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!