I am well aware that it has been more than two weeks since my last blog confession. Normally this would be where I start into a litany of excuses as to why that is. Well, there are no excuses anymore for me. I simply did not update because there was no change and I was a little upset and embarrassed that no change occurred. My eating during the two weeks was not really monitored, however when I set forward on this new journey I had already decided that I was not going to be very strict on my eating. As long as it is 100% plant based I am happy. Happily I am still 100% Plant Strong. The place that I have needed to work on has been my processed food intake. Just because it's vegan does not make it healthy.

Yes they are vegan and YES they are not healthy!! 

There is just as much junk food out there for vegans as there are for anyone else. It's all bad! Now, I am not going to punish myself, I am just going to push forward from this point with a promise to myself to severely limit processed food and sugars. I had a great day today, though my lovely girlfriend said I consumed way too many nuts. That is something I will continue to work on hon. :-) My new plan moving forward is to take a much more Taoistic approach to eating, as well as other aspects of daily life. I am going to eat as whole and fresh as I can, and take my time to enjoy every detail and morsel of the food I eat. Here is an experiment that my great friend Thom taught me. It's an exercise for your mind and senses.

I'm going to use a strawberry for this example, but most any food will do. Take the strawberry in your hand and instead of taking a bite, I want you to study it. Look at it very closely, notice all the minute details that make up the texture of the skin. Notice the way the light hits it and is partially visible through the translucent edges of the skin. Feel the bumps, the tiny fibers on your finger tip as you softly examine the fruit. Bring it up to your nose. Take in the full aroma of this delicious berry. Once you have used those three senses, take a bite. Now really focus on the flavor that washes over your lips and onto your tongue. Do you notice the slight bitterness of the skin and fibers that precede the sweet juices of the strawberry? Slowly chew the first bite and hold it in your mouth as long as possible before taking another bite. Focus. Now look at the freshly bitten berry and use all your senses again for the second bite and the third, fourth, fifth...until it is all gone. It should take a minimum of five minutes to eat the strawberry. You can take longer, but not shorter. This experiment helps on many levels. It helps you to gain a better focus of the world around you. It will help those that eat too quickly, slow down and enjoy their food. Doing this experiment regularly will help to make your senses stronger, much in the same way lifting weights build muscle. Try this tomorrow sometime. I will be.

I've had some pretty major stresses over the last few weeks and I think that they have contributed to the current plateau I have been experiencing. It all seemed to hit me from every angle too. There was the usual money issues...bills..bills..bills..ugh. Nothing more need be said on that subject. Then other stresses, work, some from family and others from friends and acquaintances. And physical stresses with my back. I injured my back pretty bad, late last year. It's taken months to get myself back to a place where I feel comfortable again. I was running every day before the injury, now I can barely walk for 15 mins before my leg goes numb. It has severely limited my exercising, but I have been working hard to correct myself and hopefully one day run again. I did have a bit of a breakthrough this week on the exercise front though, a sign of great things to come I hope! :-)  The other stresses, I am working on them. I am learning that life is too short to dwell on negative things or negative people. I got caught up in some drama online with some friends and that spilled out into the real world...it has since been resolved though. Which is another great thing. :-) The money thing, I am working on that too..

This journey I am on, it's not for anyone's benefit except my own and those that want to be around me and accept me for the person that I am becoming. I am always learning new things about life and will always be happy to share those things I learn with those I care about. This lifestyle I am living, for some reason upsets people. I am trying to live a life that's based on compassion for all things. Hate, fear, anger...these emotions are not welcome in my life anymore. I do not hate anyone, nor will I ever. I might get angry every once in a while, but I will never hold onto that anger...It's just going to be passing through. I realized that the place I was in when I started this journey was a lot more peaceful and focused. Some where along the way I got lost. I'm slowly finding my way back though. One person that has been a guiding light for me is my girlfriend, Stephanie. You are always right there as soon as I begin to stray to help get me back on track. Without you in my life, I have no idea where I would be right now. I am glad that I am on this journey with you by my side. :-)

So there it is, no excuses..no punishment...it is what it is. I am going to continue to work on things as best I can and I will be coming back to share what I have learned along the way. The weight will come off and the stresses will fade as will the back pain....this too shall pass.


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Posted by Tim Cleary on Monday, January 30, 2012
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I must confess...the Dude is not a skinny man by any means. Part of the reason I started this blog was to track my numbers. I hope that my numbers, ie..weight & measurements, continues a downward path until I reach my body's goal weight. Keep in mind that I was nearly 400 lbs at this point in 2010. I was severely unhealthy and on track to surely be dead by 50. While I'm not there yet, I have managed to turn this 18-wheeler around and am headed in the opposite direction. I do not have an ultimate goal weight in mind. I know that for each of us, that number is different. It all depends on where my body happily settles at when I get there. I will be adding in lots of exercise as soon as my back heals itself, possibly some running again I hope too. I would love to run a marathon one day! My journey is simply that..there is no destination on the horizon. While on this journey I am hoping to settle into a nice weight, but more importantly I want my body to feel alive and full of life. I want my mind to be free of negativity and depression and my soul to feel ethereal and boundless. 

So without a final number in mind, I do have numbers to begin with. Every two weeks I am going to post my weight and some measurements to keep track of my progress. This will also be a place where I will confess to any cheating or bad habits I have been doing over the last two weeks as well. Right after Christmas I took my first measurements...

Dec 26th, 2011
Weight: 312 lbs
Body Fat: 39%
Waist (at navel): 53"
Waist (at hip): 47.25"
Chest: 49.25"
Bicep: 17"
Thigh: 26"
Calf: 18"
Neck: 18.5"

Jan 8th, 2012
Weight: 298 lbs 
Body Fat: 38%
Waist (at navel): 52"
Waist (at hip): 46"
Chest: 49"
Bicep: 17"
Thigh: 25.75"
Calf: 17"
Neck: 18"

Cholesterol: 114 total | LDL: 52 | HDL: 28

I will be getting a new full blood workup every 6 months to see how that goes. This last one was completed in mid September of last year. 

So far a 14 lb drop in two weeks is pretty dang good, not to mention that I injured my back during that time and spent a lot of time not very sedentary. I haven't weighed this low since the summer after I graduated High School! That's 18 years ago! 

I did slip up once. I sometimes go by taco bell and get two bean burritos with no cheese and extra red sauce when I'm in a rush. This time I went and tried that new beefy crunch burrito. I subbed beans for the beef and got it without sour cream or cheese. They failed to mention that it has a nacho cheese sauce on it. Though I figure if one says no cheese...it means no nacho cheese sauce too. Anyways, I bit into it and realized there was cheese on it. I was already home and too lazy to drive back and replace it, so I ate it. I felt bad afterwards and it really did nothing for me at all. I thought the whole thing was rather disgusting. The rest of my diet has been 100% vegan though. I am having some issues with snacks. I've been eating a lot of nuts and some processed foods through the day, but would like to try some other things that are more clean and fresh. If anyone has any helpful tips or ideas for quick, easy and tasty vegan snacks I'd love to hear them. 

That's it.. See you in 2 for more numbers..

Dude out....

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Posted by Tim Cleary on Sunday, January 8, 2012
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I wanted to start of by giving an account of my journey so far. In terms of the Vegan world, I am still a newbie. I've been following a 100% plant based diet for about four months. I decided to give up meat on my birthday. It was a decision that I had been thinking about for a long time. Several years ago I tested the waters a little and became a vegetarian. It was a spur-of-the-moment decision and I just went with it for several months. I tried out new foods and got a taste of how hard...or easy it would be to do that type of thing for the rest of my life. At that time, I really hadn't researched the subject. I knew very little about nutrition overall really. And ironically as this sounds, the summer before I went vegetarian, I was on a variation of a low carb, all meat and cheese diet. It was the worst summer, in terms of pain, that my body had experienced in a long while. I found out later that I have a painful arthritic condition called gout and that eating high volumes of protein and fats can cause very painful flare ups.

The three months I spent as a vegetarian, I felt great. I still had one gout attack, though It did not last as long and was not nearly as painful. The reason I stopped the vegetarian diet was mostly because I was not really at that point in my life where I was ready to make any major decisions. It ended as suddenly as it began. I was out with some friends and decided to just grab a sandwich that had meat on it. I must say, it was delicious. I savored every morsel of that sandwich as if it were a glass of ice water in the hottest desert. And then I was back on the meat train...an animal eatin machine. I loved my burgers and steaks cooked medium, and had to have everything wrapped in bacon of course. Yum! Gooey, melty cheese was a staple, not a mere option. I was living the good life. Eating a typical Western diet, what's wrong with that? All my friends and family eat that way, everyone I know does. There really isn't an alternative that is as easy to follow I thought. I figured I can eat whatever I want as long as I keep things in check, keep things in moderation. I knew one thing for sure, eating food made me feel good. Especially the foods that are supposed to be the worst for you. Candy, pizza, burgers, creamy pastas, cakes...I ate these things and each bite would transport me to worlds of paradise.

At first, the moderation thing seemed to work. I would eat mostly "healthy" foods during the week, maybe cheat here and there, and on one or two days I'd let myself have whatever I wanted to eat. Truthfully I ended up gorging myself on my off days because I was severely restricting my caloric intake on my healthy days. By the week's end I was so hungry I wanted to eat anything and everything I could find. That in turn made me feel so sick and bloated and I just felt horrible. The crazy part was that I was losing weight! I thought this was crazy, but it worked..so keep going. Unfortunately it is impossible to keep a plan like this going for very long. My cheat days soon started growing and my healthy days started to become the meals in moderation. The weight that came off, suddenly hopped right back on and brought a few dozen of its friends with it. This depressed me. Food depressed me... I was at a dark place in my life, I hid this away from my family and friends. I hid it because people had always looked to me as their helping hand, their shoulder to cry on. I did not want to burden anyone with my problems. I acted as if things were great, but I was not happy. I watched all my friends find careers, get married, have kids...meanwhile I dealt with losing my mother, my career and my health. At times I did try to make some effort to reach out, but they were simply too busy with their lives to notice. I don't fault anyone for that. I certainly hold no disregard for them. We all have moments when we are focused on our lives so intently that we tend to forget about others. In all honesty, my close friends I've had all through high school 'til now are some of the best friends one could ask for. This dark period lasted until around 2010, I had some great moments in '08 and '09, but the cloud was always close behind.

I decided to start that year fresh and new. I was no longer going to leap into any crazy diet without fully researching the nutritional benefits and weaknesses of the plan. I also decided that I was going to look at my life and completely re evaluate it. I was no longer feeling sorry for myself and I had recognized many of the triggers that were leading to my over eating issues. I had tried working out in the past, but I would go for a week, a month and that would be it. I needed motivation. I needed something more that "going to the gym". My job situation at this time allowed me the freedom to set my own hours and I worked from home, so I decided to start walking at nearby parks. I've always loved nature and the outdoors so this suited me fine. Upon my evaluation I decided to weigh myself. I was shocked to see 380lbs on the scale. I'm embarrassed to say that I had to actually buy several different scales before I could find one that would weigh me correctly. I felt the cold hand of depression grip around my neck when I saw that number, but i was determined to not let it take hold of me anymore. It wasn't until summer that the "click" happened. I was out in LA visiting some friends and while I was out there I decided, my life is going to change from that point on. Originally I had made the decision to move to LA in the beginning of 2011. Little did I know what the universe had in store for me towards the end of '10. My summer was incredible, I spent the beginning in LA and the end in FL. I got to go to a star wars convention, Disney World, and Universal Studios. Because of my size, I was unable to partake in many of the cool roller coasters...but I did not let that affect me too much. I had a plan that when I got home I was going to get myself in shape.

That's just what I did, as soon as I got home from FL I started running, yes 380lbs and running. That quickly dropped to 360lbs or so and I was luckily given a great opportunity to work with a personal trainer. Her name was Jai and she kicked my ass! Oh how I loved it! :-) We trained hard and I made a goal to run a 5k by October. I hit that goal and went beyond. All in all I lost about 70lbs in 2010. Unfortunately the end of 2010 brought some of the greatest moments in my life as well as some of the worst. I had finally met someone that made me feel what the true meaning of love is, she is every bit of everything I have been looking for my entire life. That's awesome! Then the bad came...I blew out my knee slipping on some ice and soon after my dad had a fall that left him paralyzed from the shoulders down. Talk about polar extremes...this was as good and bad as it can get..and it all happened at once. My main goal at this point was just to try and keep myself from falling apart and not turing back to food. I knew that it would be some time before I could get back to working out and live somewhat of a normal life, but I was determined to keep the weight going down. It was not easy, not by any means. My life has been hit hard with trails this year. I am proud to say that I took each and every challenge head on and most of which I have come out better on the other side. My weight loss was a lot smaller in 2011, but it still was a loss.

Over the summer my girlfriend Stephanie, and I had many discussions about nutrition and the way we eat. She had picked up a book by Kathy Freston called Veganist and talked to me about it. My interest soon peaked and I found myself reading the book as well. I then began doing more research on veganism and what it meant to be one. I loved reading as much material as I could find. I found many reports about how bad vegans are, how controversial the subject is, and surprisingly many more articles that showed the benefits of living a 100% plant based diet. Stephanie then surprised me one day and said she had been on a vegetarian diet for several weeks. I was shocked that I hadn't noticed and I was proud that she had come to the decision on her own. I was already thinking about giving up meat again and was wondering how that would work in a relationship. So my switch happened on my birthday. I had a big plate of Bangers 'N Mash. It was delicious! That was the last bit of animal I have and will ever eat. I first took the easier path of becoming a vegetarian, but I still felt bad about how many of the animals are treated in the dairy and egg. Truthfully I have always thought drinking milk was disgusting. I never thought it was natural to drink something that came out of another animal like that. It wasn't until I watched some videos and watched several lectures about how the animals are truly treated and slaughtered that I decided that I am hence forth Dude, Vegan...

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Posted by Tim Cleary on Wednesday, January 4, 2012
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