we’re back! i hope you all had a wonderful new year and that you look forward to 2014 with hope and anticipation of great things to come! after taking a week off from ‘life changer thursday’ today seems like a perfect day to talk about life changing moments! new year, new goals, new lifestyles…what’s motivating you this year? where are you hoping to change, grow, or stay steady?
this week’s post is near and dear to me because it’s written by….drumroll please……my husband! when i told pauly i was going to start this ‘life changer thursday’ deal, he was so excited and asked me when he could write! he has an incredible story, and i am so proud of him and so proud to share that with you now.
You should see the look on old friends’ faces when I tell them I’m a vegetarian. It’s utter disbelief. “You?! What…how…but you..really..uh..vegetarian??!!” If I were them, I’d be just as shocked. I grew up on pepperoni pizza, bacon, steak, chocolate milk, and Mountain Dew. I was probably the worst eater of anyone I knew. At Thunderbird, where I attended graduate school, my friend Josh and I would go to Safeway on Saturday mornings and buy a 3 lb. package of bacon – it was easily gone by Sunday, if not sooner.
Since we’d been married, Leah had tried to gently coax me into a healthier lifestyle, but I was stubborn, and I would cite my family’s longevity as an excuse to not have to change. In 2010, Leah took the plunge into vegetarianism. She literally went cold turkey (ironic pun intended). I kept demolishing packages of bacon. Leah was a vegetarian because she needed to do it for her health, I told myself, but I was fine.
Then, in 2011, people around me started getting skinny, or at least that’s what I was telling myself. It’s certainly didn’t occur to me that maybe I was just gaining weight… But when I looked around my office and church small group, I was the fat guy. In Sept. of 2011, I was 237 lbs. and my waist was a robust 38″ (I’m 6’2″).
I stumbled my way into becoming a vegetarian in November 2011. One night, Leah and I, along with our friends, Cory & Summer, watched an incredibly compelling documentary called “Forks Over Knives” – it changed my life. It wasn’t preachy in the least, and the case was so clear. I am so grateful for that night. I committed to being a vegetarian the next day, and it stuck.
To be honest, I started mostly out of solidarity with Leah, but it quickly turned into so much more. (Ironic side note, I actually gained about 5 lbs. after becoming a vegetarian because things like french fries, potato chips, and ice cream aren’t meat… I’m a slow learner, just ask Leah 🙂 Thankfully Leah is an incredible cook, and once I got the courage to try “her food” (more like got over myself), I found that I actually liked what she made MORE than what I used to eat. By Oct. 2012, I was down to 190 lbs. and a 34″ waist. I ran my first 10k – and lived to tell about it. In Aug. 2013, I completed my first triathlon. I am going to run a half marathon in 2014 and do 2 more triathlons.
Now that I’m over 2 years into my journey, my views and convictions have grown from simply acting out of solidarity with Leah and my own health. I have come to see the importance of manifesting a non-violent lifestyle by the way I eat. Trust me, 2 or 3 years ago, my “hippie”, “tree hugging”, “uber-liberal” red flags would’ve been raised. I was a vegetarian for health reasons, not because “cows have moms too.” But, the more I learned about the shocking, revolting, and horrific way we treat animals (namely cows, pigs, and chickens) in this country, my commitment deepened. (the documentary “Vegucated” is pretty preachy, but the fact that I became utterly sick to my stomach when I saw how animals are slaughtered truly rocked me. God calls us to care for the earth and the animal kingdom; I no longer had the luxury of looking the other way when it came to how “meat is made”). I am explicitly not saying this is the “Christian way” to eat – Jesus ate lamb at the Last Supper after all 🙂 I am simply saying this is something Leah and I are exploring and growing in. I should mention here too, that Leah and I do occasionally eat seafood. Especially when we have traveled abroad, maintaining and exclusively vegetarian lifestyle would be difficult, so introduced wild caught, (never farm raised) Alaskan salmon and other fish back into our diet and do enjoy sushi on special occasions. We also make it a priority to never be “those people” when we are invited anywhere for dinner, and seafood is an easy way for us to share meals with friends and family. I say all that to say this: it’s an art not a science. Growing in our convictions and finding a healthy balance is what it’s all about.
Leah is “encouraging” me to keep this brief, so I will wrap up by saying this: it has been a long, slow journey. I started with incredibly small steps, like eating cheese pizza instead of pepperoni…. But by surrounding myself with a network of healthy people, and being willing to ask difficult questions about where my food really comes from and the implications for my health (not just weight), this journey has become one of the best things I have ever started. This is a philosophy and lifestyle Leah and I are cultivating not only for ourselves, but our future children as well.
And just so you know, if you wake up tomorrow and make 3lbs of Safeway bacon, no judgment. 🙂 I’ve been there.
and again, if you have any questions, comments, general ponderings about this or any life changer post, please leave them in the comment section and paul or i will be happy to answer them!