(Belated) Week 4 Weigh-in

I meant to write this a few days ago, but I guess I got distracted and forgot.

Last week was my experiment with not tracking my food. I had hoped that I could continue to follow the general idea of the cleanse while still eating the foods that I had missed during the 3 week period. That didn’t work. I made cookies twice (once because it had been forever since I had chocolate chip cookies and once because I needed to bring a food for class). I ate way more cookies than I should have, and I don’t even really know why I did it, as they weren’t even that good.

I also started eating a lot more bread and cutting down on my fruits and vegetables, due to a number of factors. First, we planned dinners for the entire week without factoring in the fact that most recipes made 4 servings and it was only me and my mother eating most of the time, so we had a lot of leftovers. Then I also got ciabatta bread because it had been forever since I had had a nice piece of bread. They go back quickly, so I had one of those a day for breakfast instead of my regular smoothie (as the strawberries would stay in the freezer and be good for a long time).

So my breakfast was bread, my lunch was leftovers (which, since it was my first week back, didn’t contain nearly as many vegetables as it should have, if any), and my dinner was another meal that was delicious and vegan but hardly as nutritious as it could have been. Plus there were cookies, and I didn’t watch my serving sizes like I should have.

When I stepped on the scale this weekend, I had climbed back to 287 pounds, meaning that I completely undid the last week of the cleanse. I’m not upset about this, though. I think this was an important week for me. I needed this time to go back to how I used to eat (just a vegan version of it) and realize that it wasn’t worth it.

I don’t need coffee. It’s really not even all that good. That’s not to say that I will never drink it again, but it will definitely be more of a treat now than an everyday thing. The same goes for processed sugar and sweets. I will still have cookies and muffins sometimes, but it doesn’t need to be all the time, and when I do have them, it should be in small amounts.

This past week I’ve felt so bloated and sick. I hadn’t thought that my system had changed so much on the cleanse, but I guess it did because I definitely did not feel good this week. I was eating things I knew were bad for me, and I’m not really sure why. I knew as I was eating most of the foods that I shouldn’t eat them, but I did it anyway. I wasn’t hungry, but I would have another bowl of soup. Or I would be hungry, and I would make a bowl of processed vegan soup stuff instead of having an apple.

Well not anymore. I had my “fun” for the week. I saw what it was that I had been missing, and I learned that it wasn’t worth eating anymore. In a way, I’m glad I did this. When I don’t eat something that I really want, I start building it up in my head as being this great thing. This was even worse after three weeks without sugar or caffeine. My memories of these foods were all positive, and I couldn’t wait to eat them again. Well, now I’ve eaten them, and I’ve gotten to experience them in a new way.

I’ve been doing better this week. Both this morning and yesterday, I woke up and had a shake. Now, I am trying a different shake now (banana, unsweetened almond milk, natural peanut butter, and a little unsweetened cocoa powder), but I’m still having a shake. I’m also going to switch between the chocolate PB one and the strawberry banana one. I think starting the day with something easier to digest is a good idea.

Yesterday I had chili for lunch and lo mien for dinner. The chili wasn’t all that great for me, but the lo mien had a bunch of cabbage and stuff. Today for lunch I had a hummus wrap filled with vegetables. I’m currently looking at recipes that include a bunch of vegetables along with pasta and quinoa and other grains. I still want to find a balance between the way I used to eat and the way I ate on the cleanse, but I’m going to be smarter about it. I need to include at least one fruit or veggie with every meal, more if I can. If I’m going to have pasta, it needs to either be filled with vegetables or be a smaller portion with a large salad next to it.

I’ve also been exercising. I do 30 minutes on the elliptical and then follow that with crunches and exercises using small hand-held weights. It might not be the most rigorous exercise program ever, but at least I’m moving, and that’s what counts.

Post-Cleanse Reflections

Now that the Clean Program cleanse is officially over, I figured it now was a good time to reflect on everything I’ve learned and decide where I’m going to go from here. I’m definitely glad that I did the cleanse. I sometimes felt a bit left out, like when my boyfriend’s family had cookie cake for his birthday, or when they ordered Chinese food and I was sitting there with my salad, but it really wasn’t that bad. I enjoyed most of the food that I was eating, and I never felt like I was starving to death or anything. I was hungry a lot of the time, certainly, but in a good way. I’ve spent so much of my life eating when I wanted food, or when I felt any sort of discomfort in my stomach. It was nice to actually have my stomach growl and know that I was eating because I was actually hungry.

Things I learned while on the cleanse:
• You don’t need added sugar to make a delicious smoothie. Bananas, strawberries, and unsweetened vanilla almond milk are good enough.
• I do not like frozen blueberries.
• A smoothie can actually keep me full for hours, at least as long as any breakfast sandwich ever did.
• I can survive without caffeine.
• I can be social and vegan; it just takes a little bit more planning.
• The second plate of food is almost never necessary.
• Fruit really is a great snack (particularly apples).
• Fuji apples are delicious (I used to only like green apples).
• Roasted chickpeas are also delicious.
• Putting 12 hours between dinner and breakfast is not difficult.
• I will drink more water if I have a 4-cup bottle next to me than if I have a single cup.
• A big salad is more filling than a piece of pizza, with far fewer calories.
• It’s okay to be hungry.
• When a recipe says it makes 4 servings, you actually get 4 servings out of it.
• I don’t need dessert after dinner.
• I don’t need cheese.
• Brown rice is actually pretty good.
• I should have gone vegan “cold tofurkey” a long time ago.

When I first decided I wanted to go vegan last April, I tried to do it in stages. At first, I was only going to eat meat when my eating it did not affect the amount of meat that was being made – for instance, at Thanksgiving, when they’re going to make a big turkey whether I eat meat or not, or when my dad brings home leftover chicken that would just have been thrown out anyway. I planned this mostly so that I would not inconvenience my boyfriend’s family.

But then I learned more about the health aspects of eating meat, and I decided that I didn’t really want to keep eating meat. I did want to be able to eat at the same places that others ate at, though, and I liked my Dunkin Donuts coffee with cream and sugar, so I decided to eat vegan at home and vegetarian when I was away from home.

As time went on, I kept changing what I wanted to do. I always knew that vegan was the ultimate goal, but it all seemed like too much work. If I could just stay home all the time, being vegan was easy. It was going out in the real world that was tricky. There was so much delicious-looking food everywhere, and it was very tempting. We visit my boyfriend’s family every Friday, and I felt bad enough asking them to make vegetarian food. Asking them to make vegan food was just too much. And hanging out with people when I couldn’t eat anything that they were eating – that was just so difficult.

So I didn’t do it. I made up excuses. I told myself that since I was eating fewer animal products than before that it didn’t really matter, that it was still better than nothing. And while that is of course true, it’s not good enough, at least not for me. I’m not trying to condemn anyone else who just wants to cut back on eating animal products – that is a perfectly valid choice, and if that is what you want, that is wonderful. Everyone has different goals and beliefs, and I’m not trying to discredit or belittle anyone else’s choices.

But I know that wasn’t enough for me. I believe that eating animals is wrong. I believe that the way we treat animals in this country is horrible. I also believe that a vegan diet is the healthiest choice for me and the planet. So, really, the only reason I wasn’t already eating that way was because I was lazy. I liked fast food and pizza and other junk food. I didn’t want to make a scene by being different. So I decided that laziness was more important than my beliefs. And that is horrible.

This cleanse helped me overcome that. It got me used to bringing my own food to places. Now I don’t have to bother my boyfriend’s family to feed me – I can just bring my own food. Problem solved. Sure, eating out with friends is more difficult now, but it’s not like I do it that often anyway. And now that I’ve gone 3 weeks without any animal products, it’s not hard to just keep at it. I’ve been prolonging this moment for so long, and I’m not sure why. I’m sure for many people slowly eliminating animal products from their diet makes a lot of sense. But for me, it just doesn’t work. I don’t see the point in continuing to enjoy food that I know I’m going to eventually cut from my diet anyway. I’d rather just stop eating it right now and start looking for other food to replace it.

So I’m going to stick with the vegan diet. It’s been working so far, and it’s what I’ve wanted to do for the past year. I’ve also decided that I’m going to go a week without tracking my food. I’m going to keep a list of what I eat, but I’m not going to track the calories. I’m going to see if I can continue to lose weight just by eating when I’m hungry and stopping when I’m full. Hopefully I can still lose weight. I guess I’ll find out soon enough.

Week 3 Weigh-In

I was supposed to post this Saturday morning, but apparently I wrote it and then forgot to actually post it. My bad. I’m lazy and tired, so instead of rewriting this, I’m just going to publish this and then publish the post that I actually meant to put up tonight.

Previous weight: 286.4
Current weight: 283.0

This week’s weight loss: 3.4
Total cleanse weight loss: 12.4
Total weight loss since Thanksgiving: 20.8

Like I mentioned in my last post, tomorrow is really supposed to be the last day of the cleanse (and then I’m supposed to spend a week slowly reintroducing foods and see what bothers me and what doesn’t), but my mother and I have decided to end a day early. I figure I’ve been doing this for 20 days now, and the last day doesn’t really matter so much.

Besides, today Atlanta is participating in the Worldwide Vegan Bake Sale. Last year, I found out about this like a week after it happened, and I was so upset that I hadn’t been able to go. I’m excited to be going this year. I’m not sure if I’ll actually buy anything (I can be sort of cheap sometimes), but I at least want to be able to look around and have the option of buying something. If we don’t find anything there, we also have the address of the Mediterranean Grill that’s in that general area. I’m not 100 percent sure that the falafel there is vegan, but I read about the restaurant on a vegan blog, so I’m going to hope that it is.

After that we’re going to go shopping for the week. My mother and I have a whole week of vegan recipes planned. I’m sure no one else in my family will eat them, but at least they have that option. I’m really excited that my mother is still willing to do the vegan cooking now that the cleanse is over. I’m sure she’s going to go back to putting regular creamer in her coffee, but she did plan this week’s meals using like four different vegan cookbooks, and that’s what counts.

Update: The bake sale was sort of a let-down. There were only two tables of stuff, which wouldn’t have been horrible if we hadn’t drive like 40 minutes, gotten stuck in Atlanta traffic, and then been basically ignored by the people there. It wasn’t really busy when we got there. I really wanted to try the pizza roll, which was $4. I handed the woman a five, and then she gave me change while she was talking to someone else who worked there. We thanked her, and she didn’t say “you’re welcome” or “thanks for stopping by” or anything. Maybe I’m just being overly sensitive, but I guess I was hoping that people at a vegan bake sale would be a bit more friendly. That said, I’m still looking forward to Atlanta Veg Fest in November. Hopefully that will be a bigger deal and will be a lot more fun.

Recipe Review: Cuban black bean soup from Fresh from the Vegan Slow Cooker

Recipe Name: Cuban Black Bean Soup FreshVeganSlowCooker_Cover
Source of Recipe: Fresh From the Vegan Slow Cooker
Recipe Creator: Robin Robertson

Ease of Finding Ingredients: 5/5
Cheapness of Ingredients: 4/5
Ease of Following Recipe: 5/5
Opinion of Results: 5/5

Overall Score: 19/20

I got this book for Christmas, and this is the first time I’ve gotten around to using it. My mother and I are on the last day of our cleanse (we’re stopping a day early to fully appreciate the Vegan Bake Sale in Atlanta tomorrow), and we’re both really sick of all those blended soups. We made this one last weekend because it sounded more appetizing than the other soups we’d been eating.

This is one of the best soups I’ve ever had. We ate most of it in one day, and we’re making it again tonight – we enjoyed it that much.

We did make a few changes:
• We hate cilantro and can’t have tomatoes on the cleanse, so we left off those two garnish items.
• We replaced the 4 cups of vegetable broth with 4 cups of water and one vegan bouillon cube.
• We didn’t have any liquid smoke, so we ignored that.
• We didn’t want to wait 6 hours for the crock pot version, so we just put it in a pot on the stove and let it simmer, uncovered, for an hour.

This soup was delicious, even with all of these changes. I can only imagine that it would be even better if you prepared it the way it was supposed to be. If I could have them, I would probably add tortilla chips and/or vegan sour cream, although it really is just fine how it is.

This soup also could not be easier to make. Chop up the vegetables. Rinse the beans. Add them all to the pot and let them cook. The only ingredients that were slightly expensive are the liquid smoke and avocados, neither of which is necessary if you can’t find them for a decent price.

Week 2 Weigh-in

Previous weight: 291
Current weight: 286.4

This week’s weight loss: 4.6

I’ve lost 8.6 pounds in the two weeks that I’ve been on this cleanse. That’s exciting enough in and of itself, but there’s even more important news: I hit my first goal! Goal 1 was 5% or 15.2 pounds, and I’ve lost a total of 17.4 pounds since November 22, 2012.

I’m definitely excited, especially since this hasn’t been that difficult. I mean, yes, I pout whenever I see bread or something sugary, but that’s not really that big of a deal. It helps that I know this cleanse is only temporary. I’ll be able to eat gluten and sugar again in a week.

I will admit, I sort of hoped that my food desires cravings would go away while I was on this cleanse. That hasn’t been the case. I still can’t wait until I can make cookies and can have a flour tortilla, not a gluten-free one that’s hard and doesn’t roll up that easily. I went out and bought super expensive gluten-free pasta because I didn’t want to wait another week and a half to have pasta.

But I definitely have changed in one respect, and I think this is the more important way. I’ve learned to control my portions better. I’ve learned that a smoothie really can keep me full for several hours. I’ve learned that I should wait a little bit, even if I think I’m hungry. If I’m actually hungry, my stomach will start to growl. If I’m not actually hungry, the “need” for food will go away once I find something else to think about.

It’s like I’ve been so afraid of being hungry that I eat before hunger actually sets in. And then once I do eat, I have a hard time stopping until I’m really full. Part of that is definitely that I eat too fast. I’ve always known that. When I’m around friends, I eat slowly because I don’t want to look like that fat girl who’s always eating, but on my own I generally eat pretty quickly. Then I get a second helping before the first one has had a time to settle. Obviously I know that I should slow down, but for some reason I haven’t done that before now.

But now, with this cleanse, my meals are more regulated. You’re not supposed to eat for 12 hours between dinner (or your last meal) and breakfast, which means that I have to fit 3 meals into 12 hours’ time. Lately I’ve been eating breakfast around 11, lunch around 2, a snack on my way to class at 4, and then dinner when I get home from class at 8:30. I try to spread out my meals, and that’s helped me learn not to eat so much in one sitting.

It’s also helping me learn that I need side dishes. Fruit can be super filling, and it makes a great after lunch snack or lunch side dish. Before, I would have half a box of pasta for lunch before I was finally full. Now I can have a single bowl of pasta and some cut up cantaloupe or pineapple or an apple, and then I don’t need food for hours. This may not sound all that revolutionary or anything, and it’s not, but this is the first time in my life that I’ve actually been able to eat the way I know you’re supposed to, and it’s exciting.

That’s why I’m so glad that I’m doing this cleanse. I’m not going to continue to eat this food and only this food for the rest of my life, but I can use it as a template for the rest of my life. I might be eating a flour tortilla instead of a brown rice tortilla, but I still only need one of them for lunch.

Also, it’s going to be much easier to stay vegan now that I’ve been a vegan for 3 weeks. Plus, after 3 weeks of not being able to eat oranges, tomatoes, potatoes, corn, caffeine, sugar, gluten, or soy, the vegan diet looks a lot less restrictive than it used to. 🙂

Cleanse Days 8-12

I’ve been doing this cleanse for nearly 2 weeks now. I thought I would be going crazy by now, but I’m actually still enjoying myself. I’m still having my smoothie for breakfast. Lunch varies, but dinner tends to be a big salad. I haven’t had soup for a week. I just couldn’t bring myself to eat any more puréed soup. The thought made me ill. Besides, I usually get full enough just from the salad.

I’ve also started making roasted chickpeas. I kept reading about them on different blogs, and then one day my mother was looking for a snack, and she made some. They’re my new addiction. Half a can of chickpeas has 11 grams of protein, 8 grams of fiber, and 14 whatever units you use to measure iron. They’re also delicious. I’ve been roasting mine and then tossing them in olive oil, chili powder, garlic powder, salt, and a little bit of cayenne pepper.

I also tried gluten-free pasta yesterday. I was really missing pasta and figured that I could try brown rice pasta and still be following the rules of the cleanse. I also thought that now would be a good time to see if I could control myself with pasta, as pasta has always been my downfall. Yesterday was the first time since the cleanse that I actually hit my calorie limit for the day, according to MyFitnessPal. Today I had pasta again, but I forced myself to stop after one bowl, and I really didn’t need more than that. A little after that, I cut up some fresh pineapple as a snack.

I’ve been good about eating a variety of colors every day. I get red and yellow with my morning smoothies, green with my dinner salad, and tan with the chickpeas. The only color I’m not really eating is blue/purple. I don’t really like blueberries I’ve found, and I can’t have potatoes on this cleanse, so I can’t eat purple potatoes. I haven’t seen many purple vegetables at the market, but I’ll try to keep my eyes open for them.

Week 1 Weigh-in

Previous weight: 295.4
Current weight: 291.0

This week’s weight loss: 4.4 pounds

I’m definitely excited to see the results of week 1 of my cleanse. I was afraid that I wouldn’t have lost anything, and that would be sad. That number definitely made the past two days worth it.

See, yesterday was my boyfriend’s birthday, and the day before that was his brother’s birthday, so we’ve been at his parents’ house for the last two days. I packed up enough food for those days so I could continue my cleanse there. His mother was very concerned about what I was eating (she has been since I stopped eating meat), but I stuck with the plan. They had a double-layer cookie cake with frosting that smelled delicious, and it was very hard to turn that down two days in a row, but I knew that the cleanse was more important. Three weeks without sugar. I can do that. After that, I’m allowed to have sugar again, but it has to be balanced with everything else that I eat. It should be a treat, not something I eat all day long.

Speaking of sweets, though – I did learn yesterday about the Worldwide Vegan Bake Sale. I remember hearing about it last April (when I started the vegan journey), but it was too late for me to actually go to it. Fortunately, I found it in time this year. The one in Atlanta is being held on Saturday, April 20 – the last day of my cleanse. I’m hoping I can talk my mother into going with me so we can buy some vegan treats to have after the cleanse is over (although not in one sitting, of course).

Overall, I’m happy with the way my first week has gone. I do think I’m going to try adding the protein powder back in to my shakes. I know vegans are sick of people asking where they get their protein from, but I actually do think I’m not getting enough protein. I’ve been getting 25-38 grams of protein each day. I haven’t been eating as many calories as I’m “supposed” to, so the fact that my protein numbers aren’t where they should be isn’t all that surprising. I know I hated the protein powder the last time I tried it, but I also hated the blueberries that were in it. I’m hoping that was the real reason I hated the shakes. I guess I’ll find out today.