My Not-So-Typical College Spring Break

Hi, people! Good afternoon and happy Spring!

Last week was my university’s spring break. As many of my classmates were off in some tropical paradise drinking fruity drinks and getting a little wild among thousands of other college kids on a typical ‘college spring break,’ I was at home not doing much, and loving it.

I was initially a little bummed about not actually doing the ‘college spring break,’ but in retrospect, I’m glad I didn’t. All I really needed for my spring break was an actual break; a break from school work, my organization leadership roles, and all the other stresses that come along with being a college student. I got just that.

On top of that, I got to hang out with my amazing family and my little Hudson pup whom I missed so much!

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For a solid week, I hung around my home town in Northern Virginia doing very average things, truly my own simple pleasures. I would wake up, make some breakfast, go to the gym, shower and do whatever else I wanted to do that day, whether it be shopping (missed my NoVA malls!), grabbing lunch with a friend, getting my nails done, going to my brother’s lacrosse games, etc.

Here are some highlights from my week:

I actually had lab work done at my family doctor to insure that I was nutritionally sound as I approach my 9th month of veganism, and guess what? My full nutrition panel came back with beautiful results, as I had suspected ;). Every single nutrient level was on par and I even had a surplus of B12 and Iron! Oh, the irony! (P.S. Creatinine marks simply mean I was slightly dehydrated, as I had just woken up.)

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I’ve never been one to obsess over the number on the scale, especially as I’ve delved deeper into consciousness of health and my body. I can confidently say I weight myself maybe 1-2 times a year, only when I am required to for doctor’s visits. I simply don’t find that number to be beneficial to me. I go by how I feel, how I look and how my clothes fit to determine where I stand. I even figured I had gained weight since I started weight lifting, with all the added muscle mass. Poundage doesn’t determine much in my eyes. Funny thing–I actually weigh slightly less than before. I ranged from 146-150 lbs eating a healthy, balanced omnivorous diet before I began eating plant-based and weight lifting. Check out my current standing!

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I went to the dentist, as well. My teeth are lookin’ good too incase you were curious!

I grabbed lunch with my friend Megan at Cava Mezze and did a little shopping around the Mosaic District afterward. Megan and I are both studying abroad in Spain for a little over 5 weeks this summer, but on different programs. I will be in Barcelona and she will be in Madrid. We booked our flights together though and will be making a few excursions to visit one another. This summer can’t come soon enough!

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And of course with a European trip ahead of me, I had to get some cool European-acceptable attire. My boyfriend Ryan and I headed to the mall and had some shopping fun. I hadn’t been to a mall in months, so this felt like a real treat, especially being at Tysons Corner.

Of course it was a long day of shopping and the two of us eat pretty often, so naturally we packed ourselves some snacks and ate up in the food court among all those eating food court food. You get stares, but who cares! I packed myself a Go Macro bar I had been meaning to try and an apple, and Ryan packed himself an almond butter sandwich on cinnamon raisin Ezekial bread. MMM!

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I went to the gym every morning and was loving all the time I had to do my thang. There was no pressure to get in, get out and head to class, like at school. It was pure work out bliss. I even had some time to take some progress selfies. We all know I love these. I’ve been trying to work on more “muscle separation,” as Ryan has informed me.

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Toward the end of the week, right before I packed up and headed back to school, my mom and I whipped up some scrumptious vegan desserts for me to take back!

Avocado Chocolate Chunk Brownies

Snagged from The Blonde Vegan

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Lemon Ginger Cashew Balls

Recipe posted on previous blog post!

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I also couldn’t go back to school without stopping by Whole Foods to stock up on bars beforehand! How I love being home…and Whole Foods Market. Sweet 16, anyone?

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All in all, my spring break was not that of a typical college student, but typical is boring! All I’m saying is that different is good. Different is what makes an impact. That statement can be pretty generalized, but I’ll leave it at that.

Well, I’m off to enjoy this beautiful day! I am overjoyed that Spring has finally decided to show itself.

Chow for now, and enjoy your weekend all!

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The Ultimate Vegan Transformation Tuesday

Happy Transformation Tuesday!

I have never actually done a Transformation Tuesday before, but I figured I would give this one a shot, and I might as well call it an ultimate, right? Go big or go home.

I’ve always regarded myself as a relatively fit individual, but veganism has taken me to greater heights, opened my eyes to the possibilities and the benefits of a plant-based diet. It has become who I am and what I believe in. Veganism has changed me, for the better, forever.

In July 2013, I began eating completely plant based to continue along the journey to better myself, by cutting out all meat, dairy and eggs, which covered almost all processed foods and essentially all unhealthy fats, sugars and salts that comes along with them. In turn, I leaned out and my inner fitness fanatic veganista goddess was revealed. (An 8 month vegan is entitled to goddess status, right?)

I think I can say I’ve undergone a decently grand transformation over the past 8 months or so. Wouldn’t you say?

 June 2013                                                         December 2013

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April 2013                                                          February 2014

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 May 2013                                                              January 2014

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 April 2013                                                                 January 2014

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 June 2013                   December 2013                    February 2014

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It’s so crazy to put all these pictures side to side to compare where I was and where I’m at now. I knew that I felt leaner and more toned, but I didn’t know the extent of the changes my body had endured. Plant power, yo.

Back when I became vegan, I also decided to completely ditch any fake tanning and have learned to embrace my paleness. It’s so easy to get caught up in the fad in college and I’m so shameful to say I did for a little while. Healthy, pale skin is better than wrinkly cancerous, tan skin any day. #palegirlsclub After all, it’s kind of fun to be able to blend with the ground when it snows! 😉

Now I can’t simply give it all up to my diet, although diet is #1 in my book. Last November is when I really began my weight lifting regimen. Before that, I exercised plenty, but it was almost entirely cardio, and cardio will only take you so far. Weight lifting 5-6 times a week and eating 5-6 small plant-based meals a day has gotten me to where I am today, a state of utter veganista bliss.

Oh and trust me, I’m not one of those individuals that simply didn’t care for animal products and so giving them up was no biggie. I would say majority of my daily diet revolved around animals products up until July 2013: eggs/egg whites for breakfast, chicken or seafood for lunch/dinner and greek yogurt for the best snack around. Becoming vegan was a sacrifice, but a sacrifice well worth it.

So yes, eating all plant-based foods has its challenges, but what is something rewarding that doesn’t? I can’t think of something more worth the struggle than improving your health, the environment, others lives and the world as a whole.

You want to make a difference you say? Go vegan.

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And trust me, you’ll see change alright. 😉

Chow for now!

A Typical Vegan Grocery Trip

Good evening, people!

I get requests here and there for certain blog posts, but this has been hands down the most requested, so I figure I’ll give the people what they’re asking for! 🙂

I often get asked if my groceries are super expensive as a vegan, and to answer that question, yes and no.

Of course natural and organic food brands tend to be pricier, but there is no saying those products need to purchased all the time, and by all means, if you’re on a college budget, let’s hope you don’t purchase them all the time. You just gotta be smart with your purchases. Personally, I am always tempted to buy new natural food items to try and of course my staple favorites, but as a college student, I must be conservative. Keep in mind though, you get what you pay for! Most of these foods are more expensive for good reason.

Think of it like this…would you rather pay a few more dollars now or thousands upon thousands later for open-heart surgery? I know that’s extreme, but heart disease is one of the most common causes of death in America and the source is within your grocery cart!

As far as the bulk of my groceries goes, they are relatively inexpensive. These include my legumes (beans and nuts), grains (oatmeal, quinoa, barley, etc.), fruits and vegetables.

What does add up is keeping myself constantly stalked with fresh fruits and veggies, as we know these items tend to go bad if not consumed in a timely manner so constant replenishment is necessary.

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Colleen’s Typical Grocery List

Food I buy on the reg:

  • Apples
  • Clementines
  • Red grapes
  • Tomatoes
  • Spinach or kale
  • Broccoli or brussels sprouts
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Onion
  • Garlic
  • Bell peppers
  • Hummus
  • Black beans
  • Garbanzo beans
  • Steel cut oats
  • Almond milk

The more expensive items I usually like to buy in bulk and somewhat conserve them (usually at a wholesale store at home):

  • Nut butters
  • Bars (Larabar, KIND, Vega, etc.)
  • Sprouted grain wraps or bread
  • Raw nuts (almonds, walnuts, cashews)
  • Ground flax seed
  • Chia seeds
  • Truvia

Grocery trip frequency

I would say I find myself going to the grocery store about 1-2 times per week, depending on my amount of free time. If I have no time to stop by the grocery store or am running low on funds, I stop by a dining hall salad bar and pick up all the raw veggies I need for the time being to cook meals. Perks of having a meal plan!

Personal updates

This semester is zooming by and I’m busy as ever! This is the last week of classes until spring break. No crazy tropical plans here– just a little bit of refreshing time at home with my family and then a short trip to my family’s house in the Outerbanks with some friends.

This past weekend was an exciting weekend for my sorority, as we had big-little reveal and a date party. Let’s just say fun was had by all!

Meet Lauren, my little! She’s actually a vegetarian, so I guess you could say she’s pretty cool. People also say we look like twins (she’s the one on the left).

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That’s all for now! This girl has gotta head to bed. She has a date tomorrow at 7 AM sharp with the gym and she can’t be late!

Yes, the gym and I have been going strong through out the semester, usually hanging out 5-6 times per week, where we do sprint intervals and weight training. I can’t wait to see where our relationship takes us! I can tell this one is a keeper. 😉

I try to be clever. C-how-I-do?

Goodnight.