YOU EAT NO MEAT!?
There's isn't a diet that I haven't tried. I've done The Duken Diet, Nutrisystem, Weight Watchers, Whole30, Vegetarian, high protein/low fat, high fat/low protein..I mean the list goes on and it's freaking exhausting.
When I decided to make the "transition" to veganism, everyone I told slightly rolled their eyes and laughed a little. Believe me, I get it. I guess you can say I'm a bit of a yo-yo dieter but not in the "I eat healthy then eat like shit" sort of way. I'm more like the "I get really bored and can't help but try something new," sort of way.
While I first started off dieting to lose weight, over the years my focus has shifted quite a bit. I could honestly care less about what the number says on the scale and haven't personally weighed myself in probably over a year. However, being the borderline hypochondriac that I am, I have gone to the doctor a few times this year and know for a fact that I hoover around 147-150 lbs. Yep, that's right. I know this is slightly off topic but what I hope y'all already know is that 150 lbs with a lower body fat percent and 150 lbs with a higher body fat percent look completely different. My weight has pretty much stayed the same over the last few years but my appearance hasn't. ANYWAY back to the regular scheduled programming.
Like I was saying, my mindset has shifted quite a bit when it comes to dieting. I went from thinking of dieting in the negative sense i.e. only using it as a way to lose weight, to thinking of choosing a proper diet to fuel performance and after much research (said in a British accent), I decided I wanted to give veganism a real shot and see how my health, workouts and energy levels change. It's only been about two full months of me attempting to each a plant based/vegan diet but I wanted to give y'all more details behind why I chose it and some of the bumps that I've hit throughout my experience.
A friend of mine had actually been trying to get me to watch this movie for probably a year now. She'd gone vegan after having a very difficult second pregnancy. I noticed that in a very short amount of time she went from looking worn down and tired to vibrant, active, positive and full of energy. Now, I've never had a kid but I guarantee energy is not one of the side effects of having two kids under the age of two, so clearly veganism was treating her well. However, at the time, I really didn't want to listen to her. Her main goal was losing her baby weight where as my main goal was gaining muscle and I felt the only possible way for me to do that was to eat animal protein..and LOTS of it.
We had many arguments about how I felt it was impossible to get the protein necessary to fuel muscle growth which, is an entire argument within itself and I'll have to save for another post.
Fast forward to a year later (about two months ago) and Netflix decided to pop that thing up on their site. Being bored one Saturday afternoon, I figured what the heck..haha.. let's give it a try. Long story short by the end of the movie I was convinced I was as unhealthy as a smoker and needed a change.
While there were many selling points in this movie for me, the one that hit closest to home was when they interviewed a few individuals with autoimmune diseases who went from taking way too many medications and needing breathing machines, to walking miles a day! It was absolutely mind blowing! I have quite a few family members also have very similar diseases and to these people go from near death to literally walking down a healthier path, it really struck a nerve.
This is a Facebook group that I stumbled upon after watching What the Health. The admins are a married couple who I'm pretty sure are also personal trainers. They have a wealth of knowledge and experience helping individuals transition to a plant based/vegan diet while also successfully lifting weights and gaining muscle. It really is a little community of people who provide tips and tricks from meal prepping and macros to easy snacks and progress sharing. This group really has been a life saver. It was also through this group that I was introduced to my new favorite blog/website/cookbook, The Minimalist Baker.
3. My Tummy-Wummy
Being 100% transparent with y'all right now, I've had pretty significant "digestive issues" for some time now and when I was watching What the Health, reading blogs, youtube videos, etc. one of the main side effects that seemed to go away for a lot of people was the constant feeling of upset stomach. For me the main culprit was dairy and while I stopped drinking regular milk a very long time ago, cheese and greek yogurt or froyo were a regular part of my diet. I would notice pretty much immediately after eating anything with even a little bit of dairy, that my stomach would just take on a mind of it's own which was so uncomfortable, especially at work! I'll just leave it at that.
The Road bumps
1. I LOVE DRUNK EATING
There's nothing that excites me more after a night out then coming home, drunk of course, with a big ole bag of McDonald's french fries. They're the best in the world and I will fight you to the death if you try and tell me otherwise. Now some people might say, but Sha, french fries are just potatoes. Then to that, my response would be, you're absolutely insane if you don't thing Mickey D's doesn't fry those things in the same bucket of grease that they fry those amazing chicken nuggets of theirs. Since going vegan, I've tried to be SO strong but have admittedly walked my ass to the McDonald's on 31st and 3rd and proudly purchased an extra large fry while enjoying every last bit of it.
2. I MISS SEAFOOD
I've never been a huge fan of red meat and will eat chicken for protein in salads, however, my love for seafood runs so deep. During the first few weeks of me going vegan, I hardly craved any seafood or really meat at all. However, I've noticed in the past week in particular, I wake up some mornings thinking about smoked salmon on a slice of avocado toast with a tear in my eye. I've yet to break on that one but it's getting increasingly harder to say no.
As I mentioned above, I used to have some major digestive issues that have since gone away! Yay! That's all good and well but in it's place is quite a bit of gas and fucking blows, pun intended. I can't believe I actually typed that out but it's so true and I is a need to know if you too are deciding to make the change. I notice it more throughout the evening than during the day and often have to excuse myself when I'm catching up on episodes of Big Brother with my roommate. At first, I thought it was just me but after reading about others experiences, it seemed to be a common side effect. Basically it stems from the fact that a vegan diet is higher in fiber than others but I guess they say your body will adjust to this overtime. I guess I'll be waiting until then.
So there you have it. The good, the bad and the gassy. Overall I really do like the changes in my body and perceptions of food since switching over to veganism. Do I think this is something I'll do forever or continue to follow rigorously? Maybe not. I've thought about incorporating at least one to two non vegan meals into my diet each week but we'll see. Realistically I just can't see myself enjoying a Thanksgiving dinner without all the amazing non-vegan ingredients. Come on, sweet potato pie?! My family's recipes has butter AND milk and I plan on having more that one slice. And then there's my wedding that will eventually happen one day and you better believe this girl will be offering a seafood option for dinner. I do love that it's made me get over a lot my fears of needing massive amounts of animal protein to "get swole" and I have noticed that overall my digestive system and in workings of ma body are pretty..regular. Also, my alcohol bill has lowered pretty significantly considering it takes me half the amount shots to actually get a buzz, so there's that as well.
Moral of the story is, find something that works for you because it works for you. Don't just change your diet because someone else is forcing it upon. Do the research, be curious and know the why behind your decision. When I was changing my diet for the sole purpose of losing weight, I wasn't ever able to really give it my all because everything about my choice was superficial and the satisfaction of losing weight only lasts so long for me. I know there will be times when I stray away from a vegan diet (thoughts of salmon...thoughts of Thanksgiving), but I do plan to make a conscious effort when choosing what goes on my plate and into my body.