Comment From My Brother

If you’re a regular reader of this blog and the comments at the bottom of each post, than there’s a good chance you’ve seen a comment by a member of my immediate family. My two sisters, Laura and Sarah, are frequent commenters, as is my mother, who comments, appropriately enough, under the name “Mom.” Even my father, who would be the first to admit that he’s not a fluent typer, has piped up a couple times (although most of the time he delivers his comments to me over the phone). There’s only one person who hasn’t ever commented before… and that’s my brother Steven.

Until now.

First of all, I don’t mind that my brother hasn’t commented before. I know he reads the blog when he can, but he has a ridiculous schedule. He’s starting his third year as an emergency room resident in New York, so he works exhausting 12-hour shifts – often night shifts – saving lives at a busy Manhattan hospital. Plus, he and my sister-in-law Alexis have 2 young boys at home, my nephews, Maren (age 7) and Eddie (age 5). So there’s plenty to keep his days full.

All four of the Garcia siblings in January 2011: Me, Laura, Steven, and Sarah.

I last saw Steven in May, when I spent a few days in New York (check out my recaps here and here – and Steven and Alexis helped me with this awesome ‘before’ and ‘after’ photo comparison). It turns out soon after I left, Steven made some big changes.

Which brings me to Steven’s first-ever blog comment, which he left on a post from a few days ago featuring my most recent weigh-in. Steve has changed the way he eats in the past two months, and is reaping all sorts of benefits. As you read this, keep in what I mentioned above about Steve’s schedule – because if he can make a change, you certainly can too.

Here’s his blog post, in its entirety. (Steven may have set the record for longest blog comment!)

You’ve had such a remarkable turnaround, I’m so happy and proud of you. What is more impressive is your ability to continue your success after a few years. One example I remember is when you visited our place a few months back, there were opportunities to munch on snacks we put out. You only had one and didn’t have any more. That is the new you, 5 years ago you would have had many more.

I’ve had a change too in my culinary ways. Something clicked in me about two months ago, about a week after you left (when I came back from Chicago). I have moved to a whole-food, plant based diet. I’d say I’m at least, without question, 80% compliant and I’m willing to bet that I’m more like 90% based on the guidelines set forth in Forks Over Knives.

For a combination of reasons really. Your success, my good friend here repeatedly told me about his benefits of going on this diet (Steve Kraunz, not sure if you met him?). He kept on saying how bad animal protein is, processed foods, how much weight he lost, how much better he feels. Probably the weight of all the patients I’ve taken care of in the ER. Almost every single one over the age of 50 who comes in with any sort of complaint has hypertension, maybe diabetes, high cholesterol, and is overweight. Especially those who come in with chest pain. I watched Forks over Knives and read some of the material surrounding it (The China Study).

But I think what finally solidified my transformation was the decision to plan 5 days of lunches and dinners in a row. It is daunting to think “how can I, rather quickly, change my diet so I’m eating better, eliminating chesse, milk, dairy, animal products, and the legions of awful food in my house?” It is hard to just make that change. What do I cook? Where do I get it? How long is it going to take?

So I gave it a 5 day trial. I found about 10 recipes that looked good. I compiled a list of all the ingredients needed to make those dishes. I went to our local, big supermarket and bought everything. Right away I noticed that about 80% of my purchase was fresh food.

And then every night I had a different dinner. I had all of the ingredients so I had no excuse not making it. I think this provided a big advantage over freely, and without planning, what to eat.

The food was quite good and Alexis loved it!

I’ve lost 15 pounds in less than a month. My energy level is more even throughout the day. I don’t get nearly the highs and lows from eating food that I used to get. When I’m done eating I do not feel stuffed. I have a big meal before a 12 hr shift and I last, fairly impressively, without eating during shift. That isn’t ideal, but it’s better than previously where I would have to get a coffee most of the time during mid-shift to help me through. I probably sleep a little better. And my bowel movements are fantastic! TMI, I know but it’s great. No more straining. LOL.

I’ve virtually cut out every single animal product completely. I have not had chicken, fish, turkey or meat since I started it. Well…I had one small piece of steak (0.5 oz) during my residency’s graduation party where they had no diet-appropriate food anyway. I have not had cheese. I do continue to add milk to my morning coffee, and I will eventually change that when I figure out a good substitute (maybe rice drink?) I no longer use Splenda, now it’s agave nectar. I have not used an oz of olive oil, or any other type of oil for that matter, since starting this diet. However I do sometimes have to use bottled food (e.g. pasta sauce) that sometimes has oil in it.

I eat a lot of chick peas, I make a spicy chickpea spread that is delicious. I eat that 3-4 times a week. White bean red pepper spread. grape nuts / shredded wheat for breakfast with blueberries. whole wheat pasta w/ low oil sauce. I’ve made so much baba ganoush from eggplant over the past two months, I’ve probably consumed 25+ eggplants during that time. I still drink beer which is high in calories.

My weight loss has plateaued which means I’m taking in too much calories and not burning enough. I should work out more. Maybe someday something will click and I will just start working out.

Overall I think it’s easier to lose weight by changing your eating patterns than working out, although obviously doing both is the best. One has to eat every day (not technically true for working out), so controlling your caloric intake on a daily basis because you have to eat is more realistic than eating what you want and just trying to burn it off. One may not decide to work out for a week for a variety of reasons, but they still have to eat!

It also helps that my two good friends out here are also doing this and we often sit around and tease each other that we are being all sensitive, ethical vegan eaters. So they keep me motivated. I’ve changed my diet only because I want to reduce my risk of coronary disease, stroke and cancer as much as possible. I don’t have an ethical basis for my diet change. I don’t think my change in eating habits will affect one cow on this earth.

I’m very happy thus far, and you have helped given me some of my new motivation! xoxo Your Brother

Keep it up, Steven!


Keep it up, David!

6 Responses to Comment From My Brother

  1. fatgirlphd says:

    That’s so lovely – congratulations on your amazing success! 🙂

  2. Kari says:

    Woo hoo!!!!!! It’s so exciting to see that our positive changes can be contagious. Thanks for sharing Steven. 🙂

  3. Awesome! Awesome! Awesome! The Garcia family rocks. What a fantastic, supportive family you have, David.

    I have more than once given serious thought to giving up meat and dairy… but I am weak. I love a good steak – even if it’s just a four-ounce filet. I love portobello mushrooms; they make an awesome steak substitute when grilled. Maybe someday…

    ‘Til then… keep it up, y’all!

  4. Sarah says:

    Steve,love the plant based diet!! Drink Silk!!! Soy milk, Almond milk, and coconut milk.

    PS – Soy milk and coffee taste fantastic together!!!

  5. Mom says:

    I love that picture of our kids…..what an accomplished group they are!! Just makes my buttons Pop!

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