Lab Results After Eating Vegan for 4 Months – Was it worth it?

I think the answer will be obvious.

I’ve been anxiously waiting for my complete lab results to be taken. But then again, I have anxiety so I’m pretty much anxious about everything.

Nearly four months ago my gf and I decided to embark on this journey of going vegan. For me, it was all about my health and wanting to see if I could get off of the dozen pills I take every morning.

So before starting, I went to the VA and had my blood work done.

I’d love to say that I was shocked by the results, but in all honesty, I knew that I hadn’t been taking care of myself for years, so I went in knowing they would be bad.

And they were.

But more on that in a sec.

As I mentioned in a previous post, we decided to do this after watching the Netflix show “What the Health.”

Yes, it was over the top dramatic. Yes, there were some things we didn’t quite believe. But it still planted the seed. So we did it.

For the most part, I have been completely vegan the entire time. There was one time where I was inadvertently eating egg, and then there was a week where I did have cheese while on vacation.

I also tried some buffalo wings that week and could only stomach one and a half wings before giving up.

But other than that, I have been strict.

And it has been so much easier than I thought it would be.

A couple months after going vegan, I went to the VA for a follow-up, thinking that I was having a full set of  labs taken, but that wasn’t the case. So I had to wait until last Friday for the results.

The negative – weight loss. More specifically, the lack of it.

I’ve actually gained a few pounds.

I think that I’m eating too many nuts during the day. Yes, they are vegan, but also high in calories, so I have given up my daily routine of snacking on pistachios.

Now the results.

Four months ago (actually three and a half), I had the following results:

Fasting Glucose – 430

A1C – 14.1

Cholesterol – 292

LDL – 253

Blood Pressure – 141/100

So yeah, not good…at all.

Here is where I am now:

Fasting Glucose – 81

A1C – 6.5

Cholesterol – 178

LDL – 95

Blood Pressure – I’m going to use my two month reading since I am battling a cold and it was slightly higher than at two months, but it was 117/77.

Those are HUGE improvements, especially in just under four months!

My doctor was very proud to announce that they must have my diabetes meds on point. He was shocked when I told him I had only been taking half the dosage because my blood sugar was dropping below 70.

According to him, he had never seen such a dramatic improvement with diet alone.

So, is it working? I think the answer is clear.

I go back to the VA in four months for more blood work and to see if I can start coming off of some of my meds.

What do you think? Have you had similar results by adopting a vegan lifestyle?

Skipping Funerals

There are many things that my wife, the hippy, does as an extrovert that I just don’t understand.

Last week there was a fatal crash in town where a teenage female lost her life.

Tragic, no doubt.

I didn’t know her, nor do I know any of her family members that I know of.

She was the daughter of a friend of a friend of my wife. My wife had never met her. May have never met her parents either…she’s not sure. But when the name was released, my wife went into full emotional crisis mode.

She was calling up friends of hers to let them know the news. She was trying to find out when the funeral was going to be. She was doing everything someone would do who had ties to the family.

But she really doesn’t.

And this is not a unique circumstance.

She attends more funerals each year than I have attended in my entire life. It’s not that I don’t care; I just don’t want to go to a funeral for someone I don’t know. They are sad enough as is.

Plus, being the introvert I am, I don’t want to have a conversation begin with a family member or someone who truly cared for and loved the departed where it becomes obvious I didn’t know them.

I am uncomfortable attending birthday parties for people I don’t know. I am uncomfortable attending weddings for people I don’t know.

There should be no doubt that I would be uncomfortable attending a funeral for someone I don’t know.

Instead I will be leaving work early to pick my son up from school since my wife will be going.

Reflecting on the “what ifs” in life

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After a week in Washington DC, and then a week in Dallas, I decided to take back-to-back four day weekends.

It was VERY needed.

Too many after-hours “get togethers”, hot temps, high humidity, and airports.

One thing that I completely enjoy living here in Montana is the ability to go fishing for some massive trout.

Fishing is an interesting activity, especially when doing it by myself. Each day I spent at least four hours out on the water with nothing to do but think…and recharge.

After the mandatory thoughts about if my bait is still on after casting, do I have enough leader, is it the right bait, and if I should put on bug spray, my mind started wandering to more reflective thoughts.

Mostly I spent many hours thinking about “what if”.

Having just recently turned 42 and dealing with depression, I have been doing a lot of reflecting on my life, and how it would have been different with some of the decisions I made through the years.

Probably the most important decision I made early on was to join the Army. I joined the summer of my senior year in high school, mostly because I really didn’t have any plans for when I graduated. I wasn’t the best student, and honestly I never really considered what was going to happen when I was no longer in school. College wasn’t an interest, but neither was working in fast food.

It’s hard for me to imagine my life had I not joined. The Army allowed me to travel the world. It allowed me to see how my life growing up was really sheltered to the struggles people in other nations suffered. This was way before the Internet age, so the only real knowledge I had about poverty and suffering was the commercials about the drought and starvation happening in Ethiopia. That was basically it.

I knew nothing about Somalia, Bosnia, Iraq, Afghanistan, Kuwait, or any other war-torn country. Terrorism was something that was happening in Ireland. Racism and gangs were newspaper articles.

But much of my time reflecting on the “what if” goes back to the day I decided not to reenlist. Where would I be in life had I decided to stay in? As much as I struggled in High School, once I was out I became a sponge for knowledge. I re-took my ASVAB and scored very high. In fact, when it was time to reenlist the recruiter told me that I could have nearly any job I wanted in the Army and could choose whatever base I wanted.

I was seriously considering becoming a combat photographer. But I was too young and dumb and figured I could just get out and become successful wherever I landed.

It was a major wake-up when I landed here in Montana with no skills, no job, and no money.

That was 20 years ago.

A lifetime ago.

Where would I be had I stayed in?

We have been in war forever. People I served with have died in battle. Would that have been me too?

Would I be married? Would I have children?

I know that I wouldn’t have the son I have now. Wyatt is the most important thing in my life. Yes, he even rates above my wife. That may sound harsh, but it’s true. I think she would say the same about me.

That’s one thing that I always thought about in the movie “The Family Man” with Nick Cage. He ends up with the woman he should have, but the children are not there. Yes, they will probably have them, but would they be the same?

I always think back to that time in life when I made that big decision. Many times I think my life may have been better, but a major piece would be missing.

I think I made the right choice.

Those exhausting social events

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The past two weeks were exhausting for me. Too much output, not enough recharge.

First I had a trip to DC to work on a project with a group of people who have never met each other before. The weather was in the upper 90’s with high humidity. Keeping in mind I live in Montana, it sucked.

I was the only person who was familiar with DC, so I became the appointed travel guide.

Awesome.

The week wasn’t actually too bad since the rain kept people somewhat close to the airport. Plus I used the “jet lag” excuse to get back early.

Saturday we went to a wedding so we didn’t get home until late, and then Monday morning I was back on a plane. This time heading to Dallas.

More heat.

A lot more energy.

This was with our region. Except for management, most of the people haven’t met each other in person, so this was a big deal.

So big that every single night after our meetings there were social events planned.

EVERY SINGLE NIGHT.

And being management, I was expected to be there.

Sometimes in life you just have to bite the bullet and do things that are not comfortable.

The first night we all got in was a get together at the hotel bar.

I’m not much of a drinker. Especially when it involves work. Not only was my boss there, but so were my employees. Just not an environment I like to put myself in.

Unfortunately within minutes I had three beers sitting in front of me.

Great.

The next night’s event was a Texas Rangers game. I am a big baseball fan, but I was not looking forward to being in a group in the 100 degree heat. When I go to a baseball game, I am there to watch the game.

I was the only one wanting to watch the game apparently.

The next night was dinner at a fancy steakhouse. Me traveling to another state for steak is like me traveling to another state to look at the mountains. Just doesn’t make much sense…but I sucked it up and had an overpriced steak which I could have cooked better on one of my grills.

Oh well. Only one night left.

This was the worst.

For one, I was on my last leg. I didn’t feel very well and was totally exhausted from not having been able to recharge at all.

The last night was bar food and karaoke.

Yeah, karaoke.

No, I didn’t participate.

Yes, I was asked…and asked…and asked.

Anyway, I am finally back home. I got some fishing in over the weekend which helped refresh myself a bit. I am taking two four day weekends off…so that should help too. My son had his first pitch baseball game last night and got his first hit of the season. That was awesome.

Aerosmith still hasn’t contacted me.

Odd.

Bucket list item completed: Publish a book

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Well, I can gladly say that I have now placed a check mark next to something on my bucket list: Publish a book.

Yesterday evening it went live on Amazon and starting today I am in the process of setting it up to offer it for free for the next few days. It’s a nice short one, so if you have a few minutes please check it out!

http://www.amazon.com/Professional-Introvert-Dan-L-Bernhardt-ebook/dp/B00ZDXH24G/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1434034314&sr=1-1

#Introvert or #Extovert…Is it a Choice?

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I know this is an obvious statement, but my son is growing up in an entirely different world than I did.

Even though I wasn’t able to ever truly meet my grandfather, summer vacations were spent with my grandmother.

Literally.

My parents would drop me off, and that was that.

It was an amazing learning experience about hard work and enjoying life.

She had a huge yard. I mean HUGE. It usually took me a few hours to mow all of the lawn. And as large as the lawn was, her flower beds were even larger, and grander. Her job was her yard work. She took it seriously.

I enjoyed the routine of being with her during the summer. Every morning was home cooked breakfast. Most of the time it was Cream of Wheat or pancakes, but there was also eggs and bacon.

After breakfast the yard work began to try to get done before the afternoon heat hit us. Grass needed mowing, flowers needed pruning, weeds needed weeding, everything needed watering, and imaginations needed imagining.

Lunch was the largest meal of the day for us. Our family history are “Germans from Russia.”

Let’s take a short step back in time…

Back in the late 1700’s Catherine the Great issued a manifesto inviting foreigners to Russia. Along with the manifesto, she offered some great incentives including free transportation, large tracts of free land, freedom of paying taxes for a long period of time, exemption from serving in the military (including their descendants), and freedom of religion…among others.

Thousands of Germans took Catherine the Great up on her offer and settled in Russia.

In the early 1800’s Czar Alexander I invited settlers (now colonies) to settle down in the Black Sea region, which they did.

Throughout the 1800’s Germans settled all over Russia, but in 1871 the Russian government repealed Catherine the Great and Czar Alexander I manifestos. The Germans lost their privileges, beginning a movement of immigration to North and South America.

But even worse times were coming for those that stayed behind. In 1919 the United States passed very strict immigration laws affecting the numbers of German immigrants coming to America. Following that, a terrible famine hit Russia where it is estimated over 150,000 Volga Germans died.

Those that made it through the famine were rewarded with their property confiscated and they were forced to collective farms.

When World War II hit, the Germans are rounded up and moved to Asia and Siberia under prosecution since Germany was at war with the Soviet Union.

My ancestors came to America in the late 1800’s, but I was fortunate enough to be able to have some of the traditions passed to me from my grandmother, mostly food related, which brings me back to the discussion about lunch being our largest meal.

Since she grew up farming, there were some typical farm lunches. Fried chicken, pork chops, etc. But a couple of times each week I was treated to some German treats. Bierocks (also known as kraut burgers or cabbage burgers) was my favorite. It’s basically ground beef, cabbage, onion, and spices stuffed into a dough shell.

Another was chicken noodle soup and butterballs.

This is not the chicken noodle soup from the can. This was stock made from chicken and homemade German noodles. I found the same noodles here at the Farmer’s Market from one of the Hutterite Colonies. They are finer than angel hair pasta. But it’s the butterballs that make the meal.

Homemade bread crumbs, cream, egg, butter and some spices, including all spice. Mix it all together and roll them into one-inch balls. Toss them in the boiling soup and once they float they are ready to eat. Sort of like a dumpling, but sort of not. I could eat a million of them in one sitting.

Other times it was more American traditional such as meatloaf or hamburger helper. Yes, hamburger helper.

I loved that stuff as a kid.

LOVED IT.

Thinking back, hamburger helper may have been the first thing that I really learned how to “cook”.

After lunch, work pretty much came to a halt to avoid the hot weather. I still had to move the sprinklers every hour, but that was basically it.

Instead, my job was to be a soldier, professional baseball player, Tarzan, cloud namer, bug crusher, and secret spy.

The world was mine. I was by myself on a large plot of land with apple trees for climbing, chicken coups for hiding, and pastures for hitting baseballs.

Cable TV was in its infancy, so there was no reason to stay inside to watch it. So I didn’t.

Dinner was simple, and usually early. Many times it was just a bowl of cereal. And I loved it.

Maybe there was a little yard work to finish up when it cooled down, but mostly we sat in the living room with Wheel of Fortune on, followed by the news. She would either be crocheting or reading her bible.

I sat watching TV chewing on sunflower seeds.

Life was good, and simple.

If anyone came to the house, or if we went out to eat, it was made very clear to me that I was not to speak unless spoken to. Wise advise that I still follow for the most part.

Many kids look forward to the summer so they didn’t have to go to school. I looked forward to staying at grandma’s house. At a young age I was already looking forward to the “alone” time to recharge my batteries.

Could I have been more of an extrovert if I didn’t spend those summers with just her and me?

Possibly.

Introverted “Alone”, or REALLY Alone

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Plenty of “experts” will tell us introverts that we recharge by being alone. I refuse to disagree with that assessment because it is exactly how I recharge.

Sometimes I will stay up late at night just to be awake without the family “noise”. Even if it means I am super tired the next day at work.

Lately, however, I have really become fascinated, if not addicted, to movies, books, articles, stories, about being alone for more than just a few hours. For example, the book Wild by Cheryl Strayed. While she did the Pacific Coast Trail, I have read a ton of books about the Appalachian Trail. I want to attempt that Trail so bad sometimes I dream about it.

But I could never leave my job for that period of time.

Plus it would be hard for me to leave my family…but it’s sad to say that it’s really the job that holds me back.

I have even mapped out different routes to walk across the country instead.

But that trip faces the same obstacles.

Castaway was on the television yesterday. I’ve seen it dozens of times, but I still stop to watch it. Or at least some of it.

There is a little part of me (maybe more than a little) that thinks I could survive.

As long as I didn’t have to deal with the plane crash.

Or the fish (can’t stand seafood).

Or the bad tooth.

But for all the easy stuff like not talking to anyone except a volleyball and growing a long beard…well, I guess that was really the only easy stuff…I could totally nail.

The book The Road by Cormac McCarthy has also fascinated me. Not just his book, but many that are of that same post-apocalyptic genre. Just a guy trying to take care of his family without all of the modern conveniences that we have grown accustomed too.

Well, there is also a lot of bad people in those books, and that would suck, but it’s the lack of people and sense of urgency and purpose that I seem to attach too.

Wool by Hugh Howey is like this too. When I read Wool, I immediately started reading all of his books. He has a way of tickling my introverted side where there are less people to deal with, and a set order for everyone to follow for survival.

Maybe it’s just a mid-life crisis entering my system, but I am really craving that long period of nothingness. If I won the lottery tomorrow, I would immediately start planning to try to hike the Appalachian Trail next year.

And probably write a book about it.

With that said, no one from Aerosmith has contacted me about my offer. I guess it’s not much of an offer on my part, so I should say that no one from Aerosmith has contacted me about THEIR offer that I suggested.

Sigh.

Is Cooking Therapeutic for an #Introvert?

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Cooking is extremely calming for me. My grandmother basically taught me how to cook old German recipes that I still make today for my family. There is something about looking at a recipe and making something out of just a bunch of ingredients.

In full disclosure, I’m not a great cook. I follow the recipe to the T. I make good food because I’m not smart enough to deviate from something that works.

My wife (the Hippy) has a culinary degree. My degree is in Organizational Communications. Our joke, ok…my joke, is that I do all the cooking and she does all the talking.

That’s not entirely true. The joke is actually, “I do all the cooking and she won’t shut up.”

I also do most of the laughing at that joke. She begins her eye roll before I even start the joke since I’ve said it so many times she knows it’s coming.

But what started out as a joke (a damn funny one if I do say so myself) has blossomed in my mind as something tied into me being an introvert and her being an extreme extrovert.

I follow the recipe. I write it down in a notebook and guard that book with my life. I lay out everything in the proper order according to the recipe and won’t deviate. It’s calming. I don’t have to think, but I know that I am creating something the family enjoys.

The Hippy hates recipes. She probably has a hearty laugh inside that I use them. Maybe she even laughs out loud. I can’t be sure because I am concentrating on the recipe.

She can walk up to our pantry, pull out a few things…go to the spice counter, pull out a bunch of those with names I can’t even pronounce…and then make a masterpiece. When we have leftovers from the stuff I make, those leftovers are the exact same thing if I am warming them up. But not the Hippy. She can take those leftovers and create something that is totally different. And probably better.

Not probably, it is.

That is calming for her. Being creative. Seeing me eat something that I made the night before without even realizing it’s the same thing.

It’s her own little party in the kitchen. Communicating, in a way, with all of the ingredients. Making sure they all are happy with each other. Being the cheerleader captain. She can think outside of the box.

If the chili is burned, she knows to add peanut butter. Who the hell came up with that one. Probably not an introvert.

She’s the same way in a party. She likes to talk to everyone, even if she doesn’t know them. She makes sure everyone is getting along. If she could, she would host a party at our house every day.

I would change the locks.

But she’s an extrovert.

I treat a party like I cook. I stick to what (who) I know. I don’t add things to the discussion that may cause friction. I lay everything out in my mind so I am prepared.

I rarely order anything different at a restaurant that I have been too. If it’s something I know I like, why take that risk?

I have to take enough risks at work, after work is my “no-risk environment.”

Sort of. I do have a 6 year old who keeps me on my toes 24/7. Especially since his social calendar is much more impressive than mine.

Anyway, I’m kind of proud of myself. Not only did I come up with a hilarious joke, but it’s a joke that actually ties into the diversity between introverts and extroverts.

What do you think?