This is a summary of my health and dietary journey from January 2009 through July 2009.
I strongly live by and believe that no eating or health lifestyle is ever done or complete. This is why, as you will notice, the name of this site is evolving” wellness, and so my wellness journey will continue to evolve! As our knowledge grows, and level of comfort increased, it is most valuable to routinely improve on all areas of our life, including, and perhaps especially so, our diet.
I really like these half year reflections because it allows each of us to stop our usual day-to-day run around and reflect on where our health, fitness and eating habits are. Doing it this way prevents us from ending up years later with health or weight problems, and asking ourselves where these came from.
Thus I invite you to do the same, and take out some time out of your day to think about where you currently are. It is as easy as taking out a piece of paper, writing down past goals to see if you have achieved them, assessing the present state and then jotting down your next set of goals. So here comes mine!
Past Status and Goals
If you are interested to see where I was at 6 months ago, I invite you to read the Semi-Annual Health Update – January 2009.
My main three areas of growth were:
- drinking enough water
- getting enough exercise
- wondering whether I should continue eating eggs
I am happy to report that I am much more conscious about getting enough water each day, especially since the start of the warmer months. I would still not say I am exactly where I want to be, but I am much better with getting more water each day.
In terms of the exercise, the last 6 months saw me through an excellent, daily ½ hour of yoga that I incorporated first thing in the morning. It was great while it lasted, but I neglected to build it up into a habit. I have also seriously neglected my resistance training for good bone and muscle development, which we ALL should be doing for 15 – 30 minutes about 3 times a week.
The good news is that as soon as spring came, I started my half hour to 1 hour brisk walks several times a week, some hiking, and best of all biking long paths. These have made me feel fantastic and since I love the outdoors, I have no trouble doing at least one of those on a daily basis.
Dietary Changes – Becoming Vegan
In terms of the eggs, well that one was easier than I thought. After just a little more research, as of January, I decided to give them up and become what many would call vegan. I realized that I did not need to eat them for the B12 as there are other sources possible for this. Anything from B12-rich nutritional yeast to mushrooms, or just a simple supplement. Remember that for best health, if you are a vegan or even a vegetarian it is a good idea to have a regular, dependable source of B12, like a supplement.
I do go by the vegan label now, although I will be honest with you, I am interested in a different one I coined: healthytarian, which encompasses the greater nature of my lifestyle and choices. The reason for this is that many people are still misunderstanding the vegan and vegetarian lifestyles or what they actually include, not to mentioned that they are all too often based on processed foods.
Also I am not keen on the idea of boxing ourselves into a strict pattern. Life changes, people change, and we are constantly evolving. Having said that, don’t get me wrong, it is my full intention to never eat animal products again (meat/seafood, dairy, eggs). The foundation of compassion for all life forms and understanding that we never have to eat animal products is my guiding light. And for anyone thinking: “what if you were stranded somewhere, starving and dying?” Many people won’t understand this, but my intention applies. Once we get to a point of understanding that our life is no more important than the life of any other animal, we simply see and experience this reality in a very different way. During my spiritual awakening there has also been a lot of shedding of any fears associated with death. Ultimately, there are always so many plant and fungi sources that one can depend on, if one is resourceful enough. So no, I wouldn’t eat any animals, just like I wouldn’t eat another human. This is my personal choice and prerogative.
For the past 6 months I am so happy to say that every morning has started with a green smoothie. Throughout the cold months, it was accompanied by a healthy bowl of grain, where as in the summer months, it is just the green smoothie itself. My portion consists of 2 cups or ½ a liter of it. It always includes a calcium-rich green, like kale or collard greens, a fruit or two and an omega 3 food source, such as hemp or flax seeds. As I like to say, today my milk is green!
Processed food, in the general sense, is non-existent to me. In fact, the only things that I can think of that I have been eating processed is some Ezekiel bread from ShaSha, a local, health, and environmentally-conscious bread company; whole grain pasta, and the odd organic corn tortillas. I don’t mind keeping this particular variety of bread, as it is organic, local, sprouted, and very nutritious. Additionally, it is not a weekly thing for me, but a seldom occurrence. The organic corn tortillas I don’t mind keeping either for now, as I have found brands that have no additives, low sodium and only use organic ingredients, so there is no risk of eating GM corn. Other than that, I am not counting nut and seed butters in this category. Although naturally they are slightly processed, there is nothing added to the pure ones I eat, and they can be a very nutritious addition to our diets. My main nut butters currently are almond butter and tahini.
However, the big change is that I have decided to drop the pasta entirely. In fact this was my last pasta dish. Over the last 3 years of fine tuning a highly optimized, nutritional diet, I first obviously switched from white to all whole pastas. Then I dropped all pastas, then I only ate fresh pasta, then I dropped that and went back to dry, whole grain, but brown rice pastas, and I’ve decided to remove all pasta from my diet for the foreseeable future.
Don’t get me wrong, there isn’t necessarily anything that bad about pasta, especially when it is organic, whole grain (preferably not wheat), and not the main part of the meal, but accompanies a rich salad. For me personally, I just found that although it can be tasty, I just don’t enjoy it anymore, don’t need it, and frankly don’t really want it. Does that mean I will never eat pasta again? Probably not. I may save this one as the food I would eat, IF there was nothing else, but other than that I have no intention of depending on it in any regular way.
New Additions and Next Steps
In these last 6 months I researched and discovered the amazing benefits of hemp. I first started using organic hemp powder in my smoothies, and then discovered and switched to hemp hearts (shelled hemp seeds). Their nutritional profile is amazing and something I intend to regularly include in my diet from now on.
I have also continued my research on mushrooms, and continue to find outstanding nutritional information about them. I now incorporate a few varieties on a weekly basis. The most nutritious are shiitake, maitake, reishi, and most members in the shimeji family. Most of these are known as tree mushrooms. The most exciting part is that my grocery store has just a month ago started carrying the maitake variety and various members of the shimeji family, so it is so easy to incorporate these into my dietary lifestyle. If you are not eating mushrooms in your diet, I invite you to look into their amazing benefits and incorporate them on a regular basis into your life too.
Although I eat some greens each day right now, my next goals are to continue making my diet richer and richer in greens, as they really are the food of life. There are so many abundant varieties of them, and so many ways to enjoy them, that I know this will be an exciting and ongoing journey for sure!
In terms of fitness, I am going to continue my outdoor activities, for the warm months at least, but seriously make a point of getting some routine resistance training in there too. I also want to get back to a regular routine of yoga or pilates.
And finally here is the last biggie: Over the past 6 months I have been doing more research and giving more and more thought to the raw food lifestyle. In many ways I think I could already call myself somewhat a raw foodist, as on average 75% of my food is raw, and I read in several places that raw foodists fall anywhere between 50 – 100% raw. So my only draw back has always been the beans and grains. I know that I have to give sprouting a try and maybe that will be the motivation to switch those items over too. Or maybe I do not need to. This is definitely an intricate decision and one that requires more contemplation.
And so that is my 6 month update in a nutshell. So does eating natural, organic, wholesome, plant-based food work for our bodies? Well I sure would like to think so, as I, and my husband who is eating the exact same way, feel fantastic!
I am going, over 2 years now, without having ANY viral, bacterial or fungal infections (that I was aware of at least). I have no fears whatsoever with the upcoming scares about the swine flu pandemic, as I know that my immune system is in tip-top shape to protect me, and I wouldn’t dream of getting injected with a any chemical vaccine ever again.
My sleep is regular and undisturbed, my energy levels are beautifully steady and stable from morning to night, and I just feel great! I have no weight fluctuations, as I mentioned in past updates before, my weight has been stable for over 10 years now. And even though as women age they tend to put on weight, it is next to impossible to gain weight on a healthy, natural, and plant based diet (unless a previous medical condition exists or uncontrolled eating of high calorie plant foods). In terms of my blood work, all major things tested (B12, cholesterol, thyroid, etc.) are optimal. Although my iron stores have decreased somewhat, this is usually seen in vegetarians or vegans when they first transition and the body needs some time to adjust. However, overall my iron levels are the same and stable where they have been for the past 8 years! This is why I am breathing and living this lifestyle! I know what is possible and hope so much to inspire, encourage, or motivate others with similar desires, interests, and intentions.
Of course no discussion on health is complete without mentioning stress. Remember that while it is very important to pay attention to what we choose to put into our bodies on a physical level, it is just as important to consider what we CHOOSE to put into our bodies on emotional and mental levels.
Remember, perfect health is our birthright, not a stroke of luck or some fluke for a select few. It all just depends on how we choose to treat our bodies, in terms of whether we provide them with building blocks of nutrition or junk and how we choose to live. Your body is your temple, the home you build via your choices daily, let’s make it of the highest quality possible, built to last a lifetime!