The (Vegan) Body: Strong and Recovered; Frida Kahloed; Cat Crazy; Self-Caring

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Hi there lovelies! Whew! What a week it has been. A very long, very weird week. A lot of the snow that’s hit the rest of the East Coast (Including my NC home) manifested in torrential rain here in Florida. As in monsoon, ankle deep in my cute black buckle boots rain. It’s taken us both several days to recover.

In that vein, as many of you likely know today is the last day of NEDA (National Eating Disorder Awareness Week). I was at first confused, then comforted, then thrilled to see a series of happy yellow post its on every mirror in the ladies’ rooms in my department this week. I was however, not thrilled to hear some very astonishingly rude and insensitive remarks come from people who saw them. While I’m happy to see a lot more sensitivity around eating disorders (ED) including some fantastic activism, this shows that there is still work to be done.

I have a little mantra that I always say to myself and to others if they will listen:

You never know what someone’s story is.

And you don’t, unless they tell you. Words are extremely powerful and can at once cut like swords and soothe like chamomile tea. Be careful about the language you use when talking about any sensitive issue. You never know who in the room has dealt with trauma, identifies against the gender binary, is LGBTQI-identified, or is in ED recovery (or has recovered). Always be sensitive.

Along those lines, if you make a faux pas and do say something insensitive around someone whose past you know and understand please, PLEASE approach them INDIVIDUALLY. And apologize. Tell them, straight up: “That was insensitive of me. And I’m sorry. It was brave of you to share X with me, and that was very irresponsible of me.”

As activists and advocates, words are our weapons. Wield them with care.

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Now! For a few links and thoughts on recent events (both within and outside of my own little life) that relate to The Vegan Body.

Gena Hamshaw of the blog Choosing Raw is an ED survivor and very bravely shared her story of recovery on her blog this week.

I really appreciate Gena’s thoughtful handling of a painful and tender subject for many of us. She attends to her ED and recovery in an approachable way that truly shows inner strength and is such an inspiration. In fact, this article inspired me to write up today’s post and mention the bit at the top about language. I appluad Gena for her sensitivity and care in all of her writing, especially when it comes to handling ED.

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I’ve always been interested in eating lots of raw fruits and vegetables, and especially RAW DESSERTS!! I’m hankering to make these raw tahini cups. Also, I’ve been pinning a lot more lately and collecting recipes to make each week (part of my New Year’s goals). Which brings me to:

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FRIDA! I have a Frida board, check it out! I’m writing a paper about her this term and loving the research that’s involved.

Also, I love this post about having Frida and Diego houses (my ideal if I am ever to be in a long term relationship).

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New haircut! (A couple of weeks old now.) Should I retouch my black underdye? Or let it grow out? Thoughts? Not sure yet. Luckily, I can leave it be for a good while until I decide.

Self-care is something I’ve thought a lot about this week. Suddenly, after years of thinking about it and intentionally practicing self-care it’s coming more naturally to me. I’ve started to baby myself when I need it and feel ok with that instead of guilty about it. Grad school, what a transformation you have been.

Love this post from a while back on the topic.

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Thai food! I got some the other night after my loooonnnngggg and weird week and it was just the thing to help me relax. Also Netflix. Netflix always helps me relax.

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SUMMER ROLLS FOR DAYS!

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Yup. Pretty much it these days.

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Mhm. Literally ankle (now knee, maybe thigh, ok waist) deep in books.

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 Maybe my new go-to box brand? It’s gluten free and tasty. A bit more expensive than the others I’ve tried but it’s also a much bigger box! Which is good because an active lady like me needs that. And I like to have leftovers.

IMG_6024Ah-HA! Now we get to the goods. I recently found this website and it’s kept me amused for the past several days. Especially the cat costumes. Oh, the cat costumes. Also, apparently cat wine? Not sure how I feel about it, but an amusing browse nonetheless for all of you fellow crazy cat parents out there.

Enjoy your weekend! Be safe out there if it’s snowing (or monsooning).

I Do Not Count Calories: Oil Pulling and My Current Food Philosophy

 

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So, I’m sitting here doing my first ever round of oil pulling and it’s weird to say the least. To keep my mind off trying to swallow the zillion calories in my mouth, I’m writing this post. The oil pulling is what got me to thinking about calories in the first place. (Also, talking about juicing with a friend the other day.) That exact thought crossed my mind: “I wonder how many calories I’m swishing around right now?” Pondering this is rather fun because I NEVER look at calorie counts on anything. Yet swirling coconut oil around in my mouth has got me to thinking. I started thinking about the rhetoric surrounding how people maintain healthy eating practices in their daily lives. Obviously this has been a subject that’s preoccupied me lately, and I’ve written about it a few times fairly recently, mainly in my The (Vegan) Body posts.

I don’t count calories. At all. Like I couldn’t care less. The only times I think about the little boogers are when I’m hungry and in a hurry and want to pack in as many as I can quickly. But counting and keeping track? Definitely not. Which brings me to my current food philosophy. Getting to a place of health has allowed me to acknowledge the sensations of hunger and fullness. I approach food from a stand point of eating to FEEL healthy, and I try to make variety and abundance the key features of my diet while incorporating moderation and indulgence into the mix. The backbone of my eating is a whole foods based diet but not without fats thrown into the mix. I get these through a variety of sources: olive oil, olives, nut butters, nuts, and avocados. While I’m primarily gluten free, I do still get carbs in my diet. I eat mainly brown-rice based goods such as pastas, tortillas, rice cakes, and a new brown rice and millet based bread I found at the co-op this week.

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During the week, I try and eat lots of veggies, beans, rice, and salads with a hearty casserole on Tuesday nights and sometimes a meal out on Thursdays and/or the weekend. I utilize leftovers to the fullest extent possible: cooking more than I need to fill up my little pyrex dishes throughout the week and prepping to make delicious dishes that I can easily heat up to keep my body pumping out the energy I need to thrive.

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But, then there’s hanger. Oh, hanger. I get hangry a lot. Too much as a matter of fact. Hanger can have a huge impact on your life and home. Hanger=hunger+anger. The best strategy here is to avoid getting to this point in the first place, which means snacks. Also if you’re like me when you get hungry, you tend to over eat and just cram a lot of food into yourself quickly. This doesn’t equate to mindful eating–enjoying and appreciating your food–nor does it necessarily promote good digestion and a healthful balance of snacks and meals throughout the day. So how to combat the hanger monster?

If I get insanely hungry, I do try and have a snack that will at least take the edge off. This is often a bar of some type, a small bowl of leftovers, or a smoothie. I always try to notice what my body is telling me and when. If I’m hungry, I eat. I try not to get to a point of sheer hanger, especially when I’m away from home and don’t have access to as many food options. This is where the calorie counting comes in. I’ve noticed that on cardio days my body seems to need a lot more fuel, though my weight lifting days have a similar impact on my eating. Especially if you’re active, your required calorie intake is going to vary, A LOT. It’s going to change from day to day based on your physical activity and what you’ve been eating.

Recognizing this fact imploded my idea of “healthy eating.” Growing up with an Atkins/South Beach/Slimfast saturated media perpetuated the idea that making sure your diet was regulated by a certain set of numbers was akin to a healthy approach to food. I’d argue that it’s not. I’m glad to see a significant change in calorie-centrism in the media these days, but I definitely think that it still exists. I still see products proudly emblazoned with “100 calories per serving” on their packaging, or large bags containing a multitude of smaller ones inside, broken into tiny calorie-conscious servings. For me, I’d have to eat at least 2 of those little servings to feel satisfied and let’s be honest I’d probably have to supplement it with something else, even just for a light midday snack.

Since becoming more keyed into my own health over the past 6 months or so, I recognize that what works for me (and I think would work for most other active people) is quality over quantity. If you run 2 miles and do stretches in the morning, you’ll be in a calorie deficit, and those numbers on a package might not match up to what your body needs. I vote for ignoring those numbers, and tuning into your body’s wants and needs: learning to listen and learning to be patient. This has been what’s truly worked for me as I’v ventured to find and (re)gain my personal health and wellness. It’s something that I live by, and you can bet I feel better about what I eat when I don’t let those numbers get me down.

 

Combatting the Cold

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Oi. This week. What a week. What a crazy past couple of weeks actually. A lot is happening, has happened, will happen. Hoping to get a bit of a respite this weekend. Going to get my favorite pho tomorrow with a friend, headed out to Trader Joe’s (my happy place! That and Whole Foods) today, holing up with my books and research and other things that make me happy today.

On another note, it’s been COLD here! Like in the 20’s kind of cold. While that’s literally freezing, here it’s kind of catastrophic. No pun intended.

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He’s okay with the cold though. Like me, he’s perfectly content to stay indoors (where he lives anyway…) and snuggle up under a fuzzy blanket. I’ve been lucky to have some truly amazing foods lately. So many. So much deliciousness. It’s definitely helped with the chilly week we’ve had down in these parts.

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Gluten free tempeh rueben with a side salad at brunch last weekend. That purple kraut is homemade at the restaurant and wow is it ever amazing.

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Lots of salads lately! This one was piled high with tons of veggies and black beans. Side of extra tomatoes.

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Something similar with brown rice and raw broccoli!

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The fuzzy jewelry thief.

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Roasted, lightly salted peanuts and a banana. One of my favorite snacks.

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So are apples.

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Ok this. THIS! This needed to happen last night. By Thursday evening I’m usually exhausted and often cooking just isn’t going to happen. I went to one of my absolute favorite restaurants, Soul Vegetarian, and got an amazing mass of vegan and gluten free soul food. Their mac is AMAZING! BBQ tofu, cornbread, raw kale salad, and a slice of GF pizza. The little mac box i’ll eat today with the pizza as I only made it through a couple of bites with my big to go box last night. With a couple of episodes of Criminal Minds it was the perfect end to a long 11 hour day. IMG_6534

Earlier this week, we finished off a pint of Luna and Larry’s Coconut Bliss. One of my absolute favorite products and hands down my favorite ice cream. This one was cappuccino, which is SO SOOOO good. So is Mint Galactica.

With the absolutely chock-full-to-bursting week I’ve had I think that a little gratitude list is in order. (Check out this one also, she posts them nearly every week and they always make me smile.)

What else am I loving this week?

those long, white cat whiskers on that fuzzy demon child of mine; being surrounded by stacks of beautiful and interesting books; upping my French press game a LOT with some amazing coffee gifted to me by a friend; going to that pho place tomorrow; happy cilantro sitting in a jar of water on my kitchen counter; long happy workouts that make me feel amazing during and after; supportive friends and family who let me rant about life’s challenges.

Have a good weekend!

5 things waking before the sun has given me

IMG_5919Over my winter break I had about a week and a half all to myself around town. I LOVED IT. I’m going to make a point of having that time each and every break if possible. During that time, I reset my internal clock and started waking up early every single day. I’ve never been a “morning person.” I’ve never loved to wake up early, and eating breakfast has always been a struggle because I’m just not hungry right after I wake up. I”m still not a “morning person.” I’m not bright and chipper and happy to see the sun rise, I’m quiet and meditative and if there’s someone else around you can bet I’ll probably be grumpy for the first hour or so after waking.

But recently I’ve started waking up early and just meeting these challenges head on instead of sleeping in to avoid them. This is after a year of sleeping in as much and as late as I wanted because of a flexible job and late nights out. I was glad for those absent mornings — at the time they were welcome, indulgent parts of my life. Now I’m so grateful to have mornings back again. My sleep schedule during last semester was sporadic to say the least. On weekends I’d stay up late or go to bed a bit later than normal and sleep in until whenever I could, on weekdays I’d get up as late as I needed to on any given day depending on where I needed to be when.

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Now I’m getting up at either 6 or 7 every day of the week. And I love this. I go to bed when I’m tired whether that’s at 9 or 11, and wake up at the same time every morning. I very quickly started loving this practice. The days seemed longer and I felt that I got a lot more done during them. I’ve always tended to be a night owl and still get my best work done later in the day or in the evenings, so the mornings have become my time to do things around my apartment, blog, read others’ blogs, make smoothies, work out, pack my food for the day. Going into changing my sleep schedule I knew these things were coming. But there were several things I didn’t expect to happen that I’m seriously loving about my long, languid mornings.

In no particular order:

1. Waking up before the sun is out has given me the opportunity to watch the light both indoors and out change as the sun rises. I love that.

2. My metabolism has gone through the roof. So I’m not crediting waking up early with my metabolic boost 100% but I can’t go without recognizing the correlation. Sleeping in caused me to skip meals, or put off eating until I’d been awake for several hours. Within an hour or two of waking up and drinking my morning coffee, my stomach is growling and I’ve got to feed it something. All day I need to eat every 2-3 hours to sustain my active body. This is a serious shift from the past couple of years when busyness often caused (or allowed me in some cases) to go without eating for several hours or skip meals. No more! I have to eat and eat often and well.

3. The gift of time. As I already mentioned, I feel like my days are so much longer now. Especially when I have 7-12 hour days on campus, it’s nice to feel that I have some time to myself free of obligations and responsibilities. I don’t feel as pressed for time as I once did and now have room to do things I love every day instead of just on the weekends.

4. Early exercise. I’ve always taken the “do what you can when you can” approach to working out especially during busy times of school/work/papers etc. I’ve found that my body feels great when I exercise earlier rather than later in the day. I don’t feel as restless or ancy when I have to sit for long periods of time, and my love for my exercise routines is just reaffirmed when it’s got less to do with needing to work out for stress relief and more to do with doing it because I love it.

5. Thoughtfulness. Early mornings are truly beautiful times. I love having the time and opportunity to be truly thoughtful about what I’m doing, set some intentions for the day, enjoy my cup of coffee (I swear it tastes better when the light is paler.) pack my bag, burn a stick or two of incense, and enjoy the lovey eyes the cat gives me because he’s glad I’m no longer sleeping and can give him attention.

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I didn’t expect to find these things in my mornings, but now that I have them I truly love them. They feel like every day indulgences that clear my head and allow me to prepare for the day ahead whether that’s 3 hours of seminar and 4-6 hours of work, or grocery shopping and food prep for the week. Having my mornings has been a huge part of feeling that I’ve achieved true and lasting health, and it’s certainly something I hope to continue through out 2015 as I continue to find that place of wellness and well-being.