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A little Inspiration for your Thursday

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How Do You Do It?

When people hear I’m “vegan”, the first question they typically ask is: “But how do you do it?” followed by “So what DO you eat?” which can be interchanged with “Where do you get your protein?”

Once they ask the first question, I tend to answer “It’s easy, really. I just don’t eat meat or any animal products.” Their response 98% of the time is a shaking of their head and “But HOW can you live without meat? Without BACON?!” and I smile and repeat “It’s really easy.”

To the 2% that are interested in an actual answer, show genuine interest, and won’t go down the meat/bacon road, this series of posts is for you.

Giving up meat wasn’t all that hard for me. I’ve felt somewhat conflicted about eating meat all my life. It might have to do with the fact that I grew up on a little farm, where we lived as self-sufficient as we could. Raising animals for their products and meat was a big part of that self-sufficient life style. From as long as I remember I was part of that, and responsibility grew with age. When it was Schlachttag (word-by-word translated to “Slaughter day”), everyone lend a hand, from aunts & uncles, cousins, to neighbors, and us kids. It was a big event, and as you could imagine, it takes a lot of hands to take care of 240-270 lbs of meat. As kids, it was kind of fun. Everyone got together, we got to run around and play outside, and there was delicious, fresh sausage and Schnitzel to eat. As I got older, and realized what it was really all about, I became more and more grossed out by it. The day (generally a Saturday) started by being woken up by a screaming and crying pig at 4am, when it gets picked up for slaughter, arriving at the slaughterhouse later on when the carcass is cut up in big parts, and we had to package and label hundreds of pounds of fresh sausage, and different cuts of pork. We filled laundry basket after laundry basket, and after every helper picked some for themselves to take home, we transported the rest, and filled up our three freezers. Smoked sausages and bacon were hung on rods in the pantry, until they were also ready to be frozen. The whole house had a distinct smell of fresh meat for the coming week, which people thought was delicious, but always made me gag.

So maybe it’s because I learned from a very young age, where meat comes from. The bacon you enjoy so much, used to be a piglet. That steak you had for dinner, used to be a cow. And not happy ones, like they’re trying to make you believe in the advertisement, but that’s a whole different story. I could just never fully grasp the concept of getting a piglet, putting so much work into raising it, just to end up slaughtering it. And do you know how they’re slaughtered? (Keep in mind, this is how we slaughtered them on a family farm, the meat you buy at the supermarket is a whole different story) First, the pig gets transported to the slaughterhouse (which isn’t a joyride, pigs are very intelligent, and show clear signs of distress like crying and screaming). After arrival at the slaughterhouse, the pig is first rendered unconscious by stunning it with a captive bolt pistol. Then it’s hoisted up so it hangs on a big hook from the ceiling, from where it gets exsanguinated (ex·san·gui·nate  [eks-sang-gwuh-neyt] to drain of blood, to bleed to death) Note that the pig is still alive when this happens, it’s unconscious but it’s alive. After the blood is gone, the hair gets removed, then the organs get taken out, the head gets cut off, and the carcass will be cut in two. The halves are being washed, cooled down, and the cutting and deboning starts. The meat is getting cut, smoked, ground into sausage, packaged. The whole day started at 4am and ended around 8pm.

So maybe the connection between the animal, and the how it became the food on my plate, is why giving up meat was easy for me. And no, I don’t crave meat, or Bacon.

Picture: Pinterest

Back to College & Bean & Beer Chili

Wow, so this was my first week of classes. I’m a college student (again)! So far, I’m really enjoying my classes, especially the two that aren’t online. I go to school two days a week, and the two classes I have are taught by the same teacher. My teacher used to be Powerlifter, coached Powerlifters and Navy SEALS. He is really passionate about the field, and really knows his stuff. I really like that about him, the fact that he teaches with passion just gets me more and more into the whole field of Exercise, Nutrition, and even Bio Chemistry. I’m sure I will learn a lot from him during this semester. I take two more classes online, Biology and Health & Wellness, which are also pretty interesting so far.

I’m now juggling work and school, which takes up most of my time. I’m still trying to fit my workouts in, but school must be my top priority for now.

However, I’ve been wanting to share a recipe with you. I made Thug Kitchen’s Bean and Beer Chili and OMG! This was so freakin’ delicious! If you don’t know Thug Kitchen, check them out. The recipes are amazing, and the guys over there are hilarious! This would also be a great meat-free alternative for you Superbowl Party ;)

Zero to Hero and the Challenges of my Daily Life

A couple of days ago, the Zero to Hero Challenge gave us the assignment to make our “about page irresistible”. Now, I had an about page for a while, and was never really all that happy with it. I find it boring, but I’m having difficulties coming up with something funny, interesting, different. So the last couple of days I have revisited the page, made changes, thought about it, revised it again, and so on. Without a real result. Am I really this boring? Where did all my inspiration go?

I’ve been trying to come up with posts for the blog, but had (and still have) tons of other things on my mind that kept distracting me. And so I kept opening and closing a new text post, until today. I figured what the heck, I’ll just update you on what’s been going on.

Well, I’ve been crazy busy at work. Four co-workers got sick in the past week and we’re already under-staffed. Now add all the New Year Resolution Gym Goers and you might get an idea of what my past week working at the gym looked like. Add a bunch of other personal, daily life challenges like “discussions” with the husband, grief, and homesickness and you get the perfect setup for a mind explosion, if that makes any sense. Working out is my general form of stress relief, and I only made it to the gym to workout Monday and Friday, so that didn’t help the whole situation either.

However, one of my Resolutions is: Concentrate on the positive side of things and try to live more in the present. So that is what I was trying to do: The extra hours I worked will result in a bigger paycheck (with which I could treat myself), I made a positive impression on my boss by picking up the extra work, I got lucky with the weather on the days I rode my bike into work, and I called up a friend of mine, which I now resolved to call more often. My muscles got a longer, and most likely needed break to recover,  and I did get some “sauna time” in. So life isn’t all that bad.

Now back to that about page, I’m not going to sweat it for now. I’ll wait till inspiration strikes me, and just keep revising and making little changes. Tips are welcome!

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Aside

“Wenn Du bei Nacht den Himmel anschaust, wird es dir sein,

als lachten alle Sterne, weil ich auf einem von ihnen wohne,

weil ich auf einem von ihnen lache.”

Antoine de Saint-Exupéry – “Der Kleine Prinz”

“In one of the stars I shall be living. In one of them I shall be laughing. And so it will be as if all the stars were laughing, when you look at the sky at night .”

I know I just announced my blog to be a healthy lifestyle/fitness blog, and this post may not fit the bill to 100%. But this is a post I’ve been thinking about for the last year or so, and not writing about it feels a little like I’m hiding a big part of me. It also plays a big part in why I stopped blogging a while back, so let me explain.

The quote above is what  we used for my sister’s death announcement (in Germany, it is common to put an “announcement” in the newspaper, a little like an ad you can place.) It is from a french children’s book called “The Little Prince”, which I highly recommend for every adult to read, since it actually transmits some great life lessons. My mom used this story to explain death and say Goodbye to me when I was eight. I didn’t realize that until I re-read the book as an adult, and after so many years it helped me to come somewhat to terms with my mother’s death. Until my sister was taken from me late August 2012.

I will not ever forget that morning, that day, that year. My brother called me early that morning. I was still sleeping, and didn’t pick up the first two times he called. Now, all my family is in Germany and they generally don’t call me unannounced, and not at that time of day, and not three times in a row. I got that weird feeling in the pit of my stomach, where it’s hard to swallow and your stomach feels like it’s twisting itself into a knot. I answered my phone, and there was no “Hi, it’s me, how are you?”, there only was a

“Is K with you?” (K referring to my husband)

“Are you sitting down? I have bad news. You better sit down.

Your sister passed away.”

Tears on the other end, me asking

“What? What?”

“Your sister died this morning. S is gone.”

Silence.

Then my whole world broke apart. Again.

My sister S was my world. She was my everything. We went through so much together, she was always there for me. As the older one, she felt the need to take care of me. She always said “We aren’t just sisters. We are soul mates.” And it was true. It is true. There is no day going by on which I’m not thinking about her. Not one day I’m not missing her. And yet, I’m having a hard time to talk about it, or even write about it in my personal diary. I’m not sure what I’m trying to do with this post on here, I just know I need to get it off my chest. I feel the need to just put it out there. But at the same time I’m realizing, while trying to write this, that I’m not ready. It’s been over a year, but I’m not ready. I don’t want to let her go.

It isn’t always easy to cope and work with what life gives you, but I’m trying to remember that it’s my choice how to handle it, even if it doesn’t seem like it. And yes, there’ll be many more hard days to come, days on which I won’t be able to focus on anything else, followed by sleepless nights that won’t want to end, but it’ll get better. That I believe in.

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This post is being published as part of the Zero to Hero: 30 Day Challenge

Mind over Matter

As I mentioned in my last post, I’m about to start a two semester certification program in Personal Training and Fitness. Classes start next Tuesday, and I’m super excited. I take this as a good sign!

This morning I logged into my Student Account, and found the course syllabus to two of the classes I’m really looking forward to: Weight Lifting and Fundamentals of Physical Training. Is it crazy that I’m really looking forward to get started on this? I just can’t wait to learn more and everything about this Passion of mine. One of the assignments for the semester is keeping a workout journal, in which we log all the exercises we do in class, including sets, repetitions and weight used, and attribute them to the muscle group(s) they benefit. I’m already keeping a workout log like that for my regular gym sessions, and I found it to be a great tool to keep track of my progress. As an extra credit assignment, we can keep a Food Log as well. Both, a Workout and Food log can help you stay on track and meet your goals.

When you keep track of what you eat and drink on a daily basis, you’ll not only get an idea of how many calories you consume, but also the quality of those calories. It can give you an idea why you’re gaining, maintaining, or losing weight, and how different foods effect your body, mood, and performance.

Keeping a detailed workout log, can help you track progress, which is a great motivator. You have the proof right there on paper, that this week your body could do what it couldn’t the week prior. For example, you were able to complete more reps, or you’re able to lift 10 extra lbs.

Anyway, what I’m really trying to get to is this: I’m so excited and scared at the same time. I’m wondering if I really have what it takes. I’ve been thinking about becoming a Personal Trainer for over a year now. Thing is, I’m kind of shy. I don’t feel comfortable standing in front of people and telling them what to do. But I love helping people. Fitness and Healthy Eating became a big passion of mine, and I’d love to share it. I’d love to show people how regular exercise and healthy eating can change their life’s, the health of their body’s and their minds. So it will definitively be a challenge, but one I know I can overcome, if I set my heart and mind to it. And this is something that running and weight lifting taught me: I can do whatever I set my mind to. We are capable of so much more, if we start facing our fears, and putting our minds over matter.

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“If your dreams don’t scare you, they are not big enough.” -Unknown