…a follow up to “My Health Journey“.
It’s been over 90 days since Rhythm Superfoods CEO Scott Jensen went back on Rip Esselstyn’s Engine 2 Diet so we followed up with him to find out how things were going.
Q: How do you feel? Did you lose weight?
A: I feel really good! I think most people who go through a fitness or health commitment needs reinforcements early on to keep them going before it becomes habitual. Someone who works out all the time has made it a habit: wake up, workout, etc. versus someone just starting workouts who has former habits they need to break.
The habit breaking is hard, but you feel it quickly when the weight starts coming off – which right now I’m hovering around 9 lbs. less than where I started. You physically feel that and it’s a reinforcement to keep going. My belts are looser, you start looking through the closet for those old pair of jeans you might fit in again.
And the other side is when you’re carrying weight, you feel it too: getting out of bed, walking, running, or at the end of the day the compression on your knees. Believe it or not, when you are heavier you feel those things. You hear these clichés about being “in tune” with your body and when you are heavier than you want to be, you don’t talk about it as much, but you do feel those things.
Then suddenly you start shedding the weight and you notice there are less aches and pains. I feel more agile when I’m kicking the soccer ball with my kids. And I feel that with just 9 lbs. off…I want to lose another 20lbs.
The first couple of weeks, I was way more tired particularly from the change in the diet. I found myself unprepared for protein solutions, so the carbohydrates are giving you these quick ups and downs and adding the workout part of it meant I wasn’t prepared for how tired I was going to be. But you do see a swing where you figure things out and the workout energizes you and you start feeling more energy later in the day. So…it takes a commitment and a belief system that you’re going to see it on the other side of the tunnel. And that’s happening.
Q: Did you experience any challenges besides tiredness like you mentioned in the first question? Any hiccups along the way? And with your schedule and travel – how did you deal with that?
A: I’m really busy and keep a very full schedule. Trade shows, customer meetings, broker meetings…all that stuff is part of my life and those are habits too. Your calendar is what it is, and you’re involved in all these things, and you realize 85% of places that you’d normally grab a bite don’t have the things that you’re going to need. I don’t want to say that it’s not there. But because it was a habit, I’d look at the menu and not even realize that a ton of places have a vegan menu – even if it’s a separate menu, particularly in Austin and other larger cities. I found it difficult to be prepared with plant-based protein sources during travels. Whether it’s almonds or a No Cow Bar, you need the protein to level out your energy. Vega Protein Powder with rice milk has been a quick fix when I’m at home, but it’s hard to travel with. Also, I just didn’t prepare for that and wasn’t sure which powders I’d like so I tried several things over the first few weeks that I didn’t like.
Meals in the house were something I was accountable for, so the challenge was “what do I like that’s available?” Compared to when I first did this diet 7+ years ago, there weren’t many vegan options for quick meals versus how many options are available now. Rip’s focus is on cooking meals yourself, but because I’m on the run a lot I needed solutions that were quicker. I needed to adjust and find the things that were going to give me lasting energy throughout the day, so I found my favorites and stuck with those.
Q: What are your favorites? Any specific brands?
A: No Cow Bars, VEGA Protein Powders, Amy’s Kitchen, Gardein, and an Instapot for cooking up some beans and lentils. Trader Joe’s frozen veggie meatballs are also great! I’ve probably only tried 10% of what’s out there, honestly.
Q: Have you gone back in to get bloodwork done? New results?
A: Besides the average 9 lbs. lower in weight, the bloodwork markers I discussed with my physician are all in a very good direction. LDL down 14%, Glucose down 10%, A1C in the “good” range. Triglycerides didn’t improve, but that could be an anomaly, so we’ll check in 3 more months.
Q: Did you stick to your exercise goal of 2-3 days per week?
A: Yes! It wasn’t until ~2-3 weeks in because that also needed its own kick-start. My wife started going to Orange Theory Fitness so I started going with her for early morning workouts. I had been a member of an awesome gym, but this just comes down to efficiency. The workout has got to be really close to home. I love the technology of Orange Theory Fitness – heart rate monitor, you see your numbers on the screen, you have splat points, etc. It’s fitting and motivating me. They have some great music too during the 55min workouts. No socializing, just hard work and that’s what’s working for me. Occasionally with a busier travel schedule, I have to shift focus away from workouts at times. When I’m not traveling as much I have more time to get in my workouts.
Q: Was there anything you missed eating?
A: I fancy myself as a chef more than a foodie. I’m pretty good in the kitchen and the grill and I love doing it. The atmosphere of pulling different soup stocks together and creating different meat/protein-based meals, and the deglazing and creating sauces in a pan…I miss that. I miss the flavors. I think with some of the vegetable base stocks that I’ve got, I’m getting that “umami-ness”. There’s an umami mushroom powder that delivers on the savory flavor that you generally get with those other protein-based meals. But I’ve found some solutions, and there are ones that come really close and are satisfying. I also want to try the Beyond Meat Burger and Sausage to see how those compare.
Q: Did anyone help to keep you accountable?
A: Myself with food and my wife Cyndie for the workouts.
Q: How will you continue to stay on track?
A: I’m now committed for another 6 months on this. I’ve had a couple of episodes at restaurants that weren’t on the Engine 2 Diet, but I’ve been able to get back on track immediately thereafter.
Q: Any advice for those looking to take that step to better their own health?
A: I still think there are dozens of resources available to motivate people to change their habits. There’s simply not one single way to go about it, so you have to let people find what works best for them and what motivates them. If it’s the infomercial guy, or a doctor letting you know it’s time for a drastic change, or even your friends at work committing to a Whole 30 program together – just find what works for you! There are many habit-changing triggers out there. Be open to the message. There is, however, no miracle pill to fix your health overnight. A moderation of calories (healthy calories) combined with a consistent moderation of exercise activity (in that order) has the greatest effect on most people’s health.
See you in a few months!