What are you afraid of?

If you are anything like me your biggest reason for hesitating on making the transition to becoming vegan is based on how others will treat you.  I was very nervous (with good reason) to have attention for being different from the average person.   And because not all of the attention you receive when people discover you went vegan will be supportive.   You'll find that even strangers will tell you multiple things that they feel is wrong with your choice.  It can be uncomfortable and sometimes infuriating but the most important thing is doing what feels right to YOU!   Your choice to be plant-based for your health, for the planet, and for animals  really only affects you (as it should).   The reality is if you want to be vegan, want to be plant based, then letting others opinions hold you back will make you miserable.  If what others see as 'different' is normal to you... well, that's really their problem isn't it ?  You need to be true to yourself and go for it!  Unfortunately you may find that those closest to you- family members and co workers- will be very resentful of you changing your habits.  Maybe not immediately, but at some point in your journey, you will find just as much support as adversity to your lifestyle.  My best advice is to just disengage from all of that nonsense.  Focus on yourself, your reasons and your happiness while being kind and patient with others. Having peace of mind and a happy conscience is totally worth a little bit of negative feedback here and there.  It's been almost eight years as a vegan for me and the general mindset has come so far.  Here are a few things you can say in uncomfortable social situations.

When a host tries to push a meat or dairy based dish on you while insisting you need the protein.*  'I'm sure it's wonderful but I feel great with my food. Thank you for offering'.

When someone insists that being vegan is NOT healthy.*  'Actually, I've never felt better... it's working great for me'!

When someone says they wish they could be vegan but it seems 'so hard'.*  ' There's a little learning curve in the beginning but you get the hang of it just like any health-conscious change you've ever made with your diet.  It's worked out well for me and I can help you with some recipe suggestions'.  And you can direct them to Veggiebluff.com ��  Stay strong.   Be proud of your cruelty-free lifestyle. Sent from Yahoo Mail on Android

Enthused about food!

When my husband takes me to a vegan restaurant he’s really so amused by how much I enjoy my meal. I didn’t actually notice until he smiled and said “I wish I got that excited about eating”! And I really do. I love everything about plant based food. Trying new seasonings.  Pairing different grains and veggies. A sweet or savory sauce that is unexpectedly delicious. I take my time savoring and taking it all in. Before becoming vegan I liked food. I thought Dominos Hawaiian style pizza at a sleepover was good. I remember my Mom making tuna stuffed croissants sometimes and I liked eating those on the patio in the summer. Wendy’s junior bacon cheeseburger with fries dipped in a frosty seemed tasty after a basketball game back in high school. I didn’t love feeling like a bloated slug after the fact. I mean, I guess I liked food, but I was never IN LOVE with a great meal like I am now! It wasn’t until I chose to base my whole diet on plants that a beautiful new concept of nourishment came into my life.

As I thought more about my husband’s cute comment it became clear that every vegan I personally know and also those I follow on Instagram and Facebook really are foodies! We love to share photos of vibrantly colorful food. We give descriptions of the amazing flavors and textures. We enjoy every bite and are not sorry that we had dessert. Of course, you can be a junk food vegan, though it’s not necessary with fruits and nut butters that are so flavorful and nutrient dense. My first thought is always ‘is there nutritional value in this’ before I eat anything. When it’s plant based food the answer is overwhelmingly ‘YES’! I feel like eating vegan has given me the healthiest relationship with food. I look forward to being in the kitchen and making a mess chopping, sautéing, baking, mixing and blending. The colors are gorgeous.  I can almost be overwhelmed by my enjoyment of the many tastes and textures.  

Like many people I used to exercise so that I could eat and not gain weight. That messed up mindset had me stressed about going out to eat because I was trying to calculate in my head how long I would need to do cardio to burn it off if I had bread AND wine AND dessert. That resulted in me hating exercise because it felt like punishment for eating too much junk and I was also hating food because eating made me stress about when I was going to ‘burn it off’.  So, I was just cranky and miserable all around. Eventually, I decided to just eat as if I wasn’t going to exercise. I wanted to just eat healthy and not worry about calories or creating a caloric deficit. I hoped that if I were nourishing my body and fueling my brain everything would balance out. Did it ever! Just erasing that worry of punishing yourself helps your mind and body heal and thrive. I don’t ‘reward’ myself with food. I certainly do get ‘excited’ to eat food that heals my body and doesn’t inflict pain and suffering or harm our delicate planet. That makes me feel so good! Vegan food is worth getting excited about. I’m thankful everyday to have the choice to eat like I give a damn. And my husband enjoys the show.

*Tell me about the foods that make you happy.  veggiebluff@yahoo.com

Your Current Situation

Every time I see a heavier person boarding an airplane I think of a lovely man whom I was lucky to meet a few months ago. I’ve been a flight attendant for fifteen years. I was riding in the cabin with the rest of my crew. The flight was jam packed full. As we boarded the plane I noticed a young man towards the aft of the aircraft with a flushed and twisted up face who appeared to be pushed in to the window as the large man seated next to him was unintentionally encroaching on his personal space. And the funny thing about ‘personal space’ is that it’s virtually non existent on public transportation. Remember that the next time you travel…

As I passed the row I noticed the larger man was doing everything he could to take up less space.  He had his arms crossed in front of him trying to pull his body in.  

Almost like he wanted to disappear. He stared straight ahead and my heart broke a little because I could feel his anxiety. Believe me, this man was more uncomfortable and aware of his size than anyone else staring at him. I really hated thinking that this man was suffering with his own personal struggle in a public place and sitting right next to an angry man who was clearly not going to be pleasant to him for the next two hours!  Most airlines have a backwards policy about seating. If you are unhappy with your seat or the size of the person seated next to you and the flight is full, well, then YOU can take another flight. Flight attendants really cannot do anything for you when there isn’t an open seat.  Since I was traveling in the cabin I could actually help this time! I told the working flight attendant that I wanted to sit in that window seat next to the large man. She discreetly moved the very grateful window passenger to my assigned seat.

As I moved in to my new seat I was smiling so big! I was relieved to know this man would be next to someone nice ( that’s me! ). As he looked up I could tell he was quite surprised to see my enthusiasm to sit next to him-which also makes me sad because kindness shouldn’t be uncommon. I greeted him with a warm “hello” as I moved in to my seat. He nodded as he shifted uncomfortably trying to make himself smaller again. I started casually chatting with him. He visible became more at ease when he realized that I had absolutely no problem being a little squished next to him. Sadly, larger people on airplanes are often treated poorly by other passengers and sometimes flight crews. I was so happy that this man would not feel any worse today.

My new friend’s name is Chris. He had some interesting stories about the produce company that he works for. You know, I could talk about lettuce and spinach all day long so I was intrigued. As Chris became more comfortable talking with me he shared some of his personal struggles that lead to him gaining about 160 pounds in two years at just 28 years old. He had recently started to exercise and stopped drinking a 6 pack a day to lose nearly 50 pounds! Chris called it “just 50 pounds”. I said “Omigosh! Good for you! You must feel so much better.”  He downplayed his success by saying wistfully “I used to be in great shape”…. I could sense a little pity party starting so I had to cut him off and get real with my new friend. “Whoa” I said.  “This isn’t where your story ends! You can be exactly who you want to be. Your body right now is just your current situation. We change everyday. You just need to make the choice to evolve in a way that makes you happy”.  

I asked Chris what happened to change his health if he used to love exercising and eating healthy. He took a minute to articulate his struggle. He had been overloaded with work duties by a boss he despised. His long time girlfriend was cheating on him. He hated his boss, his job, everything about his life at one point. So Chris decided to say “fuck everyone”. He now didn’t care about anything. But he was really giving the biggest F-U to himself. Buffets, lots of beer and laziness put the weight on fast. Soon he didn’t recognize himself. I get upset when I hear people say “I would NEVER let myself go like that” or “how did he get SO BIG”!  Umm, personal struggles are unique and complicated and very hard to decipher even when it’s happening to you. Remember that. We all suffer and struggle with issues differently. Patience and understanding is what we need to help each other get over our own shit. You could make someones day better. Or not. I always wish to be a muddafuckinnnng rey of sunshine for someone else! Try it. It feels amazing to build up strangers as well as those you love.

We agreed that simply not allowing negative energy in to his space would help him prioritize his own health. To me that means letting go of relationships with people who make you feel low. I offered some easy suggestions with packing food and fitting in exercise no matter how much his workload is currently. Chris seemed determined to stick with his healthier routine.  It felt as if our conversation sparked his motivation. I felt like we were meant to meet. I think Chris really needed a boost at that time. I really needed to hear a different perspective from someone who’s current struggles are different from own. Just the possibility that he may remember me when he reaches his fitness goal and fastens his seatbelt without asking for an extension makes me feel good. It’s so easy to miss a human connection if you’re face down in your phone. I encourage you to unplug and make friends. You may have the chance to make someones current situation even better.

*Please share your stories with me.  veggiebluff@yahoo.com

You ARE important!

So my thoughts today drifted toward those people all of us know.  The person who totally has their shit together.  The person you admire because they are whip-smart, highly organized, manage money well, always dependable and on time.  This person has a highly successful career as well as being personable and outgoing.  However, for whatever reason, the only area of life they don’t seem willing to ( or confident enough to ) attack is their personal health.  The one thing that really should be the most important because your healthy body will keep you here longer to enjoy all of the areas of life that you excel in.  

Imagine ‘having it all’ but being reminded every time you see your naked self getting out of the shower that you don’t put in the effort to be confident with your body.  This sadness affects you everyday.  I know very few, SO very few, people who feel good about their physical appearance.  I have two family members whom have complained of being overweight for almost 20 years!  I mean, that’s a long time to be miserable because you don’t want to make the lifestyle changes that are necessary.  How awful is that?  Wasting 20 years being bummed out and feeling embarrassed by your size.  If you could feel lifted up by seeing a healthy body every morning wouldn’t that set the tone for a great day?  Instead of ‘oh, my tummy is getting Bigggg’ you could say ‘ahhh that felt great to get some exercise in before my day even starts’! ‘My legs look strong’.  ‘My head is clear’.  ‘These skinny jeans fit great.’  Trust me.  Confidence soars if you check your fitness off of your to-do list BEFORE giving your time to anyone else. It is really not a huge shift to set out ( or even sleep in ) your workout clothes and set the alarm to allow you enough time to exercise for at least 20 minutes.  The payoff is enormous!  Many work days I only grab 20-30 minutes of blood pumping cardio right when I get up.  Seriously. It’s enough to wake me up and feel accomplished for the day.  I’ve been able to keep this habit going for more than 8 years.  It really takes so little time out of your day. 

I see 30 minutes as my personal ‘sweet spot’ as it’s enough to feel great and kick it in to high gear without leaving me wiped out for the rest of the day.  Then, if I get the opportunity to do something active after work I see it as a bonus round.  It’s much better than having the feeling that I NEED to workout later looming over me all day long.  This way it’s all enjoyable.  Winning aaannnddd thinning!

I feel so much for those who can sell a multi million dollar home, advertise and promote anything like a genius and even create a major corporation from the ground up but they cannot seem to get up a little earlier to improve everything in their lives!  One word.  Prioritize.  You absolutely CAN be fit and confident.  And you certainly SHOULD put your fitness first everyday. Please know that you are #1 and take care of yourself.  Don’t create stress or anxiety or doubt yourself.  Just find your groove.  It feels amazing!  You will enjoy everything and everyone in your life so much more.

Your food is important!

The other major piece of the puzzle is your eating habits.  I can tell you from my own life experience that mindlessly eating too much ‘healthy foods’ will not do you any favors.  It may actually make you frustrated because you could be gaining weight from oversized portions or just starving through the day only to load up at night- when you don’t need the energy fuel- so it gets stored in the trunk ( your ass ).  I have lived a high animal protein/ low carb lifestyle years ago.  I do not recommend it! Maybe your body will tighten up but the suffering- colitis, constipation, low energy, irritability, brain fog, bad skin and contributing to pollution and animal suffering for vanity…  That’s the worst I’ve ever felt in my life.  I looked pretty good but I felt like shit all of the time.  The food prep for a meat heavy diet is a bitch as well. I can tell you that shifting to plant based eating is the easiest food prep!  I’m not stressed about food spoiling.  A portion of carbs is simply a piece of fruit or half a baked yam. Protein is a precut square of tempeh or tofu or a Beyond Meat Beast Burger or a scoop of raw plant protein powder. Snacks are raw veggies and raw nuts. I put everything on a pile of greens when I’m home.  Omigosh so easy! As long as your not stuffing yourself and relying on bread and pasta or peanut butter you won’t have to worry to much about your weight.  I fluctuate 5-7 pounds and it’s usually creeping up if we are eating out a lot and drinking wine.  Even the seemingly healthiest veggie options at a restaurant can be covered in oil and salt.  So dining out should be minimal for your health.  Always keep a piece of fruit and a portion of raw nuts with you running errands if your day runs long.  But also know that hunger isn’t an emergency either.  I had a major fear of being hungry because I thought that I would overeat.  Sometimes you may eat a little more but usually you’ll be fine.  If you’re thinking about another helping just get up and busy yourself for a minute.  Fold laundry, take the dog outside to tinkle.  You will probably forget about the food.  And you’ll be eating in another hour or two anyway!  There’s no need to rush.

My purpose is to be a guide with my experience.  Meal plans, easy recipes, quick tips for making life as simple and satisfying as possible while your health improves.  Vegan is where it’s at my friend.