The Mites of Misery

Hi, all!

Have you ever had that feeling of total helplessness? That nothing you can do can make things better? Well, I’m usually not one to ever feel this way. Heck, usually if I sense a problem or something I am not happy with, I go straight to analyzing all I can do to fix it.

Well, today’s post is about a little something that I have felt absolutely helpless to. One word. One cool sounding word that packs along so much misery.

Chiggers.

Ever heard of them? I hadn’t either until trying to figure out what the heck was all over my feet and ankles, and itched like nothing I’ve ever felt before.

Because of my unfamiliarity, and discovering the itch in the middle of the night, I assumed I had gotten mosquito bites while outdoors for the Fourth or hiking the day before. The next morning I examined the bites and realized they were all in clusters, were smaller than normal mosquito bites and itched a whole lot more.

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My second thought was bed bugs. Now I’ve had two bed bug scares before and, because of this, am pretty educated on the little critters and the process of getting rid of them. So I went through the protocol — took apart my bed, threw sheets, mattress cover and duvet cover in the wash, and vigorously searched, clorox wiped and vacuumed the area surrounding my bed. Every little nook and cranny was investigated, but I could find nothing.

In times like these, you realize how much you take for granted comfort and peace of mind. I didn’t even want to be in my own room, let alone sit or lay on my bed. I had planned on sleeping elsewhere that night. Until I got a text from a friend.

My friend Lauren (fellow veganista!) who I had hiked the Billy Goat Trail with, on the Maryland side of Great Falls Park, just a couple days before had texted me asking if I had bites on my feet. As much as I wasn’t thrilled about the remaining insanely itchy, red bumps all over me,  I was SO relieved to know she was experiencing the same bumps in the same place. YAY, this meant my bed probably had nothing to do with these bites and I would be safe to sleep soundly. Or so I thought.

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Lauren suggested that we had gotten bitten by chiggers. She had gotten bitten once before while out working in dense vegetation (bio major) a few years back. I started doing my research on the handy-dandy Internet and realized that what I had all over my ankles and feet were most definitely chiggers. I was once again relieved to have a diagnosis, but what I was about to find out about these critters would most definitely not sit well with me.

Here goes:

Chiggers are the juvenile form (larvae) of a certain type of mite, which are a part of the arachnid family, along with spiders and ticks. Chiggers are found through out the globe, but are most common in highly vegetated, grassy fields, gardens, parks and moist areas around lakes or rivers. Well there I had it — my hike at Great Falls was my demise. Note to self: never hike again!

But there’s more — Chiggers are bright red, but not visible to the naked eye, as they are about 1/50th of an inch. In the larvae stage only, chiggers are parasitic to animals or humans (if they come in contact with a plant). They are only prevalent in areas with high humidity in temperatures ranging from 60-90 degrees F.

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Chiggers are most attracted to moist areas of the body, so bites are typically found at sock line, behind knees, groin or armpits. Despite common myth, chiggers do not actually burrow into your skin to feed, but inject a feeding structure into the skin and enzymes to break down host skin tissue. This then hardens the surrounding area and results in a feeding tube called a stylostome. The crazy part is you don’t typically react until the chiggers are done feeding and fall off, as their anesthetic then wears off (I didn’t notice mine until 3 days after hiking!).

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Your body’s reaction to the LOVELY stylostome is what causes the irritation and the unbearable itching. And trust me, I’ve had my fair share of mosquito bites as  a literal mosquito magnet anytime I’m outside. After this experience, I would take 1000 mosquito bites. Chiggers bites are seriously 100 times itchier. The worst part? You have the fun little guys for not a couple  days, but a couple weeks!

In a continued attempt to gather as much information as I could, I was reading medical sites, testimonials, you name it. I can’t tell you the amount of testimonials that made me want to run for the hills. One was a guy who was in so much discomfort from the chiggers he considered cutting off the skin with a knife, but instead burned himself multiple times with a cigarette. Another lady covered her legs in toxic cleaning chemicals to feel a burning sensation, masking the itch. These chiggers mess with your mind. I too have felt like doing crazy things.

So how have you dealt with the itching, you ask? Any and every way I have read about. Seriously. Thus far, I’ve tried Benadryl anti-itch cream, hydrocortisone cream, Benadryl anti-itch gel, solarcaine, baking soda/water mixture, Vick’s vapor rub/salt mixture and lastly, but most successful, ice cold water and Chigger-ex.

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First night: Vicks/salt mixture wrapped with towels — was a no-go = no sleep

Everything had taken off the edge for 20-30 minutes or so, but then the itch would be right back. After all these trials and errors, I read that there was a specific ointment for Chigger bites, so I figured I had to give it a shot. This ointment is super thick and creamy, infused with chamomile and aloe vera, giving it a very calming, spa-like scent.

Useful: I now have a routine for the most chiggers bearability (word?). Anytime I’m feeling itchy, I soak my feet in ice cold water for 5-10 minutes until I hit numbness, let them air dry, cover the bites with Chigger-ex and cover my feet with high socks. It seems that once my feet return from numbness, the compression from the socks, and most definitely the Chigger-ex, reduces the itch.

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It has been absolutely insane the amount that these bites have affected by daily life. Just little things you wouldn’t think about, like wearing sneakers to workout or sandals to run an errand OR SLEEPING, is unbearable. When I’m driving in the car, I have to blast the AC on my feet or I’ll have an itch attack. My first night with chiggers, I got maybe one hour of sleep. The second night I learned my lesson and took a sleeping aid.

It’s crazy to think I had no idea what a chigger was just a few days ago when now they seem to dictate my life.

I suppose this is just one of those things — one of those things that make you stronger and wiser in the long run. I will tell you one thing, I will definitely never be wearing shorts again on a spring/summer hike, and probably won’t be going hiking for a while.

I hope you learned a little something from this post today, although not my traditional food/exercise related post. I most definitely would never wish chiggers on anyone, so be sure to inform all your friends and fam!

Tips to avoid getting chiggered yourself: (save yourself from the misery!)

  • When in humid, moist climates with tall vegetation, or near bodies of water, wear bug repellent, pants, and long socks that are tucked in.
  • In the case that you brush by plants, wipe off that body part immediately, as chigger larvae are actually relatively easy to brush off before they have formed their stylostome.
  • As soon as you return home from outdoor activity, hop in the shower and wash yourself with warm, soapy water to clear off anything you might have picked up.

Well, I should get back to scratching now. My bites are being needy again. JK. Obvi that makes them so much worse and leads me to a downward spiral of scratch-fest. If anything, this has been a great self-discipline practice. Optimism at its finest, eh?

Chow for now!

2 Year Veganniversary

Because what’s the difference between him and any other animal?

The day has come! A huge milestone in my plant-based lifestyle has been reached, and I couldn’t be more enthused.

July 5, 2015 marks my 730th day vegan, or my 2 year veganniversary!

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My veganniversary present to myself! The back has the engraved date of the day I went vegan — purchased on Etsy, created by @fiercedeer

Like I’ve mentioned time and time again, choosing to go vegan and continuing to choose vegan everyday has been the greatest decision I have ever made.

What started as an experiment to spice up my blog site with an edgy topic turned into an overall lifestyle transformation that has brought me to where I am today; happier and healthier than ever before.

I feel beyond grateful to have found veganism; to now recognize that what I choose to purchase as a consumer affects much more than my taste buds, my individual style or my satisfaction at that moment in time.

I now have the consciousness to realize the impact that my actions have on not only my  health, but the well-being of beautiful living creatures and the Earth that sustains us.

I know that I make a difference. Never let anyone convince you otherwise. Sure, I may be one person, but I’m one person that has made a substantial impact on my life and the lives of SO many others.

My dollar is my vote. My voice is my weapon.

In choosing to go vegan, I have made a difference. Over the past 2 years…

  • I have almost completely eliminated my chances of developing heart disease, cancer, type 2 diabetes, osteoporosis, rheumatoid arthritis and many other western world diseases caused by the detriment of animal products. I have more energy for exercise, reduced recovery time, clearer, softer, more radiant skin and hair, a more positive, focused state of mind, while simultaneously extending my life and youthfulness by so many years.

Fun article — 10 reasons why you should go vegan in 2015

Watch the documentary Forks Over Knives to understand the impact the plant-based diet has on your health.

  • I have saved 404 innocent, intelligent, sentient living beings from constant fear, malnourishment, torture, and slaughter (vegetarian calculator). I have saved these animals from being torn out of their natural habitat, confined to cramped, filthy barns, cages and pens being hung upside down on the slaughter line, having their throats cut and bodies mutilated.

Watch the documentary Earthlings to realize the impact going vegan, and making conscious, ethical decisions as a consumer has on the well-being of animals of this planet.

***I believe that this documentary is absolutely imperative for anyone still consuming animal products to see. If you can put it in your body, you can watch how it gets there.

  • I have saved 3,218 lbs of CO2 from entering into the atmosphere, helping to alleviate the devastation of global warming (vegetarian calculator).

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Watch the documentary Cowspiracy to understand the impact animal agriculture has on the Earth. Don’t be fooled by what the government and  meat and dairy lobbyists are telling you!

  • Lastly, I have influenced SO many more people than I would have ever thought possible. I have recordered every individual that has chosen to share with me the impact I have had on their own lifestyle. To date, I have 24 names written down. From those 24 people, I know off hand that 5 have chosen to go vegan, 3 have gone vegetarian, and many others are now making more conscious decisions about their food. I realize that my impact probably extends much further than these people, which stands as the very reason I continue to blog and share my story.

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In midst of this celebration, I want to take the time to thank all my readers for your continued support! I hope over the past 2 years or so you have gotten something out of this blog site of mine.

Here you can read my full vegan transformation story, featured on thewishdish.com :)

Well, until next time! This veganista has got thangs to do!

Chow.

Sweet Summer Treats

Happy Thursday!

I’ve been making some delicious summer treats with the extra time I have had on my hands while I continue on in my career search, which I’ve been promptly sharing on my health Instagram (@chowidohealth). I have gotten many requests for recipes, so here I am attempting to please you lovely people!

***Disclaimer: most things I make, I am able to make educated guesses from previous experience with certain foods, and sometimes I don’t write everything down that I do. So if I’m not following an already established recipe, chances are I’m guestimating measurements and what not, but I shouldn’t be too far off!

First up is a hearty breakfast involving these yummy things called oats. As much I have been trying to stick to bounds of raw fruit in the morning, I do recognize that oatmeal breakfasts give me the most sustained energy for my mid-morning workouts. In efforts to get creative, I thought up this fun spin on traditional oatmeal!

Blueberry-Banana-Date Oatmeal Bake

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Obviously I had to immediately taste test :P
  • 1.5 cup rolled oats
  • 1/3 cup ground flax meal
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 1 ripened banana
  • 1/2 cup blueberries (up to you)
  • 3 medjool dates
  • Cinnamon (how much do you like cinnamon?!)
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Mix together flax meal and water. This will serve as your binding agent. Stir. Let sit for 5 minutes.
  3. Mash ripened banana to a creamy, non-clumpy consistency.
  4. Mix together oats, creamed banana, flax-water combo, and stir together.
  5. Pull apart medjool dates into pieces and add in. Mix.
  6. Add in blueberries. Mix.
  7. Add in as much cinnamon as you prefer. Mix.
  8. Place in oven for 15-20 minutes. (Watch them, because cook time will vary based on oven)

Make sure to let them cool once done cooking! Those berries get might toasty. Enjoy! And if you’re feeling extra indulgent, smother the top with a nut butter of choice. :)

Peanut-butter Chocolate Chip Brownies (Vegan, GF) – adapted from Ambitious Kitchen

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So moist & rich!
  • 1/2 cup all natural peanut butter
  • 1/4 cup natural maple syrup (honey or agave works too!)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup all natural unsweetened applesauce
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt, if desired
  • 1/2 cup dairy-free chocolate chips (I use the Enjoy Life brand)
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Oil 8×8 inch pan. (I rubbed a dab of coconut oil all over)
  3. Cream together peanut butter, maple syrup, vanilla extract and applesauce.
  4. Add chocolate chips into batter, and mix well.
  5. Pour batter into pan and place pan in oven for 18-22 minutes.

They are vegan, so no need to worry about them cooking all the way through! Take them out whenever you desire, depending on how gooey you like ’em.

I mentioned last post that I would be creating a What I Eat in a Day blog post, like this post last winter, as my next feature, but as much as I take pictures of food, I can’t quite seem to remember to take a picture of every single thing I eat and I want to be the realest I can with you all. I’m determined now though, so hopefully you’ll be seeing one very soon!

As for now, I’ll be living up the rest of my summer…maybe at home, maybe at a brand new place! Only time will tell.

Let the earth be your pantry and life be your jungle gym!

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Where’s the most creative place you’ve worked out?

I’m out. Chow!

Give Me Carbs or Give Me Death

Clever title, eh? Gotta thank my good man Patrick Henry for that one.

Sheesh! Have I already started to miss being a student? As unpleasant as it was to study, do homework, write papers and attend classes, I think I really will miss being educated on the daily. Here’s to hoping I will retain some of what I’ve learned the past 17 years!

There’s one thing for sure that won’t be leaving my brain anytime soon — my passion for health, wellness and world betterment.

I like to keep myself educated and up-to-date on news in the health community, particularly plant-based movements and any and all information that I can use to better my own self, and eventually others.

My most recent (I guess we can call it) “discovery” has been the high carb, low fat vegan diet. As I’ve mentioned in previous blog posts, there are many ways to do any diet, including veganism. And after nearly two years vegan, you better believe I’ve pretty much tried it all.

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As a vegan, you definitely learn how to plan & prepare ahead! — trip to Dewey Beach, DE with some girlfriends :)

From the very beginning stages, I was just eating whatever I could find that was vegan and seemed relatively healthy. I then moved on to try and smash in as much vegan protein as possible as I picked up weight lifting. Meanwhile, I thought that since healthy fats are healthy, they should be therefore limitless for healthy consumption. Wrong-o.

***These are all better options than animal protein & animal fat consumption, but there’s a better way!

I had heard about raw veganism, raw til 4 and 80-10-10, but never did they resonate with me quite like they do now.

After following fabulous vloggers, like Freelee the Banana Girl, Annie Jaffrey, and particularly Nina & Randa, I’ve found the secret to the most efficient vegan diet, to successfully live out this lifestyle of abundance.

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This was my breakfast one morning!

By consuming 80% carbs, 10% protein and 10% fats — high raw, your body is able to maintain high, stable levels of energy while feeling ultra satisfied. The best part though? That abundance bit — you can eat as much as your heart desires!

It wasn’t until just recently that I started incorporating starches into my diet. Coming from conventional health info, I always avoided white potatoes and white rice, but I’ve learned that with a low-fat vegan diet, these are excellent sources of energy. (CARBS = ENERGY)

I whipped out my family’s rice cooker I knew we had hiding somewhere and since, have been incorporating rice into my dinners each evening, white or brown. It’s added fantastic texture to my carbed-up meals.

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Oil-free, salt-free oven baked sweet potatoes, kidney beans, chopped spinach, chopped tomatoes, chopped onions and white rice
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Chana masala chickpeas, steamed broccoli and white rice

Remember, the carbs I’m speaking of are the good carbs: fruits, veggies, grains, legumes and starches, not to be confused with their evil sibling, refined carbs: white breads, pastas, chips, cake, cookies, candies, etc.

I have already noticed a heck of a difference in my energy during the day, during workouts and vibrant clarity of my skin.

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9 mile morning bike ride!

The other thing to note is the importance of consuming foods as close to their natural state as possible. This means raw whenever possible and  leaving out the oil and salt. These are two things I’ve recently tried to ditch completely. Yes, there are some oils that are deemed healthier than others, but oil is a refined fat, which should not be included in a healthy diet. Salt raises blood pressure and physically causes bloating.

It is extremely important to understand the detriment that salt and oil can bring to your nutrition, so you’re better off just leaving them out completely. There are so many other alternatives to season your food, AKA amazing herbs, spices and citrus fruits! I can honestly say I don’t miss them one bit, and feel much better without them. Consider them the ex-boyfriend that was weighing you down!

Oven-Baked HCLF Potato Wedges
An easy high-carb, low-fat vegan starter kit food item is mastering the oven-baked fries. Start off by grabbing any potato of your choosing. Set the oven for 410 degrees. Slice the potato into wedges, or whatever shape you like. Season the wedges with whatever herbs or spices you like. Place the potato wedges in the oven for 20 minutes. And wah-lah, perfect crisp and delicious “french fries” that are nothing but good for you. No oil or salt needed!

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Delicious oil-free, salt-free, black pepper & paprika seasoned oven baked potatoes with guacamole and cucumbers/red peppers

Like I mentioned, this diet is one of abundance. I can literally eat as much as I want and stay lean and energized. If that doesn’t convince you, did I mention it’s also the healthiest, most economical, most environmentally sustainable, most ethical, and overall best diet (but actually, lifestyle) to save this world? Well, it is.

That’s all for now, folks! Be expecting a “What I Ate in a Day” blog post coming up.

Chow!

It’s Good to Be Strong

Happy Thursday, my darlings!

These past couple of weeks have been pretty relaxed, as I’ve been really focusing my efforts on my career pursuit. This means lots of time spent at home working on job applications, at the gym, trying to be outside (stop already, rain!), and on artistic endeavors.

While I’ve had the time on my hands to go to the gym when I please for as long as I please, I’ve done a good amount of reflecting on why I do what I do. Why do I put forth so much of my time and energy into a warehouse room filled with big, bulky metal contraptions?

And it hit me. I LOVE being strong. It’s the most empowering feeling knowing that you’re a powerful human being, a force of nature.

My summer starting point — oh the possibilities!

Going through your day to day life capable of whatever life throws at you is a feeling beyond any other. Knowing that you have the ability to exert strength and stamina whenever it is due is beyond ideal. Recognizing that you can defend yourself in this scary world provides peace of mind.

It’s about taking a stand for yourself — investing in you.

This strength is not limited to the physical sort. But of course, it is a plus!

Consciously putting yourself through pain and struggle, knowing you can quit at any moment, but refusing to, is where mental strength comes in. Continuously reminding yourself that this battle is worth the pain, that you will come out on the other side a better individual is where strength is born.

Finally, realizing the benefits of that struggle is what instills the values of hard work and mental vigor.

I believe that transitioning to the vegan lifestyle, despite social norms, social criticism, disrupting my normal diet, changing the way I think about food and the world, has undoubtedly improved my mental strength.

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Flex your body, flex your mind!

Sure, I could have quit at any moment the past 2 years and gave into eating some butter or cheese (too far gone to even consider meat) with the constant pressure I face to give in, but I choose not to. For myself.

This strength allows for me to look beyond the adversities of daily life and see the big picture to overcome them. What is the significance of doing or not doing a specific action in the long run? Why have I made the decisions I have?

Why am I abstaining from animal products? Why have I chosen to get up before the sun rises to work out? Why can’t I just be like a “normal” person?

Because I value my strength and determination, and feel so grateful everyday that I have it within myself to carry out the life I have chosen to live.

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Post back & biceps workout today!

I genuinely believe that male or female, young or old, strength is vital to a healthy, happy existence. Invest in your mind and body. Invest in yourself.

Chow for now :)

The Vegan Learning Curve

Hello all!

I hope you guys have been enjoying this glorious weather as much as I have. As much as the humidity makes my hair frizz like a poodle and my body perspire from head to toe, I’ll take it if it means blue, lush skies, birds chirping and beautiful, vibrant sunshine everyday.

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A lovely trip to Great Falls Park with my college friend from Virginia Beach, Melanie, this past weekend!

As I mentioned previously, my Watermelon Island detox was to set me up for a summer of clean, raw eating. So the actual detox itself didn’t last for as long as I anticipated, but it still did its job.

I have been feeling absolutely fabulous since the cleanse, eating high carb, low fat plant-based whole foods. I can feel my body thanking me everyday.

While keeping up my daily exercise…

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A paparazzi shot at mile 3 of the Oakton HS Football 5K this past Sunday — thanks Dad!
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My mom, her friend Gayle and I ran in style with our Kangoo Jumps boots! Here we are happily bouncing away in celebration of completing the 5K :)

One must realize that as much as a vegan diet is kinder, more sustainable, and almost always healthier than an animal product-based diet, there are many different forms of it.

Simply eating vegan is actually a pretty easy feat. There are so many look-a-like, taste-a- like substitutes to any standard American diet food, tons of bread and junk food galore.

 

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Don’t get me wrong, it is so very admirable to make the commitment to go vegan, realizing that your decision on what to eat everyday impacts so much more than just yourself. And so many people make the change for so many different reasons – health, environment, animal welfare.

For those that go vegan as a worthwhile investment in health, there is quite a learning curve. When I first went vegan, I did A LOT of research to insure I was getting every nutrient I possibly needed to be the healthiest I could be, but I really have learned so much more since.

Vegans that jump right into the lifestyle without educating themselves tend to go heavy on the processed foods, such as soy, refined carbs and refined sugars. These will not give you the long-term health benefits you want. Just the same as any healthy diet, processed foods need to go. Need clarification? Do not buy food in packaging (yes, I know there are exceptions!).

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Through this process, I’ve also learned how detrimentally imbalanced the recommended daily nutrient breakdown is, and how sadly misinformed society is on what your body needs to thrive.

Lesson 1We don’t need that much protein. Protein deficiency is so rare, only ever seen in people that are truly starving. Know why? Because our bodies only need about 10% protein, give or take. It is ALWAYS the first question I am asked and one of the biggest pet peeves/jokes among the veg community – “but how do you get your protein?” We get our protein from the original source, where animals get their protein – PLANTS! We gotta hand it to the meat and dairy industry for successfully brainwashing billions of people into believing that protein and calcium is the one characteristic their products have that we can’t get anywhere else — a genius marketing ploy if I’ve ever seen one. Although our bodies don’t need much, there is an abundance of protein available in a vegan diet, most dense in legumes, seeds, nuts and dark leafy greens.

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Lesson 2Carbs won’t make you fat. There is a dire misconception when it comes to carbs. One of the first things you hear when someone is trying to lose weight is “I’m cutting out carbs” — one of the worst ideas of all time. Carbs are what give you energy! Sure, cutting out carbs for a set period of time might make you lose weight, but you won’t be able to sustain it. Your body will feel undernourished, you’ll binge, and be right back to where you started. You should be feeding your body majority of carbohydrates on the daily. Yes, refined carbs are not a part of a healthy diet, but neither is anything else refined. Sometimes I don’t think people even realize what exactly a carb is. Fruits, veggies, grains and legumes are carbohydrates! You need these guys to thrive. These fibrous and starchy carbs are considered complex, sourced from plant-based foods. Simple carbs are the simple sugar carbohydrates, like fruit and artificially derived sugary food-like substances (junk food). In conclusion, not all carbs are created equal, and you NEED the good ones to sustain energy levels.

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Lesson 3Fructose is not bad. The diet media world gives fruit a bad name when it comes to a healthy diet. Fructose naturally sourced from the abundant fruit our planet provides for us is not bad for you and should never be limited. The fructose you need to stay away from is sucrose and high fructose corn syrup, or refined sugar, which has been conveniently placed in almost all processed food today. Fruit is filled with so many nutrients your body needs, and provides you with such incredible energy without weighing you down. This is where the 80-10-10 raw vegan diet comes in!

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Lesson 4Foods in their raw, natural state are superior to cooked foods. As much as cooked foods are delicious, heat actually decreases nutrient content. Some people go as far as to say “heat kills food,” turning it into dead food. It does make sense though. Cooking food above 118 degrees kills vital enzymes, making it more difficult for your body to digest. Fruits and vegetables in their natural state, super dense in nutrients, are far superior, as they are how our Earth intended them to be. Some vegans even eat raw foods only, on the 80-10-10 diet, to allow for improved health and a stronger connection with the natural world. There is no food more powerful than raw, live plant-based whole foods. 

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Lesson 5Good fats are good, but don’t go overboard. I’m a fat lover as much as the next person, but I’ve realized that fat is fat. Your body does not need too much of it, nor should it have too much of it. Plant-based oils, nuts, nut butters, avocados…you name it, I ate it, and a lot of it. It just so happens that fats can clog up your system, resulting in acne and other unwanted bodily reactions. To sum it up, these “healthy” fats are in fact healthy, but eat them in moderation, and not as a daily staple.

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Knowing this information, I have been actively trying to increase my raw food intake, up my carbs, and decrease my fats. I already feel SO much better.

If you don’t believe me, take it from this awesome YouTube vlogger, Annie Jaffrey!

Just within the 1.5 weeks I have altered my diet, I have already noticed myself leaning out and experiencing much greater energy levels. It really is a learning curve.

Here I am at 1 year and 11 months vegan (one more month ’til the big 2 YEAR!) and still learning and changing things about this plant-based diet of mine.

I hope I have shed some light on this amazing lifestyle me and so many others thrive off of. Never would I have thought I would be so knowledgable about nutrition, wellness, the food industry, animal welfare or the environment, but it kind of just comes along with the vegan tag. There is no doubt you will come out a changed person going vegan.

Catch ya guys later!

Chow.

Watermelon Island

Greetings from Watermelon Island!

As I mentioned in my previous post, I have made a trip to Watermelon Island in effort to detox my body to kick off my summer of raw-someness!

In short, I only ate watermelon during this time period, as eating just one type of fruit as a mono-meal is the absolute easiest for your body to digest. This simplicity allows it to work on others things, like flushing out any built up toxins. This time also allows for you to become more in-tune to your body’s satiation. Because you stop tasting the watermelon as vibrantly as you once did, you begin to truly rely on listening to your body to know when you’re truly satisfied. Another benefit is the aftermath of higher appreciation for the simple pleasures of other foods.

I have tracked each day to give you a play-by-play on what exactly I was experiencing.

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Day 1 – Sunday, May 24

I started off my morning with a nice gym session of cardio on the bike and strength training for my legs. As soon as I came home, I had my first delicious taste of watermelon. I ate about a quarter of it for breakfast, spoon and bowl style. A couple hours later, I finished the entire watermelon for lunch, eating the remaining half with a spoon.

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Later that evening, my parents picked up pizza, my pre-vegan, favorite pizza, a true test of self-control. In efforts to be creative, I decided to make a watermelon slushy. I made this out of the next quarter of the second watermelon.

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Summary — My first day started off strong, but ended weaker than I would have liked. During breakfast and lunch, I was doing well. When it got later in the day, I couldn’t help but want something a little more hardy, with a different texture and different flavor. I realized that the watermelon gave me quick surges of energy that would last for about 30 minutes tops. I would then feel super low levels of energy, which I was most definitely not a fan of. My head felt cloudy, occasionally painful and I felt as though I couldn’t think clearly.

Day 2 – Monday, May 25

I woke up feeling pretty great, although I was not thrilled knowing that my entire day would consist of watermelon again. I did notice my skin felt softer and looked very clear, even and glowing. However, I did not feel up for a workout. This did not sit well with me.

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I sliced up almost half a watermelon for breakfast, and spooned it out. Around noon, my family and I went to the Memorial Day Parade in Washington, D.C. for the remainder of the afternoon. I, of course, was prepped and ready to go with my watermelon.

I was a little worried, as I didn’t know what type of weather/standing conditions we would be under, but it ended up being quite a relaxed atmosphere. We snagged a shady spot and sat on blankets while we enjoyed the patriotic festivities. I felt fine during this, but definitely kept myself energized snacking on watermelon every 20-30 minutes or so.IMG_9909IMG_9921

When we arrived home around dinner time, I cut myself another quarter of watermelon to devour. I took a little nap and came back for another big, round slice of watermelon a couple hours before I went to bed. I noticed the times I would get up from sitting, I would feel dizzy and would see colors as I gathered my bearings and started walking.

Summary — Day 2 was a bit rougher. As I began my day knowing of the low energy levels, cloudiness and headaches I would be receiving, it definitely had me more conscious of when they did come around. Eating watermelon alone definitely put me in a weaker, more vulnerable state — a feeling I am definitely not used to. It also seemed as though every smell of food I sensed aroused my hunger — even foods I never would be drawn to on my normal plant-based diet. And when I knew I couldn’t consume any of those amazing scents I was experiencing, it just made me want to close my eyes and sleep.

Watermelon Island cancelled — I made the executive decision to end my Watermelon Island trip at breakfast on Tuesday morning, today. I understand that a detox may have you feeling more tired than normal and overall a bit different, but I just had a feeling that my body was trying to communicate with me that it didn’t like this.

I applaud those I know that have done this Watermelon Island detox for as long as they have…2 weeks anyone? I know that I could physically do it, but  the mental part is what is most difficult. Perhaps if I was actually on a deserted island with nothing but watermelon, but being in today’s society, living with a family that is constantly cooking and eating such flavorful, enticing foods, I just couldn’t.

Now I like to think I’m a pretty self-disciplined individual, but with a mix of signals coming from my body and the knowledge that I can sustain myself just as health-consciously with a variety of other healthy, simple foods, I just couldn’t continue with the watermelon. I couldn’t bear to not have my normal energy levels, enough so that I didn’t even feel that I could work out. Problem.

I am proud of myself for completing a full 48 hours on this Watermelon Island detox, and I already feel as though I am experiencing the benefits. Two days and three watermelons later, my first meal of the day off the island was breakfast — a banana, blueberry, spinach, almond milk smoothie bowl. It’s true what they say about appreciating foods so much more post-island. The flavors of the smoothie bowl seemed to dance around in my mouth, as if they too were celebrating my arrival home.

If anything, I think Watermelon Island has helped me reach my goal of a smooth transition to a summer of simpler, more raw eating. It’s easier, better for you and makes your body feel fantastic, and I couldn’t be more excited for the foods that await me!

All in all, I’m glad I was able to experience this Watermelon Island adventure, but from now on, I’ll be staying on my own soil.

Chow for now.