My 2018 MLB Spring Training Grapefruit League Toyota Grand Slam Road Trip: From Orlando to Fort Myers in the 2018 Toyota Camry (Part 2 of 3)

After waking up at Loews Portofino Bay at Universal Studios, I began the 2nd day of my road trip across Florida by rushing downstairs to call dibs on the Toyota I would be driving that day.

It was the 2018 Toyota Camry that had drawn my attention. Not only is it a sporty (and fast) looking car, but I’m a sucker for red interior. As I began loading up my gear, I realized I wouldn’t even need to find and choose a driving partner for the day, as I noticed someone else’s gear was already loaded up.

Of the 8 of us automotive writers there for the event and 5 vehicles to choose from, my driving partner and I found each other simply by the process of choosing the car first.

Ray Logan, of, had also chosen the Camry, and therefore, he had chosen me as well. It was no surprise that Ray and I hit it off quite easily.

Our mission was to take the Camry from Orlando to Fort Myers, where we would be watching the Orioles play the Twins at Hammond Stadium.

The midpoint stop on our journey was a vegan shop in Sarasota called CROP (which now that I am looking closely at their sign, stand for “coldpressed, raw, organic, produce”).

Of all days to be introduced to this wondrous place, it just happened to be my 5th anniversary of being a vegan. So as you can imagine, the owner was truly able to celebrate with me.

I explained to him how I have been free of dyshidrotic eczema, constant sinus pressure, and pet allergies for the past 5 years in which I have not consumed any meat, eggs, or dairy. While he was obviously happy to hear this, he wasn’t surprised, as he also personally believes in the power of plants alone.

It was such a thrill for me to be able to stock up on all kinds of manly vegan goodies for the 2nd half of the road trip. I enjoyed a HeartBeet Burger, a peanut butter and banana smoothie, chia coconut pudding, and some delectable vegan chocolates.

Yeah, I may have went overboard, and but hey… what a fun way to celebrate 5 years being healed of eczema (thanks to my vegan lifestyle) than to stock up at Crop!

By the time Ray and I made it to the game, food was no longer on my mind. But having gotten a little too much sun from the game the day before, we decided to hang up in the shade up at the top of the stadium; enjoying the game from a nearly aerial view.

After a good time at the game, we made our way to The Westin Cape Coral Resort at Marina Village. I loved how right there at the balcony near my bed, I had a nice view of yachts on the water. It made me think of the 1983 Jimmy Buffett song, “One Particular Harbor”.

I admit though, I felt kind of guilty not being able to share this amazing hotel experience while my wife was back home with the kids. Either way, I slept like a rock.

And I would need every minute of that solid sleep for the adventure ahead the next day in the Toyota C-HR, with a new driving partner.

This was an action packed road trip, for sure.

Work hard while playing hard. That was my theme.

To read all 3 parts of My 2018 MLB Spring Training Grapefruit League Toyota Florida Road Trip series, just click on the link below for the ones you haven’t read yet:

An Awesome Dad Vacation (Part 1 of 3)
From Orlando to Fort Myers in the 2018 Toyota Camry (Part 2 of 3)
From Cape Coral to Manalapan in the 2018 Toyota Camry (Part 3 of 3)

Stay-at-Home Dad 101: I Lost 11 Pounds in the Past 2 Months, From Overweight to Optimal (A Testimonial about Vegan Weight Loss)

Exactly two months ago on January 8th, 2018, I was very vocal and public about the fact I had become overweight, as a vegan. I was getting too much protein, and fat, and sugar.

I wanted to make sure it was common knowledge, and beyond anyone’s doubt, that with a BMI of 26. At 5’9″, I was officially 6 pounds overweight, at 176 pounds.

So I decided to cut out empty calories, and even extra protein, like the chia seeds in my morning smoothie and the mixed nuts in my oatmeal. I started eating whole apples and oranges. I switched back to just balsamic vinegar instead of oil-based salad dressing. I began drinking tea at night, lest I be tempted by anything more alluring.

A month later, which was a month ago in February, I had lost 7.5 pounds (at that point 168.5 pounds) and lowered my BMI to 24.5; which meant I was no longer overweight.

So what progress have I made since then? I lost another 3.5 pounds (now 165 pounds); which means my BMI is now 24, and I’ve lost a total of 11 pounds!

Here’s something that some fitness freaks won’t like hearing:

I haven’t been working out at a gym.

The weight I have lost has been exclusively because of the empty calories, and well as the extra calories, I’ve been cutting out of my diet.

I still haven’t reached my goal, though. For me, it’s about comfortably fitting into every pair of size 31 pants I own; as I was able to a few years ago.

That means I’m aiming to get down to 156 pounds; which would be a total of 20 pounds lost since January 8th of this year. That’s another 9 pounds to go.

And then once I reach my goal, it’s a matter of maintaining that weight.

I feel, though, since my formula is clearly working, I should be able to maintain the weight loss as long as I remain faithful.

This is my personal story about vegan weight loss.

How I Cured Dyshidrotic Eczema in 5 Steps and Have Remained Symptom-Free for 5 Years (But No One Cares Since I’m Not a Medical Expert)

If you Google “dyshidrotic eczema” right now, you’ll learn “this condition can’t be cured”, and “it can last for years or be lifelong”, and “the cause is unknown”. Hmm. Well, let it be known that I, Nick Shell, cured this skin disease 5 years ago, and have remained free of all symptoms for 5 years now. And I even know the cause of the disease. This is my person discovery. This is what I taught myself:

Dyshidrotic eczema is caused when certain people (often with Type A blood, like myself) whose bodies can’t process added sugar (from processed foods) or heavy metals (from bottom feeder animals like pork and shellfish), have no way to naturally detox themselves quickly enough. Therefore, the toxins attempt to release themselves through the skin; often in the palms of a person’s hand. To be cured, the person must change their diet in a way that draws out the toxins and helps their body sweat at a higher rate.

Time to celebrate my cure? No, because no one cares about my discovery. Here’s why:

I am not a medical expert and my cure does not involve using doctor-prescribed Big Pharma medications. Therefore, my cure will never be taken seriously by the rest of the world.

Most people will never learn about it. I will die years from now, having discovered the cure for a disease that more 200,000 Americans suffer from every year, and yet I will not be known for proving the cure.

But I’m okay with that. Because what really matters is that I can help people anyway. I am about to share the 5 secret steps to curing dyshidrotic eczema.

This system is the result of me being in a place of extreme desperation, praying to God, “I will do anything to be cured of this. Just let me know what to do. If you need to use me as your unlikely spokesman, I’ll do it. I will tell anyone who will listen.”

He answered my prayer, not by instantly healing me like the way he did the blind man, but by guiding me through trial and error.

Each sequential step helped improve my condition more, but it wasn’t until the final step that I realized my dyshidrotic eczema was completely gone and has not resurfaced in 5 years.

Perhaps it is possible for some to only have to do the first couple of steps to be cured. But in my case, I had to do all 5, starting in this order:

Cut out all processed sugar and replace it with whole fruits.

I was addicted to sugar. I realized though, I wasn’t eating fruit. Once I started putting entire bananas in my oatmeal, and in my smoothies, and cutting up apples and oranges for snacks, I learned that I wasn’t crazing sugar anymore. Plus, the natural unprocessed sugar from the fruit wasn’t making my condition worse, as I was now adding more fiber to my diet because of the fruit.

Start eating dark green vegetables every day.

I started eating a big salad every night with dinner. But I don’t mean iceberg lettuce and some carrot shavings. I mean a mixture of dark green roughage, including spinach. I learned this was helping to detox my body, especially as it also adding more fiber to my diet.

Begin Heavy Metal Detox treatment.

At Whole Foods, I found a small bottle called “Heavy Metal Detox”. It basically just consisted of a concentrated form of chlorella and cilantro. It cost around $25 and lasted about a month. I used it for somewhere between 6 to 9 months. It helps draw out the toxins from the body.

Here is a link to Amazon, so you can find the best deal on Heavy Metal Detox.

Visit a sauna 2 to 3 times for a week.

My wife found a local place where I could go and intensely sweat for about 30 minutes, at least twice per week. I did this for about 3 months, alongside the Heavy Metal Detox treatment. I ran outside a lot that summer in the sun, but that didn’t compare to how much the sauna helped.

Cut out certain types of meat, and maybe even all animal products, from your diet. (And stop wearing jewelry that contains nickel.)

I realized that my eczema had kicked into high gear once my wife and I got back from our honeymoon in New England, where all I ate for an entire week was scallops and shrimp. That also marked for the first time I had worn metal jewelry: my Tungsten wedding ring, which contained nickel. I then taught myself, using Google, that “bottom feeder” fish contain more nickel; as does Tungsten.

It was clear: the combination of wearing jewelry containing nickel and eating an abundance of shellfish containing nickel, had propelled my eczema into its worst version I had ever experienced.

That’s when I thought back to how in the Old Testament, how the Jewish people weren’t supposed to eat “unclean” food; like pork or shellfish. (The same goes for Muslims and Seventh Day Adventists.)

So I stopped eating pork and shellfish altogether. That drastically improved my condition.

After a couple years, I sort of accidentally, by default, become a vegetarian; since at that point I was already eating so much fruit and vegetables, and had learned to live without pork and shellfish.

Then about a year later (which was almost exactly 5 years ago now), I randomly decided to go an entire weekend without eating any eggs, milk, cheese, or yogurt. During that 48 hour span, all my sinus pressure cleared up, my sinuses drained this weird red plasma stuff, and I wasn’t allergic to animals anymore.

Obviously, I have remained a vegan ever since. And all these health issues, including dyshidrotic eczema, as well as constant sinus pressure, Sinusitis, and pet allergies, having remained gone since.

Five years.

So today, my goal is to provide hope for all the other people in the world right now, suffering from dyshidrotic eczema.

You come to a point in your daily agony that you finally give up on those lotions and creams from the doctor, which only temporarily help the condition.

You come to the point where you’re finally desperate enough to try anything.

Fortunately, my 5 step cure could be a lot worse.

I am Nick Shell. I discovered the cure for dyshidrotic eczema 5 years ago and have remained symptom free ever since; as I also cured my sinus issues and pet allergies.

But remember, I will never be famous for this. I will never even be invited on a talk show, to share my cure with the world. The medical community will never acknowledge me, as my cure does not involve a prescription drug created by Big Pharma.

I am just a crazy guy on the Internet, who served as my own human Guinea pig until I was cured. No one cares.

No one cares except for those who will read this and realize my cure is true.


Stay-at-Home Dad 101: I’m No Longer an Overweight Vegan- I Lost 7.5 Pounds in the Past 30 Days, BMI is Now 24.5

Exactly a month ago, I revealed to the free world that I had officially become an overweight vegan. At 5’9” and 176 pounds, I had a BMI of 26; which put me about 6 pounds past the “normal” or “optimal” BMI range.

Yes, this concept might explode in the face of some out-of-touch people who still assume vegans don’t get enough protein. By the way, I’ve noticed a pattern in which the same people who are the most vocal about the misconception that vegans don’t get enough protein, tend to be overweight men with onset diabetes or who are pre-diabetic. Perhaps that in itself is more ironic that the fact that a vegan can be overweight…

But as the video above proves, I have undeniably lost 7.5 pounds in the past 30 days. I went from 176 pounds to 168.5. I went from a BMI of 26 (overweight) to now a BMI of 24.5 (normal).

How did I do this? Starve myself? Go around hungry? Pay a lot of money to join a program to keep me accountable? Join a gym and slave away to intense cardio 2 hours a day?

Nah, that’s not my style. Instead, here are the changes I have made since a month ago:

I started eating 2 apples or 2 oranges every day; which provides natural sugar and fiber.

I stopped eating vegan ice cream and vegan candy bars at night after the kids are asleep.

Other than one Cliff bar each day as my only “treat”, I stopped eating any snacks that are processed; including whole grain waffles with vegan butter and maple syrup.

I also started drinking unsweetened “slumber” tea before I go to bed each night; to help keep my mind off of consuming any last minute empty calories.

For my salad each night with dinner, I only use balsamic vinegar; no longer any oil-based vegan dressings.

That’s it.

As far as exercise, there was one day the weather was decent enough that I went on a 2 mile run.

Obviously, this new regimen is working for me, so I will continue making this my new norm. My goal is to get down to the mid-150s for my weight; which at this point, is only 13 pounds away.

So a month from now, I will return with the newest update on my journey from overweight vegan to ideal-weight vegan.

In case you missed it, here’s the video from 30 days ago when I proved I was an overweight vegan. I want there to be no doubt in anyone’s mind I was indeed overweight just one month ago.


Despite the 1990s Sitcom Cliche, I Actually Really Like My Mother-in-Law (Featuring the 2017 Mazda 6 Grand Touring)

I feel like there’s this familiar cliche from family sitcoms of the 90s where the mother-in-law comes from out to town to visit, which inevitably yields 23 minutes of zany frustration for the husband and father of the household; accompanied by laugh tracks, of course.

Maybe that’s true for some men out there, I don’t know.

What I do know is I personally can not relate to this stereotype at all.

My wife and I have been married for nearly 10 years. I can honestly say that I have never once felt frustrated when my mother-in-law comes to visit or when we visit her in California. In fact, she has the opposite effect on me: I feel more relaxed with her around.

I assume I’m the typical American dad in that I am heavily involved not only with the kids, but also with the household chores. The only real free time I have is when everyone else is asleep.

During my waking hours, I’m either taking care of at least one kid or I’m helping clean up a mess. Because with young kids, there’s always a mess to be cleaned.

But when my mother-in-law is in town, I get a break from reality. I actually have pockets of time where I can do things like, you now… learn what it feels like to sit on my own couch for 5 minutes; thanks to my mother-in-law insisting on preparing dinner without my help, telling me, “Now Nick, sit down. I’m taking care of all this over here. You just take a seat and relax.”

This is all especially fresh on my mind, as my mother-in-law is currently staying with our family here here in Tennessee this week.

When the folks at Mazda heard about our special guest flying in from the West Coast, they dropped off a 2017 Mazda 6 Grand Touring with a full tank of gas, to make the week-long visit extra special.

It’s funny because despite only living about 40 miles south of Nashville, I only see that wondrous and trendy city a few times a year. But knowing we had a fancy car to get us there, we loaded up in the Mazda 6 and took our mother-in-law out for a magnificent lunch.

My wife suggested this cool Lebanese bistro called Epice.

Wow, seriously. It is now officially my favorite restaurant in all of Nashville. It was like being introduced to a whole new world of food. Not to mention, they were easily able to cater to me being a vegan.

The restaurant shares a parking lot with a very swanky “Nashvilley” shop called White Mercantile, which happens to be owned by Holly Williams; the daughter of Hank Williams, Jr.

I admit, the decor there was so cool, I took lots of pictures, made it into a collage, and debuted it as my new Facebook banner picture.

My mother-in-law just loved that store! Despite being born and raised in Oakland, California, she definitely has a fascination with the Southern motif.

After lunch, my wife and mother-in-law decided we would be stopping by an organic grocery store called The Turnip Truck; as it is soon to be a place frequented by Country Music stars.

Apparently, there were no celebrities there at the time, but at least I got a Mexican coffee out of the deal, and my daughter was able to enjoy one of her favorite snacks for the drive back home.

The next day on Saturday, my mother-in-law decided she wanted to take us out for dinner at our town’s official favorite restaurant, Viking Pizza Co. of Spring Hill.

Needless to say, it’s been a very enjoyable week for our entire family with my mother-in-law in town. Especially for me. I have enjoyed being able to remove myself just enough from the household chores, as my mother-in-law has assumed many of my roles this week, so though I could have some moments of sanity.

I don’t care what happened in 90s sitcoms. All I know is, I definitely like having my mother-in-law in town!

If you would like to learn more about the specifics of the 2017 Mazda 6 Grand Touring, check out another article I wrote; which as the title of it implies, will answer many of your immediate questions. Just click on the click below:

2017.5 Mazda 6 Grand Touring: Back Seat Space with 2 Children’s Car Seats, Fuel Door Release, Volume Knob for Stereo, Extra Trunk Space, Gas Mileage, Price

And don’t forget to catch up with me on The Lifetime Network’s “This Time Next Year” on February 20th, at 10 PM Central/9 PM Eastern; as I journey over the course of an entire year in attempt to find and meet my doppelganer!


Dr. Joshua Straub Actually Agrees with My Theory That You Get to Decide Whether Others Control Your Emotions?

One of the most fundamentally important parts of my identity is a theory that I discovered on my own, a few years back: That I alone get to decide and determine whether or not other people have the ability to offend me, insult me, or hurt my feelings.

I even tested my theory out with a blog post and video where I invited the free world to say anything they wanted to me in attempt to negatively emotionally affect me. You can imagine the results:

No one was successful in offending, insulting, or hurting me with anything they said.

Why not?

Because I had already made it my mission to stop allowing other people to “hurt my feelings”. I realized that no one could make me feel insecure or inferior unless I gave them the green light for it.

So whether it was someone flipping me off on the Interstate as they perceived I cut them off, or a co-worker implying that I was not doing my job right, or even a member of my own family that I perceived brushed me off when I was telling them a story that was important to me.

I realized, I am the one in control of the lever that determines whether or not I get offended. It’s an on/off switch that most people never take advantage of.

Most people, I have learned, refuse to take ownership over their own emotions; when it comes to other people. By default, they allow the entire free world to potentially offend, insult, or hurt them at any given moment.

I challenge that concept. I choose to be victorious over my own emotions, not a victim by default.

It’s a journey, for sure. I admit it. The easiest place to start though, is with people who you don’t actually personally know, but who still have the power to offend you; like other drivers on the road or people who disagree with you on social media.

I would have to imagine that if we’re honest, we can realize how foolish it is to let someone like that ruin our day. That’s where I started.

From there, I practiced my theory of “not giving other people control over my own emotions” to co-workers. And then to my own family.

Granted, trying to keep your own spouse from offending you is probably the most challenging, as it’s important you don’t build an emotional wall which keeps them from emotionally connecting to you.

Still though, I can say from personal experience, the less I allowed my wife to “hurt my feelings”, the stronger our marriage has become.

I control my own emotions, meaning that other people don’t get to decide that for me.

See, most people live with Identity Protective Cognition, believing this:

“But I’m a good person!”

So when one another person says something that could be perceived as an attack on their identity as a “good person”, that “good person” is therefore being attacked.

The irony here is that most people think the same thing about themselves: “But I’m a good person!”

Then the paradox of a result is we have a world filled with “good people” who constantly offend each other anyway.

I made a conscious decision to unplug from that broken system.

Instead, I don’t see myself as a “good person.” I recognize that term as an illusion.

(Here’s a recent video I made about this just a few days ago, below.)

I see myself as an imperfect person who is constantly in need of improvement. I know what my strengths are, yet I know that even my strengths can be improved. I am also aware of my weaknesses, and I am quick to agree with anyone who points them out.

Without a doubt, one of the best decisions I have made in my entire life is to stop letting people offend me. However, I’ve also learned that most people would prefer to live with their victim mentality mindset which allows them to be potentially offended at any moment.

It’s just like when people learn that I’m a vegan. Most people immediately respond with, “Oh, I could never do that!” I get the same response with most people when I explain my theory about not letting other people control your emotions.

This morning, I decided to test out my theory on Dr. Joshua Straub, who has a doctorate in Counseling. He is a professional who helps people on his parenting blog and on his YouTube channel. By the way, he and his wife have a huge following on Facebook! (Whereas I have nearly 1,100 followers on my Facebook fan page, they have nearly 18,000 followers!)

To my amazement, he actually agreed with the validity of my theory. You can see the surprise on my face in the video (featured at the very top of this blog post) we recorded together today.

I feel like I’m not the kind of person who constantly needs confirmation from society, like the way Michael Scott infamously always did on The Office. So usually, I honestly don’t care if anyone else agrees or disagrees with my perspective. I am a confident person. People who are secure in their identity don’t that require confirmation as their fuel.

But undeniably, Dr. Joshua Straub is an exception to this for me. Why? Because he actually knows what he’s talking about; and not simply on a professional level, but a doctorate level.

So maybe… my crazy theory about not allowing others to emotionally control us is just crazy enough to be true.

What do you think about my theory? Is it really so far-fetched? Am I crazy for thinking this way?

Let me know in the comments. I’ve already established it’s impossible to offend me. Go ahead, give it a try…


Stay-at-Home Dad 101: I Am Now Officially an Overweight Vegan (176 pounds, 5’ 9”, Age 36, Medium Frame)

I am fundamentally opposed to New Year’s Resolutions. I have always said that if a person is truly ready to make a change in their life, then why wait for some arbitrary date on a calendar?

So for me, the first day of the rest of my life was not January 1st, but instead, it happens to be January 8th.

Last night after I took my shower and put on my size large t-shirt, I couldn’t help but notice how tight it felt. So I did something I rarely do: I weighed myself on the scale.

It took me a moment to accept my reality: I now weigh around 176 pounds. The most I’ve ever weighed was 178 pounds, and that was when I was in my late 20s and still eating meat, eggs, and dairy.

The lowest I’ve ever weighed since high school was 153 pounds; easily fitting into size 31 pants. Check out this video I made just 2 and a half years ago in May 2015, to see me in the ideal weight range for my height:

But there was a subtle change that began just a couple of months later, once my wife got pregnant with our now 20 month-old daughter back in July 2015. As my wife began eating more during the pregnancy, so did I… and I never stopped!

For over two years now, I have been slowly and steadily gaining weight; yet remaining faithful to my diet consisting of only vegetables, fruit, grains, beans, nuts, and seeds. That means no meat, no eggs, no dairy.

In two months from now, it will be 5 whole years that I’ve been a vegan.

This isn’t the first time I’ve mentioned this “vegan weight gain”. I first brought it up in September, a month before I became a stay-at-home dad, in my first Dad Bod post.

What’s interesting, as my wife recently pointed out, is I’m actually eating one less meal a day now that I work from home and take care of our kids. Back when I worked at the office, I always had a huge bowl of oatmeal; full of protein and saturated fat, thanks to the nuts and unsweetened cocoa I put in it.

But now that I’m constantly caring for a 20 month-old daughter all day long, plus a 7 year-old son before and after school, plus writing and shooting videos whenever I get a chance, I just don’t have much time to eat… until we all eat dinner as family each night; which is apparently when I make up for any lack of calories.

I am convinced that my strategy to get back to my ideal weight is to aggressively eliminate empty or unnecessary calories; especially during dinner, which is my biggest meal. It’s important to me that I don’t go hungry, but instead, that I stop eating once I get enough food. I need to do a better job of telling the two apart.

Just imagine the irony of an overweight vegan. Imagine all those well-meaning, yet concerned people telling me over the years, “Well, just make sure you get enough protein…”

Uh, yeah, that’s clearly not a problem for me.

And in case anyone is skeptical that I am indeed overweight, perhaps because I don’t “look” overweight, just check out the height and weight chart. For my height of 5’ 9” and having a medium frame, I officially became overweight once I crossed 170 pounds. That was about 6 pounds ago.

What’s my motivation to get back into that ideal weight range where I was back in May 2015? It’s not about self-esteem. My confidence is not effected by my weight gain.

Instead, it’s important to my identity that I have control over my own body. In the same way I refuse to let other people control my emotions, I now must refuse to let my overeating habits effect my weight.

No kidding: As I was putting this blog post together, my daughter who was sitting on my lap, looked up at the picture below of my belly, and in all sincerity asked, “Baby?”

I am an overweight vegan. We do exist, yes. But I do plan to change that.