The Vegan Experiment?

I picked up one of my husband’s magazines recently (Men’s Journal) after being sucked in by a curious title – “Going Vegan in the NFL”.  Huh?  Then was further shocked to find that the story was based on Arian Foster, a former Tennessee running back.  (Tennessee being my alma mater, and also where my husband played football in the 90’s.)  OK, now I’m intrigued.  How would a serious athlete, especially a man in the NFL that eats about 6,000 calories per day, go Vegan??

Going Vegan in the NFL

As someone who eats a lot of fruits and vegetables, and also experimented with a strict vegetarian diet for a while, I can truly appreciate the commitment it takes, as well as the social stigma.  I mean, can you imagine the stigma fora guy, much less a guy in professional sports?  That basically summarizes the article – guy reads book, goes Vegan to improve his athleticism, gets a lot of  flack from teammates and media, then proves them all wrong with his best year ever.  So naturally, I had to check out the book, The Thrive Diet, by vegan triathlete, Brendan Brazier.  Thank goodness for my Kindle – instant book and only $9.  I’ve skimmed it so far and it looks interesting.  Will continue reading…

I’ve never been a big fan of meat, but only accepted that a couple of years ago after following a friend’s lead, along with the encouragement of several other books (Cinch / Sass Yourself Slim, Skinny Bitch).  I still eat vegetarian about 50% of the team, but to be honest, I found it difficult to stick to since our society is so meat-focused.  Not to mention burdensome for my family.  I felt like every time we had a family gathering we had to focus on what Rebecca isn’t eating these days.  An otherwise very enticing menu is instantly limited to a few vegetarian-friendly items, if any at all.  Heck, in the country even the veggies are cooked with meat.    So I can’t even imagine the added difficulty of vegan – no cheese, butter, yogurt, honey, eggs.

OK, so now I’m feeling a challenge coming on.  Could I go vegan?  I’m not going to proclaim a long-term diet change, but how would I feel and look if I stuck to a vegan diet for say, 30-days?  Perhaps my new diet experiment for 2013?  And January has always been the best time for a diet experiment – no holiday gatherings or parties, a renewed sense or focus for the new year, and the whole country seems to be on a diet too.  Most of my past diet experiments have left me better off, with new menu options and lots of new food lessons.  I still follow the Cinch / Sass Yourself Slim plan of 4-balanced meals every 3-4 hours.   Then there was the movie about Juicing, “Fat, Sick, and Nearly Dead”, which led to a $400 juicer and a whole lot of veggies, plus our (yep, even my husband loves it) new favorite fruit juice, “Purple Power Juice”.  And there’s been others, but those 2 were the most impactful.

So I guess I should get back to reading if I’m starting The Vegan Experiment come January 1.

Thrive Diet

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Lifelong Learning

This week I’m thinking a lot about learning.  Today is my 1-year anniversary at work, and although I’ve come a very long way, I still feel like I have so much to learn!  My husband and sister both started new jobs this week and are probably overwhelmed with how much they’ll have to learn in their new roles.  But whether you’re a “lifer”, or a “newbie” in your job, I’m a firm believer in the necessity of continuous learning because things are constantly changing and we have to keep.  The things I learned in college 12 years ago are now largely obsolete, so I take every opportunity to attend local industry events, read industry publications, and network with as many people as I can.  But I don’t think learning stops at work, it’s necessary for our personal lives as well.  Take health and wellness for example.  I sometimes take for granted how much I know since it’s been a passion of mine for a decade and I love to read about it, so when I’m talking to other people who are just getting started, I have to remember that they’re still learning the basics.  My sister has moved across the country and is trying to embark on a healthier lifestyle, and the grocery store is her first battleground.  Unlike me, who thoroughly enjoys the grocery wonderland, she sees it as a maze of too many food choices with confusing and sometimes conflicting nutritional information.

 

A few of her questions, and maybe yours too… Is bread bad for me?  I thought you’re suppose to avoid dairy?  Does fruit have too much sugar?  Good grief!  No wonder everyone is confused.  Even after 10 years, I’m still tweaking my diet based on what makes me feel the best, and I will never give up my beloved ice cream, but the simple answer is that everyone is different.  One person might need to avoid gluten and dairy, while others follow a high-carb, low-fat diet.  My simplest suggestion is to first focus on learning how to eat a balanced diet.  I think Cynthia Sass did a great job of summarizing this in her books (Cinch & Sass Yourself Slim), by outlining that every meal should include 5 puzzle pieces:

  1. Produce (fruits & veggies)
  2. Whole Grains (bread, rice, pasta)
  3. Lean Protein (chicken, turkey, fish, eggs, dairy)
  4. Plant-based Fat:  (nuts, avocados, edamame / soy, coconut/olive/canola oil)
  5. Natural seasonings (herbs, vinegar, citrus juice)

Forget counting calories if that’s not your thing, just build properly portioned meals using these 5 puzzle pieces.  I’m sure you’ve got some ideas just reading through the list.  Not sure how to portion and don’t want to buy the book?  Use a small plate – most of the plate should be your produce, then the whole grain, then a palm-size serving of protein, plus whatever fat & seasonings you’re adding.  This is very similar to the USDA’s new “My Plate“.  Or here’s an idea – just eat slowly and stop when you’re full!  Here’s an old blog post I did that shows how I used the puzzle pieces for a few different meals, and on a tight budget!  https://rockytoprebecca.wordpress.com/2011/04/24/cinch-on-a-budget/.

Hopefully I did my part to offer you a little education today!  Happy learning…

Click the apple for a “Food Labeling 101” article.

A Year Later…

1 year later, and I’m back to WordPress.  Last year, my husband and I decided to start a new website dedicated to health, fitness, and a potential future business, but then life got turned upside down.  The new site was going to take a lot of work, versus using the awesome, free functionality here on WordPress and I really missed it!  Plus, I was really only using the blog function, and I found that people could not find me as easily.  My blog is more for self-motivation and venting my daily thoughts, however I think I helped inspire some people last year to lose weight and that was equally inspiring for me. 

ImageI let the website lapse and basically lost the year’s content, however I’m not sad about that.  My life got turned upside down, and while I’m happy to report that I’m still at my Summer 2011 weight, it was a tumultuous year and somehow leaving the blog behind feels like a new beginning.  Last September, I took a new job with Wendy’s (as in “old-fashioned hamburgers”) at their corporate office near Columbus, Ohio, so we made the more-difficult-than-expected move and I’m still struggling to feel settled.  We bought a new house in the cute little suburb of Powell, and I’ve been loving the endless walking trails, beautiful scenery, great food (especially ice cream), and friendly people.  However, the stress of my new job, as well as my husband’s struggle to find one is a constant strain.  I’m glad we like it here because I don’t plan to move again for a long time.

 

As for my weight, which was the central theme in my previous blogs, I’m happy to report that I’m at 132 pounds, pretty close to where I ended up after my 5-month Cinch journey last year.  I also have purchased Cynthia Sass’ new book,  ” Sass Yourself Slim”, which turned out to be a slightly revised, re-named version of the original, and have continued to follow the 4-small meals using all of the puzzle pieces.  Having done if for so long now, its second nature and I don’t get it much thought. 

I will try and make time for more blogging… it’s food for my soul!  Thanks for the push, Trish!

Frustrated

I’m feeling very frustrated this morning.  My hopes of returning to school to work on another degree in Nutrition were quickly dashed when I reviewed class schedules.  Clearly they are made for undergraduate students that have nothing else to do – all late morning and early afternoon.  I was hoping for early morning or late afternoon!  Getting a couple of bad class schedules is one thing, but most of them seem to follow that schedule, and would require quitting my current job and going full-time, something I cannot consider right now while I am the sole income in our household.  So, I will table that thought for now and think about whether or not it’s something I want to consider later, or if I want to go a different route and get certifications or other forms of education, but not the formal degree.  I’m open to suggestions.  =(

Switching gears now… dinner last night was fabulous.  I love wraps for dinner because they are quick, healthy, and yummy.  Last night I made one with 1/2 chopped avocado (healthy fat), 1/4 chopped tomato (produce), about 1/4 cup kidney beans (protein), fresh cilantro, lime, and a sprinkle of cumin and chili powder, all on a low-carb medium-sized flour tortilla (whole grain).  It was very tasty and filling.

Today’s Menu & Workout Plan:

  • 7 am – Small egg & cheese sandwich, 1 cup carrot juice, vitamin
  • 11:30 am – Greek yogurt with blackberries and pistachios, Kashi crackers
  • 1:00 pm — Strength training: chest / back, jump rope
  • 3:30 pm – 3oz fish with mixed veggies and 1/2 cup brown rice
  • 6:00 pm — 10 mile bike ride
  • 8:00 pm – Avocado, bean, and tomato soft taco

I’m doing pretty well getting back into my healthy eating habits post-vacation, however am still struggling with sugar cravings.  I did detox for a couple of days when I got back, but that got cut short by the power outage and my cravings for sugar are still there.  I’ve can usually get through the day just fine, but feel strong urges when I get home.  It’s like my brain has been programmed to eat as soon as I get home and I start feeling hunger pangs when I’m getting close to home, even if I’ve just had my afternoon snack a couple of hours before.  The Cinch book actually discussed this and learning to separate real hunger from cravings.  This falls into the cravings category.  I don’t have much sugar around the house, aside from some macadamia-nut-Hershey-kisses that I brought back from Hawaii, and some dark-chocolate chips, which are usually on-hand for my granola bars. 

I will continue trying to fight the urge to indulge at night.  Maybe my weigh-in Friday will help keep me motivated.  I’ve set a new goal of 125 pounds by Labor Day, our next beach trip to Hilton Head.

Getting over the Hump

11 days to go on Bikini Body Countdown!

Wednesday… “Hump Day”.  I always disliked that phrase, for some reason.  Half-way through the week, but so much work that I wish I could back-track to Monday and get more done.  I’m starting to panic a little about how much I need to finish before I leave for vacation.  Sadly, I do plan to take my lap-top and check in on work from Hawaii every morning.  It’s not a requirement, and usually I’m all about turning off all electronics when I want to get away, but I’m leading a huge new project and my vacation is right in the middle of implementation.  So I think spending 20 minutes each morning is a small price to pay to avoid the mess I’d come back to after two un-interrupted weeks.

So today I got to be in a commercial, which basically entailed sitting around for 4 hours and doing a 10-minute shot where you might see my elbow.  I’m glad I had my lap-top with me!  However, I regretted having spent 4 hours last night trying to get ahead of the office time I’d be missing this morning, thinking I’d be so “busy” at the video shoot.  Not only did I sacrifice a good night’s sleep, I also ended up very hungry at 11pm, 5 hours past my dinner.  So according to Cinch, you should never go more than 5 hours without eating, even at night.  But I didn’t have any good snacks that appealed to me, so I ended up eating a handful of candy hearts leftover from Valentine’s Day, plus one too many baked chips, a small glass of milk, and about 10 apricots.  I could have done worse, I guess, but it certainly wasn’t my healthiest meal.  Oh well, I’m not stressing over it.  The lesson is not to stay up too much past your bedtime!

My meals are a little wacky today – basically snacks that I could fit in my purse to tide me over during the shoot.  Looks like too many fruit and nuts.  No idea what I’ll do for lunch.  I guess find some healthy fast food nearby.

Meal Plan Time
Yogurt parfait 7:30
Granola bar 10:00
Apples, almonds 12:00
… whatever I can find that’s healthy 3:30
Scallops and cooked cabbage 7:30
   
Workout – Arms / Legs, Jump Rope, 18-mile bike  

Super Foods & Packing

13 days to go on Bikini Body Countdown!

One of my favorite views from Hawaii. I actually have a picture of my siblings and I in front of this lookout when I was 15.

Packing has commenced!  Yes, I don’t leave for 2 weeks, but I have a love-hate relationship with packing and thus it works best for me to start early.  I am an infamous under-packer and like to travel light, usually taking only a tiny duffel bag for weekend trips that I throw together the night before.  Our weekend trips are usually to visit family, and thus packing basic necessities such as toiletries and snacks is not necessary.  I usually don’t even pack a make-up bag for weekends, just make do with the few things I carry in my purse.  So long trips are a whole different animal.  I love travel, but for some reason, I always go into a packing funk a couple days before I leave and can’t seem to put a decent outfit together to save my life.  I think it’s probably a panic over running out of time and forgetting stuff, and also my obsessive organization.  So my guest room has been transformed into the Hawaii Packing Room, and over the next week, I’ll add things to the room.  Then the following week, I’ll go through everything, try on outfits and accessories to make sure they actually go together (haven’t we all made that mistake?), take inventory of toiletries, and add anything else that comes to mind.  Sound crazy?  It doesn’t take as much time as it sounds, it’s just my personal packing strategy and I’ll end up thinking of new things to add every day until I leave! 

OK, moving on.  I found this article in our AAA magazine, and thought it was worth posting.  It’s a list of the Top 10 Superfoods, and I’m happy to say that I incorporate most of these into my daily diet!  A couple that I don’t, but probably need to look into, is Garlic and Green Tea. 

Below is my meal plan for the day.  You’ll notice that I occasionally incorporate a little meat into my meals, but still eat a mostly vegetarian diet.  Although animal welfare is a major concern for me, I do not claim to be a committed vegetarian and think that simply cutting back on your meat consumption and getting protein from plant-based sources can offer a lot of health benefits, while also being more environmentally friendly (animals use more resources than plants).   The Cinch plan is very helpful in this regard – offering tons of vegetarian or vegan substitutes in the book and encouraging everyone to try eating vegetarian several days a week. 

Meal Plan Time
Grape Nuts cereal with berries, 1 cup carrot juice 7:30
Yogurt parfait, 5 crackers 11:30
1/2 ham & avocado sandwich on pumpernickel 2:30
Apple, pretzels (pre-bike snack) 6:00
 2 veggie soft tacos 8:00
   
Workout – Chest/Back, 30m cardio circuit yes
Vitamins yes

Bikini Body Countdown!

 

I’m officially on BIKINI BODY COUNTDOWN!  34 days until Hawaii!

Time to get serious, cut the sugar, and increase the workouts.  I’ve done pretty well since starting Cinch in January, although have indulged in one too many sugar binges.  My clothes fit better and I feel good, but I’m disappointed that the scale has not budged much.   I’m still the same weight I was in January after finishing detox (138), although that’s still 6 pounds less than where I started.  My husband has reminded me that some of that might be muscle weight that I’ve put on to replace fat (since muscle weighs more than fat), but seeing the scale was still a bit deflating.  And thus, that’s why I’ve been avoiding it for a month!

OK, so here’s the plan.  Stick to the basics of Cinch for my diet, zero sugar and very limited refined carbohydrates.  Increase workouts to 5-6 days per week, including running, cycling, weight training, and plyometric intervals.  I’ll post my food journal and exercise plan as often as I can in case anyone else wants to join in!  I also see some great articles about bikini-body-prep from time to time, and will link those as well. 

Monday’s Menu:

Meal Plan Time
Cereal with skim milk; orange juice 7am
Greek yogurt with berries and granola 11am
Salad w/ lt ranch, almonds, 1/2 pear 3pm
Whole wheat pasta w/ veggies, olive oil 7pm

Workout:  Weights (chest & back), cardio intervals (10m treadmill, 10m elliptical, 10m jump rope), 10-mile bike.

My husband forwarded me a cool blog link today.  I had to laugh because I love that feeling of beating a guy at something sports related and seeing their reaction to “getting chicked”…  http://www.rev3tri.com/!/blog/2011-3-21-gettingChicked.htm.  And yes, I have “chicked” my husband on many ocassions, although he won’t admit it!