As you may recall, I changed to a vegan lifestyle on December 31, 2018, for many reasons. Primarily it was for health reasons. I had done a lot of research during the previous year, reading books such as “How Not to Die” by Dr. Michael Greger. Although that book has a title that sounds less than positive, it actually gives you hope in each chapter about how no to die from specific diseases, such as lung cancer, breast cancer, diabetes, etc.
What I never told anyone was that a week after I chose a completely plant-based diet, I went for my annual checkup and stress test at the cardiologist. Like many CEOs, because of the stress of my job, I proactively choose to get a checkup each year, versus waiting for something to happen.
So after my annual exam, my doctor and I sat down in his office. He told me, “You have to do something. Your cholesterol has gotten really high and I am starting to see a blockage in your left ventricle. That means the left side of your heart is having to work harder.” He asked me, “Do you want my help?” And my answer was “Yes. As long as it does not involve medication. And by the way, I just went vegan last week.” He took a deep breath, thought for a minute, and then proceeded to give me his “prescription.”
- Start intermittent fasting (the science was showing this was very effective, he said). That meant only coffee and water in the morning, not eating anything until noon. Eat super light for lunch and as little as possible for dinner. Really cut back on food consumption. No grains, breads, sugar, etc.
- Do cardio every single day; a minimum of 30 minutes a day and up to 75 minutes a day.
- Return in six months for a follow-up exam.
It took me a week or so to wrap my head around intermittent fasting. But I figured I would try it. Once I started skipping breakfast in the morning, I found I was not hungry in the morning. It was like eating caused me to want to eat more. So the longer I waited to eat, the less I was hungry. And if I started to get hungry, I would drink a lot of water. So one to two cups of black coffee in the morning have been the start of my day for the last six months.
I admit that during the first five months, I did cardio almost every single day. But as I started traveling, it got harder. But I joined a new gym in January that is super upscale, by the beach and very clean, with all new equipment. That has made a huge difference for me. I am now working out and doing cardio four to six days a week.
And of course, I have been 100% vegan since January 1. As hard as that may sound, it has actually been very easy (I like to say it is totally in the mind). I have traveled to Germany and Spain, plus New York and Houston. I’ve never had a hard time finding something to eat, no matter if I am at a steak house or a vegetarian restaurant, which I found in Barcelona. It was actually very fun and touching when I was in southern Spain visiting some grower friends; all three guys I was with chose to have a veggie lunch with me.
So, here are the results of my vegan-cardio-intermittent fasting lifestyle for the last six months. I went to see my doctor last week and had a complete blood panel done.
- Cholesterol: January, 245; July, 189 (goal is to be under 200).
- LDL (bad cholesterol): January, 128; July, 99 (under 100 is considered normal).
- HDL (good cholesterol): January, 95; July, 69.
- Triglycerides: January, 114; July, 117.
When my doctor walked in after seeing the results of my blood tests, he sat down beside me and said with a big smile on his face, “What did you do since I saw you? Your results are remarkable!”
I told him that I did everything he told me to. Plus I was 100% vegan (turns out, he is also vegan which was refreshing for me to learn). He then asked me how I felt.
I told him there were many things I had noticed since going vegan.
I want to share them with you now:
- I am sleeping so much better. My sleep is more solid and I feel so much more rested, even when I don’t get my seven and a half to eight hours a night.
- I lost about 10 pounds in the first three months. I’m sure it was from eating less food, and no grains or breads. I have more to lose, but I know that “calories in” are the biggest factor in weight loss. Since I work out with a strength trainer, I’m guessing some of that fat has turned into muscle.
- My mind is clearer. This is a big one. As I was reflecting on the first six months of the year with my business coach last week, I commented on how much clearer my mind seems. I’m not foggy anymore. Previously I had a slower start in the morning and it would take a few hours to get going. Now, I feel on my game the minute I get to work. And everything seems crystal clear to me.
- This one is kind of personal, but I noticed I’m not perspiring as much. Of course when I work out I sweat a lot, but I’ve noticed that when I am at work I don’t sweat as much. I do think that is due to my system being clear of animal products.
- My thinning hair is growing back. Many of us find our hair thins as we get older. A dear friend of mine had commented on my hair thinning in the front a few years ago. It was a very personal comment she made, but that’s one of the things I love about her. Well, when I went to my hair stylist last week, we both noticed that my hair was getting thicker in all the right places.
And finally, I have to share an article that my darling mother, Frieda, gave to me last night. It’s from The Week Magazine and entitled “Red meat could shorten your life.” She said that this article is so important she wants to share it with everyone she knows. I made a dozen copies for her to share with all her friends.
I probably never told you that when I went vegan six months ago, my mom joined me! Yes, that’s right, my 95-year-old mother, Frieda, is now also vegan. And I think that is quite a testimonial as she tells me every day how much better and lighter she feels!
So, I hope you will take some time to consider whether eating fewer animal products, and more fruits and veggies, might be an easy choice for you to make. You don’t have to be as dramatic as I’ve been by going 100% vegan. In fact, another friend, also a doctor, recently decided to be “Vegan Before 6” each day. It’s all about choice, and it’s really all about making our lives better and longer.
To your good health!