It’s been over two years since I posted on this blog. Life got crazy (and by crazy I mean lazy). Meat wasn’t swapped for better choices (yes, that was my outside voice on my VEGAN blog), and well, I’ve come full circle back to a more responsible, healthy way of eating and living. During this process, which I started 6 weeks and one full clothing size ago, I have taken a deep look at what drives me to make the choices I do in terms of nutrition, exercise and overall wellness.
The cycle that I have been caught in for the past few years has been coming home and being too tired (or lazy, or annoyed) to make something well-balanced to eat. This leaves me to sub dinner with a glass of wine (or bottle), or throw a frozen pizza into the oven, (or both), or something else with no nutritional value just for the sake of convenience. Because of this, I am left with no leftovers for the next day at work, and this in turn leaves me with picking up something on the road that is fast and convenient (but not necessarily good for me), or skipping a meal all together. Voila. I’m caught in a cycle of not giving a sh*t. Nothing inspires me anymore in this cycle.
Several months later and 25 lbs heavier I find myself unhappy, unhealthy and looking to return to my past life with desperation. I am a three-time IRONMAN for Pete’s sake! I’ve run over 15 full marathons! How does this happen to someone like me? What was I thinking?
I tried starting this journey maybe 8 or 10 times over the past two years before I finally buckled down and made the commitment. This even included signing up for another Ironman, hoping that I’d scare myself into returning to health and fitness. That failed miserably. Apparently potato chips and horror movies are much easier and a better alternative than sitting on my bike in the pouring rain for hours, or the $600 loss I took on the registration. I’m still not sure what the breaking point is that makes me start and stick to a plan (although it seems to happen somewhere around the 25 lb mark). That is some soul-searching that I’m still deep diving into. The good news is, that whatever that breaking point was, it hit me six weeks ago, and I’m finally feeling like my old (and by old I mean previous), fit self again.
Let me start by saying this is not a post to point fingers or pass blame. I am the only one responsible for my own wellness. I thought it would be interesting to express my thoughts on “giving in” for anyone else that finds themselves in this same cycle of fight between veg, vegan or carnivore. Maybe it will open a few doors for success. Who knows… What I have discovered in the past few years is that when you surround yourself with bad influences that temp and test your will power, you are more likely to make those (poor) choices – DUH right? No news there, but it has led me to think even deeper about what the h*ll am I going to do when faced with hard decisions about the choices that make me happy in the moment, versus the consequences of those decisions down the road. Just today, I said to a friend who has invited me to dinner this weekend: ”I don’t want to put you out, but I’m vegetarian now, and I’m committed to this.”. I was just throwing it out there because not everyone knows that I’ve cleaned up my diet and I don’t want to make anyone uncomfortable when I show up to their dinner table and refuse to consume anything that is put in front of me. To my announcement, I got a joke in response; ”But that’s just recent right? So one night won’t kill you?”. I know that this comment was not meant to intentionally sway me in the wrong direction. It was simply a light joke that was meant to be humorous. However, all jokes aside, my point is, when the people in my life give the me the “permission” to make the wrong choices, or even harass me for the responsible food choices that I make (you know who you are you vegetarian button pushers you), they create great conflict within me, no matter what was intended by the original conversation, I feel bad that I am inconveniencing people by trying to make more responsible choices for myself and for the planet. The flip side of that is that I LOVE junk food (of the fatty, salty, deep-fried kind) and animal product is 500% easier to get one’s hands on than vegan/vegetarian product. It’s all around us! Luckily I wasn’t around a McDonalds when I was told one day wouldn’t kill me. I’d be in a deep-fried chicken coma by now.
I can’t change the way I interpret someone else’s sense of humor, or alter someone else’s old school way of thinking. When someone gives me that “permission” to make a choice that goes against my good intentions, I actually involuntarily consider the option to fall off the wagon, even though I know it will lead me back down that road of regret and self-indulgence. If I make that poor choice, and get a taste of the “easy life”, the over-indulgent, bad kind that packs on 25 lbs in two months and makes me want to sit on the couch eating chips all day with 5 seasons of a really good TV show, loathing anyone that gets into my personal space because THEY (and others) were the influence that offered another glass of wine or opened a package of frozen deep-fried junk. CURSE THEM!! And it’s not because anyone is out to get me and see me fail (I’m pretty sure), it’s only because they are not me. They are not in my head, they may not necessarily have the same values or goals as I do. They may be fine with junk in moderation and have practiced it their entire lives, or they may simply not care what they consume, and therefore not care about what I consume; and why would they? I’m a grown adult responsible for myself. It might not seem like a big deal to people, that I opt to buy only fresh food as opposed to packaged food, or products not tested on animals. They just don’t get it because they are not me. Often, they don’t even have to say anything. They just have to influence me by their existence. That is how weak I am (ha ha). Note: couch potato shown below is much cuter than my own version.
That vision makes me cringe (the one about me on the couch loathing people), but it has happened to me more than once in my life (heck, more than twice in the past three years alone!). So what will be difference this time? This question scares the bejesus out of me several times a day, but I think I have come up with somewhat of a game plan to avoid heading down this road ever again:
- I have not returned to being 100% vegan at all meals. I have, however, eliminated all flesh yet again. I have incorporated some dairy and eggs into my recipes. The reason for this is that I’ve come to the conclusion that the easier and more convenient it is for me to make something nutritious after a long day at work, the more likely I am to do it. My focus since I’ve been back in the kitchen is fast and convenient; simple ingredient meals that will have DELICIOUS food in my gob in 30 minutes or less. Yes, I may have been watching a tidbit of Jamie Oliver here and there recently for some quick meal inspiration. He he. Have you seen his Happy Cow Burgers? YUM. Good old dribbly chops.
- My personality is that of such that I do EVERYTHING to the extreme. Good or bad. I am hard-wired to be this way. I cannot help it. This time around I am going to attempt to build a little more moderation into my life in order to avoid getting bored or lazy about my choices. I am practicing that it is fine to have a few glasses of wine over the week – just maybe not a few bottles. Junk is completely off the table however. If food does not have nutritional value, it does not pass these lips. Period.
- I’ve made a compromise to not be such a stickler on the vegan front for SwapMeat. I may lose some followers, but I am committed to suggest the vegan alternatives to any dairy or eggs that I include here, so please don’t leave :-). I originally chose to be vegan for health and performance reasons, and now I am choosing that again. During my previous vegan journey however, it became more about keeping the animals safe over my personal gain (and definitely still is). The choices in my current vegetarian menu include only free range products, and products standing for the ethical treatment of animals. The odd recipe may contain some dairy from time to time, or an egg here or there, but for the most part, it’s the same old SwapMeat.
- And for those in my life that say “What? You are vegetarian? But you eat lamb right?” – for those people I am going to learn to make less of a big deal about their ignorance, and just bring a vegetarian meal to offer or opt to make my own plans that night. I can’t change other people, but I can change the way I react to them, and whether or not I choose to keep them in my life. (ever notice how some people just like to push vegetarian and vegan’s buttons?). I’m taking a “no drama stance”. My wellness is not up for discussion.
And to wrap up this post, I leave you with some food for thought. I read an article recently about hobbies and how they relate to your quality of life. Apparently (and I do buy into this) people who are content with their lives have hobbies and interests (for me it used to be photography, cooking, blogging and training for the next big race). Hobbies are activities that you have a true passion about. The article mentioned that watching TV and surfing the internet are NOT hobbies. These are pastimes, not activities. That statement was a bit of an eye opener and a slap in the face for me. Thank goodness I was surfing Facebook to find that information – and come to think of it, this may very well have been the statement that broke the cycle for me.
I am committed to posting at least one SwapMeat blog post per week (first one coming this weekend). If I fail to do that, please support me and yell! And yell HARD. I am counting on you to call me out.
So here goes nothing (and by nothing I mean EVERYTHING). SwapMeat returns for a new era – an era of moderation.