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!

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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.