Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Soft- versus Hard-Sell

We know the facts -- a plant-based diet is so beneficial -- it's kinder and healthier.

So why isn't everyone a vegan?

When someone reluctantly admits he eats meat, we may think, he needs the facts.... NOW!  Tell him about how meat clogs the arteries, and plant-based diets reverse coronary artery disease.  Show him pictures of chickens crammed in wire cages, pigs in gestation crates, and cows hanging at the slaughter. And get him to a screening of Forks Over Knives..... STAT!!!

But, that approach can seem overzealous.  Overwhelming people with facts will not lead them to change.

I'm more in favor of the "soft sell" approach.

In my daily life as a cardiologist, I advocate a plant-based diet as a way to prevent and reverse cardiovascular disease in all of its forms -- to lower blood pressure, lower cholesterol, stabilize or reverse coronary plaque, reduce risk of diabetes, and so forth.  However, I recognize that not every patient who walks in my office is going to walk out a vegan.  In fact, most won't.

When I start talking to patients about diet, a reaction I often get is, "I'll never become a vegetarian."  And expecting a person who eats meat, butter, and cheese for three meals a day to give it all up isn't realistic.  But, I believe we can meet somewhere in the middle.

We can agree that this patient's diet and lifestyle habits have gotten him to the point where he is with his health, that years of animal products, fast food, junk food, lack of exercise, and smoking led him to his present disease.  We can also agree that in order to do better that some of those habits need to change.

Eat more fruits and vegetables.  Eat less meat and dairy.  Walk for a few minutes every day.  True, a plant-based diet is ideal, but let's start somewhere with attainable goals.  Maybe at the next visit we'll talk about taking it one step further.

I'm not going to say I haven't had patients go full-on plant-based at the drop of a hat.  Because I've seen it happen and I've seen the great results that come with it.  But most patients aren't going to do that, and we need to start somewhere.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

San Diego ITU Worlds

I raced this weekend at San Diego ITU Worlds in the Olympic distance race -- 0.9 mile swim, 24 mile bike, 6.2 mile run.

The week leading up to the race was less than ideal -- the race was on Saturday morning, and at 2 am on Thursday morning, I was doing emergency angioplasty.  So, needless to say, I wasn't well rested before the race.  Then again, patient care always comes first.

This race was the triathlon club national race.  So, this wasn't a small race, and a lot of tough athletes showed up to compete.

Swim
My group, women 35-39, were the third to last wave of competitors.  Behind us were two waves of men in their 30's.  In other words, men to clobber us on the swim, so I was anticipating having rather aggressive men trying to get around me on the swim.

I started near the back of the pack on the swim.  I should have started toward the middle, but since I waited until the absolute last minute to warm up in the water, I was one of the last women in my wave start to gather, and I didn't want to push people to get toward the front.  So, as the gun went off, I ran past a few women into the water and swam around several of them until I got to the right position.

The swim was a bit choppy, and there were some currents, and with the men starting just a few minutes after us, I constantly felt like people were swimming very close to me and past me.

Swim time:  34 minutes.  Slower than my usual time which is closer to 30 minutes.  I blame the currents.


Coming out of the water....

Bike
Toughest bike course of any sprint or olympic distance race.  The road conditions were less than ideal with plenty of potholes and cracks in the road.  We rode two loops up Mount Soledad (I think that's what it's called)!  It's a long hill with some really steep points.  I saw one woman climbing the hill on her bike topple over as she hit one of the cones on the side of the road.  I heard of a couple other bike accidents on the course also.

Most of my pictures on the bike were of me sitting upright, not on my aerobars, because I wouldn't want to topple over from hitting a pothole the wrong way.

Here, I think I saw the cameras, so I got onto my aerobars intentionally for the picture :)
Bike time:  1 hour 31 minutes.  Not so great.  Reflects the hilly course, and my general lack of focus on cycling this season.

Run!!!
My favorite part of a short race.  There were a few women in my age group who I was going back and forth with on the bike.  And on the run, I passed them for good within the first 2 miles.

This is my running game face.  It doesn't look very convincing.

And this is the fun picture:

I was working hard on the run, but I had a good time.  The run course was around Mission Bay.  We saw the residents in their beachfront homes drinking mimosas as we ran by.  I ran by one woman I knew, but didn't recognize until she yelled, "Shenkman stop looking at your watch and run!" and left me laughing for the next couple of minutes.  A crew of my team members were on the course near the finish line cheering us on, which is always awesome too.

Run time:  51:38 -- my fastest 10k EVER!

Overall time:  3 hours, 11 minutes.
30th place out of 66 in my age group.

The race reflected my relative efforts over the past several months.  Excellent run, decent swim, and not-so-fabulous bike.  Great race, tough competitors, and beautiful scenery.

Saturday, May 05, 2012

What Next?

Having been a multisport athlete for a few years, I feel like I am still evolving.  I used to love treadmill runs.  Then I found myself enjoying road running.  This past year, I've been introduced to trail running.

Trail running and I haven't necessarily gotten along so well.  I've scraped up my knees and scuffed up my hands from a few falls.  On one trail run that I had intended to be out and back, I ended up completely lost, and were it not for the GPS on my phone, there would have been a search and rescue party looking for me.

But there are some real benefits of trail running.  The views are awesome.  The terrain is gentler on the joints.  And there's a certain sense of adventure to getting on trails.

I did my first trail race in January of this year, the Boney Mountain Half Marathon.  Then last weekend I completed the Malibu Creek Challenge 22K race, 14 miles with nearly 3000 feet of climbing.

Having completed both of those events, I have decided on my next challenge -- an ultramarathon.

I am now signed up for Bulldog 50K on August 25.  It's about 31 miles, basically two loops of the Malibu Creek Challenge, in August, in what could be 100 degree heat.  This is one of the tougher races, but I figure, go big or go home, right?