Stop being “True to Yourself”

Being true to yourself is a lovely cliché to be used in times of decision-making,  or consoling after the decision-making. But I find the concept to be very flawed.
When someone changes things about how they live their life, treat people, or treat themselves – others tend to resist. They think those people are conforming, they’ve lost themselves, and are no longer “being true to themselves”  That resistance, however, certainly comes from a place of fear. It’s scary to watch people change from what you knew them as. What if they become different than the person you loved? What if they love you differently?  I believe the same thing happens to yourself. Maybe you want to change, but that same fear creeps in. What if I lose the persona I’m so comfortable in? What if my friends don’t support me?

Your true, authentic self is a thing you create. Sure, you’re born with all kinds of traits and tendencies. But as you grow, mature, meet people, have experiences, meet the internet… you’re going to change every single day.  You’ll like music you didn’t know before. Use new words you just learned. Form a concept of who you want to be, and show people the parts you want them to see. There’s no beautiful, perfect, essential being within you that if you dig deep enough you can feel and let it guide you. I don’t think that is what staying true to yourself is… but rather, that it should be new, and ever-changing.

Don’t be true to yourself, be true to the self you want to be.

I honestly wish that everyone felt comfortable shedding their (unhealthy) personas that they’ve created. The Party Animals – doing it because they think that people think its cool and fun. The Bad Boy/Girl. The Bitch. The Apathetic. The Homophobic/Racist/Sexist. Just because it is who you have been does not mean it is who you have to be.

Over my lifetime of being a chunker, I’ve always heard the theory about how people have a hard time losing weight because they feel comfortable and safe in their bigger bodies. It is what they know, and the unknown is too scary to face. And I always thought “Oh pshaw!” (my grandpa would say that!). “I want to be skinny SO BAD, there is no way I’m subconsciously happier like this!” You know what, though? The fear of the unknown is very real. And being a healthy weight is very unknown to me, whether I can tap into that emotion or not, I am sure it’s there… making things just a little more difficult to change.

Even changing to a vegan diet. A big part of my persona had been a true Food Lover. Exotic meats, offal, and strange things – Shannon likes those!  If a restaurant had foie gras on top of bone marrow – Shannon would love it! It was indeed a part of what people saw me as. And that had to change. Friends still take much delight in talking to me all about the meats they are eating for dinner. If I had “stayed true to myself” – I’d have kept eating meat. Instead, I took a different path, changing that truth about myself.

Truths are not constant and infallible.  And self truths are what YOU want them to be. Don’t continue to base your “true self” on who you have been historically. Base it on the current way that you think is the happiest, healthiest, most kind way of being.

You can change, and you should change.

 

PS… this post is not a vegan message. I just included that because it was pertains to me personally. The “change” I am alluding to is anything that you don’t like about yourself, or things that are holding you back.

2015 : More & Less

I’m not really making New Year’s Resolutions… but I was thinking about what 2015 will need more and less of… in order to make it an even better year than 2014. (and 2014 was a good year!)

2015 NEEDS LESS –
• Frozen
• Weighing myself
• Worrying
• Tonsilitis
• Shoulder & knee pain
• Taylor Swift
• Dog health issues
• Giving advice. If you just wanted to rant, but I try to fix all your problems – tell me to stuff it.

2015 NEEDS MORE –
• Fun
• Fashion
• Make-up free days
• Cardio
• YouTube• Starch Solution/Vegan recipes
• Nature
• Effort in the household (good lord I hate laundry)
• Game nights
• Family time
• New Peter Gabriel music

Anybody still here? Lemme know something your 2015 needs more or less of!

Literally.

Some things have always irked me. And I realize that these things make me seem like maybe I am a very elderly robot impersonating a humanoid, but I feel like some things have lost their actual meaning and are now misinterpreted.

For instance –

1.  You’re fat. 
Naw, actually – you HAVE fat. One cannot actually be fat.  You have an excess of body fat. You are overweight. You are heavy, but you aren’t fat.

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2. Shh! Don’t say DIET, say lifestyle change.  
Ok, I am all about the sentiment of this, 100%.  But the negativity over the word “diet” has always irked me.
A diet is just what someone or something consumes. It does not, 100% of the time indicate a fad.  A pet iguana has a diet of crickets.  Zombies exist on a diet of brains and other assorted organ meats.

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Guess what? You’ll still have a diet during that long term lifestyle change.

3. I’m gonna loose so much weight!
Ok, so this is a typo and not a word meaning difference… but forgive me. It’s so egregious yet wide-spread, it just had to be in this list. *shudder*

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You probably done loose so much weight that your pants got lose and fell off.

 

4. Labels.
Plant-based, fruitarian, vegan diet, nutritarian, starch-based…

It doesn’t matter what you call it, and it shouldn’t matter what other people would call it. You don’t eat animal products. I think that is good enough.  People are so into their private sectors of diet labeling these days, and just love to argue what is best and what does or doesn’t even exist “as a thing”. Its a thing if it’s YOUR thing.  So just do your thing and call it whatever you want.

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Ok, I think that is it.  Not too many!  Do you have any that bug you even though they shouldn’t?

Well, hello?

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Damn, you guys… Where have you been?!!?

Ok.. I know.. you’ve been here all along! But then, where have I been?

Well, the usual! It’s my busy time at work right now, slowing down soon. So that leaves little time for posting. I also find that the less I obsess over my weight… the less I have to post about. I realize that is both sad and awesome.  I am, of course, quite unhappy over the state of my body currently. Though that fact hasn’t changed… it has been altered slightly. Yes I am wanting to lose weight. But I don’t feel quite as fanatically desperate over it anymore.  I feel inspired to change and motivated to reach my goals. But I don’t feel like I am so unbearably pathetic for not being at the “end goal” yet.  I think its a mix of things contributing to this newly found peace.

For one, becoming Vegan. It feels like home to me. It feels like this is what I was supposed to be doing all along. I no longer feel like I need to try so hard and search so deeply for the one diet that will be good for me, for life.  I do feel like I found it.

Secondly, I’m getting older. I don’t think one ever truly grows out of needing social acceptance… but I do think its importance wanes over time. Especially when you’ve already accrued a lovely small mass of people that love you regardless.

Lastly, my ailments. I’m finally coming to terms with the fact that I have disabilities. I used to think that my physical problems were just something to add emphasis to my story… you know? Like, “Oh, look at how far Shannon has come. She’s lost all this weight and gotten so strong, despite her disabilities!”

But ugh, whatever.  I don’t need to “overcome” anything to appear strong and awesome. Its not proving anything to anybody if I push myself beyond what is comfortable. All I am doing is hurting myself. So realizing that—yes, I do have issues—has allowed me to slow down and not expect progress that is beyond safe for myself.

So… yeah. I am here!  I am feeling like everyone else this time of the year… ready to start anew, ready to lose some more weight and feel healthier.  But I’m not doing anything dramatic. No new intense work out routine, no new fasting or extreme diet. Just… making healthier choices and sweating per usual!

Per usual… if anyone has any ideas for posts (or videos!) they’d like to see, hit me up.  I’d love some good inspirations for posting here.

Love you all…. and Happy New Year!

 

 

 

 

No Frankenfoods Challenge


I survived a week of no processed foods!

It was easy, but hard at the same time!  Easy in that – I like simple, whole foods. It’s not difficult for me to eat them.  The hard part was definitely the convenience factor. We had some plumbing issues at home during the same week… so there was a day and a half where I had no clean water at home, making it hard to wash and cook my veggies.

I ended up eating out at restaurants – which of course, makes it more difficult to get just freshy fresh foods.
I ate 3 things “off-plan”.  I had sushi, which meant I had some pickled ginger, and some soy sauce. Both containing more than 1 ingredient.  I also had a few pieces of gum… totally didn’t even think of it!

The real question is… did I learn anything?

I think I did. I certainly thought that I already ate about 90% whole and unprocessed foods.  But doing this challenge showed me that is not true at all!  I went to reach for breads, wraps, pastas, dressings, and sauces more than I expected. Proving that my diet is not quite as clean as I’d thought.

I’m really pleased with the challenge, and I’m happy to have shown myself how I really don’t *need* processed foods in my diet. I do think these things have a place, but eliminating them felt pretty nice.

Though I won’t be continuing with a strict no processed foods rule, I feel confident in that I am able to greatly reduce them in my daily eats!

Here’s some things I ate this week –

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Salad, of course! With homemade avocado dressing (see below)

Assorted veggies with avocado dressing/dip. The dressing is –

1.5 avocados
fresh cilantro
fresh green onionjuice of whole lemon
salt & pepper
blended up with some water to thin it out

 

popcorn popcorn popcorn

roasted butternut squash prepared my favorite way – tossed in lime juice and fresh rosemary and then roasted til crisp on the outside.  Eaten with a baked sweet potato and some roasted baby bella mushrooms.

Boiled potatoes and carrots, sauteed spinach and butter beans tossed with lemon juice, salt & pepper.

Everything I ate was flavorful and delicious. Eating things in their simple state, or just adding a hint of citrus or herbs really allows you to taste it. Sure, I like gravy all up on my potatoes… but you know what? potatoes taste good by themselves! (believe it! strange, but true!)

I will definitely reflect back on this when I plan my meals going forward. KISS method all the way!

Frankenfoods

I’ve recently been trying to pay attention to the processed foods I consume. And I don’t mean just twinkies and doritos… which is probably what we all think of when someone mentions “processed foods”. I’m thinking about real convenience foods like breads, wraps, condiments, cans of soups and sauces.

I’m not saying everything pre-made is inherently bad, but I do think it’s important to step back and recognize just how much you are consuming of those things.

I decided to start a one week challenge.

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For one week, only whole foods.  Now, it takes some real discretion to decide what exactly you consider “processed”.

I mean, technically, if you cut or cook an item – it’s been processed. So, a plain baked potato is a processed food!  But, I don’t want to get so nitty gritty.

My rules…er… RULE, is simple –

A processed food is a single food that has more than 1 ingredient (water NOT included)

Easy, right?

I like to think I don’t consume too many processed foods… but when I really thought about it, I reach for the tortillas, hummus, tofu, mustard! all the time.  Again, those foods aren’t totally unhealthy… but I feel like its good to be aware of it.  Why not make my own hummus? Why make a veggie wrap, when I can just eat the veggies?

Taking it back to basics is good sometimes. I feel like it really resets my creativity in cooking, and helps to eliminate all those added sugars, salt, and fats that are lurking around in those products.

Anyway! Feel free to join me, even just for one day! Give yourself a clear look at how much convenience food you go for.

I’ll post some of my meals at the end of the week!

 

 

Survey Update!

I swear, I’m working on content ideas. I’m just so… boring right now, I’ve been accidentally neglecting this.

Anyway, I saw a survey, and what better way to force an update – than with prompts! Here it goes, then!

Making:
Plans for even more birthday celebrations. Somehow my being born entitles me to numerous amazing, generous birthday celebrations. I ain’t complaining!

Cooking: Been having lots of soups, and quesadillas/sandwiches to go with.

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Drinking: I’ve been terrible with my water later. But trying to get it in. This morning, however, my wonderful brother got me a caramel & coconut iced latté. heaven.

Wanting: Well, Joel got me a GoPro camera for my birthday, which I had been wanting! So I ordered a stick mount for it, and its on it’s way to me. I’m wanting it to arrive so I can play with it!

Looking: Adorable. It’s Halloween. And I’m a Red Panda.

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Playing: The new Boys II Men album, the new Perfume Genius album, and The Killers – on loop.

Wishing: for an easy and anxiety-free commute to Bumble’s wedding tomorrow evening. I’m really stressing about it.

Enjoying: My new hair color!

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Waiting: We’re getting new insulation put in our house. It’s a long process. It’s only just started, and I am anxiously waiting for it to be done.

Liking: (more like LOVING) how my skin has never been clearer.  Still not even close to perfect or blemish-free (never will be, thats OK!)  But it’s so much improved for some reason, just over the past couple weeks. Another post to come on that, I’m planning.

Wondering: still, what I can do to lose some weight!

Loving: eating the last of the tasty fresh fruit before winter descends and kills my spirit and all the fruit with it.
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Hoping: I think of some more blog posts for y’all! I miss this.

Marveling: at how good Bry’s costume came out. I mean, Auntie is good. I know that. But dang, Dr. Strange – you’re awesome!

DrStrangeBry

(yes, I did sloppy-ass photoshop him. It just felt right!)

Needing: more cardio.

Smelling: An old mug of cinnamon tea I left crusting over on my desk. Still smells good, though.

Wearing: Still this.

Following: Lots of YouTubers. Totally got sucked into that world.

Noticing: How great my family and friends are to me. My birthday this year has been humbling with the amount of love I got.

Knowing: that tomorrow will work out fine (and be amazing) But weddings are scary enough as it is. Having to get ready at, and then leave from work and drive over an hour on halloween night is freaking me out. But logically I know… I know I’ll make it there, be fine, and be so, SO excited to see one of my BFFs get married.

Thinking: I have a lot to do tonight.

Feeling: Slightly overwhelmed, now that you made me think about all the stuff I have to do tonight.

Opening: my jumbo tumbler of water. I haven’t had anything since my iced coffee this morning, and that’s a sad dehydrated red panda right there. (thanks Jess, for bringing me my water)

Giggling: at everyone in their awesome halloween costumes. We got some good ones this year.

Ok, thats it!  Nice chat guys! I promise, I’ll be back soon with something to say!

Florida Highlights

This was my fourth annual Naples trip!  So we’re finally winding down from the OMG MUST DO ALL THINGS kind of vacation to the Hey Now, Let’s Just Chill kind of vacation.

There was one HUGE bonus to this year’s vacation, and also one big let down.

The bonus –

MY SISTER!

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Joel and I got to spend the day with my sister and her husband in Sarasota! We arrived at Ft. Myers airport and drove about 2 hours to Sarasota. We stayed over there for the night and met up with Caryn & Bobby in the morning. They live about an hour north of Sarasota. So we tried to meet in the middle. We had such a great day together. I really miss them both, and I just felt so lucky to have been able to make this work!


Here’s me gently mocking Mr. Michelangelo at St. Armand’s Circle.

After a fantastic day, we sadly went our separate ways and Joel and I set out for Naples.


Naples Pier –



We saw beautiful fish, birds, and dolphin swimming around.

The downside, this year was that our walkway and beach were closed for renovations. Our favorite part every year is walking the trail to the beach. Enjoying the incredible wildlife and weather before ending up the most pristine beach. This year, we had to drive to a different beach. So we didn’t walk as much, and we didn’t get to see many gators like usual. Anyway! We did see this one!

See her? On the lawn?
She had about 6-8 babies too, but I only got to see them briefly.

We went to the movies twice. We saw Hector & The Search for Happiness (two thumbs up) and Maze Runner (ehhh)
We meant to see Box Trolls as well, but the times just ended up not working. On the plane, though, I watched Captain America Winter Soldier, Fed Up, Frank, and Only Lovers Left Alive.
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All in all, another wonderful vacation. It was hot and sunny, but I stayed excessively slathered up in sunscreen. So I survived without getting burn or sun poisoned. That alone is a true victory for me!
Glad to be back to my pooches. But not happy to be back to the cold and the office! :-)



 

The Food of Florida

I’m back from my week in Naples, Florida! I’ll do a couple posts about it… but this one will just be about the FOOD!

I ate some pretty fabulous things over the week. I forgot to photograph some of it, but here’s some highlights.

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My snack on the plane.


Dinner at Columbia Restaurant in St. Armand’s Circle – Sarasota. This was a vegetarian platter. Black bean cakes, chickpeas with spinach and garlic, stuffed mushrooms, and queso fundido. I gave Joel my cheese and sour cream. The rest I really, really enjoyed!


Lunch at LeAhn’s Vietnamese Kitchen. This is faux chicken and pineapple stir fry.


Also from LeAhn’s was this freaky drink. It’s called Pickled Lemon Drink. It’s made by placing lemons in a tub of salt, sealed and placed in the sun. The moisture from the lemons dissolves the salt, and the salt then turns to a brine and pickles the lemons. The drink is the pickled lemons, mixed with sugar and water. It was as salty as sea water, but lemony and sweet at the same time.


Breakfast at our favorite place – Skillets. I got this dish twice. It is hashed potatoes topped with onions, sundried tomatoes, pico de gallo, and avocado. With a homemade scone and fruit. The second time, I added jalapenos!


Joel loves Blue Bell ice cream, which they don’t sell here. So when we’re down in FL he gets a giant tub for the house.
I picked up these for myself. They were really, really surprisingly good.


This I drink LOTS of. Like… a LOT.




Cider Press Café is an all raw vegan restaurant! New to Naples, and right up my alley! We had a pineapple kimchi dumpling appetizer. Came with mango habanero sauce. I neglected to take a photo of those. But Whoa. I could eat them all day, every day!
I had the enchiladas served with slaw. And Joel had a half Avocado “BLT” (smoked eggplant for bacon) and a wedge salad.
I also got some key lime pie to go. This meal was quite expensive, especially for the quantity. However the quality was off the charts. This food was so inventive, fresh, and vibrant. I wish we had a place like this nearby home!


Claypot dish from The Loving Hut. One of the best things I have eaten, ever. This was rice, rice noodles, 4 types of mushrooms, scallions, tofu, sliced ginger, cilantro, and a light gingery soy sauce – baked in a clay pot. It was just one of those things that really comes together into magic.


Also from the Loving Hut – dessert! This was an almond flan and a pandan cake. (Loving Hut is 100% vegan, so both desserts were dairy free!)
I’d never had pandan cake before. Pandan is a fragrant plant made into cakes, drinks, and dishes. It’s almost like a light pistachio flavor sort of. Absolutely a new favorite.


Lunch at Joel’s favorite – Tommy Bahama’s Restaurant. This is the Grilled Steak salad – minus the steak. It’s got grilled shiitake mushrooms, grilled potatoes, and a gloriously fresh bed of greens and veggies. It had a tamarind lime dressing.


Downtown Historic Naples – a coffee shop called Bad Ass Coffee. This is a Snickerlicious iced coffee with soy milk.
It was HEAVEN. I took this bad boy on a hot hot walk down the Naples pier. And it really hit the spot.


A little hole-in-the-wall Mexican place named Taco Ardiente. This is the guac appetizer. It was huge, and stuffed into a fried cripy tortilla bowl. And I got my fave soda – Jarritos Lime. Mmm. As my meal I got soft tacos with beans.


On our last night, we went to another of Joel’s very favorites – U.S.S. Nemo’s Restaurant. Cheesy name, I know. But it’s a very popular classy joint! It’s a seafood place. And they ended up having only one solitary vegan option – a tofu stir fry. I admit, I get sick of the obligatory veggie stir fry option, so I was a little annoyed. Until it came… and I tasted it. Best stir fry – ever. The veggies were unbelievable. the tofu – perfection. The rice and sauce were… mmm! I’m telling you – perfect.

Unpictured was – Banana w/PB at the Continental Breakfast at the hotel, Grilled Artichokes & french fries from Bricktops. Peanut butter french toast from Goldie’s Diner. Salad from Whole Food’s salad bar. A bagel with hummus from Publix. Dairy-free Lemon Sorbet from the Sandbar (on the beach). Hush puppies, corn on the cob, and steamed veggies from Philippi Creek restaurant.

So thats it! All my food for a week in Florida.

And somehow – I didn’t gain a pound!

Vegan Resources

First, a notice  – I am not putting any graphic images in this post. However, some of the videos and sites I am linking to will most likely contain graphic material. You’ve been warned! 

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So, I’ve had some friends (and strangers!) express curiosity about Veganism. Some, have even gone so far as to ask me for more information and some good starting points on learning why people go Vegan and how to start themselves.  I have a few things that come to mind that helped me and I thought I would compile them here, so that when people ask me, I can just plop them down at this post and let them wander from there!

First, some lectures. I found these lectures to be such a perfect starting point. Not overly graphic or sentimental…  Just great facts and reasoning by well-spoken people.

Now, if you want a serious jumpstart into veganism… the following documentaries will do it. However, I feel like these are the videos you should watch regardless of your diet. I think if you choose to eat meat, you should at least know where it comes from. What slaughterhouse practices look like, and what affect meat has on your health. I believe that knowing these things can help you to either avoid eating these things if that is your intention – OR to help you appreciate these things as you decide to eat them.  It’s just knowledge… and its good to have – for both sides.

I have personally seen and enjoyed appreciated the following documentaries –

Earthlings : EARTHLINGS is an award-winning documentary film about the suffering of animals for food, fashion, pets, entertainment and medical research. Considered the most persuasive documentary ever made, EARTHLINGS is nicknamed “the Vegan maker” for its sensitive footage shot at animal shelters, pet stores, puppy mills, factory farms, slaughterhouses, the leather and fur trades, sporting events, circuses and research labs. (synopsis via the website)

Vegucated : Part sociological experiment and part adventure comedy, Vegucated follows three meat- and cheese-loving New Yorkers who agree to adopt a vegan diet for six weeks. Lured by tales of weight lost and health regained, they begin to uncover the hidden sides of animal agriculture that make them wonder whether solutions offered in films like Food, Inc. go far enough. This entertaining documentary showcases the rapid and at times comedic evolution of three people who discover they can change the world one bite at a time. (synopsis via the website)

Forks Over Knives : The feature film Forks Over Knives examines the profound claim that most, if not all, of the degenerative diseases that afflict us can be controlled, or even reversed, by rejecting animal-based and processed foods. (synopsis via the website)

If you’ve got a short attention span (ahem, ME), then YouTube channels are the BEST place to go. There are hundreds of Vegan channels. From daily vloggers to activists, food & cooking shows to comedy and musical channels. I mean, everything you could want.  Just type “vegan” into the search and BOOM. Occupied for weeks.

If you’re short on time but full on sass : BiteSizeVeganIf you’re wanting to get your gourmet on in the kitchen : Jason Wrobel
If you’re wanting to get your gourmet on in the kitchen, but the zombie apocalypse is happening : Vegan Zombie
If you’re really into learning about plant-based nutrition/facts : NutritionFacts.org

I mean, I could seriously go on for hours typing up a list. If you’re ever looking for more YouTube recommendations – ask me!

There’s also some fantastic websites with FAQ’s, recipes, lifestyle tips, etc.
http://www.vegsource.com/
http://www.veganhealth.org/
http://ohsheglows.com/
http://blog.fatfreevegan.com/
Here’s a list of the top 50 Vegan Blogs!

So there you have it… a little something to get you started.
I apologize for getting all Vegan on you there, but… this was requested and you know I give the people what the people want! ;-)