I’ve always been a skinny guy. If not for my fair complexion, I could star in one of those commercials where for 10 cents a day you can feed a starving child. In high school I grew like a bean, 6’6″ and 175 lbs. I was so skinny, and transparently pale, that you could see me heart beating. You could (and still can) see my ribs.
You Would Assume I’m Healthy, But I’m Not
I workout a lot, putting in hundreds of miles a week swimming, biking, and running. I also eat a lot, consuming thousands of calories a day of Burger King, Taco Bell, and Jimmy John’s. My consumption of fast food is so frequent that my order for each establishment has been memorized on a subconscious level. The number of times I’ve ordered a #8 with crunchy tacos and a Mountain Dew is well into the triple digits. ‘If the furnace is hot enough, anything will burn’ has always been the motto that I use to explain away my poor eating habits. I could be the poster boy for how skinny you can be eating McDonald’s on a biweekly basis.
That Kind of Diet Is Unsustainable
A year ago, I pursued donating a kidney. I went to the hospital for a series of tests to examine kidney function and passed all of the tests except the final one — blood pressure. The medical staff deemed my 140/90 blood pressure as being too high to donate the organ responsible for regulating blood pressure. Go figure.
This was the first time that I had seen the negative consequences of eating fast food. I had foolishly assumed I was immune to the adverse affects of poor eating — that if I worked out enough I could consume all the Chicken McNuggets and Reese’s McFlurries my heart desired
That’s When I Gave Vegetarian A Try
At the recommendation of a friend, I watched a documentary on Netflix called Forks Over Knives. It’s an eye opening film that makes a compelling argument about the negative effects of consuming meat and other animal products. I enjoyed it because it brought to light information on the effectiveness of eating fruits and vegetables that I had never heard before.
After watching that documentary, I added goal #4 to my 26 Before 26 List – Eat Vegetarian For A Month.
I Successfully Unsuccessfully Ate Vegetarian
The first week was really tough. Meat is the centerpiece of most American meals and abstaining from meat consumption requires a lot of forethought. The days of Pepperjax Phillies and Dinker’s Double Bacon Cheeseburgers were replaced with spinach salads and fruit smoothies.
Two weeks in I relapsed, unconsciously consuming some scraps of summer sausage from a cheese plate I was preparing at work (doesn’t every office have a cheese plate a 3 pm?). I was upset with myself, but realized I need to be more vigilant if I was going to reach my goal. The one month restarted.
I would eventually make it the full 30 days in a row, consuming large amounts of cheese pizza and coca-cola along the way. I had managed to make vegetarian unhealthy, ingesting more chocolate milk shakes and waffles fries than fruits and vegetables.
Would You Do It Again?
For sure, except that I’d like to do it the right way. Fruits and vegetables provide nutrients that are vital for a healthy body. I’m not convinced that animal products need to be eliminated completely from my diet. I am convinced that a significant portion of my diet should be fruits and vegetables. All of the major diets recommend eating a large amount of plant based products. Not one recommends the Mcdonalds, Burger King, Taco Bell trifecta
I would like to be a world class triathlete, and consuming copious amounts of fat, sugar, and salt is not consistent with that goal. I’m quick to pass judgement on those who have trouble managing their weight when I make a majority of the same poor decisions just without the visual consequences. That makes me a hypocrite, and it needs to stop.