7 Reasons I Became a “Flexi” Vegan

 

Many people are familiar with the term “Flexitarian”, a Flexitarian diet or a semi-It's a Wrap!vegetarian diet is mostly plant based with the occasional inclusion of meat. I have decided to be a “Part Time Vegan”, which I guess you could say is a Flexitarian as well being that I occasionally include meat, but I still don’t consume other animal products such as eggs and dairy. These are the 7 reasons you should be a Vegan Flexitarian.
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  1. Recipe Creativity

Since I won’t be able to “cheat” with foods like bacon and cheese to create delicious recipes I have to get creative with my meals. Some of my favorite ingredients to include in my vegan meals are avocados, quinoa, black beans, kale, mushrooms, tofu, chickpeas, and sweet potatoes. I used these foods in my cooking before but even more so that I am focusing on vegan cooking. Mushrooms are a great meat substitute being that they give a dish a heartiness like meat does. Avocado often takes the place of creamy dairy products like yogurt, sour cream, and cheese. Black beans, tofu, chickpeas, and quinoa are very good sources of protein in a meatless diet. Almost nothing beats oven baked crispy chickpeas or tofu in a dish, well almost nothing except bacon, but I’m not going there. I’m constantly searching Pinterest for interesting ingredients that get me excited about preparing and enjoying meals even without meat.

2. Limiting Hormones and Other Chemicals

If you enjoy eating meat, fast food, and processed food I am warning you, DO NOT watch “Food Inc.” I saw it on Netflix and as a health and fitness professional I felt obligated to see what information the popular documentary had to offer. I’m not sure if I am happy that I know or that I am mad that it ruined food for me. Conventional foods are pumped with all kinds of chemicals to keep up with the consumer’s demands. First its the growth hormones, that give us chicken breast the size of footballs. Then the antibiotics, that may be causing bacteria to become resilient and end modern medicine as we know it. Then its the overall harmful and unsanitary treatment of the animals. I saw cows that had feces matted in its fur, from being packed in factories rather than rooming in a field. This also reminded by of slaves packed on ships during the middle passage.  I used to believe that it didn’t matter since they were going to the slaughter house, but it does matter. The harmful treatment passes down to us at our dinner tables. Not to mention the abuse that is done to the humans that must work in these environments. I hate to be that person preaching about bad meat is. I’m not going off it totally hence the “flex” part, but a drastic decrease was necessary for me.

3. Weight Loss

Eating vegan does not necessarily mean you will lose weight. I mean french fries and oreos are vegan. But a clean vegan diet, will definitely help. Animal based proteins typically come with higher saturated fat and calories, so if I’m swapping out things like fried chicken, hamburgers, and steak, for quinoa, tofu, and beans typically that will cause a calorie deficit and therefore weight loss. I do have to be careful, because with the saturated fats I lose with animal proteins, comes the “healthy” fats with plant based proteins. Nuts, seeds, and avocados while full of healthy unsaturated fats still pack a lot of calories. I find myself leaning on avocado because I love it so much and it satisfies a lot of calories, so I have to still use portion control. Even fruits can be a gamble because while its natural sugar, certain fruits like bananas, grapes, watermelon, and pineapple have a lot of fruit. So while a vegan plant based diet will hopefully help me reach me weight loss goals. I still have to make sure I am eating clean and using portion control.

4. More Nutrients

Eating a diet that focuses on real plant based products, rather than a lot of processed junk will ensure that I am consuming an abundance of nutrients. Because I am eating fruit and vegetables with every meal, because they are the focus of most of my meals I am guaranteed to reach my vitamin and mineral needs. A clean vegan diet includes pretty much all nutrient dense foods.

5. Cheaper

Meat is expensive. It is the largest part of my grocery bill, and while I am not dragging my husband and son into this, just the reduction of meat on my part will help us reduce our grocery bill. I would probably spend $50 a month on chicken breast alone. I used them so much; in salads or wraps for lunch as well as main courses for dinner. Now I only need to purchase meat for my husbands lunch and dinner. Although my son rarely eats meat anyways, he’s pretty much a vegetarian himself just my being a picky toddler. I live off of chickpeas and black beans when it comes to lunch and whether in the can or dried variety they are a fraction of the cost of meat.

6. Allergies

Many people have allergies to dairy products. I have done some research that suggest that humans should not even being consuming cow’s milk. We are the only species that consumes milk from other animals. This milk, like a human mother’s breast milk ,

 

was meant for their young. I wish I could say the decision I made was based solely on this, be I’m not that righteous.  A few months ago I discovered I was allergic to a few foods including milk and eggs. So minus the meat I was vegan already. When I first learned of this I thought I’d rather be allergic to meat that milk, but I’ve decided to turn this into an opportunity for self improvement.

7. I still like meat

This reason is geared towards the “part time” , “flexi”, and “semi” part. If animal protein are so bad, why not cut them out completely. Because I’m a foodie and I love all food, including and especially meat. I have always been a meat eater, but the grown up wiser me is making better decisions for my well being. I thought maybe I’ll stick with just seafood from time to time. But that just isn’t realistic for me. I enjoy eating a good medium rare steak, and will eat a pack of pepperoni myself, and bacon, don’t get me started on bacon. But I know these things aren’t good for me to be eating in excess, so I’ve decided to drastically reduce, not eliminate my consumption of meat.

This is why I’ve chosen the semi, part time, or flexivegan (whatever you want to call it) diet. I will always stand firm that moderation is key. I never, say never, when it comes to food. But I am making better decisions that will hopefully be worth the sacrifice in the long run.

Leading for Self-Improvement

I previously discussed how disappointed I am with my weight loss progress. I had lost 50 pounds of the weight I gained from pregnancy. This brought me back to the heavier end of my pre-baby weight. I was feeling good about myself and encouraged to keep the momentum going in order to lose an additional 20 pounds to reach my goal weight. But, then I hit a wall. I found myself unable to continue my gym membership, thus unable to workout 1.5-2 hours that was critical to achieve the initial weight loss success. I wasn’t working out and I was also over eating. I found out around Christmas that I was allergic to wheat, eggs, dairy, and peanuts. My diet consisted in a combination of over compensating with what I could eat and just ignoring my allergies all together, rebelling and eating any and everything in sight. 3 months later and I am looking at a 15 pound weight gain. I identified my decrease in exercise as a catalyst for everything, so I wanted to tackle that problem.

Not being able to go to a gym and exercise is just an excuse for me. I have too many resources and too much knowledge about fitness. I am a Physical and Health Education teacher for crying out loud! I have to walk the talk and be a good example for my students, peers, and family. This is my passion and my calling in life. So I have to put in the work necessary to lead the masses. So how can I get over my own personal issues for the greater good? I decided to use my passion to motivate me. I am a very competitive person, which is what made the group exercise classes such a great thing for me. I took pride in being at the front of the class trying to out do or stay up to par with the instructor. Now that I don’t have my membership the only way to bring that same spirit would be to lead my own workouts.

Some colleagues of mine expressed that they wanted to lose weight by running the stairs in our school. I had previously brushed it off because I had my own workout regimen that was working for me. I decided that I would not only join in on their activities, but I would also invite them to some activities of my own. Another reason I did not reason jump at the opportunity to workout with them was because I didn’t believe what they were planning to do was effective. Of course doing stairs is better than nothing, but it wasn’t a very comprehensive exercise. They would not being running up and down stairs long enough to build any considerable amount of cardiovascular endurance and it would be focusing on building lower body strength. I didn’t want to rain on their parade so I just avoided the topic. Now that I am planning workouts in addition to theirs, I can give some advice and ideas without being condescending.

Previously I occasionally led Zumba Fitness classes, but it didn’t really take off. I wasn’t able to be consistent with my demanding athletic schedule and everybody did not like Zumba and dancing. Now I am planning on alternating between circuit training, weight lifting, running, HIIT (high intensity interval training), Dance Fitness (I can’t call it Zumba anymore because I am no longer licensed), and Yoga. I will lead workouts Tuesday and Thursday and alternate between the different types of workouts each week. As the instructor this will push me to do my best and be consistent for my group. When I workout on my own its hard for me to push myself without any competition so the intensity of my home workouts tend to be very low. I hope to lead by example; spreading the importance of fitness, introducing others to some new exercise ideas and concepts, and intensifying my own weight loss efforts. Plus, I gots to have a really hot body to pull off a lot of female Cosplay ideas.

jogging

 

Weight Loss Woes

One of the major topics of my blog is healthy living. And for many, like me, the journey towards a healthy life includes losing weight. Weight loss is probably one ofID-10019615 the most influential aspects of being healthy if you are within the overweight and obese range. I have historically fluctuated between being on the high end of overweight and the low end of obese. Since having my son 2 years ago I have been obese according to my BMI. My weight loss happened steadily while breastfeeding and then I hit a plateau after my body wasn’t naturally burning those calories from producing milk for my son. After I stopped breastfeeding I started a more rigorous schedule of exercises and a stricter eating plan. I don’t use the word diet, because I always attempt to make lifestyle changes according to my goals. Diets to me are gimmicks that people start and stop and generally the results are temporary.  So I reduced my caloric intake and the pounds started coming off again. I was getting very close to my pre-baby weight. And then life happened. Stressors from work, increased financial difficulty, and along with the already present demands of raising a toddler caused my current success to come to a halt.

This past year we started my 2 year old in daycare. We appreciated him getting more social time, and us not having to follow him around 24/7, but it came at a cost of $113 a week. The cost along with the time cause me to cancel my YMCA membership. My workout schedule included Zumba, Yoga, Body Pump, and a HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) class. I’d go to 2 classes a day, meaning I was working out 2 hrs each day. These classes were typically at 6 & 7 pm. By the time I got home it was after 8 o’ clock, and I’d get my son in bed by 9pm. When my husband was a stay at home dad that wasn’t an issue, as they’d just wake up whenever they felt like. But know that our son had to wake up at 6:30 for daycare, that was an issue. I attempted to selfish route, meaning he’d adjust to less sleep and nap longer. But after a week of having a hysterical baby at night, I decided to go with my sons best interest which was bed by 7, meaning I could not make it to my classes. Our apartment complex has a fitness room with medicine balls, a universal weight machine, elliptical, and treadmill. Given that I get all these resources for free I thought it would be silly to keep he gym membership without being able to attend the classes. So I cancelled my membership and said I would continue working out using the fitness center at my apartment complex. For the first 3 weeks that didn’t happen. I came home, made and ate dinner, put my son to bed, and often passed out myself.

The changes that had occurred in my life also had a toll on my eating habits. I began drinking wine each night, buying cakes, cookies, and ice cream to eat at nights. Any snack left in the workroom a school stood no chance if I saw them. I was out of control. I didn’t know what to do about it. I used to have so much will power. I college I’d go in the “caf” with my friends, watch them go through the pizza, burger, and ice cream stations, while I ate my salad or other health options available that day. While talking to one of my colleagues, she said it’s because you feel a sense of entitlement. When I walk through the break room after a tough class and see some leftover cookies from a church even I think “I’ve earned, this treat, I deserve this.” And that’s often times the exact thing that has crossed my mind. I often say that I believe in “all things in moderation”, but at this point there was no moderation, it was just an all out free for all. I’d seen almost 15 of the 50 pounds I lost over the past 2 years come back in 2 months. That’s when I decided I had to make some changes.

I decided to make a realistic exercise and eating plan. I could no longer rely on 2 hour hardcore workouts per day to offset the calories I consume. I know that I don’t push myself while working out independently the same way I do while in the front of a class with 10-20 other people. So I decided to start working out before I leave school with a couple other colleagues so we can motivate each other as well as get the workout done before I go home so whether I accidentally pass out or not, I’ll be Ok. I also decided that I’d allow myself a cheat meal on the weekends. That way I can pass everything up during the week knowing I’ll get a treat later. I’ve thought of a couple of rewards for myself (no food) if I reach certain goals. These rewards would included getting my nails done, new piercings and tattoos, and new clothes or shoes to show off my transformed body.

One of the major things I’ve been working on is trying to be happy and comfortable with where I am now. I may not have the time or energy to put in the strenuous workouts that would get the results I want as fast as I want. But I can take baby steps and get there in due time. This past week was the start of my new expectations and goals for myself. I can say that I was a lot more successful that I’d been before, although I still wasn’t perfect. But I will celebrate my successes. I pasted up cinnamon rolls left in the work room Monday. I worked out 4 days this past week. Even one day I did not workout before leaving school since everybody else in my group had other requirements, that same day I passed out at 8pm until 11. But I woke up at 11 and did a circuit of 40 jump and jacks, 30 crunches, 20 squats, and 10 push ups 5 times. I decided that would be my go to workout if I didn’t do anything else. Hopefully when I weight myself at school I’ll see some progress on the scale. If not at least I’m going in the right direction, and can make further adjustments to get my weight loss going again.

 

Chocolate Protein Shake

11282689_1656925587859863_1578550085_nThis is one of my go to’s. I’ll drink it as a snack, breakfast, or post workout small meal. This chocolate shake is great because it has protein and curbs my sweet tooth cravings. I have a vegan alternative recipe I use now because of my milk allergy and a regular that I’ll make for my husband. This was another one of the things I make for him a night when he has a “hankerlin” for something sweet. I add greens to it like spinach or kale. I told my husband and he said he could tell, but it still tasted good.

Vegan

  • frozen banana
  • almond milk
  • chia seeds
  • almond butter
  • quinoa
  • ground flax seeds
  • vanilla extract
  • cocoa powder]
  • leafty green like kale or spinach

Non-Vegan

  • frozen banana
  • vanilla protein powder
  • peanut butter
  • cocoa powder
  • skim milk
  • leafy green like kale or spinach

For the vegan version, before hand I put the chia seeds, quinoa, and flax seeds in a coffee grinder and make into a finer, powdery like substance. Put all ingredients into a blender, and blend until smooth. Add more milk if smoothie is too thick. I hope this brings you as much join as it brings me.

Fit Bit or Nah?

5323977667_3b7f591e8d_o (1)I apologize for being M.I.A. the past couple of days. I went out of town to visit back home, which is a 4 hour drive for us. Its always enjoyable to see family and friends, but when there isn’t a holiday or an extended weekend it takes a lot out of me. I attempted to post last night before bed, but decided against it. If I had, there’s no telling what I would have typed up in my half comatose state. Since beginning my quest for healthy living I’m always trying to find the right tool or practice that will keep me motivated. Whether its been doing the free online weight watchers on and off or the MyFitnessPal app.  This year I gave some very subtle hints (by that I mean not subtle at all) that I wanted a Fit Bit Charge for Christmas. Low and behold, that’s exactly what I got. I was more excited than our 21 month old on Christmas day, which isn’t actually saying much because he had not quite grasped the concept of the day yet. I hastily, opened the box and began fiddling with it. I installed the app, put all my information in, and linked it with my MyFitnessPal app. I was ready to go out and concur weight loss.

For a couple of weeks it was bliss. I’d enter my workouts and on a day I was teaching PE I’d already have a 300 calorie exercise credit on my account by lunch. Then I’d go do my actual workout and have even more. I’d occasionally check a forum or put in a search for a problem, such as how to turn on the call notifications. I really like that feature, because while I was at work I could check phone calls just in case of an emergency call from my husband or daycare without taking my phone out in front of students. Once I found that answer to my question, I would read on to see what others thought of the product. It actually had some pretty mixed reviews. I wasn’t prepared to see this. I thought having a fit bit put me up there with serious fitness addicts, that it was the golden standard. I also started wondering if I should have waited to be able to afford the Fit Bit Surge or a Samsung Galaxy smartwatch. The smartwatches incorporate more than just fitness, it kind of a less than pocket sized computer. I knew could not get a new watch because it would be like telling my husband I didn’t want his Christmas Gift.

Another issue that I was having, was not losing weight. I wondered if the numbers from the fit bit were accurate. Whether they were accurate or not, the Fit Bit kind of indirectly encouraged me to overeat. I’d have like 1000 extra calories by the end of the day. That would then make me decided “Oh, I can have a couple of cookies.” Then I couple of cookies turn into an entire sleeve and my 1000 calorie surplus turns into a 300 calorie deficit. So, while the Fit Bit encourages me to increase my activity level, it also encourages binge eating, for me. Has anybody else experienced this dilemma? So I’m having to make a decision. Do I not eat to make up for the extra calories and just lose weight quicker? If I do that will having 1000+ calories extra put my body in starvation mode meaning that I could end up gaining weight? I feel as a health and fitness expert of sorts, I should have everything figured out. But even people who went to college for this, like myself, don’t have all the answers.

My decision at this point is to be smarter about my choices. I know that I can’t just eat 2 cookies, so if I have a huge calorie surplus eat something healthy to feel those calories, like a smoothie with almond butter. The healthy fat will give enough calories but not encourage binge eating. I can also “bank” those calories for the weekend when I know I’ll being eating more and getting less activity from not walking around at work all day and eating out while running errands. As far as wanted another device, I’ve decided to use my Fit Bit, because that’s what I wanted and I do enjoy it. When it breaks, or becomes VERY obsolete I’ll replace it with my upgrade at that point. So I guess I do have some of the answers. Now I just have to use my common sense and will power to follow through.