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~2 years ago after researching the industrial food system I just could not eat meat anymore... the thought of how the flesh came to be on my plate was intolerable. So, after seeking out farmers market meats/cage free stuff and as such eating less and less meat due to the cost and difficulty of acquisition... I realized I could live without it entirely. vegetarian it was!
Wouldn't say I was totally healthy at this point, cheese pizza was my mainstay and I was 6'1 230lbs... although I did notice an improvement from quitting meat! I did have a time of eating sushi, so "pescatarian it was" but it was a rare occurrence and the only way I consumed fish.
Then, after getting moving into the urban area of Chicago and getting a job that required alot of traveling around the city to odd places... I got a bike and started riding.
The job required trips of 10-20 miles each way... at first even the short trips were TOUGH - but I felt like a champion for making it 20 miles in a day! Still eating lots of cheese, eggs for breakfast sometimes etc... I dropped from 230lbs to 205-210 pretty quick.
Then, after feeling SO MUCH more energy... and getting to the point where it wasn't so hard to just make it... I wanted to see how I could best up my general health/performance.
So I started cutting back on cheese and anything dairy and eating more fruits... WAY more fruits! A bunch of bananas used to sit for days and go bad, then/now I eat a bunch in a day! Oranges too, dates, berries, whatever is available really! This dietary change really fueled my rides and I noticed a big jump in energy/my speeds... and got under 200 lbs around this time!
After using Garden of Life Raw Meal for breakfast and being yet more aware of portioning... I was into the 185 region and felt amazing! Still ate a bit of cheese... but not much - only as part of something (cheese on subway sandwich, sour cream in veggie taco etc)... then I decided to 99% cut the dairy out and more times than not got no cheese on my sandwiches and no sour cream on my tacos, and totally 100% stopped cooking with either.
This is when I realized that after eating I should feel GREAT! Wow what a difference this small change made! It felt like my lungs cleared up, longer rides were easy, and hard efforts just overall felt better - and I could recover much quicker! After not eating cheese and being able to clearly see the benefits I decided to totally cut it out.
Cutting the cheese was totally night/day in terms of cycling performance and I could really feel it after eating if I did have any at all.
In a bit of time I dropped down to 170 and I've been around there ever since and its been easy to maintain.
The cycling has really made the benefits of going vegan obvious, at this point I ride hundreds of miles a week and feel great :). I couldn't pull this off with the dairy clogging me up, any "cheating" I've done has made it painfully obvious why I quit cheese... specifically after a delicious burrito full of cream/cheese one day a month or so into quitting dairy all together I remember feeling so so "heavy", "run down", "tired" relative to how I normally had been feeling after eating/hopping on the bike. And then not much later I got a cappuccino with whole milk - it was amazingly tasty but coincidentally I got a flat 5 mins after leaving the coffee shop and in the time of walking to the nearby bike shop (2 miles) I got such a terrible cough/mucous buildup!!! Same drink/soy milk/no problems!!! That was all the validation I needed and its what I think about when I think of eating dairy now!.
Right now I'm really finding my athletic limits and falling in love with cycling. I put on 95 miles today and enjoyed every second (although some of it was extremely difficult as I was really pushing the pace!!!). Recently won a local cycling race (Monsters Of the Midway), which was pretty cool :). This was my third race/first win... definitely doing more racing in the future its a blast!
And why I say NEARLY 100% vegan... I've been eating for example Clif Bars alot lately and just now realize they include (albeit very small amounts!) dairy in some of their ingredients! Some stuff just slips by, its tough to avoid entirely as labeling can be a bit misleading and dairy/meat products are such a common additive! Beans and soups are common culprits and WOW did I feel physically terrible after eating greens that had meat added and I didn't know... same thing happened with fried rice!
So, here I am, hopefully with something to add as I have already learned quite a bit just browsing around :)
congrats..remember whenever you fall..just get back up again !
Congratulations, and as it should be. It is a long road of dedication, research, time, money and commitment. Feels good :)