Late last year my brother Mike and I had the opportunity to attend a conference with the Northeast Business Group on Health, and listen first hand to the man that authored the nutrition / diet plan behind President Clinton’s transformation, Caldwell Esselstyn, MD. For those that haven’t heard, President Clinton made a bit of a health transformation in 2010, and sources claim that he actually “reversed his heart disease”, crediting Dr. Esselstyn (a former cardiac surgeon with the Cleveland Clinic) with getting him to eat an almost 100% plant-based diet. Mike (a self-proclaimed “health & performance data geek”) having already read Dr. Esselstyn’s book, new this would be one presentation to remember.
While I can’t say I’m a huge President Clinton fan (although I’m very happy to see his positive results), in listening to Dr. Esselstyn’s lecture and viewing his presentation of angiogram slides that included a before & after of an individual that started with severe blockage and wound up blockage free after only nutrition-based interventions….I was at the very least intrigued. To sell me even further….Dr. Esselstyn hit guys like me, the “Everything in Moderation” types with this, “Sure, you can have meat and animal products in moderation, as long as you don’t mind having a moderate heart attack”. And whether I agreed 100% with this or not, needless to say – the man had my attention!
As his lecture continued, and Dr. Esselstyn show study after study that supported his claim that eating plant-based could prevent & reverse heart disease, I started to think about how this might effect me personally….maybe I should give it a shot, and see what happens….and so I have…for the last 30 days (and for the next 60), I’ve eaten “Almost Vegan”.
Now, being a health & fitness professional, I’ve done a bit of homework to bolster my nutritional knowledge, having read countless articles, studies, and books to stay current on the nutrition scene and do my best to help clients steer clear of all the crap out there than can lead to information overload. And here’s the facts – study after study after study comes out….and there’s one consistent principle – eat mostly fruits, vegetables, grains, and nuts / seeds (like almost exclusively) and the vast majority of health risks & issues we face each day can become obsolete. Put another way by Dr. Esselstyn, “Don’t eat anything that has a face or a mother!”
For me, I say “Almost Vegan” because there are some things that (regardless of research and study that outlines the risks) I’ve consciously decided are not worth giving up…or in other words….are worth the risk. They are:
- Milk in my coffee
- Pizza for dinner on Fridays
- Small amounts of cheese here and there on things like prepared salads at restaurants….to be honest, I just don’t want to have to ask to “hold it”
- 3 lbs. lost (2 lbs. body fat, 1 lb. lean muscle – doesn’t seem like much but for someone that only weighs in the 150’s…these is a decent amount in 30 days…especially since I’m not “trying” to lose weight, and am yet to be “hungry”).
- 1 lb. body fast lost off of mid-section
- 1 % overall reduction in body fat
- 12.75 hours exercised (avg. approx. 3 hrs / week)
Stay tuned next week and I’ll share some of my struggles, successes, recipes, tips, and tricks I’ve learned along the way. Till then, thanks to my wife for going along with me on this one, cooking dinners for me, and doing her best to find new tasty (or at least not awful) recipes to try. Also, if you want to stay on top of some good vegan and other healthy cooking recipes consider following these blogs: