Monday, September 7, 2009

Turning a New Leaf

Up until now, I have been perhaps one of the biggest meatatarians I know, but outside of this, I am a lot of things...

A wife.
A sister.
A teacher.
An encourager.
A self proclaimed fitness fanatic.
A contributing citizen in the world.

My profession happens to be that of personal trainer and fitness model, but more than anything, I am a student of life! ....always looking to learn new things, explore new ways of doing them, and finding new experiences to broaden my horizons and help me to explore different points of view. My ultimate quest is to live the healthiest life possible and share with others things that I discover along my own journey to help them do the same.

The past year has been one of self tranformation for me....both physically and mentally. I am the healthiest I've been in my entire life on both fronts, and at this point, health & fitness is the driving force behind everything I do. I'm enjoying reading (for pleasure and not school) again, and have been diving head first into anything that is related to healthy living/nutrition/fitness...or anything remotely related.

Recently, I read a really interesting book called The China Study. A friend of mine, Dana, recommended it to me. She was recently diagnosed with Stage 4 breast cancer at only 30 years of age and subsequently is following recommendations to adopt a Vegan diet as a way to combat the disease with nutrition. I happened to also read Lance Armstrong's It's Not About the Bike right before this, and so I was intrigued by the fact that I kept hearing about so many people changing their diets when getting diagnosed with cancer. It seemed like I kept hearing stories about people becoming vegetarian or cutting certain foods out of their diet in an attempt to halt the promotion of their cancer or even better, reverse it. With no cure currently for cancer, it makes sense that people are looking for whatever ways possible to help themselves, and also to learn about what is actually the real cause of such high and increasing rates of cancer....especially in the United States. I wanted to know more about the real basis for what I was discovering was a pretty widely recommended practice of cancer patients, but that I wasn't really hearing about elsewhere....the vegetarian diet.

The China Study is a book that talks about that very subject. It is based on the findings of the most comprehensive global nutritional study ever done, and uses it's findings to provide a strong argument of why a diet composed of plant sources can lead to lower instances of diseases like heart disease, diabetes, autoimmune diseases, and cancer. Heart disease and diabetes made sense to me in relation to high fat animal protein sources, but I was taken aback by all of the research that points to animal protein as the main "promoter" of cancer genes and cells. As someone who has lost both parents to cancer and has also known others affected by the disease, it was a subject worth exploring further.

Sooooo....I've decided to try modifying my current diet from one that is heavily comprised of animal proteins into one that derives most all of it's nutrients from plant sources. I'M GOING VEGETARIAN!!! Now, before you get too excited, I should tell you that I am comitting to this little experiment for a period of 30 days. I am not committing to living the rest of my life sans meat. This is somewhat of a self-experiment for me after all, and it's intended to be a learning experience more than anything. I am doing it for a few reasons:

1) I want to see how I feel by replacing many of the animal protein sources in my diet with plant proteins.

2) I want to see how difficult it might be to maintain close to a 40/40/20 ratio of proteins/carbs/fats on a daily basis (as this is the ratio of intake that I believe has helped me lose fat and maintain a healthy weight and energy levels up until now)...this should be interesting!

3) I want to see the challenges and obstacles other vegetarians are faced with in trying to maintain their lifestyle. It is already a challenge to order out healthfully, but adding yet another variable (being vegetarian) will surely present some interesting new perspectives. I want to see what it takes to overcome the challenges and obstacles and adhere to a diet with no meat.

4) I want to use my experiences as a way to help others. As a personal trainer, it's important for me to understand and relate to all types of clients. Since becoming a trainer, I have always been a big proponent of eating 5-6 small meals per day, each composed of roughly equal amounts of proteins & carbs w/some healthy fats added to the mix. I find that vegetarians seem to struggle with getting enough protein, or at least what I consdier to be enough to support muscle growth, fat loss, and to give them greater satiety from their meals. I want to provide an example of how it can be done!

5) I figure it can't hurt! I haven't heard of any studies saying eating vegetables are bad for your health, and I love the way I feel already when eating tons of veggies, so why not incorporate even more of them?

Alright, this is already getting to be a long post, but wanted to give you an idea of why I'm starting this crazy...I mean interesting.... experiment in the first place. Because I cannot stand throwing away food, I have a little ways to go before I actually start my 30 days of vegetarianism. I still have some salmon, ahi tuna, scallops, and chicken in the fridge and freezer, and my husband doesn't even eat seafood, but as soon as it's all gone, I will embark on my new journey. I'll try to blog periodically leading up to the start of the experiment as well to share in the transition from what I'm doing now to what I will do as a vegetarian. I hope you'll stay tuned to see how it goes and can hopefully learn something in the process too!

Thanks for reading!


  1. Em - I am so proud of you! There are so many benefits to this diet healthwise and no downsides unless you are not aware of protien requirements. Luis made me a delicious bok choi tofu dinner last night, and I will pass on the recipe to you tonight. There is another great book called In Defense of Food, where the author after all his research goes vegan for two meals a day. That way, it allows for going out to dinner or to a friends house (which is the hardest part of being a vegan/vegetarian). Although I don't do eggs, cheese, butter, yogurt, I do eat fish and shellfish once or twice every three days. It is just easier on my life style and my friends. Anyways, this is getting to be a long comment, but the first week you are probably going to constipated (he he he) while your body adjusts, and then it is going to be great. I always feel awesome and never sleepy like I did after meals before. Can't wait to keep up with your eating adventures!

  2. Oh, and I forgot to mention your ecological footprint! Did you know that going vegan does more for the planet than trading in a gas guzzling SUV for a prius? And going vegetarian is better than eating local, if you are looking at environmental impact. You aren't just doing your body a favor, you are doing your planet a favor too :) Here is a study out of the U of Chicago:

  3. Hi Em! I'm really excited about this experiment!! I eat mostly vegetarian now and I love it. I had some grilled chicken on my salad the other night but other than that it's been months since I ate meat. I do eat fish sometimes when I eat out, however. I feel better now than when I used to eat chicken, tuna, and turkey ALLLL the time. I can't wait to see how it goes! xoxo