My original motivation for changing my eating habits was out of fear. The fear that in my late 30's, I already was experiencing symptoms of heart disease. To this day, there isn't a 100% confirmation the chest pain I was experiencing was related to heart disease. What I can tell you now is the chest pain is almost completely gone. I do get occasional tinges of pain but nothing like what I was experiencing prior to starting a plant based diet.
Since starting this diet my perspective on many things has changed, beyond just the way I eat. In the future, I will blog on some of those other changes and perspectives but for this post, I want to focus on another amazing side benefit of eating a plant based diet.
When I was eating my previous unhealthy diet, I never realized how crummy I felt, even on the good days. In fact, the days that I could say I felt "good" were pretty far and few between. I don't mean that I felt bad all the time because of chest pain, but instead I just didn't feel 100%. My energy was low (unless I was under the influence of lots of coffee), I was on blood pressure medicine, acid reflux would bother me frequently, my back hurt more and just a general feeling of lethargy.
Since starting a plant based diet, all of that has changed. As you know, I'm off of all blood pressure medicine, beta blockers and acid reflux medicine. I have more energy and when I do exercise or am active, I can be active for longer periods of time. Some of this is due to the fact that as of today 5/11/10, I'm 30 lbs. less than when I started this diet. But more importantly, because I'm eating the right foods I just feel much better. In fact, I can't imagine going back to how I ate and felt before.
So you might say that my original motivation for starting this diet was to "prolong life" because I was afraid of heart disease. But now my motivation is shifting to my overall health and "quality of life". I enjoy my food more now, I enjoy exercising more now, stress at work does not seem to affect me as much and because I feel better, it's easier to have a positive attitude. Let me clarify, I'm not perfect and I still have days that I'm a grump (just ask my wife and kids) but I truly feel like my "quality" of life is better.
A word of encouragement to others....maybe you don't want to go to a diet this extreme, but at least take small steps every day in eating better and making it a point to get more active. Exercise does not have to be going to the gym or hopping on the treadmill. Exercise can be playing with the dog, walking with your spouse around the block, dancing around the house while you clean or chasing kids in a game of hide-and-seek.....those all count as exercise. Eat more fruits, eat more vegetables, eat more grains. Avoid oil, processed foods, less meat, high fructose corn syrup. Small steps, but over time they add up and as they add up it means a better quality of life. If I can do it, anyone can.....now get off the computer and go take some small steps!