The hardest thing about any diet is staying on it. No new idea there. Motivation is a miracle. It really is. I had to think a lot about what motivates me? It’s been a while since I last wrote my blog. Life keeps getting busy. I was away this Winter for a month to visit my in-laws and family. It was my brother in law’s wedding and the food was far from Vegan or even healthy for that matter. It was hard enough to explain to my in-laws I don’t eat meat, trying to explain why I’m Vegan would have alienated me. Nonetheless, maintaining my respectability, I didn’t fuss too much and ate what was provided. I have to add, I was making my own lattes using “desi” milk. Desi milk comes from cow to your door. We pasteurized it at home. I’m not even sure how much fat was in it.
Upon returning from my trip, I was due for blood work, which I had already put off for so many months. I do confess, I am needle phobic. Stalling blood work is a my protective mechanism. I finally went. The results were alarming and to be honest, I was quite disappointed. My cholesterol levels across the board (LDL, HDL, ratio, triglycerides) were higher than last year. I wasn’t sure if I should blame my spluring during my vacation, or my own diet. In addition to that, I’m also now anemic (low iron levels) and Vitamin B12 deficient. I’m taking supplements to enhance both these nutrients. Even more detrimental, my Hgb A1C% (marker used to assess for blood sugars) is steadily climbing. Given both parameters- I’m at high risk of cardiovascular disease. Nothing changed. I was very disappointed. What went wrong I thought!
So now what? Just like I would tell any of my patients, I told myself to exercise self-empathy and try to find a positive path to change. The reality is I have a genetically intelligent liver that knows how to compensate for lack of ingested cholesterol and saturated fats. I also have to realize, that perhaps my “Vegan” diet was not as strict as I’d like to believe. Perhaps I was not trying hard enough. Tough results call for tough changes. I wasn’t going to the gym as frequently and perhaps not working out as hard. Sometimes we just unconsciously compensate thinking, oh I’m eating healthy so I can have xyz today. Can you relate to that? I wasn’t pushing myself.
So, I had to ask myself, what now? Sometimes you have to concentrate on what you can control. I have been visiting my physician regularly and have made a pact with him that I will see him on a monthly basis for accountability. We adjusted my medications as well. I rather take medication to help me until I reach my goals. I’ll be getting blood work again in the end of April. Ideally, I’d like to be off my medication. Since my return these are the things I’ve done differently:
- I’m aiming to go to the gym at least 5x/week for 1 hour/day. I am doing a combination of 40 minutes cardio with 10-20 mins weight resistance. I’m doing 10 mins of abdominal exercises every day. Even on weekends, the gym has become a priority.
- I’ve re-introduced low fat milk, yogurt and salmon in my diet. They make for great snacks and salmon adds to some healthy fats as well.
- I’m moving away from Veganism for now to concentrate on weight loss. Studies show that weight loss has a significant impact on reversing diabetes and cardiovascular disease. No diet fits all. I’ve always loved vegetables and tofu, lentils and beans for protein. I do go meatless 3 days per week but I’m choosing to have meat, poultry and fish as lean protein on other days for the following reasons:
- I’m able to portion control. I feel I was consuming a lot on carbohydrates to fill my plate when I was vegan. Having more animal protein is helping me attain satiety sooner and with less food.
- I’m trying to increase my iron and B12 intake. Animal protein is rich in that. Those of you that are following the Vegan diet, please add these supplements.
- Meal planning is easier.
- I realised that lentils and beans can be calorically quite dense and I was finding it difficult to limit my intake. You know when you think something is healthy and you can have as much as you want? Well, that was me.
- Weekly weigh ins. This helps me be accountable. I got a new scale. My weight plateaued and then I gained some back. On December 14th, 2017, I weighed myself on the new scale and was a whopping 88.6 kg. Luckily, I didn’t gain weight during the trip. My weight was stable coming back on Jan 20/18 (my first weigh in of this year).
If you’re real you are probably thinking, Laila, are you still motivated to be on a diet? I have to admit, I had a broken heart with my results. But, it motivated me even more. I’m not going to allow disease to take over my life. You know what motivated me? Me. I’m trying to concentrate on overall health and weight loss. Today, i weight 85.5 kg (in less than 6 weeks, I have lost 6.82 lbs). This is the lowest I’ve been. I have realised that for me, moderation and limiting excess sugar, desserts and portion control along with strenuous exercise is the key. Please note, I have not blacklisted the Vegan diet, I think for many people it works. I will re-try this diet in a few months to see what actually happened as I do want to point out my blood work was post-vacation eating!
Take care my readers! Please share your stories in the comments. Have you encountered failure? How did you motivate yourself and get back on track?