What I made for Thanksgiving/ vegan spouse update

Has it really been 11 months since I last posted? I’ll blame our wedding in May for my absence. Β Yep, still vegan, and always enjoying finding new vegan recipes! Crazy update is that my husband went vegan, within weeks of our wedding, with zero prompting, pushing, or expectations from me! I truly figured he would never give up meat and dairy, yet here we are, 6 months in and going strong!

For him, the initiating motivation was athletic performance. He is serious about his sports, and had read many of the health and fitness benefits. Going vegan, he was immediate amazed by the increase in his energy levels, saying, “I feel like the energizer bunny!” πŸ˜‚ While he eats imitation meats more than I do, I am working on increasing his legume/lentils intake. But hey, one step at a time, and every step in a more sustainable direction for our world is a huge win!

We are headed to enjoy family today, and I love to experiment on the holidays! See my my other blog https://yummysustenance.com for the recipes for what I made today to bring (butternut squash risotto and pumpkin chocolate chip cookies)! Happy holidays to all!

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Vegan: With A Carnivorous Partner

I haven’t been posting here much, lots going on, but as a 7+ month old vegan navigating the holidays, and living with a carnivore (for the past 5 years), I suddenly find myself with some commentary!

I’ll soon have them up on my food blog yummysustenance.com, but for Christmas I made a vegan spinach artichoke dip, and some vegan sugar cookies. I did divulge that the dip was vegan, but didn’t say a word about the cookies. Immediately I had family telling me how good the cookies were, and no one was the wiser that they were vegan! The spinach artichoke dip had a bubbly cheese surface, and more and more there are vegan substitutes for ANY vegan product you fancy! Sure, these products aren’t as healthy as beans n greens, but the planet and the animals don’t care about that!

Tonight my die hard carnivorous partner ate a 100% vegan meal for dinner.  He always has rice and greens, and tonight I roasted some beets too. Increasingly since I became vegan, he has been looking for products in the grocery with “vegan” labeling, be it bread, almond milk, cookies, or meat substitutes! He has several products at TJs that are faux-chicken products that he likes, and has also purchased vegan tofu/noodle dishes and veggie burgers of multi varieties.  Tonight it was the mandarin chicken-less nuggets from TJs that he had with his rice and veggies and he proudly showed me his plate!  All this, just from me explaining to him both my health and ethical reasons for eating vegan, and his own attempts to be supportive of me. I have not put any pressure on him to cut back, but I cannot remember the last time he ate beef. Increasingly he is buying almond/coconut milk instead of cow milk, with some goat milk from time to time (still better than supporting the titan cow industry). I continue to educate him about these things little by little, but certainly am not trying to convince him, nor do I expect him to convert to veganism. I am a new convert myself, and all I am doing is living my life as an example, rather than preaching from a soap box. One day when we have a family, if I find myself doing the cooking and meal prep for our family, I will have choices to make, but it is nice to know that there are vegan options my omnivore enjoys too πŸ™‚ 

Food is so linked with our cultures and identities, it is a personal choice. Any sense of feeling pressured or controlled in this area is certain to bring backlash from most people. I don’t worry about them. I worry about what I purchase and put into my body, and gladly answer all the questions people have when they see what I eat day in and day out. And 7 months in, I see that for me, there really is no turning back from plant based. To me, there are no downsides. It is not that difficult, not expensive, and since so many foods have vegan options, there is no deprivation involved. I feel very grateful to have the knowledge that I do, which has allowed me to make these choices for myself!

5 Months Fully Vegan Results!

So it has been an off again on again slow transition for me, but my accrual of knowledge and my own health concerns sort of culminated in May, and I have been choosing vegan options ever since. More to come on all my reasons, my tips for easy/tasty substitutions, and vegan recipes a’plenteous at yummysustenance.com
Yesterday I received my blood test results after 5 months of consistent vegan eating, and I am downright giddy! This was just eating intuitively vegan, I am no longer tracking macros, though occasionally I will track my micronutrients in chronometer to make sure I am meeting my vitamin/mineral/amino acid requirements.  I dropped my total cholesterol by 80 points, most of that in the form of LDL (“bad cholesterol”), putting my cholesterol under 200 for the first time in my adult life. I was 20 years old, weighed 20lbs less than I do now, ran 26 miles a week, and ate what my peers considered “rabbit food” when I was first diagnosed with high cholesterol, a genetic curse πŸ˜›  

Honestly all I did differently to finally change my cholesterol so incredibly is fully cut out dairy (even fat free dairy), and seafood. Those were the only animal products I was really still attached to, and it really took me a leap of faith to believe that fish and fat free yogurt (considered health foods!) could be bad for my health. But I did my research and found it worth a try. Plus when my MD even recommended it, I knew it was safe to pursue and not just fringe health advice. 

We have been taught our entire lives that animal foods are necessary and crucial for our health, so I was nervous to step outside of these recommendations. But based on these drastic improvements, plus the strength I’ve gained in the gym (PRs on pull-ups!), energy improvements, and GI tract regulation, I am convinced of the power of plant based and oh so grateful. 6 months ago my doctor was trying to put me on cholesterol lowering medication, because I already ate so healthily and exercised so regularly. I just had to fully commit to 100% plant based, and I feel so relieved to not need medication !  We celebrated last night with some decadent vegan food from Loving Hut, and even my carnivorous man admitted that vegan food can be delicious πŸ™‚

All that to say, many of my reasons for going vegan were ethical, but I’ll get into that later. πŸ™‚

Making It Stick This Time

I have been thinking about how good I feel about my current round of weight loss and why I believe this time will be lasting. Actually it scares me a little to say that, even though deep down I know it is true!  Flexibility and intuitive eating have been so helpful. I have been tracking most of my days intakes lately but I don’t feel the panicky crazy that counting has caused in the past. I am certainly looking to better mentors these day and not requiring my intake to be 100% clean/pure. This black/white thinking has been my downfall in the past. I trust my ability to indulge in whatever I truly desire, knowing that I can easily compensate with nutrient dense, lower calorie foods at my next meal. And I don’t have to fear rich unexpected meals at the end of the day (impromptu dinners out) because I can always take a smaller portion if it ends up being heavy, saving the rest for later, and making sure to slow down and drink water to help me feel fullness and satiety. I know and have practiced these things now for months, and while once my goals are met I can slacken the tracking a bit and focus on learning simply intuitive maintenance, for now this is a strategy that is becoming habit.

Something else that is different this time around is that in the past, it was like no matter how slim I got, I was never happy with what I saw. I was always critiquing myself, but no more! Honestly just looking in the mirror I’m pretty darn happy with what I see. If I were merely doing this for appearance I might lack motivation to continue, but I want optimal health for my joints, so I continue on! But this ability to be content and joyful and happy in the now is a great pleasure to me. I am just so much more forgiving and loving and kind towards myself these days and doing better at keeping the big picture in mind instead of momentary gratification. Not that I never mess up.

I’ll be honest, about a week ago I had a large binge unlike I have in months. I was beyond tired, and it scared me to death to find myself falling into old habits. The day after was a struggle. I continued to crave high fat, high sugar foods and it was a fight to choose to neither restrict that day, nor binge again that day. Instead I ended up eating a balanced, mixed, higher calorie day than normal, but much closer to my goal intake. By the following day I was totally back to normal, and even ended up dropping a pound from pre-binge later this same week. I really attribute that to getting back on track right away, forgiving myself, and just being kind. I think it boosted my metabolism a little and therefore I experienced no lasting weight gain from that. It just goes to show me, how much more SPACE there is in this journey than I ever previously thought. I used to panic and berate my self and stress about the exact numbers. Now, I’m using macro tracking as a guideline and nothing more. I’m using it to help me make good choices for my body, and make sure I am not depriving myself of any essential building blocks. I’m using mess ups as a learning opportunity, a time sit down and see what factors triggered the binge/overeating, rather than feeling crummy about it. I am keeping my long term goals and health at the forefront of my mind in these times, and knowing that the extra calories will not impact me in the long run at all, but the things I learn about myself and how to cope and my relationship with my body and with food, these lessons will be indispensable in the long run. And so I make those my focus. And I am happily learning how to balance my intakes so that I can have indulgent treat meals and go on trips and try new things and not obsess after. But I also see day to day how my body responds to certain types of foods, and how much better, energetic, and stable I feel physically, mentally, and emotionally when I eat a balance of fat/protein/carbs/fiber, as opposed to having junky foods clamor to me loudly but then make me crash. I am learning so much, and I am so grateful. 

I have also learned the sheer force of habit.

One of these days I will finally get around to posting about some of the amazing books (and YouTube channels) that have helped me on my way on this journey towards health, self love, listening to by body, and stopping bingeing.  But one concept that is certainly mentioned in Brain Over Binge and my new favorite The Willpower Instinct, is this concept of our biochemistry and neural pathways playing a major role in our ability to do that which we know we ought. Therein lies the power of habit, of repetition, of knowing that each time I give into a binge I am reinforcing the habit that causes me to turn to food for comfort or escape, thereby making me more likely to binge the next time. On the contrary, the longer I have been tracking macros and slowly losing weight, the more power I have over break room treats and potluck feasts. It is now SO easy to pass those by and eat the healthy stuff I packed, and I do find myself craving my own creations over anything else! Wow, this is a relief and a victory in my book, because I LOVE preparing healthy foods, (see my other space for recipes at yummysustenanceblog.wordpress) and finally the idea of total junk does not call out to me more than my healthy and delicious home made wholesome foods. I have literally noticed with monthly potlucks the degree of temptation I experience at each one declining, and even from 3-4 weeks ago, this week’s potluck was markedly less challenging. I know that as it is true that each time I give into a binge I am more likely to follow this groove once again, that every time I distract myself, walk away from the table, stop mid-binge, or just bounce back from one the next day without compensation or continued out of control eating, I am establishing that new groove, that neural pathway in my brain that reinforces my good behavior and makes it my default, my habit, instead.  More to come on the neurobiology behind my success. I am just grateful to have new tools for facing life and my usual temptations. I have grown so much this year. With struggle comes life changing progress, this I know.

 
   
  

    

  

What A Climb/Macro Tracking

I am SO cheesy, but this path towards health, inside and out, for me really is a journey! Peaks, valleys, rivers, you name it! I have had some health struggles, I believe I have mentioned, and my focus these past few months has been truly rehabbing my knee. Because I MISS the heck out running and snowboarding and doing squats, and sitting in chairs without pain on the way down and up! As I mentioned in my previous post, I had a kind of wake up call about my weight towards the end of last year and how it pertains to my joint health. Suddenly weight loss was no longer a superficial goal in my mind, it became a true quality of life predictor for me in order to be functional, and to give my knees every possible advantage to be strong, healthy, and to last me the rest of my life! This has given me the resolve and the focus and the unshakable settledness inside to pursue my goals wholeheartedly. And I feel so happy πŸ™‚

In the past I got into some more extreme thinking in my quest to lose weight and stop bingeing, and followed some of the raw vegan and fruitarian movements, and it didn’t go well for me. I have a tendency towards all or nothing thinking (as many binge eaters do) and these extremes caused me confusion and increased bingeing behaviors. Anything too restrictive has always made me a little crazy, and thus I have avoided calorie counting for YEARS. My 1200 calorie high school diet launched into years of college and thereafter binge eating just told me to stay away!!  

Over the past few months I have started to learn more from online resources via body builders and strength athletes, (since strength training has been my focus for my knee) and have begun to track my macros. Basically this means keeping track of how much you are getting of certain nutrients that are essential for muscle building and fat loss, and keeping calories in balance to keep the body reaching its fitness goals. I learned how deficient I have been on so many essentials, especially protein (and shockingly) even fiber! I have come full circle and am trying to eat high protein to prevent muscle catabolism as I am losing fat. Many in the fitness community use Myfitnesspal to track, but I have had a little app on my phone called MyNetDiary for years, and finally started utilizing it again. I find it easy to use and easy to adjust according to my specific needs. I plug in my current weight and my goal weight, and you can even adjust the goal date to be dictated by how fast you want to lose. So for example, I will move my goal date to reach my target weight so that my weight loss rate is no more than 1lb per week. Because any more than this is going to cause muscle loss along with fat loss, and I want to keep my muscles and build them! 

I am not doing tremendous heavy lifting, but I am cycling in some benching, stiff leg deadlifts, upright rows, overhead press, pull-ups, push ups, and ab work, along with my whole routine of daily PT exercises for my VMO (inner quad muscle). I just want to do enough to tell my muscles not to go anywhere as I lose weight, so they feel the burn and know they are needed! And I am getting stronger. Especially full body weight exercises like pull-ups and push ups, as I get lighter, I am getting so much better at these which is SO motivating!

I have also used the site scoobysworkshop.com to calculate my needed calories and macros for my goals, just to double check what my net diary is saying. Usually they are pretty much the same (I update both as my weight changes) in terms of goal calories and macros, but mynetdiary tends to estimate my protein a little lower than I want, and there is also a way to customize and change that in the app too!  To decide I needed more protein, I read from sources at todaysdietician.com and livestrong.com (as well as bodybuilding.com) to estimate. I gathered that at this time and weight, as I consider myself a “strength training athlete”, I need about 1.7-2.0 grams of protein per kilogram. I read that some studies actually recommend the full 2g/kg for those with a reduced caloric intake. And since I am losing weight and my calories are lower than my maintenance calorie intake, I consider myself in that category.  And so that puts me at aiming for between 110-130grams of protein a day, which seems like so much, but I am getting better at it. And most importantly, I don’t stress. I mean if I hit 100g per day, I am sure that is fine too. 

Everything I have learned about intuitive eating and exercising, about listening to my body, about being KIND to myself above ALL else, has really helped me to do this macro tracking in a sane and balanced manner. I am truly blessed and thankful for how OK I have been through this part of the journey. Tracking macros has not been the same stressful rigid experience of counting calories that I remember in my past. And I am so much less punitive with myself now when I do mess up. And in time tracking as I go along, or even the night before as I pack my lunch for the next day has just become habit, and kind of fun, actually. Man am I a dork. Sorry if this was a boring one, there will be more science to come, like it or not, because I love it πŸ˜€

    
     

 

Resilience Means Starting Again!

Let me start by saying that I’ve always had a bit of a complex around losing weight. In high school, I intentionally lost weight when I really didn’t need to be, and that guilt or that feeling of people being worried or looking at me in a different way kind of stuck. A lot of it comes from the morality/religion with which I was raised that taught me that any form of selfishness, vanity, or self-centeredness was sinful.  Like in the back of my head (despite not subscribing to the exact same ideals these days) I feel that it is superficial and vain of me to want to lose weight, knowing that my primary desire is to like how my body looks and be desirably un-fat.  I feel that even after all these years, this has often held me back from making lasting change. It has just lingered in the back of my subconscious.

I started losing weight again around early December (a few months ago), with a real breakthrough that came around Christmas. Since mid March of last year when I bottomed out at 145 after about 5 months of slow weight loss, I gained it all back, up to around 157-158 by mid November. This has been my max weight of the past 6 years or so. Through the holidays I was feeling the pinch of being at the top end of the weight in which I can fit into my current clothing. Meaning, if I had gained any more, I would be in for buying all new work clothes, jeans, etc.  Knowing how many boxes in storage I have of clothes 1, 2, and 3 sizes down, I simply couldn’t let myself do that. I just refused! 
But over this past year of slimming, regaining, and then struggling to find balance and health once more, I have learned so much!  I have been doing so much great reading/learning (more on this to come) and used many of the tools I have garnered to restart this next chapter of my journey to health. Finding out what is wrong with my knee was another instigator to beginning again as well as some wise words of a knowledgable friend; it just clicked that if I’m truly 20lbs over my natural lean weight, then losing this extra 15% body weight is simply bound to put less strain on my fragile joints. Since beginning again in December I can already feel my clothes fitting noticeably more roomily, thus going from bursting out of my work wear to now having them fit so much more comfortably :). I feel grateful.

So what am I doing this time around?   

1. Facing my emotions— first of all, I would be making absolutely zero headway if I was still intermittently bingeing, as I was from March-November of 2015 (thus gaining back 10+lbs).  I have spent a lot of time reading, reflecting, and WRITING, which massively helps me to deal with my emotions, like fear, anger, and feeling burnt out. Simply getting alone with myself and being honest with my feelings has helped me a lot. It has also helped to break the habit of turning to food when I feel out of sorts, instead of using words to hash out what is churning inside.

2. Taking action —  A lot of my overeating this year was caused by the helplessness I have felt with my various health problems. Both being thwarted physically from doing the athletic activities that have hereforeto kept me sane, and by the  incapacitating fatigue/chills/irritability that have been my chronic and increasing companion over the past 1.2 years. Feeling there was nothing to do but get in bed and watch TV to recover and rest contributed to me overeating out of bad feelings and, likely, boredom. My fresh outlook into this new year, and the journey I have made in trying to accept these crummy conditions, has gone a very long way in giving me new perspective. A bright attitude that features picking something, anything that I can DO to help myself feel better. So I’ve gotten back into a modified weight training, and I don’t skip this or my knee strengthening floor/core routine. I’ve decided to lose weight and thereby help my knee, so I’m eating better, and this resolve to do something instead of wallowing has taken me a long way.

3.   Smaller portions but no restriction!–One part of this has been letting myself have whatever goodies I am craving, and allowing myself to both eat for hunger AND eat for taste. But when eating for taste, and when eating something rich and/or not nutrient dense, I am trying to truly savor two decadent bites (sometimes more depending on hunger), and then realize that I feel satisfied. I don’t need to keep going if I am being truly mindful and aware to take in all the flavor and textures in those first two tasty bites. Part of this portion control type thinking I have employed at any number of potlucks, family holiday dinners, and meals out at restaurants. I am trying to simply start with half of what I usually would have eaten in the past. At potlucks, this would mean forgoing that plate of seconds!  At a restaurant, this means taking a pause about halfway through or at any natural pause in eating, and just taking a break to evaluate whether I am still hungry or if I am satisfied. Will the next bite make me feel more physically comfortable (as it would if I am still hungry) or will it make me feel physically uncomfortable (overfull)? And as I am dealing with my emotions as stated above, I don’t have to rely on food to meet non-hunger-related emotional needs. As such, I am taking home a lot more leftovers and therefore having to prepare work lunches less!  I find that eating half of my meal naturally allows room for the treats, like dessert. So that when I do indulge in a two bite (or more!) sized portion of dessert, I am truly enjoying it and not feeling guilty, because I am not feeling overfull. I have learned that having less (in portion) of more foods, more variety per meal, is actually way more satisfying than feeling stuffed on just the entrΓ©e or being super full without any dessert. What can I say, I have a sweet tooth and I like making room for it! I am thinking less about WHAT I am eating and more about HOW MUCH I am eating, and for me, this has been a true trick to both feeling incredibly satisfied and losing weight, without stressing about special foods. Especially with holidays and meals with friends, it has been really nice to not have to think about how I am going to eat a particular way when the “healthy” offerings may be scarce. 

4. Mindfulness — A huge part of both point 1. In dealing with emotions and point 3. In eating less has been this concept of being mindful. It is a fancy way of saying that I am being aware. I am listening to the things my body and my mind/soul are trying to tell me. I am slowing down both in eating and in LIFE, and really just stopping the cycle of ignoring my needs in order to be perfect or get stuff done. I have always been too intense internally, too tough on myself, and too set on perfection.  I know not everyone has this problem, but I need to work at caring less about a great many things in my life! I need to be able to work hard, but then let go of the results. I am so used to a getting-everything-done-at-any-cost mindset, that I think is pretty ingrained in our culture. I am trying to take a step back, take a deep breath, and remember that these things do not define me. Not my performance, appearance, or even my reputation. This is not the real me, and the real me deserves to be taken care of, not only taking care of so many people. I am striving to stop rushing myself, stop complaining, and stop looking for the negative or accenting the bad. There will be more on this to come (mindfulness, negativity bias, etc), but this is a beginning. 

I hope my lessons learned can be helpful to someone else, even just one person. The voice in my head used to be a real bully, but in time, we are becoming allies πŸ™‚
   
    
    
   

 

2015 In Review

What a year. What started off positively and energetically soon became one of the toughest years of my life. Aside from my relatively superficial weight struggles, I have always been incredibly healthy. The first 3 months of the year I was making changes, I was feeling positive, I was losing weight. Enter end of March and I began to get sick, often. Mysterious chills and fatigue and low grade fevers that still have no answers. Add to this severe knee pain and the gradual scaling back of nearly all the activities I love: no more snowboarding, running, or even walking home from work allowed… Upcoming surgical discussions and you get the idea. Big freaking dose of humble pie. Β I went from feeling empowered and spectacularly in control of my life to feeling pretty helpless, pretty at the mercy of my body and its fragile state. I have missed many days of work due to my illness, and this is something pretty unheard of for me previously. I’m usually that annoying person getting perfect attendance awards. Yeah. So I would say I’ve learned a lot this year. Humility and resilience have been my companions, as I find myself knocked down repeatedly, yet persisting to keep getting back up and keep going.

As in my past, when feeling really out of control, my eating tends to become pretty chaotic as well, and as a result I fell back into some old binge eating ways this year. By December I gained back what I had lost from the end of 2014 to early this year, and this of course added to my feelings of weakness. Since finally getting a diagnosis on my knee pain, I have been steadily reducing my weight for the sake of putting less pressure on my joints. I’m already about 8 lbs down in about a month. I don’t know how to explain it exactly, since I have been less active, but I guess I am just continuing to tune into bodily hunger and turn away from emotional eating. It has been a very gradual process of changing my relationship with food, more than specifically what I am eating that has done the trick. I am eating to either nourish or taste, and if it is just to taste, it is amazing how much less I need to feel satisfied. Two decadent bites savored are all it takes. Β I have been reading a lot and gleaning wisdom tidbits from here and there. More to come, and books to recommend, but mindfulness and truly enjoying what I eat guilt free are huge pieces to this. Embracing quality over quantity and not looking to food to mend emotional issues. No longer assigning certain foods moral qualities such as good/bad, clean/dirty. For someone with food issues, those are not great terms to have; and I am realizing that it simply isn’t necessary to employ any sort of extremism to maintain a healthy weight/body. Moderation and truly savoring are much more important.

What a year. I am looking forward to growing more this year, and hoping it is a little bit better than last. Truth is, in reviewing over my photos of the year, there have been a LOT of good times too πŸ˜€ Time to focus on that!


Β Β 

Yoga Daily

I’ve been practicing yoga much more frequently lately with great progress to my flexibility and stress relief. I have been listening more carefully to my body in regards to hunger and craving on a day to day moment to moment basis, and this in turn has put me more in tune with the tension in my physical body which continuously compels me to stretch and release! And there is something about the rhythmic breathing and repetition that truly escalates my overall relaxation. Learning to listen to my body has been a huge step in learning to listen to many other signals, physical and emotional that I spent a lot of life ignoring in my quest for perfection. I was a tyrant to my inner self with a spartan like mindset towards fitness, body, food, and professional achievement. No more! Gentleness towards myself and self care is key to me being happy, healthy, and strong πŸ˜€

I love doing free yoga videos on Hulo or doyogawithme.com at home on my own time, and I use the poses I learn anywhere! I do standing poses at work during lunch or at rest stops on road trips. Some seated poses I can do on a park bench or bleachers in a park, since I don’t take my yoga mat everywhere with me. Then I like to do the mat exercises at home in the evenings after work, either before or after dinner, and before taking a bubble bath. What a way to wind down! 

For the past 2 weeks I don’t think I have missed more than a day of doing yoga when I get home from work, regardless of how much or little exercise I have had during the day. If I have already got my sweat on with a brisk walk, jog, or tennis practice, I will stick with the gentle Hatha yoga routines on doyogawithme.com, and these are SO restorative!!! If I haven’t done any exercise, I’ll do a more active “heat inducing” routine like Sun Salutations or After Work Revitalizer.  SO GOOD.
Flexibility has never been my strong suit, in fact the sit-and-reach was some years the only thing keeping me from that presidential fitness award in PE! And when it comes to other matters of balance and coordination, I have always been a clutz. So it has been even more rewarding to see my flexibility and balance improve with yoga! But my favorite feature is the relaxation that comes with such intentional breathing and body awareness. It really puts me in a better place for enjoying the rest of my evenings after a busy day πŸ™‚ And as with anything you practice, the best results come from frequency of practice. Small frequent sessions are better than long infrequent ones. So worth it!

   
    
   

On Change

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“The secret of change is to focus your energy not on fighting the old, but building the new.” -Socrates

Changing is one of the most difficult and yet most important things we do in life!  And some would even deem change one of life’s only constants (specifically being Heraclitus, the pre-socratic Greek philosopher), a concept that delights or terrifies us based on how we respond to life’s changes.  If life constantly changes anyways, we cope with it much better when we choose to change, rather than simply having change forced upon us.  But how do we as individuals make changes for the better? What do we do when old habits come up to bite us and try to drag us back down into a damaging lifestyle? Mind over matter, win the game mentally?

 For me personally, there are two related things I have worked so hard to change recently: 

-the tendency to binge eating 

-habits of negative thinking

 When the urge to binge eat rears it’s ugly head, what do I do? I try to focus on the future, the positive, all my plans and ambitions that this will sabotage. 

Ever heard of the law of attraction? Essentially, that which you focus on and think about is what you will accomplish, achieve, and receive. This is why vision boards are so effective! In the same way, thinking about how much I shouldn’t think about donuts, cookies, the like, only leads to more thinking about junk food, and the eventual procuring of and overindulging in them (for me).  On the contrary, thinking about what I want in life, and how healthy fruits/veggies/excercise help me achieve these goals, draws me towards eating and preparing foods that nourish and build me up, rather than tear me down emotionally and physically. This is something I’m learning and continuing to practice daily!

Yet I am human, a work in progress, and sometimes the stress and pressure and fear there will lead me to cave. And then I have another choice to make in that instant:

Will I beat myself up, lamenting my screw up, fearing that this will lead to the reversal of all my progress, all my hard work? Or will I forgive myself, instantly, and accept myself for all that I am, for the human that I am, and choose to believe in myself to overcome this. Will I choose to get right back up and keep doing the right thing. To be resilient, forgiving, and positive about my ability to keep learning and growing. Not to make myself suffer or “make up” for the failure, no, the key is gentleness, love, tender self-care.

The past, even 10 minutes ago cannot be erased. The key is deciding right in that moment after messing up what the best thing is that I can do for myself. 

Often it is to get a good night’s rest, pack a day’s worth of healthy foods to take to work, and curl up with a good book, easing me into deep slumber. The choice I make is to love myself, mentally/figuratively cradle my inner self in my mental arms. It sounds so cheesy, and the way that that you personally can love and honor and respect and forgive yourself may feel different. But for me, I’m a cuddler, there is no better physical feeling than being full body hugged and snuggled by someone who loves me unconditionally. And so this is the image, the sentiment with which I cradle and nurture my inner self when I’ve messed up at something I really didn’t want to mess up. And this is the attitude that allows me to continue to change and grow towards a better self, and a better life. 

 The other thing I try to do when I cave, is look at what went on that day that drove me to stuffing feelings with food. I realize that feeling overwhelmed and out of control, or having health problems greatly impact my bingeing.  Also if I go from a vacation, long weekend, or otherwise period of control and relaxation, into a hectic work week, it can be triggered by a rude awakening. Situations in which I feel very uncomfortable or even incompetent, lead me to seek comfort in food as well. I have spent years, decades even mentally flogging myself for these follies, but no longer! Now when I binge, I say to myself, “OK, done, I have accepted that I did this. I have chosen to forgive myself. Time to get some good rest, and know that tomorrow is a new day!

Time to focus not on the old ways that need changing, but on the new goals that I continue to achieve, such as DOING 3 Pull-Ups today!!”

I look forward to the goals I am achieving and the vast progress I have made in my life over the years. I let go of the perfectionism that has long been enemy to the very good in my life. I accept myself as flawed, but as someone who is growing and becoming. I am proud of all that I am and all that I strive towards. I accept myself radically and give myself a wide berth to exist, rather than trapping myself into a narrow view of what is acceptable.  I aim to practice at least 1 act of radical self-love per day, be it a lavish bubble bath, an indulgent nap, or catching an epic sunset.  You deserve to be your biggest fan. Give it a try πŸ™‚

   
    

 

  

Some Thoughts On Protein As A Primarily Vegan Athlete

Anyone who eats even a moderately plant based diet is used to the constant questions along the lines of “Where do you get your protein!?!??!”… *SIGH*. Really? Complex carbs, legumes, seeds, nuts, and large quantities of fresh fruits and vegetables, that’s where, and it isn’t difficult! And it’s not all tofu πŸ˜‰ Did you know that veggies and fruit contain both fat and protein??? Look it up on My Net Diary or My Fitness Pal or whatever you use.  If you eat lots of fresh produce, you will get lots of essential nutrients- vitamins, minerals, fat, and *gasp* protein!! 

Even here on the CDC, the protein recommendation is 10-35% of our dietary intake. That is a stupid-broad range, in my humble opinion, and the fact that we don’t have a more specific recommendation, shows what a pseudoscience nutrition really is! I think part of this is that the way our body processes food and the way energy is processed in labs are completely different.  Even that intro to protein page on the CDC (linked above) indicates the fact that excess protein can be harder for our organs to process, and I personally don’t want to be wasteful!! As fruits and veggies already contain 5-12% protein as is, it doesn’t take too much beyond produce to get an adequate amount of protein. And also check bodybuilding.com for more proof of vegan muscle power πŸ˜‰

 I personally combine both cooked and raw veggies but try to have some raw produce with every meal. I have experienced fat loss on this diet for certain and try to eat heavier on the veggies and lighter on the fats. Just basic concepts that allow me to maximize nutrients and minimize excess calories. So far so delicious! It is my strong belief that eating healthy does not have to equal suffering! Nor does living conscientiously.

Let the veggies be the star of your diet! If you are consuming all of the lucious nutrients provided by nature in fruits and vegetables, you’ll have no need for expensive supplements or “diet plans”. Most people just haven’t acquired a taste for fresh healthy foods, but when prepared well, anyone can become a believer in plant based foods πŸ™‚ I find that the more/longer I eat vegan, the less and less any animal products appeal to me. I do believe that vegan eating is the ideal in terms of sustainability, eliminating animal cruelty, and in terms of being the most natural and humane choice. I also believe in clean vegan eating as a method of weight maintenance or fat loss, and for all of these reasons, I believe in it as the ideal for me. 

It is my belief that as humans we do not need animal based food to survive and thrive and be healthy. Our bodies are amazing and able to utilize so many different kinds of fuel, and in these modern times of excess and waste and destruction, it is my choice to live in a way that makes less of a negative impact on our world and environment.  It does not mean that I will not ever eat something made with dairy or eggs, but that my every day staples, the food I make and choose for myself at home and at work and in my every day life will be primarily and almost completely plant based foods. It is one thing that I can do to make my lifestyle sustainable on a day in and day out basis, and to not support the industries that are so terrible for our environment and so brutal to God’s creatures.  And it feels good, I feel good eating this way. Eating more veggies, relying on plant sourced proteins as my primary protein sources, and overall consuming higher quality, more pure foods, I feel lighter already, both physically and emotionally.   I’m going to continue my high raw, low fat, vegan journey.  

Here’s more me, doing me, over the years πŸ™‚ By the way, I call myself an “athlete” not because of my performance level and not that I am anywhere near professional. Merely straying active and fit is an important part of my lifestyle and a priority in my life. I LOVE being active and I believe we were all designed to be athletic and  fit. Our bodies looove to move, and as with everything, it feels more natural the more you do it!  πŸ™‚