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.

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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.

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.

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.

 

Top 10 Reasons My “Diet” is Consistently Successful (from a Non-Vegan, Non-Vegetarian Perspective)

I have a healthy relationship with food. I eat all throughout the day and I never choose to go hungry. I am happy with my weight. I am perfectly in the proper BMI range for my height, weight, and age.

Clearly, what I am doing is working, when it comes to my diet and lifestyle. But as I share my strategy today, I am deliberately not going talk about being a vegetarian or a vegan, in an effort to help more people. True, I can not deny that much of this info is what I taught myself about a healthy lifestyle only after I became a vegan in March 2013. Still, I promise to refrain from specifically mentioning not eating meat, eggs, or dairy…

Here are the top 10 reasons my “diet” is still successful:

1) I never choose to go hungry. If I’m hungry, I eat. Going hungry means I would subconsciously choose to fill up on empty calories later to make up the difference.

2) I know the difference between being healthy and being overweight. Our American pop culture has confused us, making us belief that as long as we accept our bodies and find beauty within, that we can ignore the fact we still may be physically unhealthy on the inside too; beautiful or not.

3) I know the sources of protein that contain 0% cholesterol. Vegetables, fruit, beans, grains, nuts, and seeds all contain protein, yet do not contribute any amount to the daily percentage of my daily cholesterol intake.

4) I chose good fats instead of bad fats. Cutting out all fat or even most fat is not healthy, as the human body thrives on fat consumption. However, fat from plants like avocados, almonds, and sunflower seeds contains 0% cholesterol.

5) I chose good sugars instead of bad sugars. Throughout the day, I am consuming fresh fruit, which is packed with natural sugar, along with fiber and some protein. That is good sugar. Bad sugar is any kind of sugar added to or processed with other food.

6) I find a way to exercise daily. Forget the gym. I don’t need it. I run, I ride my mountain bike, I walk, and I even skateboard. I do one or more of these things on a daily basis. I am always on the move.

7) I focus on a healthy lifestyle, not on losing weight. I have learned that by having a healthy relationship with food and exercise, I naturally have maintained my 20 pounds of weight loss from several years ago.

8) I am black and white about the gray areas. When I do chose to eat something unhealthy, I know how often and when- for those truly special occasions. In other words, I don’t keep potato chips, soda, or Oreos in the house. And no, a “truly special occasion” is not “whenever I’ve had a bad day.” I do not eat my feelings.

9) I have realistic standards and reasonable expectations. I don’t need 6 pack abs. I don’t need to compete with the looks of Hollywood. Instead, I focus on actually being healthy, not winning a beauty contest.

10) My “diet” is permanent. Going on a diet to lose to lose weight is an obvious set-up for the weight to return, once the diet is ended. The only way a diet will provide consistent results is to make it a permanent lifestyle, instead of a diet.

All of that information sounds reasonable, right? Who would actually argue with any of those 10 habits? It’s all legit stuff.

I’m not a physician. I’m not an expert. But I am healthy and I do know what I’m talking about.

My life, year after year, is the proof.

True, I am the Manly Vegan… but I can help non-vegans too.

Vegan Confession: I Gained 7 Pounds by Eating Tater Tots and Vegan Chocolate Bars (Over the Past Year)

Vegan Confession: I Gained 7 Pounds by Eating Tater Tots and Vegan Chocolate Bars

From the time I was my heaviest back in 2008 when I got married, I reached 178 pounds. That may not sound too heavy for a guy, but at 5’9”, I was actually “overweight” according the height/weight chart.

And I know… many people don’t like to take those charts seriously. But I do, on a personal level. Because at my heaviest, I also had health problems like eczema; as well as constant sinus pressure, and reoccurring sinusitis, and pet allergies.

My theory is that with the extra weight on my body, along with it came health problems.

Vegan Confession: I Gained 7 Pounds by Eating Tater Tots and Vegan Chocolate Bars

On Thanksgiving Day of 2008 (a few months after getting married), I became like a faithful Jew and gave up pork and shellfish. That was the beginning of the slippery slope, as I found myself becoming a vegetarian by December of 2011.

By April 2013, I became a full vegan, and in the process, I accidentally went from a size 34 to size 31 pants. That summer I got down to 153 pounds, without even trying.

That means I lost 25 pounds in the process of getting healthy. Yet losing weight was never my goal; I just wanted to be healthy.

As you know, all my previously mentioned health problems have disappeared and remained in remission since becoming a vegan.

For the majority of these past 3 years of being a vegan, I leveled out and remained right at around 155 pounds. Until this past year…

With my vegetarian wife being pregnant from July 2015 to April 2016, she began craving “fun food”. So I began picking up vegan chocolate bars at Whole Foods Market on the way home for work.

Vegan Confession: I Gained 7 Pounds by Eating Tater Tots and Vegan Chocolate Bars

It began a normal thing for us to go through a whole bag or two of tater tots over the course of each week.

Keep in mind, we were still eating our normal healthy meals too. But ultimately, both the chocolate bars and the tater tots contained oil; which we typical avoid. Not to mention, the chocolate bars also contained extra sugar as well.

Remember what I always point out about veganism:

Being a vegan forces a person to consume 0% of their daily cholesterol; as the amount of cholesterol even in the fattiest vegan foods (cashews, avocados, and even oil) still never reaches 1%.

Even so, I was at 162 pounds when my daughter was born 3 months ago; which is about 7 pounds is heavier than I’m used to.

My size 31 pants were so tight in the waist that I asked my wife more than once if she recently had begun drying our clothes on a higher heat setting.

Nope. It was the all the vegan chocolate bars and tater tots over the course of the past year.

Chocolate Tater

Four weeks ago, I nixed those items from my diet, along with all fried foods, and gluten.

While I haven’t publicly announced I am now gluten-free in addition to being a caffeine-free vegan, it’s working for me so far.

I’ve lost 2 of the 7 pounds so far and I physically feel better.

So yes, it’s possible for a vegan to gain weight just by eating foods with more oil and sugar.

Granted, it took me an entire year to accidentally gain those 7 pounds. Now the question is, how long will it take to lose it all?

I refuse to buy a bigger pair of pants!

Take This Year’s New Year’s Resolutions Seriously Because Convenient Procrastination is Self-Sabotage.

“No more messing around and living underground and New Year’s resolutions… To tell you the truth I’ve said it before; tomorrow I start in a new direction.” –excerpt from the song “Come Downstairs and Say Hello” by Guster

A general rule of life that I have stumbled upon more recently is this: If I really wanted to be doing something, I would already be doing it. And if I don’t yet have the means to do it, I will save the money to afford it or study the material to become qualified or expose myself to the daily discipline and patience it takes to accomplish the goal. So in theory, nothing is holding me back from doing anything I want to do. Not even myself is holding me back.

And really, we ourselves are often the biggest obstacle keeping us from accomplishing our goals. For the most part.

People are consistently late to events because they consistently leave the house 10 minutes late. Not because of an alarm clock or too many red lights.

Some people consistently set themselves up for failure. Not because they themselves are failures or are incapable of change, but because they don’t truly want to accomplish the goal. As the 4th grade cliché goes, they are simply not applying themselves. Subconsciously, they are assuring themselves they won’t have to make an inconvenient change.

The biggest red flag I know of is the sure-to-fail system we call New Year’s Resolutions. Two of America’s most popular resolutions every year are to lose weight and quit smoking. But the holidays are filled with constant stressful situations and plentiful meals of comfort food. So people wait until the testing time is over (January 1st), trying to outsmart the system. It’s easier to “start over” in the New Year. But like uncooked spaghetti thrown at a wall, it doesn’t stick.

The holidays are the necessary boot camp, the true test whether a person is serious about making a lifestyle change. The new year isn’t a magical time that makes things suddenly easier.

The argument is that some people need goals to be motivated. I am one of them. But to set a goal further out into the future for no other reason other than convenient procrastination is self-sabotage.