I jumped at the invitation to participate in another 8-week yoga training. The journey began Friday night with a free-flowing practice, discussion of the bandas and breath and a brief history of yoga. We also took several vows – one of which intimated that we were to become vegetarians.
While I am not opposed to vegetarianism – I’ve followed a vegetarian, semi-vegeterian, vegan and even a raw vegan diet for periods of time – I always fall off the wagon. My last foray into avoiding all animal foods was prompted by a viewing of the documentary Food, Inc. But, overtime, my memories of the images of abuse and uncleanliness of much of America’s meat and poultry industry faded and I added meat back to my diet. My experiment with rawism was my favorite. I felt fantastic and really enjoyed my foods (check out Raw Food, Real World by Sarma Melngailis and Matthew Kenney or the Raw Food Cleanse by Penni Shelton), but they took a lot of work. When I walked in the door and was just plain starving, I couldn’t get something into my body fast enough. I will confess, I missed warm foods too – it gets cold in Colorado – and as I was unsure of my longterm commitment was not willing to invest in an expensive dehydrator to warm my foods.
Just to be clear, vegetarianism means eating no animal flesh. I was on a forum recently where a woman argued up, down and all around that vegetarians eat fish and poultry. This simply is not true – and no organization, including the American Dietetic Association, defines vegetarianism this way. Vegetarians take their diet plan to varying levels:
· Ovo-Lacto Vegetarians – eat no flesh, but consume dairy and egg products. An ovo-vegetarian eats eggs, but no dairy and a lacto vegetarian eats dairy but no eggs
· Vegans – eat no animal products whatsoever. Vegans can be very strict in their adherence, even shunning foods processed with animal products (for example, much of our refined sugar is filtered through bone char and is not vegan)
· Raw Vegans – take veganism a step further and eat no foods cooked above 118 degrees
· Red Meat Vegetarians – a group of people who do not eat red meat, but enjoy poultry and fish…just FYI, you aren’t really a vegetarian…you just don’t eat red meat
· Pescatarians – if the only animal flesh you eat is fish, you get this fun label
· Flexitarians – vegetarian-ish folks. You might have an animal meal occasionally, but are generally committed to meatless meals.
Some of the biggest questions that come up when discussing vegetarianism or veganism are how do you get all your nutrients, particularly protein. I exercise a lot, and do want to support lean muscle mass with protein. You can do it on a vegan plan. Vegan bodybuilders and athletes can do very well, but you do have to pay attention to what you eat. Any athlete or bodybuilder has to pay attention to diet, however.If you have doubts, check out Vegan Body Builders. I plan to use beans, nuts, quinoa and hemp protein powder often. Studies have shown that vegetarians who eat an array of foods can get all the vitamins, minerals and macronutrients necessary – vegans can too, but it takes a little extra work.
My reasons for becoming a vegetarian are varied. I do think it is a kinder way to treat the earth and my body. I do believe in the circle of life, but most factory farms have abused this circle. In my short experiments, I also find I feel (and look) better on a mostly vegetarian diet.
I planned to start yesterday, but it all went wrong when I was in a hotel with coffee and had none of my favorite So Coconut Creamer and had to revert to the processed packet of half and half. At lunch, after having the staff prepare a vegan black bean burrito three times, and sending it back all three times, I reverted to a soy, banana and strawberry smoothie, almond butter, bananas and a lara bar for lunch. Dinner was brown rice with chickpeas and salsa. My Achilles heel got me in the evening. A container of blueberry Noosa yogurt begged me to finish it…and I did. This one may take some time to give up.
I am committing this time for 8 weeks –and it does cross over Thanksgiving. I’ll share my 8-week journey with you. I’d love to make it stick for the long-term, but I’m not going to commit to that…yet.
Filed under - Life, Nutrition, Veganism
How about a workout that covers all the major muscle groups and keeps your heart pumping throughout? This session is not for the faint of heart. You want to use weights that make each minute challenging, but that do not bring you to ultimate burnout. You only get 15 seconds between exercise to recoup and pick up new equipment. Ready for it?
Warm up for 10 to 15 minutes on a treadmill, elliptical, bike or doing light calesthenics (you know, jacks, jogging in place, windmills, inchworms)
Perform each of the following for 1 minute. Take 15 seconds between each minute to breathe and change equipment.
- Front loaded dumbbell squats
- Push up with rotation
- Mountain climbers
- Plank rows
- Lateral raises
- Kettlebell swing
- Triceps dips
- Side lunges with front arm raise
- Plank hold
After one round through, do 2 minutes of light cardio – walk around a track, walk on a treadmill or cycle with little resistance. Repeat the cycle at least one and perhaps twice more for a complete workout.
Filed under - Workouts (Treadmill, Weights and Cardio)
In a short answer: no. It is slightly sweeter, so you may use less and save a few calories that way – but otherwise your body reacts pretty much the same way to honey as it does to sugar. Your blood sugar rises and extra calories (those you don’t use up) get stored as fat. Honey engages your sweet tooth, making you crave sweet foods. Honey may offer a few trace nutrients – but you’d have to consume cup loads of it to make these nutrients have any significant impact on your daily intake. Darker honey has more nutrients, but again, it is a negligible amount. Honey is natural, but so is plain old sugar. Most commercial honey is just as processed as table sugar. It is also pasteurized, which destroys much of the trace nutrients. Raw, local honey is your best honey option, but consume it in moderation. You can use a ¾ cup of honey to replace 1 cup of sugar in recipes – but you should also reduce the liquid by ½ cup for each cup of honey you add.
Many honey advocates may argue with me. I respect that. The point is, Americans eat too much sugar and if you are trying to reduce it — honey should be on the list too.
Filed under - Nutrition