Why I Stopped Eating Poultry: It’s Not What You Think

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Jason Silva

 

One insignificant decision, good or bad, can alter the course of one’s life forever. The changes occur like a domino effect. One domino tilts forward causing a forward motion and for as long at another lie ahead, the movement is continuous.

 The “domino effect” is a great metaphor for how we choose to live. I say “choose” because the action is voluntary. Throughout our life, we can opt to remain unchanged and hold on to our conceptual beliefs, moral convictions, and unwavering attitudes or we can decide to open our mind and open our heart to the unknown.  For me, the later is working its magic!

Four days remain for me to finish reading, The Happy Vegan by Russell Simmons.  A goal for 2016 was to seek more education, so I chose (there’s that word again) to work on a Master’s degree.  Monday ended my first class and the second course starts in four days.  Simmons book is a quick read.  I enjoy his style of writing. He is practical and deliberate and precise.

I am reading the book because I need clarity on what it means to be a vegetarian.

My domino effect goes like this.

In 2014, I competed in my first figure competition. The training took my already wholesome diet to a more sophisticated level of eating clean (insert link). Building muscle mass requires more than throwing up weights.  Depending on your fitness goal, increasing muscle mass requires eating significant amounts of protein.  Because I don’t eat red meat (since 1994), my go to was poultry and seafood.

Toward the later part of 2015, I was getting tired of eating chicken and turkey.  Thoughts about giving up both on a regular basis occasionally plagued my brain, but I wasn’t quite ready to give up the likes of homemade turkey burgers and turkey chili.

January 2016 rolls around, and without doing much research, I take the plunge.  I decide to give up the chicken and turkey and go with more seafood and more plant-based protein.

I was consistent until February 7th, SuperBowl 2016.  The weekend was busy and for the first time in a month, I failed to plan— I was stuck for meal prep.  In a haste and, in spite of my goal, I bought chicken breast.  For the next two weeks, I ate chicken.  Then something happened.

The unexpected.

The hot flashes returned!

HOTFLASH

HOT FLASH!

 

For most of 2015, I experienced hot flashes from hell!  From deep within, an insane and intense radiating heat ignited then spread to every part of my body extending to my scalp. I’d look like someone threw a pot of water in my face.  By 8:30 in the morning my clothes were sweat-stained. As sad as it was, I don’t believe in hormone replacement therapy or any types of medication.

I was just going to adjust my wardrobe and deal with shit.  Since the summer was only a few months away, I could dress half-naked when needed.

By the end of January, I noticed less frequency-almost no hot flashes, but I did not make an immediate connection.  The ah-ha moment was after Superbowl weekend when I started eating chicken breast again.  The hot flashes returned with venom.  They increased in frequency and in intensity.

How on earth could chicken breast affect my hot flashes??  I searched online for a connection between chicken and hot flashes.  Nada!  Zilch!  I could not find a connection.  Furthermore, I was buying Lancaster County Poultry from a nearby Farmers Market. “Lancaster County has the highest density of organic farms in Pennsylvania and one of the highest in the country.” Their chickens are said to be all natural, free of growth hormones, pesticides, and fed a vegetarian diet.

The effects may be a coincidence, my body is rejecting the meat, or perhaps something that is in the chicken.  I don’t know.  The fact is that currently and since I stopped eating poultry, the only time I sweat profusely is during a workout. When the intense summer heat arrives, I will see what happens.

Also, when I get more time, I plan to read, Eat Right 4 Your Type. The premise of the book is that not all foods are suitable for all blood types and based on one’s “genetic code” and “characteristics,” they are predisposed to certain illnesses. It is an interesting theory that I will certainly explore.

Okay I know, I got off track.

After two weeks (February 21, 2016), I returned to plant based, and seafood as my protein source and the intense and unbearable hot flashes have almost entirely disappeared.  I no longer walk around looking like someone threw a bucket of water in my face.

Is this a coincidence?  I don’t know.  Only time will tell, so for now, I chose to stay away from poultry.

More of the domino effect.

Two and half months have passed. Since I stopped eating chicken, turkey, and pork, which I never ate much of, I decided to continue eating hard-boiled eggs, omelets and scrambled eggs.

One problem!

At work one day, while eating my hard-boiled eggs, I started gagging and was so confused. I managed to eat three but tossed the fourth egg and have not eaten a hard-boiled egg since.

After the boiled egg incident, I tried an omelet but added about one and a half cups of Tuscan kale.  I was okay with that and wolfed it down.

So for now, no more hard boiled eggs.

All of the diet changes have led me to consider eliminating all animal-based foods from my diet but I need clarity.

Does that mean I will be a vegan, vegetarian, or something else?  Hmmm… Heck at this point, I don’t even know what to call myself. Not that I need a label, I am just curious.

Low and behold I found http://www.vegsoc.org.    The Vegetarian Society, who defines a vegetarian as:

“Someone who lives on a diet of grains, pulses (what’s that?), nuts, seeds, vegetables, and fruits with, or without, the use of dairy products and eggs. A vegetarian does not eat any meat, poultry, game, fish, shellfish* or by-products of slaughter.”

Pulses are beans and lentils. 🙂

This definition may be debatable for some; I was curious from hearing people declare themselves as “vegan” or “vegetarian.”  At this point, rather than get hung up on a label; I am proceeding slowly. As I sort through the particulars of plant-based protein sources and diets, I will continue my diet without the poultry and eat seafood as needed and continue to educate myself on meatless meals.  Plans include more figure competitions, so I still need a daily intake of a substantial amount of protein.

My fitness plans include more figure competitions, so I still need a daily intake of a substantial amount of protein. I need to continue researching and find out what will work for me.  I believe there is no cookie-cutter approach to diet (lifestyle) and nutrition.  What works for one does not work for all; therefore, I have lots of tweaking to do.

Are you vegan? Are you a vegetarian or another identify with another label?  Are you a bodybuilder or gym rat who lives on a plant-based diet?  If so, I need you.  Please comment and share your experience or advice.

Thanks for stopping by and make it a great day!


He Went In Hard

Late December 2014, I received a random and unexpected text from a friend.  My friend was taking on a self-imposed 30 day challenge. His decision inspired a few others in our circle of friends to do the same.

The challenge was to merely live healthier for 30 days.  The goal was to avoid alcohol for the whole month of January and to eat healthier foods.

I don’t know what sparked his interest, but I was pumped and excited for my friend.  When someone makes a mindful choice to aim at living healthier (for whatever reason), I become overwhelmed with happiness. Why?  Because I know the benefits that await them. 🙂

Although working out was not part of the equation, I knew that if he remained committed for the entire month, he would certainly feel better, but also lose weight and inches.

My friend does not work out, but is active and rarely stays home.  He is active year around with sports and loves to travel. We also share an appreciation for good food.

He wanted to make better food choices, but he did not know how to do so, and that’s where I came into the picture.

I figure a big part of the obesity and unhealthy lifestyle culture in this country, is that people are unaware of the long-term effects that food has on the body and overall health.

Education should be ongoing and is vital to living in good health.

“When you  know better, you do better.”

At least that’s the premise from Dr. Maya Angelo and Oprah Winfrey.  I agree.

Year after year, I learn new facts about the food I consume, which I previously thought were good for me, and am forced to cut them from my diet.  And really, this is what the process is all about. Continue to educate yourself so that you can take a proactive approach to making smarter choices for you and your family.

While considering what kind of advice I would give him, I knew that I had to be realistic.  I needed to give him suggestions that he could manage and incorporate as part of his daily nutrition plan. The last thing he needed was to be overwhelmed by a long and complicated list of foods to eat and to avoid.

Lifestyle adjustments begin with small and subtle changes.  Studies show that taking on too much too soon can lead to failure, and failure was the last thing I wanted for him.

In addition to eliminating alcohol, my advice to him was to:

  1. replace soda and juice with lots water
  2. Avoid anything white (bread, flour sugar potatoes, sugar, etc…)
  3. reduce his sugar intake, i.e. sugar in coffee
  4. don’t skip meals
  5. eat breakfast (oats)
  6. plan meals
  7. When dining out, substitute cream sauces with tomato based sauces & replace fatty sides with extra vegetables.

He was open to trying new foods, which is half the battle of learning to eat better.  With the help of his girlfriend, he was delightfully overwhelmed with all kinds of new foods.   Here’s a list of some of the new food he incorporated into his diet.  It’s freaking amazing!

  1. Brown rice
  2. turkey burgers
  3. asparagus
  4. turmeric milk tea
  5. smoothies with kale, avocado, and almond milk
  6. zucchini spaghetti
  7. 1-2 gallons of water daily (he’s BIG guy)

He went in HARD and I love it!

Superbowl Sunday, the first of February was the official weigh in but, as soon as he took his coat off, I could see results. He lost inches in his midsection and his pants were unintentionally sagging.  Wow!

Without even incorporating an exercise program, he lost 14 pounds in January and 9 pounds the first week of February!

Most important to me is that my friend noticed his energy levels improved and ongoing joint issues improved.  He was flabbergasted by how changes in his diet improved how he felt.

Honestly, it’s no surprise to me but I am ecstatic that he has made the important connection between diet, nutrition, and overall wellness.  I’m doing cartwheels!  His attitude toward food is evolving…

from eating to feel full…

to eating to nourish the body…

Throughout the month, our group randomly checked in, via texts, to encourage, post meal pictures, and for daily and weekly progress reports.

Several friends in our group added exercise to the mix and experienced weight and/or inches loss.  Their journey to starting better lifestyle habits have begun. Yay!! I am so proud of all of them!  🙂

Developing new habits take time and “is not an all or nothing process.”

On average, it takes more than two months before a new behavior becomes automatic — 66 days to be exact. And how long it takes a new habit to form can vary widely depending on the behavior, the person, and the circumstances. In Lally’s study, it took anywhere from 18 days to 254 days for people to form a new habit. [1]

Contrary to popular brief, it takes more than 21 days to form a habit.  The 21 day habit myth evolved from  study done by Dr. Maxwell Maltz. Anyways, my friend is on his way to adopting new habits of improving his lifestyle. How do I know this?

Well, he decided to extended the practice of making better food choices in to February AND…. drum roll……  he is considering….

A gym membership!!!  I’m screaming this!!!!!!  

 It’s never too late…

You’re never too old…

You’re never too fat…

You’re never too far gone…

To take control and responsibility for your health. Start small, don’t quit, and go big!

You have what it takes!  🙂

Make it a great day!

 


Genetics Or Lifestyle

I think folks’ perception of what post 40 should look and feel like is wrong.

If I earned a dollar for every time someone asserts my physique to genetics (and they don’t even know my parents), I might not have to get my tail up at 4:15 every morning.

While I cannot deny that me and my brother’s bodies are carbon copies of our father’s 5′ 10″ thinly framed body (veiny arms, legs and feet included), but daddy’s DNA is only going to take us but so far. At some point the age factor kicks in.

Many times I have shared that since the age of 14, I’ve worked out in some way, shape, or fashion. I have kept it movin all my life.

Ahem… (Clearing my throat)  Likewise, even when I did not know better and ate two big macs, two large fries, and sucked down a large orange soda, I still worked out and ate my share of fruits, veggies, and drank water.

Though I ate this ish, I was running like 35-50+ miles per week.

Back then (I sound old right!?), you couldn’t pay me to move the scale past 128 pounds. I gained a measly 20 somthin pounds with my daughter’s pregnancy.  Weight gain just wasn’t on the radar for me.

Fast forward some 30+ years, and that just ain’t the case anymore.  As some point, estrogen levels decrease,  the metabolism slows, and menopause kicks in.  Add an unhealthy diet and no exercise, medication and other health factors, and bam!  That’s a recipe for disaster.

Speaking of recipes, this is a typical lunch for me. The chicken, kale and brown rice is satisfiying and nourishing.  Best of all, I don’t feel sluggish and tired after eating processed foods like hoagies, french fries, and cheese steaks.

lunch

As we age, our bodies change and function differently. It’s no different from a car, a house, or a kitchen appliance.  We have to care for it well or it’s going to fail us terribly.  Heck sometimes, even when we do all the right things, the body still fails us.  So what am I saying? What’s the point? The point is to increase the chance of a long and healthier life by taking better care of yourself.

By the way, I can gain weight.  I repeat… I am very capable of weight gain. However, knowledge, discipline, and lifestyle changes keep me tight, trim, and slim.  Lol!!

About five years ago, I had surgery. Recovery time was eight weeks.  During the eight weeks, I was sedative (Doctor’s orders) but ate very well. Guess what?  Sista still gained weight!  I was devastated that I ballooned to a size 12.  Now hold on!  12 is not large by any means, but for me, that’s huge. I was literally busting out of my pants and skirts!

The facts are that you can eat well but don’t exercise and you are not going to get the results you want.  Finding a realistic balance between the two is key.

Age ain’t nothing but a number.  When I was a kid, I thought 50 was old as dirt!  But when I turned 40, I realized that my age didn’t mean squat!  Age is a mindset.

If you want to be old… Go ahead and be old.  Where old ass clothes, fill your head with outdated and unfounded old behind myths about how you’re supposed to act, eat any darn thing you want, sit instead of dancing, stay home, and live your life based on BS philosophies about how others say you “should” live after your 40th birthday.

My point here, is that I look and feel fantastic for a number of reasons:

  1. God has blessed me. Every day I thank him.
  2. As I learn better, I do better (in all that I do).
  3. I eat well (avoiding processed, unhealthy, and sugar laced food & beverages)
  4. I drink alcohol in moderation. Yes, I drink.
  5. I minimize stress by eliminating whatever or whomever causes me stress (people, environments, etc…)
  6. I help others (try to improve their life) and I don’t look for or want anything in return.
  7. I purposefully compliment and encourage other women (no reason to hate on one another, especially sistas).
  8. I say what I mean and mean what I say.
  9. I live within my means.
  10. I live a simple life, by  avoiding keeping up with the Jones’s & don’t indulge in trying to impress people.
  11. I do more of what makes me happy (work out, read, dance, travel, cook, spend time with the best of my friends and family).
  12. I don’t worry, care, or give two sense about those who don’t “get me” or like my style. I LOVE being different. J
  13. I laugh AND smile…. A LOT! Lol!!!  I really do. J

The bottom line is that we are adults and have choices. I choose to stay on my grind of cherishing my mind, body, and spirit.

By continuing to educate myself, I improve my diet and overall lifestyle.  Whatever I learn, I apply to my life, and whenever possible, my family’s life.   If I learn that a certain food is bad, I give it up and find an alternative.  Likewise, when I discover new food, I try it.  Sometimes I like it, sometimes I don’t.

Genetics may contribute to my physique, however at 49 years old, a lot more has to do with my habits and lifestyle.

Keep it movin!!

50fit

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