A big E2 shout out to Svend Pedersen from PA! Svend decided to buck the meat, dairy, cheese, and eggs and now has the vitality of men half his age. Go Svend, go!!!!
My journey to a plant strong lifestyle likely mirrors others who’ve started their path before me … my epiphany came when going through initial station training as a volunteer firefighter where I learned that the majority of firefighter line of duty deaths were due to cardiac disease. While an interesting tidbit in and of itself, coupled with turning 50, retiring after a 24+ year career as a Naval Flight Officer, and establishing myself in a second career, and beginning to enter the fire service, I took a good look at myself and noted with some dismay that I needed to make changes in my lifestyle choices if I wanted to enjoy the quality of life I was used to. No longer representing my country every time I put on my uniform and the requirements of finding and establishing myself in a new career, I found less and less time to exercise, eat properly, and started putting everything else, big or small, before my family and myself. It was time to change.
As a former college athlete, I am used to eating for performance, or, more accurately, thought I was. The standard paradigm of ‘more protein, more better,’ and a workout regime required to compete at the Division I level appeared to work well and ingrained what I know now to be unsustainable eating habits - especially when combined with the demands of a family and a career. Every year, the squadon’s flight surgeon would caution me about my cholesterol levels and borderline hypertension, and every year I would make the changes required to remain cleared to fly but, not unlike my eating habits, those changes were unsustainable and designed for the short term. My current family doctor gave me the same warnings and fortunately no longer looking at my physician as the person who could ground me, but a partner in my health, and along with the other milestones mentioned earlier, I finally listened. After a few fits and starts, and seeing the necessity of change while going through the state’s Fire fighter I certification training program, I happened upon the E2 Diet. Frankly, the ‘firefighter’ and ‘world class athlete’ thing caught my initial attention, and the menu examples in the article held it long enough to order the book. After my initial read I was convinced a plant centric diet made sense - and with much to gain and little to lose I committed to the 28 day challenge.
The start of the 28 day challenge occurred at a ‘perfect storm’ of increasing job requirements, ramping up training for the FF I test, and several major family events that took a great deal of my time and precluded me expending much effort and thought to preplanning my diet, weekly meal schedule and grocery shopping. By following the general rules outlined in the book, I was able to ‘ala carte’ my way through 28 days with tasty meals and snacks that were satiating, easy to prepare and only required a little thought and care to prepare.
I’m pleased with the results of my first step on this journey. Objectively, I Iost a total of 17 pounds over the 28 days - without ever measuring portions, feeling hungry, or dramatically changing my workouts. My cholesterol levels went from a total of 265 (HDL 49/LDL 164/Triglycerides 262) to a total of 199 ( HDL 46/LDL 131/Triglycerides 111). Subjectively, I feel better with noticeably increased energy levels while exercising or performing the duties of a firefighter. During my FF1 certification test (ironically on the 28th day of the challenge) I performed equal to, or better, than firemen half my age while spending 8+ hours on the training round, routinely in full turnout gear and SCBA, while performing physically and mentally challenging tasks/scenarios. A sobering reminder occurred that day when a fellow firefighter, a man in his 30’s, experienced chest pains while performing a ventilation station/roof cut test. It’s not always the ‘other guy’ and this one hit home in a way aviation mishaps or tales of former athletes with health issues did not.
Bottom Line: By eating tasty, satisfying, easily prepared foods, I took control of my health, improved the quality of my life, and embarked on a plant strong lifestyle and journey … one I look forward to continuing.