Self Improvement Non-Fiction posted January 12, 2015

This work has reached the exceptional level
common sense vs bodily desires

Vegan All the Way

by mfowler

Be Fit and Eat Wise Contest Winner 

I'm one of those people whose life-long battle for good health has been played out on an imaginary court between two of the toughest opponents humans encounter. It's Common Sense versus Bodily Desires. The battle has been going on since childhood, with Bodily Desires holding an unhealthy advantage over his smarter, better intentioned opponent. After decades of playing these games, I am entering a phase of my life whereby Common Sense needs not only to begin winning regularly, but also vanquish Bodily Desires before my life is over completely.
Like so many people in the western world, I have found the excess of food available in all its tantalising ranges of taste, colour and texture, is the single biggest danger to my health and happiness. Such an ironic contrast to Third World countries, where lack of food and choice leads to malnutrition, poor physical and mental development, and ultimately short life expectancy.
In youth, excess weight was a concern for aesthetic reasons. Am I handsome? Do these clothes make me slimmer and more desirable? Back then, I could compensate for overeating with lots of competitive exercise. A small roll of tummy fat was easily concealed with loose shirts and track suits at the gym.
In mid-life, stress, career demands, family time, and a sedentary lifestyle produced a pleasant paunch, not too hard to live with when I lived in a world of pleasant middle-age paunches. I could still serve a mean tennis ball and chase down a squash ball at the speed of a healthy hippopotamus.
During these vacillating stages of the battle between Common Sense and Bodily Desires, my ego-mind developed convenient scripts which allowed me to convince myself about a range of things which were harmful. Simple examples: You work hard, you deserve to pamper yourself = larger helpings of all that tasted good; If you sweat it off on court, you need carbohydrates and sugar to replenish the energy = fill up on bread and cake.
It was about this time that Common Sense was replaced occasionally by Medical Advice, a useful substitution, but a poor opponent for rampant Bodily Desires. A cardiologist told me ten years ago that with my family history (no-one in my nuclear family has retired before death), my body shape, my newly diagnosed Diabetes 2, and my stress-filled profession, I could expect a myocardial infarction within the decade.
At the time, the Diabetes scared the hell out of me and for five years Common Sense ensured that I took up walking regularly and ate a balanced, low GI diet. With data telling my doctor and my Bodily Desires that I was a star pupil, Common Sense began to slide in the rankings as I added extra servings on my plate and reintroduced some of the nasties that got me there in the first place. A regime of pills ensured my ego-mind that I wasn't doing too much damage.
Ten years on from Common Sense's purple patch, I find myself on the doorstep of retirement, with a major challenge. This all came to a head in the week before my favourite period of excess, Christmas. A heart test in response to poor breathing, saw me enter hospital for an angiogram. While searching around my heart, the same cardiologist who warned my Common Sense earlier, found  five occlusions in the vessels leading to my heart. Five stents were inserted that have staved off a certain heart attack within months.
I am about to undergo rehabilitation including lots of Common Sense about diet and exercise. Meanwhile, my best friend, my wife has found a new project to occupy her recent retirement time. She has made my health her project. Clearly it is my project too and one for which I am ultimately responsible.
The upshot of this is that we are trialling a vegan diet, a strict routine based on the elimination of all animal fats. It is heavily based on grains, vegetables and fruit. Bodily Desires has had to pack away his equipment for now, as the game of life is being seriously played out.
Coffee (and I was a six a day man) is now green tea or soy de-caff. My eggy breakfast with its oh, so unnecessary protein shot, is now cooked whole grained oats, made with quinoa and chai milk, and topped with blueberries (presumably to give my Common Sense a better chance). Lunch is usually a salad on whole grained bread washed down with a mineral water. Dinner has its compensations as I can choose between such delicacies as whole grain rice and bean salad, and vegetable soup containing everything grown in our very healthy garden.
Sub-clinical issues such as protein, iron and B12 deficiencies which sometimes plague vegans, are being covered by using balancing foods such as nuts and beans.
Two weeks into my New Year's resolution (more of a gun to the head sort of thing), I'm consumed by wind, bodily desires to down a 3 kg steak, and a begrudging need to do what's right for my own sake, and that of my family.
We've resumed walking and we've notched up a healthy 105 kms so far in 2015. I've lost two and a half kilos, my blood sugars have stabilised, and I'm feeling a bit better. Common Sense can be the only player in the game going forward.  


Be Fit and Eat Wise
Contest Winner

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