This is 36: I Hate Onset Diabetes Enough to Prevent It (Inside the Mind of a Crazy Vegan Dad!)

Something peculiar I have learned over the years about my active, plant-based lifestyle is this:

The most outspoken (and predictable) demographic who opposes my lifestyle consists of overweight men who have onset diabetes.

When they learn I don’t eat meat, dairy, eggs, or drink soda, and that I haven’t for over 4 years, they scoff at the concept. They basically mock me for “not getting enough protein.” They insinuate that because my kids are vegetarians, I am depriving them of proper nutrition as well. They have clearly told me on multiple occasions that there is no way I can possibly be healthy, since I am a vegan.

Have you processed the irony yet? These claims about my health are coming from overweight men with onset diabetes.

People who are officially not healthy are confidently telling me how unhealthy I am.  What?!

No other demographic is more openly opposed to how I live my life.

I don’t argue with them, though. I choose to let them continue to believe their version of reality. I am so confident in my beliefs, that I have no desire to try to convince them that my way is superior to theirs.

My motivation is to not become like them, in both their closed-mindedness and in their physically unhealthy state of being.

For me it’s pretty simple. I know that both an increased intake of processed sugar and meat lead not only to onset diabetes, but also prostate cancer.

I refuse to become another stereotype 20 years from now.

Therefore, I eat only plant-based foods, just 6 “food groups”:

Vegetables, fruits, beans, grains, nuts, and seeds.

I consume zero percent of my daily cholesterol (which is a default of the vegan lifestyle), while still consuming at least my minimum of daily protein and fat intake. My doctor has confirmed I am healthy and getting enough protein; and that I am healthier than most men my age.

Not to mention, I am perfectly in the healthy weight range for my age, height and weight. In other words, I am neither underweight nor overweight.

But what I eat is only 80% of it. The other 20% of what helps me avoid prevent diseases and health issues is the fact that I faithfully exercise and work out.

Being the busy full-time working husband, dad, blogger, and YouTuber that I am, I make my hour long lunch break at work my time to work out.

It’s basically a Triathlon of running 2 miles, along with either mountain biking or skateboarding.

This particularly diet and workout plan is what works for me personally. Before I became the crazy vegan, I was not consistently happy with my health.

I have nothing to prove to overweight men with onset diabetes.

I only have something to prove to myself:

That I indeed have much control over preventable diseases and health problems.

-Nick Shell, vegan, age 36

 

Top photo: Jasmine Moreno

 

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Top 10 Reasons My “Diet” is Consistently Successful and I am Still Healthy & Fit at Age 36 (from a Non-Vegan, Non-Vegetarian Perspective)

This is 36: Taking Shifts with My Wife, As the Baby Sleeps in the Car

As you know, our family recently spent a week down in Destin, Florida for a family vacation over Memorial Day weekend. As you can imagine, with a 1 year-old little girl in tow, we largely had to base our schedule and activities around her sleep schedule.

For example, on the way down to Florida, we left our home in Tennessee immediately after an early dinner so that we could get to our condo in Destin by 1:30 AM. This created an environment for our daughter to be able to sleep through the entire drive. Granted, we only stopped once during the 7 hour trip for a bathroom break; to help ensure she didn’t wake up.

Since this formula proved effective, we did the same thing for the drive back home from Florida. That’s right- just 2 bathroom breaks during the 14 hour round trip.

Uh… impressed much?

We continued to cater to our daughter’s slumber throughout the course of our vacation.

One day we took a day trip over to Pensacola where one of my brothers-in law and his wife have recently moved. After we toured their new home which is currently under construction, everyone decided to walk through some of the model homes in the surrounding neighborhoods.

So my mother-in-law and her husband (who were also in town for the weekend), my brother-in-law, his wife, my wife, our son, our daughter, and I successfully toured two model homes.

But as we drove to the next neighborhood, our daughter had fallen asleep in just a matter of minutes. I volunteered to stay in the driver’s seat of the 2017 Toyota Prius Three as our daughter took her afternoon nap behind me in her car seat.

There in the driveway of that model home, I pulled out the classic 1984 Ride the Lightning album by Metallica to enjoy for myself. Fortunately, the symphonic distorted electric guitars helped keep my little girl asleep. She’s not too picky when it comes to music, yet.

Even after my wife and son returned from the tour of that model home, they returned to the car, only to inform me that there was yet one more model home to visit before we made our way back to Destin.

Honestly, I didn’t mind one bit. It was peaceful and relaxing for me. It gave me not only a chance to think, but a chance to help my wife out by giving her some time to see something new and exciting and to take a break from constantly caring for a baby.

Of course, it was no surprise that less than 24 hours, my wife would be taking the next shift of “chill out in the car while the baby sleeps.” Because for lunch the following day, as went out for Mexican food for lunch, our daughter had fallen asleep in the car.

So I took my wife’s order, then eventually brought her food to her roadside, while the rest of us ate inside the restaurant.

This is just how it has to be right now. We’re used to it.

This is 36.

This is 36: The Face of a Dad Whose Family was All Asleep by 9 O’Clock Last Night

Bragging rights! Over here, everybody look at me…

Last night, my whole family was in bed and asleep by 9 o’clock. Seriously, are you not getting jealous reading this right now?

The dishes were done by 8:23 PM, by which time our son had fallen asleep. By that point, our daughter had been asleep for nearly an hour.

Forget Netflix. 

The parents just went straight to bed and instantly blacked out.

Glory!

No cries in the middle of the night from the baby. Since turning a year-old, our daughter has been doing a great job sleeping through the night without even waking up for a “shifting gears” cry around 10:50 PM; which is the time I am more likely to finally get to bed.

Perhaps her diet of more solid foods, and no more formula, is helping with that.

I say it’s a status symbol, as a parent at age 36, with a Kindergartner son and a 1 year-old daughter, to be able to fall asleep at 9 o’clock.

Contrast that to a year ago, when our daughter was too young for me to start applying my cruel and evil (yet extremely effective!) Cry It Out method.

Being able to sleep for over 8 hours, on a week night, is such a prize.

Because it’s not like my wife and I catch a break on the weekends. There’s no such thing as “sleeping in” for us. And once we’re up, we’re working all day long…

Between running errands, getting housework done, feeding the kids, entertaining the kids, and getting them to sleep for naps; plus feeding ourselves and cleaning the dishes… I would argue that we work at least equally as hard all day, as we do for our full-time jobs during the work week.

So yeah, it’s a pretty big deal for the whole family to be asleep by 9 o’clock on a Tuesday night.

This is 36.

This is 36: I Am Raising a Son who is a Different Boy than I Was

In hindsight, I now realize in some ways, I was a late bloomer. Back when I was a young boy, I was quiet. I lived in fear of anything outside my comfort zone. I didn’t have any self-esteem issues as a kid, but I really just didn’t care to peek outside of the box of what I already knew.

I remember how at the end of each school year that would pass, my teacher for that grade would tell my parents, “Nick has really come out of his shell this year…”

(And yes, that’s funny because my last name is Shell.)

Finally, by the time I got to 8th grade, I was out of my shell. When I graduated high school, I chose to go to college in Virginia, which was 8 hours away from where I grew up. And during those years, I chose to spend two summers on the other side of the world, teaching English in Thailand.

The way I see it, I was starting to make up for lost time. What things did I miss out on as a child because I was too… comfortable?

But now, I’m fundamentally attracted to what is outside of that same box I used to fear to peak out of. Like I recently said, I want to die as the most open-minded old man you know.

As for my son, he will not experience that same kind of character arc from his childhood to his adulthood. Because, he’s already there, when it comes to being eager to explore the world.

He’s not shy. He’s not quiet. He loves to experience and try new things.

I can easily spot some of the reasons he’s so much more mature than I was at his age.

For every year of his life, he’s traveled to California with my wife and me, to visit my wife’s side of the family. He “grew up in daycare” so he was socialized starting at 7 months old. Not to mention, he’s grown up in a major city. He’s used to the fast pace of Nashville.

I think what might help me understand why he and I are so much alike, despite the 29 and a half year age difference, is this:

He’s not the boy I was. He’s the boy I am now.

This is 36.

This is 36: Our Living Room has become a Children’s Playroom… but It Doesn’t Matter because We Rarely Have Guests Over Anyway

It could just be my perception of reality, but I feel like it used to be that people would actually visit together at each other’s homes: “We’ve got company coming over this afternoon… time to clean up the house!”

These days, if you get invited over to someone’s house, you undeniably have to ask yourself a very important question, “What modern day pyramid scheme am I being invited to join?”

As far as inviting people over to our house, my wife and I both work full-time; both of us commute about 2 hours round trip Monday through Friday. Saturdays are consumed with buying groceries and going to birthday parties. And Sunday is for church, cleaning the house, and attempting to chill out as a family.

The thought of preparing our house for guests, on top of that? I’m sure my family is not alone in feeling this way.

I can say that because, for the friends who we do hang out with on a regular basis, we rarely visit at each other’s house. It’s easier just to meet up somewhere in the middle, where there’s something for all our kids to do.

Therefore, it’s no bother that for the next several years, our classy living room will be occupied with pink strollers and American Girl dolls; as well as dinosaurs, Legos, and Pokemon paraphernalia; thanks to a 1 year-old little girl and a soon-to-be Kindergarten graduate.

The funny thing is, we have a bonus room upstairs that could easily be “the playroom”. But it’s not central to where the action is: The kitchen is the epicenter of our home and the kitchen is adjoined to the living room, which has now used as a playroom, more than a living room.

I guess playing equates with living when only half of the 4 members of the household are adults.

Even in the rare event we did have guests over, our living room converted into a playroom would simply be… expected. Because this is the norm.

This is 36.

This is 36: Can I Just Eat My Garlic & Pepper Ramen Noodles in Peace?!

After we put our kids to bed last night, as my wife and I were finishing up doing the the dishes, we were discussing how apparently impossible it is just to eat lunch in peace while at work. Seriously, it’s difficult!

Though we work in offices about 20 miles apart from each other each day, my wife and I live by the same daily habits when he comes to our eating routines: We typically just eat snacks during the work day: I make a smoothie each morning, then have oatmeal during lunch. My wife takes cut up fruit and veggies and hummus.

Then after work, we come home and have a good, solid, healthy meal each night for dinner. That’s what our norm is.

So when we occasionally have a “fun day” and take Ramen Noodles to work, it freaks people out. They can’t handle it. Chaos always follows:

“What’cha eatin’ there? Ramen noodles?”

“Mmmm…. something smells good. Let me take a look in your bowl…”

“Oh, what’s that smell? It’s so strong. It smells like onions or something. Ugh…”

“You can eat Ramen noodles? I don’t know vegans could eat pasta!”

“I thought you ate healthy food. What are you doin’ eatin’ that?”

I think the solution is that I need to acquire some kind of secret military grade invisibility cloak.

That might be the only way to get people who are so easily entertained by the sight of another human being eating Ramen noodles to keep just walking by.

I’ve already lost my ability to listen to CDs in my car each day on my 2 hour round trip commute. I feel like I don’t ask for much at this point.

Ramen noodles. In solitude.

Don’t take this away from me. I need this.

No commentary. No questions. No fascination.

Just let me eat my Ramen noodles in peace.

This is 36.

This is 36: I Got the “I’m Not a Soccer Dad” Haircut

I should start by acknowledging that I honestly never expected to still have this much hair by the time I was age 36. Subconsciously, since high school, I had just always assumed that by the time I was in my mid 30s and was married and had 2 kids, I would be lucky to still even have a decent island of real estate up there.

Because that’s just what happens to men. I suppose I’ve just always simply viewed men’s hair loss as a common trait of masculinity.

Like Bruce Willis in Die Hard. Like Bald Bull on Mike Tyson’s Punch Out. Like Mr. Clean.

There’s no shame in it. In fact, it’s weird to me that some men, like Ronald Reagan and Tony Danza and Anthony Bourdain, never lost their hair.

What is normal is for a man to lose his hair, not keep it.

And even now, it’s only a matter of time; a question of how many years until I lose so much hair that I do the cool thing and just shave my head for the rest of my life. I am so prepared for this!

Yet strangely, I still have hair. For now.

For me, the danger of being a married, 36 year-old father of 2 who still has hair, is that I could fall in danger of being labelled as a “soccer dad.”

While I’m sure to many, the term soccer dad is a term of endearment and not a negative one, for me, it’s a concept I’m resisting.

Like wearing khaki pants with New Balance running shoes. No thanks.

I fully embrace and celebrate my age of 36. But for me, I don’t want to get stuck in a certain year of my life. I believe in continually reinventing myself. That’s psychologically important to who I am as a person.

And that’s why I decided to make 2017 the year of the “I’m Not a Soccer Dad” Hairstyle.

It’s basically a longer version of a crew cut, as it’s longer in the front (2 inches) than it is in the back. What makes this hairstyle particularly edgy and trendy, is the “disconnected” part on the side:

Where my hair is parted, there is no fade from the 2 inch length on top to the #4 guard (and #2) on the sides and back, which comes up pretty high.

No one is going to call me a soccer dad looking like this.

As Bruce Springsteen once said, “I’m a cool rockin’ daddy in the U.S.A.”

This is 36.