Tag Archives: weight loss

run, sweat, drink beer

I’m down 17 pounds. I’ve finally (FINALLY!) run 3.1 miles straight through without a walking break in sight. I’ve been sweating my ass off both in the gym and in my car, whose lousy A/C decided to crap out during the biggest heat wave of…ever, as far as I’m concerned. And now I have two glorious days off (the weekend before the weekend!) and I’m going to drink some beer and get all self-congratulatory about meeting my short-term goals while still trying to keep myself in check so as not to deter myself from continuing on to the next leg of this journey: the long-term goals.

Happy Fourth!

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weight loss challenge update

I recently wrote about the weight loss challenge my boyfriend and I are doing together. We took a hint from The Biggest Loser and decided a more fair measurement would be percentage weight lost rather than weight in pounds. Unsurprisingly, he won last week (but only by 0.2%!) and this meant he was able to dole out a week-long punishment to me. He said it was difficult to find a punishment because I’m (usually) so healthy, but he zeroed in on my one weakness aside from sweets (which, let’s be honest, he’s probably saving for next time): coffee.

The punishment: No coffee on days I don’t work out. Obviously, the end goal here is to make me work out every day this week so I can have my precious coffee. Maybe this doesn’t sound like a big deal to you, but I start each and every work day with a 22 oz humungous travel mug full o’ joe. I have this vision in my head that me without coffee = trainwreck. It’s probably much more psychological and much less based in fact, but I don’t chance it! I have never, since starting my professional life, forgotten my coffee in the morning. I actually set my coffee pot the night before and have it on a 6:30 am timer. This saves me money and calories I’d otherwise be spending at the Starbucks in my office building. I don’t think I’m really addicted to caffeine, per se…but how would I know, seeing as I haven’t gone a day without it in years? I think it’s more that I’ve always consumed coffee is a treat. It’s a warm, soothing beverage I like to enjoy and on particularly bad days in the past, I’d treat myself with an afternoon Starbucks. Coffee is a little reward I allow myself each day, much the same as people reward themselves with a few squares of dark chocolate, or a cookie, or an after work drink.

So, I didn’t work out Saturday or Sunday (big surprise). I didn’t even work out yesterday (it was Memorial Day, after all!) but he surprised me with a soy latte anyway and chalked it up to a “holiday treat” (can you see why we’ve had trouble losing weight in the past?) Today, I dragged my butt to the gym and suffered through my first workout in two weeks. The flaw in the system is that I consume my coffee in the morning but don’t work out until the afternoon. In theory, I could easily have my coffee and just decide not to exercise after work–but that wouldn’t be fair.

I got home and curiously stepped on the scale, knowing I wasn’t going to like the number after my weekend cupcake binge. The verdict: I’m up three pounds since Friday. Ugh. But, there are factors to consider, like I normally weigh myself in the morning before eating and today I weighed myself after eating all of my meals. I’ve historically had a difficult time keeping weight off. The minute I slip up, the weight comes crashing back to my belly. It’s always belly weight, too, which is apparently the worst place to carry extra weight because of all the increased health issues, like cardiovascular disease. I envy women that pack weight onto their thighs or butts. It seems like a better location for extra poundage–me, I’ve always carried around a spare tire.

This week will be a difficult one just to break even, much less lose. We’ll see who comes out victorious on Friday!

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me vs the cupcake

Baker in Recovery recently wrote a couple of posts about mindful eating, and it got me thinking.

As it was a wonderful three-day Memorial Day weekend here in the states, my boyfriend and I (like many people) had several BBQs to make appearances at. Since now I’m an “out of the closet” vegan, I’ve been meaning to bake some cupcakes from Isa’s book to prove to my family that vegan food can be delicious. My mom has expressed her doubts (“how can you call it ‘buttercream’ if it has no butter?!”) and I wanted to show everyone that YES, vegan cupcakes can be yummy! However, I didn’t exactly succeed.

Since I’ve been trying to lose weight and everyone around me seems to be in the same boat, I opted for the “sexy low-fat vanilla cupcakes.” Of course, instead of the low-fat icing suggestion, I topped them with vegan buttercream. Let’s just say things didn’t exactly turn out. The cakes were a little too dense and tough and stuck to the cupcake tins. I knew I couldn’t convincingly present these to my vegan-cupcake-eating novices. I didn’t want this to be their first taste of vegan cupcakes. My ultimate goal is to craft them a cupcake so delicious that they’d never know the difference. The low-fat option, while I still found it to be delicious, was just not the right fit for the occasion.

Since these little monsters weren’t fit to bring to the two BBQs we were invited to, I was left with my worst nightmare: a batch of 12 cupcakes in my fridge, begging to be eaten. For the past several weeks, I’ve been incredibly good on my “diet,” though I hesitate to call it that: I haven’t even craved sweets, which is huge coming from someone who used to eat chocolate in some capacity every single day. I thought maybe I’d turned a corner–maybe, just maybe, the lure of cupcakes chilling in the fridge would be something I could ignore. I learned this weekend that that’s just not the case.

What this boils down to is something I am very ashamed of: between the two of us, my boyfriend and I, this batch of 12 was demolished within 24 hours time. We had three each the night I baked them, and three each the following day. The worst part of it was that I knew I was bad enough eating one for breakfast. Then, after he left, I stuffed two more down my throat. I knew it was wrong, and I knew I wasn’t even hungry. I’m like a junkie around sweets. I felt like a closet-eater. The shame and embarrassment encompassed me and put me in a terrible, horrible, no-good, very bad mood. What good is it that I can diet and lose weight if the heart of the problem remains: that I just cannot be around sweets unsupervised without devouring them all in one sitting?

I even went as far as to put my entire recipe into MyFitnessPal to calculate the calories per each cupcake, hoping that would dissuade me from eating them. They were around 300 calories a pop. And no, it made no difference.

I started to think a lot about mindful eating, which we talked about at length in my yoga + book club back in January-March. I thought I learned a lot from my close reading of Geneen Roth’s Women, Food, and God, but what good is knowledge when it’s not fully realized?

I’m mad at myself and I think this probably means I won’t lose any weight this week (but I’ll still try to stave off a gain)–but the best thing I can do is jump back on the horse and try, try again. So I failed. Lots of people fail. And lots of people treat food like a drug just as I did this weekend. There’s a reason I do that–it’s to fill some emptiness I haven’t yet identified. Part of this journey to healthfulness is being able to identify the holes in my life that convince me to eat, drink, or partake in any other self-destructive behaviors. Beating myself up is something I’m good at, but that only dances around the problem. Punishment and forced misery will not make this problem go away; digging deeper will.

So maybe I’m one of those people that can’t have sweets in the house. Whatever works, I guess. Different strokes for different folks. One day, I aim to be able to have a fridge full of cupcakes without the immediate impulse to demolish them all. That day isn’t today, and that’s okay. I’ll get there.

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weight loss challenge

I’ve been writing quite frequently about my desire to get in shape, and just recently, have started actually succeeding in that plan. The problem was that my boyfriend also needs to follow suit, but getting him motivated is like pulling teeth. I thought if I started cooking healthy (vegan) food and working out almost daily, he’d see my happiness/excitement/drive and join in. That wasn’t the case. He spoke often about wanting to join in, but just never did. He’s a man of a thousand excuses (a lot like how I used to be, and sometimes still am) so I concocted a sneaky plan to get him enthused about healthy living.

He’s a very competitive guy. He does well when reality is transformed into some sort of game with tangible punishments and rewards. He also loves watching The Biggest Loser, which I can do without just because it’s two freaking hours, who has the time? In short, I decided to combine these things to create a “game”-like scenario to get him motivated. For others, this might not work. I strongly believe that anyone embarking on a life change like losing weight should have that a-ha! epiphanic moment where they realize that they need to change, and the reasons for change come from within. I think he’s honestly already had that moment but didn’t have the drive to execute the changes he realizes he needs to make. Our “game” is as much a social experiment to me as it is a (potentially) life-altering change for him. Only time will tell if this will work, but so far, so good!

The Game:

Fridays are our “weigh-in” days. We weigh ourselves in the morning and then calculate our percentage lost since the previous week. This is all honor-system, guys. I’m not sharing with anyone how much I weigh, even him, but we trust each other not to cheat. Whoever loses the bigger percentage for the week has “won” the week and gets to dole out one “healthy” punishment to the loser for the next week. That’s the punishment side. The reward side comes from monthly meetings. Whoever wins the most weeks by the end of the month gets to decide on a fun activity to participate in (being active here is key)–we haven’t gotten this far yet, but suggestions I presented to him when I explained the rules were: going to the zoo on a Saturday (major walking going on there), going downstate to one of the national parks for a day of hiking, even going bowling would count!

I was telling one of my friends and she thought it was a really weird idea. It is, and I honestly don’t care at all about it, but it helps him and I know that. If competition is what he needs to succeed, then bring it on. It also gives us a reason to do at least one fun, active thing per month. We tend to really get stuck in our routines and we don’t really do much together when we have days off because we’re either a) tired or b) hellbent on saving money. This, though, will hopefully bring us closer together.

I won the first week and my punishment was based upon his severe addiction to diet coke. He’s tried to quit before and I’ve told him not to bring it over so he’s not tempted, but he does anyway. It’s bad. So my punishment to him for this week was: no diet coke at all, but one 12 oz diet coke can be earned per day by going on a 30+ minute walk with me. You better believe that we went for a walk yesterday. 😉 And today he’s golfing 9 holes, so I told him that counts, too.

At the rate I’m going, I should be at my first goal weight in 20 weeks. That seems like a long ways away, but as long as I keep inching toward the goal, I think the time will cruise on by. Cheers to my new life!

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no use crying over spilt lentils

I spilled a quarter of a bag of lentils on my (filthy) kitchen floor tonight while preparing dinner. #veganproblems

The cats thought it was great fun to frolic through the lentil mess while I scrambled to find my trusty broom and dust pan. I probably could’ve scooped them all up, rinsed, and life would’ve gone forth as usual, but I really don’t trust the state of my kitchen floor. Into the garbage they went. What a sad day.

As far as diet and exercise goes, it’s been a frustrating week. I’ve been uber stressed at work and as the emotional eater I am, this has translated into a) skipping the gym and b) eating lots of sweets. I have no excuse for my behavior. I think I need to accomplish two things in the very near future:

1) I need to bring more fruit and veggies to snack on at work because I find I am ravenous upon arriving home and will literally sit down and eat just about anything in unimaginable quantities.

and 2) I need to find ways to add activity into my daily life outside of my organized cardio routine to offset the extra calories I’ll be consuming through snackage.

I eat an incredibly healthy diet 80% of the time. I am not one of those people that hates fruit and veggies. I adore them. I eat them daily, in large quantities. But I also have a sweet tooth and enjoy sugary treats the way Paula Deen enjoys butter. I sooth my bad days with candy and $4.50 soy lattes. I sometimes think I’m an addict of sorts. Depending on the stage of my life I’m referring to, I can pinpoint exactly what I used as a soothing agent: lately, it’s been food. But there have been times *cough*mylastyearofcollege*cough* that it was more the booze-sooth. I can be a junkie for just about anything. People say it takes a lot of willpower to be a vegetarian or a vegan, which I’ve been able to demonstrate, but the willpower required to stay away from sweets is a brand of willpower I have yet to perfect the art of.

I spend a lot of time thinking about and complaining about my dreaded sedentary deskjob life. The truth is, I can bitch about it all I want but if I want to be able to stay on top of my bills, I have to accept this fate. I’ve been reading lots of stats lately that 1 in 3 adults are overweight or obese in this country but when I look around at my friends, peers, coworkers, it seems very few are struggling with the affliction I struggle with. I have a really hard time noticing how damned skinny my coworkers are and it doesn’t even really seem like they’re trying. You get really cozy-close with coworkers: you see them eat, you hear them talk about their personal lives, and it seems to me that no one thinks about food or exercise at the rate it’s always weighing on my mind. Of course, I’m no mind reader. I could be very wrong about their struggles. To the untrained eye, though, I see myself struggling and I see everyone else going out to lunch, eating high calorie meals, and not. getting. fat.

Part of my problem is laziness, I think. I don’t want to have to try. When I do try, I don’t see results so I lose my drive. I need to be held accountable. Convincing my boyfriend to be active with me and thusly, hold me accountable, has been a struggle. We both would rather sit on the couch and talk about changing rather than actually change. I find I’m not so much in love with my life these days. These are those trying times when I go into hiding. In fight or flight, I’m definitely flight.

I never thought I’d have a blog I stuck with because I never thought I had enough interesting information to convey to the outside world. I still don’t really have anything of interest to convey…but regardless, I’m enjoying being part of the conversation.

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my big fat vegan weekend

I spent the majority of last week feeling angry and confused about why the numbers on my scale haven’t budged. I even, in all my craziness, thought that my apartment’s sloping floors were to blame. I took my scale from my bathroom tile to my bedroom hardwood and tried there. Same number. I jumped on the scale in the gym locker room pre-workout. Same number. All of this is strange to me because my boyfriend says I look like I’ve lost weight. My coworker says the same. Even if I was losing fat and inches and not weight, my clothes would be fitting differently…but they’re not. It’s as if I am living the exact same lifestyle I was before (eating lots of sweets, eating lots of cheese, and not working out at all). It’s frustrating because I’m not. My boyfriend sees the breakfasts and lunches I pack myself for my work day. I eat healthier than anyone he knows, he says. I’m not perfect the rest of the time. I do still eat the occasional sweet, but I refuse to give that up. That would be deprivation. I will not succumb to a lifetime of no chocolate. That isn’t fair to me, my body, or my brain.

The conclusions I’ve drawn are these:

  1. I’m not eating as healthy as I think I am. When I was a freshman in college, I had gained about 15 pounds (what a stereotype). I went to the women’s services clinic to refill my pill prescription and when the doctor asked if I had any questions, I said yes: I keep gaining weight and I don’t know why. I told her I thought it was because of the pill. She had me try a low-dose pill that made no change to my weight but screwed my cycle up completely. When I returned a month later to be put back on the original pill, I sat with her for maybe 10 minutes, nearly in tears, telling her how much I hate my body and how I don’t know what to do. She asked if I was exercising regularly. I said a few times a week–not as much as I could–but I lived in the farthest dorm on campus and I always walked to class, I never took the bus. She said that should be making a difference. Her ultimate suggestion was this: maybe you’re not eating quite as healthy as you think you are. Make a food journal, she said. And once you start tracking your food intake, seek a nutritionist’s advice. I never did make that food journal, I never saw a nutritionist, and I went on to gain another 20 pounds by my senior year. But that idea always stays with me: maybe what I think is healthy isn’t as healthy as I thought. This is where food tracking comes in. This is why Weight Watchers worked for me my senior year of college and I dropped 25 pounds in no time at all. This is why I’m trying to track my calories now on MyFitnessPal. I’ve learned that this is a necessary part in my losing weight, but unlike my senior year in college, the weight isn’t coming off as rapidly. In fact, it isn’t coming off at all. Which brings me to…
  2. The conditions of my first weight loss success are not aligned with my current conditions. When I lost weight on Weight Watchers, I really don’t think of it as a healthy weight loss. It worked, yes, but what I was eating was abominable. Let me paint the picture for you: I was a full-time student and I worked two part-time jobs, one of which being a retail job selling chocolate. I was incredibly busy which resulted in very quickly eating all of my meals, which were mostly processed TV dinners. I can’t think of more than twice that year that I cooked. We ate out a lot, like when my boyfriend would visit, and I heated up more Lean Cuisines than I can even count during the week. Not to mention the fact that I saved all my points for beer. I figured out the point count of the chocolates at work and I knew how many I could have that would be the equivalent point count of dinner. I knew the point count of McDonald’s egg McMuffins and hash browns for those days I was hung over but had to be at work at 9. I was incredibly irresponsible and I subsisted on the absolute worst diet you can imagine…and I lost weight. The reason for this, I can only conclude, was that I was much more active than I thought I was. I exercised sometimes, but not regularly, but the main difference is that: 1) I worked at least 20 hours a week in a retail setting where I spent the entire time standing. Standing burns more calories than sitting. and 2) my other job was on campus, so I was walking to class and/or work every day of the week. The walk to and from class or work was 15 minutes each way. Sometimes I made that trip twice, sometimes three times. I was burning calories just because I was busy, basically. Now my life is that of a sedentary deskjob worker. Now I have to find ways to schedule cardio in order to burn calories, and the calories I’m burning in those workouts aren’t even close to the calories I burned when I lost weight in college–and at that time, I wasn’t even trying.

By the end of my senior year, I had plateaued on Weight Watchers. In April I decided to give up meat and return to the vegetarian diet I had followed since my freshman year of high school until Thanksgiving of my freshman year of college. I vowed to start eating better when I moved home. I thought giving up meat again would give me the push I needed to get past the plateau I’d been at for months. I also gave up Weight Watchers because I felt like a slave to the program. I thought I had learned enough about calories and fats to continue my weight loss on my own. Slowly, without my even realizing it, I started to put the weight back on. I was at about a 10 pound weight gain when I left my first post-grad job, and one of the major perks of my new job (my current job) was free access to the office gym. I thought, this is fantastic! I will never have an excuse again! For about a month, I went to the gym religiously after work. And then work started to stress me out and I returned to my old ways of skipping the gym and comforting myself with food. Now I’m at the weight I started at, the heaviest weight of my life that prompted me to go on Weight Watchers in the first place…+5. This was one of my first and main reasons for adopting a vegan lifestyle. As a vegetarian, I wasn’t all that healthy. I didn’t eat as many fruits and vegetables as I should and I ate a lot (a lot) of cheese. I really thought that cutting all that out would make a huge difference. I thought my body would be startled into submission.

It wasn’t.

And that’s when I decided to start training for this 5k. Now it’s been 6 or 7 weeks and I’ve only lost 3 pounds. I lost those 3 pounds in the first week, which shows me that what I’m doing is not working. I’ve spent a lot of time researching this on the internet. I’ve spent a lot of time wondering what I can possibly do to remedy this short of quitting my job and working out 8 hours a day. I have at least 45 pounds to lose to be put back in a healthy BMI range. I know the BMI equation is archaic but I know that I’m 45 pounds away from being at a healthy weight. I would take a 35 pound weight loss. I would accept fighting with those last 10 pounds for the rest of my life. It seems impossible to me, though. I know the answer is adding activity into my day that doesn’t feel like organized cardio. I know I should try to take walks outside on my breaks at work. I know I should try to take walks on weekends or after work. To be honest, when I get home after my workout on weeknights, I am utterly exhausted. The idea of going outside and walking for an hour is absolutely unappealing to me. I want to shower, eat dinner, and relax on the couch. It doesn’t feel like there are enough hours in the day to repair the damage I’ve done to my body.

My cause is further complicated by the fact that my boyfriend also needs to lose weight but we both feed off each other’s addictions. I never watched TV before I met him but he loves TV, so we sit and watch every night and snack. When he’s munching on chips, I get instant jealousy. I want chips. We go grocery shopping together and I pick up my produce, my whole grains, and he sneaks a case of diet coke into the cart or a bag of chips or some cookies. I want to be at a place where I can have a bag of chips in my house and not want to sit on the kitchen floor and eat the entire bag. I want to be able to have junkfood in moderation. Moderation is the spice of life. I know myself well enough to know that if I told myself that I can have absolutely no, ZERO, chips, cookies, sweets, anything–that I will break. I will cave. and I will binge.

We watched Forks Over Knives last month and we both had a renewed interest in trying harder. My renewed interest lasted longer than his. Yesterday, I added a few other documentaries to our Netflix queue to try to get both of us re-interested. Last night, we watched Fat, Sick & Nearly Dead. Such an inspiring story. And now our interest is renewed, yet again. He has to work today so we packed him a healthy breakfast and lunch and called it “Day 1.” We need to do this together. As an omnivore, he doesn’t have many food choices when he’s here. He picks around veggies when I cook and opts for the grains, the meat substitutes, the potatoes. I, on the other hand, find my tastes are changing. I made oatmeal yesterday morning but didn’t have any fresh fruit to put in it. I found myself aching for strawberries and blueberries. The same with dinner: we made seitan with red potatoes and broccoli. There was definitely not enough broccoli to go around. I found myself wanting it so badly–I would have been fine if my plate had been half full of broccoli. I just love fruits and veggies. He doesn’t have that habit ingrained in his eating.

We watched a P90X infomercial Friday night (while drinking beer on the couch, of course) and I realized what that program offers compared to what I’m doing. My workouts are routine. I run on the treadmill or work out on the elliptical and I do the same 3 or 4 weight training exercises. I don’t have variety. The “muscle confusion” Tony Horton talks about is something my body hasn’t experienced. When I do try something new and my muscles are confused, it takes my body over 2 days to adjust from the soreness. I can’t take 2 days off every time I try something new. That’s 2 days wasted. I’m knocking on 24’s door but I feel like my body is 50 years old. Part of this, I have to wonder, might be genetics. I do not come from an active family. I sometimes wonder if my food addiction has genetic bearings. My father comforts himself with food. He has type 2 diabetes, hypertension, and other diseases he hasn’t even divulged to me. But he doesn’t make a change. He doesn’t think he has the willpower. I have to wonder if I’m a product of that…whether it be hereditary or environmental, I grew up watching him and I’ve absorbed his habits. I’m trying to combat that but I’m stuck once again. I feel angry every single day while I’m on the way to the gym that I even have to carve time out of my schedule to exercise. I curse myself for not living in a pedestrian-friendly location. I live in the suburbs and here, people don’t walk or bike anywhere unless they can’t afford a car. That is crazy! One of the perks of living in the apartment I do is that I am in walking distance of all of my town’s restaurants, bars, shops, etc. I could go for walks, go window shopping, make a whole morning out of it on the weekend, but I don’t!

In the past few weeks, I’ve tried to make small changes to my diet. I’ve subbed in no-calorie stevia for the 60-calorie tbsp of agave nectar I was putting in my coffee each morning. I’ve been bringing half a grapefruit to work (52 calories) instead of the 250-300 calorie green smoothies I was having for breakfast. At the beginning of the year, I made a non-resolution to drink only on weekends. I had been drinking at least one beer a day on weekdays and much more on weekends. Now I limit that to only Fridays and Saturdays, and usually only drink a beer or two. I have isolated myself from my social circle in order to avoid overeating and excessive drinking. These changes, still, have not made a difference.

In the end, I’m not sure where to go from here. I need change but the changes I need to make feel humungous. They feel out of reach. Maybe I’m making mountains out of mole hills but I’m feeling quite lost. How I could possibly eat 1,400 calories a day and burn 300 of them working out and still not see change is utterly baffling to me. As I age, this will only get harder. I will be fighting this battle for the rest of my life.

Are you fighting this battle? How have you overcome adversity?

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vegan vs. omnivore: the battle royale

I became acutely aware of the fact that I am not in possession of any happy, upbeat music. I am an indie rock fan and have plenty of music to be sad to, but nothing to get my spirits up. My past few commutes have consisted of endlessly hitting “next” on my iPod. The best I could come up with was Psychokiller by the Talking Heads. Yikes! If I’m going to have a more positive outlook, it first needs to start with the music I send to my brain. I am open to suggestions. I am not a pop fan (at least a modern-day pop fan–I’ll pass on the Ke$ha, please and thank you), but damnit, if it means lifting my spirits, then bring it.

I am still thinking about (dwelling on) going vegan. I have so many hang-ups, it’s unreal. I’ve previously discussed my fear of failing, but it’s deeper than I think I let on. If I were to go the vegan route, it would be less for my convictions and more for healthfulness. When I examined my life and considered what would make me happy, living a healthier lifestyle was one of the first things that sprang to mind. I’m now inundated with insight about what exactly is going into my body. While researching a vegan red velvet recipe, some knowledge was dropped on me about carmine and I became enraged. I want to be clear about just what bothers me about red food dye coming from crushed bugs: it’s not so much the bugs dying. I dislike bugs. I kill spiders and ants and centipedes (oh my!). Insects are necessary to Planet Earth but that doesn’t mean I welcome them crawling on me. I really hate them. I’m not so much bothered by the fact that they were killed and turned into foodstuffs. What I’m bothered by is that a) eating bugs is an extremely unpleasant thought. and b) I’ve gone 23 years having had no idea about this.

I consider myself pretty educated and well-read. I purposely steer away from PETA, etc., because I know that slaughterhouses are awful and I know that pumping our cows full of antibiotics is disgusting and I don’t really want to see it, because if I see it, I’ll cry (or barf). I choose to shield my impressionable mind from it. But I am at least aware of it. The thing that bothers me most about this carmine business is that I HAD NO IDEA WHAT CARMINE WAS. And I want to assure you that if I saw “carmine” on a food label, here is what my thought process would be: hmm, sounds chemical-y, it’s probably a preservative, but at least it’s not chickenstock so looks like I can eat this! You have to be stubbornly educated to know what goes into your ingredients, and most consumers are passive. For most, slapping on the word “ORGANIC” is enough to feel pretty good about your choices and forget about what goes in to manufacturing the food you’re feeding your body with. This makes me feel both angry at the common ignorance of consumers and angry at the secrecy of manufacturers and the manipulation of using branding such as “organic” when there are virtually zero regulations determining what can be considered “organic” or “natural” or “green” or whatever other buzz words are floating around out there.

Putting my convictions about ethical treatment of animals aside, if I were to “go vegan” it would be more of a dietary choice because I feel that it is my right to know exactly what I am ingesting. Something as wholesome as freshly baked cookies can have such a gruesome, disturbing underbelly. And why is it necessary to bleach sugar with bone char? Is it really the case that if sugar was shelved in all the glory of its natural color, we wouldn’t buy it? It’s ironic to transform something to the color of purity using something so unnecessarily impure.

And while I sit here tackling my own ignorance (I don’t know how I lived this long without knowing about carmine or sugar), I would then have to face the ignorance of my peers. Deciding to “go vegan” puts your beliefs out there in a way that provokes others to criticize. Vegans get a bad rap for appearing pretentious or thinking that they’re better than omnivores (anyone seen Scott Pilgrim?) and this is only because vegan choices are “othered.” People would rather ignore the truths about food production and are, for whatever reason, put off by people who choose to not ignore. If I go vegan, it’s not anybody’s damn business unless I make it their business, but I can see several future conversations with non-vegans where I am expected to present my case. What if I don’t want to talk about my case? What if I want to just do what I do and have it affect only me and my body? I am not going to persuade anybody to give up meat or dairy. I would be happy to speak with an open-minded person who isn’t going to shoot me down, but I’m not about to engage in any verbal spars with people unwilling to accept that I come with peace.

IRL, I have spoken to no one about this except for my boyfriend and my best friend. I have a very openly-vegan coworker and I had several opportunities to discuss my sentiments with her today, but I didn’t bring it up. I don’t want to put myself out there. I don’t want to make this my office’s business or my family’s business. I also don’t feel comfortable putting my body in the limelight. If, for example, I adopted a vegan lifestyle and it led to successful weightloss because I am being more conscious about my food choices, and then say I “fell off the wagon” and started eating dairy and that led to an unfortunate weight gain, my body has invited public discourse. I need to lose weight and I don’t need anyone to tell me that for me to know. If I lose weight and then gain weight, that is not an invitation for conversation about it. This is my battle to fight and I don’t need the negativity or the “I told you so”s that come with a dietary or lifestyle change.

Being vegetarian has prepared me for what I know comes next: ignorance from all directions. A vegan vs. omnivore throw-down is not something I’m willing to entertain. I am a commitment-phobe about most things and that is one reason for teetering on the vegetarian/vegan edge, for now. I am in the research-phase. I am learning. I am trying to decide if something like this is sustainable for me. For once, I am considering a lot before throwing myself into something. This is something I don’t normally do when weighing decisions, and I give myself props for that because educating yourself should be the root of all major life choices.

I shouldn’t have to feel like “coming out” as vegan is the same as coming out as an alcoholic, but in actuality the two are very analogous. If an alcoholic goes out and has a beer, it becomes a topic of discussion. If a vegan goes out and eats a grilled cheese sandwich, stop the presses!–it becomes big news. I don’t want to live in fear of failure and I don’t want to be compared to an addict. I won’t accept that treatment and I will turn a deaf ear to it if and when it comes time to cross that bridge.

And that, friends, is how I feel about that.

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