My Week As A Vegan Part 2: The Physical and Mental

By Jillian Lankford

Typically when we think of vegans we think of slender, fit, nature loving, hippie type individuals. At least that’s what they have always been pictured as in the media. Now that veganism is becoming more popular you have celebrities like Lizzo and Beyoncé changing that description. There are even categories that classify what kind of vegan you are. Dietary vegans, whole-food vegans, junk-food vegans, raw-food vegans, even fruitarians. From my amateur experience this last month, I consider myself and family plant-based, whole food eaters because I just haven’t been sold on getting rid of my leather goods just yet.

What Is Veganism, and What Do Vegans Eat?

If you have read My Week As A Vegan Part 1 : The Why and The How then you may be curious about the physical changes my family and I have experienced that keeps us sticking to the plant-based lifestyle.

Here are our top 10.

1. You look good, have you lost weight?

Nope. But, who doesn’t love hearing that? I know I do. It was all I heard for the first two weeks into plant-based eating. And for real, for real, there is something different about my complexion sans animal products.

Look at my face! My complexion has changed. My skin looks brighter. My face is less puffy. My smile is wider.

Same weight, different diet.

A few years ago we celebrated my grandmother’s 95th birthday. All of her 10 children, their children and her great, and great-great grand babies flew in from around the country to celebrate. Why is this important? Well my aunt and uncle from Colorado, who I hadn’t seen in maybe a decade, hadn’t aged. They in fact looked younger and insanely healthy. They were the first vegans of the family implementing the lifestyle over 20 years ago. I didn’t put it together then but I am putting it together now – plant-based gives you life. The kind of life that shines health from your pores. I remember their glow because I have it now too.

2. No need for a colon cleanse.

Hello fiber. Adjusting to a higher fiber intake has taken my insides a bit of training. Our family nutrition has had ample amounts of fiber weaved in but nothing like the intake on a strictly plant-based diet. After a few days I adjusted to the increased gas and after a week it went away as my body became used to the new balance. My husband on the other hand had a longer stretch of gassy days but has since overcome the hourly flatulent purge. Eating plant based has super charged our insides. Our body legit can clean it self out completely, once, if not twice, a day like a well oiled machine.

“Nothing tastes as good as health feels. “

Brent Lankford

3. No weight change plus a flat stomach.

Prior to this lifestyle my weight would fluctuate daily. Every morning a different number on the scale. Now, every morning I wake up at the same weight as the morning before plus with a flat stomach. It is a new feeling. Even with intermittent fasting I felt heavy and bloated. Not waking up full, just simply fresh and empty, ready for the day is a huge mood enhancer. Brent’s weight has stayed the same as well. Neither of us were trying to gain or lose starting plant-based but I can see the benefits this diet will have in aiding weight loss and putting on muscle. Even if I find myself falling asleep binge watching television with these brownies in my lap.

4. No counting sheep.

Brent and I both agree we sleep better and more sound now. With our bodies at rest during bedtime instead of feverously working to digest the remnants of meat and dairy from dinner 4 hours earlier, we fall right asleep. And we sleep through the night with less wake ups. No indigestion or acid reflux. No heart burn, no rolling over from side to side looking for a comfortable position to accommodate our fullness.

5. We eat more.

Three meals and two snacks is no longer a requirement. We eat intuitively – when we are hungry. Dinner is still a daily family staple, a time we sit and gather. Breakfast and lunch are broken up into segments. First breakfast, second breakfast, first lunch, and afternoon snack. Our toddlers are eating more too. They just don’t stop, they have always had a good appetite the difference is, the energy they get from plant-based eating doesn’t slow them down.

This lifestyle is excellent for the snacking types like myself. Every few hours I can put something new in my mouth that tastes good, fuels my body and has no negative side effects. Mmmm, vegan.

6. Pure energy boost.

It’s go, go, go. Quiet time for our toddlers is no longer a two hour show. They rest mid-day for a little bit then are right back at it doing toddler things. Thankfully I no longer need my afternoon green tea to keep up with them until bedtime. Our bodies are processing the nutrients quicker and giving us fuel that lasts longer.

7. Endurance, Strength and Recovery

“How can you get as strong as an Ox without eating meat?

Have you ever seen an ox eat meat?”

Patrick Baboumian, The Game Changers
Photo Credit: quality_cereal “Like Father, like Son…to full depth” “

Our cardiovascular fitness has improved. For Brent, about 2 1/2 weeks into the diet, his 5K running and assault bike times drastically improved. Better than they have ever been. Almost 3 minutes cut from his run time. He has also found the ability to burn more calories in 4-minute interval sessions on the assault bike. On 10/20 intervals (10 second work-pedal fastest, 20 second rest pedal-slow to moderate) in 4 minute sessions, he normally averaged a burn of 45 calories. Now he averages 59 calories a session.

Collectively we are less sore after exercising because the onset of soreness is delayed. Which has improved our endurance as well. I can run longer without my knees giving in, and since my recovery time is less, I can put in 2 – 3 three mile runs a week on top of HIIT and yoga workouts. See: Moms Who Exercise Together, Stay Sane Together

There’s just more gas in the tank (literally and figuratively). Our limits have not yet been tested which is even more exciting. We have the strength to meet personal goals and set new, advanced expectations. Before the end of the year I hope to bring my deadlift from 110 lbs to 185 lbs to see what these plants can really do.

Sweat shadow.

“When hormones get out of balance—too much or too little are produced or something interferes with signaling pathways—it can lead to issues like diabetes, weight loss or gain, or infertility, among other problems.”

8. Is my mind clearer? Are my hormones more balanced?

Our stress, mood, and blood pressure has improved tremendously. My brain is happy. I am eating carbs again. Our brain’s main source of energy comes from complex carbs. And blueberries, we could eat a truck of blueberries in one week as a family. Blueberries have insane health benefits. Consuming more nutritious food in place of meat and dairy has enhanced our lives and my hormones (the whole family is thankful for the latter). Since switching to this lifestyle I have been more clear minded and focused. Our wellness is impacted by how our hormones perform, so eating plant-based with a diet rich in whole grains, fruits, vegetables, healthy protein, and healthy fats has been the best way for me to keep them in check.

The 3 Most Powerful Health Benefits of Blueberries

9. Fullness.

Pre plant-based we strived at the end of every meal to feel full. However, feeling full and being full are two very different things. Spoonful after spoonful feeding ourselves until our guts met satisfaction is purely mind over matter. Fullness can be reclassified as content on a plant-based diet. Every calorie is nutritious. You’re getting healthy fats, carbs and proteins straight from mother nature. There is no guessing if what of those you are consuming will keep you full. They keep you content and fueled, this is the new full.

10. Feeling good about what your eating.

You don’t have to guess if the ingredients are good for you when you are strictly eating plants. And when your body performs like a well oiled machine, you don’t have to guess if your insides match your outside glow. Traditions, cultures, and feelings are so attached to food. And it can be really hard to change those habits. Especially when what you eat is based on what is heavily marketed to you in ads, commercials, sales, and everyday life. Have you ever seen a paid advertisement for kale or tofu? Despite what you’ve been told as a kid, it is clear to see the history of information spreading has been easier to dumb it down and pass it on (hence, the food pyramid).

Will these 10 physical changes happen for you? You don’t know until you try. If I can make a personal commitment that inspires another person to also commit, maybe we can create a national movement that will positively influence change in policy and jumpstart the action needed to prioritize health and wellness in this country. You can’t knock it until you try it. How long will this last for us? Not sure’ but we are taking advantage of this and hope to share more of our plant-based lifestyle with you soon.

P.S. Part 3 is coming once I “balance my check book”. Could going vegan really you some cash?

“Research your own experience. Absorb what is useful. Reject what is useless. Add what is specifically your own.”

Bruce Lee

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How to Deal With Digestive Difficulties on a Plant-Based Diet

The Scoop on How Your Body Processes Plant vs. Animal Calories

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