Saturday, January 2, 2010

The Defense Summation of the 4-6 Month Dedication

New Year's Eve party. A beautiful loft in TriBeCa. An equally beautiful doctor whom I met in late October just days before this radical lifestyle change says hello. A friend of a friend, I met her just once. It was at a party back when Saturday nights for me were more sloshing affairs, and less, alot less, salubrious.

After welcomed compliments about my thin, healthy, and "alive" looking face she mentioned she looked at this blog once and not again. After some prodding it turns out that the subtitle, My journey going 100% vegan for the next 4-6 months, was enough for her to assume, "He is not serious." Apparently, the non-committal 4-6 months really meant that I may or may not try to change my lifestyle. So, why bother committing time to this blog if the author himself is so undedicated?

As she said this I woundedly thought of that famous line in the 3rd Act of Eugene O'Neill's Long Day's Journey Into Night where Tyrone says, "If he's ever had a loftier dream than whores and whiskey, he's never shown it." OK, maybe that is a tad excessive, but the point was that this person, whom I really don't know, made the decision that I was not serious about this endeavor based on a first impression, the blog tag line, and yes, because of my sex.

In fact, over the past two months I have found that the only people who were skeptical of me sticking to this Vegan Quest were women. Now, to be sure I have had stalwart defenders - the lovely Ladies of London who never doubted my stiff upper lip. But, from teenage cousins, to female friends, to old ex-girlfriends (recent ex's are cheering me on), to mere acquaintances, many a woman greeted my quest with everything from askant smirks to outright monetary bets against.

Yet, my guy friends, to the man, all knew I would faithfully stick to this diet 100% and lose the 75 lbs. I have no explanation for this difference in male and female attitudes other than that most guys know that if he wants to change, I mean if he really wants to change, he will do so out of honor. Whereas, perhaps, many women have witnessed numerous broken promises from men swearing they can change, and never doing so. The mathematical formula for male flakiness is applied - either, "I know Terrence, and like all men, he'll never change," or "He gave himself an out, like all men do, he said 4-6 months." The sad thesis here, and its repeated often in the book, "He's Just Not That Into You," is that when men don't change it is not because they can't, but, rather, because they really don't want to. So, when a guy swears to his girl that he will spend more time with her, and not in the pubs with his mates, he is full of it. But, when he makes loud public pronouncements to every friend, acquaintance, or stranger that he is going to go 100% vegan until he loses 75lbs, you can bet his pride will pull him through faithfully and honorably.

Another question that pops up frequently, and, again, mostly by my female friends, is that of my drinking alcohol. Which is harder, giving up all meat, all fish, all cheese, and all eggs, or giving up drinking? Well, it depends on the day, the event, the smells in the air, or my disposition.

I have stated repeatedly that I am taking my veganism a giant step further - abstaining from alcohol because of their empty calories and to strengthen my discipline. But, since alcohol is used so often as a celebratory bonding at holiday events, and with my career which involves intense entertaining of clients I always knew I would not stop drinking for the full 6 months. "Ah, hah!" You say! He is equivocating! No, I am not. For the times I wanted to drink the most, Marathon Sunday, the World Series, watching college football with friends, tailgating at an NFL game, and the many Christmas parties this season, I have not had a drop of drink. No beer, no wine, no whiskey. This has greatly accelerated the weight loss and the discipline during the hardest part - the first 2 months of radically changing my diet in the most drink-heavy time of year. For that I am quite proud. Regarding my over-indulgent lifestyle prior to this quest I am quite certain that I will eviscerate that from my life for good! This blog, and this journey is about radically changing my lifestyle which I have done religiously for the past two months and will continue, God willing, for the rest of my life. I will break it down as a simple chart:

My Goal
* Lose 75 lbs.
* Do this by adhering to a strict 100% vegan diet until I lose the weight (generally expected to be 4-6 months, likely 6).
* Change my over-indulgent lifestyle.

Efforts to help in this Goal
* Work-out at least 3x per week.
* Give up drinking to accelerate the weight loss.
* Have Vbites vegan food provided to me for the duration of the quest.

Now, will I stay vegan for more time? Maybe a year? Perhaps, but as I think about it, probably not. However, I can state right now, that I will never go back to my old eating and drinking habits. I will lose the weight and keep it off by following a nutrient-dense diet. Will I eventually add an egg, or a piece of fish? Yes, probably, but in a more disciplined and moderate lifestyle. What about drinking, will you give that up? Not sure. But during this endeavor giving up animal products means giving up animal products 100%. Since liquor is generally not part of veganism I am abstaining for accelerated weight loss and discipline only, it was never for the entire 6 months. The more I abstain the stronger my discipline. So, yes even a Christmas cocktail, or a New Year's champagne toast is part of that discipline because it emphatically states that I am not back on the horse, nor have fallen off the wagon. If I start drinking again, and by drinking I don't mean have one celebratory toast, rather the act of drinking on a weekly basis, it will be less than 25% of my previous alcoholic intake, and it will be on my own terms, perhaps after I lose 50 lbs? Not sure, it doesn't matter. Alcohol is a tricky thing, so if I am incapable of adhering to that less than 25% rule, then I will go back to abstaining 100%. The main focus of this quest is changing my lifestyle which I have done in a shocking way these past two months, and look forward to continuing!

I feel great, and I will continue this healthy lifestyle!

I hope this blog post provokes many of you to respond -- I am keenly interested in those who disagree with me. Let's generate some sparks! And by Sparks I don't mean that fabulous steakhouse where Gambino family crime boss Paul Castellano was rubbed out...sizzling steak, creamed spinach...ENOUGH! Heading to the Coffee Shop for a vegan wrap!

Oh, and yes, I do get verbal criticisms of my constant touting of the vegan wrap! Apologies to the Canadian Contessa.


Mawnie McCrae said...

Terry, the difference is we women are very sensitive and catty when it comes to weight loss, nothing pisses us off more when men lose faster than us, but its a genetic fact. Scott and I eat the same food, he eats alot more than me. He gives up coke and loses 10lbs, I give up coke and gain makes no sense. I have accepted it. I work out 4-5 times a week and the scale does not budge. He completly stops training and the scale doesn't budge, if I stopped working out the scale jumps! I have never had a doubt that you would reach your goal to lose 75 and then KEEP it off. I knew you were serious when you made such drastic changes to improve your health. Most of us would just give one thing up, or make one jumped in head first and never looked back. Even during the hardest part of the year...I cannot imagine how you resisted the christmas cookies!!! You have inspired me to go Vegetarian (not vegan) in the new year. For the next 5 months I too have given up drinking and will focus heavily on my eating. I will let you know how it goes. I only need to drop 10 to reach my goal but 10 seems to be the hardest to lose! Keep at it, chin up, stay strong and increase that cardio!!! I think you would like a spin class!

Andrea said...

Ahhh..."He's just not that into you"...a line that most every Sex and the City fan or Oprah-follower knows! Although it's a harsh reality for some women, I think that we all appreciate the simplicity of it; how it dictates life changes...big and small. But, how are we (women) supposed to spot/predict an honorable realization of a promise if a "swear to [one's] girl" carries less weight than "loud public pronouncements" to the masses? Does pride pull you through only when facing the crowd and not when facing your partner?

I'm just sayin':)

hebba said...

Your blog, as well as some other sources, have inspired me a great deal. I'm sitting down this January and pouring over my newly aquired Vegan lifestyle books. I'm not decided if I'm going completely vegan or just veggie (doing total organic meat in Jan as I pull my game plan together). Any recommended resources?

Terrence said...

Mo: That makes sense - thanks for shedding new light on the matter, and thank you so much for your encouragement! Surprisingly, I never tried a spin class, and I dated a spin instructor for 4 months! Maybe I'll try. Thanks again!

Terrence said...


Wow! These are questions for a daytime talk show - brilliant insight. Thank you.

I guess to break it down, judge a man by his actions. We can say anything - anything without fear of retribution. Why? Because in relationships we will take white lies to the beige arena in a nano-second all to fix a situation or get what we want. Or actions are our actions, so if that dude says he will stop hanging out with the boys so much, or do the laundry more, or will call you, and in the end doesn't, or makes a lame attempt that means one thing - he is not 100% truthful, and does not have the desire. If he says something and then, shockingly, follows through that is a man of honor.

Most men, I have to assume, have some honor in them, in my humble and unprofessional opinion. But words can be easily used to placate your girlfriend if you are not 100% honorable, but words cannot easily placate a large group of people when your honor is on the line. Why? Because you'll never get a second chance to be considered honorable with your word with a group of people, whereas, you will get 4, 5, and 6 chances to prove to your girlfriend that your word is honorable when you say you will cut down on pints with the lads, or take her to Annapolis for the weekend, or clean your apartment. Sad, but true.

Thanks for writing, and keep those letters coming.

Terrence said...

Hedda - Terrific news. Thank you.

For book resources I strongly recommend Dr. Joel Fuhrman's "Eat to Live!" Dr. Fuhrman’s book is neither 100% vegan, nor 100% vegetarian, however it is overwhelmingly plant-based for nutrient density. A great book. Another very interesting book - especially for happy omnivores - is "The Engine 2 Diet" by Rip Esselstyn.

Clearly, you are considering veganism for dietary reasons only so you'll have more latitude to make a decision.

May I suggest as you eat your organic meat during January take one week and cut out all eggs, and cheese (don't worry about milk in your coffee or tea, just the dairy products that are delicious), don't worry about eating meat. See how that works out. Then bring back the dairy and eat no meat, or fish for a week. Ask yourself which week was more doable for you. In neither week were you 100% vegan, but you got to see what life was like without the thing most people crave. The fact that you are considering two choices that do not include meat means that you are willing to go that route, so by concentrating on the biggies, especially cheese, you can see what is more realistic. If that is doable then, can you go without dairy, AND meat and fish?

Remember there are plenty of fat vegans out there, and the key is to eat a more nutrient-dense diet, and move (walk more, take steps more, work-out, bike, run, swim, whatever)

Very best of luck, and continued success.