i speak veganese

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Archive for Healthy Fit Lady

Second Thoughts???

Well, yes and no. My last post was about rethinking eating this way. I have read a few articles about it and seen some videos on the dangers of the vegan diet. Please see the post below and the comments. Quite frankly, I don’t know many vegans so I have to say, it is all really scary to me.

When I first began eating vegan all I read about was how great this diet was for individual health. I never really saw anything that opposed that idea. The first time the thought crossed my mind that I could get ill on this kind of diet was when I began feeling less energy. For the past two months or so, I have begun to feel like my energy levels aren’t quite what they used to be.

Last year, well before going vegan, I took up running. I can now say I’m pretty addicted to running. I run between 15-20 miles a week. I try to run four to five days a week. I also do strength training two to three times a week. So, I’m burning a lot of calories. However, the rest of my time is normally a lot more sedentary. So I try not to gobble up everything I see. On the vegan diet, however, there aren’t many calories to begin with. For the last two months though, it seemed that I had been lacking the energy and the power I had when I first started running. I was getting tired earlier on in my runs. That had not happened before. When you exercise and fall into a routine, your body normally gets used to what you’re doing and so eventually starts asking for more. It doesn’t start saying, “Wait a minute, I can’t do this anymore.” That indicator helps you know when you need a new challenge. So, getting winded so early was just strange.

I’ve decided to try some adjustments first to see if it could be anything besides eating vegan. Last week, I began to eat a nice-sized carb-full meal a couple hours before going to run (rather than my usual banana-which had worked well for a long time). It actually helped a lot. Rather than gasping for breath around the third mile (which is my minimum distance when I go for a run), I went four without showing any sign of being too taxed physically. I felt I could have gone five this week, but I didn’t want to chance it. I was able to increase my speed a few points as well this week.

Still, I know that there are other adjustments I need to make. I sometimes feel lightheaded. Though I used to experience this from time to time before going vegan, I experience it more often now that I am. Perhaps that is iron-related? I’m not sure. Unfortunately, I don’t have the time to keep speculating about it without doing something about it. According to some of the literature out there on the dangers of this diet, by the time you find that something is wrong, it is too late. Sometimes the effects are irreversible. So, I’m planning on going to my doctor to get my blood levels tested to be sure that I can get a clean bill of health and continue eating this way. Or revise how and what I’m eating as a vegan.


A Confession to Make

I must confess. I haven’t been late night snacking. No…I have been late night eating. I had put on four pounds in the past few weeks. It didn’t help that I was also eating out a lot-and not getting to the gym as much or for as long when I was able to go. I was eating so much, I was so heavy going the gym that when I did get there, I really wasn’t able to endure quite as long on the treadmill. So, this past week, I stopped the late night eating and if I couldn’t cook from home, I grabbed something quick to fix from the market (like a salad in a bag or a Smart Chili or something like that). I put a fruit basket in my studio and also a basket to hold some wheat bread. And because I was so exhausted after school these days, I got a panini maker. Best piece of cookware I’ve bought in a long time! Voila! Now I can cook something quick at home-and it tastes good too!


I made this panini using a Calphalon Panini Maker. I lightly oiled the pan with some olive oil and heated it up with medium heat. While the pan was heating, I sautéed and seasoned a few slices of portobello mushrooms, some slices of green, red, and yellow pepper, and some slices of green and yellow zucchini squash. I could have used the Panini Maker for that too, but it’s so new and shiny right now, it’s like almost sacred. Yeah, I’m weird that way. Anyway, I mixed a tablespoon and a half of tahini with two teaspoons of basalmic vinegar and spread that on some hearty slices of wheat bread. I assembled the sandwich, added some salt, pepper, and some nutritional yeast to make it a little cheesy tasting. I lightly oiled both sides of the bread with olive oil. Then I browned and pressed both sides in the Panini Maker. It was super yummy!! These take no more than fifteen minutes to assemble (including a veggie sauté) and less than ten minutes to make into a panini. The one drawback is I can’t put it in the dishwasher. But it only takes a few minutes. Then I’m eating vegan and off to getting on with the rest of my night…which these days includes a lot of sleeping when I can get it.

Boscov’s has these Panini Maker’s on sale in my area. Originally, they are $110. I got it for $49.99. Sweet! It works perfectly and browns evenly. I liked it so much I bought an electric panini maker for my studio. The paninis from it aren’t the greatest, but they’re healthier than going to get take-out on campus everyday.

To make a long story short, I lost those four pounds in one week by reversing those bad habits. Not a bad return for some small adjustments. It’s hard trying to stay fit, stay in school, and be a vegan. These are the ways I cope. Hey, a girl’s got to do what a girl’s got to do.

Triple Threat: Left-overs, leg lifts, and last day

Lunch is left-overs. I’m having sauteed squash over wheat pasta. I don’t know how all these folks take such great pics of food with these digital cameras. I’m a painter. Never been mechanically inclined at all. I’ll be trying to figure that out. But first, I’ve got to charge my camera. And I think it would help if I stopped eating the food before I take a picture of it! You’ve got to understand though. I’m an almost broke, hungry college student again.

Yesterday was the last day of classes at the university and I’d be really relieved except for I have a review coming up on Monday. So, I’ve got to prepare for that. Since beginning in the fall, a lot of my eating is done on-the-go again. In my defense, however, at least this time around my main staple isn’t Doritos! I spoke to a doctor recently about making the switch to veganism and she said I had to treat it like a job in the beginning. Hence, thinking of it as learning a whole new language…which it really is. I mean, nearly all the things that I used to eat that used meat, have a counterpart in the vegan diet. Many of the vitamins, minerals, and proteins I got from a meat-based diet, I now have to find out how to do with a more plant-based diet. It’s strange for me still. “Yeast” and “wheat gluten” really aren’t terms I’m too familiar with. And every time I hear “yeast” I think of the yeast balls Tina Fey was having in Baby Momma! But, figuring it all out is fun too for some reason….Or maybe I’m just weird?

gearAnyway, the greatest thing about classes ending is that I get to get back to my exercising! Now, before I go any further, let me just say that exercise to me is any activity that you do from marching in front of the tv to running on a treadmill to training for some triathalon…whatever as long as you’re moving and the intended goal is for better fitness. I don’t know how I started even liking it, but they say it takes 21 days to form a new habit and it seems like that might be true. It did help that I saw some results. I used a portion control formula (WW points system) that I found out about on a site called peertrainer. But I knew that I wouldn’t do it forever, so I only loosely followed it. Coupled with exercise, this worked for me. Before I cut the meat out, I had gotten down to 125 just by doing that. I figured I wouldn’t go any lower than that because that’s my natural weight after I had had my first child. But since I’ve stopped eating meat, it seems my new natural weight was actually little lower than that. I’m right back to the weight I was when I graduated high school! Go figure! I still have some problem spots. There aren’t many women who don’t. But, I’m thinking, these eat healthy and get some activity people might have something there! It was very helpful in the beginning to see the other logs on peertrainer so that you could know how othes dealt with healthier ways to eat. But, during the time I was making the transition to my current MFA program, I began to lose touch with it and some of my other partners got upset. Excuse me. At the time, it was just impossible to strap a laptop to my hip everyday! So, when they got rude about it, I just left. By that time, I had learned better habits anyway and I had the self-motivation to continue. I’m glad I found that I can do it on my own. At some point using peertrainer though, I began the Walk Away the Pounds dvds with Leslie Sansone because it was so easy…and at thirty-something with no exercise in years and riding a desk for about five of the last years of that, I REALLY needed easy. So I did that for awhile and I would jump rope for a while maybe a few times a week. And I started to see some changes. Then I figured, I could just walk during my lunch break. So I did that. When I needed a greater challenge, I added ankle weights. After a while, my weight was affected as well as my heart. I went from a person who couldn’t run one mile without stopping in high school to a thirty-something running four miles now (on a treadmill though) without stopping to catch a breath! My husband was the track star in our family (and he never let anyone forget it). But I think I might be able to beat him now! At least in distance anyway. That’s girl power!

Still, I haven’t really exercised in about two weeks. The first week I was sick as a dog. The second week, I had sniffles, but I had so much to do with getting my students through their finals and getting myself through my own that I just couldn’t make it. Ordinarily, I exercise about 4-5 days a week. And since beginning at the university I’ve had more options because they have a fabulous gym. But, today, when I break back into it, I think I’m going to take it easy…march in front of the tv with some leg lifts (and maybe some dumbbells or the bands). Leslie, here I come!

I’m really excited about the good choices that I’m making for me!

So far

So my favorite food to work with since embarking on this journey so far has got to be the black bean.  Well, there are the staples like brown rice, wheat bread and pastas, wheat tortillas, etc.  They are acting like fillers for me just yet.  But this black bean! It just tastes so good and it’s so versatile!

Also, I’ve learned that protein is for some an issue and for others a non-issue with restricted diets.  I’m not sure which camp has it right just yet.  But, at the moment, I try to make sure I get good sources of protein till I know better.  The black bean seems to be high enough on the protein chain.

It’s funny because I never liked it before I cut out the meat.  Strange.  These days I use it with brown rice alone or with brown rice wrapped in tortillas.  I recently made my own version of a Mexican Black Bean Soup that included corn, salsa, celery, and green peppers, with a little dash of hot sauce for a kick.  I would add a picture and a real recipe here, but (burp) I don’t know what happened to the dish.  I hope I have better luck with that next time.  Although, truth be told, I’m a horrible photographer, so you’re not missing much.

Speaking of image-making, I’m in grad school right now for painting, so between that and my family,  it’s difficult to find time for other things.  But I do try to find the time to go to the gym three to four times a week.  The last two weeks I haven’t really kept to that because there are some final reviews and I’ve been under the weather.  But, I’m anxious to get back to it.

My favorite activity was walking when I began working out back in June.  At the time I was working full time and during my lunch breaks, I’d just plug in my iPod and go.  But, since coming to school in the fall, I’ve made use of the university’s gym and there has been such progress in my fitness level that I began running on a treadmill! I can run up to four miles at a time now.  When I was in high school, I couldn’t run one without a break! I’ve come a long way baby!