Monday, January 16, 2012

Plant Based: Days 7-12

Firstly, THANK YOU to all who have been following my little experiment and buoying me with your words of encouragement and support.  Knowing that there are a few out there interested in my progress has helped me to stay strong in moments of weakness, and has contributed to my commitment to continue learning and striving.

Biggest Lesson of the last 5 Days:
Don't be hungry!

I don’t think it is bad to feel hungry, in fact, part of this whole experiment is attempting to improve my resistance to feelings of discomfort when I’m hungry.  I don’t NEED to be satiated ALL of the time.  I don’t NEED to reach for the easiest, most convenient foods just because they’re there and I’m experiencing a little bit of discomfort.  I do not frequent fast food restaurants as a habit, but I have been more prone to indulging in fast food this last year.  These last two weeks of eating a plant-based, whole food diet obviously rule out fast-food, which I don’t miss at all (with the exception of Wendy’s Frosties...I know, I know...but I’m just keepin’ it real).  

So, I made a new rule—whenever possible, I only eat at home.  After all, I’ve bought all of these great fruits and veggies that will go bad if I don’t eat them, so every time I eat a meal outside my home, they are just getting older and older.  Crucial to the success of this rule is having healthy snacks in the car, because the truth is, I have never found myself sitting at home getting ready for dinner and asked Kyle, “Do you want to go out to Wendy’s/McDonald’s/Burger King/Arby’s/Taco Bell/etc etc tonight?”  No, the ONLY time I eat that food is when we’re driving around and we’re hungry!  If I’m home and I want something from a restaurant, we’ll go to a “real” restaurant or we’ll order take-out (which is usually just as bad, ie pizza, chinese, Thai—MSG, grease, fat, fat, fat)--and we really don’t do that very often.  So, as long as I can plan for long hours away from home, and bring prepared meals and healthy snacks, I can avoid the tempting convenience foods and not become ravenous.

So, the lesson I learned this week:  DON’T BE HUNGRY.  

I really mean DON’T SKIP MEALS.  I woke up late a few times and didn’t have time to make my morning juice or eat anything.  By ten o’clock, every stupid awful piece of food looked amazing.  Cheese sticks, Gatorade, fruit snacks, Wonderbread—if there had been a twinkie on the counter I would have drooled.  Luckily, my schedule is flexible enough that I was able to go home and make a wonderful juice that solved the problem immediately, but it was amazing how fast my defenses were broken down by those destructive feelings of hunger.

***Listen to this AMAZING song whilst you read/scroll/skim through the boring part of this post***
“Are you some kind of bad dream?” (What’s with the pipe cleaners?) 

DAY #7
Breakfast: Juice: Grapefruit, 2 kiwi, 2 granny apples, kale, spinach, 1 pear.  Grapefruits make a wicked lot of juice, and the flavor is very strong (bitter).  I think I’ll only use half a grapefruit from now on.
Lunch: Rip’s Big Bowl (I actually get excited when I get to eat this!  Sooooo good!)
Dinner/snack: Pita with hummus

I was awesome at drinking water today (over 80 oz), and I ran on the treadmill for 35 min (410 calories).  Go me.

DAY #8
Skipped breakfast, could have chewed my arm off.
Snack: 2 clementines and dried peaches
Lunch: A Vegan Cafe: Sandwich with some kind of fake “chicken”, artichoke, tomato, and fake “mozzarella”
Midday Juice: 2 apple, 2 pear, kale, spinach, 1 cucumber
Dinner: Left over Potato Taco (huge and delicious!)

Today I ran around all day and was away from home.  Must wake up earlier, I was sluggish and tired most of the day.  DON’T SKIP BREAKFAST.  Worked out to Jillian Michael’s 30 Day Shred.

DAY #9
Woke up late again and skipped breakfast. *grits teeth
Lunch: Juice: grapefruit, 2 kiwi, pineapple, orange, green pepper, red pepper, cucumber
Snack: sugar snaps and hummus
Dinner: Potato with red bean and lentil sauce, steamed broccoli, spinach salad with tomato, mushroom, carrot, and ginger dressing
Dessert: I was eating as a guest at someone else’s house and they had already made a vegan meal just for me, so we had “whole wheat” shortcake and “organic” cherry sauce.  I considered it cheating, but I felt too bad to turn it down.  I feel it was a reasonable allowance to make, but I only did it to be polite.

Workout: Jog 35 min on treadmill, 400 calories

DAY #10
Breakfast: Juice: cucumber, spinach, kale, carrots, orange
Lunch: leftover Squash Stew
Snack/Dinner: big ‘o Grapes

Workout: bike 15 min, elliptical 10 min, jog around my pond--53 min total, 620 calories

I went to the store again today and got about $100 of fruit, veggies, and whole grains.  It was a much faster, easier trip than the first time, so that was encouraging.

DAY #11
Breakfast: Juice (half before workout, half after): kale, spinach, cucumber, carrots, apples, banana, avocado (really good!!) 
Snack: mushrooms, sugar snaps, and hummus
Lunch: Big Bowl: walnuts, almonds, flax seed, shredded wheat, banana, kiwi, almond vanilla soy milk
Dinner: Wendy’s Baja Salad.  Let me explain: Kyle and I went to one of my gigs that lasted much longer than I thought and we were starving by the time it got done.  So we went to Wendy’s, and I picked the only thing on the menu that I thought would be alright to eat.  All of the salads have either chicken or bacon on them, and this one had Chili.  I didn’t remember that Wendy’s Chili has ground beef crumbles in it, so I picked out what little there was in there.  Also, there was some shredded cheese on the salad that was nearly impossible to pick out, but it was pretty inconsequential.  I did feel like I was cheating a bit, but then I looked across the table to see Kyle killing his large Frostie (exactly what I would have been doing), and knew that I was trying my best and a few little pieces of shredded cheese didn’t change that.

Workout: 10 min bike and 1 hour of racquetball with Kyle; upper body lifting.  1 hour 45 min. 831 Calories, 49 grams of fat.  Go me.    
DAY #12
Breakfast juice: Kale, spinach, carrot, apple
Lunch: Big Bowl: walnuts, almonds, flax, oats, shredded wheat, banana, blueberries 
Snack: small cup of leftover squash stew
Dinner: Eggplant Stew

Workout: Basketball game at church, 60 minutes, 637 calories 

Synopsis of the last  6 days:
  • It is getting easier to wake up before 8am, but it still feels like I am trying to change my biology, like trying to think my hair a different color.  It is getting easier though.
  • Don't skip breakfast--make juice!
  • Changing my lifestyle in this way is sure to cause social issues, ie. going out to eat with friends, being invited to other people's houses for dinner, etc.  Do your best, forget the rest.  Be polite, but take care of your own interests too.
  • I'm starting to feel the improvements that come with working out, ie feeling less weak, more energy, improved workout performance
  • my resting heart rate has lowered by about 15-20 beats per minute, crazy!
  • The numbers on the scale are a bit discouraging, so I may have to re-evaluate some things in the second half of the 30 days
I still feel good and am looking forward to this week!

Here is a demonstration of how to make delicious homemade hummus:

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Plant Based: Days 1-6

Rather than post every day and bore you to tears, I've decided to update every 5 days or so, or whenever the blog bug bites.  So, here is a synopsis of my experiences during my first 5 days of eating a strict plant-based, whole food diet (otherwise known as vegan--I'm getting a bit more comfortable with that word).

DAY #1

I started a new job today, nannying for an awesome 5 year old, which requires that I wake up at 7:30am.  I am NOT a morning person.  I haven't had to wake up regularly before 9am for like, I don't know, 5 years.  I am a night owl, its in my blood.  I go to sleep late and I wake up late, and I am so sluggish and useless when I wake up.  I've always wanted to change this, but have failed every time.  Today was no exception--I woke up early enough, but I (and my body) didn't like it.

I took my measurements today--16 points of measurement totaled 341.75 inches.

Breakfast: a banana and some dried apple and peach
Snack: A handful or two of mixed nuts/berries
Lunch: Large juice--5 carrots, 2 celery, half a green pepper, 4 small apples, one pear
Dinner: Stir Fry with Rice--celery, red peppers, green pepper, zucchini, onion, garlic sauteed in soy sauce and put over rice.

DAY #2
Waking up was miserable, as expected---SO EARLY!!
I went grocery shopping. $175 worth of excitement, inquiry, clueless staring, and the inevitable wincing pain when you see the price tag.  GAH! BUT--not all of that was food to support my new habits; I also had to buy a new sharp slicing knife (because the only thing my knives slice well is my soul, and even then its more like bludgeoning), a veggie scrubber, and I accidentally bought a few things at way-to-high prices.  Also, I probably bought enough to feed a family of 5 for over a week, even though I am only feeding myself and my husband (when he chooses to participate in my "craziness").  I have no idea how much produce to buy when that's all I'm going to eat, but the good side is that if things start to look like they are going bad, I'll just juice them and call it good (or green, as the case may be).

Things I bought that I have never purchased before: star fruit, ginger root, veggie stock, butternut squash, flax seed, soy milk, granola, and beets.

Breakfast:  Large smoothie--peaches, banana, orange juice, carrot juice, frozen strawberries
Snack: granola mix, raw mushrooms, dried fruit/nut mix
Late lunch/early dinner: "Mean Green" Juice--I got this juice recipe from Join the  They have a lot of juice recipes and a lot of awesome resources, etc.  This is the website that supports the documentary "Fat, Sick, and Nearly Dead", which was hugely influential to my decision to start down this path.  I adjusted the "Mean Green" recipe a bit, subtracting some celery (because I don't like it very much) and adding 2 more apples (because I like it very much).  However, next time I will go much lighter on the GINGER.  Holy crap.  Ginger is some wicked strong stuff, and honestly, I had a hard time choking down this juice.  I had to save the second half of it until Day 3, and added it to my morning smoothie with a lot more stuff in it to dull the sting. 

I wasn't hungry enough to eat again, which is different from my usual habits of grazing in the kitchen sometime between 9pm and 11pm.  

DAY #3
 It was easier to wake up today, thank goodness, aided by the fact that I went to sleep before 11pm, which is very rare indeed.

My body feels like I need to exercise--my body, not necessarily the rest of me.  I don't feel like I have a tremendous amount of energy, but I do feel like I need to move.   Maybe there is energy stored in my cells that is itching to be freed or maybe the exercise will help move "the sludge" better--I'm sure both of these are true, and my body is undeniably telling me I need to start shakin' what my momma gave me.

I LOVE my heart rate monitor!  I love watching the number of calories tick away, and being able to see what my heart is doing.  The message is clear--I am stinkin', pathetically out-of-shape.  I jogged for like 2 minutes and my heart rate was in the 160's!  HA!  Its okay, if I stick to it I know the numbers will get better really fast.

Breakfast:  10 oz leftover Mean Green added to the juice of one grapefruit, 3 apples, and blended with strawberries, blackberries, and a banana= 38 oz delicious smoothie.
Lunch: Flat Bread Wrap with hummus, spring mix, tomato, cucumber mushrooms, spinach, topped with lemon juice, salt and pepper. (Delicious!)
Dinner: Tofu Steak with Steamed Potato-- sauteed mushrooms and extra firm tofu in soy sauce, steamed red potato with rosemary, side salad with spring mix, tomato, avacado, kiwi, almonds, pumpkin seeds, and cucumber with lemon juice on top.  First time eating tofu I made myself, and it was what I expected--tastes like whatever you season it with, and has the texture of strange cottage cheese.  Tofu seems like filler. Whateves.  The potatoes were awesome! 

DAY #4
I'm down 2 pounds today (from Day 1) and feel less bloated and sluggish.  Today was the first day I felt really peppy.  I felt lighter, with a spring in my step.  I'm pretty sure it was because of the jog/walk that Kyle and I took around the pond near our house--even though my legs, back, and core feel SO weak from my sedentary lifestyle, it felt great to get my blood pumping, and I definitely felt the endorphins.  The whole rest of the day I felt more ALIVE than I have in a while.

Workout: 30 min jog/walk, 10 min stretch

Breakfast: Smoothie--3/4 grapefruit, carrots, apples, banana, strawberries, blackberries, cherry tomato, kale, spinach
Snack: granola, cranberries, small apple
Dinner: Potato Tacos--I was a bit stumped for dinner, so I went to the internet and found this awesome Potato Taco recipe.  I changed a few things from the recipe (omit peppers, added olives) but this was probably my favorite (and Kyle's favorite) meal yet.  It was really delicious and really filling!

DAY #5
Workout: Elliptical/bike  45 min, 521 calories, 28g fat

Late breakfast (11am)--worst juice I've ever made.  Seriously, it was so horrible.  I think I added all the wrong things together to get the perfect storm of gagtastic nastiness.  Here goes: one beet, 1/2 pomegranate, 2 celery, 4 apples, handful of grapes, 2 pears.  It should have been good; the beet juice was shockingly sweet, and soooooo red.  Pear, apple, grape? Delicious!  Celery, awful, I'm getting to hate celery more and more, which is sad, but I know I need to include it, so I keep trying.  The pomegranate seemed like a great idea, they're delicious right?  Yes, they are, but their juice is awful.  The whole concoction was sweet/pleasant going over my tongue, but as soon as I took a breath there was an overwhelming bitterness like Satan at a bunny-themed garden party.  It was like the blood of a thousand murdered kittens.  Horrible.

Lunch: I had to make up for the juice fail, so I tried a variation on this recipe from Engine 2 dot com called Rip's Big Bowl.  I didn't have a few of the ingredients, so my bowl consisted of walnuts, ground flax seed, oats, one banana, one kiwi, cranberries, and one of my favorite new discoveries, Pure Almond Vanilla Soy Milk.  This is going to be my new go-to fiber-filled breakfast.  It was amazing!  

DAY #6
Today is Sunday.  In my effort to keep a lifetime goal of honoring Sunday as the Sabbath Day, dedicated to worship and rest, I did not workout today.

Kyle and I shared "Rip's Big Bowl" for breakfast on our way out the door to church.
Lunch:  my first time ever making Butternut Squash Soup!  I am a huge fan of soup, so hopefully this will be my first of many soup experiments.  I changed the recipe a bit--added a bit more broth and water at the end, because it turned out really thick.  I added cumin and flavored it with salt/pepper to taste.  I also only pureed about 1/4 of it and added it back to the chunky, stew-like soup.  Kyle and I both agreed that it tasted better as more of a stew than a pureed, brothy soup.  Toasted pita on the side.

Dinner:  The Butternut Squash "stew" was so filling, I wasn't really hungry the rest of the night.  I drank water and felt satisfied....but then, as it always does, my sweet tooth started itching...So I searched for vegan desert recipes.  Most of them had some kind of oil or some kind of oil substitute that I don't have.  But this Chocolate Banana Almond Ice Cream recipe looked do-able, even though I don't have an ice cream maker.  I made it in the blender, then put the whole blender in the freezer for over an hour, blended it back up and had a delicious "milk-shake".  It was sooooooo good!

Final thoughts on week #1:
As I sit here sipping my soy milk, I am completely satisfied.  How unexpected!  Here is a list of things I that make me feel satisfied right now:
  • the delicious food I've eaten all week
  • more energy/feeling of vitality
  • easier sleeping/waking
  • all the new things I'm learning and experimenting with
  • renewed sense of discipline and determintation
  • renewed CONFIDENCE in my ability to make wise food choices
  • knowing that this 30 day goal is one I will accomplish; no matter how "good" something looks or smells or seems, I am COMMITTED to this goal
  • the support I've gotten from my family, friends, and others
  • knowing that I am positively impacting my health
  • having an open mind to things I've never done or tried or even imagined I would consider
  • the knowledge I have of the principles of faith, personal agency, and obedience that steer me toward the best things of this world
  • my ability to change and to always improve myself
  • an overwhelming feeling of gratitude for the ABUNDANCE in my life
 Bring on next week! 

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Plant Based

In 2012, I'm turning over a new leaf--lots of them really.

I've decided, for the month of January, to eat an entirely plant-based diet.  Whoa.  Yeah.  Its going to be awesome!

But I don't love the word "vegan".  I like "plant based", "raw", and "plant power", so those are the words I'll use.

I've been consuming a lot of plant-based food propaganda recently that has influenced my decision to make this goal.  Most influential have been the documentaries "Fat, Sick, and Nearly Dead", "Forks Over Knives", "Food Matters", and "Food, Inc".  As I progress toward my goal of eating only plant-based food for 30 days, I will chronicle my experiences and progress here on my blog.  There are a lot of concepts, facts, and research that has contributed to convincing me to try this out, and I plan to summarize my findings for you here.

I couldn't do this without the support of my amazing husband (who will NOT be eating tofu), who gave me this ridiculously awesome juicer from Breville as a Christmas present.  Here's what I woke up to on Christmas morning--way to go Kyle!:

I am really excited to plunge into this new lifestyle and look forward to sharing my experiences with you!