Forks over Knives. We made some modest progress adopting some of the choices recommended in the film and subsequent books. Andrea was still on a ton of medications, hoping to avoid full on diabetes. I started on statins despite them amazing work Andrea was doing to improve what our family ate.
We struggled fully adopting the diet. Understanding the science and its implications takes quite a bit of work. Raised on the standard American diet, we struggled to overcome many of the perceptions most adopters face. How can a meal be complete without an obvious protein? How can a meal consist of what we grew up thinking of only as side dishes? Oil is delicious, surely we can use healthy oils because the alternative seemed impossible. We made limited progress but still weren't seeing the full benefits. Worse, we hadn't realized fully what good we could achieve if we figured it out.
Fast forward to Summer of 2020. Like a lot of people, we were concerned about the pandemic and trying to learn everything we could to keep ourselves safe and healthy. Andrea harnessed her research super power, following the early developments closely. My passion as a brewery provided additional tools like food safe spray sanitizers when we thought early transmission might occur through touch. We leaned into life at home, taking each new worry as it came with what has become a household motto: "We'll figure it out, we always figure it out."
Andrea learned that BMI was a pretty critical indicator for covid outcomes. I particularly had become complacent since my BMI was closer to healthy. We know BMI isn't without its issues but as a coarse measure, especially in this context, it mattered to us. We had started some earnest conversations about our respective goals, at first motivated by concern and then realized how much simply sharing with each other more and more openly was helping us get more traction than we ever had before.
In August, my regular check up was due. My doctor at the time moved away and I had to find another one. Diet and health were top of mind, my old doctor had tried gently advocated a whole food, plant based diet for a few years. We agreed prioritizing a doctor who knew the science and medicine who could support me was critical. We knew I had found the right one when he assigned me homework, a couple of documentaries on whole food and plant based living, at my first visit. We fell in love with Game Changers (except for the one short stretch that feels more like a propaganda video against the meat industry--we agree meat is not a good choice, this isn't how we like to try to persuade people.) Our exercise journey started at this time because of that film. I asked my new doctor about what we had learned about BMI. Not only did he confirm it, he shared first hand experience of two members of his staff that caught covid early on. The one with a normal BMI had only a mild case, the one in the obese range was still recovering a couple of months after being infected.
We suspected we knew we could eliminate all animal products. We had been ovo-lacto for a few years thanks to Andrea's efforts. We were still learning the science, we had tons of questions about the no added oil component. We decided to try it, first because we agreed doing so was critical given the amount of weight we each wanted to lose. We had learned enough to feel growing concern over the role of dietary fat, especially with other elements in the standard American diet, contributing to the progress our diseases. Neither of us thought we would be able to hold to the low fat aspect, what you'll hear as refer to as compliance. We decided to try anyway, at least to learn how to do better even if we were not completely successful.
Fast forward through September and October. The weather was getting cold and bothering us in a way it had not before. In eight weeks, Andrea and I had managed to follow the diet closely enough and support each other well enough to each lose forty-five pounds. Andrea completely reversed the course of her diabetes and was able to start eliminating medications for her blood sugar. I was able to cut my statin dose in half and was confident I could continue my work at exercising to improve my serum numbers enough to go off medication altogether.
Whole food, plant based, low fat was the last piece of the puzzle for us. We surprised ourselves with the results. Our ability to discuss without blame, shame, or guilt was the real key to our success. We learned ways to talk about our wants, needs, and priorities that helped us work together to solve whatever problems or challenges were impeding our progress. We realized the benefits went way beyond the obvious effect on our appearance. We have experienced first hand all of the benefits mentioned in Game Changers and the whole food, plant based, no oil lifestyle. The early days were hard and we focused on sustainability. We recognized that even with a great plan, wonderful flavors, and mutual support, this wasn't a diet--this was a profound change to how we eat and live.
We were very grateful for another element of our success, the incredible community that had grown up around the early champions of this way of life. We attended Plant Stock back in the late Summer of 2020, my new doctor recommended that as well. We realized why we had been seeing better and better recipes from more new writers and cooks, vast improvements over the compliant recipes included in so many of the early books. Generally, we found the books with the best science usually had the worst recipes. We realized we were not alone in wanting good flavor and experience. The community helped us transform family favorites were we could or find new favorites that were already compliant.
Now, almost a year later, after months of me maintaining my new healthy weight and as Andrea prepared for another push towards her ultimate goal, we found ourselves wanting to give back. We had started many conversations with patient and open minded friends. We didn't set out to proselytize, we simply saw how this way of life helped us and wanted the same good health for our friends. We realized that my history creating podcasts afforded us the opportunity to share the stories, skills, and resources that have allowed us to radically transform our lives for the better. At the same time, we realized that our generation's voice wasn't very present in this community. Many of the early champions are older though some have brought their families in, some of whom are members of our generation. Many of the new wave of writers and influencers are younger than us. An early conversation with a good friend really inspired us to embrace our identity as members of Gen X: "radical self care as an act of rebellion" and "what motivates a member of Gen X more than rebellion?".
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