Friday, December 15, 2006

A shift in methodology

I don't really have a whole lot to convey. As you may have noticed from my diet blog, I quit keeping a food journal. Its original purpose was to keep me from eating bad food since people could see what I was eating and hold me accountable (and also since I had to write down bad stuff I ate and it would make me feel guilty). To that end, it was successful. I no longer feel compelled to eat bad food and if given the choice will usually choose the healthy option. I almost find it a fun challenge to find the best thing for me on a menu when I go out to eat. What I am now falling short in is eating enough of the good food. I am formulating a checklist that will contain everything I should optimally eat in a day. Each day I will pick up a new checklist and aim to check everything off. In addition, if I do eat anything bad, I will note it on the back.

I am still on a bit of a plateau health-wise. I have been badly congested lately. I feel this is mostly due to, as mentioned above, not eating enough. In addition, I am not very religious about taking my vitamins and supplements and lifting weights. I am kind of in a period of flux since I am between semesters but I am trying to establish a workout schedule during the day (there is a gym at the Air Force base that I have access to). Dr. Fuhrman said I am not to do aerobic exercise since I am trying to gain weight. However, my lungs are nearly worthless. I get winded walking the 4 blocks to the bus stop in the morning and I feel that I need some cardiovascular exercise. I think I'll spend a little time on the stationary bike each time I go to the gym to see if that helps. I will keep a close eye on my weight to make sure I don't lose any.

I'll admit I was a little bad this week - it was my birthday and my mom made German chocolate cake since it's my favorite. Healthy or not, I can't pass up a slice or two. I have finally kicked my coffee habit and now drink tea instead. I know that it's still nutritionally worthless but there's no cream in it and I need something hot in the morning.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Feeling better

Well, I think I have discovered the secret to feeling well. The trick (for me anyway) is to drink two glasses of vegetable juice per day. I had gotten out of the habit of juicing in the morning, primarily because it took some amount of time to clean out the juicer and it's nasty if you don't do so immediately. So, upon the recommendation of my chiropractor, I began juicing extra in the evening and putting it in the fridge until morning. This seems to be working pretty well and despite the arguments that it loses nutrients quickly, I can definitely notice a difference in how I feel. I'm not quite as congested when I wake up.

I have also been battling an ear infection for the last week or so. It's much better now than it was a week ago but is still not tip top. The only medicine I used was olive oil garlic eardrops. It sounds funny, but works great. Garlic is a natural antibiotic and does not screw with your immune system (unlike other antibiotics). This is very encouraging for me since my body rarely fights off disease like it should.

On another note, the insurance company decided that a home health nurse is too expensive to pay for and I now must go to an infusion center once a month for my IVIG infusions. This is the first month and my infusion was supposed to be last Thursday. Naturally, they screwed up and the Gammunex (infusion juice) is on backorder. No telling when it'll be in. Amazing - Crescent (the home health organization) did a flawless job for 3 years. The insurance company has now been responsible for a couple weeks and have already botched things.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006


I have been horrible about keeping my food journal the last couple weeks. It's not that I'm eating bad stuff and trying to hide it - it's just that I get lazy and don't do it for a couple days. Then I forget what I ate. I have been pretty diligent the last couple days. I must say that the food journal has served its original purpose, which was to keep me from cheating as much. That aspect has certainly improved and now I am to the point where I don't even feel like cheating often. I now need to make sure I am eating enough of the right food each day.

Weightlifting has been going well. I got some dumbells to supplement the free weights. I would like to step up the intensity of my upper body workout because I would like to step up the intensity of my upper body.

There's not much else to report. I still have a lot of congestion in the mornings but very rarely have dry coughing fits at night unless I eat the wrong thing.

Monday, October 16, 2006


It's been a long time since I posted. In the past few weeks, a lot has happened. The most impactful on my health was going to Iowa from the 4th through the 8th for my cousin's wedding. The wedding was beautiful and it was great to spend a lot of time with my immediate and extended family. In that regard, the trip was great for my mental and emotional health. On the other hand, I did eat fairly poorly over the course of the trip. Part of this was being in a strange environment where I'm not sure what sort of food is in the refrigerator. Another part of it was the irregular schedule we kept over the four days we were there. The first couple days I ate very poorly. I started to feel pretty bad so I cleaned my act up a bit but really not enough. Since then I have been slowly getting back into my routine and healthy habits. I really need to kick my caffeine addiction and aim to do so by Thanksgiving. To that end I have started drinking tea instead of coffee.

On another note, I noticed myself feeling slightly worse (manifested by more sinus and lung congestion) just after my last consultation with Dr. Fuhrman. The only thing that I really changed was the addition of an egg or two per day into my diet. This didn't strike me until I was in Iowa. I'm going to cut out the eggs (except on occasion) and add lots of legumes.

I still need to find something else to eat my guacamole with. I'm getting a bit frustrated with buying a bag of chips and a third of it is pretty much useless since it's been crushed to dime-sized pieces. Chips in and of themselves are pretty worthless nutritionally anyway - they're really just a vehicle for the guacamole.

Thursday, September 28, 2006


It seems that I have hit a bit of a plateau, health-wise. Although I am grateful that I am not getting any worse anymore, I am not feeling better as consistently as I used to. I have been very congested lately and my digestion is just kind of so-so. I think I'm doing pretty well about not eating much bad stuff but I'm certain that I'm still not eating enough food. Perhaps the change in weather is what's triggering my congestion. It may be the corn chips that I have with my guacamole too. If anyone has other ideas for what to eat guacamole with, I'm open to suggestions. I tried it on veggies (broccoli and cauliflower) and it wasn't very good. It wasn't very bad either, just kind of weird.

On the other hand, lifting is going well. I did increase in weight on the bench and did pretty well with the extra weight. I'll increase curls next time. My workout program is that if I make it through all my sets with no spotting help, I increase in weight on the next workout.

Regarding the food, I think I need to shift some of my food earlier in the day. I'm usually pretty hungry by lunch and very hungry when I get home from work. I should add a bit to breakfast and lunch and be a bit more diligent about eating high-nutrient snacks.

Monday, September 25, 2006

Tomato Oatmeal?! Yep - It's Good.

My oatmeal of the week this week will sound foreign to most people. It contains sun-dried tomatoes, pine nuts, and Italian herbs. I'll admit that the tomato idea is not my own but I expanded on it and created a delectable dining experience. It's a very interesting diversion from the standard sweet oatmeal. I'll be the first to admit that I don't take my oatmeal terribly sweet anyway - no sweeteners are necessary except the sugar in the raisins or fruit. But savory oatmeal is really quite tasty and I can heartily recommend it.

The Healthy Lifestyle Expo on Saturday was pretty interesting. My only complaint is that it was really kind of a "preaching-to-the-choir" type of event. Most in attendance were vegan or vegetarian and already know about the health benefits of eating in such a manner. I would have liked a bit more practical info such as recipe ideas, tips to keep your raspberries from molding, and the like. That said, the speakers were very informative about specific health benefits and the radical changes in health that can come about from switching lifestyles. Cancer, heart disease, diabetes, Alzheimer's, osteoporosis, and a myriad of other "normal" aging diseases can be completely avoided by simply eating properly. The reduced impact of a vegan diet upon the environment was also presented.

I don't think that I'll ever go completely vegan. I do believe animals are here for us to eat. However, the planet has the capacity to host lots more plants than animals; furthermore, plants are self-sustaining and produce oxygen rather than consume it. I will be conscious about buying organic, free-range livestock products and doing so seldomly.

Weightlifting continues to go well. I am increasing in weight on the bench next time after only three workouts and I think that curls will come soon. I haven't weighed in lately so I'm not sure if I've gained any weight.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Consultation #2

Yesterday afternoon, I had my second phone consultation with Dr. Fuhrman. It has now been almost 3 months since my first discussion with him. His conclusion (from reading my diet blog) was that I am not eating enough - my caloric intake is too low. I agree with him - I do notice that I am usually pretty hungry by dinner even though it seems like I spend quite a bit of time eating each day. He suggested I add an egg per day, more nuts and seeds, and some high-nutrient starchy food (like butternut squash). He was concerned that with as low body fat as I have, I don't have enough fat on the brain. This can lead to irritability (which I can attest to).

I have therefore come up with a new diet plan:
  • breakfast:
    • vegetable juice
    • oatmeal with nuts and raisins
    • fresh fruit
  • morning snack:
    • larabar
    • dried fruit
  • lunch:
    • steamed /cooked vegetable
    • guacamole
    • cruciferous soup
    • fresh fruit
  • afternoon snack:
    • larabar
    • dried fruit
  • dinner:
    • vegetable juice
    • blended salad with nuts/seeds and fruit
    • one egg
    • cruciferous soup
    • starchy cooked food
  • evening snack:
    • fresh veggies with hummus or nut butter
    • fruit smoothie
It really is hard to get a lot of calories on a near-vegan diet. Dr. Fuhrman said that eggs are not a concern since I am so thin. Interestingly, he said that eggs do not give you high cholesterol. High cholesterol comes from eating foods high in saturated fat, not from foods high in cholesterol.

I believe that I am now diligent enough to follow this plan and am hoping that between an increased caloric intake and a goodly amount of weightlifting, I will begin gaining weight and continue to see an improvement in my health.

Dr. Fuhrman did say that for someone in my condition, it is encouraging to see any progress and gave me a weight-gain goal of 5 lbs. in the next month.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Healthy Lifestyle Expo

This weekend, I will be attending the Healthy Lifestyle Expo at the Burbank Hilton Convention Center. This is the event that my parents attended last fall that triggered my initial foray into veganism. Dr. Fuhrman will be one of the speakers here, so it will be cool to hear him and get to meet him. I am hoping I can set up my second consultation with him over this weekend.

I have been feeling just a little bit nasty the last couple days. I'm not sure what's up - I'm being careful about what I eat. I have had lots of lung congestion, especially this morning. It may just be the change in weather and not quite enough sleep.

Lifting is going very well. I was pretty sore yesterday but it's really a good feeling. We'll do another upper body tonight and start legs tomorrow. That should give me time to recover over the weekend (since I ride a motorcycle, maintaining what leg strength I have is pretty important).

Finally accepting the fact that I can't bring myself to drink coffee without cream, I switched to tea. I don't think I really need the caffeine - I just like drinking a hot beverage in the morning. I'll look around for some low-caffeine teas but I won't sacrifice taste.

Monday, September 18, 2006

Ripped Fuel

Stevo and I finally got the garage cleaned and the weight bench moved to a suitable spot. Last Wednesday we did a light workout (bench only) and yesterday we did full upper body. I'm not nearly as strong as when I was lifting in college but I think I'm doing OK considering my weight and skinnyness. One of the reasons I like free weights much better than machines is that it gets all the wee muscles worked over too - so that they can stabilize. Our plan is to do upper body on Saturday and Wednesday and to do legs, abs and lower back on Sunday and Thursday.

My food situation went much better last week too. I was pretty diligent about juicing and did it twice most days. I only ate out once - at Rudy's on Friday morning. I had a couple pieces of pie on Saturday night. The pie was good but I felt the need to detoxify afterward, so I had a large bowl of cucumber salad and a blended salad.

General health is still improving little bits at a time. I rarely have dry coughing fits anymore unless I eat something with too much sugar. My sense of smell has returned - I guess my sinuses are finally clearing up. I have plenty of energy, once again provided I eat properly.

On a different note - last time I had my infusion (a week and a half ago) the nurse missed the vein. Actually, she hit the vein and went through the other side. I told her so, and she tried to shoot saline solution in anyway (which of course went into the tissue rather than the vein). My arm is still bruised from this experience. This is the second time in a row she has missed (the time before she did the same thing 2 or 3 times) and she hasn't been terribly apologetic about it. In fact, she seemed a bit perturbed when I told her she went through the other side. I'm going to request a different nurse for next time. It's not her arm that's still bruised.

Monday, September 11, 2006

Reflections on Eating Out

Well, I survived College Briefing. Rather than taking the juicer with me, I juiced ahead of time and took enough for the weekend. This worked out well. I'm not sure how much nutritional value this lost, but I felt pretty good all weekend. The camp usually had a good salad bar in the evening and I had lots of guacamole at my disposal.

The last week has been a little rugged though. I got away from juicing every day (I'm supposed to do so twice a day) and have been eating out too much. I think a good deal of that is my own inability to tell people "no thanks" when it comes to going out. I have found that most restaurants use a copious amount of salt and oil, which is not only bad for me, it is also unappetizing. Three examples from the last several days come to mind: I had cashew chicken at Elephant Bar which was overly oily. I had fried rice at Koraku which was also overly oily (but not as salty as I would have expected). I had an avocado omelette and refried beans at La Capilla that was oily and salty despite getting it without cheese. I felt kind of lousy for most of the afternoon after that meal. I have also been drinking way too much coffee. I had a headache for most of Friday afternoon and was tired all day Saturday (I took two naps). I think both of these occurences were caffeine withdrawal. So, I had one cup this morning which will be my last coffee for a while.

On the other hand, I think I have retrained my body to desire proper foods. When I eat a lot of junk, I really feel like having fresh fruit. Yesterday I had a strong desire to have vegetable juice (which would revolt a lot of people). A big bowl of cucumber salad excites me more than a big bowl of macaroni and cheese would. The cruciferous soups are really tasty now that I have rid my taste buds of their salt insensitivity.

This week I am going to get the weight bench in a spot where I can use it. I would really like to see how weight training will increase my appetite (which has now improved to nearly what it was in high school) and help me bulk up a bit.

Thursday, August 31, 2006

College Briefing this weekend

This weekend presents a challenge. I will be attending College Briefing at Forest Home. Since most of these types of places don't serve things like vegetable juice and fresh guacamole, I have gotten a lot of food to take with me and will take my juicer. I have been informed they have a decent salad bar so that should be OK.

I have discovered a few things at Trader Joe's that I really like. The guacamole in a box (Trader Joe's brand) is excellent. I think it's also cheaper than buying an equivalent amount of avocados. This mystifies me, but I'm not going to look a gift horse in the mouth. The fancy Medjool dates are quite tasty too. Organic raspberries are good but they must be eaten quickly or they will mold in the refrigerator. Dried banana chips and apple rings make a great pick-me-up snack in the middle of the afternoon. Larabars are quick and easy and are all raw and natural so they're packed with Omega-3's (since they're high in nuts).

I've become much better about sticking to the diet and taking my supplements. Usually when I eat something wrong, I can tell pretty quickly. Nutritionally empty stuff like pastries and candy bars make me lethargic and sometimes make my stomach feel a bit funny. It's therefore not very rewarding to eat these things because the pleasure is gone as soon as I am done chewing. On the other hand, a blended salad is pretty tasty, and refreshing too.

I'm still working on getting the garage cleaned out to use the weight bench. I should be doing push-ups and sit-ups in the meanwhile, but I haven't established a habit yet. I have found that establishing habits is crucial in the success of my health plan because then it doesn't seem like a chore or extra work - it's just something I do every day. For example, every Sunday evening I prepare all my oatmeal for the week. It doesn't take any longer than it would to prepare one serving, but it saves me the time on the subsequent three nights.

Friday, August 18, 2006

Not much to report

Things continue to progress. I am still feeling a little bit better each day. I do still wake up with sinus and lung congestion. It took me years to get to this point, so I'm not expecting anything overnight. Sticking to my diet has become almost a fun sort of challenge. I really don't have much desire for anything "bad" all that often anymore. I tried a blended salad last night for the first time. It was interesting. I know what a ruminant feels like now. That said, I made way too much and ate most of it so I think that's ok. I am to the point where I don't need any salt or sweetener in my oatmeal since I make it with raisins, nuts, and spices. It's really quite good that way. I'm still getting used to avocados and still don't like them alone. They are good in guacamole though. I prefer fresh fruit or a smoothie over a candy bar any time (except occasionally some extra-dark chocolate from Trader Joe's). My digestion has been quite good lately, especially the last couple days where I haven't "cheated" at all. I did get weighed today at the chiropractor and am about the same. I really do need to get the weight bench set up and start doing that.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Musings on a healthy lifestyle

Once again, it's been a while since my last post. About a week ago, I realized that I was "cheating" far too often but had no way to track my progress and falterings. So, I decided to begin keeping a food journal. This helps me not only know how much and what I am eating, but it gives me a method of accountability. I have decided to post my weekly journal on another blog, located here. Feel free to comment, commend and convict me as is necessary.

I am definitely still noticing small differences in how I feel. I actually started feeling badly again last week (which is what made me aware of how often I was "cheating") and have noticed I have more energy and generally feel better since I started journaling (and thus watching more carefully what I eat). My appetite is now much better and I don't get full and tired at the end of or halfway through meals (that's how it was about mid-June).

I do need to get the garage cleaned out so I can use the weight bench (thanks Laura!) which should increase my appetite and help me gain weight. Once that starts, I'll probably include my exercise schedule in my other blog.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Overdue update

Well, I am certain that I am long overdue for an update. It has been 4 weeks since I began my new health plan. (I may refer to it as "my diet" for the sake of brevity, but I don't consider myself to have "gone on a diet." Like going on a vacation, when one goes on a diet one intends to return.) I can already tell some small differences. My energy level is higher, I don't get fatigued quite as quickly, my cough is improving, and my sense of smell has returned. However, I can tell when I "mess up" or "cheat" and I am afraid I do so far too often. Food addiction is a difficult thing to overcome, especially when there are so many good-tasting foods out there that are not so good for you and these foods are much more available than cruciferous vegetables and fresh fruits in venues such as cafeterias and vending machines. My tastes have changed somewhat to reflect the difference in diet. I am much more sensitive to salty foods and somewhat more sensitive to sweet foods.

Let me rant for a moment. One of my pet peeves lately has been well-intentioned people who make suggestions about my diet. They give me ideas on what to eat and what not to eat, and tell me what is good and bad for me. I understand that these people really do mean well. However, most of them are engineers, university students, and other people without degrees in medicine or nutrition. Dr. Fuhrman is a licensed physician who has devoted the last couple decades of his life to studying nutrition and its effect on disease. I would venture to say that he is an expert in the subject and the closer I stick to his plans and suggestions the more likely I am to regain my health quickly. I recommend that anyone interested pick up the book Eat to Live by Dr. Fuhrman. I began reading it a couple days ago.

Certain aspects of this diet have been challenging. Like I mentioned earlier, food addiction is challenging to overcome and society makes available many unhealthy choices for snacks and such. Eating out can be difficult because most places overuse salt and oil when preparing food. According to Dr. Fuhrman, three foods that are especially bad for those with autoimmune diseases are salt, wheat and oil. In addition, I find myself not eating enough. I can be somewhat lazy and would rather take a quick and easy snack than one that takes time to prepare. If there's nothing quick and easy, I'll just wait until later.

Overall, my reactions to this plan of health are positive. Although parts of it have been challenging, I have already noticed improvements in my health and how I feel. I am certain that with perseverence and devotion my health will improve and this diet will make a difference.

Thursday, June 29, 2006


I suppose I will begin by introducing myself and giving a bit of background. I am a 24-year old man living in Torrance, California and working as an electrical engineer. I grew up in Springfield and Sherman, Illinois and graduated from Williamsville High School in 2000. I went on to earn my bachelor's degree in electrical engineering from the University of Missouri - Rolla in December 2004. I have been working since then and am currently enrolled at the University of Southern California as a Master's student in electrical engineering.

My health has never been "excellent." Since I was very young, I have had a variety of unusual and somewhat interesting ailments. When I was about ten, it was determined that I had some sort of auto-immune disease but what it was exactly was indeterminate. I struggled with ear infections, sinus problems, pneumonia, and have had a chronic cough and digestive problems for about 3 or 4 years. When I graduated from high school, my health was reasonably good. I had no chronic conditions and generally felt pretty good. I weighed 150 lbs at 5'11". This trend continued for a couple years, but in 2002 I broke my foot, got a sinus infection, and was on an aggressive regimen of antibiotics for a month and a half. I believe that this attack on my immune system is what triggered my current state and that the antibiotics wiped out everything in my body, both good and bad. In 2003, after several months of doctor visits and tests, I was diagnosed with hypogammaglobulinemia, a disease in which one's body produces no immunoglobulins (which work hand-in-hand with white blood cells to fight disease and promote wellness) as a result of a food allergy test. I began receiving immunoglobulin infusions via IV once a month. This process is done by a nurse in my home and takes about 5 hours. This seemed to marginally improve my condition or at least slow its decline. However, since graduating from college I have noticed a slow, steady decline in my general wellness. My cough and digestive proglems are getting worse and I am losing weight. Physical activities wear me out quickly and I have a low level of energy. I currently weigh about 110 lbs.

Last fall, my parents attended the Healthy Lifestyle Expo in Burbank, where they met Dr. Joel Fuhrman, a medical doctor who is an advocate of using nutrition to equip the body to heal itself rather than resorting to antibiotics to cure every little thing. Over the winter, my parents and I went on a vegan diet. I noticed my digestion improve marginally but not much else. I believe the problem with this diet was that I had no direction so I ate anything so long as it wasn't animal products. I still had a Coke and Doritos for a snack and did use half-and-half in my coffee since I am of the solid opinion that non-dairy creamer is nasty. I abandoned that diet a couple months ago and did not notice a significant decline in my health immediately but it has been getting worse. After a couple months of gentle prodding by my father, I finally filled out a set of paperwork provided by Dr. Fuhrman in preparation for a consultion. Yesterday afternoon my parents and I held a phone consultation with Dr. Fuhrman, who was optimistic that his health plan could improve my condition and quality of life. He has placed me on a diet high in cruciferous vegetables, healthy fats (from avocados, nuts, and seeds) and limited in starches, animal products, and sugars. This blog will document not only my progress health-wise, but also reflections on different elements of the diet and my future discussions with Dr. Fuhrman.