I am happiest as lactic veg, for spiritual reasons & other. I am redesign ing my existence in
This title came to me randomly although I scarcely can put into words the meaning. Perhaps it’s something like this: How do we keep ourselves afloat despite events in life that could weigh us down? What do we do when the bear traps of obstacles and the everyday catastrophic little details get in the way of our overall state of mind and wellness? Is the answer in the “power of positivism?” Is the answer in some self-help mantra? Is the answer to eat more live, gluten-free cleansing, non-processed foods? Is the answer in meditation? Is the answer in exercise? Is the answer in prayer? Is the answer in going to organized religious functions? Is the answer in increased effort? Is the answer in mindfulness? Is the answer in Zen? Does one person have the power to inform the rest of the population of an answer that will work for 99.9% of those who care to listen?
All I can say is that in overcoming obstacles, in having “distress tolerance”, clarity, presence of mind, in having the ability to accept life’s challenges and find a way to work with the roadblocks in front of is, there is no universal answer that I have ever encountered. This is just my personal truth.
There may be a gentle reader out there, waving your arms and shaking your head, thinking to yourself, “How dare she say this in a blog about motivation? She’s supposed to tell us it’s all about good nutrition and good fitness! She’s supposed to give us the answers!”
I will tell you this, as far as I’ve learned it, and I’m still learning. The things that work for me (and I’m still finding them, since I’m not all the way at my goal in terms of health or anything I’ve tried to accomplish yet — it’s a journey in progress) may not be the things that work for you or anyone else you know. Health and fitness are personal relationships with our own bodies, minds and other processes. The issue of diet and nutrition alone is ripe with controversy. The issue of how to meet various specialized health concerns like diabetes or high cholesterol — these are important, and yes, there are guidelines that health educators often quote to the masses. However, the actual plans once put into action will not appear the same for any two people. What works for me will not necessarily work for you. We are unique. That is the challenge and the beauty of life.
Maybe instead of looking for a one-size-fits-all solution, we could look to the inherent beauty in overcoming our personal struggles and sharing the results with those who are supportive. We can share joys and accomplishments without the need for jealousy or knocks in self-esteem. After all, self worth is bestowed from within, not from others. This is the core of wellness in my opinion. And uniqueness is essential, too.
Nutrient density in most precise terms means that a food will contain a high level of micro-nutrients (vitamins and minerals) relative to its specific amount of calories per serving. The concept is discussed at length in the book by Joel Fuhrman called Eat to Live. The author suggests a diet rich in nutrients leaving out substances that in his view pose great risk factors for disease, utilizing whole natural foods in specified quantities, focusing on especially fresh fruits and vegetables with high levels of fiber overall from these as well as beans, raw nuts, seeds, a small amount of tofu or other soy, a very small daily intake of fats from oils and the like, and as little possible animal products (he says if one does not wish to completely abstain, then they can be included at certain intervals but not every day; the book is not specifically about veganism).
This is the foundation of my approach to how I try to eat when I eat at my best. So far, I haven’t done it long enough or with the best vigilance to obtain the results I would like. Something holds me back, probably lack of drive or emotional ties to certain foods. Some foods are just related to emotion, and yes, pleasure in eating has a place in healthy nutrition. In fact, I enjoy whole, natural foods very much. I just tend to fall back on some types of foods more than even a little bit. I tend to go overboard and not come back to center for a long time. This has been an obstacle.
When I eat the way I want to ideally eat, I feel so much better at the end of the day. Today I did it for the most part, and I’ve been on track since last night at dinner time. I love it. I don’t feel any cravings at the ends of the day. I don’t feel the need to overeat. I feel satisfied. I feel like I’m doing something good for myself. It’s a great way to break food addictions and emotional ties to unhealthy eating habits, at least for me. It’s also an overall lifestyle choice that I would prefer.
It doesn’t have to be boring when I get creative. Lots of times I am just inclined to keep things simple, like today I had a tofu scramble with lots of veggies that I shared with my husband while he was over. I blanched some green beans that had been cut into small pieces and sliced lengthwise along with some chopped white button mushrooms. I cooked baby spinach with heirloom tomatoes in the skillet with some scrambled tofu that had been seasoned with low sodium soy sauce, cumin, turmeric, paprika, Mrs. Dash herb/onion blend, maybe something else I forget. It was cooked in olive oil, just a small amount. I threw the blanched vegetables in just for a small amount. The blanching gave the green beans a bright color. They are not cooked until the life is completely out of them.
I had a smoothie for lunch (mentioned in the Food Clues section). For dinner, I had some lentils with some more vegetables. I still have more. It’s extremely filling, and I can’t eat much more today.
I didn’t have any snacks nor feel the need.
I feel clean and fresh when I eat this way. I don’t feel weighed down. It feels good to get the nutrition my body needs, provide it with the best possible fuel of fresh food the way Mother Nature has already packed it for us.
I’m not completely giving up some things that I love — pasta, potatoes. I’m just having more variety. I’m going to practice moderation with the starches. They are not off limits (just had in moderation), and really there don’t need to be off limits foods necessarily. I choose a vegetarian, mostly vegan diet out of other reasons that I feel deeply about besides nutrition.
I am happy about this. I really am. There are other areas of my life in limbo, but this is one that I can control. It’s also one that will improve certain other areas of my life in the process, my health in terms of all areas — mental, physical, spiritual, emotional, psychological — everything. It’s all a part of me, and it all needs attention. I can’t neglect anything or the whole thing falls apart.
I made a lot of plans about a day and a half ago regarding meal planning, exercise, etc. I will confess these plans went out to window at a certain point when I had a certain tragedy where I lost a large number of personal items in my purse as I was riding the public bus (my main mode of transportation).
I had run into a former neighbor of mine who was feeling the need to be her usual meddlesome self (no rudeness meant here my me, but most those who know her would agree). I got almost suckered into all of it right before I got off the bus only to notice I had literally walked off with my art case (I was going to my art group, something I planned to do instead of volunteer that day — perhaps this was my error. Who knows?) and with my white hoodie but without my purse. I tried to run after the small bus, but I was wearing big clunky clogs and besides which the bus was already down the street and wouldn’t see me. I got to the office of the place where I was going where I used a phone to call the bus company. They got ahold of the driver of that line but said no one had reported a purse found. They said to call back in the morning, but I knew they were not open on Saturdays. I called anyway, but it was no use. To avoid credit fraud, I had my cards cancelled, but there were a lot of other things in there — some irreplaceable, such as one small pink mole book (a specific type of journal) that I had recently purchased, some checkbooks, my keys (semi-replaceable), my cell phone (replaceable but the data on the phone is not), cash, you know the usual purse that contains someone’s whole life.
I was so frustrated with myself for this. I fell back into some unhealthy eating patterns. I used to have an old habit of using too much butter-like spread on things (I use Earth Balance, a vegan butter substitute). Saturday (technically yesterday, since I’m writing either late at night or early morning, however you look at it) I went with my husband and his friends and got a Burger King veggie burger as well as paying for everyone else’s meal. It wasn’t very expensive. I haven’t been tracking well, but I’m certain it was high in calories. Also, the thing includes cheese and they ignored my request of no mayonnaise. I had slight indigestion afterward so I lay down at my husband’s house when I got there. Later, when I ate dinner there (at my husband’s living situation, there is a community dining situation where they provide dinners), they were serving hamburgers and chili dogs. I naturally do not eat meat, but I improvised with a cheese sandwich on the hamburger buns. High calories and I did have the fries (from frozen probably baked, though) with ketchup on the fries, Kern’s horchata to drink (love horchata so it’s hard for me to resist even though it has sugar) and a side of seasoned cauliflower and broccoli (most healthy part of the meal besides some fresh fruit I had before — watermelon and cantaloupe).
I noticed a fluctuation in an upward direction as far as weight at the end of the day, but there are natural fluctuations all the time. Really, it is best to find a particular time of day to always weigh as well as probably just once a week unless someone is able to weigh more often without having any particular self esteem issues related to the fluctuations. I haven’t quite gotten to this point yet, something that is important to admit. I think I should have a weighing date and stick to that for my own sanity.
I have become derailed somewhat this week, though. I can see it. My eating patterns are just not what I would prefer. The nutrient density was not ideal in my opinion.
The night before (on Friday night), I made some 7 grain Kashi rice pilaf that I picked up at a local market that has a lot of variety. The box goes a really long way. There are separately packed packets within the box as well. The pilaf is without flavoring, so you add your own seasonings, veggies or whatever else. The serving suggestions are as a base to stir fries, stuffings or even dessert. Initially, when I first got this product, I used it like a savory meal, adding vegetables and light seasonings such as Mrs. Dash. One other time, I did something more exotic with turmeric, fresh sweet lemon, garlic salt, some Earth Balance, a leftover mixture that was originally a soup (containing garbanzo beans [also called chickpeas], bok choy cabbage, part of a red medium spicy pepper, yellow onion, some seasonings) all mixed together. The result made a delicious lunch. That was earlier in the week. I had trouble with portion control with that meal since I could easily have saved the second half for dinner, but I ate both portions in the same meal. It’s something I’m always working on.
The next time I use this stuff, I might combine the peppers with some black beans and more garbanzo beans (after soaking), paprika, chili seasoning, cumin, some more of the red medium pepper, garlic powder (not the salt unless I really need it), maybe some onion. I think all that would be good together. I’m almost out of vegetables as far as the green ones I would cook. I would have to use up the part of my salad vegetables that is still good. Completely plausible possibly, that is.
Excuse me also for the randomness of this post. It is mostly a musing in the wee hours. I got home much earlier in the evening from my husband’s, planned to get to bed early because we are going to a new church near his home, got settled in, almost went to sleep but realized I left some untidiness around (more than my usual which is a fair amount), then I got up put some soapy water over the dishes so they’d be easy to finish in the morning and I had some caffeinated instant Folgers that I have here mostly for my husband. I never drink caffeine normally, so I’ll have to let myself wind down a bit. So excuse me for the randomness, gentle readers. Also, don’t worry. I shall be fine. At least it is still the weekend, and tomorrow afternoon when I get back, I can do laundry while I take a nap.
For the sake of readability, let’s get into the title of this entry. Life doesn’t always play by the rules — but who really makes the rules? What are the rules of life? Are there always the same rules or different ones different days, different hours or even different minutes of the day? Are there absolutely correct actions? This is not quite so much what I was thinking when I wrote this title. If you wish to think about these things, you are more than welcome, and I am personally interested in such philosophical questions of course. Still, this is not the intended subject of this particular blog.
More to the point is that when we try to set up our own rules to how our lives should go, it seems that oftentimes there are impediments to these supposedly good intentions that make these original choices seem like less of a good idea than we might have originally thought. Also, it might also appear that our original choices were good ones and perfectly able to be executed. However, there are circumstances (like missing purses or the even more tragic things — deaths, broken hearts and lost life dreams) that may suck up all of our original very good intentions. What do we do when these events make us lose our path?
Some people tell me that I should accept my situations in life and that will make them easier to live with. Also, the most healthy thing to do is to accept life on life’s terms. This attitude makes mindfulness and emotional health much more attainable. It’s not always the easiest thing to do, and I personally struggle with it on almost a constant basis.
There is a mode of therapy that occurs in both groups and on an individual basis called Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT), which includes four modules: Mindfulness, Distress Tolerance … and two others that my foggy brain cannot recall. It’s interesting stuff, and it can be very helpful for teaching a person to address life’s issues without making more problems in addition to the ones someone might already be trying to address. That is the intended purpose. It’s like if you eat your emotions, as they say, you are creating an added problem to the emotional one you are facing because you are possibly introducing obesity or weight-related health troubles to the emotional ones you are trying to suppress. This is counter productive.
Patience is key in all of this as is positive self talk, gentleness around one’s personal issues.
For the close of this entry, which has contained a lot of rambling, although I hope it can still be at least entertaining and not boring (perhaps helpful), I will include an affirmation to myself. Affirmations are positive statements about oneself that are given as a statement to increase feelings of self worth. They are good for motivation and a lot of other things, and they can be a very simple yet effective tool.
Before my affirmation, I’ll share something I was taught about good self care. I was once told in group therapy (a very expensive one that I pray I do not need to return to again) that the Golden Rule can be reversed to something that is at least equally powerful yet in no way sacrilegious while emphasizing an often-overlooked element. The converse or reversal is this: “Do unto yourself as you would do unto others.” This is the reverse of “Do unto others as you would do unto yourself.” It has the same meaning but a different order and hence a different place of emphasis. I’m sure you all catch the drift on this.
My affirmation for tonight: “Life will hand me everything it wants. I will do the best I can with all of it, and that is sufficient. I am not deficient in any way based on my imperfections. I am human, and I deserve loving kindness as does everyone.”
Good night, and thanks for staying with me if you read the whole thing. 🙂
Good morning!! The sun is shining, the birds are probably singing (oh, yeah, I can’t hear them because I’m inside and my apartment complex is kinda loudish, but anyway), and I should get moving and grooving, do my morning workout that I’ve set for myself (and I will!) The plan is to head to the SparkPeople website and find some yoga stretches after doing a brief meditation, maybe find a guided meditation online as well. When I get home, I will do some strength training from another video. Other exercise I will do today is at least a thirty minute walk in my neighborhood or elsewhere. I like to walk in town between where I volunteer and the bus plaza.
Last night, I had a bout of insomnia (nothing new). I had issues on my mind. I decided to do some trans-formative writing. This is a form of writing that is free flowing, so you don’t edit yourself, and you just write and write until there is nothing left of the emotions or thoughts that are weighing you down. I combined it with some prayer based on my personal beliefs. It’s not something I would choose to post, but I am keeping it on my computer.
I did have some small emotional eating yesterday — a bit of black cherry ice cream mixed with “sinless sweet cream” and coconut from the notorious Cold Stone Creamery. They are right at the mall, which is by my house. I normally wouldn’t give into temptation like that or would get a sorbet. Not this time. The combination was very yummy, though. I don’t feel bad for what I eat. I am not committing a mortal sin, and I did not gain any pounds.
On the bus, I will bring some scratch paper and make a list of the things I will buy at the store. I like this one market on the side of town where I volunteer doing admin and facilitating support groups. I’m going to plan a menu from now until next Friday. Get ready, Next Week, get ready to feel my motivation!
The best tool for working with emotional eating that I have found is mindfulness. I mean techniques like eating while doing nothing else (a hard one for me), focusing on the small nuances of the flavors of my meal, thinking about gratitude in relation to food, being aware of my senses of taste, smell, hunger and competing sensations as well, maybe noticing what is making me want to eat besides hunger, realizing that I do not need to always eat to feel satisfied, noticing that the emotions do not go away with the food, they are just suppressed.
Last night, after I ate two pieces of cinnamon-raisin Ezekial sprouted bread with Earth Balance buttery spread (not too bad of an emotional eating moment), I added an additional comforter to my bed, closer to my skin. After doing that and the writing, I managed to fall asleep, but by then I believe it was at least past 2:00 AM if not later. I didn’t sleep in too late, then, only until about 8 AM. I am fine. I am ready to start the day.
I just thought I would share this challenge since I know it is present for so many other people. It is a good reason also not to have a lot of supposed “trigger foods” in the house, ones that will usually lead to eating excessively. Note that I did not consume a whole store-bought tub of ice cream, just a little cup. Moderation with some room for enjoyment. I would call it successful.
Now to get up and get moving.
Today I was supposed to get blood work. I wanted to only do one test at a time to save cost. I have other very important financial obligations. I did not want to choose between, so I was going to do one or two in sets. I am one of the millions of Americans who does not have insurance because of a preexisting condition. I can get insurance, but it is a pain to try to work with the system. Also, the premiums are vastly more expensive.
I asked about doing one part of blood work, then the woman giving me a ride told me I would need to get separate forms for each test if I want to do it that way. This just means going back to my doctor and get new forms. I wish I had known the price from the beginning, but anyway . . . c’est la vie.
The blood tests are important. I need to know some levels of a medicine I take as well as cholesterol levels and other stats. I’ll be calling the doctor’s office to make sure to order a new set of testing forms. We’ll have to try this again. I’ve been meaning to do it for too long. With the medicine I take, blood levels are essential.
Despite my commitment to an overall healthy lifestyle, I do not always eat picture-perfect foods. I almost never eat cheese or other dairy or eggs or real butter. I especially do not like to eat animal flesh of all types.
Yesterday I had a major transgression in the dairy department — Domino’s Pacific Veggie Pizza. They made a mistake and forgot my thin crust. I don’t mind too much. I try not to be too hard on delivery people and waiters. It was tasty, but I wouldn’t do it often. I feel somewhat sad for the lives of the animals, but I know it is better for me personally not to kill myself with obsession. Many people would say I should be more vigilant, and I would see your point. I would have been in that camp about ten years ago. Moderation is more my style these days, and I have my reasons to include mental wellness as well as the physical. It’s a balancing exercise. It’s okay for me, and I live with my imperfections as a sign of emotional health.
One cheat is not a recipe for disaster, however. I do not do this every day. Most of the time I eat a diet (not a fad diet, but here where the word “diet” should be interpreted to mean the menu I choose to compose for my daily eating) consisting of whole grains, leafy greens, some starchy veggies (little) such as peas or corn, fruit, a bit of soy, beans or other legumes, occasional nuts and fats from seeds and healthy oils like safflower or olive. I consume vegan versions of luxury items like cheeses. I do not like to have them very often as they are high in fat and expensive.
Some of my favorite things to make are big salads with lots of stuff: organic sprouted tofu cubes, maybe alfalfa or clover sprouts, tomato, bell pepper, spinach, mixed greens, Romaine lettuce, big red lettuce, artisan lettuces, shredded cabbage, grated carrots, various beans and leftover whole grain pasta. Sometimes I like beets, which make the salads extra yummy. Fruits are a welcome addition, too. I like dried fruits in moderation: Apricots, dried cherries, cranberries, raisins, pineapple. Sometimes a trail mix will be good over a salad, especially if it has nuts or seeds. Raw broccoli, cauliflower and even zucchinis are good. Dressing can be low or non-fat like just a squirt of lemon or vinegar, sometimes more robust like a tahini-based dressing or maybe even a bottled dressing with quality ingredients.
Cooked vegetables include spinach, kale, chard, bok choy, broccoli, summer squash, winter squash, Brussels sprouts, turnips, carrots, peas, and more. I would love to try a few more like making my own roasted beets or a bit of roasted yams/sweet potatoes. I’m not as good with the oven as I would like to be. I love bell peppers. I love tomatoes, especially Romas when they are cooked nice over some whole wheat pasta and some fresh basil, and some good quality extra virgin olive oil. Heirloom tomatoes are a special treat in the summer time. My father (God rest his soul) used to grow the best tomatoes from starters. There are old stories of him feeding me cherry tomatoes in our old greenhouse when we used to live in another area. I don’t remember it, but the story makes me happy; also, I digress . . .
I like soups with lots of vegetables, whole grains, beans/legumes, maybe tofu, diced tomatoes, organic vegetable broth, good seasonings and love.
For holidays, sometimes I get special meals because as I said, I’m not as good with the oven yet. The only thing I can make consistently with the oven is a large vegan lasagna, which may not be considered healthy. This depends on your perspective. I am sure it could be converted to a more health conscious version.
My lunches and dinners are kind of interchangeable. They are also inconsistent. I like a lot of variety, but I am selective within that as illustrated by my dietary preferences already discussed.
A few weeks ago, I had my wisdom teeth out and stopped my routine of planning out my meals in advance. This was my strategy for a while, and I’ve found it to be the most effective for me. It creates self-discipline, which is something I do not always have naturally and something I really have to strive to create within myself. By planning my meals in advance, I do not have to think too much. The next level of planning would be to do as some others advise, make both my meal plan and my meals at the beginning of each week so that I know exactly what I’m eating and everything is organized. It would take so much guess work and labor out that I would just enjoy the benefits without the stress.
Now is the time for change. Step 1: Make a meal plan, with estimated prices. Step 2: Make a list. Step 3: Shop. Step 4: Make meals. Step 5: Separate daily meals into containers, bags, etc. Step 6: Go over meals online in tracker.
With exercise, I can also plan: three days a week, I can do a full-body strength training based on workout videos online. In the mornings, I can wake to yoga and meditation. At night, I can also meditate. Five days a week, I can do cardio. Two days a week would be my rest days except for meditation and maybe yoga. This is a plan I can write by hand on the wall, post online, tick off mentally, etc. It will be good for all areas of my health: physique, energy, mental, spiritual. So I’m ready to work. Next step, get to work.
I have just now made a sketch of a plan. The words are just words until they become actions.
Let’s go. 🙂