Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Results of the Challenge

I lost a total of 4 pounds over the three week period.  I am certain that I converted some fat weight to muscle weight during this time, because I was exercising every day.  I lost 1.25" around my waist and the same amount around my hips.  I'm really happy with that accomplishment!  I can feel the difference in my clothing, and that is what matters most!

Starting out, I knew I could complete a 21-day vegan eating and exercise challenge. I assumed it would be much more difficult than it actually was. Time flew by, and I had a good time with it. At the beginning, I thought I would really miss cheese. That did not turn out to be the case after the first few days.

The positive changes I have noticed about myself or those which have been pointed out to me are no small things.  I hit a patch of adult acne a while back, and that is completely gone.  I am more energetic, even though I have not been drinking coffee. My digestive system is regulated for the first time in I don't know how long.  I have many more good mood days than bad mood days. I actually FEEL lighter.

Here are the top five things I learned:
1.  I can eat vegan foods without inconveniencing or causing stress to others.  *This is the main realization I had over the past three weeks.
2.  I can and should exercise more than 2-3 times per week. Seven days a week is a bit much, but 5-6 days a week is completely doable.
3.  Life goes on without cheese.
4.  There are a TON of amazing vegan recipes out there I still need to try. I will never run out.
5.  I really enjoy reading and learning about health and plant-based nutrition. I used to ignore these two very important subjects, but they are now at the top of my reading list.

I would have extended this challenge another week, but my original plan was to give myself just a three week break from studying accounting.  This challenge provided the perfect distraction to fill up my time off from studying.  I feel rested, rejuvenated and ready to get back to it.

Even though I am not going to blog on a daily basis, this is just the beginning of a new chapter of healthy eating and exercise in my life.  It feels great to be moving in a positive direction. I will continue this blog on a casual basis. I am not a chef, but I stumble upon some great recipes.  I will post easy vegan/vegetarian meal ideas from time-to-time, and see where this adventure leads me.

Thank you to anyone who took the time to read my story.


Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Day #21

Day #21 was the last day of my vegan challenge and the last day of my vacation.  I woke up in the morning feeling a little sad about that, but the day was quickly turned around.

The dog and I took a 2.5 mile walk, first thing in the morning.  It was warmer on day #21, and turned out to be the prettiest morning of them all.

We all headed out to breakfast together to the same restaurant we visited on day #19.  I had basically the same breakfast, but added some home fries with onions, because I was really hungry.

We intended to head home right after breakfast, but extended our stay a bit by visiting a really cool shop full of artwork created from reused materials.  After that, we extended our stay even longer to head out with our friend to spend some time on our new skateboards.  We were out there for more than an hour.  I'm glad we took that time to practice, because I got extra exercise and my confidence on the board got a little better than it was the day before.

When we got back to pack up our stuff, I ate a quick bowl of the leftover Pad Thai to tide me over until dinner.

It had been a few days since we had a big bowl of salad, so my roommate decided to make a fresh new salad for dinner.

My husband and I grilled corn on the cob and Field Roast Frankfurters to go with the salad.  This was our first corn of the season, and it did not disappoint!

How do I feel after Day #21?

It's over?!??  Already??

Day #20

Day #20 started with a 3-mile walk on the beach with the dog.  It was a bright and beautiful morning.  Three miles goes flying by when you are breathing fresh sea air and basking in the morning sun.

I was not sure what the breakfast plans would be, so I had a granola bar and a banana after my walk.

Later in the morning, one of my friends decided to make bagel sandwiches for everyone.  He specifically picked up some Vegan Gourmet cream cheese for my bagel, which was a really cool gesture.  I had an everything bagel with vegan cream cheese, fresh avocado and tomato.  It was really good!  I'm going to take that idea and make it at home, sometime.

This came dangerously close to being eaten up
before I remembered to take a pic!
For dinner, we ordered from the best Thai restaurant I have found so far.  I got spicy veggie pad thai, and asked them to hold the egg.  The person taking our order said they do not use egg in their pad thai, but some restaurants do.  I figured it was better to be safe than sorry.

My husband and I splurged a little and got new skateboards.  I got some extra exercise on day #20 going up and down the street attempting to learn to stand up and move more than .5 miles per hour on my new long board.  I always thought it looked much easier than it is.  I learned you can really work up a sweat on one of those things.  You can also have a great time!

Mine is the one on the right!
How do I feel after Day #20?

Happy!  And, really tired!

Day #19

When we spend time at the beach, the dog demands an early morning visit to the ocean.  She is normally up and impatiently waiting to go out there around 8:30 a.m.  Exercise on day #19 was a 3 mile walk/run on the beach with the hubby and the dog.  It was a little chilly, but definitely a beautiful morning!

They are faster than me!
Once the whole crew was up and moving around, we headed out to our favorite local breakfast joint.  I had dry rye toast, fresh strawberries and a cup of coffee.

We ate breakfast kind of late, and headed out to the beach.  We didn't have an official lunch.  Once we got back from the beach, the whole crew agreed on pizza for dinner.  We tend to get it at least one time when we visit the beach, so I had packed some hummus, basil and sun-dried tomatoes to make a wrap.  I had that with a side of salad for dinner.

How do I feel after Day #19?

Drained from the sun, but totally relaxed.  It is vacation, after all!

Day #18

I started packing for my weekend trip on the morning of day #18.  I decided to get into the swim suit and board short graveyard/drawer to see what all I had in there.  I found a pair of shorts and a couple of suits I used to really like.  I haven't worn them for the past two summers, because... well... they didn't fit! This year, I'm bringing them back from retirement.  It may only be a small accomplishment, but for me it was an amazing way to start the day.

My husband offered to make me one of his now famous (to me, at least) morning energy smoothies.  I didn't take a picture, but it looked pretty much like the pics I've posted on other days.  This one tasted really yummy.  He's got morning energy smoothie making down to a science!

For lunch, I brought a bowl of the weekend salad and a coconut "yogurt".  My go-to lunch is a good one.  I enjoy it.

For dinner, my friends/family and I decided to head out to a Mexican restaurant.  In looking at the menu, there was nothing "vegan" listed other than chips and salsa and fresh guacamole.  We ordered the fresh guac, and enjoyed every minute of it.

One of my friends just recently returned from a trip to Mexico with a vegan.  He shared how his travel buddy had no issues finding something to eat during their vacation.  Often times, she would use a tortilla and some re-fried beans, then add whatever else was fresh and top it all with a squeeze of lime.

I decided to try this idea out, and was pleasantly surprised. The squeeze of lime was key to taking a somewhat bland tasting taco and kicking it up a notch. My husband had been trying to explain to me that I can come up with my own meal, rather than following a menu exactly.  For some reason, it didn't click before this dinner.  I thoroughly enjoyed a dinner that was not even listed on the menu.  I actually enjoyed it more than some other times I have eaten at the exact same restaurant.

You can't SEE the lime, but it made this "taco" amazing!
It is freeing when your mind opens up a bit and you start seeing what is outside of your normal little box.

With all of the packing and traveling, I almost missed exercising on day #18. We didn't make it out to the beach with the dogs until around 10:30 p.m!  The important part is that we DID make it out there.  We walked 2 miles on a beautiful moonlit beach.  The moon was so bright, that it actually felt like dusk out there.  I tried to take a picture, but am in serious need of a camera upgrade.  Here's the best shot I got:

How do I feel after Day #18?

I was really affected by the fact that I loved my dinner in a place where I thought I could find almost nothing to eat.  One of my biggest concerns about changing my diet was the stress or pressure I might cause myself or others about what I am "allowed" to eat.  A huge shift in thinking happened on day #18 when I finally realized that I was causing this stress and pressure myself.  I can find something to eat anywhere I go.  It may just take a little creativity sometimes!

Friday, May 24, 2013

Day #17

We stayed up kind of late on day #16, so I decided to start day #17 with an energy packed smoothie.  This one consisted of banana, dark chocolate almond milk, kale, hemp protein, maca powder, chia seeds, wheat grass powder, flax seed oil, green tea extract and some ice.

It tasted better than it looked.  Seriously!

For lunch, I packed leftovers from our day #16 dinner.  A couple of people in the office popped their heads in the kitchen to find out what smelled so good when I was preparing my plate.

Right after work, I made a big fresh salad to take along on our Memorial Day weekend mini vacation.  I found out last time we took a trip that my salad bowl fits perfectly into one of our coolers with just enough room for ice around the edges to keep it cool.  Packing a salad saves money, and gives us something healthy to munch on during our trip.

It was Thursday night, ladies night of exercise at the park. This time I only met one friend there, and we ran a relatively quick three miles together.  I felt exhausted from the 5 mile walk/run from day #16, so this run felt easier for the first mile or so. Then, it got progressively harder toward the end.  My body is definitely ready for a day or two off of exercise.

When I got home from the park, my husband offered to make me dinner.  I was so relieved, because I really didn't feel like making anything!  He made me two Gardein Sliders with sauteed onions and a slice of tomato on each.  I added some of the weekend salad to my plate and had a great dinner.

I used the last bit of energy I had for the day to try another recipe from the PCRM kickstart plan.  I made the White Bean Hummus with fresh Thyme and Basil to take along on our weekend trip.

This was supposed to be for lunch on day #4, but I obviously strayed completely away from the plan before then.  I have made mental notes of several recipes I do want to try, but it will take me way more than 21 days to find the time to actually cook them all!

I tasted the hummus.  It is really great!  I can't wait to share.

How do I feel after Day #17?

Really tired.  I pushed hard this week on the exercise.  I am really excited to be heading to the beach this weekend.  I will cross the 21-day exercise finish line with some long, healing walks with my pup in the sand.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Day #16

I decided to postpone the exercise until after work on day #16 so I could stay in bed a little while longer.  It's not that I couldn't get up, I was just really comfortable.  My body is tired for 15 days of exercise in a row!

For breakfast, I ate a simple bowl of cereal with almond milk.  I know it was not a chef-inspired meal, but it did the trick.

For lunch, I brought the leftover burrito from my day #15 dinner.  It was just as good the second time around.  If I had more I would eat it a third time!

Look how huge that thing was!  It filled the whole plate!  That was less than half of the meal that was served to me the night before. I may have overate a bit, but it was definitely worth it.

The dog and I have successfully made it through a couple of 3 mile runs.  It was really hot outside, so I thought we would take it easy and walk 3 miles rather than running.  Once we got out there, I thought I would add a little distance to our walk.  Unfortunately, my little companion decided it was too hot and stopped walking just short of 3 miles.  She got into the shade and laid down and just looked at me.  I had to call my husband to come get her.  Mental note:  only take dobe on long walks in the early morning during the summer!

Instead of riding home with the family, I decided to keep going.  I switched gears and decided to see how far I could jog after my 3-mile walk.  I made it two more miles!  It may have been a combination of walking and running, but I can't believe I made it five miles!  It's been a long time since I went that far.

For dinner, our roommate made some fajitas.  He used the regular fajita veggies and spices, but added a hint of Asian to the mix with sesame oil, soy sauce, rice vinegar and thai chili paste.  We wrapped them up in burrito shells, and had rice and black beans on the side. It was an interesting and different meal.  Thank goodness I have leftovers for day #17 lunch!

How do I feel after Day #16?

Really excited to have traveled 5 miles on my own two feet.  It will only get better from here.