Thursday, February 21, 2013

Vegan Values

Many people have asked me why I've chosen to be Vegan, it is, after all, a pretty extreme lifestyle.  I've been learning more and more that when it comes to making commitments to anything, I have to be ALL IN, or I give in.  I can't give myself some leeway because I'm not disciplined enough to handle it, I'll go right back to how I was before.  So, my journey to Veganism started with a conversation a few years ago with my sister's best friend.  We went out to eat, and she was choosing all of the vegan options, which then sparked a conversation about why she chose it, what were the benefits, what was especially hard to give up.  At that point I didn't even know the different between vegetarians and vegans.  So, she kindly explained all of it to me.  I couldn't believe it.  I mean, it made sense to me, but, I mean, come on.  No dairy of any kind?  No meat?  No eggs?  Nothing?!  What on earth do you eat?!  Even though I wasn't ready on that day, it did intrigue me, and I admired her discipline.  I then started going to a chiropractor regularly, who also helped me with my diet as well.  While they did not necessarily promote being vegan.  They did promote not drinking milk, so I said 'why shouldn't I drink milk?'  So my chiropractor asked me, 'Candice, where does milk come from?'  'From cows', I replied.  And she said, 'Right, why does the cow produce the milk?', and I said 'for her calves'.  And my chiropractor said 'exactly, it's not meant for us'.  And even though at that time I still continued to drink it, what she said resonated with me.  I knew she was right, but I wanted to stick to my old habits because it was comfortable.

Don't get me wrong, I made drastic changes at this juncture in my life.  I was buying grass fed beef, I managed to choke down Almond Milk, I was buying nearly all organic groceries, I was flipping the box over to look at the ingredients.  All of this was helping me.  But then, Jordan joined the Navy.

We both made the decision for him to join, we both agreed now was the perfect time.  We read the books, we did the research, we prepared for as much as you can.  But no book, article, or video could have ever prepared me for the heartache that I felt when he was gone.  To be perfectly honest; I was a mess.  I did okay at first, but for those who aren't familiar, he had to go through boot camp, which meant no contact at all for two months, besides a letter every now and then.  It was awful.  And it got worse.  We ended up being apart for 11 months altogether due to his training.  This is a man that I love, that I had seen everyday when we both got home from work.  That I spent all of my time with.  And he wasn't there anymore.  At first, I tried to busy myself; I ran a marathon with my sister, I went home to visit my family every chance I got, I spent time with friends.  But at the end of all of those days, I would lay down in a bed that I should have been sharing with him.  I would sit in a pew at church without him beside me.  I would go home from hanging out with no one in the car to share how we thought the night went.  Those moments were awful, and they got to me little by little as time continued to pass.  In short, I see now that I was depressed.  I couldn't get up and go to work, I slept atleast 10 hours a day, I stopped hanging out with people and I made really lame excuses, when really, I was just sitting at home by myself.  And above all, I ate.  Some people have cigarettes, others use alcohol....I used Pepsi, cookies, Twizzlers, Taco Bell, whatever.  All in all, I gained 20 lbs. in that year.  I felt horrendous, and I even had friends who were concerned, but I would muster up a smile, and say 'I'm fine'.  Because, I also have a lot of pride.

'Um, Candice, I thought this was about vegan, this is awful and depressing, I don't want to read anymore!'  I promise, I wouldn't write all that and just end it!  Who would want to end that way?  I certainly didn't.  When Jordan and I finally were able to be reunited, living in the same place, it was like the cloud was lifted off of my eyes, and I saw the past 11 months for what they really were.  They were a gigantic learning experience, and one that I hope I never have to repeat again.  I also saw that my clothes didn't fit.  I needed a change, and soon!  We ordered Netflix and I noticed that they had all of these food documentaries, and I made my way through the big ones, Food, Inc., Forks Over Knives, Fat, Sick, and Nearly Dead.  They all spoke to me, and suddenly, a plant based diet actually seemed very refreshing rather than constricting and crazy.  I also read books about it, I read Thrive, Skinny Bitch and the Engine 2 Diet, among others.

Before I knew it, I was buying 90% of my groceries in the produce section, finding amazing recipes, and best of all, feeling so energetic and not weighed down like I had been before.  People have asked me about protein, and I can tell you, that I am getting all the protein I need from eating almonds and any kind of bean that you can think of.  And, I work out everyday, I overall, feel like I have an active lifestyle.  Eating this way has not made me feel sick or gross, or weak, like so many people assume.  It makes me feel strong!  I will totally own up to the fact that I do use the bathroom a LOT more, but that is even good for you too.  So, even though it's a little inconvenient, it's not a bad thing.  I have a lot more to learn, and by no means do I think I am an expert.  I am your average American, that loves drive-thrus, soda, candy, and burgers.  I just found that none of it was giving me what I needed, and I was tired of it.

Vegan isn't for everyone, there are lots of healthy ways to eat, and my challenge to you is to look at where you are at on your journey with food.  Yes, food is a journey I think.  Atleast for me it was.  How do you perceive it?  I saw it as a way to make me feel good emotionally, and that was all wrong.  I need food to make me feel good nutritionally.  And I would challenge you to look at it in the same light.

I will be starting a P90X Challenge Group on March 25th, and I encourage anyone who reads this to try it out with me!   It is going to be an awesome group that will transform your body in 90 Days, but more importantly, I hope it changes the way you think about diet and exercise, and how essential they are!  Please contact me by commenting on this blog, and I will be in touch with you.  Thanks for listening to my rants, have an amazing day!

Here is a link to my BeachBody website, check it out!
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