kid occupied while you wait. Consider bringing a special “going to the dentist book” or (if you are brave enough)having a “going to the dentist song”.Formally introduce your child to the dentist and any nurses so that they become a familiar and friendly face. Finally, planning a reward for afterwards will give your toddler something to look forward to, such as a trip to the playground. That said, try to avoid the use of bribery. Instead, promote the dentist visit as a healthy and positive experience. With these strategies, the next visit will be even easier, so there’s no reason to be down in the mouth!

Jack Kennedy works for Corson Dental, a New Zealand based dental practice specializing in cosmetic and general procedures.

Photo Credit: pixabay.com

4 Lies the Fitness Industry Loves to Tell You (By Guest Blogger, Mathews McGarry)

It’s a vicious circle, one of the average consumer attracted to the oily abs on those magazine covers, and that of the marketing frenzy to always give their clients an edge over their competitors. Everyone is looking to invent/sell/discover the “-est” formula of fitness success. Hence the titles “the fastest way to get cut”, “the best workout for fat loss”, all neatly packed with “experts”, gurus” and “incredible transformations”.

Getting out of this Wayward Pines of fitness can be a long and windy road, simply because your subconscious desperately wants to believe these lovely lies, and wouldn’t our lives be so much simpler if they were only true?

Diet or die

Wherever you look, there seems to be another last solution you’ll ever need. Intermittent fasting, chrono, raw, paleo, juicing, keto, low-fat, Mediterranean, gluten-free, Atkins, you name it, it’s there to salvage your soul. Followed, of course, by lists of crazy-expensive dishes with ingredients you can barely pronounce, let alone prepare.

And with the help of the rights Instagram babes and bods, it’s no wonder we all want to believe them, despite their photoshopped, filtered, altered images selectively posted to tease our minds into thinking we could or should ever look like that. The low self-esteem card is their absolute favorite, and the simple truth hiding behind all those diets is painfully obvious: every one of us is different, and whatever you prefer and choose to eat, should be in moderation.

No pain, no gain

The supposition that you should be in pain is not only dangerous, but also inconsistent with their oversimplified gimmicks to reach your fitness goal. What was designed to aim at your motivation and make you feel less than worthy unless your exercise is riddled with “blood, sweat and tears”, is in fact the quickest road to injury and failure.

Not that your routine should be a breezy session as it can seem in certain videos online, when the instructors leisurely explain their exercises without losing their breath. Putting in a reasonable amount of effort as opposed to taking part in a grueling training session will yield results without making you feel miserable or forcing you through the fitness equivalent of a military boot-camp.

You need it all, and you need it now

How do all those fitness magazines, blogs and online experts even survive in this overpopulated industry, you wonder? Adverts, of course! The sole purpose of the majority of these outlets is to sell you something, so they aim to make you believe you need all of it to reach your goals.

But just like no fancy shin-pads, elevation masks, or gravity boots can keep you harm-proof if your form is poor, mindlessly buying everything labeled fitness doesn’t guarantee you any advantage over the guy who trains with actual knowledge in his hands. Don’t buy into the hype and stick to your bare essentials such as trusty belts, sturdy weightlifting shoes and your long-lasting gloves.

Fitness miracles

Just look at Thor’s pecks, and the Rock’s rock-hard abs! They MUST be the result of that one-week makeover routine or that magical supplement! Sure, unless you have some basic knowledge of human biology – muscles cannot sprout over-night, nor can you shed pounds with that fat-burner mix from your favorite fitness store shelf.

Anything that offers fast results (not counting steroids) is, in a nutshell, a load of BS. No five-minute-a-day routine can bring out your abs unless you lower your body-fat percentage to an unhealthy level, nor can you become Hulk-esque with a ten-minute strength-building routine. Living in a fast-paced world requires fast-selling solutions, and since you cannot train six hours five times per week and have a hoard of trainers and nutritionists tailoring your every move, of course you prefer the illusion.

With clarity of vision and a handful of useful information, you’ll get much further than you ever will with a heap of mindless tips and tricks not even their inventors believe. As comforting the world behind the blue pill may be, for the sake of your health, I’d strongly advise you to take the red one.