For a girl like me, one of the worst things about moving is the time it takes to pack, then ultimately unpack, an entire house. It really wreaks havoc on one’s body. Basically, instead of finding an hour to pound out my stress on the pavement, I found that every moment of every day was spent passively aggressively shoveling junk into every empty box I could find. Between countless runs to recycling and Goodwill, plus trying to use up any food that was in my kitchen, both my mood and my diet were completely out of whack. After a couple of meltdowns—the biggest one probably being the moment I fell directly off of the moving truck and landed squarely on my bad side—I knew I had to get back on my health track.
The biggest change we decided to start with? The Owl and I are now following a plant-based diet.
The main reason we decided to do this is for health. I’ve been reading The Kardea Gourmet after I won a contest on the Thrive Personal Fitness blog and was given the book by Pamela. The book details how to follow a heart-healthy lifestyle based upon the Mediterranean diet and plant-based diets. Heart-healthy is key for me, since my genetics are hateful and drive up my cholesterol.
One of the things I learned as I was finishing my nutritionist certification was that the term “plant-based diet” is becoming more accepted due to many biases and prejudices that exist with vegetarianism. Though only 2% of the population are followers of this diet, I’ve been surrounded by a large number of them and have been intrigued, particularly because my cousin is a vegan and is totally ripped and healthy. The summer before I entered high school, my grandma had a heart attack followed by open heart surgery—six bypasses, which is almost unheard of—and she briefly switched to a plant-based diet to help combat her cholesterol. But she was eventually told by her doctor that she’d have to eat a bathtub full of beans to make up for the protein she needed. For that reason, I never put much thought into plant-based diets. But my certification has changed my opinions.
I’ll explain a few things. For starters, we’re not going totally vegan. Dairy is my guilty pleasure. I love milk and cheese, and Greek yogurt is something I frankly just don’t want to live without. So we’re keeping that in our diets. Eggs are another thing that we’ll eat if necessary. But really, we only eat them maybe every other week. Aside from that, it’s been two weeks without meat for both of us.
What’s awesome is that neither of us feel like we’re sacrificing whatsoever. With so many veggies out there, we’re not only able to load up on foods that are nutrient-dense, but each day brings something new. It’s not what-to-do-with-chicken-today or maybe-we-can-go-with-fish. For instance, one day I made black bean “burgers” that I would have ranked up there with any blue cheese burger I’ve ever tasted. The next day we moved on to felafel with cucumbers, onion, tomato and lettuce. We’ve had curry soup packed with potatoes, cauliflower, chickpeas, onion and more. We eat kale and asparagus and fresh tomatoes (sprinkled with Mediterranean salt—heavenly!) and mushrooms. I could go on and on. The point is this: two weeks in and we both feel healthier and leaner, not to mention that we’re not bored with what we’re eating.
So the next step was exercising again. The Owl is anxious to just begin a routine, and I’m certain he’ll start skateboarding now that he has the freedom to do that where we live. For me, it feels good to be getting back into a normal exercise routine. My 1-, 3- and 6-mile routes are all mapped out for jogs with the pups, speed days and long run days. I’m so excited that my 6-mile run takes me through a park, by a lake, and ends with a killer hill that almost made my heart stop out of pure fear today. I’m happy to report that it wasn’t that bad.
Of course, for me, anything is possible with a good soundtrack: