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Hello VegaMinions!

It’s been a while since we’ve eaten out & I’ve been able to write a review/entry. Although the blog suffers, our health improves. Not that Friand or I are sick, just that there’s always a way to improve even when you think you’re at the pinnacle of health!

I should give you some idea of a typical day of food for me, The Valley Vegan:

9:30am – 5 mile power walk

11:30am – “brunch”

2:30am snack

5:30pm – dinner

9:30pm – snack

Rarely do I deviate from this schedule – in fact, it takes a real effort for me to break routine. That’s mostly due to my personality, I thrive on routine, but also keeps my health on track. I cannot say that I have IBS, but certainly have my fair share of tummy trouble. The only way I’ve found to keep those issues in line is to eat a predictable and unchanging diet. Maybe that’s not the right way to handle the situation considering I haven’t really spoken to my doctor about it, but it seems to work for me.

So what do I eat for these meals? My brunch is a mixture of brown rice and quinoa (sometimes the “black pearl barley medley” from the bulk section of Whole Foods) with peas and broccoli, a splash of soy sauce and a tablespoon of Justin’s Natural Peanut Butter. My afternoon snack is usually some sort of fruit (apple or a handful of grapes). Dinner is a Banana-Blueberry Smoothie made with soy milk, flax seed, raw vegan sugar and a little cocoa. It’s more like a sinful dessert milk-shake, but it really is quite healthy and using low-fat soy milk is key to keeping the calories down. My late night snack is a baked potato with a small amount of olive oil, salt & pepper (sometimes corn) to “carb-load” for my morning walk!

My basic goals in meal planning are 1) protein and 2) IBS control. I am probably a little low on the protein, maybe reaching 50g on a good day, but I do not eat faux meats (they only aggravate my tummy troubles) so that’s a fine line to walk right now. I never skip the 2 tablespoons of flax seed throughout my day also to keep my tummy happy. I do take a multi-vitamin with plenty of B-12 because I am absolutely positive I am not getting enough even with the fortified soy milk.

Broccoli

One thing I have taken control of in the last week is my water intake. After a particularly strenuous power walk last week, I returned home feeling light headed, nauseous and sleepy. It wasn’t a good feeling. But, being a yogini since 1998, I have learned to listen to my body, and listen carefully: it will tell me exactly what I want if I just shut off my brain & let my body do the talking. And my body said, “water! We’re dying here!!” OK! So… I made it a goal to drink at least 64oz of water per day. There are days like today where I will exceed that amount by an extra 16 oz, and other days like Sunday where I had to force just the 64oz down.

What are the benefits? You can go online and read all about the benefits of drinking plenty (or more) water, but for me the results were quick and pronounced. I have suffered from severe dry skin in the winters since the birth of my son 10 years ago (some have chalked it up to a changing body chemistry, but whatever). Last week, I had a couple of knuckles that had cracked, bled & scabbed over, and although my skin is not 100% healed, there’s a marked improvement that I have never experienced even with the most hardcore body creams! My hair is shinier and my skin is clearer, my breath is nicer and even my teeth feel cleaner! The internal benefits are insane!! Contrary to what I believed was going to happen, I actually make less trips to the bathroom during the night. Just prior to the increased water consumption, I was getting up (no joke) 5-6 times a night to pee, so I figured I’d be up 10 times once I started drinking all the water. But no! Actually, going less during the night – last night I only got up once. Because of that, I am sleeping better and feeling more rested.

Flax Seeds

Friand and I have been on a movie kick the last few weeks, soaking up several health documentaries such as “Forks Over Knives“, “Food Matters“, “Food Inc.“, and “Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead” and reminding ourselves what it means to be a responsible consumer. In Friand’s case (and probably in the majority of our spouses & family members cases) I wasn’t sure that becoming vegan was the best thing for him. But he is inspired to eat a vegan diet and even bought a juicer to take his first steps into that world! It’s been 3 weeks and he is doing great, lost a few pounds, and seeing a big improvement in his general health.

I have never advocated for recruiting people to veganism, but rather that people need to be educated, on their own, about healthy, mindful, food choices. If you want to live an ethical life, you have to do it in the way best for you. For some of us that means being vegan, for others it means eating organic local or taking the first baby steps of reading labels. Our job, as compassionate vegans, is to support our family and friends on their own very personal journey toward health. We have to remember our own paths weren’t forced by someone else: we were in control of our own movement toward veganism. We owe everyone else that same respect.

Red Quinoa

Not having eaten out at restaurants the way we were before, I was able to drop some weight, tone up, and improve my digestive health. To give you some idea of what I’ve accomplished in the last 13 months, here’s the stats for my 5 foot 4 inch frame:

January 2011: weight 132 pounds, exercise was 1 hour session of Ashtanga Yoga 4 times a week, eating out or ordering take-out 2-3 times per week. Added in 3 walks per week, 2-4 miles long, at a pace of 14 minutes per mile, wearing size 6 jeans

June 2011: By our wedding day, I was 122 pounds, 1 hour of yoga 2 days a week with 5 days of walking – 5 miles at 13 minutes per mile, wearing size 4 jeans

August 2011: at 120 pounds, I upped the walking pace to 12 minutes per mile (average), 5 miles, 5 days a week. 1 hour of yoga on the weekends, wearing size 2 jeans

Today, January 2012: still 120 pounds, finding that the amount of calories vs exercise is perfect for maintaining this weight while continuing to tone.

My best estimate is that I’m eating 1300 calories per day and burning 500. I’m sure someone will come on & tell me that me that is not enough, that I’m doing irreparable damage to my body, whatever they may be thinking. And I am in no way advocating that anyone take up my exact diet in an attempt to lose weight, though I am advocating healthy eating, significant cardio, and plenty of water. And don’t get me wrong: yoga is an amazing exercise for your body, especially the higher cardio level of Vinyasa and Ashtanga yogas, just that I decided to add power walking (and some running) back into my routine to jump start my pre-wedding weight loss.

I wish I was able to get down to 115 pounds only because the number sounds like a real accomplishment, but not sure it’s the wisest thing for me to do to my body. I suffered from depression in 2007-09, where I went from a healthy 127 pounds down to 105; I am well aware of the slippery slope of deprivation & obsessive weight loss. So I am working on living healthy, enjoying my body as it is, and eating the right foods for me.

Best of luck to all of you on your own journeys! And although I haven’t been eating out as much, don’t think I have been ignoring you, my faithful minions!!

Health, Happiness, and Vegan,

Lisa

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