Category Archives: articles

Day 18: Coffee, oats, exercise?

Good morning friends!

I got lots of rest last night but for some reason I am very unmotivated to exercise. I think it’s a combination of the cold weather and just the need to relax on the weekends. I work out Monday-Friday most weeks so why not?

I think I may just wait until later and use housecleaning as a workout. Maybe work in a set of squats or something here and there? 😉

Breakfast this morning was a simple bowl of oats with banana and peanut butter. Plus coffee with rice milk.

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I did shake things up a little bit today by cooking the oats on the stove instead of the microwave. It had been a while!

I’m working on cup of coffee number two and dreading taking the dog outside. It is 32 degrees right now, there is frost on the car windows and our apartment is hovering at 62 degrees. But really, even for a cold-natured person it’s not too bad.

It appears that so far you all agree with me that pumpkin is a vegetable, yay!

I have something to admit to you guys…I rarely buy organic food. It’s just more expensive and while I thoroughly wash any produce that I do buy, I know sometimes it is still better to go with the organic selections. So I hope to make that a goal of mine here soon.

Read 10 organic foods that are worth the money from Real Simple magazine (one I need to pick up more often).

Do you buy organic? Why or why not?

Happy Sunday! I better get ready for church now 🙂

Day 9: Peanut Butter Monster

TGIF! What are your plans for the weekend?

Tonight I am taking a trip to Barnes & Noble with my BFF to read and talk, pretty much our favorite thing to do. Then tomorrow, Josh and I are heading out of town to visit his grandma since we have decided to stay local for the holidays (yippee)!

Yesterday’s lunch leftovers were awesome. Even though I won’t buy this soup mix again, it was good while it lasted.

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This lunch was very filling and I didn’t get hungry for my snack until a few hours later, so that was awesome 🙂

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Uh oh, time to get some more hummus!

After work, I headed to the gym to meet Farrah for a workout. We’re both still experiencing quite a bit of leg/hip pain from our squats and runs earlier in the week so we took it easy with a 5 minute warm up (walking) on the treadmill.

Then, we started to do the Jennifer Love Hewitt workout from the October issue of Shape magazine, but found it to be incredibly awkward for us.

The first move was challenging (side step ups/leg kick/holding a dumbbell), but then the second move proved nearly impossible for me (trying to stand up with one leg from seated position) and painful for Farrah whose knee was starting to hurt. So we ditched it and did our own thing the rest of the time, including:

  • Chest flyes, chest presses, reverse flyes
  • Upright rows
  • Abs (crunches, side crunches, etc.)
  • Tricep extensions and kickbacks
  • Bicep curls
  • Shoulder presses
  • Push ups!

I really love upper body workouts. The difference in my chest, shoulders and arms now from where they used to be is one of my favorite things about myself. It’s good to focus on the positive 🙂

We had quite a bit of rain roll through the area overnight and into today. On the way home last night, the clouds were really cool to look at:

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When I got home, I so did not feel like cooking (I had planned to make a lentil curry) and while debating over having oatmeal for dinner, I ended up heating up some leftover barley and tossing in some mixed veggies and barbecue sauce. Weird, but it totally worked!

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Then I nibbled on some chocolate chips and PB while we watched “A Nightmare on Elm Street 4” which means apparently, I am only tired of the bread part of that snack, ha ha.

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Today, I have declared myself the Peanut Butter Monster!

First off, I had oats with peanut butter and banana for breakfast, which was so delicious on a cool, rainy morning.

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And both of my snacks and lunch revolve around PB. By the end of the day, I will have had 4 tablespoons! Oh well, at least it’s good fat right? 😉

Something that made me smile today…

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My friend Will gave me this coffee cup for my birthday (way belated but no matter). It says my name, Sarah – Meaning: Princess, followed by these words:

You truly possess

A charm special and rare.

You can hold your head high —

You have that special air.

To your many admirers,

You seem almost royal.

Your devoted followers

Will always be loyal.

Because of your name,

Enchantment and romance

Will fill your life long

With laughter, song and dance.

I hope at least that last part is true. 🙂

Happy Friday everyone! Have a blessed day.

What to call myself?

I recently read Caitlin’s post on labels and it got me thinking…what am I?

As most of you know by now, I have been doing research and experimenting with veganism for a few weeks now, thanks to Lindsey’s inspiration and fueled by my own off-and-on interest in the “diet” side of the lifestyle. I decided to take on this challenge for health reasons and for all the great things I’ve heard about the positive “side effects” of the diet, though I do care about animals and our environment. That is just not my #1 motivation. To me, it’s an added bonus, something that is additionally benefitting from me choosing this lifestyle for myself.

Just about every day, I Google “Is (fill in the blank) vegan?” and I’m surprised at the amount of information out there on the subject. Just about everything I have come across has been easy to figure out so far. But I found one thing in particular hard to get around…honey.

I have known for a long time that “true” vegans do not eat honey but I wondered if that applied to me? I don’t use it, as I am generally a low sugar eater. I don’t keep honey in a jar in my house. But I’m finding it difficult at times to avoid products that already have it in there. Since my primary motivation is health, will a little honey here or there really hurt me?

Then I thought to myself…why not just leave that part out? I’ll do everything else. Can I still be considered a “vegan?” Do I even care about having a label?

But, I went ahead and Googled “Can you be a vegan and eat honey?” I clicked on the first link that came up.

[Source – http://www.vegetus.org/honey/honey.htm]

Vegan Nomenclature : If you are thinking to yourself, “But I’m a vegan for health reasons” or “I’m a vegan for environmental reasons,” read on. Unlike the word vegetarian, the word vegan specifically implies moral concern for animals, and this concern extends to all areas of life, not just diet. If you do not believe in animal equality, please consider referring to yourself as someone who doesn’t eat animal products, as one who follows a plant-based diet, or as one who follows a vegan diet. Or, continue to educate yourself about veganism, and perhaps you will choose to practice veganism. Additionally, anyone who eats honey, yet refers to herself as a vegan, makes life difficult for other vegans–it’s like having someone who eats fish and calls herself a vegetarian. When a vegetarian comes along, it is much harder for her to explain that fish is not acceptable for vegetarians.”

While I know this particular source is just one person’s opinion, I am sure that it is shared by many throughout the vegan community. Honey is apparently a quite controversial topic. I also found this really interesting article on Slate.com called “The Great Vegan Honey Debate” written By Daniel Engber. 

Here are some good tidbits from that article:

“There is no more contentious question in the world of veganism than the one posed by honey.”

“You either eat honey or you don’t; to debate the question in public only makes the vegan movement seem silly and dogmatic.”

And probably my favorite line from the entire piece:

“That may be the most important lesson to come out of this debate: You’ll catch more flies with honey than with vinegar.”

The Bottom Line

  • I totally respect why ethically-motivated vegans avoid honey. I tend to do it myself as a person who avoids sugar and sugary products, though it’s a different type of motivation.
  • I will strive to avoid honey in the same way I have been, but I won’t go out of my way. Obviously, foods like “honey roasted peanuts” “yogurt with honey” or “oats & honey granola bars” will be easy to spot and I will do my best to not purchase those products. Also, this is a point where it comes in handy not to eat many processed foods to begin with!
  • I do not care about labels personally; I don’t fit neatly into boxes, figuratively speaking. But when someone asks me how I eat or why I am not eating something, I want to have an answer for them that is both accurate and respectful.
  • As of today, I am a vegetarian. If I choose to adopt the vegan way of living and make it permanent, I will refer to my diet as vegan, but not myself. I will however, allow myself to be called “labeled” a vegetarian. That is a name I am comfortable with since I don’t plan to eat meat or seafood again for the foreseeable future.

So, there you have it. I am a vegetarian that eats a semi-vegan diet. I avoid eating meat, seafood, eggs, butter, and dairy products. I am working on reading labels and finding those animal-derived ingredients that get snuck into some seemingly vegan foods, including all the hard to spell ingredients like calcium carbonate. Okay, so that wasn’t too hard to spell.

*I also want to make it clear that I am doing this for myself because I want to. And you should eat whichever way it is that works for you or that you are passionate about.*

I also reserve the right to change and evolve over time, as should you. When I first started this blog and throughout the months that have followed, my diet has gone through various changes. I’m sure this won’t be the end of it as I continue on this journey of healthy and balanced living.

I’ve been interested in vegetarianism and veganism since I was a teenager, experimenting with it from time to time, including on a few occasions over the past two years, but I’ve been going about it the wrong way due to my lack of knowledge and understanding. But now that I am informed and I am motivated, I am finally ready. Ready to experience everything that eating an animal free diet has for me. Ready to experience new foods and try out some new recipes. Thanks for allowing me to share that with you.

Have a great weekend!

The philosophy of Mark Bittman

I just read this really great article on Runner’s World – Simply Good by Mark Bittman

Bittman is the author of two books you’ve most likely heard of: “How to Cook Everything” and “Food Matters”. In this article, he details his struggle with excessive eating which came as a result of excessive running and the never-ending hunger that comes along with that. This caught my attention immediately as this is something I have struggled with in the past.

He also talks about how after gaining weight, being diagnosed with sleep apnea and other potentially serious health issues, he decided it was time to change his diet. He was eating too many animal products (especially meat) and processed foods and not enough of the good stuff (fruits and vegetables).

“…like many runners, I felt that I ran enough to compensate for overeating, and that running would make me immune to the middle-aged paunch and all the lifestyle syndromes, diseases, and problems that come with it. Wrong…”

Eventually, Bitman chose to reduce his consumption of animal products and processed foods, epecially after reading some alarming statistics about the health of Americans, global warming, overfishing, and other social issues that meat and processed foods-eating contributes to.

“When I turned my attention to vegetables, I realized they made a better core to my diet than animal products: They’re simple, flavorful, affordable, easily varied and cooked, and unquestionably healthy…”

This really resonated with me because that is EXACTLY why I am working on developing this vegan diet for myself. Vegetables (and some fruits) make so much sense to me. Meat doesn’t and I don’t really like it. I also don’t like the way dairy makes me feel or the potential hormones that come along with it, unless you buy organic. Processed foods are not only unhealthy, they are expensive.

I’m also interested in seeing how this new way of eating affects my running. I haven’t ran more than 3 miles since April but eventually I would like to get to where 5 was comfortable and perhaps even build up to another half marathon someday. I used to think that was impossible but I just have to remind myself that I did it once, I can do it again. I also eat a whole lot better now than I did then (when I relied on too many processed carbs, sugar, etc.), so who knows?

I’m certainly inspired by Mr. Bittman and his determination to eat healthy and keep running:

“Yes, I’m more determined than I’ve been in a long time, but that determination comes from having taken control of my diet and, as a result, the basic shape of my body. Unquestionably, eating sanely has rejuvenated my running, made me more youthful, and helped me feel, well, simply good.”

“To me, running and cooking are both uncomplicated and essential pleasures that can be enjoyed with minimum equipment and time.”

Amen.

Exercise, food and weight gain

As I was checking my email this morning, I came across one from Runner’s World (I’m on their mailing list) and clicked the link to a response from “Ask the Sports Dietician” on the Time Magazine article entitled “Why Exercise Won’t Make You Thin” which were both interesting reads. So I thought I would give you my take on it.

Basically, the author of the Time article states that while exercise is important and many Americans do it, it can also stimulate hunger which then leads us to eat more, which basically undoes the exercise we just put in to lose weight. He says “…like many other people, I get hungry after I exercise, so I often eat more on the days I work out than on the days I don’t. Could exercise actually be keeping me from losing weight?”

I feel like I’ve been in this same boat myself. Especially when I was a more serious runner, I would eat and eat and eat because the last thing I wanted was to “bonk” during a race or suffer from dehydration, carb depletion or any of the other horror stories I’d heard from experienced runners. Even after I backed off of my training, I somehow adopted the mentality that I had to work out everyday and burn a certain amount of calories per day in order to keep my weight under control because I knew how many calories I had to eat each day.

Turns out…as I have been exercising less the past couple of weeks, I have been less hungry and my weight is back under control. This also comes as a result of eating less sugar which has made me feel better overall. I’ve also come to appreciate the value of rest. At a time when I was putting in hour plus workouts at the gym and running/walking multiple times in one day, I was actually gaining weight! And I was tired and sore a lot of the time. And my meals never seemed to satisfy me which is why I would spend a lot of nights in the kitchen raiding through the pantry. So I think there might be at least some merit to this author’s discussion. But I think the blogger from Runner’s World is right to offer some solutions to exercise-induced hunger and find a balance between your activity and your eating habits.

I’d have to say it should be more like “Why Exercise ALONE Won’t Make You Thin.” There, that’s better.

As the author mentions, there is also the “reward” part of this, when we have a really great workout and decide that we “deserve” a special treat for being so “good.” I have seen this quite a bit in my experience. It’s something I’ve even been guilty of from time to time, especially as a runner (hello huge Panera bagels after races).

My family and I used to walk at the mall on Saturday mornings but as soon as we were done, we stopped at Starbuck’s (inside the mall) and while I ordered a coffee of some sort, another family member would get a pastry or other baked good from the case, which totally undoes the walk we just took. If walking for 45 minutes burns 300 calories and then you eat a Reduced-Fat Cinnamon Swirl Coffee Cake at 290 calories (and 34 grams of sugar!), you’ve pretty much used it up. The walk was still good for your cardiovascular health, your muscles and bones but your treat took away it’s opportunity to contribute to any possible weight loss.

I’m happy to say that since the weather warmed up, we haven’t been walking at the mall much and when we have, everyone has pretty much been sticking to water or iced tea to rehydrate instead of useless calories from baked goods. However, as the Fall and Winter weather are ahead of us and we again have to retreat inside, will everyone be able to maintain this will power? I hope so.

Anyway, I hope you will read the above articles and make these determinations for yourself. It is important that we all find what works best for our own individual and unique bodies and maintain a balance so that both exercise and food are helping us reach our goals instead of becoming a hindrance.

Happy Thursday!

Last day of the old mentality

Hey guys! Hope you saw my previous post on my possible vegan adventure. I’ve pretty much made up my mind that I at least want to try making a few substitutions and trying some new recipes if nothing else. No matter what though, I want it to be an adventure and learning experience 🙂

Breakfast this morning found me once again using up some stuff lurking in the freezer (to make room for more yummy foods):

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On the left is a Morningstar Farms “sausage” patty and on the right is a Holey Donut in raspberry fudge 🙂

Holey Donuts sent me a few samples to review for the blog a while back and I have covered most of them now. Once the box is empty (one more to go) I will do a wrap up of the entire experience, including Josh’s opinions as well!

Close up!

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Believe it or not this breakfast held me better than I expected. But when it was time for a snack, my hunger was pretty intense so I went for the bigger of my two snacks: greek yogurt with peanut butter!

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It was during this snack that I started having the Vegan Revelation.

Before I ate that though, I went for a 15 minute walk. A couple of hours afterwards, I went to the gym and did a nice strength and weight training routine with my bud Farrah. My arms were tired at the end of our session so I know I did some good work 🙂

For lunch (that snack held me for 3 hours!) I created a tuna salad but spiced it up a bit. I’ve seen paprika used on tuna at restaurants I’ve been to before (like McAlister’s Deli) so I thought I’d give it a try from home.

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This was such a good idea! I also used Smart Balance mayo mixed in with the tuna. The salad contained romaine lettuce, cucumbers and a tiny bit of raspberry vinaigrette dressing. It was delicious!

I went for another 15 minute walk on my break and I think this is an amazing thing to do on nice fall days. I’m so looking forward to the new season. I usually prefer summer but something about the fall is making me so happy. Pumpkin stuff, light sweaters, Halloween…the list goes on.

For a snack, I had some cheese (the last one) and fruity tea.

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When I left work, I thought I was needing another snack but as it turns out I was thirsty. I drink water all day long but for some reason after so much of that, I really need something with some flavor to really quench the thirst and taste buds. Today I opted for this again…

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Worked like a charm. I love this flavor. I’m still not 100% sold on Pure Via. What do you guys think? Is there such a thing as an all natural 0 calorie sweetener?

While I was waiting for my ride, I stumbled upon this article in my Health magazine called Stuff That Messes With Your Hormones.

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Hormones are a sensitive issue for me since I have struggled with abnormal and irregular menstrual cycles my entire womanhood. It got even worse when I lost all my weight and trained for a mini-marathon. Luckily the past several months, my cycles seemed to have regulated for the most part but they are still not the 28-day norm.

Anyway, for that reason alone, it always catches my eye when I see information about what can affect hormones in our bodies. This article brought a few things to my attention that I hope to address soon.

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1. Buy a new filter – We used to use a pitcher with a filter for our water when we first got married but we sort of got lazy and out of the habit. Also, our cities tap water is supposedly the best in the country. But according to this article, that may not be enough.

2. Check cleaners, soaps, lotions and cosmetics – I recently purchased a new cleaner for the kitchen that is more environmentally friendly. I also was inspired by Angela and other bloggers who have taken to safer cosmetics and skin care products. I’m going to start checking the products I already have, use what I can and then gradually replace them with safer alternatives.

3. Toss the plastic – I was aware that BPA was in lots of water bottles and I threw out the ones I had and replaced them with a stainless steel container. But I still own a ton of plastic for food storage and I often reheat things in those containers. I knew it wasn’t a great idea but I didn’t realize putting these plastic containers in the microwave AND dishwasher could cause this harmful ingredient to leach out. I don’t know how easy it will be, but I hope to find alternatives to these containers or at least remember to hand wash them and not use them to reheat things.

4. Meat goes bye-bye – This was not a surprise to me. We all know that unless we get meat from a source that we know does not use hormones on their animals, chances are we are ingesting more than we care to when we eat that hamburger or piece of chicken. Rather that spend a lot of time or money finding safer meat, I would prefer to just avoid it altogether. See my post on veganism.

Anyway, back to eats!

For dinner, I threw together a combination of barley, pinto beans, and mixed veggies topped with Sriracha.

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It tasted even better than it looks! I used 1/2 cup of barley, 1/2 cup of beans and 1 cup of veggies.

Here’s the barley. I get this for really cheap at Kroger and it lasts forever!

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For dessert, I finished off the last few Dove dark chocolates. As I’ve done research (including lots of “Is (fill in the food) vegan?” searches on Google) I’ve found that I’m going to have to step up my quality of chocolate if I want it to fit into this experiment.

Did you know…even though chocolate itself comes from a cocoa tree, the more processed a chocolate product is, the more added ingredients it contains including milk and milk fats (among other artificial ingredients). Here’s a good guide to vegan chocolate.

Still a good message though…

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“Keep believing in yourself and your special dreams.”

I’m off to go brainstorm my special dreams now. Hope you do the same.

Good night!

Weighty issues

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I read an article online today about Kelly Clarkson in SELF Magazine addressing critics of her weight. That got me thinking: why is ANYONE being critical of HER weight? I find weight to be such a sensitive topic and so personal that it’s not appropriate to discuss or be critical of someone for. I would HATE it if anyone were to watch my every move and notice every few pounds I gain or lose.

I know this has been going on longer than Kelly’s time but it really hit me this morning like a ton of bricks. It’s amazing that she has the self confidence to not take any of it to heart (at least in this interview). But I don’t think we’re all as lucky. When people criticized me about my weight and my bad choices in my past, it cut me to the bone. It was not motivating…it would just make me want to eat more and lay on the couch more…it was a confidence killer.

I’ve also faced critics at this stage in my life who have said to me before that they think I’ve lost too much weight or that I should “stop before I get too thin.” To me, that is just as bad as calling someone the “f” word. It’s one thing to be concerned about someone who is experiencing an eating disorder or perhaps a stressful life situation that is altering their body composition drastically. But to say something like that to a person who went from 225 lbs to a healthy weight can be one of those triggers that sends a person back over the edge and back to where they started. Luckily, I am able to shake it off well enough now. I still think about it. I still hear those voices in my head every now and then.

I guess they think it is okay to criticize Kelly Clarkson because she is in the public eye and she should be setting a good example for younger fans, but I mean come on. She’s human! If you want someone to set a good example, start criticizing these kids’ parents. I mean really, what other reason would they have? What standard are they trying to hold her to?

This article from ABC News states that Kelly C. only looks the way she does on the cover because of retouching. I’m sure that is partially true, but it still bothers me. Especially for a cover promoting “Total Body Confidence.” Really?

Anyway, let me leave you now with some of my favorite quotes from this article:

“I love healthy stuff and junk an equal amount,” she tells the magazine. “Whatever I’m craving, I go for it.”

Speaking of her Crossfit workouts: “You never work out more than 35 minutes, but it’s so intense … It makes me feel like G.I. Jane. It’s very empowering.”

“I’m never trying to lose weight – or gain it. I’m just being!”

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Please feel free to weigh in on this topic…pun totally intended.

Happy Tuesday! Love yourselves 🙂

Small changes

I just read this article on CNN Health that I thought you all might be interested in:

Farmer’s markets bloom at hospitals

I am always inspired by articles such as this one because it shows that little by little, the world is (hopefully) striving to be a healthier place! These small changes being made today will add up. My hope and prayer is that when my children are my age, they will see a whole new (better) world when it comes to health. All too often we hear stories of unhealthy things, like disease and death, not to mention other forms of negativity in the media. This was refreshing!

Farmer’s markets are becoming more and more popular and popping up in new places all the time. I’m hoping to get to a few near me this summer. It makes total sense to have one at a hospital, where people go to be treated for various ailments. Now they can pick up something toward their good health while they are there 🙂 Not to mention the workers and visitors.

What about you? Have you heard or read something recently, health-related, that inspired you or gave you hope?

Happy Thursday, its ALMOST Friday!

p.s. Looks like Starbucks is making some changes too…hooray for the banishment of HFCS!

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Check out the Sunshine Burgers giveaway over at Keep it Simple, yay!

See Danica Eat

I just read this article about Indy race car driver (the only female one!) Danica Patrick. She is on the newest issue of Shape magazine, which I’m sure I will be getting in the mail soon.

Danica Patrick Reveals Her Turbocharged Diet

Sometimes I read these articles and roll my eyes at what celebrities eat, but hers makes a lot of sense and it seems to be pretty healthy with not a lot of processed foods. I love how she says she gets hungry every three hours, that’s so me 🙂

Is the recession making people fat?

Just read this article on MSNBC.com from Joy Bauer, thought it was interesting. I definitely agree about not buying beverages! That will save you a ton, especially at restaurants (most cost around $2.19 these days, even though you get free refills, that seems like a lot):

Will the recession make you fat?

Learn clever, easy ways to trim cash (and calories) off your grocery bills