So, this will be extremely personal and potentially graphic (warning)…but I feel the need to document my perspective (and experience) as I don’t believe I came across an experience like the one I had yesterday (Wednesday).
My mind has been racing lately. Simply glossing over some of the posts I’ve written over the past month alone lends itself to showing how unsettled I’ve become as a person. Part of this I blame on simply being overwhelmed with how busy I am professionally (that I don’t reserve any additional energy into processing things in my personal life) and the other part I blame (though I *really* hate to) on anxiety.
While I never forget that anxiety is something I
struggle deal with on a daily basis, it’s often something I neglect to show myself compassion over. I’m always kicking myself for not “growing a pair” and effortlessly maneuvering through life like everyone else seems to. Everything in life (in my mind) should be easier than this. I shouldn’t feel bothered by this. I shouldn’t feel exhausted for simply moving from day to day, week to week, month to month…I should be happy, appreciative, energized, inspired, etc…
But fun fact: I don’t.
Flashback to last Saturday night. I was out with a group of friends of mine that I’ve spent a fairly consistent amount of time with over the past year. I feel comfortable with this group of friends in a way that I don’t with other people in my life. I’m usually fully relaxed around them. After pre-gaming and roller skating (yes–we went drunken roller skating), we decided to end the evening in a local bar belting out 80s pop classics. What fun, right? What better way to spend a summer night? Easy breezy. While I found myself full of life and excitement early into the evening, towards the end of the evening (while at the bar) I felt this hefty weight of sadness consume me. It felt heavy and saturated like a wet wool blanket. My mind and heart started to race about all of the what ifs in my life and it was all I could do but to fake a smile in hopes that no one (in my friend circle or at the bar in general) would notice this mini internal crisis I was silently
going suffering through. Maybe it was a combination of the one or two drinks I had and exhaustion…or perhaps I was having a mini anxiety attack, looking back on that night…I think this all came from realizing that I’m not happy with many aspects of my life right now and that I want better for myself.
The following day, I met up with two other friends of mine (separate from the friend group above) for a day trip to the beach, which was much needed. Something about sitting on the beach and listening to the waves crash is truly relaxing.
I remember doing this back around the holidays when I needed to clear my mind. I felt slightly more at ease Sunday, but still more on edge than usual, even with the waves. While with that pair of friends on Sunday, the theme of our day trip seemed to be Betterment. We all disclosed things we wanted to work on. Finances. Career Paths. Organization. Health. Relationships. Love. Patience. Acceptance. Hobbies.
I clearly need to work on all of those things and my mind started spinning as I made lists and goals as to just how I was going to manage doing all of those things better, but realistically, approaching self-improvement in that way is detrimental and in no way helping my anxiety.
I decided to narrow the broad range of things to “fix” in my life from the lengthy list that we collectively came up with down to two. Accomplishing bettering myself in those areas (or at least be well on my way) before diving into the other areas is reasonable. The two that I decided to address first were:
I selected those two areas first because there are short-term goals/issues that I’d like to accomplish/resolve that will move me into more long-term goals down the road.
As I mentioned previously, I’ve come to the conclusion that while things may naturally be fizzling out with BF anyway, I need to formally end it so that I can devote my energy into other aspects of my life. Without getting into all of the details, I’m not getting what I’d like to get out of our interactions and it’s become more of a hassle than an enjoyment to date him at this point. I act ridiculously reckless around him at times to an extent that I don’t even recognize who I am as a person. I like him as a person and find him to be a lovely (at times deeply troubled) guy, but I just can’t devote energy into this any longer. I’m depleted. Breaking up with someone (regardless of how formal or informal) just plain sucks. It’s awkward and you just feel like an asshole, even if it’s painfully obvious that it needs to happen. For what it’s worth, I think the situation served it’s purpose for the two of us for the time period that it needed to. It was (mostly) fun. Post “breakup”, I plan to start a dating detox. More on this later…
Health wise, I’ve kicked off this week by starting the keto diet. I’ve been stress eating (and drinking) for the past few weeks and needed to hit the reset button in order to make better choices. So far, so good. It’s been fairly manageable, especially since I’ve limited my social engagements to truly commit to sticking to the plan. I already feel like a boost in my energy levels and have noticed more restful sleep five days in. I plan to do this for at least another week or so before incorporating a regular exercise routine back into my day…days?
So that’s all that I’ve got for now. All of the other things I’d love to work on are on the back burner for now until I work through the first two areas or my anxiety levels itself off. Whichever comes first.
I had a chit chat the other day with the ex concerning a potential health scare (that I think I have) that I know he’s been
dealing living with for more than 20 years of his life . If you knew him, you’d forget he has this issue because he doesn’t allow it to define him.
Conversation wise, he could have very well ignored me, told me to fuck off or simply dismissed my concerns as being “ridiculous”…but he didn’t. He treated me with genuine respect and kindness. He listened to what I had to say, comforted me through my anxious thoughts (because, anxiety!), shared his perspective on how he
deals lives with this health issue and sent loads and loads of information on the matter as well as his specialist’s contact information.
That was super nice of him to do any of that, especially since it required him to do some some googles. After thanking him for the advice and apologizing for the interruption in his day, he said:
Don’t be :). You deserve compassion and kindness, you really do. Keep your head up, (name retracted). Please keep me updated on what you find out.
The kid’s alright in my books. I wish more people would practice kindness in this way. Hell, I wish I was able to be this kind more often. Maybe I should try working on that.
Gee, looks like aside from being “content” (which comes in spurts), I equally split my time between being bored, drunk, worried and annoyed.
Wonder if there’s a correlation 🤔.
Ah, Sunday. I thought I’d never get there (just kidding). I woke up feeling lazier than usual, but probably because the forecast called for a steady downpur of cold rain all day long. All I felt like doing was snuggling up in bed with my blankets and binging on netflix, but I promised to meet a friend for brunch. Luckily, I got to choose the restaurant and I selected a place that I knew had ample veggie options on the menu. I ended up with black bean burger and sweet potato fries. Sure, I know the fries (and possibly the burger) were both cooked in the same oil as the other meat dishes, but I feel like I made the best choice out of the options available (aside from just ordering a salad–which, I was a bit tired of eating straight produce by this point). I’m not really sure how to deal with the oil situation in restaurants. I mean, can you? It’s not really up to you how a restaurant cooks their food? I mean, you don’t have to eat there? Sure, you could ask wait staff every intricate detail of how something is made, but at the end of the day, even they don’t control the cooks or policies of the kitchen staff…so there’s no guarantee.
That would stress me out having to deal with that every time I wanted to eat something out. Not that I eat out often (this past weekend was unusual), but still.
I feel like I could go on this super long tangent here about the quality of foods in restaurants (and grocery stores) and how that food is prepared, stored, served, etc, but there are enough food documentaries (concerning health) on netflix and I don’t feel like I need to waste the time to say what has already been said.
Anyway, I closed out the evening with pizza and a glass of wine. As I half watched the superbowl, I thought about how it would feel to wake up the next day (today–Monday since this is being posted super late) and not having to obsessively worry about what I was going to eat.
Some things I learned on this “journey”:
- A lot of food contains animal products, even foods you wouldn’t assume would, like some snacks, dressings and even drinks.
- Many restaurants aren’t vegan friendly and while they may carry a specific dish or alternative here and there, the variety is slim (you’re looking at one maybe two dishes at best-though, you can be creative with sides and ask swaps like nut milks or steamed veggies). Restaurants that do cater to vegans/vegetarians are limited in more suburban/rural areas.
- Just because you’re eating a “plant based diet”, doesn’t mean you’re being healthy. Many snacks that are vegan, aren’t healthy for you just because they’re vegan friendly (i.e. oreos, laffy taffy, etc.). Many meat and dairy substitutes are a clusterfuck of processed nonsense. So essentially, while you aren’t eating food with animal products in them, you’re eating a lot of chemicals with possible long term effects on your body (which is another issue within itself).
- Abruptly cutting out meat and dairy is a shock to the system and may (at first) cause you to feel fatigued (also cold and shaky). I’m not sure if this is because of withdraws or simply from being malnourished (as a newbie who isn’t eating properly, because I ate like shit).
- Piggybacking off of the point above, I learned that dairy is a pretty substantial part of my normal diet even though I already incorporated nut milks into my regular diet as opposed to drinking traditional cow milk (and I didn’t used to think so).
- You’ll use the bathroom more frequently (no seriously).
- You’re more hungry between meals and snacks. It requires you to be far more creative in snack and meal options to keep hunger at bay (you’ll need protein–nuts, beans).
- Slip ups can occur if you don’t plan well.
- Shopping for vegan friendly foods doesn’t have to be expensive (with planning).
- Certain vegan friendly staples (like black beans) are inexpensive and can be used in numerous dishes.
- You’ll have some anxiety at first because you’re having to adjust your train of thought and approach eating differently
- There will be times where you just have to “sit things out” (i.e., office birthday parties, chili cook-offs, etc) and that’s ok.
Some positive benefits (that I experienced):
- I’m more mindful/clear headed
- I’ve increased my water intake quite a bit
- I’m more aware of what’s in the food I am eating and think to check before assuming anything
- I’m more sensitive to people with plant based diets (or any other non-mainstream diets).
- I saved money (mostly by not eating out as much)
- I feel like I’m not as bloated
- I don’t feel like I’m missing anything if I don’t eat meat with a meal now
- I lost about 3.5 pounds
Ok, ok…enough with the lists, enough with the rambling, enough with the analyzing. While I don’t particularly feel accomplished or like a “brand new person”, I am happy that I challenged myself to do this. While I don’t believe I could completely go vegan, I could do better about eating a more plant based diet whenever possible.
The last few days (Thursday and Friday) were fairly eventful, which caused me to spend quite a bit of time being social. As I mentioned previously, this “challenge” seemed “doable” to me because I also chose to socially isolate myself in the past week due to social exhaustion.
Friday, I did fairly well considering I was still ravishing hungry and increasingly drained. I didn’t partake in the office birthday celebration for my manager with the cupcakes I brought in and I primarily kept good pacing with the snacks that I bought (orange, grapes, cucumbers, humus). It was dinner that was going to be the true indicator for me on whether or not I was able to keep this going and I’m proud to say that I did alright. I went out for “Hawaiian cuisine” with a friend that night at a new place that just opened, and opted for a dish that contained zucchini noodles, seaweed, avocado, tofu, mangos, clementines and other assorted veggies. below is a photo. This not only was tasty as a VEGAN dish, but in general. I would order this even if I wasn’t trying to do this challenge.
Breakfast: Orange, Apple, Half a banana, water
Snack: cucumbers and humus
Lunch: Veggie sandwich, kettle chips, water
Dinner: Poke & Noodles
Saturday is where things became increasingly complicated as I spent the entire day away from work/home and out of my routine. The day started off with a visit to the spa for a manicure with my mom. After the spa day, we decided to do brunch. We had been talking about doing this for a long before I considered doing this challenge, so instead of stressing about it, I figured I would just go along with it.
Well, there was a problem. We went to a crepes place. Crepes are made with eggs AND milk. Eggs and milk are both animal products. The restaurant had a healthier crepe alternative with buckwheat crepes, but the only difference was the flour used. As I drank my coffee (with almond milk), I studied the menu intentionally, constantly stalling to see what I could come up with. Practically every dish on the menu was a crepe and the only sides that were vegan friendly were potatoes (possibly sautéed in butter and duck fat–which is a NOPE), and fruit. Even the oatmeal contained, “cream”. I started to panic because I was starving and I didn’t feel like filling up on fruit
and potatoes. I don’t even like potatoes that much! I ended up just sucking it up and getting a strawberry filled crepe with bananas and eating around the crepe itself. I probably ate part of the crepe in the process.
For dinner, I met up with another friend for pizza. Before even heading to this place, I studied the menu pretty carefully and discovered that they offered a vegan cheese for a $2 up charge. My friend was very gracious and agreed to doing a veggie pizza with vegan cheese. It was surprisingly tasty.
Breakfast: Strawberries, bananas (from inside of a crepe), coffee with almond milk
Dinner: Woodfired Pizza with veggies and vegan cheese, water
Aside from the breakfast meltdown, Saturday went fairly well. I never realized just how complex it could be to select vegan friendly options from certain places without compromising the taste buds or desires of your loved ones. I didn’t have the heart to tell my mom that I didn’t want to eat at the crepe place since it was our day out and those are her favorites.
I’ll write separately about the final day and how I feel about the challenge overall.
Day damn four. I’m still hanging in there.
I had a particularly stressful day at work (yesterday) and found myself craving something super greasy and bad. I had depleted all of my reserve snacks (almost entirely produce) and even added a side with my soup at lunch (BBQ jackfruit), but I still found myself STARVING by the time I left work a little after 5. With about an hour’s drive home in afternoon traffic, I knew I’d be “hangry” by the time I made it there.
On top of things, I had to make a stop at Kroger to pick up a cake for a co-worker’s birthday celebration that we’re having today. Normally, this is an easy task and not one I put entirely too much thought into. Get the cake and dip out. BOOM. Yesterday was different though. I was hungry and approaching this task as someone attempting to live a vegan lifestyle.
As I strolled through the deli/bakery section, I found myself picking up various items to see if they were “vegan friendly”. Newsflash (sarcasm) almost none of them were. I think the only things I came across that I could eat were some assorted flatbreads and vegetable sushi rolls. Everything else either had eggs, meat or cheese in it. Even the soups and side dishes (like creamed spinach, mashed sweet potatoes, salads–but I knew all of these things contained no vegan friendly components). Was I up for supermarket sushi that had probably been sitting out since that morning?
I wasn’t in there for me, but I couldn’t help but to make the trip about me. All I wanted was some really shitty comfort food and I couldn’t think long or hard enough to come up with anything substantial outside of eating an entire bag of kettle chips. I grabbed the cupcakes (which I won’t be able to eat) and meandered over to the condensed section of “Plant based alternatives” of the refrigerated produce section. There were an assortment of nut milks, humus, nut based yogurts, dairy free “cheeses”, plant-based oils and soy crumbles (oh boy). I must have stood there blankly for about ten minutes before I came up with the idea of buying a block of dairy alternative cheese (daiya medium cheddar style) because I remembered that I had a package of soy crumbles just WAITING to be eaten at home. This called for vegan friendly nachos (drool).
I admit, I was kind of hesitant to buy the “cheese”, especially since my first encounter with the daiya brand was about 5-6 years ago when I purchased a bag of Mozzarella Style Shreds and was disappointed when I realized it tasted like shredded styrofoam. Call me what you want….maybe I didn’t eat it properly (I think I put it on a salad), or maybe I didn’t store it properly and it expired…there could be an assortment of reasons why I didn’t like it, but I just didn’t like it and I’ve stayed away from these types of “cheeses” ever since. So imagine my interest being sparked when I saw that this brand sells the “cheese” in a block!
I got home and cooked the soy crumbles. They cook a little quicker than actual ground beef (or turkey/chicken as I prefer) and dries out if you’re not careful, so I decided to marinate it in fresh salsa so that the crumbles could absorb the flavor from it. My only other experience with soy crumbles was the time I tossed them in chili to “trick” my dad into eating vegetarian chili (we put actual cheese on it, so it wasn’t vegan). While the crumbles were doing their thing, I sliced up about a third of the “cheese block” and popped a small cube in my mouth. To my astonishment, it actually tasted CHEESE LIKE. It was creamy and savory just as you’d expect cheese to be. I was in heaven. I tossed the cheese blocks into the pan with the soy crumbles expecting it to quickly melt (like actual cheese), but it didn’t. The cheese seemed to be melting in “time lapse” motion. After about 8 minutes of this, I grew inpatient, took the cheese out of the pan (it was softer now, just not melted), tossed it into a bowl and put it in the microwave for 30 seconds. BOOM. melted cheese!
The vegan “nachos” ended up not being half bad (so ok, I mostly made a “cheesy”, “meaty” dip of sorts and just dipped the chips in there. I could have probably chopped up peppers and onions to toss in to, but I was too lazy). The soy crumbles had a bit of an odd aftertaste, but the “cheese” helped to mostly mask it. I became full a lot quicker than I anticipated with the soy crumbles, “cheese” and chips. I was–dare I say it, satisfied?
Here is what I ate yesterday:
Breakfast: 1 small apple, 1 banana, water, coffee with almond milk creamer
Snack: 1 orange, water
Lunch: Red Roasted Pepper & Tomato Bisque, 1/2 cup of BBQ jackfruit, water
Snack: Cucumbers, humus and grapes, water
Day 3 down.
I’m almost halfway through this challenge and I have to say that I’m proud of myself for sticking to it. Granted, I haven’t really been “challenged” this week as I’ve kind of been a social hermit for the first time in months (I’ve been out and “social” just about every night since mid-November) and there hasn’t been an abundance of food at work (for meetings, celebrations, etc). All in all, it’s been a fairly “easy” week in that regard. I believe the real challenge starts when you have to think carefully about your food choices when you’re away from home and your daily routine.
Some challenges I HAVE come across so far:
As I mentioned yesterday, I’ve been having a difficult time with variety in my diet and because of my choices, I’ve found myself to be unusually hungry between meals (even when incorporating snacks). I decided I needed to switch it up and add additional foods into my day to calm my hunger. I researched the interwebs for vegan friendly snacks (I literally typed, “vegan foods”) and took note. One of the things I really wanted to try was vegan cheese, so after work, I made a trip to Whole Foods (I threw the bag of chips in because my stomach was eating itself).
The trip was successful, but I need to make it a point not to go when I’m already hungry as hell.
- Another challenge has been dealing with extreme fatigue. I feel a bit more zapped of energy more so than usual. I believe TheOdds1out mentions this in his vegan challenge video too. I’m getting the same amount of sleep and physical exercise, I just feel really drained. I’m going to attribute this to not taking vitamins as I do this challenge, but who knows.
Here is what I ate yesterday:
Breakfast: Chex (Corn) cereal, unsweetened coconut milk, 1 medium banana, coffee with almond milk creamer, water
Snack: 1 medium orange, water
Lunch: Red Pepper & Tomato bisque (made with unsweetened coconut milk), cucumbers, spicy humus, green grapes, water
Snack: small sweet potato (no toppings)
Dessert: Halo Top Non-dairy ice cream
On to day 4…
Eating a vegan diet today seemed fairly easy. I found myself mostly eating produce as I have it ingrained in my mind to never overdo it on refined carbs, regardless of WHAT diet I’m on.
I ate many of the same things I ate yesterday, which allowed my mind to focus in on other things. Here is what I ate today:
One thing I HAVE noticed in the past two days is that I’m hungry much quicker between meals than I used to be. Usually from lunch to dinner I’m fine (unless I have plans after work or I’m working late). I think part of my mistake has been not eating a ton of protein in my meal choices. I’ve been too lazy to think that far ahead.
I took some time today while things were quiet at work to look up some vegan recipes to get an idea of how to incorporate a little more protein in my diet and I stumbled across the: It doesn’t taste like chicken website, which has TONS of really great ideas. One thing I’m struggling with understanding is how to make Tofu taste like anything other than soggy rubber. I remember eating it several years ago and it tasting horrible. Perhaps this was because of the way that it was cooked (or not cooked), but it definitely left me unsatisfied, so I’m hesitant to give this a go again, which is why I haven’t purchased any.
Another thing I’m hesitant about trying are vegan cheeses. I tried some sort of vegan cheese a few years back and it tasted like shredded Styrofoam, but I’ve heard vegan cheese has come a long way since then. I believe the kind I had was soy based and I already have a love hate relationship with soy (soy milk makes my throat swell up). In my research, I came across several articles like this one, which explains and rates certain vegan cheeses that are out right now. I foolishly didn’t know you could make cheese out of nuts. Sounds intriguing. Perhaps I’ll make a little trip down the street to Whole Foods this week to pick up some vegan cheese of my own.
Anyway, hopefully tomorrow I get it together with this hunger issue. The last thing I want to do is to eat more than I typically would while NOT being vegan.
Part of my goals for the new year was to focus on self care and part of that is recognizing my moods and what triggers them. Obviously, I haven’t been myself the past few months, but sometimes taking time to step back and understand the root of why and what triggers these moods is instrumental.
About three weeks ago, I downloaded this app called, “self checkout“. It’s this cool app that allows you to “check in” regarding your mood. If you fail to check in, the app reminds you and also suggests a self care tip.
When I first downloaded the app, my moods were all over the place (so much so that you can barely see them all on the wheel below) . I’m pretty sure I hit every mood on the spectrum .
I’m starting to notice that my moods are leveling out and as that happens, I’m feeling more like myself again for the first time in months:
Seeing a visual of this progress is rewarding because not only do I feel better, but I can also see a visual representation of just how much better I’m feeling. It shows that I’m starting to lean more towards being “ok” and “content” and less “down”. This lets me know I’m almost out of the woods and I can see the clearing.
Speaking of my moods stabilizing, I’ve been quite the social butterfly lately (with friends) and I’ve able to entertain dating a little more seriously. I’ve somehow managed to have three dates planned for later on this week with guys that aren’t seamlessly the scum of the earth. Nothing is promised yet, but this is definitely a step in the right direction from where I came from a few months ago.