Friday, June 19, 2009

Back to my vegan roots...goodbye cheese, hello green smoothies

So my detox failed. I don't really know why. I think Natalia Rose's plan is awesome and wonderful and should totally work. But I was really having trouble committing to it. I knew I should commit to it, and I wanted to want to commit to it. I wanted a healthy, pure body. But there was this strange thing in the back of my mind that honestly didn't care. At some moments, I would look at my body, feel how I was feeling, and know that I could treat myself better. I could shed a good 10 lbs, exercise, and stick to the plan. Then, at other moments, I would look at this same body of mine and think, "It's not even that bad. It could be worse. I'm lucky I only look like this from all I indulge in. This isn't so bad. I get to eat sweets and fatty foods and pastries, and I only look and feel this bad...which isn't as bad as it could be, so what's the big deal?" And this mentality led me to making some very bad decisions about the food I ate.

During my last two weeks at Starbucks, I started looking at all our pastries and suddenly they looked delicious. I read the ingredients. I knew what crap was in them. But I honestly didn't care. I ate a toffee almond bar one day. Didn't gain weight. So I figured it wasn't so bad. I ate one another day. I sampled a different pastry the next. And this continued until I finally started feeling a little bad...and started gaining weight.

And where did all this bad behavior come from? I know there must have been some psychological issues going on in my mind, maybe stress or slight and subtle depression that made me not care about what I put into my body. But as for a physical trigger? Cheese. This has happened twice now, so I have no excuse to let this happen again. Both times it started with the allowance of Raw Goat Cheese in my diet. Then I started eating pasteurized cheese here and there. Then, since I was already eating cheese and officially "not vegan" I ended up eating other non-vegan foods (like salmon pita and latke's the first time; toffee almond bars, etc, the second) and experiencing an all together crash in my high standards for healthy food. It's an unexplainable snowball effect that takes place when I stray from my vegan lifestyle. And it was so subtle this time. I really felt like I was just going to eat cheese every now and then, and that it wouldn't influence the rest of my diet at all. But it did and I have no idea why. I can't explain it. I know it must be something linked to my subconscious. I have a feeling I have deep psychological issues with food. I just don't even know where to start in understanding them. Whatever the problem is, it's not obvious to me.

Anyhow, like last time my diet crashed, I re-read "Skinny Bitch." There's something magical about that book. I really though it couldn't possibly have any effect on me this fifth or sixth time around reading it, but somehow, it did. I wasn't even moved while reading it, like I usually am. But just a couple days ago, I realized I was done with cheese.

So I'm back to my vegan roots. However, for the sake of not offending any true, 100%, dedicated for life, ethical vegans, I'll admit that I've never been a strict vegan; I still eat honey, I wear leather (mostly in the form of shoes and used or hand-me-downs), and I don't obsess when I go out to eat that my meal is 100% vegan. This last part may sound totally absurd and non-vegan of me, but--especially as I grow to live longer with my "veganism"--I have come to understand that there's a risk in eating out at a non-vegan restaurant, and it alleviates a lot of stress to just let go and surrender to that fact, and do my best. It's easier to order vegan food at some restaurants, and more difficult at others. Currently, my favorite type of food is Indian. And while Indian food is easy to get vegetarian, it can be a little tricky to get something 100% vegan, since they use butter and cream in recipes that you would never even guess would have it in them. I ate at a vegetarian Indian restaurant with my mom recently, and they showed me which items were vegan. Then I ate at a regular Indian restaurant (Maharaja in West Seattle) with Brian even more recently (before I had made the decision to drop cheese) and just ordered from the vegetarian section. And it was so good! I was relieved that I wasn't 100% vegan at that point, because I knew I would have been overwhelmed trying to ensure I got something that was. So that department is something I feel comfortable giving myself a little slack. Just order as vegan as I can to my knowledge, and just let go, and enjoy my favorite food.

Of course, I would like to save money and eat at home as much as possible. Luckily, with my new job at Trader Joe's (which I love, by the way), I get discounts on all my groceries which include quite a few vegan Indian food products! And there are a few dishes I would like to replicate at home, vegan-ized from scratch, such as that delicious Indian spinach sauce (usually comes paired with Paneer cheese), creamy Masala sauce, and I would like to make a vegan "paneer" dish. To me, Paneer cheese tastes exactly like tofu and has the same texture, so I think it would be an easy substitution. I wonder if there are any good vegan Indian food cookbooks? Maybe I'll look online for some recipes!

Anyhow, I'm getting a little off track. To summarize my ramblings, I'm sick of cheese and sick of eating unhealthily, and am happy to go back to my vegan ways and hope I don't get blindsided ever again. I've got to be stronger next time!

The good news is that I feel like I've been eating much better these past few days...and I've been exercising every day! I wake up with my sun salutations, drink water and tea in the morning, drink a green smoothie around noon, eat something like a salad for late lunch around 2:30 or 3, and then one of my usual dinners (Chickpea red curry and rice, avocado tofu spring rolls, and these delicious vegan Masala vegetable pototocake burger things from Trader Joes are all on the menu this week.) As a step to rid my dessert addiction, I'm trading in pastries and such for fruit. I know it is not ideal to eat fresh fruit after dinner because of its difficulty to digest on anything but an empty stomach, but I do think it is a better alternative to cupcakes and cookies every night. So I'm going to try that, at least to transition away from dessert all together, and see how it makes me feel. One step at a time.

I don't know what it is, but I'm peaceful again, and ready to take care of my body. I think it has a lot to do with the new book I bought and read a few days ago: "enLIGHTened; how I lost 40 pounds with a Yoga Mat, Fresh Pineapples, and a Beagle-Pointer" by Jessica Berger Gross. This book read kind of like a memoir filled with examples and instructions of yoga poses, humor, recipes (including some Indian dishes!), and tips for improving your life. It wasn't a diet plan; it was her personal experience from childhood to early motherhood, which was inspiring and incredibly relatable. Parts of it sounded like they came right out of my own life story: how she would easily gain back the weight she lost, how she ate as a child, how she watched her mother's stop-and-go dieting, and she's only 5'2" (I'm 5'00") so I could actually relate to her body image as well! This book made me feel more peaceful, hearing how someone else has experienced something similar to me. It made me feel stronger, empowered, and less of a "lost cause." The Yoga aspect also appealed to me, as I've fallen in love with Hot Yoga and can't wait till I can afford to go back. And hearing how much Yoga improved the author's life makes me even more excited. I recommend this book heartily to anyone who has struggled to lose AND maintain their weight.

So that's that. Now here's something I haven't done in awhile:

Green Smoothies of the Week! (I'm alternating between two different ones this week)
*These measurements are approximate as I just eyeball it each time. Both recipes serve 1 (if using a large glass) or two (if using two small glasses)

-Two large handfulls of Spinach (fills about 1/3 the bottom of the blender)
-1/2 cup frozen mango
-1/2 cup frozen pineapple
-1 ripe banana
-1/2 container (3 oz) peach (or other) flavored soy yogurt (optional)
-water (just enough to get it blending, usually to the 1 cup line on the blender. Add more as needed to get it to blend smooth)

BLEND and enjoy!

-Two large handfulls of Spinach
-1/2 cup frozen mixed berries (cherries, blackberries, raspberries, blueberries)
-1/2 cup frozen strawberries
-1 ripe banana
-1/2 container (3 oz) berry (or other) flavored soy yogurt (optional)
-water (see above for measurement)


My stomach is growling now! Time for curry and brown rice for dinner!

Friday, June 5, 2009

A little bit-o-detoxing

So I embarked upon my detox according to Natalia Rose's "Detox for Women" book for an entire week. And it has been wonderful! I admit though, I'm having trouble cutting out all sugars and pastries; Day one, I ate a wafer-cookie at about 2 in the morning after a long night out at my boyfriend's band's show. Day two I ate some ice cream. Days 3 and 4, I ate a pastries. I had ONE day where I ate well without a single sugar-sweet. But even with these setbacks, I had lost 4 lbs by this point!

Unfortunately, I realized I was spending quite a lot of money on groceries. After a lot of stress and disappointment, I decided to do a "budget detox" version (at least until I start my new job at Trader Joes where I will get to use my discount on produce!) Basically, instead of juicing for my first meal (which can get pricey)I eat a piece of low-sugar fruit like a green apple, grapefruit, or berries, usually around noon. Instead of a salad for my mid-day meal (since I eat a salad for dinner as well), I eat a simple mono-meal of raw veggies like carrots, usually around 2-4pm. And for dinner, I eat pretty much the same as the traditional detox from DFW; a BIG raw salad and whatever cooked veggies I want like a baked beet, baked sweet potato, sauteed veggies, etc.

Last night I hit another snag; while I ate my apple at noon, and an avocado at 3pm, by the time I got home from band practice, I was exhausted and overheated, and a little moody. My boyfriend offered to buy vegan taco bell burritos for dinner, which I accepted, and then chased them with an entire pint of ice cream. Not good this morning when I woke up! I was bloated and had gained back some lbs! I think it was mostly waste-weight, though, as I was feeling dense and constipated :(

Today, I followed my morning-afternoon detox routine, but then went a little non-detox for dinner; my boyfriend took us out for pasta. I got cheese shells...REAL cheese shells, not even vegan ones...and then we picked up some ice cream on the way home to eat later. I don't feel gross or over-full, but I really WANT to be dedicated to this detox. I want to get over these food cravings for greasy, heavy foods. I want more raw foods! I want sweets gone! Actually, I WANT to WANT them gone! This would be A LOT easier if I had a larger budget because I could replace these heavy foods with raw versions; zucchini pasta with raw marinara, raw ice cream. Then again, maybe I'm craving the interaction with my boyfriend? The going-on-a-date-feeling? Or maybe it's just that I'm subconsciously fighting the restrictions of my detox?

Well, you know what? The only thing that will get rid of these cravings, is a cleaner body. I don't crave this crap when my body is being filled with mostly raw foods and no sugar-sweets. So I need to make a commitment; a REAL commitment, not just some half-assed attempt. I need to commit to say NO to my cravings. I need to start anew, tell my friends, family, and boyfriend that I need support, quit going out to eat, quit eating sweets, and do this detox for the rest of the month! And as for sweets, I need to cut them all out, raw or not, so my body can re-adjust to living without them and crave them less. Then I'll be more in control when I DO choose sweets. And after that, I should start choosing high-quality sweets, preferably raw!

So am I ready to make that commitment? I think so. Geez, I am so fickle! Is it just me, or is everyone else crazy too???!!!