Like everyone who adopts a plant-based diet, I’m telling you all about it. I like to think I’m a little different because mine isn’t about weight loss, but mine is about eating a phlegm-free diet in order to help my lungs. I’m not doing it to save the planet or because I love animals. I’m doing it because when I eat shitty food, I get sick. And when I get sick, I cough and cough and cough …and cough because of my bronchiectasis.
For the record, I ate pepperoni pizza twice in the past week. I had regular butter a few times. I ate a crab cake sandwich on a thick, white-bread bun with fries. I ate every last French fry. I just did. Dipped it in ranch.
And then I stop.
Being plant-based 95% of the time for 7-weeks has reduced my cravings for greasy meaty stuff. Being plant-based takes practice. I’ve added a few recipes (like this vegan waffle recipe that I eat smothered in almond butter and strawberry fruit preserves). My downfall was always cravings I couldn’t control. I would tell myself, “Don. Just go get a Five Guys and all those fries and today will be your send-off. Your swan song. Enjoy the Five Guys and then …that’s it.” I know junk-food leads to more junk-food. The adrenaline rush of a Five Guys burger and fries makes me want it again. The quick burst of happiness that comes when I buy 2 Jimmy John’s subs only makes me want it again.
It’s a mental battle every day, but when the chemical processes in my brain stop whispering to me, “hey, Don …eat that Five Guys …go get a Big Mac …drink that Pepsi over ice with a big bucket of popcorn and don’t forget the free refills …don’t worry …this is your moment of weakness, Don …tomorrow and every day forward you’re gonna be amazing.”
Those whispers, after 7-weeks of bullying myself, have started to whisper, “hey, Don …take 10 deep breaths …notice you didn’t cough or wheeze …didn’t you enjoy that deep sleep last night …make that smoothie with all the add-ins …do you enjoy how your clothes fit?”
It doesn’t happen overnight. The junk-food devil-on-my-shoulder didn’t want me to stick with this, but he’s talking to me alot less nowadays.
Writing this on January 25th. My 25th day of plant-based eating. Doing it because I want to stop …coughing. I’ve said for years that I can fix this Bronchiectasis thing if I really wanted to if I would just stop eating crappy foods. More to the point, if I stopped eating phlegm-producing foods (see my Blog entry on the ultimate phlegm-free diet).
I know what you’re saying … “hey, Don, I read your Blog for the mildly amusing stories that occasionally offer a bit of inspiration and don’t want to talk about phlegm.”
I hear ya. So here’s the lesson …if you’re going to do something, make a plan, do the research, and then follow the plan and remember the research. Like, at one point in my life I knew how to do Calculus and was damn good at it. I actually ENJOYED Calculus. But the last time I thought about Calculus was sophomore year of college (1993) and now, if you put me in a basic Calculus course, I would quite likely fail. Because I haven’t been doing it for 20+ years, don’t have my notes, and am not doing it every day, it’s all gone. Poof. My brain forgot it.
That’s how it is with the brief obsession I had with living a phlegm-free life. I researched it. Obsessed about it. Assumed I knew everything. And then just went about living a phlegm-free life, but since I didn’t refer back to my notes, I slowly forgot some basics. Like these two things…
Guess what I’ve been doing for the entire month of January? I’ve been eating 1 Cup or more of nuts EVERY DAY and I’ve been eating two oranges EVERY NIGHT. I should know better. Yet it seems I have about as much of a chance at passing a Calculus mid-term as I do living a life without phlegm, coughing, and wheezing because I’m not constantly practicing and improving.
I’m in sales for a living. I read a book a month. Follow sales and motivation Blogs and social media accounts, I watch things to keep me motivated and energized, and I am CONSTANTLY learning and adapting to the new sales and advertising things.
See what I’m getting at? I need to be constantly improving how I treat my body for this Bronchiectasis thing. Oh, for the record, I will NOT be trying to rekindle my passion for Calculus. Just sayin’.
So, if you’re a family member (or friend) who always worries about my breathing and coughing, this Blog entry is for you. I’m working on it. I know what I’m doing wrong and will fix it. If you’re stopping by because you accidentally found me while searching “phlegm”, “phlegm-free eating”, “Bronchiectasis”, “wheezing”, “breathing”, “lung health”, or “Calculus” …glad you found me. Read this Blog entry (that I also linked above) because if you apply the rules, you’ll breathe better and cough less.
And remember, never stop improving and learning and reviewing your progress in any part of your life that’s important to you.
Remember how I was getting a new washing machine and was worried about (a) not having a center agitator, (b) having too many computerized features, and (c) getting a large capacity washer that would waste too much water?
I’m here to tell you …I love this machine. The single, most-advanced item in my house is my LG washing machine. Even though I know the control panel is going to fail in 5-years and I’ll be paying for repairs, right now, this thing is amazing. Read More
Remember how I Blogged about being a vegetarian, but not really a vegetarian? Turns out, this idea wasn’t my own. Currently, two of the top things being searched are Google are “plant-based” and “intermittent fasting.” In fact, intermittent fasting was the #1 trend for 2019 and I totally did it a few times in 2019.
Now I’m plant-based with some fasting mixed in. I’m so trendy.
Some have asked, “why?” And some have wondered where did I get this crazy idea. Obviously, if these two things are big on Google, I’m just following the trend (something I love doing …if it’s trendy, it must be great, right? Like wild-patterned dress socks …everyone else is doing it, so I am, too).
Actually, I was inspired by observing my own health. I know when I eat rich meats, bakery bread with butter, and sugar, my lung condition acts up. When I don’t …it doesn’t.
Enter two Netflix documentaries … Forks Over Knives and What the Health (both movie trailers below). Add to that my obsession with Dr. Joel Kahn and his book, Dead Execs Don’t Get Bonuses, and it was a perfect storm of voices telling me, “Don. You’re a smart guy. You should know better.”
Here I am. Day-18 of plant-based eating, not snacking in the evening, and occasionally eating a really small meal if I’m not hungry and I’m here to tell ya …I feel incredible!
Wanna know how I became an expert on everything food-related in two nights? Watch the documentaries, read some Dr. Joel Kahn Tweets and his books, and you’ll see where my head is at.
I want a cheeseburger …when I’m 80-years-old.
The thing is, I don’t feel miserable.
But according to Dartmouth College’s Professor David Blanchflower, his research reveals that “47.2 years old is the moment of peak unhappiness in the developed world.”
I look at this one of two ways. Either (a) I’m terribly unhappy but blissfully ignorant of it or (b) my peak unhappiness isn’t all that bad so the next 10, 20, or 30 years could be really fantastic.
For the record. I’m currently 46.5 years old as of the posting of this Blog entry you’re reading. Read More
My handwriting is deteriorating. Is this possible? I used to really like my own handwriting. I took great pride in it. It started long ago. If you’re a psychologist, maybe you can analyze this little factoid from my youth. Ready?
I had the best handwriting in my entire Kindergarten and 1st Grade class. I have this distinct memory, vivid to this day, of walking around with my parents at an Open House and strolling through the room looking at the various things the teacher had hung on the wall. Jack-o-lanterns made from bits of tissue paper glued to a traceable pattern that made it look like carpet. Leaves ironed onto wax paper. But the moment I remember vividly happened while perusing the wall where examples of our handwriting hung. This was 1st Grade. Learning to print your letters was, and is, a big deal. I took great pride in crafting a four-sentence masterpiece about Halloween including my costume plan and favorite candy. Read More
I’m going to write a book called Regular Guy Goes (Mostly) Vegetarian. It will be different than most books about being vegan or vegetarian because it will be written by a guy who’s been vegetarian for about, oh, 11 days. Also, this guy isn’t 100% vegetarian, which I think is called “flexitarian”, and the author doesn’t have any plans to be vegetarian forever. The author’s expertise will come from two documentaries, one audiobook, and a few websites on the subject. He won’t vet any of the sources or claims made in those documentaries, but he’ll summarize it like this.
My shoe brand defines me. I can clearly pinpoint the start and end of my shoe brand eras.
Matthew Dicks is a storyteller. Yes. That’s a thing. But I didn’t know it until I heard him on the Art of Manliness Podcast. For a guy like me, who didn’t do so well at stand-up comedy, doesn’t play an instrument, never really thrived in improv theater, and who can’t sing, thereby ruling out community theater, this storytelling thing seemed perfect for me to flex my creative muscles.
The a-ha moment wasn’t just learning about The Moth, but learning it was OK for me, at 46-years-old, to still have a yearning to be on stage. This guy, Matthew, goes to The Moth, often, has his own storytelling events, wrote a book and has a Podcast about the art and how-to of storytelling, is a father and husband and, still, is a teacher. Not sure why the fact he’s still teaching is the most inspiring part, but I love that he still holds a full-time job and then does all this other stuff, too. Read More
My wife decided years ago that every year, on the morning of Christmas Eve, we would get pictures with Santa. The city of Birmingham, Michigan has a lovely downtown, the loveliest that tax money and exorbitant rent can buy, and has a picturesque central park, worthy of an Instagram selfie. In that picture-perfect park is the most adorable, post-card worthy Santa house. Norman Rockwell himself couldn’t paint anything more charming. The Santa house, and Santa, are available for pictures starting as early as Thanksgiving, but we do it Christmas Eve morning in order to make the day, reserved for true, last-minute shopping, wrapping, a nail appointment, and Church …we add this little event to make the day just a little more stressful.
“Why do today what you can put off until the last minute” is my wife’s motto.
The Santa house opens at 10:00 a.m.
I, alone, get there at 9:00a.m. and wait. And wait. Most years the temperatures are well below freezing. I grumble under my breath to stay warm. Grumpiness produces steam heat, ya know? Many times my toes and fingers start going numb. You’d think Birmingham would have mobile heating tents. It’s not like I don’t pay enough at the parking meters (.25-cents gets you 15-minutes) or in parking tickets (maximum meter time is 1-hour).
The kids also grumble. They wonder why, as teenagers, they still must dress in their pajamas, be dragged into festive, quaint, downtown Birmingham and get a photo with Santa, whom (spoiler alert) they stopped believing in years ago.
The easy answer to this question is, “to make Mom cry.” Make her cry now, a month from now, a year from now, and for the rest of the years of her life. As time keeps marching on and our oldest nears her senior year of high-school and our youngest nears her first year of high-school, the sadness and nostalgia are found everywhere for their Mom.
So, yes, we do this to make Mom cry.
I have my Blog, Instagram, Facebook, journal, and Twitter where I share and document everything from my choice in shoes, my lung stuff, and Stuff I Want. My wife has a more simple approach (and probably more normal). She has these annual photos as her journal on life. Unlike me and how I document my life, for my wife, a photo is a launching point into an entire recreation of time and space. I look at a photo and ask, “where was this photo taken,” and, “what year was that,” and, “who is that blond hair girl in the photo,” and, “oh, right, that’s my oldest daughter, Marylin.”
Not my wife. Any picture, for her, is a window in time. She can look at a photo from 2016 and tell you everything… “that was the Christmas after my Mom died, and the kids were in 4th, 6th, and 8th grade and their teachers were so-and-so and so-and-so and Ada had a cold, and my Dad had gout, your sister’s roast was a little dry*, and you bought me that robe and those ugly slippers, and Jimmy’s big present was the PlayStation, and there was a dusting of snow, but it was really cold and we were just about to start our kitchen project and Marylin got her braces off and…”
It’s like she jumps into the picture and walks around on the other side of the photo in the day, year, and time it was taken. And she’ll look at me, puzzled, and ask, “you don’t remember that? Sure you do? I bought you those shoes and that cast iron pan. Your Dad and sister argued** at Christmas Eve about the best way to hard-boil eggs and then, remember? It snowed like crazy and it took an hour to get to her house and you vowed to get snow tires, and …”
No. I never remember stuff like that. Not without checking my journal or my notes. I mean, I kinda remember but usually I combine memories and add things from 2014 into my 2016 memories, and forget some things entirely, and I even imagine and make-up other things.
“I absolutely remember wearing a wrapping paper pattern tuxedo the Christmas Eve Mass,” I’ll insist.
But I’m wrong. And I know it. But I hold firm.
My wife remembers exactly what I wore and the dresses each of our daughters wore. It’s magical. And a little scary. Scary that I won’t ever win many arguments where facts and examples are needed.
This tradition, we joke, is only for my wife, when it’s actually for all of us. Years from now, when all our memories blur or are buried deep in our brains, we’ll likely pull out one of my wife’s never-finished scrapbooks and we might see these pictures and it will be our own version of “The Night Before Christmas” and my wife will cry her way through the stories and memories of every cold, frost-bitten year and we’ll be glad she dragged us out to Santa House every year.
May your memories, traditions, arguments, and time with loved ones never end and live forever in your memory. If you need help remembering, get a picture with Santa.
* the roast was NEVER dry and my wife NEVER said anything like that; comment entirely fabricated and used for comedic effect and to solicit a disapproving frown and furrowed brow from both my wife and sister; also used as a tool to prove whether or not my wife and sister read my Blog entries
** there was never an argument about the proper way to boil eggs; example entirely fabricated and used for comedic effect and to, once again, check if my sister or my Dad read my Blog when they insist it never happened and I should probably edit that and not include any reference to either of them on my Blog