Healthfest Day 2 – Rich Roll

A few years ago I began thinking about doing ultra marathons. There is something intriguing about distance running and last year I thought I was ready to make the leap to trail running and ultras. Turns out I was wrong or at least my body decided it wasn’t the right time, but I still have a fascination for people who run extremely long distances.

I stumbled upon Rich Roll’s book Finding Ultra. It was an interesting read about Rich’s foray into ultra running and his life story from a promising collegiate swimmer to a desperate alcoholic. He found his way out of addiction and eventually into a plant based lifestyle. He rediscovered his love of swimming and took on new interests in biking and running. He went on to compete in the Ultraman World Championships in Hawaii. This is an exclusive competition which is comprised of a 6.2 mile swim, 261.4 mile cycle and 52.4 mile run over 3 days.

Now you can find Rich Roll on his podcast by the same name. His podcasts have inspired me, motivated me and taught me to think big, dream and keep striving for more. I first heard about Healthfest on one of his podcasts. It sounded interesting and it was a great opportunity to hear speakers with a message that resonated with me.

I must admit I was a little star struck in Marshall, TX. I know most of the people in my life don’t even know who I’m talking about when I refer to the likes of Rich Roll, T. Colin Campbell, Dr. Garth Davis, etc. What struck me instantly was how generous the speakers were with their time. They all seemed very open to meeting their audience and chatting with them.

I tend to feel minimal in most social situations. I was very reluctant to approach the speakers. However, about 20 minutes before Rich Roll’s talk on day 2 of Healthfest I went outside for a short walk and coming straight towards me on a deserted street was Mr. Roll himself. I knew I had to say something. So I outstretched my hand and introduced myself. He was kind, shook my hand and chatted with me for a few moments. As I’ve said attending Healthfest was really about getting outside of my comfort zone and exposing myself to a new experience. I definitely did that in more than one way.

The last talk I attended on Day 2 was Rich’s. Since I’ve been following him for a while his talk was not really new to me.

How To Live More Sustainably & Thrive

Rich Roll

IMG_2095

IMG_2096

Some take away points from Rich’s talk:

  • 108 million dieters in this country have yielded a $20 billion/year industry
  • We are addicted to foods that fail us, medications that treat symptoms not the problem and lifestyles that lead to illnesses.
  • Everyone has the time to live a healthy lifestyle. It’s a question of priority.
  • Stop trying to hack the journey. The journey is the destination. Invest in the journey.
  • One industry is destroying the planet more than any other and it is industrialized livestock agriculture.
  • It requires 660 gallons of water to develop 1 hamburger.
  • It takes 1000 gallons of water to produce one gallon of milk.
  • 110 animal species are lost daily in the rainforest.
  • Vegans produce 50% less CO2

 

 

Healthfest Day 2 – Lani Muelrath

Before I move on to more about the conference I am going to write about my really crappy week. This week sucked. The weather was horrible and it’s really wearing me down. I had an awesome 18 mile run on Sunday and then on the fitness front it was all downhill from there. My motivation was sapped. I had none. I am going to announce something I rarely ever say…I have been tired! Actually no, I’ve been exhausted both mentally and physically. Yes, I am human!!

On the food front the week started out great. By Wednesday I needed the jaws of life to tear me away from the jar of sunbutter. Ridiculous!

Work kind of sucked too. My new job is ok. I’m learning, but there is so much to learn. Most days I feel like I’m starting over again. I’m also still working per diem at the hospital. I was told on Tuesday morning that the Wednesday night shift I picked up at the hospital was actually taken by someone else after my boss had offered it to me. OK no big deal. I could use the night’s sleep. Later on Tuesday there was a call out so I ended up working, but the last minute nature of it threw me all off the next day.

I had a work meeting out in the eastern part of the state yesterday. What should take me an hour and a half tops took me over 2 hours. Why is there rush hour traffic at almost 10am? I could never live and work out there.

Well I suppose I could wallow in my little pity party, but I won’t. It’s time to move on. The sun is coming, so “they” say. I have a 20 mile run this weekend and I’m going to kill it! I had my lemon water this morning to start the day and now I’m eating a bowl of oatmeal with a little banana and apple. I’m having dental surgery later this morning. This afternoon I’m supposed to shuttle things from Carlos’ school over to UMass where they are holding the school’s annual auction. Carlos is having a much awaited sleepover tonight with his best friend. It’s going to be a busy day, but I’m grateful to have another day to try to figure things out. I’m not perfect, but I will progress. This is just a bump in the road of the wonderful journey I’m on.


 

After the data packed lecture by Dr. Robert Ostfeld, I went to the Michelson Museum for a talk by Lani Muelrath, author of  the book, Fit QuickiesThe book describes how to “fit” fitness into your day in short targeted bursts to maximize the effectiveness and minimize the time spent working out. Lani also follows a whole foods plant based diet (WFPBD).

Her talk was entitled the Food and Fitness Connection and like the book details not only how to fit workouts into busy schedules, but also touches diet and mindset. She refers to the three pillars of a healthy lifestyle as fitness, food and mindset.

I enjoyed the lecture and the demonstration of a couple “fit quickies” at the end. Lani is energetic and passionate about what she does. She speaks from experience, having lost 50 pounds and she lives the lifestyle she preaches. She was also very approachable throughout the weekend.

Lani Muelrath
Lani Muelrath

I thought this was an interesting slide she showed at the end of the talk. Since I started this new job I find that I’m working at the computer much more. From day one I noticed areas of my back tightening up and my right shoulder felt pinched after sitting for a while. Now, most days, I stand up at my kitchen island while working. I have no more back discomfort or shoulder pain.

Evolutionary return
Evolution goes backwards

Healthfest Day 2 – Dr. Robert Ostfeld

I decided to indulge in a rare treat…a little extra sleep in the gigantic king size hotel bed. Unfortunately this meant missing the Healthfest training run at 6:30am. Instead, I enjoyed a solo run near the hotel in Marshall. There wasn’t much to see on the main road so I turned down a side street and found myself on a quiet residential dirt road. As I came up a small hill on my way back towards the main road I was greeted with a beautiful sunrise. The weather was cool, but still a welcome change from the northeast.

IMG_2079

It was really difficult to pick and choose which sessions to attend. There were typically two or three at a time with shorter fitness sessions woven into the day. It was nearly impossible for me to attend a yoga class and make it to the lectures I really wanted to see as well. I saw as much as I possibly could in the short time.

Healthfest Day 2

8:30 AM 

Your Heart on Plants 

The first session I attended was a talk by Dr. Robert Ostfeld, Director of Cardiac Wellness Program at Montefiore Medical Center in Bronx, NY. Dr. Ostfeld presented a straightforward, research based lecture. His use of case studies, anecdotes, and ease with which he spoke of the subject matter made the talk enjoyable. The fact that the content was upheld by scientific data reinforced my understanding of the positive effects of a Whole Food Plant Based Diet (WFPBD) on the heart.

Bypass surgery
Patient date proves effectiveness of plant based diet
Patient data proves effectiveness of plant based diet

The following are notes that I jotted down during the presentation:

  • Lifestyle is the cornerstone of preventive medicine
  • 65% of 12-14 year olds have early signs of heart disease
  • There are 2 heart attacks per minute in the United States
  • Heart disease is the number one killer of adults in the United States
  • Women are 6-7 times more likely to die of a Myocardial Infarction (MI) than Breast Cancer
  • Framingham Heart Study – began in 1948 and continues to track three generations of participants in Framingham, MA to help identify the factors that contribute to heart disease
  • Trimethylamine N-oxide (TMAO) – associated with increase in cholesterol levels in the blood. Found in meat eaters, but not present in vegans.
  • Goal of Dr. Ostfeld’s Cardiac Wellness Program is to prevent and reverse heart disease with a WFPBD
  • Case study – Female patient in her mid-60s. Status post MI (heart attack), refused surgery. Shortness of breath on minimal exertion. On cardiac medications. Started a WFPBD with no oil. In 4 months her LDL dropped 70 points and she was able to walk comfortably for 30 minutes on a treadmill. There was a strong dichotomy of opinions in her family, half of the family were in full support of the WFPBD treatment and half did not approve. Patient had to move closer to the half of the family that disapproved of the WFPBD and she returned to her previous eating habits. She quickly decompensated, had another heart attack and opted for bypass surgery.
  • HDL efflux = WFPBD makes HDL cholesterol (aka “the good cholesterol”) more efficient which can actually decrease HDL level (we are ingrained to believe that our HDL should be high and LDL low).

Dr. Ostfeld did another session later in the day called Beyond the Heart, but it conflicted with another lecture I wanted to hear. What impressed me the most about Dr. Ostfeld was the fact that he’s prescribing plant based diets to his patients and he’s monitoring real success. He also follows a WFPBD so he’s not just preaching to patients. He’s actually living the same lifestyle he promotes. His message, and really the overall theme of the conference, is that if we treat our bodies the right way we can live a long healthy life despite our genetic lot in life.

Healthfest Day 1

Friday, March 27, 2015

I drove about 45 minutes from Shreveport, LA to the small town of Marshall, TX. My hotel was practically on the highway exit to Marshall so I checked in and then set out to explore the town.

Marshall Texas Court House
Marshall, Texas Court House
Quiet street on a Friday afternoon in downtown Marshall, TX
Quiet street on a Friday afternoon in downtown Marshall, TX

There was not much happening in Marshall. I expected to see more people with the conference set to start in just a couple of hours, but the town was very quiet. I read that a few of the local restaurants were offering special vegan menus in honor of the conference so I grabbed a quick lunch at Sweet Sabine’s Restaurant. I enjoyed a veggie wrap and a delicious vegan carrot ginger muffin.

The conference opened late in the afternoon at the Marshall Conference Center. I checked in around 4:30 and made my way around the small vendor area. I watched the Vitamix guy do his thing and grabbed a sample of his green smoothie. I was mostly in awe that some of the main presenters, like Dr. T. Colin Campell (co-author of the China Study), Matt Frazier (No Meat Athlete) and Christy Morgan (The Blissful Chef) and were just walking around chatting with people. I have read their books and blogs anonymously and there they were chatting with folks and posing for photos. I suddenly became very shy! I felt a little out of place wandering around by myself.

Inside the large conference room a small vegetarian chili competition was happening. I tried the three different chilis and voted for my favorite which had almond butter in it. Sounds strange, but it really was delicious.

A local fitness group did a zumba presentation while people began to fill the auditorium in preparation of the opening night of Healthiest 2015. I sat anxiously in the third row with my glasses on and notebook in hand. How badly do I want to go to college again?!! Dr. Campbell was literally about 3 feet away from me politely talking with anyone who approached him. I posted about it on Facebook and a few friends insisted I try to talk to him or at least get a selfie with him. I couldn’t do it!! Instead I took a photo of him talking to someone else. He’s 81 years old!

IMG_2076
Dr. T. Colin Campbell

Mayor Ed Smith and his wife Amanda opened the conference with a short discussion of the origins Healthfest. It began as part of the Get Healthy Marshall Texas movement which was started by the Smiths. Mayor Smith was diagnosed with prostate cancer in 2008. After transitioning to a whole foods plant based diet the cancer was halted. Mayor Smith and his wife have encouraged and motivated their community to take charge of their health through their own enthusiasm about living a plant based lifestyle.

They introduced the keynote speaker, Rich Roll. I’ve mentioned him on the blog. I have been listening to the Rich Roll podcast for a few years now which feature a range of guests from the likes of well known health and wellness experts, bloggers, athletes and inspiring people who have overcome diversity. These people are truly living their dreams and motivating so many along the way. Rich told his story, one that I’ve heard on the podcast and read about in his book, Finding Ultra.

IMG_2075
Rich Roll

Next up was Dr. T. Colin Campbell with a discussion of his famed book, The China Study, which essentially chronicles the link between nutrition and chronic illnesses. He also touched on the subject of what many find difficult about adopting a whole foods plant based diet (WFPBD).

The Origin and Meaning of The China Study
The Origin and Meaning of The China Study

The last presenter of the night was Chef AJ. She’s a performer and is clearly at home on the stage. Her talks are informative with a heavy dose of comedic grit thrown in for texture. She’s got a witty sarcastic humor that resonates with me. She also looks amazing and attributes her svelte body to the rather rigid oil free, whole foods plant based diet she has been living for years. Her message is all about eating to the left of the red line something I will discuss in another post.

Chef AJ telling Secrets to Ultimate Weight Loss
Chef AJ telling Secrets to Ultimate Weight Loss

The night ended with the winner of the Chili cookoff being announced. I returned to the hotel tired, but excited for the next day of the conference. I browsed the Healthfest schedule and tried to decide which sessions I really wanted to attend the next day as so many of them overlapped or were held at the same time.