Sunday, August 3, 2014

Avoiding the word LAZY

I am finished with my eighth week of nursing school. I have two weeks to go and I am amazed I have done so much in so little time. It is incredibly exciting to be in a new town and meet new people that I genuinely enjoy being around. I try and do fun things as much as possible, but some of my classmates are not as enthusiastic as me. My new friends spend every waking moment stressing out about school and studying. I realize this is an exaggeration in that they have children, significant others, sometimes jobs, that I cannot picture enduring in such a program. I see my experience as being very different from theirs and once again I have had to give myself a little pep talk every day to reassure myself I am not LAZY.

That word haunts me more than I would like to admit. I get home from class to eat, sleep, rest in bed more, and go back to sleep. I usually study a maximum of an hour at night, usually nothing at all. On the weekends I do the same thing. I have difficulty performing basic chores and errands as usual. I try to get to yoga as much as my joints will let me and I discovered a beautiful park with trails that my dog enjoys. I have only gone walking on the trail thrice though, because my brain and my legs cannot do the work. I have started seeing a pain specialist who has not helped a lot so far, but I am hopeful. I have an appointment this week with a doctor that sounds great. Fingers crossed.

Once again I find myself forced to look at the bright side. I am thankful that I am still doing well in the program while able to do little work. Lazy is definitely not the right word to describe myself. Unhealthy would be the best description. I still wonder what I would be like at my best, but I know I am a completely different person because of this struggle. My stress levels are immensely diminished compared to how I once was: Everything was important. I had to have the best grades, etc. Now, I am just happy to have moments of clarity while listening to my favorite professor. I embrace whole-heartedly moments of escape because I have learned studying is not always my priority. I’m not perfect, but it’s fine because no one else is either.

I believe I have also modified my way of learning. I now have to learn as much as possible in as little time I have. I can take a thirty minute study session in the morning before a test and turn it into gold. I have learned to prioritize on a crazy level. I could not even explain it, I just look at material and pick out key words and burn them to my brain. The subject material helps. Science has always been my first language and nursing is such a fun subject for me. It is patient centered, and I love caring for others!! I’m really in the right place and had I not been sick, my journey would have led me in an entirely different direction.

I don’t really believe in luck or fate, but in a way life has been fair to me. My “laziness” is what makes me step back and realize what’s important. I have to choose what I do with my time wisely, because I need to spend most of my time resting. I usually choose something fun where I’m around people. So feel free to call me lazy or strange, in reality I’m strong and opportunistic. Every moment you can spend making lovely memories are worth it. I will not apologize for putting errands, chores, and studying on the back burner. I hope others in my boat have come to these realizations. PLEASE, don’t be hard on yourself. You are doing the best you can. You may not be the person that has a full time job, goes to class full time and has two kids, but why does that make you worse off?!? Enjoy what you have and let others stress, you have enough to deal with. 

Thanksgiving Dinner (in July)

Baked potato samosas and Dahl

Sunday, June 15, 2014

My Success Story

Early morning Texas and it is already hot and very muggy. I’m in bed getting ready to study for pathophysiology with a nice cup of coffee. My baby boy Wyatt, is watchfully guarding the house by letting me know when cats pass by.

I know this is so overdue it hurts and I have so much on my plate right now that writing this is probably a bad idea, time management wise. I have been thinking about writing this for weeks now.

I am currently a week and a half into my new life as a nursing graduate student. I’m in the foundation year where they throw as much information at you as they can and hope some will stick.  So far, not a lot sticking.
I drove down here from Washington state. I crossed seven different states in four days by myself in my little SUV filled mostly by my dog’s kennel. I surprisingly did very well. I was stressed and had much culture shock once I got to Texas for the first time. My back pain was surprisingly manageable. My knees acted up the most. It seemed moving them around made them worse. I believe they don’t like to be bent for very long, because being in class makes them very bad as well. I just cannot sit for very long, but to be fair, I cannot stand for very long either. The food situation was very good as I packed everything up ahead of time with a cold rice salad for the road and lentil burgers and broccoli for when I was in the hotel. I also stopped by a friend’s place in Colorado and I had vegan tacos that night. So wonderful! There were quite a few times on the road when I was so tired, I maybe should not have been driving. I did not stop to nap except once because the drives already took me so long every day. I tried to compensate with caffeine, but usually did not do much good. I did make it and I’m glad I was able to have such a small adventure.
Food for the road! 

So far, Texas has been exceptional. I’m getting used to the heat and I take public transportation to school every day so I do not have to deal with traffic. The first week I was here, I was extremely motivated and for awhile it seemed my fatigue had subsided. I was up and about cooking, cleaning, and getting ready for school. Even the first week of school I was able to do all the readings and last weekend I even sat down for a full twelve hours just going over material. I cannot recall a time I have ever done that.  This week it all went back to normal: assignments being put off until the morning before, daily naps, zombified in front of the television most times, etc. I’m guessing I tried too hard the first week and already burnt myself out. It is definitely manageable, but once again I can’t be hard on myself or I legitimately will not get anything done.
Onto a food update: I have been eating relatively healthy since I have been here. I eat salads and healthy dinners that I make for my roommate and I. It’s very important to have something healthy and yummy waiting for me after a long day of classes. I also have a few things I have learned to throw together quickly (rice, bean, veggie medleys). I may have to do a blog post specifically on my favorite fast recipes. I have definitely been drinking a bit since I got here. I think I have a social association of alcohol with being in college. For the most part, it has been fun. I have also increased my caffeine intake, but only in the mornings. I want to drink coffee in the afternoons, but I usually miss the cutoff before bedtime becomes an impossibility, so I just end up too tired to do much each afternoon.

I also wanted to give you a pre-Texas update. I saw all my doctors before I left. I realize my last couple posts have been about acceptance and making it sound like I’m not better, but I’ll keep trying. My medical results did not show much as usual, but really reflecting on it, I believe I have a plant powered success story to share with you. I talked often with my family doctor. He did not know what to do with me so he put me on an anti-depressant. I took it long enough to wait for the supposed benefits to kick in. I only received side effects and none of the happy benefits. Let me be clear, I am not depressed. Sometimes I am very frustrated and upset about my health, but I am actually a very happy person. I laugh, I stay optimistic, and I really love my life. However, sometimes depression manifests itself physically and not mentally, so I thought out of pure desperation, I’d give it a try. When I went back to the doctor to tell him it did not work, he just offered to prescribe me a different type. I’m about to become a nurse and I have the utmost respect for medicine, but throwing pills blindly at someone seems like a stupid idea to me. I declined his offer. I also went to see my gynecologist that originally diagnosed the PCOS. I had many blood tests run (they took seven vials of blood). These came out normal. Even my cortisol levels, which I was surprised with. To be fair, hormones are hard to monitor with just one test because of their rhythmicity. For example, cortisol peaks in the morning and decreases throughout the day (unless you stress yourself out). I also had another ultrasound done. The cysts are still there, but are not changing much. The doctor said they probably would not get worse for awhile but he wanted to check before I left the state. My primary physician also ran blood tests. No surprise, they came out normal. My chronic fatigue is not due to anemia, thyroid problems, cancer or any other thing you would test for. I’m not sure if anyone else comes across this as well. The tests say you’re healthy and doctors just stop trying.

Now here’s what I think is the success story you were waiting for. Four years ago when I took those same blood tests with that same doctor, my blood showed a spike in insulin: the one abnormal result. The terrible sign of insulin resistance with diabetes just around the corner. This explained what I would call my reactive hypoglycemia. Every couple hours I was sweaty, nauseated, light-headed if I did not eat something. I started a low sugar, high protein diet. I ate an egg every morning to keep my blood sugar stable like people told me. It never worked. Eggs are not the answer, at least not for me. I was not overweight at the time, but I was probably only a few pounds away from it. I finally turned my life upside down by eating mostly plant-based (I have only been fully plant-based for a year now). Since then, I have no more reactive hypoglycemic moments, I have lost over 25lbs, and according to the latest tests I may have beaten the diabetes threat that my lovely genes so badly want to call upon. Even though I have new battles now, I am so proud I won that particular one. I’ll leave you with this story; I may still be sick, but plant-based eating helped me become less sick. I hope you all have similar or even better journeys. 

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

In My Shoes

I’ve introduced myself and some of my symptoms to give you all an idea why my path to health is so important. I definitely underlined the fatigue part. Without going into too much detail of why exactly I am the way I am (and that would only be speculation based on my limited medical knowledge), there’s obviously something fundamentally wrong with my body. Originally, about two years ago, I was finally able to get a doctor to run enough tests to realize I had out of whack hormones and some weird looking follicle build up in my ovaries. This was something. I could attribute my feeling awful to something that had a name, but more and more I realize there must be more to it. This is not an invite to diagnose, criticize, or give me advice. I'm on my own path, but understanding from those around me could possibly help the journey.

Recently my mother has been going through a medical rollercoaster of problems with doctors diagnosing her with multiple autoimmune diseases. It could all be one, but maybe my mother’s body is legitimately fighting itself. My mom has honestly been the only one to understand me through all of this. It kills me to see her suffering so much. For awhile there, I was the one who seemed to have it the worst. Something very scary inside my body is happening, and doctors won’t push to find the main cause, because it’s probably not even a medical capability at this point. I’m not dying (although sometimes I wonder), so I should be fine. What scares me is the symptoms are piling on. I got rid of nausea (for the most part) and seem a little more functional than I was in college. Recently I’ve been having a lot of soreness, which I was attributing to me being out of shape or sleeping wrong. The fact that my back pain has not stopped in the year since it started is also disheartening, considering my attempt at both physical therapy and chiropractic care. I have started to have this chest pain that seems to originate in my diaphragm most times. This particular pain has gone from occasionally to all the time. I’ve had X-rays and blood tests taken, so no one call 911 on me. The joint pain I experience would make you think I’m a 60yo woman. On top of this, some weird things have been going on down there. It seems like some form of cervicitis, and I haven’t had my period in awhile. So, here I am thinking: “I wasn’t ready for this to get worse. I’m still trying to figure out how to get out of bed in the morning.”

I went to a couple doctors recently. I’ve learned to go see the same doctors my mother sees. They listen because they have had to deal with her for awhile and take me seriously. I wrote a long list of all my symptoms to read off to him. While in the office (actually ready to fall asleep right there), I found myself reading off this list and everything sounded so disconnected that any doctor would just think: “This girl sure does complain a lot.” I didn’t even read all of it because I was slightly embarrassed and figured after awhile he’d just lose interest. He wisely asked me some personal questions to evaluate if the symptoms are severe enough to affect my actual day-to-day activities and work. He asked others to rule out depression. Nonetheless, this well intentioned doctor with nothing else to do, gives me a prescription for an anti-depressant. He asks if I’m willing to try it, to which I respond: “I’ll try anything that might get me through grad school at this point.”

I will write a post later about my tests results. I’m waiting for them all to come in. I will tell you now that they’re never eye-opening or conclusive. On paper, I seem like a healthy 24yo woman. So without trying to get even more depressing and whiny, I want to walk you through my day. Maybe next time I will try this with a doctor…Skip this paragraph if you want to.

I wake up groggy to an alarm and hit snooze. I hit snooze every nine minutes for about the next hour and a half (I will tell you, lately I’ve been ok at waking up at six thirty; I think the spring helps). I planned on getting up at 6 or 7 to get up and get ready for work at 8:30. This seems like a reasonable time to go to the office. I usually end up finally getting out of bed around 8 or 8:30. I know this sounds ridiculous to most people and you may be thinking “lazy”, but I can tell you it’s so much more than not liking your job. What I feel in the morning is similar to how you would feel if you had just stayed up all night. No amount of sleep makes me feel rested. Yet I crave it with every part of my being. At least it’s the only time I’m not tired. I get out of bed to eat a quick breakfast. I don’t have the energy to make anything that takes more than two minutes: usually oatmeal, cereal with fruit, or just fruit and some peanut butter. I drink smoothies when I’m in the mood, but the cold has turned me away from them most of the time. After breakfast, I usually sit in bed for awhile or actually go back to sleep. Eventually I get up to actually get ready to go outside. If I have a bit of energy to spare, I walk my dog for 10-15 minutes. I think that breaks my heart the most: the fact that I can’t even find enough energy to walk my precious baby. It becomes slightly more understandable when I describe my walk to work. It takes me 30 minutes to walk to work. My knees start aching ten minutes in; my back comes shortly after. At some point my chest pain starts if I hadn’t already had it from earlier in the morning. I’m lucky if I don’t experience at least a little twinge of nausea (it was bad this morning). The pain will continue throughout the day, including hip pain. By the time I’m at work, I’m already ready for a nap. I try to start my day nonetheless and write a to-do list. I get through about one or two of those things before lunch(especially if caffeine has aided me) already fighting a headache and having gone to the bathroom way too many times for one person in a three hour time span. I will tell you, those will be my most productive time of the day: from about 9-11. I actually have clear thoughts for about an hour and everything. At lunch, I usually have a big salad, or I steal food from my generous friend when I just can’t stomach salad. I continue my day doing tasks as much as I can focus for at a time. I’m usually helped by listening to podcasts to keep me somewhat engaged. I tend to not stay at work too late in the day, because I am craving a nap beyond belief around two, and when three or four rolls around I can literally not think straight. I walk home (trying not to hobble because my knees are killing me) usually trying to plan some ingenious way to be productive when I’m there. I eat dinner (I’m starving by four) or at least grab whatever’s available. I usually cook for my boyfriend as well, which is probably the only reason I find energy for that because I have someone else to do it for. Now that sunset comes later I try to walk my dog again, or at least think about it. If not I try to make sure he gets as much yard time as is possible. Today, I actually just sat on the porch outside and watched him, that was all I could muster. My night is pretty bad after that. If I’m with my boyfriend or with friends and family, I can usually engage in some form of light socializing. If I’m alone, I tend to just sit and do nothing much. I try to study, but am usually too tired to read and I’m cold which makes me even more attracted to my bed. If I’m lucky I can get about an hour worth of productive things a night. But evenings are really the worst for me. I think my body is just exhausted from being alive that day. I go to bed early hoping I will get up early and be more productive. Mornings offer at least a small window of clarity, but if you go back to the beginning of this very non-sensical, boring story, you’ll realize that doesn’t really happen.

I guess it would have been easier to sum up everything saying “I’m fatigued all the time and can’t do anything.” Diet has not seemed to make it better. There are other little things that can happen, but that’s really all that affect me. I realize some people have it worse and I’m not in debilitating pain, just annoying and definitely keeps me from running. Even this morning I wanted to go to yoga and decided not to because my joints were already sore. There’s always so much I want to do and so much I could be. The point is, I am not a healthy 24yo. Even so, I try to keep in mind that I still have a job, food, a roof over my head, and a support system. Most people in the United States, not to mention outside of it, could claim such opportunities. If you were to see me, you would not think I have anything wrong with me. I’m very amicable and tend to engage in the conversation as much as I can. I’m glad a lot of people don’t notice. I try really hard to not show how much I struggle. Being social is actually the only thing that gets me through most times. I like being around people, it’s relaxing and it doesn’t take much effort on my part to interact with others. Only people who really know me and my wonderful boss in college that allowed a ridiculous amount of sick days, know how much I struggle. I let my mom see how tired I am. I’m pretty sure my boyfriend still hasn’t fully grasped it. He does realize I don’t get all the studying done that I constantly tell him I need to do. I guess when I don’t show people how tired I am, they assume I’m not and say things such as: “Don’t take any naps this time.”, “Go home and be productive!”, and “Just focus.” I promise you I am not lazy. In fact, it may be my overachieving self that brought my demise by working long hours, eating poorly, and raising my cortisol levels through the roof in my pre-20 years. The worst part, is I don’t think my attempt at telling you how I feel every day really even helps. The best way to imagine it would be to think of yourself after having done a pretty hard workout the previous day to then pull an all nighter to study for an important final. The feeling you get when you walk into that test room, exhausted, sore, and completely unable to focus because you just want to get out of there and go to bed to make up for lost sleep; that’s how I feel every day. 

Saturday Brunch: Veggies Benedict and Rosemary potatoes :)

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Letting Go

I've been thinking of this next post for awhile now. I mean, since the last time I wrote. So, this may be a bit longer because I may have to go on a “philosophical” journey towards the end.

I just got done cooking a lot! I kept coming home and not cooking much and wasn't eating the things I had planned for. So I finally just came home early from work to cook up a storm and now it's all in my fridge, including chopped up veggies to put into the crock pot for chili tomorrow. Lately I've been saving money on food so I can spend elsewhere. I can say it's easier than I thought. I use websites like and happy herbivore to make cheap, quick recipes.

This is all great, because lately it has felt as if I've been cooking for two. This last week I actually just made a meal plan for two people. I'm sure no one is interested in my love life, and I will only talk about it here as it relates to my diet, but the guy I'm dating devours my cooking. I can make something that would last me several days in leftovers and it will be gone that night. I'm not sure if I'm just that good of a cook, or he's particularly gluttonous. Haha, I'm making him sound awful. Anyways, this great guy has had me happily cooking for two for awhile, and I think it's benefited me more than him. I LOVE to cook for people. I've known this for awhile, but to actually have someone that will eagerly eat what I put in front of them is a completely new experience. I get even more excited to find recipes we'll enjoy and rush home to cook something nutritious instead of lounging and looking for any carbs that may be unprotected from my lethargy. I actually ate rice and peas with hot sauce the other night. This was a night that my guy was at work. Figures. But for the most part, I am learning new recipes and find cooking to be my favorite pass time.

The sad news is that all this wonderful plant-based cooking I've been doing in overdrive hasn't helped my energy level much. I've even been eating salads every day at work. Overall, I'm the same moody, lazy me. All of the crazy tasks I've been required to do now I've only managed to accomplish through shorter hours at work and caffeine. I don't like reverting to caffeine most times, but it has become a sad reality that it may be my only option for grad school and the road leading up to it. Most people would find this pretty normal, but caffeine isn't the best option for people with insulin and fatigue issues. Honestly, I still have to be careful, because it can make me crash into an even worse fatigue.

The upcoming move to Texas and prospect of starting graduate school has forced me to put a few things in perspective. Number one, being that I really needed to feel better by now. I'm at the point where feeling better is not in the cards in any near future. I'm not even sure it will be in the next couple years. I'm not saying diet and smart choices don't work to help your health situation, but maybe it doesn't work for everyone. Some people may just be too sick. For example, my mom has been having many scary health issues lately. Even though she's not as healthy as I am, and is in even more stressful situations than I am, there's no denying her body is working against her. My body seems to always be upset and never acts like a twenty-something body should act. I'm not complaining, these are just the facts. This being said, I would never give up living the way I do and striving for even better. There's nothing wrong with living a healthy lifestyle. I'm still doing my body a lot of favors. Who knows how much worse I would feel if I didn't do what I do now.

The point is that, I AM LETTING GO. I've been battling with this for almost five years and have made great improvements to my health, but none to ultimately make me wake up refreshed and ready for the day ahead. I am too hard on myself for not doing enough: “If I just were to go to the gym every day, I'd feel better.”, “If I ate more greens every day, I'd feel better.”, “If I started meditating, I'd feel better.” and so on. Goals are wonderful, but they can only get you so far when you feel like crap. Feeling like crap makes all those things you could be doing borderline impossible to do. I'm not saying they are, or that people should give up, but if your well-being were truly dependent on doing EVERYTHING right, what are the odds your body will cooperate and let you do that? I finally realized this while giving advice to a friend. I told him to stop being so hard on himself and that there's only so much one person can do when they are tired and depressed. You need help.

Unhealthy people cannot be expected to cure themselves. I know some can, and I admire them. The wonderful transformations I hear about every day on plant-based blogs happen, and there's no problem shooting for them. I am not perfect and have tried my best. I'm at the point where I eat lots of veggies. My grocery trips are composed of ¾ of my shopping cart being from the produce isle. Not many Americans could say that! I take vitamins that vegans should take so I don't have to think fatigue could come from any deficiencies. I have a love of yoga and running that has been cut short because of back pain, but I would love to start again. All I should be is proud, and yet when I don't get better I feel like I'm doing something wrong. I'm sure I am, but if I keep viciously attacking myself, I will become more fatigued and depressed. I guess you really have to take things one day at a time. I will be looking to doctors again for medications that may help, most likely Metformin. I think I'm at the point where I need a boost of something to get me to the next step. Or maybe, it's just a very gradual process with small change upon small change accumulating to amount to the final drop I need to fill the metaphorical health vase. None of this sounds uplifting, but believe me, I feel so much better. I am putting less pressure on myself to be perfect. At least, I'm trying. I still find days where I make lists of all the things I could do and should do in my head. I stop and make to-do lists now that are actually 100% necessary. These are still stressful for me, but grad school and being an adult take up a lot of time, especially when every moment is a struggle to stay awake and be productive. I still keep small goals. For example, I am trying to go to yoga at least once a week and I make sure to get a big salad every day. The little things are all I can do, and that is OK.

I'd like to finish off by saying that I do have a lot on my plate. Writing once a week, or even once a month, does not seem like something I have time or energy to do. I appreciate any people that have been reading and know I'm not giving up or quitting writing. My entries will be sporadic from now on and will probably only come about if I've had a break through or have a new plant-based thing to share with you. I hope this discourages no one and that you all find true health.

Thai Curry

Curried Chickpeas. Notice a pattern? 

Monday, January 27, 2014

Reflecting upon Overachieving

I reflect upon who I am, who I was, and who I want to become often. In fact, if I could wake up every morning with a hot cup of tea in a big comfy armchair to just ponder life, I would. Sometimes, I honestly do because my mind won't let me go forward in the day if I don't. The ability to do this is actually one thing plant-based eating brought back for me. At one point, my brain fog was so severe, my mental capacities were limited to thinking about my bed all day. I am very thankful that I can get up in the mornings now and still have great thoughts and plans for my life (though this does decline through out the day). This is meant to be a health blog of sorts, but since I'm not there yet, a bit of contemplation seems appropriate.

I don't know if I've ever been an optimist, definitely a realist with hopeful undertones. I'm just as much in love with happily ever afters as I am tragic endings; both seem possible. I tend to be pessimistic at times about my health, but again, I stay hopeful. I'm not really sure if I will ever get to a point where I feel 100% the way I want to, and maybe no one does. As cliche as it sounds though, I am thankful for what challenges life has thrown at me. I have made a healthier version of myself, one that would have never evolved without this motivation to feel better. Even if I found a magic pill tomorrow that cured me somehow, I would continue what I am doing and still strive to do better. Would I have had this itch without my health slapping me in the face like this? I believe not. Americans really have a hard time defining what is healthy. Heck, I still do. At one time, I believed my health wasn't that bad. I wasn't eating fast food or absurd amounts of energy drinks (or any), so I seemed to be doing better than most college kids around me. Even now, I don't push people to eat like me because I know my point of view seems extreme to people that feel healthy.

OK guys, here's the part where I reveal my very large, everyone knows about me, secret... I'm a nerd:

I had a large contemplative moment while volunteering at a high school debate tournament this last weekend. I honestly don't have too many fond memories of debate except winning trophies and getting to go to Vegas for Nationals. Similar to judging, actually debating takes everything out of you. You spend weekends at a time poring your mind and energy into a competition that is largely subjective on how your judge feels that particular day. I remembered back to after my first tournament in the car ride home with my mom: my last debate round had gone so terribly, my self esteem had been shattered. I wept the entire way home. My mother, seeing how broken up I was, suggested I quit. I looked at her and told her I'd get better or get used to it. That's exactly what I did. I never became entirely skilled at debate, but was decent at some of the more performance centered events.

I've always been an overachiever of sorts. I was devastated when I wasn't the smartest person in the room. I soon had to get over this while being around debaters and AP students in high school. I had to get over this even more while being in college around pre-med students. And they are the worst breed of student, believe me. Luckily I went to a state school where no one was extremely pompous, but still some very high strung people that should have been taking chill pills daily. I learned very soon that I was not going to be the smartest, or even the top scoring student in classes. I was ok with that as long as I did my best. I do believe debate largely helped me relax and develop this mindset. Being continually judged and actually fighting for trophies made losing a recurring theme. I am extremely grateful that I learned to lose. It doesn't sound motivating, but letting go of failure makes you a better person. You still feel entirely comfortable with who you are and your efforts. Not being the best at something will not destroy you.

I believe these earlier experiences have taught me to deal with my current situation as well as I have. I've failed in many things I never wanted to. I believe my grades and MCAT scores would have been much higher without some of my struggles with fatigue and general malaise. Would I be in medical school right now had this not occurred? Possibly. Would that have been my best course in life? I cannot tell you. Nonetheless, I continue to strive for happiness. I am able to succeed in so many other ways. I enjoy life when I can and still work towards my goals. In fact, I was recently accepted into graduate school for a Masters in Nursing. I will be working towards doing what I want most in life: helping others. Nothing could make me more proud. Similarly, I'm not afraid of losing this battle with my body. It still brings me to great things and I know more are to come. Letting go of perfection is the best thing anyone could do. I'm excited to continue my slow going progress with plant-based eating whether I get to the finish line or not.

Meatloaf bites (made with kidney beans and homemade ketchup), brussel sprouts, and cauliflower mashed "potatoes"

Update on food: About the same as last time, but my chocolate intake increased dramatically during my period : / So still lots of work to go!

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Still Lots to Do

I hope everyone had a wonderful holiday and that they successfully came back to reality. So far I have been working full time, attempting to study for online classes, keeping a pretty demanding social life due to recent developments, and still eating plant-based! Oh, and I didn't mention trying to find a way to pay for grad school and needing to apply to more schools soon. EEK.

I could go on and on about how my first week or so has gone with my Eat to Health plan. Summary, not too bad, not too good.

New Years was a crazy night for me, so the day after was my splurge day. Some splurges followed into the next couple days based purely on eating leftovers and not wanting to waste food :/

I'm going to try to make this organized. Hey, I may suffer from fatigue, but I can still pull off a pretty decent type A personality. I'm going to give three ways I failed and three ways I succeeded.

1) I'm having difficulties getting the right proportions of what I should be eating everyday. I'm still seeing maybe more grains than I should be having, or more fat, or less fruit, etc. A good dose of meal planning may help this as I haven't had time to do so recently.
2) Other than New Years, I had a few "bad food" moments. These all correspond to social situations where I am either eating out or participating in snacking. This being said, I still ate relatively healthy vegan options with veggies, beans, and whole grains. The fat may have been a little over the top though due to "normal" cooking practices. I also had a third of a vegan cupcake today... So good, but so bad for my absurd insulin response.
3) I'm still not sure I'm actually eating a decent amount of calories on the days I don't splurge. I guess this ties back to my first point.

1) I have definitely increased my veggie intake! I have been eating large salads and seem to be adding kale to everything I think I can. When I go shopping, I just walk through the produce isle and grab what looks good.
2) I have a pretty good mentality about adding more G-BOMBS to my diet ( For example, when I am grocery shopping I tend to make sure mushrooms are in my basket and lots of leafy greens. I always have onions, beans, and seeds at my house.
3) I've only skipped taking my supplements twice these two-ish weeks! That's a huge deal for me because it's difficult for me to remember those things. I believe I have done well with this because I just put my supplements right on my kitchen counter, so every time I get food or a glass of water they are staring at me. I try to take them with breakfast. Also, they don't make me sick like most vitamins do. I'm hoping that's a sign I'm actually taking something that's good for me. Not sound logic, but it helps me a bit.

Overall, I think my energy is somewhat the same but feel more energetic than I would expect for the cold season. Maybe once I have better control over everything I can make an actual food journal and let you know exactly what I'm doing. Exciting, I know.

Extra veggie pics:

Steamed green beans with nutritional yeast sprinkled on top and some quinoa pilaf with mushrooms, cranberries, and pumpkin seeds. 

I actually had this plate of veggies dipped in (not all of that) amazing sun dried tomato hummus for dinner one night. I was surprisingly "energetic" afterwards and even did some cleaning. Whoa! 

Monday, December 30, 2013

A Whole Lot to Do, With a Side of Resolutions

New Year rolls around and almost everyone has their resolutions in mind. Setting dates for yourself to start on a goal you have is perfectly acceptable. I tend to have resolutions at the beginning of every week. Maybe that's why resolutions and I don't get along, we're just sick of seeing each other and never accomplishing much. The good news is I have been a better vegan in the past six months than I ever have been since starting this journey. Christmas went even better than Thanksgiving. Everyone ate my baked vegan cakes, muffins, and cookies (all fat free) while proceeding to ask me for the recipe. Christmas Eve my family has lasagna every year (judge as you please) and I made my own HH Lasagna Rolls with kale and ate a side salad with my own oil-free dressing I made. For actual Christmas, I ate a tiny bit of salad. Something about seeing everyone guzzle down an absurd amount of meat and gravy made me lose my appetite...

I'm so happy with my progress of staying away from animal foods, but the next step is calling my name: staying away from unhealthy foods. I guess we all tell ourselves this at the beginning of a new year. I always give in here and there thinking, “It's Ok. I don't eat this every day”. In the scheme of things, eating french fries only when you're at a bar significantly increases in meaning when you regularly go to bars to watch football. Also, eating plant-based isn't very effective if the broccoli is always overlooked by the pasta and the bread. I believe most Americans could start a very simple vegan diet and feel significantly better by simply cutting processed foods and too much meat from their diet. Unfortunately, there's more tied to my health problems than processed foods. Once again, I find myself needing to strive for more. I'm very proud of how far I have come. At the end of 2014, I would love to feel even more pride and hopefully more energy.

My next adventure: a trial nutritarian diet. What this essentially means is only eating high micro-nutrient foods. This involves eating an absurd amount of veggies, a reasonable amount of fruit, a good measure of healthy fat, and a bit of carbs and beans on the side. Basically, eating a balanced diet with a veggie overload. All this information comes from Dr. Fuhrman. There's a long list of other things to consider such as exercise and decreasing eating frequency for this all to work. It's all very interesting and when he describes food addiction I about fall over dead from embarrassment about how some of my symptoms I attribute to poor hormone function may be my body constantly fighting a battle with addiction. As I see it, whether this would actually make me feel better and give me energy or not, this is something extremely healthy for my body. One day, my eighty year old self will thank me for fighting cancer and diabetes this early on.

Here's the plan:

For the next three months I will basically be doing a detox/replenishment of nutrients for my body.
  • Only eat at breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
  • Have a large salad every day.
  • Eat lots of cooked veggies during the day as well, probably in soups because they're easy and cheap.
  • Eat fruit in the morning and at night as well as in salad to get three servings each day.
  • I'm not worried about getting the healthy fat in my diet since it will probably be getting me through the salad eating.
  • Limit carbs to about a cup a day and make sure to eat a cup of beans every day!

It sounds like a lot to consider and very difficult to maintain; however, I believe by specifically telling me you're going to eat salad and you're going to only eat three meals a day makes me really focus on my goal more. The fact that I can focus on what I eat just three times a day sounds like an amazing relief. Also, I believe I will be less inclined to go overboard on nighttime snacking if I just cut it out of my options completely. Unfortunately, this will make me very tired and sick for awhile. Luckily, I feel tired and sick all the time, so bring it on!!

I will also be taking a vitamin B12/D3 supplement along with DHA while doing this to really make sure I am getting all the nutrients I need and nothing is missing. Today I already did a bit of a test drive by only eating three meals, but because I wasn't prepared I probably only ate 900 calories :/ I'm going to have to get used to eating the sheer volume necessary to do this. The good news, I ate so much green stuff I can hardly believe it!

I have many other little health guidelines I have in mind for this, but I want to focus on the basics for now as I already have so much on my plate with work, classes, applications, and trying to maintain a social life. I really can't see myself stressing out about much more at this point. I'll keep you updated and feel free to keep me accountable, please :)