90 Days of Plants - Part 2

I did it. 90 days of no meat, no dairy, no oil, no sugar. I started with no alcohol too, but after the Superbowl came by I reduced that one to 'very very little alcohol for 90 days.' Actually 93 days elapsed. That's a funny story. I had done a blood test about 45 days in and planned to do another at the end. But life was busy; kids, work, etc. and I was thinking to myself, 'I know I'm healthier, I weigh less, do I really have to pay $50 and carve an hour or two out of my schedule to get some test results where I already basically know the answer?'

Rommy started making delicious multi-grain bread.

Rommy started making delicious multi-grain bread.


I wavered and almost didn't schedule it. But finally, on the phone with the doctor's scheduler, I took their first available time that worked for me- it was three days after I was supposed to be done. Most of my diet was easy for me in terms of willpower. Those last three days were actually pretty hard- especially when I had to fast for 12 hours prior to the blood test. It's that feeling when the end is in sight, you're almost there, that you really want to stop pushing. To take your foot off the gas. To just eat a cookie or some hummus (which all has olive oil).

So what can I share about this experience? I suppose I should start with the data and results:

Weight Start: Start 168 : Goal: 155 Halfway: 151 lbs  End: 148
Resting Heart Rate Start 70-80 : Goal 60 Halfway: 57 End: 64
Height 5’9  Goal 6’1 (just seeing if you’re reading) End: Diet failed to make me tall
Blood Pressure Start: 118/85 : Goal 110/70 Halfway: 128/78  End: Forgot to measure...
HDL Cholesterol Start: 40 : Goal 60  End: 44
LDL Cholesterol Start: 141 : Goal 70 Halfway: 100 End: 109
Total Cholesterol Start 199 : Goal 150 Halfway: 145 End: 157
Fasting Glucose Start 96 : Goal 70 Halfway: 86 End: Untested
Triglycerides Start: 127 Halfway: 102 End: 67
Steps/day Start: 6500 : Goal 10,000+ Halfway: 8,656  End: 11,080

Let's take some of these results individually. Weight. I weigh less now. This is kinda nice. I feel a bit more confident jumping in the pool for Sisa's swimming lessons. My running feels easier and faster. Those are the pros. The cons are that most of my nice work clothes are loose. I look like a 90s rapper with baggy pants and shirts. This was the most visible result of the diet, one that friends and family either complimented me on or complained about. Weight is kinda a no-win too, I'm either a little on the chubby 'dad-bod' side or I'm 'too skinny'. I can't be bothered to lift weights, so I'll opt for skinny. An interesting conclusion is that extra weight sheds itself really fast in the beginning where I lost 17 pounds in 45 days and then 3 pounds in another 45.

Resting heart rate. First, I skimped on budget and bought a cheap Chinese pedometer that promised to track my heart rate and blood pressure. It did both of these as promised- just wildly inaccurately. I also didn't really understand what resting heart rate meant. I assumed it was when I was sitting in a chair being inactive. After I upgraded to an Apple Watch (which I love love love!) about three weeks in, I discovered that their resting heart rate is basically measured when I'm asleep. So there may have been some improvement here, but it's uncertain.

My cholesterol dramatically improved during this self-experiment. Interestingly, my LDL 'bad cholesterol' had a better score halfway through than at the end, but my HDL 'good cholesterol' only improved towards the end. Conclusion: this diet improved my cholesterol by about 25%.

My Glucose score improved quite a bit by halfway through, but for whatever reason, the lab didn't perform a glucose test on my final visit, so I'll never know the final result. I can live with that.

I slashed my triglycerides in half. This is also a strong argument to keeping and holding a diet like this, since I only realized half of my improvement after 45 days and another equally large improvement by the end.

Finally, my steps steadily ticked up. My guess is that this actually correlates more to weather than my fitness drive since I started in January and ended in March. But again, it's a win so I'll take it.

The first week or two of this diet were challenging. Temptations abounded. But as I settled in and grew comfortable with what I was eating, they melted away and a new normal developed where I wasn't tempted to eat anything with a forbidden ingredient. My indulgent dessert became bread, chunky peanut butter and lots of honey. My snack du jour was walnuts or raisins. Only later did I discover dried cherries which are superior to raisins in every way.

There were a few times when I really ate badly. Like my lunch was a small bowl of white rice I grabbed from the fridge and maybe an apple. But let's replace badly in that sentence with simply. This diet removed 97% of all the myriad food options that abound in society and our kitchen and I was left to explore the remaining 3%. All of which is healthy. That was the fun thing about this diet. Where previously, overeating and overindulging produced extra pounds and unhealthy side effects, can a person eat too much avocado? If so, I probably did. At no point during this diet did I care about portions. I ate whatever I wanted (within the rules) whenever I wanted and in whatever quantity I desired. A funny thing happened though. I was less hungry. At first I thought this might just be a trick of my mind. But as time went on, I grew more certain- I was really less hungry. One plate filled me up when two or three would've been desired before. I think a lot of this has to do with removing energy-density from my food. By that I mean that energy-dense food tricks our stomachs into 'thinking' that we're not full- meat, oils, fats, sugar, all of these tell our body to keep eating. Whereas ruffage, basically just plant leaves and bulky beans, grains and nuts tell fill our stomachs to the brim and our guts send a poignant signal- stop, I'm really full of fiber.

I enjoyed the challenge of the diet. I had great energy and felt fine. So what am I doing now? I've found a new baseline. Things with even small amounts of oil taste and feel extremely oily to me. Cheese feels like eating pure butter. Milk is gross (unless on cereal or with brownies). I've decided to allow myself to eat whatever I want and test myself again in a few months to see if I've arrived at a healthier baseline than my pre-diet numbers. One thing I'm avoiding is meat. I know it's bad for me, bad for animals and bad for the planet. That said, I'm not going 100% vegetarian. Some meats are either too delicious or it would be rude for me to refuse. Some also come by surprise. I ate an egg roll thinking it was vegetarian but BOOM, it had meat inside. Rather than spitting it out, I ate the egg roll. I think I'll probably eat meat somewhere between 0-2 times per month though where before it was 1-2 times per week. I'd prefer for it to be 0, but realistically, without a solemn vow of meat chastity, the occasional bite of meat won't kill me.

My hope is that you'll give a diet like this a try. I loved this experience. If I were ever confronted with a life-threatening heart condition or need to cleanse by body before/after cancer etc, I'd go back to this plant-only diet in a heartbeat and I'm trying to keep it central to my everyday eating going forward. I hope this has been helpful for you and please don't hesitate to comment or ask questions.




Posted on April 30, 2018 .