Insufficiency of Mediterranean Diet

Figured you’d enjoy this:

Question.  My Cholesterol is Just Fine.  My Weight’s Fine, I Exercise, and I Eat a Healthy Mediterranean Diet.  Why in the World Would I Need to Eat This Way (Esselstyn nut & oil free plant based diet)?

Short Answer from Dr. Esselstyn:  Unless you are one of the lucky few and none of your relatives have ever had vascular disease and they all lived to be a healthy 100, then you more than likely already have some degree of vascular disease.  Unless, of course you’ve been eating like the Papua New Guinea Highlanders or the Tarahumara Indians all your life.

There are countless autopsy studies (click here for a few) of young adults from age 15-34 showing that everyone who eats our Western diet has heart disease.  It’s a given. 

If you eat a healthier Mediterranean diet with olive oil, fish & chicken you’re better off than someone who is eating cheeseburgers & fries–and you may be able to put off the likelihood of getting those nasty imperceptible tiny strokes (Dr. Megan Cleary of California examined over 11,000 MRIs of the brains of 50 year olds & found many had tiny white spots that indicated that they had unknowingly experienced tiny, imperceptible strokes.  These “brain attacks” have the same history and cause as heart attacks), heart disease or vascular problems until your mid-70s or 80s–but just think about spending your last years in a wheelchair, immobile, befuddled, and mute–or think about the erectile dysfunction, slowed mobility, balance and cognitive  problems that are all caused by impaired circulation and could be prevented. 

And then there’s a whole host of other problems, like diabetes, hypertension, arthritis, constipation, and some cancers that could be avoided if you changed your diet.  Not to mention the side effects to all the medications you’ll likely end up taking to keep heart disease, diabetes, hypertension, aortic valve stenosis, and erectile dysfunction at bay.  Diet can do a much better job.

Click here for entire article

Vegas Health Healing Happiness Conference

Last week I started my post with photos of plus size fashion models & proclaimed, “These are all exceptional people!”

Well, I’m an equal opportunity blogger and I want to make it clear that in my eyes THESE are also exceptional people!



Last week we decided to redefine beauty in terms of health, healing, wholeness, empowerment and to pursue this new “beauty” together! Our physical starting point is irrelevant. How many times have you seen gorgeous human beings, gussied up to the hilt, but who turn out to be internally under/overnourished, cardiovascularly challenged, and not at all fit? I’m just musing over the way our culture (magazines, websites, films, television) is embarking upon a valiant attempt to embrace the Endomorph (overnourished body type), but have become quite vocal in its campaign to ‘skinny-bash’ and shame the Ectomorph (undernourished body type). Why the difference?


I’m sitting here in Las Vegas today attending the big annual plant based nutrition conference: Health, Healing & Happiness. Speakers include Youtube personality John Kohler (of “growing your greens” fame);

SOS-free weightloss coach Chef AJ; lifestyle physicians Michael Klaper,

John McDougall, Joel Fuhrman, Evan Allen; athletic trainers Robert Cheeke,

John Pierre, Coach Joshua (Keep It Real Wellness) DJ-ing the event:

… and many more!

Each day I’ve been dragging my lazy butt downstairs to my hotel gymnasium. Yesterday I noticed many overweight patrons walking in the door (very cool that they’re working toward wellness!)… and one extremely underweight woman came in with her mom (equally very cool!) I believe all of us were consciously pursuing the same (Project Waistline) definition of beauty – health, healing, wholeness, empowerment. The comradery in the common cause invigorated my workout!


Then last night on the local news it was announced that a woman was found deceased in her Vegas hotel bed, and her death was attributed to anorexia nervosa! Wow…

It stopped me cold in my tracks. Undernourishing our body will lead to illness and an early death. But honestly, overnourishing (given enough time) will make us just as ill and kill us just as dead. Of course, (and perhaps the reason our culture is less apt to embrace the Ectomorph over the Endomorph) undernourishment kills faster than overnourishment. Youngsters are often the ones who die from undereating, while older folk are usually the ones who die from overnourishment. It just takes longer to manifest the damage from overeating!


Love thyself… for where you are today AND for where you’re going tomorrow. Make that future in the direction of total wellness!


Some well known plant based chefs created & shared some mini-meals with us: Chef BeLive’s raw vegan Caesar salad:

Raw green smoothie w/ avocado PIT from Chef Shane Stuart, and Chef Stacey Dougan’s coconut flake “bacon”, broccoli, carrots, snap peas, zucchini salad w/ Thai chili lime sauce:
Whole Foods had a vendor table offering free samples of their Cali Quinoa Salad:

The head banquet chef at the Vegas Tuscany resort, Chef Lonnie Beals, took me on a personal tour of the buffet spread on both days of the two day conference.


Here is one day:
image (cilantro lime salad, pinto beans, rice, black beans enchilada, guacamole, eggless potato salad, avocado chickpea salad)

Here is a serving from the other day… yes, that’s Joel Furhman (of PBS programming) “dining with me”:

image(romaine, carrots, celery, potatoes, squash, mushrooms, Jazmine XL-white rice, red pepper, onions, brocolli, cauliflower w/ curry)

Chef told me this was his first ever purely plant based buffet event. He enjoyed the experience so thoroughly that he’s going to go into vegan food prep big time… making delicious meals for his patrons, and extending their lives at the same time! 🙂

I bought Coach Robert Cheeke’s great new fitness book, Shred It… yes, he is curling YAMS in his right hand:

All speakers were excellent, full of vital information, and I particularly enjoyed the final uplifting presentation by Coach John Pierre. I think he & I were raised by the same mama! 🙂


Okay… sleepytime. Checking out tomorrow & heading home, so I’d better get some rest.

Say Nay-Nay-Nay to corporate foods!

Say Aye-Aye-Aye to simple stress free living!

Week 10 Statistical Update

Before we start I just want to make one thing crystal clear:

Yeah sister, neither am I… but seriously:


These are all exceptional people!

I am not about fat bashing here. How hypocritical would that be? Once weighing in at 240 pounds, how could weight shaming make sense to me? I’m also not about political correctness. I just want the truth. After 35 years of age most of us realize it’s not about beauty anymore. Life makes athletes of all of us, and our sport is long distance wellness! Project Waistline, and lifestyle fitness in general, is all about health, healing, wholeness, empowerment. Let us redefine beauty in terms of these qualities, and let us all pursue this new “beauty” together!

I have created Project Waistline as a personal scientific research assignment, with an infinitesimally small sample space of one. After studying the concept I am fully confident these lifestyle modifications, if applied in a consistent fashion, will yield optimal results.

Is it the only approach to wellness that will work? Let me save you the trouble of digging up the answer… of course not. There are other methods to shed excess weight, reduce blood pressure, triglycerides, cholesterol, blood sugar. How about some bariatric surgery, followed by extreme calorie restrictions? Some constant calorie counting without the surgery? How about adding 8 sweaty hours per day in the gym? You could try eating freeze-dried cardboard nutri-food delivered weekly in the mail. How about wiring your jaw shut and not eating at all, just drinking your calories? You could always try a drug… Fen-Phen anyone? (Would you like a little heart valve damage and Primary Pulmonary Hypertension with that little pill?)

None of these methods will work if they are unsustainable. I just believe the Project Waistline approach is the most efficient, least expensive, most enjoyable, natural, ecologically responsible, animal compassionate, most corporate-independent path to optimal health. For the past 73 days I have embraced it to prove to myself (and to anyone else who cares to follow along) that it yields results.

As with any research, the work would be meaningless without forthcoming analysis of the data. Statistical changes have come slowly in this project. It’s likely because I am doing the Low-SOS (salt, oil, sugar) version, as opposed to No-SOS. Okay… so is that a bad thing? I think not. After all (as I continue to remind myself) this is a journey, not an event! I’m not on-a-diet. Since it took years to put on the weight that made me unhealthy, and my unfit condition continued steadfastly for many years, I extrapolate that if I slowly reverse the damage done, the positive results will prove to be equally enduring. This project is best described as a self-evolving lifestyle commitment. It’s growing increasingly effortless as the weeks pass, and I’m loving it! 🙂

So maybe the trade-off is the joy-factor in exchange for slower results. Going slow suits me well because I don’t feel restricted, I don’t feel deprived, I actually enjoy eating low-SOS vegan, drinking mega-water, exercising daily… and of course I enjoy my periodic XL-party days (Woo-Hoo!)
The limit of acceptable trade-off for me is a slower march forward, just as long as I’m not moving backward!

However, if your own Project Waistline journey was prompted by severe health issues, or if your food addictions are not yet under control, it would be best if (with the approval of your nutritionally minded physician) you cut out a few party items to implemented these changes more strictly than I have.



Keeping statistics is not altogether a pleasant venture. It’s a new concept for me. I rarely ever measured myself in the past… too depressing.

Over the last ten weeks there were some fortnights (two week measurement periods) when, despite my relatively clean living, the numbers were not changing. I felt frozen in time and questioned my laid back laissez-faire attitude toward portion control and XL-party (Woo-Hoo!) treats.

One problem was (and likely will continue to be) that I was too close to see the big picture. So let’s take a step back and look at that now.

waist: 33in
(@ navel): 40.5in
hips: 43in
Min whr = 33/43 = .77
Max whr = 40.5/43 = .94
Avg whr = (.77+.94)÷2 = .86
(height: 5′ 9″)*
(weight: 168lbs)*

WEEK 10:
waist: 30in
(@ navel): 35in
hips: 41.5 in
Min whr = 30/41.5 = .72
Max whr = 35/41.5 = .84
Avg whr = (.72+.84)÷2 = .78
(height: 5′ 9″)*
(weight: 153lbs)*

Turns out that after ten weeks I’m nothing but a loser (good thing here!)

waist: lost 3in
belly: lost 5.5in (yeah!!!!!)
hips: lost 1.5in
Avg waist-to-hip ratio: lost .08
weight: lost 15lbs

Wow… seriously WOW!! Maybe I ought to only measure myself once every ten weeks! 🙂 This is the first time I’ve calculated these cumulative numbers. Yes, they could be better, I could move faster, yet I am so very pleased because getting to where I am today was essentially painless!

Although I did not measure my lunch sisters (upper arm circumference) and thighs, those have really slimmed down. Sometimes the jumping jiggle test is all we need to know how our body has changed. Despite only losing 1.5 inch in the hips, I know those areas are firmer and more muscular than they were ten weeks ago. And the loss of 15 pounds is deceptive because with such consistent weight lifting some of that fat has surely been replaced with denser muscle fiber.

Most important figure is the belly girth. Don’t forget that visceral fat (the dangerous stuff that gravitates to our midsection) is not really the flabby-grabby stuff. It’s often firm, and thus deceptive. Have you ever wondered how our bodies tend to grow wide within our skeletal structure as we age? We just tend to morph into widebody versions of our younger selves. It’s because the visceral fat is packing in firmly around our internal organs, which causes our rib cage, hip girdle, etc to expand.


“I think that the primary fallout from increasing obesity is probably not going to be some huge hit to mortality. It’s going to be disability.” Dr. Virginia Chang, demographer at New York University.

(Click here for a discussion on the healthcare costs dilemma of obesity + aging)

This widening organ packing is bad on multiple levels, not the least of which is the propensity for abnormal cell growth (cancer) in the vicinity of excess fat. But my dear reader… this body type is a fully reversible condition.



One very cool aspect of documenting my daily eats is that I am able to better understand how my body responds to specific foods. This would normally be a major chore, but I just snap a photo of my meals with my phone, and record the verbal description later. How easy is that? If I feel water-retentive, crampy, puffy, belly-achie, scratchy throat, stuffy sinuses (or whatever) the next day it’s so easy to look back at what I put in my body that activated such a response.

For example: I don’t always eat organic, I mix it up. Sometimes I noticed my throat was getting scratchy, and a post nasal thing was happening. I traced this reaction back on my journal to the consumption of watermelon. I thought about the high water content in this food and reasoned that it must surely pick up a huge chemical residue from pesticides. So the next market day I purchased organically grown watermelon… and sure enough, no allergic reaction!

No need to share with the whole world, but doing your own personal meal journal is enormously helpful. Be honest! This will be your source for analysis of the program. You need accurate information to form future adjustments.



Have you noticed the addition of facial workout routines listed in my daily journal? “Why such vanity?” you may ask. “What do facelines have to do with waistlines??”

Well, I actually know people who refuse to lose fat for fear it will cause an outcrop of visible wrinkles and droopy cheeks & jowls. Now listen! I don’t want anything coming between a man/woman and optimal health! I’m not suggesting, nor do I desire, the obliteration of all wrinkles. I love my character lines! I’m not so in love with the sun-induced etchings, or with droopy, sleepy facial muscles. We can do something about these. First we zero in on the muscular foundation.

I have developed two categories of facial exercises to tighten up our muscular underpinnings: HANDS-ON and HANDS-FREE. I want to share these with you as I incorporate them a few minutes each day in my regular Project Waistline regimen. I’m in the process of creating a few Youtube videos to share the details and my own personal progress with you.

Okay… so that’s it for now. Back to the studio today to start filming & editing Project Waistline Videologs.

Now you stay strong and committed!

Keep saying NO to corporate foods!

Keep saying YES to simple stress free living!

Depression Related to Waist Ratio?

Is my Waist-to-Hip ratio making me depressed? Or maybe it’s my depression that’s causing me to overindulge in comfort foods, thus increasing my Waist-to-Hip ratio?

Either way, there seems to be a connection between these two. Very likely there’s a third hidden factor resulting in both! We need to spend some meditative quiet time and prayer investigating the hidden factor.

In a cross-sectional population based study, data on the first N = 5000 participants enrolled in the Gutenberg Health Study (GHS) are reported. To analyze the relationship between depression and obesity, we computed linear regression models with the anthropometric measure (BMI, WC, WHR, WHtR) as the dependent variable and life style factors, cardiovascular risk factors and psychotropic medications as potential confounders of obesity/depression.

We found that only the somatic (e.g., fatigue, sleep problems, and poor appetite), but not the cognitive-affective symptoms of depression (e.g., shame, guilt and negative self-image) are consistently positively associated with anthropometric measures of obesity.

What is REALLY Low-SOS food?

If you think you’re eating Low-SOS (Low-salt, oil, sugar) minimally processed foods, but you’re not seeing significant health results, you might want to check out these two articles (click links below). The problem may be hidden sources of SOS in your diet.

Ask yourself how seriously you need to reduce your blood pressure, cholesterol, triglycerides, blood sugar, in order to reach your goal of ideal health. If you’re determined to do this thing right, and do it now, some culinary adjustments may be in order.

A Date With Disaster

Is Your SOS Free Diet Really SOS Free? Identifying Hidden Sources of Salt/Sodium, Oil/Fat & Sugars/Sweeteners

Stay strong… stay whole… stay well.


Plez take a quick read (I’ve pasted the post here, no need to click on the link)

Patient Googles His Way Out of Bypass Surgery*

One of the most common operations performed in the world today is coronary artery bypass graft surgery (CABG). I would like to share with you the remarkable story of a recent Cardiac Wellness Program patient here at Montefiore Medical Center (I’ll call him Mr. J), who changed his diet as a gastric bypass alternative.

Mr. J is a middle-aged man with high cholesterol and a family history of heart disease. Understandably, he desperately wanted to avoid the problems that many in his family had faced, so he ate a “healthy” diet of chicken, fish, and low-fat dairy, with a few fruits and vegetables mixed in. And he exercised. A lot. In fact, he loved exercising so much that he would do it for two to three hours a day — brisk walking, playing sports, etc.

Mr. J. first visited a cardiologist at age 55, after having experienced several weeks of tightness in his neck during physical activity. The condition had worsened to the point that only 30 to 45 seconds of exercise brought on significant discomfort. The doctor ordered a stress test, to see if heart disease could be contributing to this symptom. The test results were so wildly abnormal that he was sent immediately to the hospital for a cardiac catheterization, to look for cholesterol blockages in the vessels that supply his heart with blood. Such severe blockages were found that he was admitted directly to the hospital for coronary artery bypass graft surgery. In less than one day, his life had changed dramatically.

While lying nervously in his hospital bed, he began to think that maybe there was another way to approach this disease, so he went online. There, he read about the impact of a whole-food, plant-based diet on heart disease, and he decided that was the path for him. He called the nurse, gave back his hospital gown, and despite the pleas of his medical team, signed himself out of the hospital against medical advice. Mr. J’s nurse was so concerned that before he was able to leave, she called his wife to have her convince him to stay. He did not. Later, the nurse even called Mr. J at home to plead for his return. He politely declined.

Soon thereafter he found our Cardiac Wellness Program at Montefiore. He was already taking all the appropriate medications, and he chose to completely change his lifestyle as well. He fully embraced a whole-food, plant-based diet without oil and had perhaps the most remarkable turnaround I have ever seen. Within one week, he went from being able to walk only a block before feeling tightness in his neck to walking 25 blocks without incident! Fast-forward three months and he was back to exercising two to three hours each day without symptoms. That is what I call remarkable!

A few weeks later, Mr. J got another call from his nurse. She had just been diagnosed with cholesterol blockages in her heart, and her doctors were recommending cardiac procedures. With Mr. J in mind, she told her doctors no way and called him to learn how to do exactly what he did: embrace a whole-food, plant-based diet!

Mr. J never did get that bypass surgery, nor did he get a coronary stent. In fact, he did not need to have any procedures at all. He got healthier with appropriate medications and by wholeheartedly embracing a whole-food, plant-based diet.

The key to health, it seems, lies at the end of your fork.​

* * *

*Postscript: While many heart patients may reverse their disease with lifestyle change alone, Mr. J also continued his prescribed medications, given the severity of his condition, and their doses were lowered as his health improved. Please note that I am not recommending lifestyle change over medical intervention for any particular person, as every case is of course different. Some cases are fraught with more risk than others, so please consult with both your physician and a physician trained in lifestyle medicine before making significant lifestyle changes.

Cardiologist Robert Ostfeld, MD, MSc is the founder and director of the Cardiac Wellness Program at Montefiore Medical Center in New York City, where he encourages patients to embrace a whole-foods, plant-based diet. He earned his MD at Yale and his MSc in epidemiology at Harvard, and he is an associate professor of clinical medicine at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine.

First Month Victories & Tweaks

Eeeee-ha!!… after 30 days of faithful adherence to the Project Waistline Low-SOS vegan plan (party days (Woo-Hoo!) & ocassional extravagant XL items included) I have lost enough mass to reduce WAIST-TO-HIP RATIO from .77 to .70!

Lost 9 pounds, and a total of 5.5 inches:

3 inches from my waist
2.5 inches from my jelly-belly

Wonder why none were lost from hips or bust? I suppose our body knows where to shred first… yeah, get rid of that nasty visceral (abdominal) fat, then deal with the rest later. Who can’t live with that?! It may also be that bumping up weight lifting intensity in those particular areas (upper & lower body sessions four tough days per week) is actually doing its job – trading out fat for muscle! Again I say go for it nature, do your thing!


I like this lifestyle. First change I noticed was that I was saving boat loads of money! When I stroll the grocery store processed food aisles (who am I kidding?… most ALL grocery stores aisles are processed food aisles) I feel like a foreigner in some strange country. Have you noticed that, too?

Corporate food giants make their mega-profits by not only spiking our supper with addictive ingredients (salt, oil, fat), but by storing them nearly indefinitely on grocery store shelves. Okay, I’ve got an answer for that! I find myself buying institutional sized bulk quantities of brown rice, beans, lentils, green peas, oats and storing these dry goods in food grade buckets with easy open gamma seal lids

lined with mylar bags. My kitchen pantry looks like a virtual apocalyptic doomsday prepper headquarters, LOL!

Out here in the wild west we get the best deals on dry goods at our (employee-owned) Winco supermarkets’ bulk food section:


Be sure to ask the manager to order large sized bags of your favorite items. If they don’t have it in stock they’ll have it available for you fresh off the truck in a few days. But if you don’t want 15 or 20 pounds at a time, just scoop what you need from the bins. They sell at the same unit price as buying in bulk!

I also save time & $$ by ordering a weekly basket of fresh organic produce from our local farmers:

Unboxing my weekly farm haul feels like Christmas! 🙂 (Whoa… look at those lunch sister! – fatty underarms – gotta get those babies down, dip-dip-dip on those triceps!)

On those rare visits to sit down restaurants I find little interest in their menu items. It’s so obvious that their biggest promos are items drenched in salt-oil-sugar for the sole reason of toying with our addictions. (See Dr. John McDougall’s review of the Michael Moss book SALT, SUGAR, FAT: How the Food Giants Hooked Us) If you don’t believe me just try ordering something without it. Tell the waiter you’re allergic to SOS (which, of course, we all are to some degree since it’ll kill us if we overdo it!) and see if he/she can come up with any reasonable on-the-menu offerings. You’ll most likely end up ordering low cost off-menu side dishes (unembelished baked potato, bowl of beans or rice, etc). So yeah… processed foods are pricey. Somehow I didn’t get that tweet in my pre Project Waistline days!


Satiation has not been an issue for me over these past 30 days. I do not limit quantities on these healthy foods, so although I may list the item only one time on my daily journal I make no mention of how many servings I am consuming. I just keep eating until I’m satisfied. That was a big problem when my food choices were calorie-dense / nutrient-sparse / high fat foods!

(An exception to my all-u-care-to-eat mantra is applied to those serious XL indulgences. When I list an XL-12oz cola for instance, I really mean 12 ounces! In the next 30 days I’m going to try cutting this one indulgence in half to only 12 ounces every other weekend.)

In the spirit of full disclosure I want you to know that (although unlisted in my food journal) I am taking vitamin B12 supplements, and adding a small amount of coconut water based probiotic, along with 2 teaspoon of ground flax seed to my morning smoothie. And by the way, that smoothie is morphing dominately green with multiple fistfulls of kale, spinach, chard, collards… whatever is on hand!

At the beginning, back in week one, I found myself gorging. I suppose I feared insufficiency… but I ended up making myself nauseous! It took a few weeks to recognize when the “satiation complete” signal had reached its destination from my belly to my brain! Now I know better & I surround myself with an environment of visually seductive ready-to-eat snack fruits & veggies to tamp down those satiation insecurities.


Although I have reached the .7 Waist-to-Hip ratio, I know my body. It’s not where it should be YET. There’s just too much jiggle in my jangle… (know where I’m coming from?)

Because I tend to carry most excess weight in my lower body I’m thinking a more accurate reflection of body fat composition (for my body type) would involve taking at the very least an average of my two waist measurements (upper + lower) ÷ 2 , then dividing the results by hip measurement. Doing it this way with week 4 measurements yields…

AVERAGE waist-to-hip ratio

Step 1. (30 + 38) ÷ 2 = 34
Step 2. 34 ÷ 43 = .79 wth ratio !

Yep… I gotta tell ya, that figure feels closer to the truth. And it passes my jiggle verification filter! I’ll be including this averaged calculation, in addition to the regular one, in future statistics posts.


Speaking of the future, get ready for upcoming Project Waistline vlogs (video blogs) on my new Youtube channel! There will be meal prep segments from my kitchen:


as soon as I get my retro Aunt Bee style apron shipped from Ebay!


Produce promotions from my orchard/garden:


Simple skin & haircare hints to steer you far away from the cosmetic surgeons knife:


And there will be a whole series of exercise workout routines like this one from a recent visit to the Magic Kingdom (who says you can’t workout at the happiest place on Earth??)


So stay tuned to Project Waistline…

Keep saying NO to corporate foods!

Keep saying YES to simple stress free living!