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.

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Vegan Confession: I’m Like the Worst Vegan Ever

Vegan Confession: I am Like the Worst Vegan Ever

I guess there’s more than one way to be a bad vegan. The first that comes to mind is one that “cheats”, by promoting the plant-based life to others, while sneaking in bites of chicken nuggets and dollar menu burgers.

However, I can confidently confirm that I have never intentionally “slipped up”. To my knowledge, I have not consumed any animal products since April 2013, nor any meat since December 2011. I have remained ever faithful to my alternative lifestyle choice.

The second idea that comes to mind when I think of a “bad vegan” is someone who is overzealous and appears to be judgmental of those who do not share their same strict values; eager to convert the rest of the world, especially through offensive images and stories of guilt and animal cruelty.

I admit, that was me for about a month after my conversion. I am still embarrassed by some of the memes I created for my Facebook page back in the summer of 2013.

But I got over my zealot stage, realizing that even if I could legitimately convince the world that eating animal products is unnecessary, it still would never matter.

Because for most people, the information I know and live by is not enough to change their minds or hearts.

Vegan Confession: I am Like the Worst Vegan Ever

I have accepted the reality that people continue to eat animals products because A) they think they need to in order to get enough protein or proper nutrition, B) they fear escaping the social norm, B) it’s more convenient, C) it’s an emotional tradition, and/or D) they simply like it.

After all, I’m a proud Libertarian (who’s not voting for Trump or Clinton). Since embarrassing myself on Facebook 3 summers ago, I have embraced my fundamental Liberation beliefs:

Sit back and watch other people make their own decisions. If they decide what they are doing is not working for them, they will get curious enough to ask someone else who seems to have things figured out.

I was so proud this weekend when a high school friend approached me about how to transition to a vegan lifestyle, as he is tired of digestion issues and being overweight.

He has an open mind about the plant-based life. He doesn’t let his preconceived ideas get in the way of making a positive change in his life. But he doesn’t represent the majority, as I’ve learned and accepted.

With that being said, here’s how I’m like the worst vegan ever:

I openly encourage the free world to eat whatever they want, since I can’t.

When someone brings donuts to work, I make sure everyone knows about it, proclaiming, “Hey, go get a donut or two, because you can. I’m a vegan, so that means someone needs to take my share; otherwise, that donut will just go stale.”

It usually makes the person laugh, followed by them going to get two donuts.

I also try to help people decide what to eat on their lunch break. When I go by other guys’ desks, I’ll suggest, “You know, you could totally go by Wendy’s for lunch and get a big cheesy burger. I can’t since I’m a vegan, but you should!”

And they know I’m not being sarcastic. They know me well enough to realize that if I wasn’t keeping my eczema, acne, headaches, sinus infections, sinus pressure, and pet allergies in complete remission by remaining committed to the vegan lifestyle, I never would have converted.

I would still be the world’s most passionate carnivore!

Perhaps it’s my way of living vicariously through them. I remind them they have the freedom and ability to eat whatever they want, whereas I no longer do.

But by doing so, in sort of a backwards unspoken way, I am reminding them that I am there to help them if they ever get curious about getting healthy.

Gone are the days of trying to convince other people to live the plant-based life with me (except for my own family, that’s a whole different story) .

Instead, I point mainstream society in the other direction; the direction they are already going. They know where to find me if they need me.

I think that sort of makes me the worst vegan ever.

Vegans Don’t Get Enough Protein and the World is Still Flat

Take a look at me in this corny picture I took yesterday using a self-timer and a tripod.

Vegans Don’t Get Enough Protein and the World is Still Flat

If you saw me, and didn’t know who I was, would you think to yourself, “I wonder if that guy is getting enough protein…”?

Chances are, you see a guy who really doesn’t have weight to lose or to gain in order to be healthy. And that’s the truth: For my age and weight, I am perfectly in the “optimal” range.

I’m 34 years old, 5’9”, and weigh around 153 pounds (I fluctuate between 148 and 155 throughout the year).

But back in 2008, I peaked at 178 pounds, which according to the chart, put me in the “overweight” category.

Vegans Don’t Get Enough Protein and the World is Still Flat

So now that we’ve established I’m not underweight, or overweight, why is it that in the past few years, people have asked me if I’m getting enough protein?

After all, that’s not something people typically ask each other:

“Are you getting enough protein?”

In fact, I challenge you to name 3 people you’ve personally known in your lifetime who weren’t getting enough protein; excluding people with eating disorders or people dying of a disease- neither of which apply to vegans like me.

My guess is you can’t think of even one person.

Yet we’re obsessed with making sure people getting enough protein. Meanwhile, the irony is that we’re getting too much protein in the form of meat, which leads to cancer and/or diabetes.

But the moment people find out I’ve been a vegan for about 2 and a half years (and a vegetarian for more than a year before that), they feel compelled to make sure I’m getting enough protein.

Why is that?

Because we’ve collectively been brainwashed to believe that without eating animal products, we will not get enough protein.

In reality, vegans easily get enough protein from 6 easy sources: veggies, fruit, nuts, seeds, beans, and grains.

And again, look at me. How am I not living proof that vegans get enough protein?

Vegans Don’t Get Enough Protein and the World is Still Flat

Granted, if all I ate was white bread and apple juice, I could see the concern. But that wouldn’t be a healthy, balanced diet. To me that’s the equivalent of someone who “experimented with veganism in college.”

However, they failed because they weren’t actually getting enough all around nutrition, instead, they depended on processed foods.

It’s simple: I eat plenty of unprocessed veggies, fruits, nuts, seeds, beans, and grains.

I don’t have a gym membership. Instead, I simply take at least two 10 minute walks each day, as well as ride my mountain bike and go for runs throughout the week.

I don’t count calories. I don’t go hungry; I eat as much as I want. No portion control.

And I’m very happy.

Plus, I’m actually healthy. At least that’s what Dr. Thomas John of Vanderbilt Primary Care told me back in April when visited him for a check-up.

He even confirmed I’m getting enough protein; though I didn’t bring up I was a vegan until after he had already told me diagnosed me as healthy.

Now consider my former life. I was more than 30 pounds heavier. I had dyshidrosis; a medically incurable skin disease related to eczema.

http://doctor.webmd.com/doctor/thomas-john-md-ef5bcddd-b461-41b1-bca4-92667ef8049a-overview

I had constant sinusitis, sinus pressure, headaches and acne.

Of course, now, those are all a thing of the past.

Why would I ever go back to that?

http://doctor.webmd.com/doctor/thomas-john-md-ef5bcddd-b461-41b1-bca4-92667ef8049a-overview

This is what works for me. It’s not for everyone. However, I’m living proof it’s not crazy, but instead it’s a quite effective lifestyle.

I feel there’s a decent chance some people glanced at the title of this post and assumed I was “finally admitting vegans don’t get enough protein.”

http://doctor.webmd.com/doctor/thomas-john-md-ef5bcddd-b461-41b1-bca4-92667ef8049a-overview

Nope.

Actually, I’m showing how outdated it is to believe such a concept. It’s as crazy as still believing the world is flat.

http://doctor.webmd.com/doctor/thomas-john-md-ef5bcddd-b461-41b1-bca4-92667ef8049a-overview

Bonus:

Check out this video I made about what I refer to as “The Protein Conspiracy”…

Also, here’s a professional article, 8 Great Sources of Vegan Protein.

Plus, Vegetarians Can Expect to Live Longer, Study Shows.

Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution

Ten years ago when reality shows first starting becoming popular, I was the first to say they were lame.  But in the past decade, there have been a few that I have really taken interest in.  The Biggest Loser is one.  Because it doesn’t necessarily feature a bunch of type A personalities trapped in a house just for the sake of making people annoy each other.  I guess it’s that I like my reality shows to have somewhat of a meaningful people that somehow helps people.

Something I’ve learned about reality shows since 2000 is this.  Some of the best ones feature a British person.  The clever producers found a smart way invent a show that carries over the ideals of The Biggest Loser with the editing feel of Super Nanny (a show that truly annoys me) with a charming British host.

Jamie Oliver’s Food Nation wins my approval.

He goes to Huntington, West Virginia, the “most unhealthiest town” in the country, where 50% of the people are obese.  Not overweight, but obese.  Its status of unhealthiest town is based on government statistics on death.  Clearly the people of this town are doing something wrong.

The most entertaining part of this show is where we see the bass ackwards ways that the people of the town eat and what they deem as normal and acceptable.  Clearly not eating for nutrition, only for convenience and pleasure.

As Jamie visits Central City Elementary School, he discovers that pizza is being served for breakfast, along with sugary cereals that turn the milk pink.  The “mashed potatoes” are actually dehydrated potato flakes and they count as a vegetable serving.  (Potatoes are a starch, like corn.)

Jamie then takes a look in the freezer.  Mainly boxes full of processed foods that none of the lunch ladies can pronounce the ingredients.  To give them credit though, most people went being able to.  Because the ingredients are chemicals, not food.

Next Jamie visits for lunch.  Processed chicken nuggets it is.  He takes a look at the food the kids are throwing out as they leave: The vegetables and fruit.

Interestingly, it seems the only understanding Jamie receives comes from the pastor of First Baptist Church, Steve Willis.  In a clip of one of his sermons called “Culture Shock”, he tells his congregation:  “It should bother us that we’re the worst city in the worst state in the worst country.”  (For diet, that is.)

Jamie decides to check out the average home situation to see how a child’s eating habits are affecting by the parents.  He visits the Edwards family, who are all overweight to obese.  Perhaps most notable is the 12 year-old son who appears to be well in the latter 200’s.  And a 4 year-old daughter who, based on her size, I thought was 6 or 7.

Not surprisingly, the mother makes them fried doughnuts with chocolate icing every morning for breakfast.  When Jamie confronts her about this, she laughs.  He tells her that by laughing off her enablement she is using a defense mechanism.

Their freezer is full of frozen pizzas.  Or as they call them: snacks.

Jamie convinces the family they all the food they eat is the same color- golden brown.  Therefore, they bury their deep fryer in the backyard and has the mother pray over it, like a funeral.

The next day back at the school, Jamie Oliver begins his experiment. He has a week to improve the diet of what is being served in the lunchroom but at the same time staying under budget.

He learns that the lunchroom ladies are required to serve two “grain servings” each meal.  In this twisted world of reality, they serve pizza as a grain serving.  But since they have no true grains to serve, they serve two carbs in place of it.  Which both consists of white bread.

My favorite (and the most disturbing) part of the episode was when Jamie took several kids aside in a classroom to teach them what is in their beloved chicken nuggets, which they told him they often eat for dinner when they get home.

He takes a baked chicken and removes the edible parts, including the breasts and the wings.  He takes what is left and places it into a blender: the bloody leftovers and bones.  After letting the chicken’s leftovers run in the blender for a few seconds, it becomes a pink, blobby substance that he molds in to patties, sprinkles with breadcrumbs, and deep fries them.

Definitely was as disgusting as it sounded.  After he cooks the Frankenstein patties, Jamie asks the children who would like to try one.  Without much hesitation, most of the kids eagerly raise their hands.  And eat the homemade nuggets.

Jamie Oliver then explains to the camera that this was the first time anyone has ever wanted to eat the nuggets.

Another funny, yet sad, part of the episode was when he went into a classroom full of 6 year-olds to make sure they could identify fruits and vegetables in their whole form.  That didn’t go too well.  One kid thought a potato as a tomato and that was about as close as any student go to being correct.

As the episode starting winding down, Jamie took the Edwards family to the doctor for a check-up.  The father admitted that they only go to the doctor once “something gets broken”.  Surprisingly, the 12 year-old son mentioned earlier does not yet have Diabetes, but the doctor indeed classified him as “morbidly obese”, telling his parents that if he remains this way his condition will take off at least 30 years of his life.

Back at the school again the next day, Jamie decides to do an experiment for some of the parents of the schoolchildren, since his chicken nugget experience didn’t pan out so well.  Having the children hold a giant tarp, a loaded dump truck emptied a month’s worth of lard into it.  Along with hundreds of gallons of chocolate milk.

Interestingly, Jamie informed them (and us) that chocolate milk has more sugar in it than soda.  Yikes.

Jamie now has to prove he can make a healthy meal to serve that day for lunch that the children will actually eat, and still come in under budget.  He learns that the school does not have forks or knives.  The kids are so used to eating nothing but processed foods that spoons are all they need.

Along with the principal of the school, Jamie teaches the children how to use a knife and fork.  The kids don’t really like his healthy meal that much, and Jamie doubles the expenses of the budget, but because this is a contracted series, the superindendent and head nutritious agreed to give Jamie more time to change the eating habits of the school.

I have a feeling that Jamie Oliver’s Food Nation has the potential to become more than just a 6 episode mini-series.  Hopefully it will replace The Super Nanny.  Please?

Favorite Quotes:

“It sets like concrete?”  -Jamie Oliver, repeating the words of one of the lunch ladies as she described to him how they make the “mashed potatoes”

“The milk’s got crap in it.  The cereal’s got crap in it.”  -Jamie, explaining the lack of nutrition in the breakfast served at the school

“What’s right with that?”  -Jamie, answering a lunch lady who asked him, “What’s wrong with that?”, referring to a frozen solid chicken nugget Jamie took out of the freezer

“I’m here for the money, but you gotta love the kids too.”  -Alice, the head lunch lady

healthnutshell: Being Healthy Vs. Being Attractive

Beauty and self-worth aren’t the real issues. Lack of will power is.

As a kid I couldn’t understand why people have to experience physical pain. It seemed cruel that we were designed that way. Until it was explained to me like this: Pain is the body’s way of warning a person that something is wrong. Otherwise, a person could bite their own tongue off or continue walking on a broken foot, unaware they are even hurt.

In a less obvious sense, the human body was designed to give different warning signs other than just pain. As I teenager, I had the typical expected diet: Anything I wanted. Soda, snack cakes, pizza, burgers and fries, ice cream, there were no limits. Being overweight was not an issue for me, knowing that no matter what I ate I would still be noticeably skinny. I actually dreamed of a day when I could just have a normal body and not have to hear people say, “Man, you’re skinny.” By the time I was 20, that day came.

I realized that what I ate began to have an effect my stomach, which was no longer perfectly flat. Though I’ve always been in or under the right weight range for my age and height, the fact that my body finally started showing a poor diet spoke something clearly to me: Being overweight is a warning sign from the body. A warning for early onset diabetes, heart attack, cancer… the list goes on.

As we age, the body progressively displays its inability to naturally burn off fat like it did when we were younger. It’s not about looking good, it’s about being healthy. There is something that bothers me about the fact it is becoming taboo to talk about the need for people to be at a healthy body weight, as it is potentially easily offensive in our society- we are now living in a country where the majority is overweight. The rules of our culture teach us to see beauty in all sizes, to counter the rising number of unhealthy people.

Missing the point. Beauty is not at stake here. The quality and length of life are.


Noticeably this year, our country has lost several well known 50 year-old men, all for different health reasons. And not that it was their fault. But the truth is, to live as a modern day American, the only way to be healthy is to be weird. What our country calls a “health nut” is actually a person who is simply being healthy, not overly strict about their food and exercise. “Health nut” shouldn’t be a derogatory term. It should be the norm. But our culture ensures it stays that way. It sells more diet pills and programs because of it.

It’s not okay to drink soda. It’s not okay to eat fried food. It’s not okay to eat white bread instead of whole wheat. It’s not okay to eat to snacks that come in a big bag. I have to remind myself of those rules every day, living in the middle of a cleverly named Fast Food Nation.

It’s normal, but it’s not okay.

And though my teachings on pork and shellfish fascinate people, they ultimately fade into the categories of impracticality and irrelevance. It’s still not okay to eat pork and shellfish. I’m with the Jews, Muslims, and Rastafarians on their literal belief that when God told people not to eat pork and shellfish through Moses in the Old Testament, he meant it. And while Jesus changed so many laws when he came to earth, he did not change the science of how these animals function in the ecosystem. They were designed to clean up the earth by eating other dead animals, feces, and waste matter as their bodies have a high poison intake. And Peter’s dream of the animals coming down from the sky on a blanket in Acts was God’s way of getting Peter’s attention to convince him to preach to the non-Jews for the first time, not to literally start eating the unclean animals.

We are not supposed to eat the clean-up crew. Shrimp and shellfish may be low fat foods, but they’re extremely high in the bad kind of cholesterol. That means they’re full of low doses of poisons and heavy metals which weren’t designed for human consumption. Yesterday on the MSN home page there was an article listing the top 5 foods containing parasites. Unsurprisingly, pork was #1:
http://encarta.msn.com/encnet/Features/Lists/?article=MenuParasitesPork

My diet definitely has shown some offense and confusion in my office. We have had BBQ Pork Day, Pizza Day, and Hot Dog Day. The idea is that everyone in the office pitches in $6, then shares in the community meal. It’s not fun trying to explain why I won’t participate unless there is an alternative to pork available for me. I earned the title of “Picky Eater”, but ultimately know that I stood firm on my belief at the cost of looking like a whiny weirdo.

There are annoying “health nuts” out there. They go around judging the cuisine choices of others around them. That’s not my job. It’s a personal decision that people must decide for themselves. But it is my job to relay the message in a non-obnoxious, informative way, and then let the listener to decide from there.

America lives a double-standard: We put way too much emphasis on being thin and muscular and equating beauty with those things, yet our lifestyles and budgets are built for consuming unhealthy foods. So much focus on weight loss, such easy access of fast food to help keep America unhealthy. While on one extreme there are bulimia and anorexia which are credited to being mental diseases, on the other side there is the lack of willpower that allows people to feed themselves too much of the wrong things, consistently. Food is psychologically addictive.

I wonder which is easier: To quit smoking, or to convert from a fast food diet to one that is consistent in vegetables, lean meats, and fiber plus regular exercise. It seems when people stop smoking, it’s more permanent since a person has to make a conscience effort to go buy cigarettes. But the temptation of unhealthy food and not making an effort to exercise is all around. In other words, it’s not a black and white issue like smoking.

The intriguing documentary Super Size Me mentions the fact that in our society it is near acceptable to confront a smoker about the damage they are doing to their own body, while it extremely offensive to say the same about a person’s poor diet and exercise habits. What’s the difference? The quick answer is that cigarette smoking produces harmful second-hand smoke.

However, a person’s eating habits are learned by those around them. Food and family tradition go hand in hand. The danger to others resulting from a person’s poor diet and exercise? Second hand poor dietary habits. It’s not as obvious and instant as second hand smoke, but it’s just as dangerous in the long run.

On Sunday night’s episode of Shark Tank, the only 2 products the millionaires invested in out of all that were shown to them were both health enhancing products. The investors repeatedly explained that products that fall into the category of Health and Diet are a given success. Hundreds of millions of dollars are spent every year on diet programs and physical fitness. The products work, but we don’t.

I could save thousands of people from wasting millions of dollars every year by saying, “Don’t do a diet program. It’s a temporary fix. Don’t try a pill. It’s an illusion. There is no quick fix or substitute for the right sized portions of healthy food, and exercising almost every day.” It’s that simple and it’s that hard. No exceptions.

The 2nd leading preventable cause of death in America is inactivity and lack of exercise. (Tobacco use is #1.) It can be a struggle to make time for daily exercise and it makes it worse that most of us sit in a chair all day to make a living. Despite the millions of dollars spent on gym memberships and diet programs, the sad simple truth is that these memberships often go unused and that diet programs are only as effective as the person. There is no substitute for an actual healthy lifestyle.

Beauty and self-worth are associated with being fit in our culture. That’s why diet pills and programs continue to make millions. No one can put a price tag on will power, nor could it ever be bought. It’s all in the mind.

Leading causes of death in America http://drugwarfacts.org/cms/?q=node/30

Super Size Me clip http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V168xofxgu0