Confession: I love food and lots of it:)
Seven years ago, just before Ryder was born, I decided to quit racing triathlons, mountain bikes, and adventure races. I finished strong with 6 age group wins in a 60 day stretch. Then I quit cold turkey.
Not only did I quit racing, I pretty much quit exercising. Despite this, I continued to consume about 6000 calories per day (needed when I was training regularly). So the mathematics of weight began to take its toll on my health.
There were also some heavy stressors in my life at that time, primarily related to a dishonest employee who created a financial disaster that spiraled out of control over the next few years. The stress took its toll too. I eventually recovered, but not before it had contributed to a slowed metabolism and other not-so-desirable health effects.
A good friend, Dr. Mark Schnitzer, recommended that I read The China Study. He and his family found it so compelling that they decided to become Vegan. My wife and I read it (I admit I quickly skimmed it) about a year ago. We realized the importance of changing our diets, but did not make the commitment at that time. Most likely I was still in denial.
Having a long history of hyperlipidemia (really bad cholesterol), my risk for heart disease was significantly higher than the average person. Since medical school, I had been able to control it by using natural remedies and food supplements. However as part of the intense stress that began in 2002, I also went into a state of denial and quit taking these supplements.
Last October, we moved back to Colorado. It was part of our grand plan for lifestyle change. A few months back I hit a chronological milestone and finally decided to get a real physical exam and check-up. As it turns out, I am really healthy except for my cholesterol panel (cough… and weight).
According to my Berkley lipid panel, I have every genetic marker for risk that you can have. My bad cholesterol (LDL), triglycerides, and even my good cholesterol (HDL) were all abnormal as well. I immediately visited my local health food store and purchased an arsenal of food supplements and vitamins that will help me fight the battle.
Once I got a clean bill of health from the Cardiologists who did my nuclear stress test and calcium score (spiral CT scan calcium study), I rewarded myself with a new road bike and designed a fitness plan to get back into shape. The only thing missing was a rock solid dietary plan that would complement my exercise and life plan, while also supporting a healthier cholesterol profile.
The official start date of my vegetarian lifestyle was delayed because my parents were visiting and they love red meat (several times daily) and I wanted to leave my carnivorous ways in style. Once they left town, I implemented a not-so-strict vegetarian diet. The photo above was my first meal – Kung Pao Tofu from Pei Wei. It was such a beautiful dish, I had to take a photo.
I will update you in 90 days so that we can explore how my lifestyle changes and strategic supplementation will affect my cholesterol panel and general health.
Your Favorite Vegetarian,
Tim Berry MD