Can you lose weight on the Daniel Fast?

After a very indulgent October (courtesy of my birthday), I decided to go on a Daniel Fast. The Daniel Fast is said to be a 21 day period where one refrains from any animal, caffeine or processed products whilst also taking the time for spiritual reflection. Is it a diet?

I saw the Daniel Fast as a good introduction into the Plant Based diet philosophy which is championed by the likes of Dr Greger. The Forks not Knives program on Netflix did indeed leave an imprint and I also joined a Facebook group of a similar name. I was intrigued by success stories of individuals reversing diabetes, blood pressure among other ailments.

To ensure compliance, I focused on key food for each meal (repetitive but easier to manage). My breakfast options consisted of (oats, millet/sorghum porridge, sweet potatoes/arrow roots or corn). My lunch/dinner options consisted of (potatoes (irish or sweet baked or mashed), beans and legumes (all kinds under the sun), quinoa, Ugali, vegetables, salads) and lastly my snacks consisted of (fruits and nuts) with water or strong cocoa drink.

I started the journey at around 69 kg, a figure that I was keen to reduce having added some pounds during this covid quarantine lifestyle. The first week was difficult and I had massive cravings which I managed to calm down by eating nuts and biting on fruits and berries. Ironically, it was not meat I missed the most but SUGAR!!

I am a sugar/sweet/chocolate addict and I practically had to hide all my sweet tooth temptations for the 21 days. Frankly, I am not sure how I managed the full 21 days but alas I made it to the end and was so proud of myself.

During this period, I also discovered a local organic food seller “Sylvia’s Basket”, and looked forward to grocery shopping every Tuesday when I received my delivery of fresh vegetables. Watching youtube vegans like Rachel Ama was a treat and an entry to a new culinary world I had all but ignored.

I also used the 3 week period to reconnect with the Word and went through the Bible book of Daniel and part of Mathew. I must say, I did not know how much future/revelation wisdom was within the book of Daniel. Sometimes hard to interpret the underlying meaning but very revealing.

Overall, this was a good experience (one I will repeat again), and here is what I learned/benefited from:

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1. Lower spending: Cutting out all the meat/processed items result in budget savings, I did not document exactly how much I spent, but I definitely shopped less and was very focused when I shopped.

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2. Marginally reduced my diastolic blood pressure: My diastolic blood pressure (the lower number) has been stubbornly edging up. During this period I noted the figure was marginally reduced.

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3. I lost 3kg: Yes I did, I was doubting that I would lose much weight due to insane nut snacking but alas, some weight came off! Might I add, with Zero exercise apart for a rare walk at the local Arboretum Park.

4. I am in control, I can conquer my sugar cravings: Ladies and gents, mind over matter, anything is possible with dedication and effort

Lastly, the 21 day rule: I am not sure why the fast was for 21 days (of course Daniel Fasted for 21 days) but I believe there is some mystical reason as to why 21 days The 21 day rule claims you can change a habit in this period. I am beginning to believe this, whilst 100% about turn may take longer but indeed 21 days of the Daniel Fast has taught me that I can indeed survive without meat and processed junk and lead a healthier lifestyle.

Conclusion: I am now embracing a moderate lifestyle of eating more whole foods with indulgences here and there on specific occasions. Not entirely plant based but a good start.

Who knows, I may soon transition to fully plant based, but hey…. Baby steps.

Is your blood pressure in check?

It is aptly titled the silent killer, creeping up and snuffing the health and sometimes life out of the unsuspecting man/woman. High blood pressure “BP” (Hypertension), as I have come to learn is a deadly but sometimes incognito ailment.

My hypertension was discovered very randomly. Ironically, when I would visit a general hospital for simple ailments, my blood pressure would be elevated, however, as my physic did not match the bio of a supposed hypertension candidate, it was brushed off as “White coat hypertension”. White coat hypertension is the spiking of BP due to the anxiety of seeing a doctor and visiting a hospital. A year down the line one physician I visited during a totally different check inquired further on my BP and asked me to buy a BP machine and track it at home for a month to confirm my status.

I bought myself an Omron machine and kept a daily log of my BP stats.

I used and have been using an app called “My heart”, it can be downloaded for free from Google Play.

A month down the line, alas, it was confirmed I had hypertension. I was put on medication, “5mg of Amlo Denk” and a journey to manage my BP began. In conjunction with my doctor, I mapped a plan to manage my condition.
Diet, exercise and zen was/is my new mission

Diet: There has been alot of attention on plant based diets, my new meal plan has not fully adopted the plant based diet, however, I have cut out milk, red meat. I do alot of grains and lentils as well as fish. I eat chicken from time to time but the high level of antibiotics in the chicken supply put me off Chicken. I also fully cut out salt and replaced it with spices and black pepper.

Exercise: Exercise is now a way of life, a minimum of three times a week is as important as my medication. Whilst running is a favorite, (seriously, i have traveled miles just to endure the torture of marathons), it is not gentle on my knees. As an alternative, I do a spin class now and then and swim.

A recent addition to my exercise regime, is cross-fit ( on a very moderate routine, though moderate does not seem to be in the vocabulary of most of my gyms cross fit trainers). That said, I was advised against exerting myself as supposedly cross-fitters may face risks due to intense spikes of the heart rate. I am currently tracking my BP for a month while I cross-fit. I will do a blog on the impact of a cross-fit routine on my BP levels.

Zen: Zen is being self aware of your stress triggers and employing tactics to manage it. Time out, yoga, me days and finding quiet solo activities that spark joy and bring serenity into my life have been key.

A year down the line, my medication has been adjusted downwards and whilst my BP is not perfect it is slowly edging to green.

“My Heart – One year results. Green = Optimal, Yellow = Normal, Dirt Yellow = High Correct, Beyond the dotted line = Hypertension Zone

Is your BP in check? Are you on a journey to manage it? What is working for you? Let me know!!!

What is your choice, Oats or Weetabix?

Am starting 2019 with a bang health wise, from the start of the year hearty breakfasts have been my mission. As we bid January goodbye, it is time to reflect on my breakfast choices. In a busy world, my breakfast mission has been healthy but fast to make. My quick and easy choices have been Weetabix and Oats

A month down the line, I can knowledgeably comment on the two choices, of course this is purely colored by experience and preference.

Weetabix:

  • Quick to make, gets me out of the door much faster
  • Higher fibre content, my bowel movements can attest to this
  • Tastier, a caveat being there is some sugar embedded in the product, which may be an issue for diabetics
  • A higher Glycemic index, which means its raises the sugars (blood sugar for diabetics) and for non diabetics you tend to feel hungry much sooner
  • Not for you if you have gluten problems

Oats:

  • Very filling and this keeps me fueled till around Eleven/Noon (Caveat am a 6 meals a day person, small portions but eat frequently because of hunger pangs)
  • Lower Glycemic index than Weetabix
  • Can be rather bland, but that said, it is versatile and blends with many add on options. I load mine with berries, nuts and honey
  • More time consuming to prepare. There is an option to make overnight oats. I prefer hot oats hence the whole preparation factor in the morning can be Ughhrrr, plus I try to avoid microwave oats

Overall, health wise, my inclination is towards Oats, but life happens and I find myself still picking up some Weetabix. I did try Oatibix, but for sure 100%, that life is not for me……

Conclusion, February will be an Oat filled month , though I do need to add my breakfast protein content. A story for another post.

What is on your healthy breakfast plate? I would love to hear from you…..