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Testimonial of 14-day challenge by Michelle Ann Iking

Disclaimer: This is a Facebook post by one of our 14-day challenge participants. We are sharing the post with her permission (thank you, Michelle!) and here is a direct link: https://m.facebook.com/story.php?story_fbid=10157707436221431&id=642876430


 

I recently completed a medically-supervised 14-Day Plant-Based Challenge with www.pbhall.org, a social enterprise dedicated to evidence-based plant-based whole food nutrition.


The Challenge included:

  • Chef-prepared plant-based lunches + dinners (prepared with no animal-based products or dairy, and < 1/3 teaspoon Salt, < 1 tsp Oil, and Zero added Sugar per meal), delivered daily

  • Gribbles blood tests and individual Dr consultations pre-& post the Challenge

  • Inclusion into an insightful and supportive group of plant-based practitioners, Drs and fellow Challenge participants



These are my cholesterol results over the past 5 months – showing a thankfully downward trend over 3 measurement points:

  1. A routine blood test in February

  2. 3+ months after I had DIY-adopted a pescatarian (no meat, no poultry, occasional seafood and predominantly vegetable) diet

  3. After the 14-day Plant-Based Challenge (the next cycle of which starts next Sunday 27 June – Saturday 10 July 2021 for which you can register at https://www.pbhall.org/activate with discount codes • 14-day Challenge discount code RESET14 for RM200 off • 7-day Challenge discount code RESET7 for RM100 off)


***

I had gone for a routine blood scan in February and detected cholesterol levels above healthy ranges – putting me at risk of heart disease, stroke, diabetes and high blood pressure, among others.


Around the same time, I had become aware of the role of animal-based proteins in triggering chronic diseases like cancer and heart disease.


Prior to that, every so often I would offer a silent prayer that the cancers that plagued my family would pass me by (my father died of lung cancer; my paternal grandfather – cancer of the tongue; my paternal grandmother – cancer of the liver, my paternal uncle – cancer of the nasopharynx, though he died of a stroke; my maternal grandfather - also died of a stroke)...

…like the Angel of Death ‘passing over’ select ‘chosen ones’ … but it was often a passive prayer, where I felt like a skittle in the Bowling Game of Life – hoping not to be struck down, round after round, somehow still to be left standing.


To be clear, I’m not (touch wood) AFRAID OF DEATH. Death comes to us all. It is an occupational hazard of living, and every day that we have to live is a blessing and privilege until we pass on to our next Great Adventure…


It is just that obviously, I would love to enjoy as much as possible of THIS adventure with the family I love, especially Kishore Suppiah, Lara and now, Kiaen, but until recently, I thought that the time I have is a matter of the Luck of the Draw/Fate/God’s Will.

Educating myself on the role of eliminating animal-based foods from my diet in warding off, and even reversing, the onset of terminal illnesses gave me a sense of empowerment and purpose.


While I personally believe everything is ultimately in God’s hands, if "God helps those who help themselves", at least now I could give Him a more proactive ‘helping hand’.

Through ongoing self-education, I no longer have to be a ‘passive prayer’ – I can be an active advocate for my own health, and can both teach, and role-model healthier choices to my children, so that they may be better equipped to make healthier choices of their own in future.


I am aware this ‘lifestyle choice’ is a controversial one, and face skepticism and even passive-aggressive resistance from some within my circle who may think I am on this journey as a vanity-purpose ‘fad diet’ for weight-loss, or because this might be the latest trend among ‘Instagram influencers’.


I myself lost about 2kg of (probable water) weight after the challenge, as did Kishore who tried the Challenge with me, and though this is a normal average, and some of the other participants lost 5kg in the 2 weeks, while I definitely NEED to lose weight to get below obesity levels, weight loss is NOT the primary reason for my transition to a plant-based lifestyle.


Some who have read only surface level pop culture articles, or ‘spoken to a few people’, who may equate veganism with the hippy lifestyles of anti-vaxxers , may be concerned that I am endangering both my long-term health, as well as that of my kids, if I persist in what they view as an ‘extremist’ approach.


Yet I know from their comments that they haven’t done the research I myself and the medical Drs in this program have done, and continue to do.


Change of any kind is uncomfortable and intimidating – and it is easier to go with the status quo than to continually question choices you make almost unthinkingly.

But everyone has their own path, their own journey, and I respect that.

They say, “when the student is ready, the teacher will appear”.


I myself took a while to become a receptive, and somewhat industrious, student, because with all the conflicting research and views out there it is far easier to ignore all of them and stick with the status quo, than to spend hours and hours of your personal time consuming diverse and even opposing sources of information, so that you don’t fall victim to dogmatic thinking.


Because research studies are often updated. Because certain research is funded by those with a vested interest in keeping meat, dairy, processed food and pharmaceutical companies in business. Because the Drs whom we would expect to be at the forefront of driving nutrition as preventative medicine have minimal training in Nutrition as a body of knowledge, but rather are trained that when symptom X presents, you prescribe Y, and certainly are not paid to spend time giving detailed nutritional advice in the 15-30 mins they have with impatient patients who just want a pill to subdue symptoms today, rather than invest in nutrition as medicine so that they no longer need pills tomorrow.


Anyway, am sharing my own results in hopes you may be intrigued enough to explore the merits of a plant-based approach for yourself, as I will continue doing.

Kishore also went on the Challenge with me, and his Total Cholesterol dropped from 6.3 to 4.7 in 14 days.


While his chafing against restriction of any kind means he will be adopting a more ‘flexitarian’ approach of 80% plant-based with 20% leeway for occasional ‘cheat days’, I’m glad he is making the conscious decision himself to be mindful of the role of diet in overall health, because he is already the leader in our family in propagating healthy habits like regular exercise and abundant water intake (something both of us really struggle with, but he now seems to master with an estimated daily intake of between 2-4 liters daily – BRAVO!).


On the exercise front, I too am mindful that while diet plays a majority role in healthy outcomes, regular exercise is also key, so alongside continuation of a plant-based regime for myself and my kids, I am also on Day 5 of a self-initiated 100 Days of Daily Exercise Challenge so that I can make this too a habit, rather than a hurdle (100 days picked as a random number because research shows it takes between 66-200+ times of doing something before it sticks as a habit). Wish me luck Naili Ganahong Daphne Iking Popon Lebosi Mozes Iking Jr. Damian Jerome Kai Vello Suppiah Nancy David Chitra Suppiah Geetha Suppiah Saravanan Krishnasamy Teresa Ann!


P/S Because the website has profiles of the Drs involved in the program, participant testimonial videos and an indication of the types of meals delivered, BUT doesn’t have a comprehensive summary of the program ‘process’, am listing it here in case useful. (Also, note that this program is for only for those based in the meal delivery areas of KL/PJ/Subang/Puchong/Shah Alam, but their Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/pbh4all/ has lots of educational resources that may trigger you to find similar resources or apply the principles in your home cities):


Below is a summary of the process:

  1. Sign up for the 14-day Challenge at https://www.pbhall.org/activate .

  2. You will be automatically redirected to a page to choose blood test dates - pbhall.org/congratulations.

  3. Upon choosing blood test dates you will be taken to checkout at https://www.pbhall.org/.../14-Day-Clean-Eating-Challenge....

  4. Upon confirmation of payment they will send an info pack for the Challenge and arrange blood test at Gribbles HQ - https://goo.gl/maps/VLtgCPxkMX2ijPXE8 on chosen dates. A travel authorization letter will be given in case of roadblocks.

  5. You will be assigned a plant-based doctor who will share the blood test results with you once received from the lab.

  6. Before the Challenge kicks off they will have an online Q&A and create a WhatsApp Group with the doctors, chef, and organizers so participants can ask questions at any time.

  7. Lunches and dinners will be delivered together between 11am-12:30pm daily. Keep dinner in the chiller and re-heat for dinner. For breakfast and snacks, just need to follow the food guidelines in the info pack.

  8. A Daily Journal will be provided so you can record your experience. This will also be reviewed by doctors.

  9. At the end of the 14 days, you go for 2nd blood test on your chosen date. They will arrange and provide travel authorization.

  10. A doctor will go over your before/after results with you and they will have a closing Q&A with more info/resources on how to maintain healthy eating habits (including plant-based).


P/P/S I myself have signed up for 2 more weeks of delivered meals, while I continue self-educating about my own family meal prep; For 2-week Plan - MCO50 gives RM50 discount (RM579 -> RM529)

For 4-week Plan - MCO159 gives RM159 discount (RM1,158 -> RM999)


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