For me, it all started with trading eggs and toast for a green smoothie in the morning. Just with that one simple change, I started to notice more energy, better digestion, and more focus throughout the day. Maybe there's something to this, I thought? Then I decided to trade breakfast and lunch for green smoothies. That's when my life started to change.
I began to experiment with food. If I ate something that made me feel bloated and lethargic, I eliminated it from my diet. If I ate something that made me feel great and energetic, I kept it in my repertoire. It didn't take me long to realize that any time I ate meat and dairy my energy levels declined, and any time I ate whole plant foods I felt invincible.
Just weeks after my smoothie experiment, through trial and error, I had went 100% plant-based. Not in a million years did I ever think I would even consider doing so. But, my body spoke and I listened.
I have now been eating a (mostly) whole food plant-based diet for a year and a half. My life has changed. EVERYTHING has gotten better! And to be clear, the only thing in my life I changed was what I choose to shove down my yapper. Here's 12 incredible things that happened:
My digestion has completely changed. During my smoothie experiment, I lost 7 pounds! I shit you not (pun intended). 7 pounds! I used to make 1-2 trips to the bathroom daily, but now it's more like 3-5. Why? When you eat whole plant foods, it's very easy for your body to digest them. When you eat meat and dairy, it can take a week or more to fully digest. Did you know the average American is walking around with over a week's worth of food in them!
When you're efficiently digesting food, you feel fucking amazing! You know when you wake up in the morning feeling light and skinny? As you walk into the bathroom you take a peak in the mirror and you’re like damn, I got abs! I used to lose that feeling as the day went on as I ate and drank. By the evening, I had lost that skinny feeling and the abs were never looking as good. Now that I eat foods that are easy for me to digest and don’t cause bloating, I have that skinny feeling all day long! I’m ready to lose the shirt at the drop of a hat.
Coffee? I don't need it anymore. When I start my day off with a green smoothie and eat whole plant foods throughout the day, I have a clean energy and ability to focus that I had never felt before. From the minute I wake to the time I hit the pillow, I'm dialed in. I no longer depend on coffee or pre-workout crap. I simply eat vegetables, fruits, grains, legumes, seeds, and nuts, and I have crazy amounts of energy.
I believe the reason for this is closely tied to digestion. When you eat hard to digest foods (animal products and processed foods), you're body has to spend enormous amounts of energy on digesting them. Conversely, when you eat easily digestible whole plant foods, your body can spend less energy on digestion and more energy on other functions like healing, thinking, preventing disease, and so much more. The more you get out of our body's way, the more energy you'll have.
#3: Athletic Performance
Just days into my plant-based transformation I started to notice a difference on my runs, in the weight room, and my ability to recover. I generally run 2 to 3 times a week usually between 3 and 5 miles on any given day. There's a 3 mile loop I've been running all my life in my hometown. After years of stagnation, just 2 weeks into my diet change I shattered my personal record on the run. Then, each time I did it again, I'd beat my previous time. I went from averaging a 6:45 per/mile pace to a 6:15 per/mile pace in a matter of 6 weeks! It was crazy.
In the weight room, I was at first worried if a plant-based diet would give me enough protein to keep my strength up. Well, that's no longer a question. In the year and a half I've been plant-based, I've lost 15 pounds of bodyweight yet maintained my strength in every lift and in some areas even gotten stronger. (Note: we don't need mass amounts of protein!)
I think my body's newfound ability to recover quicker plays a large role in the improvement of my endurance and strength. Every athlete knows that if you recover faster you're going to perform better the next day. Well, my ability to recover is better than it's ever been! (Note: I don't take supplements of any kind. That shit is poison.) Guess what? This also ties back to digestion. The less energy on digestion, the more energy for your body to repair itself.
As I mentioned above, I lost 15 pounds over a year and a half period, and 7 of those pounds dropped in the first few days of my change. I believe I'm now at the weight I'm truly supposed to be at. To be clear, I didn't lose muscle, I lost fat. I lost fat from places I didn't even know I had fat on! My back, my sides, my legs, my face, everywhere! It's been amazing. I'm now 157 pounds and have 6.5% body fat, and I feel fucking amazing.
For many years I’ve had trouble falling asleep, as so many thoughts always pop into my head or a song is playing on repeat in my brain. I was always in bed for 8 hours, but rarely slept a full 8. When I changed my diet, my sleep improved drastically. I now have a sense of calm not only at bedtime, but throughout the day. When it comes time to hit the sheets, that calm allows me to fall asleep and stay asleep. I noticed I was sleeping better only days after making my change.
I don't have any real reasoning behind why I sleep better, I just do.
For years I battled acne on my face and on my back ("backne" as the kids call it). I always blamed it on playing sports or working out in sweaty t-shirts. I figured it was something I'd just have to manage for the remainder of my life. My amazing girlfriend would even help me pop pimples on my back when it got bad. God bless her!
Over the course of the first month of my plant-based transformation, I noticed my skin start to clear. My girlfriend and I watched as my face and back completely cleared up and have remained clear ever since. All my acne disappeared! On top of that, my face has become more flush, and not as ghostly as what was previously my norm.
I always wondered what people meant when they referenced the "vegan glow." Well now I know, and it's real.
This is a tough one to explain. I've personally never been an understanding or sympathetic type of person. Usually when issues come up with those that are close to me, I struggle to empathize with them. When a problem arises and someone is "freaking out," I just don't have time for it. I don't see the point of freaking out when it only makes the problem worse. I generally end up losing my cool, saying something like, "figure it out," and walking away. It's bad, I know.
Well, something came over me when I started eating more plants, and I noticed I was being more patient, understanding, and supportive. Instead of being up tight and frustrated in problematic situations, I'm now calm and truly take in what people are saying to me. I'm able to be present and therefore am better able to help.
Maybe it's because I'm no longer clogging the arteries to my heart and brain with animal fat? Or maybe it's because my blood pressure it much lower? Possibly. All I can tell you is that I have a newfound sense of peace, I'm more sympathetic, and I'm present for those I chose to spend my time with. As a result, my relationships with my girlfriend, my family, and my friends have become richer.
Most people don't believe me when I say that I crave kale salads and green smoothies. But it's true! My tastes and cravings have completely changed. Simply put, we crave the foods we eat. If you stop eating meat, you'll eventually stop craving it. That's what happened to me.
Furthermore, I used to have an ongoing mental battle with food. When you put a buffalo chicken pizza in front of me, I'd be itching to eat it. I'd have a back and forth internal monologue with one part of me saying a few slices won't hurt and the other saying you shouldn't eat that. Of course I'd always give in and eat it, and usually more than a few slices. There was always that constant anxiety around food, and I'd always end up eating something and regretting it later.
When I declared myself plant-based, it was like a huge weight was lifted off my shoulders. When I finally decided I don't eat meat and dairy, I had won the battle. It's very easy to not eat the buffalo chicken pizza when it's simply something I don't eat. It doesn't even tempt me. It's a lot like, If you don't smoke then you don't smoke. There's no internal battle going on because it's just something you don't do. Conversely, if eating that pizza is something you shouldn't do, then 99/100 times you're going to eat it.
I don't eat meat, dairy, and most processed foods, so I honestly don't crave them. I crave plants now!
#9: Bodily Issues
There are numerous bodily issues I've battled for years that have now completely healed themselves! I used to wake up with achy fingers to the point where I struggled to tie my shoes in the morning. My knees ached and I battled achilles tendonitis off and on for years. I blamed it on 15 years of playing football, and figured it was something I'd have to live with. All of these issues disappeared within a few months of eating a whole food plant-based diet.
Another issue was strange lumps in certain areas throughout my body. For the longest time, I had a lump below my jawline near my right jugular, a lump in my left earlobe, and a lump on my neck behind my left ear. I went to the doctor a few times to inquire about the lumps and each time I was told they were either lymph nodes or mobile cysts and I shouldn’t be concerned. Whatever the hell they were, they're gone now!
OK, here comes the finale. When this happened, I was literally moved to tears. I have been deathly allergic to cats since high school, and after only a few minutes in a cat-infested home my airways would start to close up, I'd develop hives, and my sinus's would clog up. After 6 month of eating a whole food plant-based diet, I noticed that my girlfriend's family cats no longer bothered me. Eating plants cured my allergies!
I can go on and on about all the miraculous things that have happened to me since adopting a whole food plant-based diet, but we'd be here all day. The bottom line is, It has truly changed my life, and I know it will absolutely change yours.
To read my full story, learn more about all the benefits of a whole food plant-based lifestyle, and get a plan to make a change in your life, you can pre-order my book Eat Green Make Green: How Adopting a Vegan Diet Took My Life & Career to The Next Level & How You Can Too here.