the vegan eating plan.

January 31, 2011

As I said before, Dr. Esselstyn’s program does not allow nuts and oils of any kind (exception is if you currently do not have heart disease, he allows for a modest amount of walnuts). I will strive to adhere to his program in the fullest, but am allowing myself some oil from time to time. I am also going to continue to eat raw almonds (I love them too much!). Seeing as how this still is technically a vegan diet, I don’t have any qualms about it. If things go well throughout February, I might consider further limiting oils and nuts, but for now they will stay.

In terms of overcoming any dietary deficiencies that may arise, I am going to take a multivitamin that has vitamin B12. I plan on taking fish oil (per Ornish’s recommendation, but against Esselstyn’s). I am confident that if I am able to incorporate as many vegetables, grains, and fruits as I plan on, that there will be no real dietary issues.

I am planning on watching the Super Bowl and snacking just like I do every year. This year, however, I will not eat the customary pizza, nachos, and hot wings. I plan on still having a few beers. I also plan on eating chips and salsa. I hope to find oil-free tortilla chips, but if I cannot I will settle on Tostitos Baked chips. For the main course, I am planning on either making my own black bean burritos, or buying a couple of Amy’s burritos.

Eating out proves rather difficult, especially fast-food. This isn’t such a bad thing, though. I could use a fewer trips to McObesities. I haven’t really eaten out that much this year as it is. If I have to be out-of-town, I will probably just pack a lunch.

As for the every day meals, I will stick to soups (lentil, split pea, vegetable), beans and rice (black beans, kidney beans, brown rice, black rice), quinoa, teff (if I can find it), as well as incorporate as many vegetables as possible (broccoli, carrots, bell peppers, onions, celery, potatoes, turnips, salsa, etc.). One doesn’t lack variety eating vegan. I also headed up to Whole Foods today and purchased some of the more difficult to find items. Tomorrow, it’s off to the races!


vegan for heart health month? why yes, please.

January 28, 2011

Vegetable Stand
February is, among other things, American Heart Month. I have mentioned how I am working on losing 1-2 pounds a week this year. On top of that, I have my 3-year follow-up heart exam in July. The last time I saw my cardiologist he called me fat. Okay, he didn’t use the word “fat”, but he did say I could stand to lose about 40 pounds, which was a polite way of calling me fat. Fast forward 2 years and I could now stand to lose double that, which is a polite way of saying I’m obese. Since I want to at least be back down to what I was 2 years ago by my follow-up exam this July, I need to lose some serious weight by then—hence the 1-2 pounds a week goal.

In light of this goal, I have been doing a walk/run program, and I have also been closely watching what I eat. I’ve also done a bit of reading regarding vegetarian and vegan diets. I began by reading two of Dr. Dean Ornish’s books (Dr. Dean Ornish’s Program for Reversing Heart Disease and The Spectrum). This prompted me to read John Robbin’s Food Revolution, which led me to read Dr. T. Colin Campbell’s The China Study, which lastly led me to read Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn’s Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease. Although I do not know whether or not a strictly vegetarian or vegan diet is the healthiest way to eat, the evidence saying so is rather compelling.

I should say at this point that I love my fatty burgers, potato chips, chili cheese fries with jalapeños, ice cream, vanilla/chocolate/strawberry milk shakes, filet mignon, fried shrimp, fried chicken, beef tacos, and so on as much as the next person. It’s not as if I awoke one morning and saw the light and all of these foods suddenly tasted like cardboard (although, if this were to happen it sure would make February that much easier). Anyone who has seen me the past few years could attest to the fact that I love these foods. What is also pretty evident is that I have not lost any weight while consuming them. Here you might say that if I had only eaten them in moderation instead of ordering two #10’s each time I went to McDonald’s, maybe then I  would be skinnier. Perhaps. However, I think it might prove easier if I just forewent the foods altogether. After all, if it’s a fact that once you pop, you can’t stop, why pop to begin with?

In Campbell’s book, he recommends giving the vegan diet a month’s trial run. Seeing as it’s near the end of January, I decided upon February. After all, it is the shortest month, and if I am to have any success with this it most likely would occur the month with the fewest days. As providence would have it, I received an e-mail from a local health care provider reminding, or in my case informing, every one that February is America Heart Month. Eureka!

As I’ve begun to plan out my entire month’s worth of eating, I surely have my concerns. What if I go out to eat? What about going over to a friend’s house for dinner? What about the Super Bowl? How strict am I going to be with this diet (primarily because Esselstyn calls for eliminating not only meat, dairy, nuts, and fish, but also all oils, and processed and refined grains)? What about vitamin B12? For your pleasure, I will outline a few of my personal dietary decisions, as well as my plans for the Super Bowl in a future post. As for now, let’s just get used to saying it’s going to be a meat-, dairy-, and fried-free February!

state of the resolutions.

January 26, 2011

Last night brought the highly anticipated, at least by me, State of the Union Address. I’m a political junkie, with a degree in politics, and I always get excited for the speech—regardless of the current president’s political affiliation. While I would like to provide insightful perspective on last night’s speech, I really do not have much to add to the already spectacular commentary that is making its way around the Internet. What I can report on, however, is the state of my previously mentioned new year’s resolutions.

1. Weight Loss of 1-2 pounds a week.
Well, I hit a rough patch just after the new year, with the arrival of 2-3 inches of snow and ice. I couldn’t leave the house for two days, work was closed for three days, and the roads were unsafe for four days. Instead of eating less and working out, I resorted to gorging myself and barely getting off the sofa. With that said, I have nearly returned to my pre-snowcopolypse weight, which translates, interestingly enough, to a weight loss of 1-2 pounds a week. Unfortunately it was all weight I gained after the new year. Oh well.

I began this week with my study plan. I’m just three days into it, but I’m more confident this time around. Smooth sailing so far.

3. Save $500
Stagnant, really. I’m expecting to use most of this year’s tax refund toward funding my savings (yes, I have already filed my 2010 taxes…), so this should take care of itself in a matter of weeks.

4. Get accepted into graduate school/have a better plan on what to do for the foreseeable rest of my life
This pretty much relates to #2 on my list. Although, the more I think about this, the more apt I am to really dream, which can’t be a bad thing I don’t think. This dreaming might make a better future post, so I will refrain from expounding on this for the present. As with #2, so far, so good.

5. Complete either a marathon or a century or both
I’ve already run a marathon and completed a half-century on my bike…just kidding! Although I have stuck to my walk/run schedule, save for the aforementioned snow days. I’m only completing two miles at a time right now, but I’m planning on increasing either my distance or my running time soon. I’ve also ridden nearly 50 miles this month on the bike. I wanted to have ridden more, but alas I’m a wimp and it’s been much too cold for me.

The state of my resolutions is strong…at least for now.

what running in the rain can tell us about…

January 18, 2011

Night rain in Moscow I went running last night—in the rain. Or, rather I should say, walking and occasionally running. I find it super difficult to actually adhere to any routine exercise regimen when the weather is perfect, let alone when it is drizzling and 35 degrees outside. I only lasted 30 minutes, but that’s what I planned to do anyway, so it was a success.

There’s something comforting in exercising in the darkness. Add rain to the mix and it’s extra comforting. How is it comforting? Glad you asked. It’s comforting because the darkness conceals, or provides a level of concealment unattained in the day time, the physical reasons why I’m exercising. Toss in some rain and people are less likely to see the monstrosity that is me outside running. I would like to say that I’m exercising to better my health, especially my heart. That would be noble, but a lie nonetheless.

I’m vain and my vanity has led me to go outside when it’s nearly freezing and brave (or succumb?) the rain in order to try and lose (how exactly is it lost?) some weight. I should be out there, working up a sweat, in order to improve my health. I have my share of problems right now, all of which could be remedied by being in better physical shape. Instead I’m out there trying to improve my appearance, which is sad really. I mean, it’s great that I’m exercising, which is almost never a bad thing. Yet, my intentions are all backwards. I won’t get out there and sweat and endure the painful shinsplints because my doctor told me to. No. I’m out there in near-Arctic conditions sweating, panting, and suffering all because I want to look better. Vanity of vanities; all is vanity.

Back to the title. What can running in the rain tell us about…new year’s resolutions? Probably not much, except that if you’re actually out there running in the rain (and cold), you’re faring well in your effort to stick to your resolution. I’m having about 60% success right now with this specific goal. I’ve run more this month than all of the previous 6 months combined. I haven’t stuck to my schedule as I had hoped. Regardless of this, last night in the cold and rain, I was out keeping my resolution. I can’t say that this will be the case tomorrow, next week, or next month. But, for one cold night in January, I ran in the rain. And, two hours later, it felt pretty good.


January 13, 2011

This past weekend I had the opportunity to visit the High Museum of Art in Atlanta for the final day of their exhibit, “Dalí: The Late Work.” Salvador Dalí is one of my favorite artists, and his Christ of Saint John of the Cross ranks right up there in my top 10 favorite art works. While, I knew the exhibit had been in town for a while, and I had made numerous attempts at planning a visit, I had not been able to get to the museum. And, even though I knew the exhibit was about Dalí, I did not know which pieces exactly would be included.

So, I made my way to Atlanta just in time to see the exhibit before it left town. As I made my way around the museum, I came across what is perhaps Dalí’s most recognizable piece, Persistence of Memory. While I did not know what to expect in the exhibit, I was a bit surprised to find this particular piece there. A friend of mine said that the piece was not there for his two previous visits. My surprise would increase as I continued to work my way through the exhibit. Most notably, around a turn, I found Christ of Saint John of the Cross hanging on a wall, staring down on me.

To fully explain my surprise, I should confess that I am not really an art connoisseur. For instance, I had no idea that Persistence of Memory was so small (9.5 in × 13 in). I also had no idea that Christ of Saint John of the Cross was so large (80.7 in × 45.67 in). Any true art lover would have known this. But, alas, I had no idea and so, not only was I not expecting these two pieces to be there, I was definitely not expecting the one to be so small and the other to be so large!

All I can say is that it is both stunning and humbling to stand in front of such a notable and large piece of art as Christ of Saint John of the Cross. I could not stop staring, which I guess is part of the point. I felt like I was viewing something that I really had no business viewing. Not that the work was above me (it most certainly was and is, however), but that the immensity of talent and scale of size really hit at something inside of me. This is not to say Persistence of Memory did not affect me similarly. No, both pieces, as well as the numerous other works that were there, are awe-inspiring. But there was something about Christ of Saint John of the Cross, which I am having a difficult time expressing at present, that really impacted me. Is this what art is all about? I cannot say. As I have tried to establish, I am no art connoisseur. What I can say is that Dalí’s works were even more amazing in person that I could have ever imagined. I hope to gaze upon them again soon.

once was lost, but now is found.

January 7, 2011

As I returned home last night, my little sister had a surprise waiting for me. I generally do not welcome surprises, because here lately many have not been good ones. So, I was not terribly excited when she said she had a surprise for me. I had a feeling as I waited, however, that this surprise must be good, because my sister was was grinning ear to ear.

I waited for her to retrieve the surprise and when she returned, she was carrying a carry-on piece of luggage. I was a bit confused. I had just recently used this particular bag on a trip to a friend’s wedding in October, but I had not idea why it was the noted surprise. My sister sat the bag down in front of me and said, “See Jakey.” All I saw was the piece of luggage, which I had put away when I returned home following the wedding. I said, “Umm, what’s so special about this?” Which must have been the response she was hoping for, because she immediately began to giggle. She then, as the sole possessor of the surprise, flipped open the carry-on to reveal the true surprise.

What laid under the flap was nothing special to most, but to me it was like Christmas morning all over again. You see, ever since returning from that trip to my friend’s wedding in October, I was under the impression that I had either misplaced several articles of clothing, a pair of drum sticks (I am a drummer–sometimes!), my dad’s lint brush (holds all sorts of sentimental value to me aside from the practical value), and several other things. I particularly missed my rain jacket. For someone without a lot of money, purchasing the rain jacket in 2007 represented an extravagance beyond measure for me. I know it’s just a jacket, but it’s useful and didn’t come cheaply. I have missed the jacket and everything else that I thought was left or lost from that trip for nearly 3 months now.

Well, you probably know what was under the flap now. Yes, everything (EVERYTHING!) I thought I had lost!

I had, for whatever reason, neglected to actually remove my stuff from the bag when I returned home. I had never thought to check the bag again, thinking it would have been a bit insane to do so. Even though I have owned the jacket for nearly 4 years now, I never really appreciated it’s value until I was without it. The same goes for my dad’s brush, my drum sticks, and the other items in the bag. I’m not going to get all philosophical here, but it was interesting how finding something I owned was such a joyful experience for me and not knowing what I had until it was gone. Anyway, I’m just really excited to be reunited with some of my possessions. Finally, a good surprise!

pa rum pum pum pum.

January 5, 2011

As a drummer, I tend to get a lot out of songs that others might not. Yes, you may like a song because of the drums, but I might like a song because the drum playing seems challenging or is to an unusual beat and so forth. For example, I’m not a huge fan of fusion jazz. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a very interesting genre, but in general not one of which I am particularly drawn to. Yet, one of my favorite drummers/artists is Dave Weckl, who happens to be primarily associated with fusion jazz. The reasons why I like Weckl are vast: he’s incredibly talented, fast, and eccentric.

I could go on and on about drumming, different drummers, and reasons why I think drummers are some of the most talented musicians out there. I will refrain, however. Instead, I want to share with you some of my favorite drum-themed songs or songs I like because of the drumming performance. Here they are in no particular order. I hope you enjoy!

and the resolutions are rolling.

January 3, 2011


It’s 49 degrees outside right now and I’ve just returned from an 18 mile, and what I consider to be a frigid, bike ride. I have very little cold-weather cycling gear, and no wind gear, so I’m still technically frozen. This is the price I pay for eating the fatty burgers and imbibing the beers. Oh well. Maybe this will make me think twice before I consume another fat-laden load of fries. Let’s hope. With my first ride of the year now out-of-the-way, and me being left to thaw out, I’m not sure how much more of the cold-infused rides I can take. Regardless of how much more I ride this month, I can at least say I’ve gone 18 miles!

new year, new(ish) music

January 1, 2011

My latest 5-star rated songs:

My latest 4-star rated songs:

  • Finger by Ty Segall, off the album “Melted”
  • I Get Nervous by Lower Dens, off the album “Twin-Hand Movement”
  • A Lion’s Heart by The Tallest Man On Earth, off the album “The Wild Hunt”
  • Ready to Start by Arcade Fire, off the album “Suburbs”
  • Oh, Sister by Bob Dylan, off the album “Desire”

    new year’s resolutions.

    December 31, 2010

    With the new year just around the corner, I thought I would jump on the bandwagon and publicize 5 of my resolutions for the coming year. I figure that if nothing more, this will serve as fodder for me to blog about in the year to come. I’ve decided to only document 5 of my goals. I certainly have more, but I figure these are the most appropriate for this forum. So, without any further adieu, my 2011 new year’s Resolutions:

    1. Weight Loss of 1-2 pounds a week.
    Ideally I want to lose 90 pounds. But, I have found that specific weight loss goals are limiting. While I have a specific number in mind, I am really aiming for the health and physical benefits I wish to receive. Specifically, I have mild hypertension which should go away with significant weight loss. I also suffer frequent heartburn. I am told weight loss will also help here as well. I am aiming for more of a pant-size goal than ideal weight. So, while I currently hover around a 40″ (oh the horror!, I hoping that by this time next year I will be a 32″ or so.

    2. MCAT
    This one merely involves me sticking to my study plan and doing well on the exam. I am to begin my study plan around the 2nd or 3rd week of January and will be taking the MCAT on April 29th. Hopefully things will fare better for me this time around.

    3. Save $500
    I know this might not be a lot of money for many, but this number represents a great deal of cash for me right now. Not so much a great sum of cash, but having $500 and not spending it. I have around $50 right now and hope to have the $500 by the end of the summer, if not before.

    4. Get accepted into graduate school/have a better plan on what to do for the foreseeable rest of my life
    At first glance the second part of this might seem to contradict my second resolution. However, it’s not so much a part of indecisiveness, but rather I want to actually formulate a set goal and a plan. And by set goal I do not mean to have something achieved by a certain date, such as a specific job or marriage, but just a goal to work toward. Something like a contingency plan if my plans A or B do not work out.

    5. Complete either a marathon or a century or both
    In the spirit of my first resolution, I would like to, in the coming year, either run a marathon or bike a century. Neither are particularly realistic at this point in my life and I figure it will give me a huge goal, aside from the other 4 on this list, to work towards completing. If the contestants on the Biggest Loser can run a marathon after only 4 months of training, I hope that I can at least complete one by the end of 2011.

    Well, there are 5 of my biggest goals for 2011. I hope that 2011 is a better year than 2010. 2010 was certainly one of the most difficult years of my life. I plan on keeping you all informed about the progress of each of these goals and hope you will enjoy hearing them. Until then, happy new year!

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