Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Plant Based: 30 Day Vegan Challenge--COMPLETE!

On February 1st, 2012, I successfully completed my first month of eating a plant-based, whole grain diet.

Epic Winning!
  • total weight loss: 4 lbs
  • total inches lost: 6
  • More restful sleep; easier to fall asleep/wake up. (Still have progress to make.  Monday mornings are torture, and I'd still like to go to sleep earlier.)
  • INCREASED ENERGY!  After my morning juice, I feel energized and bouncy.  I know this is a result of both my diet and my workouts, and was definitely what I had been missing.  It feels awesome!
  • My tastes have transformed quite a bit.  I don't crave super sugary food or greasy food (ie cake, candy, sugary drinks, burgers, fried food, etc).  I never really ate very much of that food anyway.  My cravings for cheese have not yet waned, but I've been shocked at my ability to resist it.   I don't crave milk at all; soy milk and rice milk have kept me very satisfied.
  • The first 2 weeks of working out, I didn't feel much transforming, just a lot of discomfort.  It was HARD.  The 3rd week, I felt my body changing--running farther without stopping, less winded, less soreness, lowered resting heart rate, etc.  
  • At the end of the 3rd week, I felt the first real endorphin boost while working out.  I get a good kicker in the middle of most workouts now--it feels great and is super motivating.
  • Clothes fit better.  That's nice.
  • Significant decreases in feelings of "bloating".  Awesome.
  •  Eating this way is not nearly as "extreme" as people think it is, or as people told me it was.  Now, it seems like the "typical American diet" is a lot more extreme and a lot scarier.  I'm not really talking about people who eat fast food every day, because I've never done that, and we all know that is an extreme way to live.  I've increased my awareness of ingredients, I see processed foods that I once thought of as "healthy" in a different way now.   It has become increasingly prevalent to me that most of the processed food we eat is just corn, fat, and sugar pressed into different shapes.  Take away the color and a few different sweeteners and a pop-tart is the same as an oreo is the same as Coco-Puffs is the same as Chicken nuggets is the same as Grape soda....etc etc.'
  • I realized how many vegetables I wasn't eating before.
  • I proved to myself that I can make significant changes in my habits and lifestyle, and that 30 days is long, but not long enough to permanently change habits or thought patterns.  It is going to take much longer than 30 days to erase years of false info, misconceptions, and acquired tastes.
  • I feel pretty jerked around by the scale.  I'll be down 4 pounds one morning, and up 5 the same night, then down 3, then up 2, then up 4, etc etc.  I wish I weren't so concerned by the numbers, but you know, I'm a woman, so, there's that.  Pretty lame.
I could continue to pontificate, but I think you've got the gist.  I've decided to continue with this new way of life.  I did allow myself a slice of pizza, a looser approach to vegetable oil,  and a few deserts since I completed my 30 day goal, but those were just rewards for a job well done.  I'm refocused now, and have no intention of deviating.  (I proved this to myself last night when I could have ordered my favorite chicken dish at the Indian restaurant, but ordered vegetarian instead. That is dedication!)

My friend Kim has an awesome blog, where she has written about a lot of topics related to a vegan lifestyle.  She writes about recipes, projects, workouts, and informative pieces about everything from protein to high fructose corn syrup.  READ HER BLOG!

Thanks for following my little experiment!  Its been great, and will continue to be great.  My next experiment, a 10 Day Juice Fast!  More on that later....

    Wednesday, February 1, 2012

    Plant Based: Days 13-25

    As I write this, I am nearing the end of my 30 day goal.  I'm excited to make my final report and assessment of the 30 Day Experiment.  To recap days 13-25, I will break from the pattern of the last few posts, and refrain from making long lists of day-to-day mealings.  Instead, I'll give you some lists and other more general impressions....

    I experimented with recipes a lot more the last few weeks.  Most notably, I started doing something I've been meaning to do for a very long time, but was always a little too chicken (haven't seen that word for a while)--I finally started experimenting making INDIAN FOOD!  I LOVE Indian food, but that long list of spices always intimidated me.  Last week I decided to just buy all the spices and go for it, and it has been amazing.  Seriously.  Lesson learned: Cook the food you love!  When I know I have delicious Indian food to come home to, I am not tempted by anything else.  Make enough for LEFTOVERS.  I had two or three "leftover days", when I didn't have to make anything new, and those were some of my favorite days.

    Mid-Month Favs:

    I make a fresh juice or smoothy every morning and it keeps me going until noon or 1pm.  This always includes green veggies and enough fruit to make it sweet.  My body has adjusted to the intense blast of vitamins (it made me a little queezy in the beginning), and, I've never had coffee before, but the blast of wakefulness/vitality/energy I get from that juice is what I imagine its like to drink coffee in the morning.  Its awesome!

    Lunches and Dinners:
    Rips Big Bowl--one of my favorites.  I look forward to eating this!  You can add or replace or change the ingredients to fit what you have and what you like; it is VERY fiber rich, very filling, and very delicious.  And I love cereal, so its amazing.  I probably never have to eat cereal from the box again.

    Eggplant Stew--This recipe makes a big batch, and, the 5 year old that I nanny LOVED it.  He asked for it all week.

    Chocolate Banana Ice Cream-- This stuff is wicked good, and perfect for satisfying that sweet tooth.  I can't live without ice cream, and I don't feel like I have too.  WIN.  (I omitted the sugar; with the vanilla almond soy milk it was sweet enough.)

    Hot and Sour Soup-- I love Hot and Sour soup.  This recipe was pretty good, but surprisingly better with age; I liked the leftovers better than the first bowl, but I have no idea why.  It was really easy.  I obviously omitted the meat.  I added mushrooms and water chestuts because I didn't have bamboo shoots.

    Aloo Gobi (Potatoes and Cauliflower)--This was my first attempt at Indian food and it turned out great.  I love cauliflower, but it is hard to eat a whole head of it with only two people, so I used the entire head and had awesome leftovers.

    TIP for Indian cooking: Turmeric is a very commonly used spice and adds a lot to a dish, but stains everything it touches yellow.  I use quite a bit of it in my Eggplant Stew and now have "special" yellow wooden spoons reserved for cooking with turmeric.

    Chole Palak (Spinach and Chick Peas)-- This is mine and Kyle's new favorite dish.  Fo rills!!  It is so amazing I made it twice in one week!  It is my new favorite way to eat spinach.

    Aloo Paratha (Potato stuffed flat bread)-- I love Naan and other Indian flat breads, and this one seemed easy enough to make.  It is easy to make, and very tasty.  I made this one twice too.

    Chick Peas and Red Pepper with Couscous--My BFF gave me this recipe with her enthusiastic endorsement.  Chick peas, red pepper, carrots, and about 10 delicious spices.  It was really flavorful and I love couscous.

    Aloo Baingan (Potato and Eggplant)--Even though I had to use canned tomatoes instead of fresh, this dish turned out thick, creamy, and tangy.  A great way to eat a potentially useless eggplant!

    First time tries:
    Bocca Burger-- My wonderful friend Judy made these for Kyle and I.  They were super tasty, and could easily be used as a beef patty in a hamburger.

    Veggie Pizza at Epicure Cafe--since my beloved art gallery closed, Epicure Cafe is my new hangout.  Their food is really quite exceptional for a small, independent cafe in a random strip mall in Fairfax, VA, and their pizza menu is diverse and delicious (and written on a vinyl record in silver sharpie=awesome).  I had this veggie pizza twice in two weeks, and Kyle was able to get his meat fix by putting whatever toppings he wanted on the other side of the pizza.

    Cajun Lentil Patties--I tried these, they looked interesting, but we didn't like them enough to make them again.  It also took far more oil than I wanted to use.  I would like to find some kind of "patty" as a meat substitute (besides Bocca Burgers).

    Lobia (Black Eyed Beans)--this could have been good, but I used canned beans that had their own smokey kind of flavor, so it didn't turn out very well.  Kyle liked it though.

    Best Quick Snack:
    • Sugar snaps/mushrooms/cherry tomatoes in homemade hummus
    • Granola
    • Nuts and dried cranberries/apricots/raisins

    During these middle weeks, my body was still adjusting--trying to shake sugar cravings, increase my endurance through feelings of hunger, and getting used to working out 4x a week.  Its hard to tell if my increased energy levels, easier sleeping and waking, and general increase in positive feelings is due more to my changed eating habits or to exercise.  I'm pretty sure its a lot of both, and its a LOTTA good.