For breakfast each morning, we enjoyed trying out each of the local coffee shops.
In other words, we did intermittent fasting in the mornings, as we would have some coffee and then immediately going on a 2 hour hike until it was time for lunch.
So we only ate two meals a day: lunch and dinner. Our breakfast was coffee, plenty of water, and the hike.
It goes hand-in-hand that with Golden being surrounded by so many state parks and hiking trails, Golden would naturally draw in people who would demographically also happen to appreciate a plant-based diet. If that’s you, then make your way over to Golden!
After a year of careful consideration and research, I finally purchased a Funko Pop vinyl figure for my cubicle in the office.
But before I made my official decision, I sought my 3 year-old daughter’s confirmation. I presented her with the character figure of J.J. Abrams; the producer of Lost and the new Star Wars movies.
I asked her, “Holly, who is this?”
She immediately smiled and responded: “It’s Daddy!”
In that moment, I received confirmation that my own perception of myself truly matched not only how I perceived how others perceive me, but also, how others actually perceive me. And sure enough, once I debuted my avatar at work this week, all of my co-workers agreed that the Funko Pop vinyl figure of J.J. Abrams does indeed look like me.
A few of my co-workers actually assumed had the figure custom-made!
However, this is somewhat of a rare occurrence:
That my perception of myself matched how I perceive how others perceive me, as well as how others actually perceive me.
One of my life’s revelations this year, after turning 38, is this:
By default, we spend a lot of our time hoping to change things about ourselves that wouldn’t actually make others like us or respect us anymore than they already do. Instead, we remain unaware of the things we could change about ourselves that would actually make us more likable.
We tend to incorrectly assume that others give as high of a value (if any!) to the same traits we place in the category of “If I Only I Was More…”
The irony is that perhaps if we actually obtained the self-assigned “improvements” we wished upon ourselves, others may not even notice at all!
Therefore, we spend much of our time hoping, wishing, and trying to make changes about ourselves that wouldn’t actually improve other people’s perceptions of ourselves; most ideally, improving our relationships with those people.
I’ll be a bit vulnerable here and give you a personal example.
All summer, I have been receiving “What You Were Doing 5 Years Ago” notifications and photos through Facebook.
That was the summer I had recently become a vegan. I was never in my life more perfectly thin and fit. I had finally reached my ideal body weight and clothing size.
I enjoyed that for about a year, before my body found a way to overwrite the shock of no longer consuming cholesterol through my diet. Within a couple of years, I was back to my original weight; despite still being vegan.
I have consistently ran, worked out, and altered my diet to include some animal protein again, but I’m still nowhere near that initial weight from 5 years ago.
But now, I have come to the realization that even if I was able to get back down to my perceived ideal weight of less than 160 pounds, it wouldn’t make anything better in my life… beyond the thoughts in my head.
And actually, back when I was my perceived ideal level of physical fitness 5 years ago, I believe I was less likable of a person back then anyway!
Before the age of 35, I was still giving power over my emotions to other people; still giving the free world free reign regarding the ability to offend me, hurt my feelings, and disrespect me.
I also was still to some degree attempting to prove my views and opinions were superior. I made a fool of myself on Facebook, mocking the concept of human beings consuming eggs and dairy from other species.
Because at that point, I had not reached the level of emotional intelligence I now live in.
It took that experience to help get me where I am today.
The closer I get to age 40 (I’m now just a year and a half way), the clearer my perspective becomes about how the world actually works… especially when it comes to human interaction.
The reality is that most of the time, the things we think will make us be better perceived by others actually have zero value to others.
Instead, most people notice and appreciate a person who is confident yet humble, who knows how to make others feel better about themselves, and invests their time, energy, skills, talents, and/or to help others.
That is what actually makes us liked and respected by people.
So yes, there are 3 different version of reality:
How we perceive ourselves, how we think others perceive us, and how others actually perceive us.
We get to decide for ourselves which version to accept.
After I made the announcement, one of my nieces was shocked, reaching out to me, saying, “I’m pretty sure you have been a vegan for most of the time I’ve known you, ha ha. So you eat cheese pizza now?”
My answer: Well, I could… but I don’t… not really.
Certain kosher meats, but only if they are baked or broiled, never fried or processed (like in a “nugget” form).
Wild caught fish: mainly salmon, cod, mahi mahi, and even anchovies; but not tuna, which instantly causes my dyshodrotic eczema to return. And definitely never shellfish: shrimp, scallops, lobster, etc. (They are not kosher.)
Chicken, without the skin.
Turkey, but I don’t really like it.
Beef, but never with dairy, like cheese; which is part of keeping kosher.
In the past 6 months, I have loss and kept off 5 pounds since I stopped being a vegan. And because I have been faithfully working out using Darebee.com, it is my belief that the reason I am not continuing to lose more weight right now is that the muscle I am building weights more than the fat.
I’m thinking that within another 6 months, I’ll have more confirmation and clarity for Operation: Comfortably Fit in My Size 32 Pants Again.
If not, I’ll keep being open-minded until I figure it out.
Don’t get your hopes up- I still wouldn’t be any fun at a BBQ or a hot dog eating contest. But it is true that back in September, I quietly retired my strict vegan lifestyle of 5 and a half years, and my vegetarian lifestyle of 7 years. But why?
Because I realized that for the last few years, I had been gaining weight as a vegan– to the point I basically weighed as much as I did before I stopped eating meat, eggs, and dairy. Here is proof of my vegan dad bod.
For the first year and a half of being a vegan, I slimmed down to 156 pounds, which at 5′ 9″, placed me perfectly in the middle range according to a BMI chart.
I was open-minded by the time I accidentally (?) met Mark Glesne at a Starbucks one Sunday morning after church in September 2018. With his experience as a personal trainer, he explained to me that my body had ultimately found a way to rewire itself so that despite consuming 0% cholesterol as part of my vegan diet, I had begun storing fat for lack of complete proteins that are found in meat, eggs, and cheese.
So since September, I have bid farewell to my vegan lifestyle and switched back to simply being kosher; which I have been since Thanksgiving 2008.
I have remained committed to abiding my Jewish kosher law for over a decade now; not eating pork or shellfish, or any other bottom feeder animals.
And even though tuna and tilapia are technically kosher, my eczema did briefly return when I ate those types of fish recently; as well as salmon that was farm-raised instead of wild caught. So I have to stick with fish that are cleaner; like cod, mahi mahi, and wild caught salmon.
As far as my sinus issues, they haven’t returned since I started eating cheese again. However, I refuse to drink cow’s milk, as I believe it was causing my severe sinus and allergy issues; not to mention, it contains a lot of unnecessary sugar.
To help counteract my metabolism noticeably slowing down since I turned 35 nearly 3 years ago, my great friend Mohamad Alaw (who took the photo of me above) helped me get started on a daily work-out regimen, which I have been faithfully doing, based on a website called Darebee.com.
I went from a consistent 176 pounds as a vegan, now to a new consistent 171 pounds by remaining kosher and working out daily; as well as mostly eliminating wheat flour, added sugar, and hydrogenated oils.
Granted, I’m still not comfortably fitting in my size 32 pants, but I believe I eventually will.
I definitely do not regret the 5 and a half years I spent as a vegan, and 7 as a vegetarian. Honestly, had I not begun gaining weight to the point I had a dad bod, I would have stayed a strict vegan the rest of my life.
As for me, I’ll be a kosher guy who works out in his living room every day when he gets home from work- as he pursues a goal of fitting comfortably in size 32 pants again, and continuing to remain cured of dyshidrotic ezcema and constant sinus congestion.
After 5 and a half years of being a vegan, I have now come to the realization that the skeptics were actually right, in their concern that I wouldn’t get enough protein. But not in the way any of us expected:
It’s not that I ever became weak, lightheaded, or underweight.
Whereas for the first year or so of being a vegan I did lose weight, getting down to 156 pounds and size 31 pants, and I am not back to being over 170 pounds and am now only able to fit into a few pairs of my 32 size pants. And by the way, I’m not tall: I’m 5′ 9″.
My vegan weight gain has occurred for more than one reason…
First, these days there are vegan options for everything, including ice cream; which my wife and I were eating nearly every night as a “reward” for making it through a never hectic day raising two kids, while both working our full-time jobs, plus running our side hustles (including doing SEO for a major university, running two YouTube channels, and managing this blog).
Second, I was overeating. My first year of being a vegan taught me that I could ultimately eat as much of any vegan food I wanted, and I would still fit into my size 31 pants. But eventually, I started gaining my pre-vegan weight back, and I never went back to eating sensible portions.
And third, this whole time, without realizing it, I have never consistently been getting enough complete proteins…
Last Sunday after church, I happened to meet a personal trainer while our families were at Starbucks at the same time. His name is Mark Glesne and he explained to me that initially, I was losing weight because my body wasn’t getting the right kinds of protein, so I was losing muscle mass.
But eventually, my body bottomed out on being able to extract its protein nutrients from my muscle, so it has since went into famine mode, therefore producing extra fat as a back-up plan to survive on.
So for the past week, I have been researching and experimenting on what exactly these “vegan complete proteins” are.
I thought peanut butter was good for protein… nope, it counts it as fat.
I thought broccoli was good for protein… nope, my body counts it as carbs.
Instead, “complete proteins” look more like this:
A can of chickpeas and a slice of Ezekiel bread.
Chia seeds and almonds.
Rice and beans.
So in theory, I must make it a daily priority to pack in as much complete proteins as I can, so that my body will recognize that I am now consuming enough, so it will stop producing the same level of fat and build muscle instead.
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