Today was awesomely fun and crazily hectic. At school, I had to prepare a pretty involved lab for my science students that would allow them to analyze the presence our primary macro-nutrients in food samples. For me, it is so much fun to create ever more efficient labs that give the students the best hands-on experience possible. Every year, I learn something new that I can improve on. I love watching the kids do it and get totally impressed with themselves. I love that I really reach them with Science and make them realize how cool it is. The stress comes in making sure I corral the students appropriately so that they keep moving along, instead of stopping and socializing. I try not to have a dull moment in my classroom.
Then, onto my personal life—-my baby (cat) had to be taken to the Vet because he hasn’t been eating the last few days. He is only about 8 months old and when it comes to cats it can be a matter of days without eating until kitty is in critical condition. So, I passed off hosting my after school STEM club to a couple of other Science teachers and flew from school to home with 10 min. to spare to pack up kitty and get to the vet. We were there for about 1/2 hr, then I came home for my regular meet up with a friend at 5:00 pm, another hour goes by. I finally eat and then I realize I’m really, really beat. I am so tired that could just lay back and watch some TV and not think.
Oh my god, was that a strong pull. I really had to think my way out of that one. So, I just started putting the dishes away in the dishwasher and cleaning up the kitchen to re-direct my mind. This definitely reminds me of quitting smoking. After that, I decided I’d write my blog post. So here we are. I do not know what the heck I’m going to do with the rest of the night.
Maybe tonight could be a reeeeeeealy early to bed kinda night?
Just so you know, this is waaaaay easier than quitting smoking. Giving up TV is more like that awkward friend standing in the middle of the room that you feel like you have to explain. I went for the remote a few times, but managed relatively easily. I did notice that it was easier to fall asleep and I got tired more progressively; as if I watched all the machinery slow down. Normally, I practically pass out to the TV blaring away. If I am too lazy to turn it off in the middle of the night, sometimes it would still be on the next morning. I wonder what kind of programming I’ve tuned into. But seriously, that can’t be good. I also noticed that I feel calmer overall. It seems like I have more hours in the evening. I’m just happy I’m blogging again with my newfound spare time. I’ve started getting my news as a feed on my phone. NO VIDEOS. I actually read more news now because everything is in digest form. I like feeling more informed. I still don’t feel motivated to clean the house, but I’m hoping that will kick in soon…..
I’ve always been an animal lover. I was the kid who brought home every injured or stray animal I found in the woods behind my house. I’d try my best to fix their broken wing so they could fly, dress their wounds, nurse them if they were abandoned by their mothers. I wanted to be a veterinarian for a long time until I learned I’d have to put animals to sleep.
I wouldn’t consider my family to be raging meat eaters. In many ways we had the Mediterranean diet with my mother’s family being from Lebanon. We did like meat and had it with dinner almost every night. My family also hunted and fished so we shared the successes with each other to help feed each family.
However, I do really like grilling and if you asked me what my favorite food is, I’d tell you a bacon cheeseburger with the works. So, imagine my surprise when I found myself so impacted by a film that I started eating an almost 100% plant based diet and I’m feeling better than ever.
If you’ve not had the opportunity I’d recommend you watch the movie “Forks over Knives”. In this movie researchers explore the possibility that people changing their diets from animal-based to plant-based can help eliminate or control diseases like cancer and diabetes.
What struck me was witnessing how the animals were not just poorly treated or kept in way too close quarters, they were flat out tourtured. All just so I could have meat on my plate. Something broke in me and I couldn’t do it anymore. I was focused on finding alternatives. Nowhere more than in the USA are we lucky to have the options we do.
Many people think that having a plant-based diet is more expensive than animal-based, but I put this to the test and found for $50 I could pick up enough food for over 1 week (see pic below).
I found that making 48 oz of green smoothies each day allowed me to get a huge portion of veggies and fruits in that I’d never have the time to eat. For example, one smoothie might include, – kale, swiss chard, carrots, bananas, mango, orange, and aloe pulp. Typically, I like to make them in the evening so that often I drink 32 oz for dinner and then put a 16 oz one in the fridge for breakfast. This works better for me because then I’m not rushing around in the morning trying to peel and chop.
It is way easier than I thought to eat plant based. I thought I’d be starving. I’m not. One of the other things I do is minimize processed food because let’s face it, potato chips can be considered plant-based technically. I use fresh ingredients whenever possible so I control what I add to my body and make sure I’m not substituting one bad thing for another.
For meals I eat balanced ingredients. For example, yesterday I made a salad with avocado (healthy fat), black beans (protein), cucumbers (veggies), and tossed it with a little olive oil, pinch of salt and vinegar. It was very filling. Sometimes the hardest part of change is convincing yourself that a different way wil work. You think you’ll be hungry but you’re surprised to find that when meals are plant-based and balanced you can feel satisfied without that heavy disgusting feeling.
I’ve noticed some great effects as a result of not participating in animal torture / eating mostly plant-based. I’ve lost weight, my eyes and teeth are whiter and brighter and my nails are longer and stronger. My wrinkles have softened around my eyes and mouth, I have more energy, I am calmer, colors and sounds are more vibrant, I am more compassionate because I’m living in accordance with my values and feel more connected to animals like I used to, I’ve cut my sleeping meds in half, I get outside everyday for workout of some kind.
Get this! My ob/gyn doctor told me that he cannot feel any tumors in my uterus anymore (they’ve disappeared!!!) and it is as if I never had a surgery years ago to remove a 5lb fibroid because everything feels perfectly normal! This is just mind blowing to me. I’ve had problems here for as long as I can remember. It was so bad that I needed surgery to remove that gigantic tumor. Now I start eating plant-based and the new ones have disappeared and everything feels normal – as if you’d have never thought there was ever a problem!?!
I am really becoming a believer in this way of eating for more reasons than one. I have to say I’m not being too hard on myself though and trying to do everything all at once. I still eat eggs and cheese occasionally. I eat Morningstar Grillers as a substitute for my cheeseburger. I’ve left go of the bacon, but I still add a piece of cheese and load it up with bbq sauce, and horseradish mayonnaise. This, surprisingly, does the trick for the beefy cheeseburger craving. I also imagine I will still eat fish / seafood for quite awhile until I could get to a place where I could give that up.
I think the key is adding more plants to your meals and substituting where possible. If it is too drastic and there is not enough support, it will be hard to stick with it. I wanted to add that for those of us who want to do something good for ourselves, environment, animals, but need to make a big change in habits and increase knowledge before doing so. One step at a time. Think of where you can add the good stuff and subtract out the not so good.
Most importantly, be good to yourself. Treat yourself with love. Eat what makes you feel strong and creative and balanced and helathy. This is a whole new way to see food as love. You’ll probably be surprised to find that as you do right for yourself, you’re helping others as a by-product of your choices.
Love roasted red peppers? Think they’re too good to be easy to make at home? Think again.
How to make your own Roasted Red Peppers. 3 Easy Steps!!
1. Cut peppers in half, scoop out seeds, place face down on aluminum foil lined cookie tray. Roast for 25 min. 450 degrees until charred and wrinkly
2. Put peppers into glass bowl and cover with plastic wrap until cool. This moisure trapping / cooling will help you alot in the next step (science! )
3. Remove skins and place “naked peppers” in your favorite meal OR to save for about 1 week, place in your favorite jar or storage container with their own juices and a couple of teaspoons of olive oil. Refrigerate.
Thought it was a good time to post some more results from my 30 day green smoothie challenge since I am now at the half-way point.
I am ecstatic with what has taken place in just a couple of weeks. I’m now on Day 16 of 30 and I’ve lost an inch around my waist and an inch around my hips!
I thought I’d share some pics to show you my results thus far 🙂 You’ll notice those not so lovable “love handles” are starting to disappear!
It amazes me how much of a difference it makes in such a short time to replace just one meal (breakfast for me) with a green smoothie.
In addition, because I don’t crave the things I used to, I’ve been eating healthier overall so I’m making different food choices in general.
If you’re curious about what I’ve been using in my smoothies and some of the other foods I now include in my diet as a part of this lifestyle change, well here ya go:
Morning Smoothie: Choice of green (Kale, swiss chard, spinach) AND Fruits: 1 each of these three fruits: bananas, mangoes, oranges
Note: Sometimes I also add 1/2 scoop of casein protein powder and 1/2 scoop of whey protein powder to get protein right away in the morning and to keep the hunger at bay.
Other foods recently added to my diet:
low-fat cottage cheese
100% whole wheat bread
natural peanut butter
tuna (canned in water)
80 calorie 2x protein greek yogurt
lean chicken or turkey
low fat soy milk
eggs (hard-boiled usually cause it’s faster 🙂
….and when I’m lazy Michaelina’s 300-400 calorie frozen dinners, which I’ve found are better to have on hand because they keep you from calling for delivery or heading to the drive through for lunch! Saves money and calories 🙂
I also drink at least 1/2 gallon of water per day to keep flushing out my system and keep it hydrated.
Though I hate to admit I haven’t been to the gym much in the past two weeks, these results are without exercise! Imagine what could be lost if that were added. I’m going to shoot to add exercise in during the next 2 weeks and see what happens.
So, overall 2 weeks into the 30 day green smoothie challenge, I’ve lost inches, gotten better hair skin and nails, have more energy, stopped craving crappy food / ordering delivery, and started to add a whole lot of other healthy foods to my diet. I find that I eat less than I used to, I’m way more satisfied, and I’m actually craving healthy food.
If you’ve never done this challenge before and you’re looking to make some lifestyle changes, I hope that this convinces you to give it a try.
If you have any questions about making smoothies a part of your day or if you just want to give me some kudos for changing my lifestyle :), please feel free to leave comments below.