Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Weight, Running, Weights, Cross-Training, and Yoga

I started this post as one piece, but the more I wrote the more I realized that it was too long, so I am going to break down into smaller pieces and post the others later on this week.
     I 've always been extremely skinny, as in “so skinny that people would ask my mother in hushed tones if I had an eating disorder.” However, I was very healthy and my doctor never worried about my weight. The only time he ever raised an eye-brow was right before I moved to Missouri for college and I had dropped from 105pounds down to barely 95pounds. He said it was just stress but as long as I put the weight back on, once things mellowed out, then I was fine. He was right, of course, once I settled into college life I put the weight back on, and then some. Forget the Freshman 15, try the Freshman 25. I got up to almost 120, which for some people isn't a bad weight, but for it was for me. Especially since it was fat. Not muscle, fat.

      I am extremely short and tiny featured, so I am not made to have a lot of extra hanging around. Even just 5pounds shows up on me and stands out like a duck on a peacock farm. Part of this gain was to due to the school's food. I didn't know it at the time but 98% of the food comes from cans and packages, nothing was fresh and being up north made even most of the fruit taste bad. I had never counted calories or paid attention to how much of this or that I was eating, when I had cooked or my mom did, I knew that the food was healthy for me. Nothing was fried, butter was hardly used, low on oils and fat, while high on veggies. Sure, every once in a while something would be "bad" for us, but it was so rare that it didn't matter. Mom, when you read this, THANK YOU! Now, it wasn't only the fault of the school, it was bad choices on my part. Coke was something I never drank at home, maybe once every couple of months when we'd go out to eat or at a friends party, never even weekly. So oh boy! Imagine me when I saw I could have this treat whenever I wanted, in an endless supply! At first I only drank one a day...then I was drinking it with every meal that I ate at the cafeteria. I had no idea how bad it was for my weight, I knew the sugar was bad but I never dreamed it would show its affects so quickly. So throw in bad, processed, high food that I wasn't use to, endless supply of coke, late nights, little sleep, and then tons of stress, and you get a tiny girl who is suddenly not so tiny and super stressed and always tired.

      So after a semester of putting on weight and dealing with a whole new life of living on my own, I was wore out, I was sick and tired of being stressed and feeling gross. So I did something new and scary, I went to the schools gym for the first time. I walked into really fast to scan my ID card and then quickly walked to the very last treadmill that was up against the wall and NOT visible from the giant windows that overlooked the basketball court. I quickly fell in love with running. It was so relaxing and fun, plus the weight started coming off again! Then, that April, I decided to try out for college cheer-leading. I didn't make it, but just barely. I couldn't dance cheer style, I could do all the stunting and was very out going but my dancing was really not near the quality it should have been. But I still tried and did pretty well! Something I would have never dreamed of doing . So, I kept running and really stretching a lot, becoming really flexible again. I was looking great and feeling even better.
Falling down again
      Fast forward to the summer, I needed a place to stay for the summer since the dorms were so expensive to stay in. So I got a job at a summer camp. It was great, I loved all my co-workers, I loved the work, and I loved the kids. But I put on weight again. I was stressed from not being able to see my boyfriend or really even talk to him, since I wasn't allowed to use my cell phone except on my one hour break a day and it was usually when he was sleeping or if I had a day break, it was during his work hours. I was still struggling with issues from my past that made me really insecure at times and needed something to hold on to. So a new job and new people, were great, except for the fact I lost the constant support of the one person that I really needed. So, again, stress and food everywhere. When you have 30 little kids, all wanting to make you s'mores, you can't eat all of them but you are expected to eat a lot of them; every week of summer! Then, the house that the staff stayed in during breaks and the weekends, was always full of food. Junk food, constantly. I was so tired after all the stuff I did with my kids and working, that on my break I'd just grab the nearest "comfort" food and pig out while laying on a couch. Each and every time I'd feel guilty and try to justify that I was getting a good work out constantly with the kids.

Running and Weights
     So, after the summer I had put on a half the weight that I had lost the previous semester. Then, at the beginning of the semester I was recruited to join the track and cross-country team. I was so excited! I loved it! I was able to run as much as I wanted and then some. I threw up every day of my first week of practice, but I loved it. Sadly, due to my job and not being offered a scholarship since I hadn't done official tryouts or ran in highschool, I had to drop it after one semester. I talked to my "coach", not my running coach but the one who over sees the whole gym, about doing strength training and he started me lifting weights.  The first week was easy...the next three of my "pre-training training" was not so easy. I was so sore and could barely sit down let alone stand up, causing much laughter at work when I nearly feel down trying to stand up from a break! I' learned so much about my own strengths though, I had never done a "real" push up before; I didn't even know I could do one. During that first day I had to do almost 30! My self confidence soared with every work out. At first I was really really uncomfortable working out with my little tiny weights around all those big guys with their weights that almost weighted as much as I did and in some cases more than me! Brian noticed this and quickly nipped that in the bud. He let me work out in  his corner where his desk was for the first week but gave me the best advice "Sydney, you cannot let those boys scare you. You are an athlete just like them. Throw your weight around and act like you belong here and they will respect you. Just be confident and relax". I did and now I am so comfortable in the gym that sometimes I just hang out there before and after my workouts. I can joke with the guys, ask questions if I don't understand a certain workout, and even share equipment with them. I've even gotten in "bike races" with a volleyball player. I won of course! ( I think he might have let me though...but we don't know that for certain!)

     I use to be scared to lift weights, I just KNEW that I would turn into an Amazon woman and look gross and manly! While I can throw around some pretty heavy weights, you couldn't tell by looking at me. After 6 months of this you can just now start to see light definition on my arms. As in so light that my coach called it a shadow. Now when I am actually lifting the weights you can see a good amount of tone and muscle but nothing scary or gross! I actually like having a little definition and the boyfriend certainly isn't complaining about the new look!

Not this:
This (hopefully soon!):

Have you struggled with your weight in the past (or Currently)? Do you have a favorite work out? When you first starting going to the gym did the more fit people scare you?

Coming next: Cross-training and Yoga!

Monday, January 24, 2011

That stuff called tofu

When I use to eat meat, I always thought of tofu as "that weird vegetarian stuff", well maybe I was right because now that I am a vegetarian, I eat it!  This is my second time to cook with tofu, the first time I just did a stir-fry and scrambled in some tofu. It wasn't bad but it wasn't great. This time I made a miso-sauced tofu-sandwich. I used a recipe from Vegan Yum Yum written by Lauren Ulm for my starting board. The only thing I really kept the same was the fact I used tofu and miso. My mix had a miso sauce, a little lemon juice, and a touch of soy sauce.

I sliced a whole block of tofu into thin slices (I was cooking for three people after all)
Then I covered it with the sauce, at this point we were drooling and starving

 I popped it in the over at 350 for about 30 minutes, flipping half way through and then because the oven at the school kind of sucks, I had to cook it for an extra 15 minutes to get it as  crispy as I wanted. By the time it was done cooking we were so hungry that I forgot to take pictures of the finished product but oh my my my, it was sooooo good! I am a tofu lover now!

For the side we roasted some yukon gold 'taters and carrots. All we did was chop 'em up and add a little olive oil, a sprinkle of sea salt, rosemary, and a little lemon juice and roasted them for about 40 minutes. I could live off roasted veggies!

Again, we were starved from our long workout so as soon as the food was done, we ran up to our warm room and ate, leaving me with no pictures of the cooked food. Maybe next time though ;)

On a different note, while I was at the grocery, I saw Brussels sprout plants! I had no idea what they looked like! Pretty wild!

So, what is your favorite tofu recipe? Or do you eat tofu even?

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Think you don't have time to make a healthy breakfast?

Think again!

I work every morning at 6:30am, I love breakfast, but I refuse to wake up extra early to make it. So I usually pack up my breakfast the night before, this generally consist of cereal, packets of oatmeal, and fruit. An okay way to start the day but I wanted something cheaper, with less sugar, and more filling. The solution? Night before oatmeal, AKA oatmeal in a jar!

I learned of this over-night miracle from Carrie at Moves 'N Munchies. I've just started reading her blog and am already quickly developing a long list of recipes and ideas, all of which are very healthy and consist of healthy goodness!

How to make this divinity
First thing you do is measure out the oats, I used one fourth of a cup of plain ol' Quaker oats. Next add "milk", I used one half cup of soy milk. Then add your spices! I used cinnamon and a little bit of all spice, you could add whatever you like! Maple syrup, brown sugar, peanut butter, the possibilities are endless! See why this is so amazing?

Before the Fridge 

After the being mircowaved at work
 Then with a crumbled granola bar on top
This stuff was so much better than what I use to make from the packets and just as easy to make, even at 6:30am while the coffee is still brewing! I'm going to start experimenting with making my own protein bars and snacks, maybe those will end up on my oatmeal next! One thing for sure is I am never going back to packets of oatmeal again!

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Here it goes!

Hey everyone! This is my first post here on Not Quite Vegan, so I am going to start by telling you about myself and my reasons for my diet and lifestyle and the road that got me here.

I've experimented with and considered vegetarianism for a long time. I stopped eating red meat and pork in my early teens after learning how bad it was for me. I was a full vegetarian for maybe a month and then started eating chicken and turkey again. I believed that you HAD to have to at least a little meat, of some sort, to be healthy and that there was no way you could never eat meat while still being a strong and healthy person.

A paper can change everything.
      More recently, summer and fall of 2010, I started considering going full vegetarian. For one of my writing classes, I had to write a persuasive research paper. I chose the food industry, little did I know this paper was going to change the way I looked at everything. I had watched Supersize Me the semester before for a health class I was taking; but since I didn't eat fast food or red meat, I didn't pay that close of attention. Then I watched Food Inc. I was horrified by the conditions in which the food I was putting into my body, daily, was being raised. The fact that it was alive at one point had always been in the back of mind but it didn't bother me. I had seen “those videos” growing up and I would swear off meat for a little while from shock but I didn't understand the health reasons for giving up meat or that is was possible to live without it. Then, shortly after thanksgiving, while I was rewriting the same paper for a final project, I decided I wanted to give up meat for good, that I no longer wanted to eat that way. But I wasn't sure where to start or how to go about becoming a veggie. I started scanning the internet for health facts, statistics, recipes and life stories of other vegetarians and vegans. Then over my winter break, I started cooking for myself since the cafeteria was closed. I just wanted to "try" to be vegetarian for one month. I thought by the end of the month I would want to eat a little meat again. Then, after the end of that month, while at my boyfriend's place, he offered me some turkey meat loaf, but I couldn't do it. I didn't even want to try any. That was the exact moment I knew that I could do this and be fine. That was my “aha” moment.

I love it but it doesn’t love me.
      As for the “not quite vegan part”, I do eat eggs but not dairy. I actually LOVE cheese, I ADORE dairy. I NEVER even dreamed of a day I would give up dairy. I've always been lightly lactose-intolerant but I could always eat a little cheese and ice cream, just never could drink straight milk. Then, this summer, I started to notice I was getting sick from every day foods, things I had always eaten. I didn't link it to the dairy right away; in fact it took me almost 3 months to realize what it was. I began cutting out all dairy and nuts. Both of which I was eating daily. Then I added back the nuts after three weeks but I stayed off dairy, I was feeling so much better. My stomach was no longer in knots all day, I had more energy, I slept better, even my skin was clearer. That was all it took to leave dairy behind for good. Besides, who wants all the hormones that are passed to us from cow’s milk anyways? A quote that I found while I was researching dairy free cooking is “Cutting bovine mammary secretions out of your diet is surprisingly easy and satisfying.” I wish I knew who said it but I cannot remember for the life of me. I never thought I would become 100% dairy free or enjoy a life without “bovine mammary secretions” but I have and I love it!

      I still eat eggs and honey though. While I don't cook with eggs often, if something has egg in it or eggs are available I will eat it. As for honey, I don't consider honey to be non-vegan. I know a lot of people do but bees are not harmed in the making of honey. They make tons of honey and they do nothing else. So, for me personally, I don't mind the use of honey.

So why write about food?
      I want to share my experiences as a vegetarian and my almost vegan lifestyle. Also, as a college student who is short on cash and always busy I want to help other college students, or those who are busy and want to save time and money. I have found you can eat healthy on a budget, even when busy, feel good about the food you eat, and enjoy your meals. Now it is time to reach out and educate others. That is the purpose and goal for this blog. I will share vegetarianism and vegan-ism with everyone and open their eyes to this life; also to help my fellow veggies and vegans with their journeys and learn from them. Come along with me on this journey; there is no point of trying to make the world a better place alone.