Friday, November 22, 2013

Why I'm a vegetarian

I read an article on the Huffington Post this week called, "The 17 Dumbest Things Vegetarians Have to Deal With." As much as I had to laugh I could really relate to it. It also made me think about the personal decision I made to become a vegetarian.

By defining myself as a vegetarian I mean that I do not eat meat. No, not even fish (which, contrary to the popular belief of half of the people I come into contact with, is truly meat). I do eat by-products. This means I'm lacto-ovo (dairy and eggs), eat honey, and wear products like wool and silk (I'm not a fan of real leather or fur, but this has nothing to do with my decisions to be a vegetarian).

I became a vegetarian mainly for health reasons. I used to suffer through extreme nausea and other digestive issues, including blood in vomit. It was especially bad during times of stress and you could find me curled up in the fetal position, in my bed, with a heating pad. Sometimes I was in so much pain I couldn't eat.

I've also been a vegetarian twice. The first time I quit it was because I was a lazy and unhealthy vegetarian. I wasn't getting enough protein and iron in my diet, and it was becoming extremely apparent when I began to get into running. I started eating meat again in under a year of this lifestyle. In August 2012, after months of plaguing stomach issues, I cut meat out of my life for a second time. I haven't turned back since.

After already choosing to become a vegetarian (again) for health reasons I read the book, "Eating Animals" by Jonathan Safran Foer. This changed my outlook on vegetarianism from reasons of health, to reasons of personal morals and values. Now, don't get this confused. This does not mean I am against people eating meat for food. I am against the cruelties of factory farming that effect animals, the environment, and overall societal health. I'm not going to preach but factory farming does have some serious issues. I support local meat and dairy farming as practices are less cruel and more natural.

As a vegetarian I used to be a fan of "fake meat". I go through phases of missing meat and craving it in my diet. Usually this is because I need to up my fat, iron, or protein intake in an alternative form. Either way, I used to eat soy products such as fake taco meat, fake chicken, veggies burgers, etc. I've tried to cut this down. I eat veggie burgers on occasion, and soy only in form of the actual bean (such as edamame). Soy is not for everyone. Personally, I bloat until the point where it is uncomfortable and look like I'm pregnant.

What don't I eat? Beef, pork, chicken, fish, or, in short, meat. I also don't eat soups that have been made in a meat broth, and other such products. I try to stay away from soy. I also try not to drink beverages that are high in caffeine and alcohol, and I try to stay away from sugar. These ones are harder for me to give up than meat was, but they also affect my body in the same way that meat does.

What do I eat? Many things! I love vegetables, fruits, nuts, and beans. I also love cheese and yogurt, but in moderation. I like eggs, too. I try and eat food that is local and in season. I use my Sunday afternoons to bake, cook, and prepare my food for the week. It becomes much easier to eat well and healthy so I can keep up with my running and busy academic life.

I understand that people don't want to be forced into vegetarianism or have it thrown in their faces, and I completely understand. I do not look down on people that meat eat and I eat around my friends and family while they eat meat. It doesn't bother me and I support your diet/lifestyle of choice. Most of all, I understand that being a vegetarian is not the answer for everyone. It just so happened it was the answer for me.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Off balance

Last night I had the worst yoga session of my life. It started off fine as I worked through some sun salutations, stretched my hips in frog pose, and practiced some warrior variations. When I moved into more of my balancing poses my practice went downhill from there. Even as I was practicing my king pigeon I could feel something was... off.

I fell out of my king pigeon. I fell out of my tree pose. I fell out of my dancer's pose. I fell out of my warrior III. It was extremely disheartening, especially when I've been so excited lately for the progress I've made.

I flipped over into savasana and tried to figure out where I went wrong. I realized it was a couple of things:

1) My mind was not focused. Even in savasana my mind was running as I stressed about my lack of balance. A clear mind makes for a better practice. I had had a long day at school, had just finished writing a couple of online quizzes for one of my classes, and was already thinking about what I had to tackle next on my list of assignments.

2) It's called a practice for a reason. I'm going to have bad days, it's inevitable. However, if I can push through I'll find that I have days where my practice will go better than I ever could have hoped. One bad day does not mean that you give up. It means that you take a break, roll up your mat, have a cup of tea, and reflect.

3) Trust your mat. Trust yourself. There's nothing wrong with trying again but don't let yourself get frustrated. Know your limitations, use your instincts. I listened to my body and was careful of my movements, but I also put trust in my faithful mat and knew how much support it would give me in return.

4) Support yourself. There's nothing wrong with holding onto a wall or the arm of your couch. My boyfriend even offered to lend me his arm so I could complete some of my poses. By doing this you are not failing or taking an easier road. I see it as being humble by admitting that you need help.

In short, this is the advice I have: Having a bad practice? Don't get down on yourself. 
You can do it. You are improving. You are a bad-ass yogi and next time those poses will be yours.

Monday, November 4, 2013

This week's eats

It's only the beginning of November and the winter blues have got me feeling down. I'm lethargic, lazy, and have no desire to do much else but binge-watch the entire Bones series. I also have to admit that I could not stop myself from diving into the multiple boxes of Halloween chocolate I had around my house. However, some good things came from my laziness. 

The first is my new found love for baked eggs. So simple! I've seen mini-quiche recipes all around Pinterest and found a few usable ingredients. Baby spinach, goat cheese, and an egg, baked at 350 degrees until I was satisfied with how they looked. Simple, clean, and perfect for feeling lazy.

The next was my extremely simple snack. I mean, this is does not even warrant a recipe. Steamed broccoli and goat cheese. Clearly I'm on a goat cheese kick. I devoured a whole head of broccoli and it made me feel better to get something fairly clean and green into my system while I sat among a scattering of chocolate bar wrappers.

However, when I decided not to be lazy, I did bake this absolutely delicious pumpkin bread (recipe found here). Instead of sour cream I used Greek yogurt, which I prefer to switch in most recipes I find. I also devoured most of two loaves while my boyfriend fell in love with the very simple, whipped cinnamon-sugar butter.

Now I'm trying to stay away from the sugary treats and eat a little cleaner. Hopefully cleaning up my eating will fix my lethargy.