I was folding laundry today and I realized that I haven’t really given myself a proper introduction. My “About” page is swell and all, but I feel that it really doesn’t fill you in on the nitty-gritty. I want to make sure that I provide my readers with an honest representation of myself, because even though I am on a personal journey of self-improvement, I’ve loved myself and will continue to love myself every step of the way.
I don’t know where exactly to begin my story, but I do know that I don’t want to start too far back. How about I begin when I fully committed to becoming vegan?
May 2nd, 2012 was the day I stepped out into the light and I knew my life would never be the same again. Now, I’ll leave the full story on how and why I came to this decision for another time as it is lengthy and I’m sure this post will be long enough. I was 5’4, 140 lbs and very unhappy with the way that I looked. I battled acne everyday and everyday the acne won. I would pack on the makeup to the point were I looked unnatural and reapply every few hours just to make myself feel presentable. I have a long history of issues with acne, best left for another time. My hair was beginning to thin and it was freaking me out. I remember that my clothes were feeling tighter on me and my feet were always swollen. I pooped on a weekly basis and it was often a struggle. I lived a sedentary life, glued to an office chair in a windowless room for 8 hours a day and rarely performed any physical activities. I was moody, dramatic, impulsive and detached.
I still remember my last sad, S.A.D. meal, it was vegetable pizza and while consuming it I had no idea that the following day I would swap to a completely cruelty-free, vegan lifestyle.
I tossed everything in the fridge and cupboard that wasn’t vegan and started fresh. I was doing this for me, for my health and I wasn’t going back. I recall the first month we ate mostly smoothies, salads, grains, beans and grilled or stir fried vegetables. I tried to stay away from gluten (mostly because it was the trendy thing to do), salt and processed foods. I was restricting my calories, but I wasn’t counting them. I winged it and thought I was doing a stellar job because I slowly started to see a change in my waistline.
I had so much more energy! We would go for long walks and we’d go to the park and play frisbee. I know, not the most vigorous exercise, but it was a start and I was beginning to feel really good. It was exciting times! We bought our Vitamix, we began exploring local farms (nothing was in season yet) and we were experimenting with the many vegan restaurants in town. It was during this period that we discovered FreeLee and Durianrider and raw vegan seed was planted.
I first became high-carb, low-fat, raw vegan on June 12th, 2012 and we immediately dove into a 12 day banana island. If you don’t know what this means, it’s quite simple, I consumed only water and bananas for 12 days straight. This may sound extreme to many, but I was consuming plenty of calories (about 3000 – 3500 per day) and it truly opened my eyes to just how amazing I could feel on a clean, raw vegan diet. I never felt as alive as a did during those 12 days, all my senses were heightened and I felt as though I had discovered a miracle. Why didn’t everyone know about this? How could I get the message to more people? I was hooked and I loved every second of every moment I lived.
After banana island we were strict 801010 raw vegans. We took down massive banana smoothies for breakfast, a huge mono meal for lunch and gigantic salads for dinner. On average I consumed about 3ooo calories a day, we “went to bed like Buddha and were waking up like Gandhi.” Our energy skyrocketed, so we bought bikes. We began to lose weight, fast. At first it was water weight (about 5 lbs the first week) from eliminating salt from our diet, but then it was fat and lots of it. We weren’t even exercising that often, maybe an hour-long bike ride once or twice a week and at a medium pace. I was losing weight and beginning to see my body’s true shape, an image I thought I lost my first year in the U.S.
By the end of August I was down to 118 lbs and spiraling into a calorie obsessed whole. I thought I could cheat the system. I was convinced that by cutting my calories down to about 1600 per day I would reach my goal faster and be victorious. Looking back, all I really wanted was a slender figure, I wasn’t committed to becoming the healthiest version of myself. I was beginning to plateaux, so I restricted even more and soon enough I was starving and craving everything!
We broke on September 3rd, 2012. We gorged at lunch at a Middle Eastern restaurant and later gorged again at a Thai restaurant for dinner. We ate dinner (enough for 4-5 adults) every night for 5 days in a row at that Thai restaurant. For the following 3 months we ate out almost everyday and I began to put back on all of the weight that I lost. By December I was 130 lbs and, though not pleased about the number on the scale, I didn’t want to return to my raw vegan diet because the weather was getting really cold and most of the produce was shit at this point. I had an all or nothing mentality and consequently, I fell off the wagon and felt like a complete failure.
The next year was a roller coaster ride. I had made so many attempts to be fully raw, or even just incorporating an 801010 vegan diet but I would fail over and over again. It was quite disheartening, but I managed to maintain a weight of 130 lbs because I was active. I ran 15 – 20 miles a week but then I’d get injured, I healed for a couple of months (I’d ride my bike instead) and then repeated the cycle. This was also quite disheartening, but I knew things would get better, I always know things will get better. We always knew what we needed to do to get back on track, but we kept making excuses and they were catching up to us.
We got married last December and leading up to the wedding we both experienced high levels of stress caused entirely by my family. I’m not going to get into the pain we were put through because it still hurts, but we no longer talk with them and I suppose time heals all wounds. Once the whole thing was over and everyone had left, our spirits were broken and we spent months bingeing on “comfort” foods and alcohol (I hate booze, but it lulled me into a daze, which I felt I needed to suppress the sadness). I tried running because running has alway calmed me and slapped a smile on my face, but I developed planter fasciitis and had to stop. I made excuses everyday to not exercise and to comfort myself with fatty foods. Needless to say we put on even more weight and soon enough we weren’t fitting into our clothes.
So here we are now. I decided to quit fucking around and get my shit together. It’s been a few weeks now and we’ve adopted a raw ’till 4 diet that you can see in my “What I Ate Today” posts. I’m trying to get more calories in, but I’ve settled comfortably in the 2000 – 2500 range and plan to increase it with time. I’m still very bloated and I feel I may not be digesting the rice and potato bowls too well, but I really enjoy having warm foods at night. I think I need to experiment a bit with what foods work well for me right now in order to deflate. I don’t own a scale, so I have no idea if I’ve lost any weight, but that’s just a number to me and I’m more interested in improving my overall health and fitness at the moment. I’m also not as active as I’d like to be, but I am working on it and I know in time I’ll be putting in the mileage because nothing makes me happier (with the exception of my husband) than running. I’ve dusted off my bike in anticipation of the drier summer days of the Pacific Northwest and I invested in a few workout dvds to do at home.
It’s rather intimidating for me to post this because it’s such an intimate portrait of the past couple of years of my life. I just wanted to show that I’m not perfect and that life isn’t perfect. We all struggle in life with various things, but we need to always love and respect ourselves. Being healthy is the most valuable thing you can give yourself and it’s a choice. I made some bad choices, but I know the right ones and I’m choosing a better life, for me and for my husband.