Struggles

It’s been quite on this blog since I started my classes, I know. I was never the best at time planning, but I’m getting better. I’ve been here more then once over the last couple of weeks, trying to write about this internal struggle I’ve had but couldn’t seem to find the right words. Then, two days ago I came across this quote that really spoke to me, and was just what I needed to hear (or read) to be reaffirmed in my reasons and beliefs.

“It doesn’t matter what other people do, it only matters what kind of person you want to be!”

Rabbi Mordecai Finley

You see, on the outside I might seem like a very confident person. At least, this is what people have been telling me. But I’m really not. I’ve been having a hard time to stop comparing myself to others, especially in the gym. More and more women have been starting to visiting the gym I go to. Women who lift weights. Women who look buff. And cut. And strong. More muscular than me, leaner than me, stronger than me. And while I know it’s stupid comparing myself and my body to them, and be jealous, I am. Yes, I think it’s great that women stop believing that lifting weights will make them look like a man, and that there are more women venturing into the weight room, and still it makes me feel little. It makes me feel less bad ass, and I feel like I need to prove to myself, and them, that I’m stronger. You’re using 20lbs dumbbells, I will use 25lbs! You’re going for ten repetitions? I’ll do twelve! And while this might actually help me improve my strength, it’s still unnecessary. I know that. But I can’t seem to stop.

So in a quest to gain more, get bigger, get stronger than all these other women in the gym I became very inpatient with myself. I started questioning my habits, my diet, my reasoning for why I choose to eat plant-based. For a second, I was thinking about eating meat again, that maybe I do need that animal protein to gain, even though that same thought grossed me out at the same time. I was considering it. I asked some people whose opinion I value and trust for input on that matter, my teacher (who is a meat eater), folks at the gym, and vegan ladies who lift. To my surprise, even the first two (carnivores!) reassured me to stick to my diet, to stick to my values, since of course, they already realized what took me much longer to see, starting to eat meat again won’t make me happy either. It won’t help me gain if I’m disgusted by the food I eat. I enjoy eating food, food is amazing, and I want to keep it that way. There’s no good in seeing food as the enemy. And then the quote was the last little bit of affirmation I needed. Now I got a meal plan that should help me reach my goals, I’m reading “Thrive – A Vegan Nutrition Guide to Optimal Performance in Sports and Life” by Brendan Brazier, and I feel so much better.

I guess what I’m trying to say is that it isn’t always easy. There will be rocks laying in our path, but what matters is how we deal with them. Do we stop, turn back, or do we find a way around or over them?

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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 ;)

Ch-ch-ch-changes

I was never big on New Year Resolutions. In fact, not even once do I remember making any. And it wasn’t any different this year. Until yesterday. Let me just start by telling you 2013 wasn’t the best year for me, and ended in a personal breakdown. It became clear to me that things need to change, and so I began coming up with my first ever New Years Resolutions a couple of days late. One of them being, as you might have guessed, giving this blog an overhaul and recommitting to it.

It will become my healthy lifestyle and fitness blog. In the last two years, my interest in fitness (okay, weight lifting) and nutrition grew immensely. So much, that after I began to work at my local gym this past fall, I’m about to start a two semester long Certification Program in Personal Training and Fitness at my local Community College. I’m turning Fitness into a career, and this blog will reflect that. To get a jump-start on this, I decided to join the “From Zero to Hero: 30 Days to a better Blog” Challenge.

And since we’re already talking about recommitting, here’s another resolution: I’m recommitting to my vegan diet. I have been eating plant-based, whole foods since November 2012 with the occasional slip up. Those slip ups helped me realize that I feel best on a vegan diet. This year, I will refocus on that, and I will do my best to avoid any slip ups.

So here is to a healthy, happy, herbivorous 2014!

Yay to Grocery Shopping!

Most of the times it makes me really happy to go grocery shopping. Especially when I plan on going to Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods like today :)

I made a list of the meals I’ll be cooking over the next week or so, and created my grocery list. And hey, it’s all vegan and includes baking some cookies <3

Here’s my Menu in no particular order ;)

  • Zucchini Black Bean Fritters
  • Latkes
  • Burritos
  • Hearty Pinto Bean Stew
  • Red Lentil Coconut Soup
  • Homemade Veggie Burgers involving Tofu, Beans, Oats, and Veggies
  • Banana, Oatmeal & Chocolate Chip Cookies

yum yum yum!

oh hey, it’s Friday!

Eating Healthy or Pizza?

Both!

Who says you can’t have Pizza and live healthy at the same time? Exactly, no one.

The hubs and I have been making our Pizza by ourselves at home for a while now. The first few times we used canned pizza dough, canned pizza sauce, and meat. Not really that much better than the frozen or ordered kind, I know.

Well, we’ve learned. Here is what we do now:

  • Get fresh whole wheat dough at Trader Joe’s or Whole Foods
  • Make our own Pizza Sauce
  • Top it with plenty of veggies
  • Add some cheese
  • Bake and indulge!

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Yum Yum Yum! And not a second of feeling bad or guilty or anything negative for that matter.

Now add a movie, hot tea, and a blanket on the couch and this is our happy, comfy friday night in :)

I want to start using vegan cheese, but never really had it. So I have no clue what to try.

Does anyone of you have tips or recommendations regarding vegan cheese substitutes? Please let me know in the comments, thank you :)