The Metamorphosis Diet

Most people when they hear the word metamorphosis think about a caterpillar and butterfly.  Fewer people, those with a literary bent, are reminded of Kafka’s Gregor Samsa, the dude who turned into a big bug.  I need to meta-morph myself, but I’m afraid it would be too much to believe I could become young again and go the butterfly route, however if I don’t, I do see myself going down the dead bug path, flat on my back with my feet up in the air.

I’ve reached a time in my life I’ve been avoiding for thirty years – the time to diet.  My doctor insists I need statins for cholesterol, but they just don’t agree with me.  Since my father died of a heart attack at age 49 after having three previous heart attacks and a stroke, I am an obvious candidate for such drugs.  To go without them demands dramatic changes in diet.

I’m overweight – tipping the scales at 232, at five ten and three quarters, which gives me a horrible body mass index of 32.4.  Being fat hasn’t been unpleasant until I became unhealthy, so I had no incentive to diet.  Feeling bad is an incentive, but then my father had many such demons driving him and he never changed his habits.  Only 1 person out of 20 can diet and keep the weight off.  What makes that 1 person succeed?

I also have spinal stenosis, so I want to believe weighing less would ease the pressure on my back, which is yet another incentive to put myself through some kind of metamorphosis.  Now I wished I lived in the world of Harry Potter where I could buy a transformation potion, but that’s not an option.  The only real choices are the same ones I’ve been hearing my whole life:  diet and exercise.

But if I dieted like skinny-crazed actresses could I somehow morph myself into a new me?  I found this book, Stop Inflammation Now! by Richard M. Fleming, M.D. that promises dramatic change (read the Amazon customer reviews).  The trouble is Fleming’s diet is hard!!!  The phase 1 diet, the prescription to get your cholesterol numbers under control, is composed of only fruits and vegetables.   I’ve been a vegetarian since 1969, but I find it almost impossible to eat as many fruits and vegetables as Fleming wants me to.

I’m a lacto-ovo vegetarian, one who doesn’t eat animals, but will eat eggs and milk products.  And since I’ve also discovered The Kind Diet by Alicia Silverstone after watching Food, Inc., I’ve been thinking about becoming a vegan vegetarian.  But even the vegan diet is far more varied than the Fleming diet.  Giving up cheese, yogurt, ice cream and scrambled eggs is scary to me, since they are great comfort foods.   The Fleming diet, at least the early phase 1, doesn’t even provide salad dressing for salads – no fats allowed.  Under the vegan regime, I can have rice, oils, and even mutant pasta and breads, as well as fake meats and cheese.

So in my waffling, I’m shifting toward the vegan diet, but hoping I can eventually build up the guts to do the Fleming diet for a few weeks and see if my cholesterol numbers do come down.  The Fleming phase 1 diet is almost identical to many cleansing diets.  When I was 26, and only weighed 155 pounds, I did a cleansing diet that had dramatic effects in two weeks.  This diet was based on eating fruits one meal, and veggies the next, and the only condiments were pepper and lemon juice.  The day was started with a bracing wake-up of hot water and garlic.  I remember, the first thing I ate after going off this diet was scrambled eggs.  I don’t think I’ve ever felt as healthy as I did after that cleansing diet.

However, dieting is hard.  But after seeing Food, Inc. and many news films about the recent egg contamination scare, with all those warehouses of monster ugly chickens, I’ve decided that eggs aren’t that appealing anymore.  Giving up cheese and milk is going to be much harder, no matter how badly cows are treated.  But whenever I see how milk is produced, I waver.  That’s why the agribusiness keeps animal production hidden.

Ultimately, the hardest part of dieting is fitting the new way of eating into my existing lifestyle.  Being a normal vegetarian has made me a social outcast of sorts, and going vegan will distant me further from normal people.  Going out to dinner, either at restaurants or at a friend’s house, becomes trying at best, and sometimes impossible at worst.  The transformation I’m seeking will make me far from normal.  And that might be the key to why diets fail.

I think I can make it to veganism, especially after reading this New York Times article on vegan cupcakes.  It proves tasty food can be vegan.   Also, Alicia Silverstone preaches a hell-fire sermon for vegan living.  Time will tell if I can meta-morph into a better eater, and whether or not it will make me butterfly-like.  Even if I got down to 199, I doubt I’d float like a butterfly.  Maybe I can be Mothra.  I’ll keep you posted.  I will say that after making this decision I got up early the next morning and drove to the store and bought myself some soy milk for my cereal.  Yuck.  I have adapted that much.  One step at a time, as they say in the metamorphosis business.

JWH – 9/16/10

6 thoughts on “The Metamorphosis Diet”

  1. Hi Jim! I wish you good luck with the diet. Don’t neglect exercise! I found that doing something daily is easier than 3 times a week.

  2. I have to do physical therapy exercises every day or my back will go out. I used to love to walk for exercise, but I can’t do that anymore. Even short walks makes my legs go numb. I am researching exercise bikes, to see if they won’t hurt my back.

  3. I won’t lie, I do think Vegans are weird, but I want you to do anything you can to stay healthy.

    I eat anything and everything and people are very fond of telling me I won’t be 28 and have a high metabolism forever.

  4. HI James,
    I was surfing around for Boomer websites and I found yours. I am just getting started blogging so my site isn’t up and running yet. I was amazed at how many ways my life paralleled yours. I too started pursuing midlife writing interests in my forties. I am 60 now.

    I have experimented with a vegan diet. Protein intake is really important to watch, but other than that, I think there are many positive effects. I think for the planet a vegan diet is very ethically responsible, but actually, for health, I think you should seriously consider a paleo diet. Check out Marks Daily Apple if you want to see some good info on it. There is a lot of info about it out there, so I won’t go into it all here. All I can say is that I am 6 ‘ tall and for much of my adult life I struggled with a yo-yo weight pattern that ranged between 185 and 240 pounds. I finally found that the principle of eating like our evolutionary predecessors worked the best. I have been able to maintain a weight of about 200 lbs, which by BMI standards, would seem overweight, except that my actual lean body mass percentage is less than 10% fat. I maintain it with only 30 minutes of exercise a day, doing resistance work and high intensity interval training. I am going to have a blog soon on fitness for boomers because I think it is really important to maintain the hormonal balance, high testosterone state that prevents muscle wasting and maintains the libido. We want to enjoy our golden years, after all!

    Good luck. I will check in on your blog regularly.
    Michael Simpson

    1. I’ll investigate the paleo and primal diets. The Mark’s Daily Apple site seems to require getting the book to learn the details. I could use a higher testosterone level. Thanks for taking the time to write.

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