Who ever would’ve thought green smoothies could taste like happy?

Good morning all, happy Saturday! This month has been kicking my butt, in a totally acceptable way. My veganism challenge is going along swimmingly, minus one time when I accidentally ate something with whey in it but oh my god it was ONE TIME.

Image

 For the most part, I’ve really enjoyed the challenge of finding new things to eat so I don’t get bored and being mindful of my own eating habits. The first day I accidentally only packed food for dinner and zero snacks. I snack all the time. I snack constantly. In a perfect world, I wouldn’t gain weight from it and could eat salt and vinegar chips and peanut butter bananas ALL DAY ERRY DAY. I can’t. But basically, I almost died on that first day. I had never been that hungry for that long in a while. It was a pleasant surprise though. I hadn’t realized that my snacking habits were bad enough that I was never truly hungry before a meal. So, this has forced me to plan ahead meals and snacks so no matter what, I know what I’m eating. The first week or so was fine craving-wise, but this past week I think I actually dreamed of cheese. I became irritated by others eating cheese. I stared wistfully at the shredded mozzarella and block of goat cheese in my fridge on more than one occasion. I can honestly say that cravings for dairy far outweigh any craving I’ve had for a cigarette when quitting (except perhaps when I’m intoxicated…that’s rough). But, when I thought about it, I’ve been eating dairy products my entire life, as opposed to cigarettes. For the most part, however, I’ve really really enjoyed a plant-based diet. I can feel the difference with my energy and stamina. I feel good.

So what do I eat? ImageMornings usually consist of either Kashi cereal and Almond milk (I really like Berry Fruitful or Blackberry Hills or god forbid a combination of the two that is like god is reining down sweet heaven on my face), oatmeal made with any combination of ingredients, or a green smoothie. I make mine ala OhSheGlows with a frozen banana, two handfuls of spinach and/or kale, a cup of almond milk, a few ice cubes, chia seeds, and a tablespoon of peanut butter. I’ve mixed it up with cocoa powder, almond extract, and similar fun things. So good. I’m drinking one now. 

I think I’ve mentioned my weird work schedule before but I usually don’t eat another meal until around 5pm with the patients. I’ve done a lot of big bowls of veggies, or pasta with kale, or tofu wraps. I’ve eaten a lot of wraps. Spinach wraps, hummus wraps, yellow pepper and broccoli sprouts with whatever else I can find wraps. I’m a fan. They’re fast, easy, and filling. Snacks are usually one serving of a carb and a snack bag with a half-serving of craisins and almonds. I’ve made the best roasted broccoli I’ve ever had in my life this month. 

I’m lucky; there’s a My Organic Market (or MOMs for short) near my house that stocks every vegan thing you could ever want. I purchased my vegan cheese there (daiya is hands down the best – I prefer it melted to straight out of the fridge though), coconut ice cream (craving satisfied – better than regular ice cream), nutritional yeast (inactive yeast – I put it on basically everything), chia (surprisingly hard for me to find elsewhere) and any other odds and ends I couldn’t find anywhere else. They also have the best selection of kombucha tea, which I personally adore. I could drink it every day.

I’m considering sticking to a mostly plant-based diet after this month. Regardless, I honestly prefer how I feel now even with the cravings for cheese. No, but seriously the only thing I crave is cheese. That and one day I had a craving for one of those gourmet fancy burgers with bleu cheese, bacon, and a fried egg on top. I wanted to get it all in one visualization, I think. That still sounds so good. Image

Eating out has been the hardest thing to maneuver. Though I think everyone in my life is sick of hearing about vegan this and that, I’ve had a lot of support. Minus my one coworker that keeps asking me if I want bites of his chicken or beef (COREY). My response is to the right. My parents have been surprisingly tolerant of my constant use of the blender, my friends for the most part don’t mind eating vegan with me, but when I go out I feel very limited with options. I’ve found a few websites that locate nearby restaurants and stores that are vegetarian and vegan friendly, or just straight up vegan. I’ll post them ASAP for you guys. All in all it’s been a fun change, a harder challenge than not drinking for a month (aka last year’s challenge), and eye-opening. I have had to remind people quite a few times though that I’m not doing this for the bunnies and after August, I would be maintaining a plant-based diet rather than actual veganism. Meaning? I’m still drinking wine and beer even though it’s often fined with animal bones. Yup. I know, it’s gross.

Exercise-wise, I haven’t been getting out there all that much for a lot of reasons. One? I did something to my hip/lower back area. I’ve been told it’s a pinched nerve, my mom thinks it’s just an inflamed muscle, who knows. But I haven’t wanted to exacerbate it. I’ve still walked and jogged a few times but I don’t want to lift until I am seen by a doctor. I have been doing light yoga though and forgot how much I’d loved it. I’m trying to incorporate it more often. I also seem to be struggling with finding the time. No, really! My morning is very full of cooking, planning, and then attempting to clean up my messes before work (I don’t always do well with that). After work I like to read or relax to unwind before bed. I should try to add yoga in then, I think. Or perhaps a bit in the morning and night!

Lastly, I’m going to be posting an article a very nice woman asked if I would share of hers on cancer and fitness. While I forgot that I had another email account for this blog (probably not my shining moment), I finally was able to get back to her. I think it’s insightful and interesting. I should be able to get it up tomorrow for everyone!

Side note: I’ve fallen completely in love with maxi dresses. I think it’s a bit of a forbidden type of love because I’m 5’2″ and they’re always about six inches too long but I went from 0-4 in a month time span and wear them quite literally all the time. 

Alrighty then, I’m off to find a recipe for vegan cupcakes to freak the actual shit out of my friend later and then I have some birthday prezzies to purchase!

– a.

Advertisements

What happens when you take away cheese…

So, I mentioned it on Facebook, but I’m intending on going vegan for the month of August. Last year, I didn’t drink alcohol for the month of August and I wanted to do something restrictive again. I love challenges and being sort of bored with my daily goings on, I decided having to switch up my diet pretty hardcore was a good idea. And I don’t want to do this half-assedly. I don’t want to stock up on high-sodium, all-soy frozen products. I’m hoping to eat as cleanly as possible during this month. I’ve made a few starter vegan meals and so far they’ve been great.

Luckily, I have about seven years of vegetarianism still under my belt (college ruined that) and I prefer drinking Almond Coconut milk rather than regular milk. It’s so good. Seriously. I don’t even…it’s so good. My biggest struggle will be with making sure I don’t fall into monotony. Could I eat my Kashi cereal and AC milk every morning? Technically, yes. Will I end up throwing the box across the room in frustration after about a week? Oh, totally.

Unlike last year, when I planned fancy non-alcoholic beverages after the first and found myself staying in a lot because I wasn’t sure what I was going to drink, I want to go into this really well planned. If I like it, I might stay vegan. Probably not, but, here’s to hoping. I really like cheese. I mean, I really like cheese. I could survive without meat, that doesn’t bother me, but fish and cheese would be hard to never ever eat again.

I’ve found some great websites that have really good recipes and stories about going vegan (how they did it, why they did it, what was hard, etc). I never realized how expanded the ‘dairy-free’ arena of substitutes there were. Here are a few of my favorites, if you’re ever thinking of trying a recipe or challenging yourself:

The Gluten Free Vegan

Oh She Glows

Clean Eating Chelsey

Veggieful

My pinterest page also has a lot of good ideas brewing: Pinterest

If you know of any other good places for vegan recipes, or, hell just some motivation, don’t hesitate to post! Before I run along and get ready for work, I wanted to share my recipe from last night for the (vegan) soup I made. It was an absolute hit…with my parents and me anyway. My little brother said it looked like poop in a bowl but he also eats McDonald’s on the regular so…ignore him?

Asparagus and Leek Soup

Not the world's best photo, but nonetheless.

Not the world’s best photo, but nonetheless.

I cannot take credit for this recipe, however, and won’t attempt to try. I found it at Veggieful! Her photo is way prettier than mine, too. The only thing I changed between her recipe and mine was a.) no vegan margarine because I don’t have any, b.) wayyy more olive oil. Not a crazy amount, but it needed far more than a tablespoon, c.) I added half cup of the AC milk to add some creaminess.

Please try the recipe! Asparagus and Leek Soup

It. Was. So. Good.

Anyway, hope you all are having a great Hump Day!

What would be the hardest food for you to give up?

What suggestions would you give to someone changing their diet?

Have you ever gone ‘vegan’ or ‘vegetarian’ before? Would you do it again?

– a.

Queen of Prussia, Pennsylvania

Anyone who has seen my Facebook knows that I went on my first “business trip” (also known as a corporate training) this week to King of Prussia, PA. I’d actually never been to the area before, so I was pretty excited to go on my first trip all by myself. Talk about feeling like an adult!

The training itself was on Service Excellence; I am now one of about 600 Service Excellence Champions (what a name!) for my corporation. That may sound like a lot, but it’s out of 65,000 employees. It was a fantastic opportunity, I loved the training, facilitator, and all of the fabulous people that I met.

Monday

I arrived in town Monday evening, after a pretty eventful morning. I woke up and my car wouldn’t start! I wasn’t home, so I had to call and have roadside assistance come start my car for me. Luckily, it started, but after waiting ten minutes then driving to a gas station…it wouldn’t start again! Turns out, the battery had short circuited, probably from snow coming up and making a mess. My parents were super helpful and got me into our local mechanic and he had it changed really fast. I fiddled around with getting everything together, and then entirely over packed, but finally made my way up to the Hyatt Place and checked in.

HyattRoomCollage

My room was gorgeous! King bed, desk, bathroom with a HUGE shower, a sitting area with a little movable table that I was for some reason totally enthralled by, and a flat screen TV that swiveled. That about changed my life, folks. The second picture shows my shawl on the back of the couch and yoga mat on the floor. I kind of move in, even if it’s for 48 hours.

Unfortunately, I did not take any photos of my first evening. I caught up with my friend Tom (or, as we called him in college, ‘TB’…long story) at ‘The Fox and the Hound’ right outside of the mall. I still feel silly taking pictures of food in public, not to mention photos of myself (especially after a drink or two…I have my mom’s penchant for wine teeth). We had a few drinks, him drinking beer and me drinking a martini and wine, and grabbed a bite. I’m not going to lie, I ate the crap out of some fish and chips (ohh…soooo gooood) and fell asleep feeling pretty fat and sassy that night.

Tuesday

Training started at 9am on Tuesday, and even though the headquarters was only about a mile and a half from my hotel, I wanted to get an early start. So, up at 7…okay 7:15, ran for about a mile and a half on the treadmill in the fitness center, showered, breakfast, then headed out! Aaaand proceeded to get lost. In a mile. Not the headquarters fault, completely mine.

ExerciseRoomFin

Hyatt had a particularly fabulous free continental breakfast with fruit, cereal, oatmeal and toppings, bagels, all sorts of juice, and a “skillet bar” with pancakes and meat/egg/cheese type sandwiches which I am obsessed with and will learn to make at home.

Breakfast1

So good.

After the training, wherein they served a pretty darn good lunch (sandwich on crusty bread, AMAZING pasta salad, chips, cookies, and soda), I made my way back to the hotel and very quickly found myself bored again. I don’t usually need constant entertainment, but I had left books at home and the only book on my iPad (which I did remember!) is my “Journey to Joyful”, which I just wasn’t in the mood to read. So I spent most of the afternoon and evening reviewing the information I had to present today, practicing some yoga, perusing WAY too many health blogs, and watching Castle. I even meandered to the King of Prussia mall, which scared the bejesus out of me. Alone, with not very much spending money, in a mall with a THREE STORY Urban Outfitters?! Bad news Batman. I checked it out, picked up a work out shirt that could pass as a bathing suit, and headed back to the hotel. I ordered food from the hotel for dinner and was pleasantly surprised.

Dinner

I fought a lot of fried cravings Tuesday night for some reason, even coming to the point of looking for directions to Wegman’s. I knew that I wasn’t hungry and the craving was useless, so I distracted myself by working out (again?! again!) and spending some time in the pool and hot tub. I have to tell you, I missed swimming so much. I forgot to snap a photo of the pool and hot tub, plus I didn’t really want to bring my phone in there, but the pool was a great temperature and the hot tub was huge! I went an hour before it closed for the night so most of the time I was there I was completely alone. I’d love to include the strength workout I did, but I have to look up the names of some of the arm work I did (ha! I didn’t even know what I was doing!). I’m going to look it up and put it in my next blog post though, because I’m feeling pretty sore today.

After that, irritatingly enough, I was still craving something salty, crunchy, and cheesy. Begone cravings! I made a big ol’ cup of tea instead and settled down to watch The Adjustment Bureau and fall asleep.

Wednesday

Presentation day! Started my morning off slowly, checking out and eating breakfast. More fruit, more coffee, and another egg/cheese/biscuit thing. I ended up pulling the biscuit off to save calories but it was still delicious.

Breakfst2

My performance went pretty well! After years in theatre, years public speaking and presenting, and a year and a half facilitating groups to 60 people, I’m pretty comfortable in front of others. We presented ten minutes of the training we’d facilitate on our own back at our respective companies, then gave ourselves a “what I did right, one thing I would change” opinion, then everyone else did. It reminded me a lot of my Advanced Fiction Writing class and made me feel a little nostalgic. Being that I was the youngest person there, I thought I did really well. My main issue is that I speak a million miles a minute and have extremely high energy. The energy is good, but I need to work on balancing between supreme energy and calm efficiency. I never realized until recently how naturally self-deprecating humor comes to me. I’ll make little jokes about myself all the time, which kept the group laughing. I feel pretty confident in my ability, which is wonderful. I could rave about my experience for about three more pages, but I won’t. All I can suggest is that if you have an opportunity to attend trainings for your work to better yourself as a person and employee, do it.

While at the training, I had a Chobani yogurt (the only yogurt they sold, bless them!) and a chicken wrap for lunch. Yum yum!

My drive home was a very long three hours but I’m happy to be home. It’s time for dinner – my mom made frozen pizza. How cruel is she?!

Lastly, I’m also participating in the 28-Day Blog Challenge. Basically, it’s a combination of spring cleaning and general adding to my blog. I want to take this, hopefully, from a twice a month rant-fest to an actual blog, an actual hobby. I’m still going to rant, don’t you worry, but I want to work toward adding a health blog aspect. I’m obsessed with health blogs. So, you’ll be seeing some changes. Like what I write? Share it on facebook! Or Twitter! Or Google+! I’ll end with questions:

What would you like to see more of or less of on this blog?

Have you ever gone on a business trip? How was it?

How would you make this blog better?

More later! – a.

Rainy Hump Days

So, as many know, I work a pretty fluctuated schedule that leads me to have sporadic days off and rarely have weekends. But thanks to my fabulous boss changing my schedule to now give me two weekends off a month, I actually get to experience what a “hump day wednesday” is! The mid-week slump, the “half way done”, the…I don’t know, excuse to drink on a Wednesday. Right now, I’m drinking Sleepytime Tea…because I’m just cool like that.

Today was a definitive Hump Day though, that’s for sure. It’s been downpouring here in Maryland since around 2pm. I woke up around 10, my usual no alarm wake up time, and meandered downstairs. I’m lucky in that my Wednesdays now are shorter shifts, only five hours. It throws me off a bit when I’m at work, but it’s nice to have the extra hours at my fingertips. I try to find something to do, but today I pretty much lounged on the couch. I feel bad, I had actually decided to roll off the couch and peel myself away from the TNT Bones Marathon to take Steve for a walk when it was still nice outside, and as soon as I’d gotten everything together, it started dumping buckets! I let Steve out just to show him how bad it was because he kept giving me puppy eyes and even he ran right back inside. I made it up to him by playing in the house and cuddling with him. 

Image

He was more than intent to watch the rain after it started…and bark at the leaves moving in the wind.

Image

His love of my fleece blanket is probably as strong as my love of…this fleece blanket.

The beautiful weather bursts this fall/winter have me all over the place. I used to be the kind of girl that played “Animal Town” with Beanie Babies and my favorite Barbie couple at the time inside with my little sister growing up. I actually cried once because people wanted to play outside. Over the past probably two years, I really found my ingrained love of nature. I’m not sure what brought it out, but you won’t find me inside on a nice day. Even on a crappy day. I run in 20 degree weather, hike when the wind may possibly knock me off of the overlook, and go on walks in the rain. The latter is probably depressing. Anywho, I used to hate camping (bugs? no mattress? bugs? …BUGS?), and now I freaking love it. That could be a combo of growing up and having the ability to listen to guitar and drink beer around a campfire but still.

Now that I’m beginning to reincorporate jogging back into my schedule, after my shin splints were too dangerously close to stress fractures for my to continue running like I was, I’ve been doing a lot better with timing my mornings. I used to run after work, at night. But the past few weeks, I’ve been running in the mornings when I first wake up. I always used to scrunch my nose up at people who ran before work at, say, 5am, but I get it. After work, I always have plans, or I’m too tired, or some other excuse. But in the morning, I rarely have plans or anything else I have to do so desperately, I can’t take 40 minutes out of my day to go for a run. I started with 1.5 miles every other day, and now I’ve built up to 2 every other day. I’m just making sure to take it slow and pay attention to my shins. And streeeetch.

Yesterday I ran a little over two miles, interval. I think I did a pretty good job of following the interval times I’m supposed to, and reminding myself to use my hamstrings to push myselv forward instead of my shins/calves. That’s what I usually get into the habit of doing, and that is also why I get painful shin splints. So, today is supposed to be my day off. But I didn’t want it to be. Because it’s the halfway point of the week, I wanted to push myself in some way, define my day as something more than just “laid on the couch and looked at blogs for three hours then dragged butt into work”, which is kind of what I did. So, after I submit this, I’m going to be doing some work with my medicine ball and resistance band. Yes, right before bed. My triceps and biceps are ABYSMAL. A-BYSMAL.

Lastly, I’m going to follow in the footsteps of one of my new favorite bloggers, Peanut Butter Fingers (pbfingers.com), and list my meals of the day. It keeps me accountable, because I have a tendency to slip and I don’t want to keep counting calories, and will probably make me update my posts more often. See? Getting through these New Years Resolutions like it’s my job.

Breakfast

Image

Twinings Green Tea and Chobani Raspberry Greek Yogurt

I’m usually not super hungry in the morning, as I’ve mentioned before, it takes me a while to actually get hungry. So, I wait an hour and even if I’m not actually tummy grumbling hungry, I’ll eat something. I love tea and drink it preeeetty much all the time, and I love the very low fat (today’s was 0!), high protein greek yogurt has to offer. It’s really been a process actually getting used to the texture and taste, but I’m starting to like it a lot. I…basically eat yogurt every morning.

Lunch

Image

HEALTH – Frozen buffalo wings with southwest yogurt ranch dressing, an orange, and skim milk.

Not super healthy, I’ll admit. But, again, accountability. I wish I could say I ate a salad of mixed greens with a myriad of health on top but…it was Wednesday.

Dinner

…I ate three packets of four cheddar and peanut butter crackers. I was at work and they were closer than the freezer where I have frozen steamed dinners. I have no excuses. That was my meal.

Snack

When I get home from work, I’m usually pretty hungry. During the week, my meal schedule gets mixed up. I usually eat a light breakfast, “lunch” at 5pm, and dinner or a snack when I get home at 11:30pm. I originally was eating pretty unhealthy snacks, I naturally crave unhealthy food later at night, but I’ve been doing better. Tonight it was a cup of steamed green beans with garlic, kosher salt, and a smidge of butter and an orange. And my tea!

 

That’s all! Two more days and then the weekend!

-a.