Thursday, March 31, 2011

No, there's not a cure for vegetarianism...

I eat a plant-based diet for the most part.  Rather then offend the true vegans out there I will avoid saying I'm "practically vegan" since it makes about as much sense as being "barely pregnant" either are or are not.  My decision to go vegetarian happened so long ago and had more to do with an aversion to eating the same kind of muscles that I can find on my own body, that it really doesn't seem like it was a decision per se.  Do you suppose it's possible to be born a vegetarian (my parents were not)?  If so, that's me.

I also don't generally write about the WHY's of my eating habits, partly because as a former anorexic, I have a tendency to eat in solitude, it's like I have personal food space issues...I guess that's weird but I have problems when people look at or comment on my food.  I also don't like the confrontations that seem to be common place when people find out that I don't eat meat (and am 'dangerously close' to becoming vegan).  It's not really their fault.  They are curious.  But really, it is not a new phenomena and there are plenty of vegetarians out there...even famous ones like Alicia Silverstone, Woody Harrelson, Albert Einstein, Leonardo Divinci and Aristotle, just to name a few.  Charles Darwin quite possibly was vegetarian as well, although there is some question on the matter.

So why do I bring this up now?  Don't worry...I am not going to try to convince anyone to give meat (although that would be awesome).  It's a personal choice and I have faith that a lot of you already take measures to leave a smaller footprint, eat local foods, and maybe even go meatless on occasion.  But I do want to talk about compassion.

This morning, on my drive in to work I came across the carcass of a snake in the middle of the road.  Now, I have to assume that this snake was accidentally run over even though it is a ridiculously winding road and you'd be hard pressed to get over 8 mph at the particular spot where this guy laid smushed.  I felt bad for him.  Here it was, the first sunny day with exceptionally warm weather that most likely drew that snake out of hibernation to do a little tanning and WHAMO...I couldn't tell if it was a rattle snake, which I doubt considering the area, but either way I'm sure he wasn't a *threat to any one at the time.  But a lot of people don't care WHAT kind of snake it is...snake=terror=kill it.  Even the harmless gopher snake and the amazing King snake (the only snake that will kill the rattlers) fall victim to our fear (and that little story of the serpent in Genesis that evokes strong emotions of snakes being evil doers of the devil, or the devil himself doesn't help).

Don't get me wrong, I am not a snake enthusiast.  As a matter of fact, they creep me out and I can't stand to see the baby mice at the pet store labeled as snake food, but I get the whole cycle of life thing.  And I understand that while not a pleasant cuddling pet, snakes still deserve a certain level of respect and compassion (as do all living things including our Mother Earth) and certainly this individual didn't deserve to die simply because someone thought he was ugly or gross (again, I am hoping it was just an accidental hit and run).  You see, everything has a purpose on earth...whether we understand it or not.  And some critters certainly have gotten a bad rap and seem to have become more disposable then others.  If you aren't a fan of snakes, remember, they DO keep the rodent population down much like spiders keep they flies away.  Left to it's own devices, nature would keep a natural balance, but we humans tend to interfere and mess it all up.  And as revolting as maggots are, without them we'd probably have a bunch of carcasses laying around stinking up the place rather then being recycled and returned to the earth.  Same goes with vultures...ashes to ashes, dust to dust.


I've heard the argument that turkeys are so stupid that they drown themselves when it rains (the story is that they look up at the sky and their beaks fill with water...don't ask me, but I guess that is justification to slaughter and eat them) but it has rained here for about 9 days straight and I'll be damned if there aren't about 35 wild turkeys STILL walking around in the fields on my way to work.  

Let me tell you, I've seen those websites that feature the stupidity of some humans and that will NOT make me think it's now okay to slaughter to eat THEM.   



Yes, I'm the chick that stops and picks up the snail in the middle of the sidewalk so it doesn't get stepped on.  Call me wouldn't be the first time.

*This is coming from someone who has never been bitten by a snake, nor have any of my friends or family members, although I've lived/hiked/biked/road horses in the Mohave Desert for 4 years and also in the snake infested areas of the valley near Redlands, Ca.).  For those people who HAVE been attacked by a snake, I suppose you have a right to fear them...

Monday, March 28, 2011

I Should be Commited

I have a problem...I tend to over-commit...but my intentions are good, I swear!

It has been a while since I've been in the mood to write...between training for the San Diego Rock n Roll Marathon on June 5 and fundraising for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society through Team in Training, I've been keeping a hectic schedule and any down time is used for laying on the couch and 'recuperating'.  I'm starting to feel bad for my BF since most of my normal routines have been cooking and cleaning.  He's been super supportive though, at least until I hinted around about applying to become a Mentor for Team in Training, which would mean keeping this level of busyness (or more) if I get accepted.  

I suppose this is where I need to be careful about over-extending myself.  Where I need to remind myself that I have other goals I want to accomplish this year and taking on another MAJOR project might set me back in other areas of my life.  For one, I am still trying to see if it's feasible to do the Mt. Shasta climb this year.  We've had so much snow that the climbing season may be extended long enough for me squeeze it in after the marathon.  I also committed to running a half-marathon in October as part of a team with my new running comrades.  And now, it appears that I am going to be the newest member of the the Stupid Mudder Fudders competing in a Tough Mudder's event in September!!

So, it looks like I will need to put cross-training on the calendar as a priority for the Tough Mudder event...and I'll need to continue running 4 days a week to stay in shape for all of these future events.  I'm not complaining...don't get me wrong!  I really seem to function better with goals on the makes the monotony of miles upon miles of running or 1000's of kettlebell swings so much more worth while.  It's just that I easily succumb to accepting too many challenges at once which often leads to self-sabotage.

So, I am still struggling with the balance's affecting my writing already.  I am hoping, though, that with the return of the sun my mood will improve and along with it the energy I so desperately could use right now!!

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Charlie Sheen isn't the only winner!!

We have had torrential rains and wind out here in Northern California and with that came spotty internet service.  So, it wasn't until just now that I realized that my friend Sheri at Motivation for Health and Fitness passed to me my very first blog award!!

I am so touched that, of all of the blogs she reads, she thought to include me for this award.  I guess it still surprises me that other people actually read the stuff I write!  Anyway, Sheri has been instrumental in my continued writing and she will always be one of those people who have had a major impact in my life.

Now, I'm supposed to share a few things about myself that you may not know.  I'm not sure what you may know about me so this may not be new to you but here goes...

  • I was born in Tachikowa, Japan to American parents (Air Force Brat).
  • I graduated high school and went to college in Fairbanks, Alaska.
  • I've seen the Space Shuttle piggyback on a plane in Warner Robins, Georgia and the land at Edwards AFB, California.
  • I am running my first marathon on June 5, 2011.
I would like to pass this blog award on to a few people who have helped me sustain my blog while keeping me yearning for more posts from them...

Kristina at Life as Kristina

There are others I would mention but I don't know of the writers of those blogs want to be put in the spotlight, so to speak.  (But, you can find these gems on my sidebar).

I hope you enjoy reading some of the blogs I've mentioned above.   And please be sure the check out Sheri's blog as well!!

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Didn't you hear? I'm not pretty...

Yesterday I read a {new to me} blog post that really evoked some emotions.  I was directed to this blog, Finding the Now, by my friend at CRASH:candy whose photograph was used in the blog.  It truly is a small world and a testament to the fact that there is a ripple effect, that the things we do can impact people and things halfway around the world. 

So, this post, which was so beautifully written and so raw with emotions, sparked memories that I have carried with me for 20 years or more.  These things have defined who I am today and have become 'baggage' that not only do I have to deal with, but other people in my life (like my boyfriend) deal with as well.  You see, I tend to not take compliments well, to not believe the positive things people tell me, to not even trust the image I see looking back at me in the mirror, because I have been told (maybe not straight out) that I am not good enough.

I clearly remember an incident my sophomore year of high school.  For some reason I was late getting to class so I was only one of 2 girls walking through campus (our school was very large and laid out like a college campus).  There was a boy on the porch outside of one of the classrooms who started whistling at the other girl, who was about 20 feet in front of me.  She was a tall brunette dressed like Madonna (it was 1985), with a cute mini skirt, big hair, and 4" heels.  I was the short girl wearing jeans, sneakers, and a t-shirt.  But that wasn't the worst, he then started shouting "to the one in front" EVERY time after he whistled.  Really?  As if I didn't already know he was whistling at her??  It was like having my nose rubbed in 'it'.  Thanks buddy.

Then there was the time, several years later, that my boyfriend and I were sitting in my car in front of is dorm.  He was telling me how lucky one of his buddy's was because HIS girlfriend was so pretty.  Then he said that actually I was the perfect girlfriend (oh boy, this sounds promising...wait for it...) because I wasn't so pretty that other guys would be after me and ask me out.  He felt that he didn't have to worry about me cheating on him because I wasn't pretty enough from anyone else to want me!  Yea, how romantic was that?!?

Rationally, I can see that what my boyfriend said was more a reflection on HIM then me...but that really hurt...and it has stuck with me for 21 years.  I STILL feel exactly as he described me that night.  I am not pretty (maybe not butt-ugly either) but certainly nothing to write home about.  Let me tell you, carrying around this thought can destroy your self-esteem and your relationships. 

So, after reading Karen's post about her own past hurt and being able to move through it, I've decided that it is time for me to release this past pain as well.  Those 2 fleeting moments do not define me, yet I've carried them around for so long, giving them undeserved importance in my life.  My boyfriend, who loves me unconditionally, tells me I'm beautiful yet I believe something someone who didn't love me told me over 20 years ago??  How fair is that for him and for me?  
Photo credit the late Harry Weber, my dad.
It may not be as easy as deciding right now to never think of those incidents again.  But I can decide to quit giving them my energy and to quit buying into those feelings.  I can decide to believe the person who might give me a compliment, with no strings attached, without saying to myself "sure you say that but don't you know that when I was 19 my boyfriend said I was ugly so you are wrong?".  And, like Karen, I can breath, let go, and just dance...

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Defending Health?

As I've mentioned in previous posts, I am usually game to try healthier ways of eating, whether it be removing sugar from my diet or adding things like flax seed and kale smoothies.  Over the course of many, many years I suppose I have acquired a taste for certain foods that others (aka my boyfriend) do not share.  However, I will stand by the fact that carrot juice, when combined with romaine lettuce juice, tastes so much like chocolate milk that I tend to avoid it, opting instead for beet, lemon, green apple, and lettuce smoothies. 

When I was 14, my dad moved from Warner Robins, Georgia to Redlands, California via the Air Force.  The rest of us (mom, sister and me) soon followed after our school year was over and discovered that dad had {surprisingly} gotten on a health kick.  He purchased the book Eat to Win by Robert Haas and had been following it's principles for a couple of months.  Immediately upon arriving to our new home, we ALL went on the Eat to Win 'diet'.  There were certain benefits...the first being that my dad was actually cooking almost all of the meals which were really quite basic AND delicious.  My dad looked great, smiled more, and was very active in our lives.  Family dinners were fun.

Unfortunately, this health kick didn't last for very long.  My dad, being an alcoholic (who was also bi-polar, unbeknown to anyone at the time), seemed to flip a switch and go back to an all red meat diet and snacking on bags of chips and buttered popcorn and beer.  I, on the other hand, embraced the healthy eating idea and just made the meals myself and even ate things like cottage cheese sandwiches before heading to the stables to work!

Since then I have been an avid reader/researcher on all things healthy.  I've been some form of vegetarian since about 18 years old.  I've also toyed with a vegan lifestyle as well as attempted to be a raw foodist.  I now kind of incorporate the 3...eating mainly vegetarian, mostly vegan (but no where strict enough to claim the title) and eating raw foods fairly often.  As would be expected, I catch a lot of flak for my food choices...mainly being told that I'm not getting enough protein, Vitamin D, iron, etc.  My favorite comments involve the "blame" people put on my diet if and when I ever get sick (which is rare).  As soon as I have the sniffles, or catch the same cold that everyone at work has shared, I am informed that my system is too delicate to fight off viruses and germs!**  Ridiculous! 

Wait a second..."As would be expected"??  Why should I expect to be harassed about my food choices?  After all, I didn't walk up to my co-worker, who was off work from "throwing his back out" and say, "You know, the reason you miss work and your back hurts is because you're carrying 40 pounds of useless fat right in your stomach area.  Lose THAT and you could do something as easy as mow your lawn.".  Or, when I see others in the break room, surrounded by bags of Taco Bell or Burger King I don't run in there and blame every little cough, sniffle, head ache, or other aliment on their diet.  I suppose I could, and I would have a better leg to stand on with medical backing, but it would also put me in the category of bully or prejudice against overweight or unhealthy people, even though I've been quite heavy myself.  Yet it seems fine for them to criticize my lifestyle with their unsolicited opinions.  

How is it okay for someone to go out of their way to basically inspect and then make fun of my smoothie but I don't have the same "right" to point and laugh when my friend orders chicken nuggets and a milk shake?  Even the grocery store clerks comment when I go through the register with a cart full of fruits and veggies and other 'healthy' items, yet never utter a word when someone goes through with 2 cases of soda, 3 bags of chips, a gallon of ice cream, and a box of Cocoa Puffs.

I find it odd that I am treated almost as an outsider in many areas of my life simply because I try to eat healthy and exercise regularly. It's strange, that in this day and age, it is still viewed as a 'novelty' to strive to be fit.  I think that's one of the reasons the blogger world is so appealing to find other people who share the desire to eat well, be healthy and get active.  

Do you have similar experiences with people (co-workers, family, friends) who seem to think it's okay to question your healthy life style?  How do you cope with it?

**I recently had a complete physical, including blood work and an EKG.  I passed with flying colors and my doctors were quite impressed with my cholesterol numbers, blood pressure as well as all of my other blood work results.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Slow Food

What could be in there??

It's CSA (community supported agriculture) Tuesday and you know what that of veggies (and my cats).  I think that they are just as excited about our CSA delivery as I am because it means they have a box to jump inside!
Avi loves the CSA box!

What?? Mangoes from my CSA?!?!
Today's delivery did not disappoint and actually had a BIG surprise....Mangoes!  I really think that joining the CSA has been one of the best things I've done in a long time.  Not only am I getting some awesome organic veggies but I am helping to support local farmers.  I am really starting to embrace the slow food movement and recently started reading Animal Vegetable Miracle by Barbara Kingslover.  It is about her family's one year plan of buying or growing as much of their food as possible from neighboring farms or their own garden.  It is also about how our food choices effect our health, the economy, politics, and our environment.  But don't worry, typical of Kingslover, this book is well-written and captivates the reader, making it hard to put it down at night, even if it is after midnight and I have to get up at 6 am!

One of my New Year's resolutions has involved eating better...but not just choosing veggies over junk, but eating better veggies (organic and local, sometimes known as more flavorful).  I had started by getting eggs at the little chicken farm I drive past almost's always fun to stop by and be greeted by a swarm of curious chickens of all types and then to open up the carton and find not just brown eggs but some that look pink and even green!
The Welcoming Committee
Green eggs!!!

About a month ago I received an 'invitation' to join Farm Fresh to You, a local CSA that my 'practically' daughter-in-law uses.  Using a Groupon, I was able to procure a fabulous assortment of veggies and fruit for $15!!!  Well, I was so impressed that I decided to stick with the programming, getting a delivery once every 3 weeks.

If you have access to a local CSA, farm or even a farmer's market I challenge you to try to purchase as much of your produce as possible from these great resources.  They may not have the full selection as your big chain grocery store, but you will most likely be able to buy locally grown, in-season, organic produce at a better price.  And you'll also be helping to support a farmer  by allowing him/her to pocket the profits that would otherwise go to the big corporations.  Click on the CSA link above to find out more!!

vitamins and supplements
Have a blog? Want to win a $100? Check out the Swanson Health Blog.


And the winner is...ME!

Me (left) and Heidi circa 1987.

This morning I found a grey hair, but it wasn't on my head.  I've been dealing with my grey on my head for years now, thanks to my dad's side of the family, so it was easy to just say I started going grey early, and it didn't reflect on my true age.  But now, well, it's a whole different story.

The funny part of it is that yesterday, my best friend called me from the east coast to do a little catching up, but the first words out of her mouth were "What's your secret?" and "How do you do it?".  I laughed it off knowing that she had just posted some comments on my Facebook pictures claiming I looked so young.  I don't take compliments well and generally assume that people say things like that to be 'nice'.  But she was serious and told me that her mom had also commented on my pictures and the transformation I had made from a total tomboy, very plain and almost androgynous girl into the person I am today. 

At first I totally dismissed what she was saying...blushing on the other end of the phone, saying things like "well if you saw my belly you wouldn't say that" and "I don't look young, I look like I need botox!" and "If you saw me in person you'd see I need to lose at least 10 pounds"...and all of the other self-deprecating thoughts that typically go through my head throughout the day.  But then I stopped myself...and I said, "You know how I do it?  I work HARD".  I try to eat the best foods that I can feed my body, I exercise HARD 6 days a week, I stretch, I drink a lot of water and a green monster smoothie everyday,  I don't touch fast food, I read every day, I blog (which is like journaling to me), I exfoliate with body brushing and my beloved Clairsonic Mia, and I have had to make a concerted effort to work at it everyday  I don't take any magic pills that allow me to sit on the couch and eat chips and ice cream all day (mainly because they don't exist) and I try really hard to protect myself by keeping toxic people and situations out of my life.

Body Brush

I'm not saying this to pat myself on the back or to scare anyone into thinking it's too difficult to lead a healthy lifestyle (and I have plenty more to learn and do and work on myself).  But I really think that we need to face the facts and realize that this journey doesn't have an ending.  You can't just lose 20 pounds and then say "there, I've done i can eat what I want and stop all of that horrendous exercise".  And apart from a physical handicap or illness, I think it's important to face theses realities and make ourselves a priority in this life.

Something clicked when I talked to my friend...I was finally ready to take responsibility, not only for my shortcomings but, for once, I was able to be proud of myself for something positive that I have done.  I'm always so ready to tell you about my faults but not about all of the great things about me (I am still struggling with this though).  I still look in the mirror and see flaws or see the number on the scale and get discouraged because I DO work so hard and wish I could shed those last few pounds....but I also need to be able to look in that same mirror and say "dang girl, you are 40 years old and have never looked so good in your life"!  Not only that, but I FEEL good and I am HAPPY.

If we continue to wish that we were something else (thinner, younger, prettier, wealthier, etc.) then we will never have the chance to truly appreciate and love what we have right now.  Whether you've lost 2 pounds or 200, or maybe just maintained a steady weight without gaining, you have something to be proud of.  If you gone for a walk, taken the stairs, chose skim milk over whole, meditated, tried a new exercise, ate an extra veggie, or any of the other countless ways possible for taking care or yourself and shown some self-love then you need to take responsibility for the positive steps you've taken.  Stop focusing solely on your 'failures' or slip-ups.  Give yourself some credit when someone compliments you...this is HARD work and you deserve to feel good about it!

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