Monday, February 25, 2013

5 Reasons Vegan Diets Fail (& How to Succeed)

When facing a life-changing decision that takes you out of your comfort zone, you may find yourself looking for an excuse to delay it one more day, week, or month. "Why start today? I can always start tomorrow," we say. We've all been guilty of this. I said that for months. Finally I made my decision to follow a plant-based diet and it's been over a year since I've made that life-altering change. My health was out of whack, I began to pinch at my extra bit of skin and frowning when I realized I had gained 35 lbs. since high school.

What keeps us from making that first step? It's usually a wide variety of things, but I'd like to tackle them one-by-one.

Fear of the unknown | You've never even tasted tofu and you already have a strong opinion about it. When someone mentions it during a conversation, you scrunch your face and say, "I don't like tofu!" This reminds me of a little kid. They often don't know what many foods taste like, but they immediately scrunch their faces and say the same thing. Once I tried tofu in many different recipes, I found that I loved this versatile ingredient. We always have a package in the refrigerator ready to be used at a moment's notice.

Solution: Find a recipe that has this mysterious ingredient (or fill-in-the-blank with another ingredient) and try it out for yourself. Not only will you conquer your fear, but you may even find a new favorite recipe that features this ingredient!

Lack of education | I know it's hard to find a place to start. When I decided to change my diet, I had just watched Forks Over Knives and had no clue what I was getting in to. Luckily, I have some creative researching skills from my journalist days and was able to find many reliable sources of information that helped arm me with knowledge for all my naysayers. Don't be afraid to challenge what you learned and exhaustively research until you're sick of learning everything there is to know about plant-based diets.

Solution: Fortunately, I've done the work for you! Check out my plant-based resources page for more information on cookbooks, books, documentaries, lectures, infographics, and more.

Afraid of what others think | One of the biggest challenges I faced in the beginning was figuring out how to tell others I was going plant-based. That was tough because they often replied with something I didn't want to hear or they sounded doubtful of what I was doing. Over time, I really gained confidence and some self-esteem back that I had lost in the previous year with this change. After the first month I was beginning to feel better, look better, and realized that their opinions didn't matter so much anymore.

Solution: Don't let others drag you down and tune out the negativity. They will always be naysayers, but you have to remember why you are making this change and that you're doing this for your health.

Focusing on deprivation | Although I definitely had some hurdles to jump over in the beginning, something that many people get hung up on before making this change is the deprivation. When you view it as what you can't have (animal products) versus what you can have (fruits, vegetables, grains, nuts, and legumes), there is a high chance that you will fail miserably. Once you discover all of the new foods that you didn't know you liked, there will be less thought given to the foods you are no longer consuming.

Solution: Instead of focusing on what you can't have, find new foods that you enjoy that you can have. It's all about finding new and exciting meals that feature great ingredients and healthier choices than fretting over a cube of cheese.

Self-doubt and failure mentality | If you psych yourself out before making a decision, you'll be more likely to fail. Telling yourself that you can't do something is almost like a self-fulfilling prophecy. Going into a new lifestyle change with confidence and excitement will ensure a greater rate of success. You will have weak moments and you will slip up. It's not the end of the world, and you'll start back up and keep going. Don't let small defeats set back your goals for the bigger picture.

Solution: Surround yourself with positive people and cut out any negativity in your life. You need to have your own group of cheerleaders, whether that be friends, family, coworkers, or a combination of all three.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Calling All Herbivores: Share Your Story!

I have been meeting so many great people through my blog. Some are people who are curious about the vegan or plant-based lifestyle and others are hardcore vegans themselves. I've met Angel, a fellow blogger and reader, for lunch at Casa De Luz in Austin, Texas recently. This made me really wonder who else was touched by either my blog or the information that's available in my Plant-Based Resources section.

Here's where I ask for YOUR help! If you have a story that you'd like to share, whether you're thinking of going plant-based, or you've been a vegan for several months, please email me for an interview. I would love to share your stories, as well, and think that your journey is just as unique as mine. If you're interested in sharing your story, please email me at kelsey[at]thelittleredjournal[dot]com!

I can't wait to hear from you!

Monday, February 18, 2013

The Song That Kept Me Moving During Workouts

Early on in my journey to veganism, I knew that I needed to incorporate exercise into my new lifestyle. For the first month of going vegan, I only focused on the food. Once I felt comfortable with the food that I was eating, then I knew I had to take the next step and start working out. I had seen a commercial with this song playing as a woman climbed to the the top of some rocks she was climbing on. It really resonated with me and I added it to my workout playlist.

My new exercise routine included using the Zombies, Run! app as a way to spice up my workout. Just as the song was approaching the chorus, I had a pack of zombies trailing me and the app told me to RUN. I hadn't worked out in... well, ever. The first month of veganism had been stressful, overwhelming, and I didn't realize how much I was holding in until I ran at that moment. My husband and dog were far behind me as I blazed past them and kept running until the song finished.

I am not trying to be dramatic at all, but tears streamed down my face as I ran. The journey had just begun and if I was able to look back and give myself advice on that day, it would simply be: keep going. Not running per se, but going on the path that I was. I had to encourage myself every day and this song really just stuck with me and played every time I exercised. It's been too long since I exercised and I am lucky that by eating a vegan diet, I have been able to shed 35 lbs., most of which was lost long after I stopped exercising regularly.

This is clearly a testament to the amazing benefits of my diet, but this song truly inspired me to keep doing, just a little further, each time I stepped out onto the hiking trail in the Greenbelt or onto the treadmill in my gym. We'll be moving to another apartment complex in less than a couple months, but I will make more time to visit the gym that will be less than a quarter of a mile away. Enjoy the video below and let me know which songs inspire you during your workout!

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Herbie of The Week on Happy Herbivore

Many months ago a coworker told me that she nominated me to be Happy Herbivore's "Herbie of The Week." Lindsay Nixon, the chef behind Happy Herbivore and my absolute favorite resource for all things plant-based, told my coworker that I should email her myself. I typed up my story, emailed her, and months passed until one day I received an email that said I would be the Herbie of The Week on her blog. You can't even begin to imagine my excitement when I found out. There may have been a happy dance involved and loud squealing.

I am honored to be featured on Happy Herbivore. She has been an amazing role model for my transition and has always been super sweet and retweeting any of my tweets that mentioned her and the recipes in her cookbooks. I own all three cookbooks and even reviewed one of them. They were a vital tool for our lifestyle that Kendan and I use frequently to quickly whip up some healthy, plant-based meals. I couldn't say enough nice things about her personally and professionally, but I am super psyched to be on her blog today!

Check out my post here and peruse her site, which is a great source for recipe inspiration or meal plans.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Vegan Diet 101: The First Year as a Vegan

I am celebrating my one year anniversary of being vegan today and I can't help but think about how far I have come. It hasn't been a perfect journey. There have definitely been some crazy moments when I doubted myself and the plant-based lifestyle, but it has been a rewarding and challenging year. I received mixed reactions initially and I didn't deal with those in the best way, either. I was either defensive or trying to convert everyone into vegans right on the spot. I learned that isn't really the way it works. You can't control anyone's life or diet except for your own. I've really learned this the hard way and now I am proudly sharing my story with all of you.

The first few days and weeks were rough, but here's a quick recap to show you what pushed me to change, how I did it, and how people reacted.

Day 1 - February 12th, 2012
I went to a birthday party for the little girl that I babysit every week. She had turned three and I took a photo with her (see my "before" shot in the link to the left). I was surprised by the way that photo turned out ("That can't be me!"), but I shrugged it off. On the way home, it started to sleet a little bit and I called my husband to see what he wanted from Whataburger. I opted for the A-1 Thick and Hearty. Once I got home, I unwrapped it and gazed at the smashed and messy burger on my plate. It was dripping with sauces, had strips of bacon and a melted piece of cheese on a couple of patties. I set it down after eating half of it and literally felt sick to my stomach. This was the first wake up call in the event that changed my life forever.

Day 2 - February 13th, 2012
I had been dreading this day since I knew it was my yearly appointment at my gynecologist. As I weighed in and they moved the bar over a couple of times on the scale, I frowned as she measured me at 155 lbs. I had gained 35 lbs. since high school and in those seven years, the weight slowly added on. I came home that night and watched Forks Over Knives for the second time in a few months. This time it would stick with me and I knew I needed to make the change. I finished the movie, walked into my pantry, and then proceeded to purge it of all the processed and unhealthy foods. We nearly had nothing left in the apartment once I was finished. I left the cow's milk, cheese, butter, bacon, and meats in the freezer since I didn't want to push my husband into this lifestyle. (Luckily he joined me and is a HUGE factor in my success!)

Day 3 - February 14th, 2012
Although this is probably the first official day/meal I had to consume that was vegan, I count the day prior when I had my awakening as my true anniversary date. As I left the apartment that day, I pulled up to the gate and the staff were giving everyone a doughnut and carnation. I grabbed the doughnut and set it on a coworker's desk who I knew would love it. I literally laughed as they gave it to me, since they had no clue what I had decided the night before. That drive to work with the doughnut sitting beside me was probably the toughest ride I have ever had. I kept quiet at work about my decision for fear of how my coworkers would react.

Weeks 2-16 (Mid-February to Mid-June)
After a while, I started to share with close friends and family that I had been avoiding animal products for the last couple of weeks. There were mixed reactions. Here's my favorites (can you smell the sarcasm?):

  • You'll be malnourished!
  • You won't get all of the nutrients you need by cutting out meat!
  • You don't have to cut out animal products. You just need to eat things in moderation!
  • Why would you do that?
  • Where will you get your protein?
  • What can you eat on your diet? 
  • Why are you on a diet? (It's not a diet, it's a lifestyle change!)
  • That sounds really dangerous. You shouldn't do that!
  • This is fine for now, but when you get ready to have kids, you have to eat meat!
  • When are you through with your diet?
  • Are you still on your diet?
  • I heard you're on a diet.
Weeks 17-52 (Mid-June to February 2013)
Once I received my bloodwork proving that my health was dramatically better than before, people started to notice I looked different. By this point in my journey, I had gained the support of many family members, friends, and coworkers, all of which were invaluable and vital to my success. I had lost nearly 20 lbs. by June and was finally feeling comfortable with my new lifestyle. The months after were amazing... I continued to improve my levels, dropped another 15 lbs., and started to inspire others with my journey. I also really began to start blogging here on The Little Red Journal about my changes. Although there were naysayers, I knew my life was starting to improve and didn't care to look back. This experience has been life-changing and it's shown me a path to more happiness, fulfillment, and provided me with a sense of direction.

Thanks to all of you who have joined in, stood on the sidelines, or cheered me on from afar. You've all witnessed something that I never thought was possible: I've regained my health, passion for writing, and above all, a sense of accomplishment. 

Are you interested in taking the vegan plunge? I'm here to help and can't wait to discuss it with you. Tweet @LittleRedJrnl, Facebook me at The Little Red Journal's fan page, or email me by clicking the envelope at the top of the right sidebar. 

Monday, February 11, 2013

Minimalism 101: Marriage Shouldn't Equal More Things

When we got married, my relatives told me that I should register for new things. At first I thought this was silly because my then fiance and I had been living together for several years at that point. We already had everything we needed, but many people insisted that I need to register for newer items in our house. I finally was able to convince Kendan to go with me to Target and even let him walk down the aisles with the laser gun to tag new items for our registry. I found myself regularly checking our registry and would squeal with excitement when I saw "purchased" next to an item.

Fast forward to a couple months ago. I found Adam Baker and then watched "I'm Fine, Thanks". These completely changed my perspective on the things I owned and the goals that I have. I finally asked the question, "Why am I nesting and what am I doing?!" Ever since we moved in together I had gone out shopping for things to fill our little apartments (we're now preparing to move into our fifth one!) and we've somehow gathered many items that I don't even remember accumulating. The last couple of months have been a peaceful and therapeutic session for me.

After I realized I didn't need all of the things we had acquired, I went to work clearing out the extra things. One of the first places that I decided to clean was the bathroom. I opened up the linen closet and stared at a stack of towels. It's just Kendan and I in this apartment and I can promise you that we have probably only used the top six towels in the stack of twelve or so bath towels and probably the top four of the eight hand towels. I'm always on top of the laundry so there is never a need to dirty up more than a few at any one time.

These towels were given to me from many loved ones and they were on my registry. Funny thing is, I packed up three boxes of perfectly fine towels to make room for the new ones. I'm not going to get rid of the "new" ones, but why on earth did I think I needed new towels when my husband and I had nearly 20 just by combining our collections when we moved in together? What is it about this society and our traditions to accumulate more things when someone betroths another? I couldn't figure it out.

I don't really know what it means or what I am trying to say, but please think about the purchases you make and realize there is no need for a shiny new towel (or anything else!). If you have acceptable items that aren't tattered, torn, or trashed, then don't get rid of it yet! Remember to reduce, reuse, and recycle, but also to carefully consider the items that are coming in to your home. We've donated so many items that we have only used once or have duplicates of. This change of mindset has also helped me realize I don't need to spend money on things like that, which has tremendously helped our financial situation. (More on that later!)

Friday, February 8, 2013

Maxed Out on Veganism Info

I looked at my husband a few weeks ago and said, "I kind of feel like I know everything there is to know about veganism." He nodded and I could see he also had probably hit his limit of what he cared to know (and not know) about the subject. With that said, I will still be posting about veganism, but I don't know how much more. There are so many amazing resources out there (check my Plant-Based Resources page) and I feel like this blog was documenting my journey more than anything else.

Please check my recipe section often, as I am now coaxing Kendan to document his recipes. I've been crazy busy with life in general and he has graciously been taking the reins with the cooking. This started as my second version of my Little Red Journal and will forever be a place where I document my life. As I helped a new friend (Angel, who is also a blogger!) transition into a plant-based diet, she mentioned that my blog was full of info on veganism. She also praised my work so far and said if I never wrote another post, she would have more than enough info. (Thank you, Angel!)

I am NOT going to stop writing about veganism. This journey has definitely changed my life. However, now that I have "conquered" this challenge, I am focusing on other important aspects of my life. I'm quickly approaching my one-year veganniversary (lame term, I know!) and I am so proud of where I am. To date, I have lost 35 lbs., restored my health and feel fantastic. I never thought I would be able to do this, resist the urge to eat animal products or even stick with it. I'm now focusing on our financial goals and have been heavily immersed in a minimalist lifestyle.

With all of these changes, there has been some realizations that I have come to and found myself taking a hiatus from the vegan topic and blog as a whole. Being a vegan is a huge part of who I am now and I wouldn't change that for anything. I want all of you to know that I deeply appreciate all of your support and encouragement. My readers have been a great source of comfort and the visitors that I receive on a daily basis reminds me that you all care and are interested in learning more! Below is a full list of my vegan-related posts (up to now) in case you are interested to learn more about my journey. I'll continue to post, but am not sure what my topics will be in the near future. Enjoy!

UPDATE: Adding more posts every week!

An Omnivore's Guide to Eating Plant-Based
Rip Esselstyn's My Beef With Meat + Recipes
Virtual Vegan Potluck May 2013: Guacamole Dip
Happy Herbivore Abroad Cookbook Review
The Eight Stages of Veganism
Conquering Veganism One Weak Moment At a Time
Angel's [Plant-Based] Journey to Better Health
Vegan Diet 101: The Overconsumption of Food
Adrienne's Journey to a Plant-Based Lifestyle
ATXFBA City Guide 2013: Austin’s Healthy Vegan Eats
5 Reasons Vegan Diets Fail (& How to Succeed)
Calling All Herbivores: Share Your Story!
Herbie of The Week on Happy Herbivore
Vegan Diet 101: The First Year as a Vegan
Vegan Doc: Hungry For ChangeVegan Diet 101: Naysayers Gonna Naysay
Top 4 Vegan Celebs of 2012

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Vegan Doc: Hungry For Change

I'm always searching for a new and educational documentary to share and Hungry For Change really stood out to me. Available via Netflix or streaming at Documentary Lovers, this movie really took an interesting look at the current diet of many Americans and why it's making us sick. I watched this ten months after I decided to go vegan, and even now as I watch the trailer for this post, I have goosebumps just listening to it. Their tagline, "Your health is in your hands" is the absolute truth and we need to stop making excuses for ourselves.

I used to think that being young was an automatic bulletproof vest, but once I kept eating the standard American diet, this clearly wasn't the truth. The movie takes a journey through a young woman's perspective and weaves in the real truth of what the food we normally eat will do to us. Eating clean and taking care of yourself physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually really makes a huge difference and can turn your life around more effectively than a fad or crash diet. 

Many people that I know end up saying that they are on a diet, but these simply don't work long term if you return to old habits once you "completed" your diet. For a true long lasting change, you'll have to retrain your thought process and what you think food is. Once you get past the hump (usually 30 days of cravings), you will notice you are feeling amazing and it's seriously not that hard after that! You just decide to make that choice and don't look back. I only wish I had seen all of these movies sooner. But alas, you have to be ready to make this choice and jump in with both feet, because no one will be able to convince you. 

Give this movie a shot if you are tired of feeling blah and are looking for some answers to the way that you feel. There's a reason why you reach for another soda in the afternoon, the junk food after work or the quick breakfast in the morning. After you begin to nourish your body and are making the right choices, you will be surprised to see and FEEL the difference.

Watch part one of the movie below!

Looking to go vegan? Check out these related posts below!

Monday, February 4, 2013

My Hiatus in Two Words: Doctor Who

I am downright ashamed with my lack of blogging this month. Here's my excuse: DOCTOR WHO! Now, for those of you who aren't familiar with it, go watch the new show, seasons one through six on Netflix. We've been really addicted to it. After half-watching the first couple of episodes with my husband, I was unimpressed but over the last month, we became fully entranced. As our clock read past eleven at night, we would shrug and say, "Want to watch another episode?"

It's been a roller coaster to watch and there's new doctors, companions and recurring themes throughout. Give it a chance if you like a little bit of sci-fi mixed in with romance and drama. Check out the image below for a breakdown of what this all about. I'll be getting back to some other really important topics soon, but wanted to let you all know that I'm absolutely fine and just getting back in my blogging frame of mind.

Source: via Sarah on Pinterest