Celebrating success

Ever had a day where you feel FIT? Today I did, thanks to a kind woman and some hard science.

The lesson of today: The power of suggestion — of confirmation — is an amazing thing. When I saw my pre-surgery X-ray, actually saw how there was something even a lay person could recognize as very wrong with my pelvis, things got harder for me. The period from that X-ray until surgery day was the hardest for me because there was proof that my problem was bigger than “just wait” and more serious than “be tough.” In the same way, seeing and hearing real, positive and exciting things about my body has buoyed my confidence in it. For the first time in a long time I felt fit. I felt like I had a concrete reason to feel positive about my body. No negative feelings, not betrayal. Today my body got a cheer it deserves. A cheer that made me rethink how I felt in spite of the front that dumped a bunch of rain on us last night (thank goodness for the rain!) and a lot of sitting today.

health screening results paper on a deskMy husband and I participated in our employee wellness program’s annual health screening today. We got lots of numbers: Weight, BMI, body fat percentage, fat mass, waist circumference, HDL, LDL, triglycerides, total cholesterol and blood glucose. We also received the “normal ranges” for each of those values so we could understand what we were looking at.

When talking with the woman who ran the fancy scale that would send some kind of pulse through my body to measure fat vs. waster vs. bone and muscle, she explained there are two different formulas built into the machine. One is used if the individual works out for more than 10 hours per week. The other is used for everyone else. The woman tried her best to convince me that the 10 hours per week algorithm was the way I needed to go and looked genuinely shocked when I told her I hadn’t been able to work out 10 hours per week since I was in junior high sports. It’s true. But her comment, “well, you sure fooled me!” was awfully nice to hear.

Even nicer to see were the numbers — the scientific evidence that our decision to eat plant-based has truly changed our lives. The year I met my husband I got a scolding at the health fair for triglycerides WAY TOO HIGH for someone my age. I don’t have that year’s sheet with me now, but I know it was above normal and I think it was somewhere in the 200s (normal is less than 150 mg/dL, according to my handy sheet). Now it’s 55 mg/dL and my total cholesterol measured under 100 so they couldn’t even give me my HDL to LDL ratio.

I wish I could tell my Dad. I went all-in on this way of eating because diabetes took him from us way too early and I didn’t want that for myself, my husband or my son. Today my glucose measured 71. I am within the normal healthy range all over the sheet. My one task is to work to bring up my good cholesterol.

My husband received equally exciting news. He rubbed it in that his body fat percentage is lower than mine (men are supposed to have lower body fat percentages than women.) But he was most excited because he remembered the numbers from his last check and he had changed a significant amount even since then.

We high-fived and walked with a little spring in our steps and I didn’t feel even a little upset that I couldn’t eat the muffins, breakfast bars or yogurt provided by the wellness program. Some people say “nothing tastes as good as healthy feels.” I’m coming to disagree with that. I now completely prefer plant-based meals to the things I used to love. That is so liberating!

I think it should be Plants taste as good as healthy feels, because my husband (with the help of some amazing cookbook authors and blogs) has shown me that eating plant-based doesn’t mean sacrificing taste. Yes, I still love cookies, pancakes and even a pizza with processed vegan cheese occasionally. But now I also crave lentils with spices and sauce instead of a cheesy hotdish. And I’ll choose fresh fruit over processed snack any day.

The day got even better. I go to yoga on Tuesday and Thursday. This being Thursday I got to move, stretch and continue that fit feeling into the afternoon. And as a bonus, I caught a glimpse of my husband walking on the stadium’s track. That means he was feeling well enough, strong enough, in his foot to get some exercise of his own.

I will never know for sure the role that plant-strong eating has played in my recovery but I am certain it has made a difference. It’s not something I can measure but it is something I know has helped give my body the tools it needs to overcome everything that has been thrown at it.

I have been a herbivore for nearly 16 months and I couldn’t be happier about that decision. I may not feel the best I’ve ever felt in my life, but I believe that continuing on this Plant Strong path will allow me to feel that again someday. Someday in the no longer so distant future.

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