This month I participated in my first ever Vegan Food Swap. The best way I can describe it is like a pen pal for Vegans except each month you get a new pen pal. You get matched up with your “pen pal” and set out to find some goodies to send out. You will will also get matched up with someone to receive a box of goodies. I think it’s kind of cool and after participating and receiving my goodies, I know its cool. Go ahead and check it out http://www.theverdantlife.com/p/vegan-food-swap.html Giving is just as much fun as receiving.
This month my match was Sage http://sageadderley.blogspot.com/ after checking out her blog I was pretty excited to see what kind of things I would receive. TBeing that this was my first swap I was NOT disappointed. I also live in a pretty rural area so finding Vegan goodies can be a little difficult. I had my items shipped to my office and boy was I glad I did that. The day the goodies arrived was a stressful day to say the least so receiving these snacks was just what the Dr. ordered and everyone in the office kept coming into my office very curious about what everything was.
One of my absolute favorite items are Chia seeds. I honestly eat these every single morning with dry oats, almonds, a banana and almond or rice milk. I was very excited to get more of these and see that they are carried at Trader Joes as I have been ordering them online.
The next item I couldn’t wait to tear into was the green beans. I nearly ate the entire bag the first day that I received them. What an awesome little snack. I knew my kids would enjoy these but unfortunately they didn’t last long enough for me to share them with them.
I have purchased Justin’s treats before for my kids but have never personally tried anything from them. Saturday I was having an extremely busy day and was running around like crazy trying to prepare my girls for the upcoming school year and found myself STARVING! When I got home I wanted something quick and easy to eat and tried out my peanut butter with a banana. It was really good. It was a little grainy and I am not sure if this is normal or if maybe I needed to knead the package but I would definitely have this again.
I have not tried this yet but will. I think I will add it to some tofu and make some type of yummy nachos.
These almost made me stop and buy a dehydrator. I have been contemplating buying one anyway and these are just the icing on the cake. SO SO SO SO GOOD! I will be making a trip to Trader Joe’s to pick some more of these up.
I LOVED all of the little snacks. I wish I could say that I had some of this left. I love Archer Farms brand and plan to check and see if my Target carries this particular snack.
This was probably my most favorite item in the box. It was another extremely busy day for me on Sunday and I was again out without any type of food to hold me over. I
walked fell in the door from exhaustion and starvation. OK, maybe a bit of an exaggeration but I was HUNGRY. I remembered I had this little treat waiting for me and planned on savoring it but honestly I do not remember one thing about the bar other than it was GOOD. I had read multiple postings about these bars and will be picking some up in the future to keep in my purse or car so I do not pass out (again a flare for the dramatics) while out running errands.
So there you have it! Anyone hungry? I am!! Thank you Sage! Everything was amazing! Can’t wait to see who I am matched up with September.
I have only been rock climbing once in my life and the first time I decided to venture into this sport was in Las Vegas at Red Rock the day after I ran a 1/2 marathon. Luckily, the guide just happened to be a very good-looking, athletic, experienced rock climber.
The day started out with a Starbucks and a Ginormous Doughnut from the Hotel at New York New York. Breakfast of champions right there. “what? I just ran a 1/2 marathon-cut me some slack.”
We drove to the Red Rock Climbing center where we met our guide and were taken out to Red Rock Canyon where we would set up camp for the day. For anyone that thinks that Las Vegas is warm year round think again. It was absolutely FREEZING and I was not ready for how cold it was going to be. After a small hike to where we would be climbing our guide Andy went and got all the ropes set for us to start climbing.
While our guide was setting everything up I decided to take some photo opportunities. It was absolutely gorgeous despite the cooler temps. I can honestly say that was one of the most peaceful days of my life outside of being terrified to climb these giant rocks. It was so quiet and it felt like I was in my own little world.
It was now or never. The angel on my one shoulder was telling me “don’t do this” while the devil on the other shoulder was saying “c’mon, what are you waiting for you big chicken” Obviously, I listened to the little devil.
After I had reached the top during one of the climbs I just took a moment while I was up there to reflect and take a photo so I could remember this feeling. I think I climbed that day 3 different times. I walked away all bruised up from hitting my legs on the rocks but also knowing that a few years ago I never would have been able to accomplish all the things I accomplished that weekend. It was absolutely amazing to feel like I was on top of the world and not in an arrogant “I am so good” sense but more a “You did good kid, you did good” sense.
We ended the day with a drive through the rest of the conservation area and observing some more experienced climbers taking on some serious rocks. I hope to one day be able to experience the euphoria that I felt climbing those rocks in the cold Las Vegas air. I have searched for places in Michigan to climb but have come up short and I feel like going to an indoor gym will somehow not be anywhere on par with climbing an actual rock .
As if running the 10K in October was not enough……………I signed up for the Rock N Roll 1/2 Marathon in Las Vegas in December of 2011. Having survived the 10K the next logical step seemed to be a 1/2 Marathon or so I thought.
I laced up my running shoes, hopped on my treadmill, and started training. To say my training was ideal is a joke to say the least. There were so many interruptions some that couldn’t be helped and some that were due to my own procrastinations and fears. In my head I had it all planned out. I was going to run a 5K then walk a
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I am going to do a little backtracking for a moment to share some of the amazing adventures I had in 2011. I am really not sure if anything could possibly top 2011, but what matters is that I was able to have these adventures at all. Back when I had decided I wanted to lose weight I was toying with the idea of running. For anyone who knew me at all knew I absolutely despised running, but something in me wanted to challenge myself to do this. One would think after spending 4 years in the Army that I would have ran enough to last a lifetime. Honestly, looking back on it all I did not have the confidence to actually push myself to run like I could have during that time so I just did what I needed to do to get by. Funny how those little moments of “if I had it to do all over again” can creep up in one’s life. I knew running was not going to be easy. I had so many more responsibilities than what I did 10 years ago and not to mention I was 10 Years Older but I knew I wanted to at least try. So in July 2011 I started running and training using the Couch to 5K App on my phone. http://www.bluefinapps.com/#ourapps When I first started I thought there is no way I am going to be able to run for five minutes let alone a 5K but each week it got easier and I was able to run “harder, faster, stronger”. My first race was in August and I only did a 1 mile race but right then and there I was bitten by the bug.
In September 2011 I did my first 5K. My race time was 35:29. Now I know that may not be the fastest time but I am incredibly happy with those results.
Looking back I think I was really consumed by the number and wish I would have done more but now I think it’s pretty cool and I do not dwell on the number but more so on the fact that I went out there and did it. My daughter loves to “race”. I say race because she is extremely competitive but does not like to train. Luckily for her she is a natural runner. She also ran this race with me and I remember seeing her WAY——ahead of me at point during the race and feeling nothing but pride and pure happiness that this was something we were able to share.
The running bug kept biting and I ran another 5K in October with my daughter. This time was more for fun and it was a night run through downtown, around the lake, through the cemetery. You can not pick any better course for a Halloween run. We also got to dress up in costume.
My time was not as good as my first race (36:24) but the course was a little tougher and I was really out to just have a good time. My dad was in from out of town and it was nice to have him there to be involved and witness some of my interests as an adult.
The fun did not stop there. In October I also did my first 10K. I had been training with my best friend since July and we were both very gung ho about racing. Honestly, I was not physically or mentally ready for the 10K but I thought “this is your chance to prove to yourself you can do this”. So I did it.
It was SUPER cold this morning and I really had a mental block going but I just wanted to finish. The first mile was a piece of cake. I thought “wow” this is going to be easy. Mile 2 went well and mile 3 was ok, but the last 3.1 miles proved to be the toughest. Obviously because I hadn’t really trained for a 10k and the farthest I had gone was about 4 miles prior to this run. I ended up finishing with a time of (1:15). Again, not a great time but I had accomplished something I set out to do. I went home after that race feeling the weakest I had felt mentally and physically in a long time. I knew why I was physically weak but the mental part of it had me perplexed. I later realized that it was the beating down mile by mile of the mental block I started the race with.
More Running Adventures in the next post……….
So I wanted to take a moment and share with all of you one of the many other blogs that I have drawn inspiration from. In future posts I will be sharing some of my other favorites but this particular one is important to me on so many different levels. One of the most important being that I could relate to her. We share so many of the same interests, close in age, love of animals, and probably the most important factor being that she is real. She doesn’t try to come off like she knows it all. She is just trying to spread the knowledge she has gained onto others. This particular blogger goes by the name Raw Rebecca http://rawrebecca.wordpress.com/ you can also follow her on her Facebook page http://www.facebook.com/rawrebecca1979 On her blog she discusses the benefits of juicing and eating a raw diet and recommended a documentary called Fat, Sick, and Nearly Dead. Now unlike Raw Rebecca, I am not eating a Raw Diet but this is something I hope to eventually branch out to in the future after I save my pennies for the 9 Tray Excalibur Dehydrator. I sat down one night and added Fat, Sick, and Nearly Dead to my Netflix queue and was flooded with different documentaries recommendations regarding nutrition and diet. I have not had a chance to view all of these recommendations but the one that really stuck with me that I did watch was called Forks over Knives. This documentary focuses on a plant based diet and something about the message really resonated with me and I knew this was something I wanted to try. I do not claim that this is the right path for everyone but for me right now in this moment it is the only path.
So I am now about a little over a full month into being on a strictly vegan diet and I have discovered a few interesting things.
1. It is easier than I ever thought it would be. I still get cravings for my sweets but not nearly as bad as I used to. I can walk past cookies and cakes and not eat them. I always ask what is in them and if there is egg, milk, butter, etc. I am able to say no thank you. Do not get me wrong there are worse things out there than egg, milk, butter but this process has made me really stop and think about the food I am eating rather than just eating it and thinking about it later if at all. I have read in other blogs this is something that happens but I really didn’t think about it until the other day when I was at the Farmers Market and there were these beautiful looking cakes and I wanted one so badly and asked the “what is in them question” Just because it had butter in it does not mean it was bad it just means it wasn’t the right choice for me and since I already indulged in the Vegan Opera cake from The Inn Season Cafe on Friday night I didn’t need another treat on Sunday….that was a long point. I will try to keep the others shorter
2. People do not and will not understand so its better to just keep it simple or not even discuss it at all. This is my choice and what I choose to do and that is all that really matters. I am researching and doing the best I can to ensure I am getting all of my required nutrients and taking supplements. I do not force my kids to eat Vegan it is a choice for them and I buy them their milk and cheese and occasional turkey burger, etc. If they decide they want to go on a full vegan diet that will be a choice they make not one that is forced upon them. Please do not tell me I have to eat meat that I am unhealthy. You do not hear me telling you that you are going to get sick from eating meat and dairy and eggs (which there are studies out there to back up this argument just as much as there is to back up your argument). We are all entitled to our own opinion and way of living. Let’s just live!
3. I LOVE LOVE LOVE FOOD. I know I said this in a previous post but I really do LOVE FOOD. My spare time is spent reading recipes, shopping for knives, cutting boards, measuring cups, Vita-mix Blenders, juicers, basically all things kitchen, cooking, prepping. I love it. My mom would be so proud. As a kid she tried to push me in the kitchen and I fought her every step of the way. I hated cooking and my husband did the majority if not all of the cooking and when I did cook it was processed and came out of a box or bag or something similar. Now I love to see what I can come up with and create or duplicate from a restaurant or recipe. I can spend hours at the farmers markets looking at all the fresh produce and dreaming of new ways to make something. My trips to the grocery store involve the produce section and the Natural Health sections and that’s about it. It is almost a foreign concept for me to go to the meat department but I do for the occasional Turkey burger for my kids.
4. The last and probably most shocking point is that I have given up coffee. Not really for any particular reason but I was trying to break the hold that it had on my life. I seriously would drink at least 4-6 cups of coffee a day filled with creamers and syrups and all the wonderful fluffy whip cream and it really was my addiction. There are absolutely worst addictions that I can have but I just didn’t want to be hooked on any one things. In this journey I have been trying to find a me that I can be happy with. After losing all the weight I thought I’d finally be free of whatever hold life had on me and was preventing me from just being. I know that sounds corny but I really just want to be. When I didn’t feel free after all of the running, and skydiving, and climbing and anything else that might make one feel free I set out on a journey to look inside to set myself free. Which started with yoga which then transitioned into a preservative free diet which turned into a vegan diet, etc. I am learning now that there is not one thing that will make you feel at peace and there are always going to be little struggles and little demons pulling at you. Ok….how did I get on that-Oh yeah! I basically just wanted to have a clearer mind with no strings attached while I take this journey and having coffee as my vice to wake me up and get me through the day just didn’t seem like the right thing for me anymore. I wanted to know what true energy felt like without the addition of sugar and caffeine. I will still enjoy a cup of coffee socially here and there but the habit has been totally kicked. I have also learned to enjoy a nice cup of tea now and now and also have found a new favorite at my beloved Starbucks. Its the Iced Green Tea Shaken with no added sweeteners.
2011 is the year I think will forever be called the Year of Me. I went on so many adventures (skydiving, running, rock climbing) but I was still constantly obsessing about my weight. Fearing every pound I gained and working so hard to maintain what I had accomplished. So this year I am starting a new adventure. After all the years obsessing about food and trying every fad diet there is I started researching food and realized my diet was full of processed foods. This is when I embarked on my clean eating adventure which has led me to my vegan adventure. I am very excited about this new adventure and honestly feel the best that I have ever felt. I have so much clarity especially when it comes to food. Being someone who has struggled with food and sweets for a good part of my life I now have a love for food and creating and forming a healthy relationship with it and appreciating its benefits and not using it as a drug and crutch to get through life.