Vegan Diet Update (last one most likely)

Back in late August I embarked on an experiment in which I wanted to eat Vegan for 30 days (or 720 hours hence the hashtag #vegan720).  I was hoping for some weight loss , an overall increase in energy levels, and generally  just “feeling better”.  I can without a doubt that I had two out of the three (I didn’t lose much weight).  And up until very recently I have been content with the diet.  But then I think I developed a soy sensitivity/allergy and that kind of put me in a rut.  My diet was already quiet limited and now with avoiding soy I started to feel deprived of foods I really enjoyed. Yes, I know there are many delicious vegan non-soy foods out there but I really felt like my options got very limited, and this left me feeling deprived.

While on vacation to Sherpa at Ironman Arizona I fell off the wagon.  I ate eggs, bacon, cheese, and ham!  It was yummy but it really was just a couple of day step back from the diet while I got though Thanksgiving with my family. Now that I am back in the routine of work/school again I am starting a new chapter in my diet book.  I don’t think I will keep up the very strict vegan diet but I do see myself staying on a vegetarian diet with reduced amounts of dairy and eggs.  I really don’t miss the meat (but damn the beef tenderloin we had for Thanksgiving was A-MAZ-ING), but I do miss the freedom to eat a few of the things I have grown to love over the years.  The biggest one coming up is Panettone bread that comes out through the holidays.  The other thing I really miss is cheese (real cheese that is).

I do hope to try to keep my food as vegan as possible, I am just going to allow myself a little more wiggle room should I choose to wiggle!

Soy beans to blame?

I have been having some tummy issues fort he last couple of weeks and I am still trying to figure out the cause.  Late last week I thought we may have figured it out and the culprit was a parasite (still awaiting test results; samples submitted).  But after further evaluation of when my issues arise, I think it may be due to a soy intolerance.  The worst three “attacks” I have had have all occurred about 90-120 minutes after eating a fair amount of soy (tempeh or tofu in every case).  I have been eating vegan for the last two months so if I can’t eat soy this might get tough.  The plan right now is to make my diet plain and boring and start re-introducing foods back in to see what might be upsetting my stomach.  I have had no soy (except for the filler stuff in food) and I have not had a tummy ache since Sunday night.  Hopefully this is it.

Where I Am Going Wrong

When I started the #vegan720 challenge I had essentially three goals or at least results I was hoping to attain.  I wanted to eat more whole foods/less processed food; get the natural energy boost I hear about; and loose some weight.  I have felt the natural energy boost for sure.  I no longer want to curl up under my desk after lunch and tale a nap.  I sleep well and wake up feeling great.  I am eating “better” and I have become much more food label conscious.  It takes me twice the time to grocery shop and I am constantly reading labels of everything I eat.  But I haven’t lost weight; I have actually gained a pound.  And I think the picture above explains why.  Fruits and veggies are not always the most abundant food source in my day.  I have become very dependent on grains and cereals for quick snacks and even sometimes meals (yes, cereal for diner).  I think this is why I am not realizing the weight loss I was hoping for.

So I am still sticking with the vegan eating thing but I am trying hard to eat WAY more fruits and veggies at every meal.  I am also trying to have fruit and not cereal for breakfast anymore.  A very hard habit to break!  Below is what I packed for lunch today.  A big old crunchy salad with a creamy avocado.  Not sure if I can make it until lunch time!!!

Thanks Healthy Bitch Daily for the Pyramid

#Vegan720 Update

I made it… 30 days with no animal products.  I think except for one bun on a veggie burger that I am sure had egg in it, I have done it; NO animal products ingested!  The biggest changes I had to make to my daily routine were to cut milk from my cereal (which I had mostly done already), no more cheese as a snack when I got home from work, and no meat at lunch or dinner.  The hardest of those was no cheese.  There seems to be cheese in and on everything and it tastes so darn good.  I did experiment with a couple vegan cheese alternatives and they started to grow on me over time.

What did I get out of it?  The most noticeable difference was an increase in energy level.  Immediately I was not having that afternoon crash around 2:30/3:00 and I was drinking much less coffee.  I did crash one day and that day I had a huge bean and rice burrito so I think the SUPER carb heavy meal just knocked me out! This also forced me to try new foods.  Except for vegan cheese which is a little “different” everything I had was great!  There were also a few other changes in my body (some better than others) that came with the vegan diet.  I am not going to spell them out in an attempt to not be too graphic or gross. I will caution if you make the switch, stay close to the bathroom for the first couple days.  There can be a lot of fiber in vegan cuisine!

I did NOT get the weight loss I was hoping for so I am going to have to get even more serious about my diet to lose these pesky 8 pounds. I found that if there wasn’t anything readily available to eat in the house I would gladly have a bowl of cereal with coconut milk.  That didn’t do me any favors.

Some lessons learned thru this were one, always be prepared. Make sure you have food available so you aren’t always eating cereal.  This also involved making a casserole at the beginning of the week so I would have a couple of lunch and dinners already made.  Two, restaurants will help you out if you are nice to them when explaining your dietary restrictions.  I almost always looked at menus ahead of time before going to a restaurant to get an idea of what I could eat with the least amount of modification.  Three, don’t restrict everyone else’s diet because you want to eat differently.  But you can incorporate some of the healthier options into their meals without them even knowing it.

Where to now… I think I am going to stick with the vegan thing indefinitely for now.  It really isn’t hard and it is providing me a nice framework for trying to eat more “whole foods”; something I think we all should do.  I could see down the line maybe adding in eggs every once in awhile and possibly some cheese when it can’t be easily avoided.  But for now I am going to keep it up.  I would like to see how training for the Boston Marathon would be on a vegan diet!

Plants only for 30 days

If you follow me on twitter you may have noticed a new hashtag, #vegan720.  I have decided to try a totally vegan diet for the next 30 days.  I am not doing this because of animal rights issues or any type of personal  statement.  I am doing this for two reasons.  First, I have managed to put on about 6-10 pounds since my Ironman in May and I want to lose the weight.  I have been trying to “watch” what I eat and all I have seen is a a lot of Twix bars go into my belly and on to my hips! It just wasn’t working for me.  I am hoping that a very strict rule like “no animal products at all” will actually be easier to follow then just trying to eat healthy.

The second reason I am trying this is because of how many people have reported an increase in energy levels due to a totally plant based diet.  I am a busy person.  I am a single mother of two young boys who wants to continue to improve in endurance sports not to mention I work full time.  I need to have energy or I just can’t get everything done.

So I am 4 days in, feeling pretty good, and just hoping I get the results I am looking for.  My starting weight was 141 and I would really like to maintain 130 (although 125 would be awesome, just not sure I can easily stay there).  I will try to do some weekly updates as to how it is going but so far so good! Any advice or tips or recipes would be GREATLY appreciated!