I am on a journey to live a life I love and to fill my life with the things that truly bring me joy... my dream job, loving relationships, financial abundance, a healthy mind and body, and a deep spiritual connection with all that is. I am living consciously to create a life filled with all the things I love.

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Thursday, March 25, 2010

Going Vegetarian and Giving Up Sweets

I have had a semi-committed relationship with vegetarianism during the past year and half. It's been a semi-committed relationship because I have not done the proper research to really figure out if I am getting enough protein and nutrition in my diet. And to be really honest, one of the main reasons I have not gone all the way is that I have a weakness for sushi. It is (or maybe was) my favorite food.

As I am going through this journey of trying to live more consciously, I am finding that foods I used to enjoy are no longer things I crave anymore. I used to eat ice cream every single day. It was my source of sugar and my body's way of cooling itself when I was overheated inside. Most people think it's funny because I'm so small, and probably thought I was lucky since I didn't get huge even though I ate ice cream so frequently. I think it's because I ate healthy throughout the rest of the day just so that I could make room for ice cream.

Ice cream is no longer part of my life. One day, the craving was gone. I didn't even think about it. I just didn't need it anymore. People would offer it to me thinking that my addition for ice cream was still alive and kicking, but as I kindly accepted their offer for ice cream, I realized that my body had changed. Ice cream was no longer needed. That was easy.

I know lots of people struggle with massive sugar cravings and addiction to sweets. My recommendation for anyone trying to give up the sugar is to load your body up with nutritious foods. By nutritious I mean dark leafy greens, organic vegetables of all sorts, superfoods, fruits, etc. The more my body received the proper nutrition it needed, the less it relied on the quick sugar fix to give it sustained energy. The second thing I did that I probably did but forgot about was that I ask the angels and my guides to help me take away cravings. I ask, forget about it, and then one day I realize that it's gone. Just ask. It's worth a shot, and it gives them permission to help you.

Going Vegetarian

I decided one day about a year and a half ago that I would try and go vegetarian. It started because I was thinking about pursuing a career as an energy healer and was taught that the cleaner the foods you eat, the more easily energy can move through you, and the more powerful of a healer you can become. In other words, the higher the vibration of the food that you consume, the more your own vibration rises. It also helps with your own spiritual development and developing psychic or clairvoyance abilities, along with a meditation practice, of course. So, one day I thought, maybe it's time for me to try it, and I began a semi-committed journey to test it out.

What I discovered is that when I took meat out of my diet, I really did not know what I could eat other than salads, vegetable soups, pasta, pizza, and Korean food. And in my opinion, pasta, pizza, and Korean food are not the healthiest choices. Carbs, cheese, and lots of sodium... that's NOT the the direction I wanted to head. I was left with salad and vegetable soups. Not very filling options... at least for me. For those that know me, I have been known to have a pretty big appetite for someone my frame, so a salad might last me a couple of hours, but I'd be very hungry not long afterwards.

For now, I have been supplementing my diet once in a while with small amounts of fish and eggs for protein until I learn to make recipes with other healthy protein sources. The thing about going vegetarian is that I have noticed that I have replaced most of my protein with carbs. There are definitely great whole grains that I now consume (quinoa, millet, amaranth, buckwheat, barley, etc.), but when I'm out and about eating on the go, the choices are much more limited and I am stuck with "whole wheat" or "multi-grain." Somehow these fast food places that use these labels make me feel like only a small percentage of the food is actually whole grain or multi-grain. You can say I'm a bit skeptical about most fast food prepared for breakfasts and lunches out there.

Weight Gain on a Vegetarian Diet

There are definitely healthy ways to be vegetarian and unhealthy ways to be vegetarian. The obvious healthy ways are to eat a lot more fresh vegetables, and the unhealthy way is to always eat simple carbohydrates, including pastas, pizzas, and anything else of that variety. Initially I indulged on the pizzas, pastas, and paninis since I was making a huge sacrifice, or so it seemed at the time, to go vegetarian. What I did notice after a while was that my body seemed a bit flabbier and my jeans were starting to get uncomfortable as my body started to get more soft and fluffy like marshmellows -- not the direction I wanted to continue down. So, I started to incorporate a lot more salads into my life and reduce or eliminate the simple carbs. Instead, I replaced it with whole grains like quinoa that I'm still experimenting with to create yummy dishes. Right now my flavoring for these dishes are a bit bland and the meals are not quite dense enough for me, but I'm sure I'll come up with some recipe that I enjoy that also fills me up.

I no longer crave meat. Not chicken or fish. Even my once voracious appetite for sushi is starting to wane. But, I am still looking for heartier vegetarian meals that are truly healthy and chock full of nutrients. I am finding myself hungry for nutritionally dense foods, and now I crave super healthy vegetables more than anything else. My weight if probably roughly the same, but my body composition (mostly due to lack of weight training) has changed and I feel like I have less muscle than before. Sometimes I wonder if I can get the really toned yoga body on a vegetarian diet? I guess the only way for me to find out is to try it out and be committed to trying it out.

Why is it that so many vegetarians look like they have a soft body? Is it because they do not work out? Or is it really the change in protein source? Or maybe they are eating simple carbohydrates (that act more like sugar) instead of complex carbohydrates? Maybe they eat a lot of sweets still? I don't know the answer because I do not have any vegetarian friends to ask. I have met a lot of vegetarians, vegans, and raw foodists in my health coaching program and online through social networks, but it's not the kind of thing you ask someone you just met. :) Do you know the answer? Have you been able to get a lean and toned body being vegetarian, vegan, or raw? If you have, I'd like to know your secret.

In the meantime, maybe I'll try to be dedicated to a vegetarian/vegan/raw diet (meaning lots of raw, mostly vegan, and an occasional egg if I really feel like I need it) for a month and start a regular yoga and weight training practice to see if my body changes and becomes more toned. The month of April sounds like a good time to start. I'll try it out for the month of April and let you know how it goes. And if you or someone you know has had success with this, I'd like to hear from you!

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