Big Life Stuffs

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Empathy-2

I’m sorry that it’s been so long since I did a “regular” post. Things have been incredibly hectic and I just honestly haven’t made the time to do it until now.

I believe I mentioned in my first post that I was going to be starting my master’s degree in counseling and that I was nervous about getting back in the game and going back to school. Well, this is my third week of graduate school and I have to say that I’m enjoying it quite a bit so far. My program is small- my cohort has 15 (or maybe 16?) people whom I will get to know pretty well over the next five semesters, and they seem cool so far. My teachers all seem great so far; they’re very interesting and knowledgeable and I’m looking forward to getting to know them better and learn from their experience. I’m still having moments of intense anxiety where I worry if I’m doing the right thing and heading down the right path for me. I need to work on my confidence issues for sure. Luckily, I’m blessed to have an amazing support system of the boyfriend, family, friends, etc. They’re amazing and certainly help keep me sane. Thanks for putting up with me, guys!

Another big thing adding to my anxiety/stress levels lately is the fact that I’m starting a new job. That’s right, I’m finally going to escape the evil night shift and put my undergrad degree to use for a change. And I’ll even have my own office, just like a real grown up! I’m going to be doing counseling at a local methadone maintenance clinic. And yes, I’m pretty terrified about it. Not because addicts scare me or anything, but this a huge step out of my comfort zone. I’m not feeling totally confident about my abilities just yet, but I think after the initial training and getting my feet wet, I will (hopefully) come to enjoy it at least a little bit and feel like I’m making a difference (and not completely hate it.) It will be good experience while I’m working on my degree, if nothing else. Obviously, I’m not going to be posting a lot about this part of my life because of confidentiality and whatnot, but I did want to at least share that I might be finally moving in the right direction. I’m doing something at least, not just sitting around stagnant which is how I’ve felt for the last few years.

9cc8c3f0af23e745931d6fad8df3c0bfOne thing I definitely plan on doing once I get used to the new job and new shift is getting back on track food and fitness-wise. I am ashamed to admit that I have not been doing stellar in these areas of my life as of late. I’m fairly certain I’ve gained at least 10lbs back if not more. My clothes feel tight again, nothing feels right, and I certainly don’t feel as sexy or attractive. But hey, this has happened before. Fitness and health are something to strive for every day, not destinations in and of themselves. I’ve fallen off the wagon before. I just need to dust myself off, pick up my pride and give it a shake, and get back on track. It’s super easy to get off track and gain weight back. Getting back to it is the tricky part. I got this!

Some of my health goals as of right now (I’ve listed these before, but they’re an ever-changing thing for me, always needing revised as goals are met/not met):

  • Start running again, even if it’s just sprints a few days a week. I do it occasionally not, but not with any sort of regularity. I haven’t been doing anything with any sort of regularity lately; that’s the problem
  • Start juicing again. I felt really good when I was juicing regularly
  • Eat less processed food. Always a struggle for me, especially when I’m busy
  • Find a counselor for myself. I’ve been saying I need to do this for a few years now and I think it’s time. I’ve heard it’s a good idea for counselors to have counselors of their own and that makes perfect sense to me
  • Put together some kind of weight lifting routine
  • Try to go to a Zumba class or other group fitness class every once in a while
  • Eat less meat. I’ve sort of adopted a “weekday vegetarian” approach lately and have been eating some meat on the weekends. That probably sounds like sissy stuff to any hardcore vegetarians out there, but it’s working for me for right now and that’s what I care about. Plus I figure it’s still an improvement over eating it every day. I’d still like to get better about it, even on the weekends. It’s just tough when I genuinely like the way it tastes. Damn you, tasty animals!
  • Have sex more often. I’m sorry to my family members who may be reading this, but let’s not kid ourselves, I live with a boy so I’m obviously no saint when it comes to that. And hey, sex is a great stress reliever and form of exercise. It’s an important part of any relationship and helps keep me sane. I’m not ashamed to admit that. Bring on the frick frack!
  • Do more yoga and/or learn to meditate. I need to seriously work on my stress coping techniques and learn to manage this shit better
  • Take walks outside more often. Or just spend more time outside in general. This is my favorite time of year and I want to get as much natural light as I can before winter sets in and I get depressed from everything being cold and gray all the time. The snow is pretty and all, but that shit gets old real fast (apparently “shit” is the word of the day)

Anyways, that’s pretty much where I’m at right now. Things are moving, and even if I’m scared shitless (there it is again!), I’m glad that I’m doing something and not just sitting around waiting for things to happen anymore.

19c4e30002c3050b21d1d9469c54b206 Megamouse out!

And just to give you a laugh..
2f48987a0299100ff000c5ee6467abdd

Pretty much ๐Ÿ˜€

Update: Juicing, Vegetarianism, and the Perils of Night Shift

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20140714_172315Sorry it’s been about a billion years since I last posted. I feel like the last few weeks have been incredibly hectic for me, and any free time I’ve had I haven’t felt inspired to sit down and start typing.

So here’s an update on what I’ve been up to the last few weeks:

I stopped recording my food/workouts for every single day. I find that I can’t seem to keep doing that sort of thing every day for a very extended period of time. I’m not sure why, but it just doesn’t suit me for some reason. I usually find it to be helpful at first, and then tedious after a while. So that sort of slipped way. I did keep some notes, though, and kept track of my measurements.

I also did not follow my original juicing plan to a T. Before you yell at me, let me say that I am still juicing (trying to most days) and I still have not ate any sort of animal protein (more on that in a minute.) When it was time (according to my plan) to switch to nothing but juice, I decided that I didn’t want to. I know what you’re thinking, lame, right? I had several reasons for this, and maybe some of them are excuses, but whatever; I’ve found a semblance of a system that works for me and that’s what’s important to me.

I didn’t feel like I had the motivation or time needed to get all of my nutrients solely from juice. Prepping, chopping, juicing, and cleaning the juicer multiple times a day is time-consuming. This is especially difficult when you have the unfortunate happenstance of being a night shift worker and cannot use your juicer at night for fear of waking your downstairs neighbors (because that shit is loud, yo.) It’s also pretty pricey to keep dropping the necessary dough for produce. It’s sad that eating healthy is so expensive. I’m going to try to start making it to our local farmer’s market more often, which should help. One interesting thing: I noticed that when I stopped juicing every single day, I started getting headaches at work again. I’m not 100% sure that those two things are related, but I am going to try to keep juicing once a day, or at least every other day.

I’m also trying to keep cutting down on processed foods as much as I can, though I am eating fake meats, but I need to do whatever I can to make this easier for myself right now. I’ve also been indulging in some chocolate now and then, but hey, I’ve gotta keep the dementors away, okay?

indexOne good thing that I’ve decided to stick with is not eating any animal meat. I never thought I’d ever even consider becoming a vegetarian. I mean, come on, steaks are delicious. However, while doing the whole juicing thing I got addicted to watching all of the interesting related documentaries on Netflix, all of which I highly recommend, including: Food Matters, Forks Over Knives, Food Inc., and Vegucated. All of these movies present compelling evidence as to why I should stop eating meat. The last two were sort of the deal breakers for me, though. All of them talked about the health benefits, which are numerous (and surprising if you’ve always been told that you need meat to be healthy), but the last two showed me why I should do it from a moral standpoint. I’m not saying that everyone should be vegetarian/vegan/whatever; everyone is entitled to enjoy food however they want to, so I won’t try to push the lifestyle on anyone else. Likewise, I also don’t want to get any crap in return for trying to do right by myself, the environment, and the other living creatures with whom we share this planet. Everyone is entitled to their own choice. I do think, however, that you should consider choosing in an informed manner, not just blindly ignoring facts and sticking with what you’ve always done just because it’s easier. But that’s just my opinion.

471c66e7e9504c6c61a65d0fbd13ae2dThis picture sums up pretty accurately why I’ve decided to stop eating meat. In my own words:

  • It’s healthier. You can get all of the protein and other nutrients you need from different vegetables, beans, legumes, etc, without the added cholesterol. Many studies have linked eating animal products (aka: the typical Western diet) to increased risks of heart disease, diabetes, obesity, and cancer.
  • It’s better for the environment. Everything that I’ve read says that the livestock production is worse for the environment than the entire transportation industry. If you stopped eating meat for a year you’d do better for the environment than you would if you switched to a hybrid car.
  • I always knew that most animals raised for meat were treated poorly, but I guess I just never gave it much thought. It was unpleasant to think about it and was easier to tuck thoughts like those away in my mind and ignore them. After watching some of these documentaries, I don’t want to (and can’t) ignore it anymore. Not without feeling like a hypocrite anyways. Maybe some people don’t think that animals have feelings or deserve better, but I do. Their fear is real and the way that they’re treated is atrocious. I don’t want to eat something that lived a horrible tortured life just because I want a burger.
    • But aren’t there some animals that are raised in a more humane way? Sure, of course there are. I’m not sure how common that is, but I’m sure that it does happen. But they were still raised just to be killed. And if I can survive and be healthy without anything having to die, then why not go that route? The less violence the better, in my opinion.
  • I feel better now that I’m not eating meat. I feel…lighter, I suppose. I get filled up without feeling weighed down, which is great.

I’m also trying to cut back on my dairy consumption, for many of the same reasons listed above. Cows are horribly mistreated in order to squeeze as much milk out of them as possible, and then the milk is full of hormones and who knows what else. And if you think about it, it doesn’t entirely make sense to drink cow’s milk anyways. I mean, no other animals consume the milk of other animals. Cow’s milk is meant for baby cows. I’ve been opting for things like almond milk and coconut milk, which I prefer anyways.

I’m not sure if I’ll end up being an all-out vegan or not. In case you don’t know, the basic explanation of a vegan is someone who doesn’t consume or use any sort of animal product: meat, dairy, fish, leather, etc.

To be honest, I don’t really want to put a label on myself. I’m going to make this work however I can and that’s all I care about. There very well may be days that I give in to my animal urges and eat a steak, who knows. Being surrounded by meat-eaters will certainly prove to be challenging at times, I’m sure. And the area in which I live is not exactly the most diversified in this sort of thing, though it is getting much better. I had a delicious barbecue tempeh burger at a restaurant that’s a short walk from my apartment; my boyfriend even said that it tasted better than his regular burger. Win! I’m sure interactions with family and friends will be interesting until we’re all used to this new lifestyle thing I have going on. It’s hard to change your ways, especially when it means giving up something so deeply entrenched in your way of life and how you were raised. But it’s important to me to live a life with values and principles, and to stick by them even when it’s not always the popular thing to do. I just hope that my family and friends try to understand where I’m coming from and respect my choices. I promise I’ll try not be an annoying preachy vegetarian, guys. Pinky promise.

vegetarian-dino3My mom gave me some giant zucchini from her garden so I decided to try two different recipes to compare. One is my grandma’s recipe, and the other is a vegan coconut version. Here’s what the batter looked like:

20140723_171542Theย vegan recipe is on the left, and my grandma’s is on the right. While I love love love my grandma’s recipe, I have to admit that the vegan one was also delicious. It was really moist and tasty. I still have a ton of the zucchini left and plan on making more soon. That stuff is addicting!

Want some more info on the benefits of going vegetarian? Here are some neat sites I found:

http://www.vegetariantimes.com/article/why-go-veg-learn-about-becoming-a-vegetarian/

http://www.alternet.org/story/85828/top_ten_reasons_to_go_vegetarian

And definitely check out the documentaries I mentioned above. They changed this stubborn girl’s mind. Who knows, they might make a believer out of you too.

Feel free to share any of your favorite vegetarian or vegan recipes in the comments. I can use all the help I can get.