Happy Monday, beauties! I must admit that it was slightly difficult getting myself up early this morning – but I have my eye on the prize: graduation in less than two months! Home stretch! Honestly, I am buried in school work (think midterms, projects and papers galore) but I’m trying not to stress out because it only makes things worse.
This morning’s workout was a doozy! Friday’s StairMaster session with Cait reignited by love/hate relationship with the cardio machine. In my humble opinion, the StairMaster is the hardest of all cardio equipment – especially on the interval setting. I challenged myself with 25 minutes of intervals at 110 steps/min. Thirty seconds into the workout, I began to sweat like a mad woman!
Following my intense sweat session, I took some inspiration from Tone It Up and created by own lean abs pyramid. It looked like this:
Do this. You will LOVE it!
Breakfast was the usual Vega chocolate protein pudding oats. I enjoyed them with some fresh strawberries and my morning cup of black coffee. So good! After my first two classes, I had an hour-long break so my friend Sherri and I headed to the dining commons for some lunch.
On the menu today was something I almost squealed over: broccoli pesto quinoa! Yes puh-lease. I scooped out a small portion of the quinoa and fixed myself a big salad of arugula, tomatoes, broccoli, cooked carrots, purple cabbage and balsamiv vinegar.
I finished every last bite and felt so satisfied. Side note: I have come to the personal conclusion that hummus is the best food-related invention ever. I could eat it every day and never get sick of it. Oh, wait – I already do…
After my final class, I came back to my dorm to get a couple hours of work done before meeting my friend Kristen for dinner at the dining commons. Tonight’s meal was pretty outstanding!
Clockwise: cumin-braised anasaki beans, roasted sweet potatoes, roasted broccoli (I topped it with a little tabbouleh) and braised red cabbage with sliced apples. Oh my word! It was so good that I didn’t want it to end.
Disassociating Veganism From My Eating Disorder
I’ve received a few emails from readers lately regarding the other side of veganism – the slide I don’t often write about. Being an optimist, I tend to focus on the positve aspects of my vegan lifestyle: increased energy, the myriad of health benefits and the amount of animals I’m helping to save. But there is another side – one that is inevitable when you choose a “path less traveled,” and that is dealing with criticism.
When one chooses to become vegan, one inherently chooses to become a victim of criticism. If one chooses to adopt a vegan lifestyle after battling an eating disorder (as I did), the criticism and backlash multiples tenfold. I did my best to handle it with grace (didn’t always happen) and a smile on my face (also didn’t always happen).
Doing My Research
Parents, friends, doctors and nutritionists questioned me – and I had to be prepared to respond in an intelligent and respectful manner. In other words, I had to back up my decision with cold, hard evidence. When I expressed interest and passion in adopting a vegan lifestyle, many of my friends and family members were weary of my decision. Many thought I was adopting veganism as means of keeping myself from gaining weight – sort of like an extension of my eating disorder. The reality is, for the first time in my life, I felt like veganism was saving me from my eating disorder because I was choosing a lifestyle that was trying to choose me all along.
Growing up, I ate meat because I thought I had to – not because I liked it or wanted to eat it. When I started to explore vegetarianism and veganism, I realized that I didn’t need to eat meat at all. I did my research. Not only had I researched the foods that contained macronutrients, vitamins and minerals that are “in question” (i.e. protein, calcium and iron) but they were from credible, science-based sources. (Click here for a bunch of my go-to’s.) When I responded with such knowledge, people were less likely to backfire and more likely to engage in intelligent conversation. Of course, some people still criticized and/or bashed my decision but that comes with the territory. We simply have to be prepared for that sort of dilemma. The key is knowing your stuff and being secure with it.
Some people simply don’t understand the nature of your lifestyle choices. For me, it was really difficult to get others to disassociate veganism from my eating disorder. In the media, veganism is often touted as a means of losing weight. I tried to explain to my family members and friends that veganism is more nutrient dense and gives you loads of energy – both of which were my primary motives for transitioning. I focused on the clean eating aspect – eating in a way that my body was meant to eat: healthfully and happily! Sometimes, you have to accept defeat and take solace in the fact that you are doing what is best for you. Some of my friends still don’t understand my decision and some still think it is an extension of my eating disorder – but that is their issue – not mine! I am happy, strong and healthy. That’s all that matters!
Take this morning, for example….sweaty, strong and happy!
All You Need Is Love
If going vegan taught me anything, it is compassion. In no way am I trying to be pretentious or “high and mighty” but I truly believe that I would not be as compassionate if it weren’t for veganism. With that in mind, it is important to ask for your loved ones’ compassion. It is very difficult to make a transition without your loved ones’ support. For me, it was a lot easier because people wanted to see me get healthy and strong, not weak and sick like I was with my eating disorder. For that reason, my parents were totally on-board with my decision. They did everything they possibly could to help me! Speak out and tell them how important this is to you and how much you believe in doing this for your health and for the love of animals. Suggest doing a Meatless Monday meal with the family or trying a new vegetarian restaurant one weekend.
Over the past four years, I have gradually become a nutrition and health expert for those around me. They see how happy, strong and energetic I am. I like to call it “The Vegan Ripple Effect.” We don’t need to preach left and right. After seeing the positive aspects of your lifestyle, people will come to you for advice and help. This, my friends, has been the most rewarding experience. To come full circle – from the girl who was too weak to stand…to the girl who can do push-ups for two minutes straight (that’s right! ) says it all. Ultimately, we need to do what makes us thrive. If we follow that path, the rest will come – like everything – with time.
Question of the Day: Have you ever received backlash from your family for your food choices? How do you / did you deal with it?