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Success after 21 days
on April 14, 2012
Today is my 21st day (April, 14 2012).
I am one of those people who can stick to a diet, but can't lose weight. I've tried everything out there. One some diets I've even gained weight (the 90s Ornish plan with dairy, Nutrisystem, Atkins) while family members have lost weight eating the same exact things. This book explained WHY I didn't lose or even gained weight on diets and what I could do that was different and might offer me some success. I thought I was doomed to feeling and looking lousy, and am so grateful I was wrong.
I lost 6 lbs in three weeks, steadily, easily. If I can lose 6lbs with my stubborn metabolism, then I would guess most people might have even greater success.
I was never hungry, and at the end of each day I'd lie in bed thinking how nice it is to have a sensation of satiety but not to feel bloated, starved, or guilty. To have enjoyed--really enjoyed--my food and felt healthy, had more energy, and been more comfortable in my body and my clothes. I have been craving this kind of feeling on a deep level, but have never been able to figure out how to effect it in my life.
At first, I found the plan a little intimidating. But if you can make it through the first day you can make it through 21 days. Day 2 is even easier, and by the end of the first week you won't even have to think about it.
My retired mother went on it with me, and she had no problem with it either. She is a diabetic and controls her diabetes very carefully with diet. She said her blood sugar fluctuated more than normal the first few days, but then stabilized nicely and she hasn't had a problem since then and is really enjoying being able to eat a wider variety of foods now, including some things she just couldn't eat at all before. She has high cholesterol and I will update when she has her next lipid panel. No significant effect from this diet on her renal or fibromyalgia problems, but perhaps that will change over time. I am hypoglycemic, and do very well on this eating plan in that regard.
Yes, it's vegan. For 21 days. You are not committing to veganism for life, just to see how you feel when you eliminate certain types of foods and increase other types. This diet will not make you start wearing Birkenstocks, join PETA, or grow out your armpit hair. I have no intention of becoming a vegan for ethical or political reasons. I do think that the vegan way of eating presented in this book, however, is based on sound science, and, most importantly, has worked for me.
I will probably start re-incorporating animal products at some point. I travel, I live in a rural community where there are sources for animal products where I know what they were fed and how they were treated. I don't have a need to totally commit to veganism for life, but for now, this works.
I feel great. I thought feeling and looking good were gone with my youth, but I have more energy now that I can remember having in a decade. I never feel bloated. I never feel hungry. My mood has been naturally elevated as a result of this eating plan (this is NOT a diet). Meal prep can be as simple or complex as fits your lifestyle. I no longer feel my joints aching at the end of the day, even though I am much more active every day now.
I am able to eat foods on this plan that I've thought for years would be off limits for me forever. I have really, truly enjoyed my food for the first time since I can remember. Food has become more delicious and I never feel deprived or hungry or feel like it's a struggle to stick with the plan.
Most supermarkets have products you can use to adapt recipes. There are a few things your supermarket might not carry, like nutritional yeast, but if you can't get them at a local Whole Foods or health food store, you can order them on Amazon. Try the frozen foods section of your grocery store and look for brands like Boca, Morningstar, or Amy's for meal components (like veggie burgers or meat substitutes) or entire frozen meals. Keep lettuce and tortillas on hand for quick wraps when you need to eat on the run. Amy's makes a great vegan frozen bean burrito and also a good rice crust vegan cheese pizza. Daiya cheese substitute is the best I've found, but I hardly felt the need to substitute for cheese after the first week. Cashew and nutritional yeast cream (sounds weird, but it's great) is so good and fabulous on salads or veggies or sandwiches. I found many foods in my supermarket as well as Whole Foods to be appropriate, but when I went to Trader Joe's after learning how to read labels, I was amazed at how much fat and sodium was packed into the products there, so I would not recommend shopping there for most of your food if you have other choices.
The book gives a good shopping list and suggestion for new things to try--follow that list for your first week as you explore this way of eating and you should be able to learn how to navigate your supermarket and kitchen in new ways.
Get rid of the mentality of deprivation and allow yourself to EAT, enjoy, and feel satisfied and feel good about being in your own body.
Buy a vegan cookbook or if you don't want to spend the money, google "vegan lowfat recipe blog" and you will find lots of recipes and cooking tips. It takes a bit of adjustment, but really not that much. There are great ways to substitute for meat and dairy. One caveat: meat and dairy substitutes are NOT meat and dairy. They don't taste like meat and dairy and if you expect them to then you will be disappointed. They will, however, satisfy your cravings for those tastes and textures if you give them a chance. And then somewhere along the line you may even discover you no longer even crave them all that much. Along with sugar, fats, and a slew of other things that may be slowing down your weight loss, sapping your energy, and slowly and subtly chipping away at your health.
The book doesn't call for exercise, but after about a week, my activity increased because I had so much energy I just HAD to do more. It's been wonderful, and my productivity has increased greatly.
If you want to make excuses and continue as you are, or if you want someone to do the work for you, then don't buy this book. It is not for you, and you will be disappointed. If you are willing to do the personal work for 21 days to see what a radical (but really not very difficult) positive dietary change can do for you, I highly recommend this book.
This book is for people with a high level of personal responsibility and desire to explore changes that may positively impact their lives. If that's you, then invest in this book, and good luck to you.
There are some good you tube videos featuring Dr. Barnard. Amazon doesn't allow external links, but you can do a youtube search on "Dr. Neal Barnard Part 1" and the parts 2, 3, and 4.
UPDATE: May 6 2012
Went for a regular physical. My cholesterol, although not in the danger zone before the diet, is now down about 50 points on this diet. Triglycerides are down, too, and my cholesterol ratio is 2.4. I'm pretty pleased. I wish I could get my daughter to try this.
UPDATE: May 26, 2012
My mother had a lipid profile done. In two months on the diet her cholesterol is down 72 points. No cholesterol medicine could get her below 200, but this diet did. We are hoping to get her down another 30-40 points so she can get off the meds altogether. She's down a size in her clothes. We watched "Forks Over Knives" and "Fat Sick and Nearly Dead" this month, which although we needed no motivation as the plan is easy once you lose your cravings, were both motivating and inspirational.
I am still doing well. Lost a couple more pounds (10 total on the diet--1 clothing size), eating even less processed foods, and feeling even better. Bags under my eyes are gone, and the dark circles that made me look old and tired are not completely gone, but are much less noticeable. My skin looks and feels better. I have absolutely no desire to eat off plan. When I get the rare urge to indulge, I am perfectly able to do it within the parameters set by Dr. Barnard for healthy eating. Traveling was a bit difficult, but I did it with a little extra planning and preparation.
I burned out my magic bullet mixer so I splurged and bought a Vitamix and it makes whole foods preparation a lot easier and some things just come out so much better than in a plain blender. Soups, smoothies, and hummus are much smoother and creamier in the Vitamix and make it easier and tastier to get in lots of fresh fruits and vegetables. A crock pot is helpful for soups and bean dishes.
I initially turned up my nose at folks who said their tastes changed and food tastes better, but guess what--it does. I liked fruits and veggies just fine before this, but now there's a much greater pleasure in eating them that I can't quite describe.
I am not at all sorry that I bought this book and tried what Dr. Barnard suggests, I am only sorry I didn't start this years ago.
UPDATE: April 2013.
I'm down about 20 lbs, and fit into my old clothes. I've never felt at all deprived and eat until I'm well satisfied every day. My cholesterol is down to 134 and my BP is down to normal as well.
Cooking is easy, and once I figured out a few things, traveling and eating this way is not a problem at all.
UPDATE: December 2013.
Still going strong. I'm down about 35 lbs total, and nearly 4 sizes. I feel great. I've been working with a plant-based doctor and my chronic fatigue is gone.
My mother, who is pushing 70, is off ALL of her meds, including the BP meds she's been on since she was 35. She's been at her goal weight for quite some time and is full of energy. We also got Barnard's newest book, Power Foods for the Brain: An Effective 3-Step Plan to Protect Your Mind and Strengthen Your Memory, and have incorporated some of those suggestions as well.
Eating like this is second nature and we no longer really think about it much. I no longer fear I'm going to balloon back up to my previous weight. No yo-yoing anymore.
UPDATE AUGUST 2, 2016
Still on a whole foods, plant-based diet and still doing well.