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_171542The 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.

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Prep Week Days 4-6

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Okay so I haven’t had meat since Thursday and I’m still alive. This whole healthy eating thing is no piece of cake (mmm cake), let me tell you. I’ve been keeping notes every day to give you all an overview of how I’ve been doing.Knowing that I’m going to be held accountable here (and wanting to be honest about it) has definitely helped keep me from being bad. Here’s the last few days:

Friday
Food:

  • Splash of Sun juice (oranges, carrots, ginger; note to self: go easy on the ginger next time. Whoa.)
  • green tea w/ lemon
  • fresh pineapple and watermelon as a snack. I could eat this all day.
  • asparagus cooked in coconut oil w/ some garlic salt
  • rice pilaf mixed w/ chick peas, black beans, taco seasoning and cayenne pepper
  • mixed nuts
  • smoothie (strawberries, coconut milk, and coconut water)

Workout:
I did three sets of each move, in two groups of four (I usually do three groups of four, but I used heavier weights this time and got worn out)

  • deadlifts
  • lawnmowers (a one-arm bent over row, essentially)
  • Bulgarian squats w/ bicep curl
  • upright rows
  • headbangers (lying down tricep extension)
  • squat w/ hammer curl
  • plank crunch on ball
  • tricep dips w/ feet on stability ball
  • bonus: weighted lunges

Saturday
This was the first day that I really doubted this whole juicing endeavor. I may have pleaded with the gods to just let me eat whatever I want and still be skinny and have unclogged arteries. But alas, that is not the way of things. I cheated a teeny tiny bit but not too bad. It was difficult for me to go out to eat and walk around the mall without stuffing my face with something unhealthy. Old habits die hard. But die they shall. I’ve gotta re-program my thinking a bit, I guess. It’s good to know what my triggers are at least.

Food:

  • Celery Pear Cucumber juice (it yielded a lot of juice; drank about half)
  • had a wrap at an awesome local restaurant Later Alligator. It had hummus, fontina cheese (cheated a bit there), black beans, rice, and chipotle mayo (another little cheat) and also came with a pickle spear and blue corn tortilla chips (cheat? probably)
  • juice I found at Kroger, which seemed like the healthiest option to me and tasted pretty good (picture below)
  • Greek salad (forgot it has feta on it, oops), black bean soup, and unsweetened Hibiscus tea from Panera (okay so we ate out twice in one night. Yes, we’re terrible)
  • pineapple and watermelon as a snack again
  • more mixed nuts

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Workout:
No workout, but a lot of walking around stores, which is better than nothing I suppose.

Let me tell you, I was feeling those small cheats later that night. Apparently if you stop eating dairy and then eat some cheese you get really bad gas (sorry, but I’m going to be honest in this blog. If fart and poop talk bothers you, you may as well go home now. Everyone poops, people. It’s not a big deal.) I’m surprised my boyfriend survived the night. Another interesting thing I noticed was that the Hibiscus tea, though unsweetened, tasted sweetened to me. My boyfriend took a taste and said he could definitely tell that it was unsweetened. I wonder if my taste buds will be more sensitive to sugar now? I imagine if I had taken a drink of his pop it would’ve seemed way too sugary to me.

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Sunday
Food:

  • rice blend w/ quinoa, mixed with tri-bean blend, chick peas, and taco seasoning/cayenne pepper (this is seriously delicious)
  • smoothie (same as Friday)
  • vegan black bean burger, no bun
  • more celery pear cucumber juice
  • mixed nuts
  • Wolfgang Puck Organic Hearty Garden Vegetable soup
  • blueberries
  • peppermint tea (my favorite!)
  • water w/ lemon and mint

Workout:
Again, three sets per move.

  • chest press
  • single leg hip raise
  • mountain climbers
  • single arm tricep kickback
  • plie squat w/ lateral raises
  • supermans w/ lat pull (light weight)
  • squat jumps
  • weighted step-ups into a back lunge

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I’m still having cravings, but otherwise I’m feeling okay. I’m glad that I was able to mostly resist temptation on Saturday. Some places just trigger that sort of behavior in me more than others. I’m starting to recognize that and I need to learn to control it when it happens.

Fun fact: apparently if you drink beet juice, it turns your poop purple. Not gonna lie, it was pretty awesome. And this has me peeing even more than usual, which if you already know me, then you know that that’s incredible since I was already such a pee machine before. Good stuff.

I’ve been watching some interesting and informative documentaries on Netflix lately to help keep me motivated too: things like Hungry for Change, Forks Over Knives, Food Inc, etc. I’ve even ordered some of the books related to these movies, and added some to my Amazon wishlist, to help learn more and gather more recipes. I might even make some kind of vision board or something to help keep the motivation up. This isn’t just about my physical appearance, though that’s part of it; it’s about being healthier and feeling better.

I’ll try to keep strong and resist temptation. I’m definitely feeling better, so that makes it worth it. I’m still feeling less bloated and I feel better about myself overall. I took my measurements the other day, so I’ll take them again right before I get to the juice-only part, then again at the end. I don’t trust my scale; if I move it two inches it fluctuates by several pounds, so I never know which weight is accurate, so I’m sticking with measurements for now. I feel like that’s a better way of doing it anyways since a person’s weight naturally fluctuates so much anyways. I keep thinking to myself, I wonder if I’ll be able to continue this lifestyle when the reboot is over. I suppose I’ll figure that out as I go and see how things are at the end.

Thanks for reading! You guys are great motivation for me. Leave me a comment if you have any good juicing or vegetarian recipes. So far, the carrot apple lemon juice is still my favorite.