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 :)

Friday, December 13, 2013

Does anyone enjoy December in the PNW?

Sorry for the month long hiatus. This Washington winter is already kicking my butt. The sun raises around seven thirty and the sun sets around three thirty.  So I get about a full work day worth of “sunlight”, which has definitely been made better by the fact that my new office receives natural light now. The cold puts me in a very clear state of hibernation. I’m usually awful at getting out of bed (I will regularly hit the snooze button for two hours), but no one wants to get out of bed when it’s freezing and dark out. My clear and annoying whining is to explain that I haven’t been on my best behavior. Exercise is cut out (also due to my back pain) and eating carbs is at an all-time high. I’d eat straight bread all winter if they let me.

I also didn’t follow all the plant based on a budget weeks. I did this mostly because I was able to be thriftier by receiving free veggies from my aunt and eating the abundance of leftovers from the first week. I also made my own meal plan when getting ready for Thanksgiving so I could eat comfortably around my family. I’m happy to say it was the first Thanksgiving I was completely vegan! I’m now excited for Christmas and all the yummy baked goods I’m already planning to make. Lately, I’ve been eating Happy Herbivore meal plan recipes.  Last night I even had a kale-tastic cooking session. I now only have kale-containing prepared meals and salads in my fridge. Hopefully all the healthy benefits of kale will help me through this winter!

Thanksgiving Dinner: Quinoa loaf, mashed potatoes, steamed green beans and lots of HH gravy!

Where I have been dropping the ball most lately is eating often. I tend to eat small low calorie meal/snacks every two to three hours to keep my energy up. I never have liked doing this. Eating that often makes people look at you funny, gets comments from your boss, and feels sometimes like a huge waste of time, but it helps a lot for people who have poor insulin control. I haven’t been eating as often because with the cold I am craving more calorie dense foods. So, I find instead of sitting down and eating a healthy snack that I don’t feel like, I skip my snack time altogether.  This obviously leads to more ravenous cravings and me just going home and eating potatoes for dinner. I’m serious.  Does anyone else have this problem in the winter? Or do you just start binge eating period?

The antithesis to this winter story is I just had my interview for the Master’s program I applied to. It is based in Texas! If I did well, I will be enjoying 40-50 degree weather this time next year. Amazing! Although, I heard in the hotter areas of the states they have a different type of seasonal affective disorder (SAD). In the hottest months residents may suffer from SAD because they stay inside more often. Pretty interesting, Huh?  Well, here’s to hoping I get to complain about 100 degree weather in six months J