vegan AND gluten-free? are you nuts?

Yes, yes I am. And I do really love nuts, thanks for asking. 🙂

As I’ve changed my eating lifestyle throughout the years, I’ve learned so much about my own body and how it handles certain types of foods. First of all, as I had long suspected, sugar is a killer. If I eat anything with sugar after 6 or 7 at night, I’m pretty much guaranteed to have one heck of a headache in the morning that nothing will get rid of quickly. I later chose to be vegetarian, and then vegan, for ethical reasons and learned along the way that my body really does not like meat nor dairy. This lesson was a hard one to learn because every time I fell of the vegan wagon and ate dairy or (sadly) meat, I would be sick. Really sick.

Some of that sickness was due to me pretty much being lactose-intolerant (this happens after you’re vegan for a long time) but there were many other health symptoms that came back. Issues that I had dealt with my whole life and assumed they were “just the way it’s supposed to be” but that went away when I was vegan. Probably the easiest example to give without going into too many details is acne – once I stopped eating meat and dairy, I pretty much stopped having issues with acne. Acne was a huge deal for me in my life and I’ve had it way past the teenage years timeframe that it’s known for – I had it through my 20’s and 30’s. But, when I watch what I eat, it goes away. If I stop eating vegan, it comes back. I can give you citations to research and science crap that will explain why so let me know if you’re interested in learning more – I’ll put my librarian hat on for you.

So why gluten-free also? Well, I have friends who either have celiac disease or have a strong intolerance to gluten. And there’s some research about how gluten affects your body that I could share with you as well (again, just ask me). But for me, when listening to others describe some of the effects and symptoms they’ve had before going gluten-free, I hear myself and I too would like them to go away. Therefore, I’m going to give it a try. This of course is going to be an interesting project and change for me. Thankfully, going vegan taught me how to cook and bake – and now, I will have to do this even more so I don’t end up buying unhealthy processed & packaged food.

One of my friends shared the blog Gluten-Free Goddess with me. And while perusing it (and falling in love with the recipes!!) I learned that the author also bakes vegan. She has a great “Vegan Baking Cheat Sheet” with helpful tips, including this gem:

“Baking gluten-free and vegan translates to one simple truth that is hard to teach. Because it can only be learned by experience. This one simple truth?

Unlearn everything you think you know- or thought you understood- about baking.”

The whole page and blog is wonderful (with great photos!) and if you’re interested in learning more, I would definitely recommend going there. I feel fortunate because I never really learned how to cook/bake before going vegan so I don’t have too many of the traditional ideas about baking to unlearn. But there are definitely some things there that I needed to unlearn. It will be a new adventure for me  for sure – but one that I believe will have amazing benefits.

Today is officially day one of vegan, gluten-free eating. I’m looking forward to seeing how this choice improves how I feel and pushes me closer to my goal of being healthy overall and running a half-marathon. Oh, and my new one: being a cross-fit athlete by the time I’m 40. Yeah, I’m serious. But that’s another post. 🙂

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Yard Work, Cravings, and Weather

Though I had hoped that yesterday would consist of a walk on the Konza Prairie, it instead consisted of yard work. We have a huge problem with overrun bushes and shrubs in our backyard – none of which are actually growing in our yard. They all belong to the neighbor but have grown up and over the fence to the point that there is an entire section of our yard that you cannot walk through. So, with Mumford & Sons on the iPod, I headed out with my clippers. And I was doing well until I noticed that there was a nest in the branches I was about to cut down – too late for me to not cut down the surrounding branches so the nest had already dropped about 4 feet (still attached the branch – the branch actually dropped). I saw that there was one egg and two itty-bitty baby birds – one of which had fallen out because of my cutting!!! I was a hot mess of distraught tears because there’s a real possibility that I just caused this bird’s death.

So. I first obviously stopped cutting down branches. I’ve heard a hundred times that you’re not supposed to pick up a baby bird and put it back because then the mom won’t come and feed it. But I couldn’t just leave it there! So I attempted to circumvent the issue by using a large leaf to pick it up, hoping that my scent wouldn’t carry over. Then I propped the branches up a bit higher and used all the cut branches I had to form a pile around the area – as a barricade for The Cleo puppy dog who I’m hoping will not discover the nest. And then I walked away and decided to work on the front yard for the rest of the morning. Later, I checked back and the mom bird had been back and she had retucked the two babies in the nest beside the egg. I didn’t have the heart to go look today but I suppose I better. I’m just so afraid that I caused baby bird death. 😦

But I digress. Let’s talk about running instead of my traumatic Sunday morning. Two things to report: first, I crave meat. You may not find this surprising or upsetting, but as a vegan, I find this terribly upsetting. I know it’s because of the running that I’m craving more protein and the problem lies in the fact that I had not prepared enough protein-rich food last week. And I was too lazy to cook. And then the worst happened: I ate meat AND cheese. Three times last week. I feel a bit like I’m in a confessional booth as I write this. Sigh. I was disgusted by myself for doing it. But, I’m better prepared now and spent some time yesterday afternoon meal-planning, shopping, and cooking so that I would be ready for the extra protein my body needs now that I’m running frequently. Yikes. I hope I don’t cave in again because I really was so upset. And of course sick because when you don’t eat meat or dairy for a very long time and then suddenly do, you get to be sick. Bloated. And other gross things I won’t write about here.

Second thing to report is that there is a difference between running in the rain and running in a thunderstorm. One is awesome; the other is scary and not awesome. I woke up this morning at 4:45 to crazy thunderstorms. But luckily I have the internet and watched the weather radar map – when my area hit the green area and not the scary red/yellow area, I headed out the door. Because I didn’t get out until later, I couldn’t go for as long BUT what I did do was almost run an entire mile without stopping – I only had two moments of recovery walking. And it was awesomely pouring rain. I do so love to run in the rain. I’m such a dork. There was still lightning in the far away background which also gave it an eerie feel but it was cool. And I ran for a long time – way longer than I was supposed to according to the training plan but it just felt good to keep going. So I did.

That’s all for now…since I’ve already written an entire novel here. Geesh.

On the Road

The knee pain has definitely started now. I know I shouldn’t be surprised since I’m trying to do all of this with bad knees and a bad back and oh, did I mention, I’m obese? And actually, the knee pain doesn’t really kick in until I’m walking up and down stairs – it’s just more obvious to me right now because I’m at my mom’s house and it seems all I do is walk up and down stairs.

This morning I’m doing some work while others are still in bed – work that I really need to get done – but as I sit here, I really feel like I want to be out there walking and jogging and running. It’s a weird feeling and I haven’t quite got used to it yet. I don’t know how to describe it – an aching maybe? Like, I know that if I get off this chair, change into my running shoes and head out the door, I will feel great (and exhausted) when I return. But then I wonder if I’m just procrastinating on my work.

On a side note, did I mention I’m vegan? I have been for months now but still struggle with it at times when traveling. Usually I do what I did for this trip to my mom’s house, which is bring food with me. Last night I roasted a bunch veggies with seasoning and olive oil for dinner. Mmm. Anyway, I was doing a favor for my mom on the way up here and had to stop at Cabela’s to pick something up for her. Cabela’s  – do you know this store? It’s like the hunting/fishing mecca. Until I walked in the door, I completely forgot about all the real dead animals EVERYWHERE in the store. Agh. I thought I was going to lose it. When I talked to my mom later I told her I was going to write a story called “A Vegan in Cabela’s” or something.

But I digress. Tomorrow morning (or maybe later today – we’ll see how the day plays out) I am going to head to a little town near my mom’s with a good walking path at a park and do my running. Because it’s a small world after all, it will be weird for me because I haven’t walked around this park in 15 years – when I walked around it in high school. It’s the town I lived in many years ago. Weird.

Frustration

So, I’m frustrated.

I have two goals in mind when it comes to this journey I’ve undertaken. One, I have wanted to be a runner since I was a kid and just never thought it was an option or a possibility until recently. Two, I want to be in shape and lose weight. You can see how these two things fit together nicely.

The scale tells me I’ve lost weight. Actually, 6lbs in the last weight. I’m excited about that. But – and here’s the part that gets me – I swear my clothes feel tighter. Mainly in the stomach area – it totally feels like I’ve gained weight! Ugh.

Frustration item number two: all I’ve eaten the last week is crap. Yes I realize that frustration items one and two are probably connected. But I don’t know what my deal is lately – and it’s not just crap, it’s unvegan crap. I ate processed nasty pasta the other day with a cream sauce – milk/butter based I’m sure. It’s like I just had a downfall. And then once, that was done, I figured what the hell? Why not eat a piece of unvegan cake too? Ugh. Of course, I’ve been vegan for long enough that my body has weaned itself off the poison that is animal-based food and I was sick the next day from it.

On a positive note, I worked out at the gym yesterday (during what ended up being a horrific storm that caused my university $250,000 of damage!) and then ran a half mile. A half mile! Me! So, that makes me happy. Oh, and I got the job that I had applied for and had been anxiously waiting to hear about…so all in all, life is super awesome.

Just the damn weight and eating crap thing that sucks. My goal is to overcome that overnight. Ha.

From Obesity to Half-Marathon

As my first blog post, I’ve mostly used the same information from one of my About pages…but just in case you don’t read the About pages on a blog:

I’ve struggled with my weight and health for a long time. I’ve done the whole weight-loss thing with diets – but always the weight comes back. I’ve tried going to gyms to work-out, but end up quitting because I can’t stand people seeing me trying to lose weight – too public. These are my demons.

At the beginning of 2010, I began changing the way I eat. First, out went all the processed foods. That was an interesting change. I began cooking more and found that even though I had pretty much avoided it my whole life, I was pretty darn good at it.

After lots of research, I made the change to veganism. I’ve been vegetarian off and on throughout the years but in March, I went all the way. This is a process for me – I am always striving to be vegan but find it challenging at times when it comes to things I already own (Birkenstock leather shoes for example). But I keep going at it. After two months of being vegan, my fiancé’s blood pressure dropped and is now normal. He is NOT a vegan, but my new healthy food definitely made a difference in his life.

Now, I am working towards running a half-marathon. I’ve given myself the deadline of fall 2011. This ends up working out to be a 10K by end of the year and a 5K by October 1st.

Here we go…

P.S. In case you came to my blog thinking it was something else, I have revamped the whole thing to reflect my journey. So, you’re not crazy – I’ve changed the whole thing. 🙂