Wednesday, October 30, 2013


I had an amazing weekend which may be why I have been feeling awful this week so far. It may just be a bit of seasonal affective disorder, but it is just composed of the usual inability to get out of bed or to stay motivated for more than five minutes at a time followed by intense need of carbs. I've been working on this post about practicality, because I do feel like this all the time and I try to find things that work around it.

For anyone who has had health issues or possibly wanted to just lose weight, you end up doing search upon search to find the diet or remedy that will make you feel better. To an extent, I believe you can narrow down to some options based on scientific data. However, nutrition research is always being refined and no one magic food or specific diet has been found. I narrowed it down to plant-based eating because it makes the most sense scientifically, environmentally, and personally. If you can find something that works for you, do it. 

Practicality can involve a variety of elements. The main ones for me are:

1) Affordability
2) Time
3) Realizability based on character and willpower

The first is pretty important for any twenty-something in college, or right after when your career is still starting/non-existent. I realize that's a very subjective demographic, but as a young person I'm allowed to be a little self-involved. With the limited amount of money I do have, I spend money on health books quite often to find any kind of information and hope I can. It was recently pointed out to me that I should just go to the library... My poor judgment aside, I was very excited to read a new book that seemed to have the right title, described most of my symptoms, and claimed to be able to fix everything with diet. The diet is mostly plant-based with some animal protein, but is very supplement-centric. The author's website will even let you take a test that leads you to the supplements you should order from him. Research shows that they're not always a great idea. The exception being actual deficiencies. I'm sick enough that I would consider it though, but there's no way I can afford four hundred dollars worth of pills that I would probably forget to take anyways. If I'm still sick in five years and desperate, I'll take it more seriously. 

Time is an issue for all of us. When I had two jobs working twelve hour days half the time, I had no time or energy to prepare healthy meals. This is about the time I gave up plant-based eating and ate whatever was convenient. I still ate probably plant-based half the time because I'm used to it, but I did gain weight and I may have felt a bit worse. It's hard to tell. I did make a choice and decided to cut down to one job. This didn't necessarily lead to a healthy lifestyle, but it helped me make better decisions. The point is, if you work full time, have kids or dogs to take care of, don't pick a lifestyle change that would require you to cook every night. It will fail. I have troubles when I just have to cook one night of the week. I like to have my weekends to do all of it ahead of time. I am completely drained by the end of a weekday.

Which leads me back to realistic expectations of willpower. If you know that cheese is going to be “impossible” to stop eating for you, work into it. Even though I didn't realize it, I slowly transitioned to plant-based, not because I meant to, but because my body didn't respond well to the immediate change and I ended up eating gross things. People don't realize that most days it's a miracle I get out of bed, probably just in the hopes I will see other people that will stimulate me enough to wake up. Even my dog gets the short end of the stick sometimes when I can't work up more than five or ten minutes of play time when I get home. Nonetheless, I always have these enormous goals. Lists upon lists are in my bedside table waiting for me to accomplish them. I'm trying to learn to focus on one thing at a time. This week I'm focusing on oil pulling. Yes, very weird, but not difficult by any means so I'm going for it. The craziest part is I already managed to skip it yesterday because my morning routine had run a bit late, me being in bed the entire morning and all.

I guess my rant is really trying to say: Pick what works or what is most likely to work, or you will just end up being upset that you didn't pull through. Also, when something fails, just keep trying. I've been making goal lists for four years and I don't see myself stopping. Just because I'm not the person I want to be doesn't mean I'm going to give up. I vaguely remember a time when I could do it all and excel. I'm there somewhere, my body just has to catch up with my will to eventually be a bad-ass. Also, being plant-based is probably the easiest and cheapest way to be healthy, so consider it! It works for a ton of people. 

Here's the food I made this weekend. From Happy Herbivore meal plans. Usually I make my own meal plans, but some of hers seem so delicious, I buy them :)

Friday, October 18, 2013

What Plant Powered Means To Me (Right Now)

When I say plant powered, I mean a whole foods, plant-based lifestyle. I was hoping that changing my diet would help me feel better. I’m still not sure if it will help me, but I do really love eating this way. There's no harm in avoiding diabetes, heart disease, cancer and Alzheimer's. I don't know if you noticed, but it's the new craze. Everyone that saw Forks Over Knives (Watch it!) threw out their meat, dairy, and processed foods that very day. At least I assume they did. I didn't do that. I set a starting date for myself. The two weeks leading up to that date I gained about ten pounds eating everything I knew I would stop eating soon enough. I ate pizza, steak, blocks of cheese, and my favorite, hot wings. Not the smartest idea, considering our bodies become addicted to that junk. So my logic was, shoot as much heroin as possible before going to rehab. Genius. Oh, and by the way, that starting date was two years ago.

The title to this entry would imply that I'm keeping plant-powered on the hook: “I just can't be with you... right now”. Our relationship is very different from me hanging out with another lifestyle and keeping plant-based as my back-up. Our relationship is closer to an engagement. An engagement with huge psychological issues, because, here's the deal: I still like to sneak around with other foods. I don't have cold feet or anything. I'm hugely committed to this, but sometimes my body still wants what is bad for me. So after a long and stressful day at work, I don't want to snuggle with my dependable bowl of broccoli; I want something greasy and sugary to make me feel guilty and forget my day. Similarly, if I get tipsy, I may drunk dial an old booty call, throwing all control to the wind. Yeah, I'm looking at you Munchy'z.

The point is, I've had slip after slip. Strangely enough I still lost weight over the times I was at least mostly eating plant-based. I had a general splitting of ways once, when I started getting free food at a very physically demanding job. June 15th of this year I set out to start over, but with no splurges. I've done pretty well in four months. I had fish three times (my grandpa caught and cooked trout two times and I ate ceviche with my best friend on her birthday). I had some Bailey's one morning while watching the Seahawks. My intestines immediately regretted that since I'm quite lactose intolerant now. I also recently ate a snack brought back from China by a co-worker. I found out afterward that it had egg in it. 

My huge problem now is I still don't always eat healthy. Living in Spokane is almost worse because I have access to more vegan food now. Vegan restaurants still pile on the EVOO, which is refined fat in a bottle. I eat junk food, but it is vegan. I'd say my biggest issues are “healthy” chips and eating out. I try not to buy baked chips, but they sneak into my groceries sometimes, usually with the intention of sharing with others. I still am largely addicted to french fries. Overall, anything with fat and carbs in it are what I crave every day when I get home from work and every night when I get late night munchies. This all makes perfect sense:

1)                  My body is addicted to the fat.
2)                  My body craves the carbohydrates because my metabolism is out of whack.
3)                  Any time I'm low on energy or stressed out, I eat carbs possibly with added oil.

How I get out of this cycle, I haven't quite figured out yet. I’m fully aware of what I’m doing when I make that late night chocolate mug cake, but I'm taking one step at a time. It obviously took me awhile to get to this point (plant-based with some crap on the side). Don’t get me wrong, I eat healthier than most people, but I have to be even healthier than that to feel better. Every time I fall off the wagon, I get right back on. For example, I've never had a time where I ate a bunch of junk the previous night and woke up to continue my streak by just having doughnuts. I start all over again by eating oatmeal, making a green smoothie, and packing a salad for lunch. It's about progress and I think I will easily get to a point where I can get home from work and be happy with my sweet potato and tahini kale. Eventually, I will be fully married to a plant-based lifestyle and it won't have to worry about my wandering eyes.

Here’s the plant powered football snacks I made last weekend:
Deviled tomatoes Yum! 
Spicy hummus, healthy black bean dip, home baked chips and crackers
Nachos with normal greasy tortilla chips but with homemade cashew cheese
Pumpkin Pie Dip! Kid approved!

I’m not really a great photographer. Sorry for the iphone quality!

Friday, October 11, 2013

What PCOS Means To Me: A Necessary Intro

I'm Danielle,

I have been thinking about starting a blog for awhile now. I wanted to do the real thing with a .com (is that even possible anymore?) and make it special before starting anything. I refrained, because I have difficulties finishing things I start. I guess that's part of my story. This will probably only be read by a few loved ones, and that's fine. I hope I can document my journey somewhere other than my dusty journal.

I could go into detail about what Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) is, but any Google search can cover the basics. The crazy part is that one in ten women have PCOS. I believe the high occurrence is related to obesity and diet in the U.S. Nonetheless, that topic will have to wait for another day. PCOS is not limited to obese women. There is such a thing as thin PCOS and there are some people that are genetically prone. That is where I come in. I have a family history of women having ovary problems and diabetes. Only recently in my family tree was my mother diagnosed with PCOS, which led to my diagnosis.

I have not found much support for the problems I experience with this disease. Maybe because my symptoms are more trivial?? To explain, I guess I do have to tell you some of the symptoms most people complain about and seek help for: balding, unwanted hair growth (chest and face), mood swings, and the big one... infertility. I'm lucky enough to not experience those first three and am not currently worried about the last one. Many women struggle with their weight which is making all these symptoms worse. I'm not overweight, and never have been.

In other words, I have not found anyone that I can relate to regarding this condition.

You will often hear me say, “My body hates me”. It's honestly the easiest way I can explain it. My hormones are so out of whack, that I feel nauseous at the drop of a dime, have a general brain fog most of the day, get hypoglycemic if I eat the wrong thing, and acne that I never had in high school. I saved the worst for last: constant fatigue. When this first occurred I chalked it up to college stress. All these things started occurring my sophomore year and steadily worsened by my junior and senior year. How I received my degree still baffles me.

Have I complained enough yet? I'll save you from my medical journey involving doctor after doctor dismissing the young student. Long story short, most medical tests don't show much of anything for me. I even had all my essential screenings done yesterday at a health fair. One lady actually told me, “Keep doing what you're doing!”. What could I do, but politely smile through the light headed feeling and heart racing I was experiencing? I was just trying to figure out what I had done wrong already that day, perhaps nothing.

The point: it's difficult for doctors to help me when there's not a physiological basis for treatment. They have tried. I've taken Metformin (a drug to control insulin release), special types of birth control, progesterone cream, and even herbal supplements. I still feel sick but my brain fog is now sometimes limited to afternoons and evenings. I'm still fatigued from the moment I wake up in the morning which is why I'm writing and possibly why it is taking me so long to feel better. It's hard to make changes in your life with no energy to do so. I'm always amazed by people that fight through their health issues. I'm sorry to say that hasn't been me yet.

Because I've been working on this for awhile, I realize nothing is as simple as taking a magic pill or getting on a treadmill. Healing is a journey. So far mine has seemed long and non-productive. There's no other option but to march on. My hope is to reach the big pot of healthy gold at the end of the rainbow. If I'm lucky, maybe I can share with you how I get there.