Monday, July 12, 2010

Finding the Motivation for Exercise

In high school, I played sports/danced and was a generally super active teenager. Away at college, I went to the school's gym regularly and enjoyed group fitness classes with friends.

Here's where it goes down hill:

In grad school (living back home), I couldn't find the time to get to the gym and as a result I began a love/hate relationship with exercise. After graduating this May, I've found myself with ample time to do anything I want, but NO motivation to exercise. Over the past few months I've swam in my neighbor's pool, gone on random bike rides and runs.... but I just can't seem to get into an exercise routine. I also pay $20 a month for my local gym; however, I almost NEVER go.

I blame my lack of motivation on not having a set schedule...

My typical week:
  • babysit twice per week
  • beach once a week
  • hang out with friends 3 or 4 evenings a week
  • read/watch tv/movies
As you can read, I've been having a nice little break from real life for about two months now and I LOVE IT. The only thing I'm complaining about is the lack of exercise!

I really want to join some kind of organized sport or group fitness class (they don't have them at my gym). I can't find any organized rec. sports in my area though.

I know, I know... I'm making a lot of excuses.

My plan:
  1. Get a job to have a set schedule
  2. Join a new gym- one with a pool and group fitness classes
  3. Begin to feel responsible for my body and my health- apart from just eating right!
A friend of mine vouched that as soon as she found a job and began with a set schedule, she got into a great routine of going to the gym right after work...AND she actually enjoys it. She says that after sitting all day in her office, she can't wait to get up and move her body at the gym. While I won't be sitting all day as a speech therapist, I hope I find a good routine as she has.

How do you find the motivation for exercise?

Oven Roasted Tomatoes

A little while after breakfast, I walked into the kitchen and saw some yummy looking little tomatoes just begging to be slow-roasted in the oven!

Here's what they looked like just prior to going in (please excuse the terrible blackberry picture):

Oven Roasted Tomatoes:
Preheat oven to 250F. Slice tomatoes in half and place on baking tray. Put tomatoes in oven and bake until dried up! Anywhere from 4-8 hours.

I like them plain! Feel free to add salt and pepper to taste. OR brush with olive oil before putting in oven.

New to this whole food photography/blog thing, I forgot to take a picture when they came out!! Sorry! I promise to update this post with a picture.

Do you get enough vitamins in your diet? (Detox Day 1)

Today, I woke up feeling excited for the new day and new challenge I had set for myself.

For breakfast, I ate a banana with peanut butter- so delicious. Prior to this I made myself anEnergizing Vitamins & Minerals Drink:
1/2 scoop Amazing Meal
1 tbsp lemon juice
about 8 oz water

I put all the ingredients in a jar (with a lid) and shook them up! It's not the best tasting thing, but I enjoy it! Personally, I like to supplement my diet with extra vitamins and minerals because there are days I just know I'm not getting enough nutrients. I like the extra security of knowing that my body is getting what it needs. I anticipate doing less of this as I become more and more knowledgeable about different vitamins and minerals in the vegan lifestyle.

Calcium is the hardest thing for me! Anyone have any good suggestions on getting enough calcium with a vegan diet?

Detox Lunch was a huge salad with everything I could find in my kitchen:
  • swiss chard
  • romaine
  • celery
  • orange bell pepper
  • carrots
Topped with OSG's Better than Bottled Balsamic Vinaigrette (with only 1 tbsp maple syrup instead of 2)

Look how delicious:

  • green beans and hummus. (okay, okay I also ate 2 tortilla chips - ahh breaking detox rules already)
  • Oven Roasted Tomatoes


Simple Quinoa and Sweet Potato Salad (adapted from yumsugar):
Serves 2
1/2 cup dry quinoa
1/2 cup vegetable stock
1/2 cup water
3 tiny sweet potatoes (about 1 cup), peeled and diced
1 tbsp olive oil
salt and pepper, to taste
Pinch of cayenne pepper (1/16 tsp)
1 tsp lemon juice
  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F
  2. Place the quinoa, vegetable stock, and water in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil.
  3. Reduce the heat to low and simmer until the liquid is completely absorbed.
  4. Transfer to a bowl and let cool.
  5. Cover the diced sweet potatoes with 1/2 tbsp of olive oil, pepper, salt, and cayenne. Transfer to a baking pan and roast until crispy.
  6. Remove from the oven and let cool.
  7. In a medium-sized bowl, combine the lemon juice and 1/2 tbsp of olive oil.
  8. Season with the salt and pepper. Stir in the diced sweet potatoes and the quinoa and serve.
This super simple recipe turned out delicious! I love when food tastes natural and not too spiced up.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Food Sensitivity and Acne

I suffer from bloating, belching, gas (haha- sooo attractive), irritability, fatigue and acne. As far as I know, I'm not allergic to anything;however, I do think that I have some unknown food sensitivities or intolerances. For simple articles on how these terms are different go here or here. Basically, an allergy triggers an immune system response and causes your body to fight the substance you came in contact with. In contrast, a food sensitivity or intolerance is a digestive system issue in which a person cannot properly break down the food, causing all sorts of issues like nausea, stomach pain, gas, cramps, bloating, vomiting, heartburn, diarrhea, headaches, and irritability. Allergic reactions happen soon after ingesting the food, while sensitivity and intolerance reactions can happen up to 5 days later! Because of this, doctors are hesitant to acknowledge food as a cause for acne.

For awhile now, I've suspected that my acne is related to the things I put into my body and my hormones. My parents are both sensitive to wheat and gluten. My dad is also sensitive to grapes and corn. All his life, my dad has had digestion issues....after he stopped eating these foods, they completely went away!

The food sensitivity test is way out of my price range, so I can't know for sure, but I think that genetics and food sensitivities are playing a HUGE role in my acne prone skin.

In the weeks to come, I'm going to try to eliminate some common foods that cause sensitivities, including the foods my dad is sensitive to.

My skin has improved over the past few months as a vegan,/whole-foods eater, but the dermatologist still classified me as having moderate acne. Also, I plan on taking pictures of my skin for you guys to see and hopefully, I can document some change and progress.

For an interesting article about food intolerance and skin conditions (including cellulite!) please go here.


After a few days of over indulgence in things like alcohol and sugar (happy bday to me!) and a general intake of too many processed foods, it's time for a detox.

Vegan Monkey's Detox Rules:
  • ALL vegan, as much raw as possible
  • water with lemon juice every morning
  • amazing grass or greens first every morning
  • source of life vitamins (every other day?)
  • no processed snacks- only whole, real foods
  • green smoothies
  • gluten and wheat free
  • No corn chips- LOVE tortilla chips but I eat WAY too many.. I never like to be addicted to a certain food
Meal Plan- Day 1
I really like to plan my meals because it helps me stick to veganism and not binge on too much.

Breakfast: banana with peanut butter

Lunch: salad with any veggies we have! and Oh She Glows' better than bottled balsamic dressing

Approved Snacks: veggies (carrots, bell peppers, green beans, etc...- all raw), fruit (yumm we have cherries and blueberries currently), swiss chard smoothie

Why I Became Vegan

For me, the quest for clear skin seems to be a never ending road. The last 10 years of my life I have been battling acne with everything imaginable and a few things have worked, but most have not. There was a brief period in high school where my skin seemed to like me- a result of going monthly to the dermatologist and getting glycolic acid peels. That could only last so long and eventually stopped working. I went to a new derm during college and she put me on Accutane. Worst few months of my life. Yes, the drug cleared my skin a bit but my skin was flaky, I was depressed, and as soon as I stopped taking it my acne came right back!

The second time my skin was relatively clear (minus pesky blackheads on my cheeks and nose) was when I was taking the Yaz birth control pill. That also came with side effects- crazy mood swings and generally blahness about life.

The primary reason I'm adapting a vegan lifestyle is to hopefully clear my body of toxins and clear up my unhappy skin. I also believe that it's something I'm eating that causes me to break out...along with my female hormones, of course. :) More on food allergies/acne in a later post.

So, for now I'm 98% vegan and 2% vegetarian (no dairy, though). I do that mainly for social reasons and as a way to slightly ease myself in to this lifestyle. Hopefully, by the end of summer I'll be 100% vegan and LOVING every minute of it.

I'll dedicate future posts to digestion/acne/overall health, I promise.

A secondary (but not any less important!!) reason is the impact of animal products on the environment and my love for all of mother nature's creatures. I've never been a HUGE meat eater, but when I found out that they cut down rain forest to build cow pastures, I just knew I had to stop eating those poor cows.

Anyway, enough about me for now.

Why did you become vegan? Or, Why are you thinking about becoming a vegan/adapting a healthier lifestyle?

Thursday, July 8, 2010


Thanks for coming to Vegan Monkey, a new blog about what it's like to start a vegan lifestyle in a non-vegan household, with non-vegan friends, and plenty of vegan haters! Plus, you get to follow me on my journey to become an exercise lover. Anyone have any tips?

"Tastes like grass" is the reaction I typically get (most often from my dear, sweet mother) when I ask her to try green juice/shakes/monsters! Not only do I LOVE everything green (foods AND environmental causes), I'm also not above choking down some green shakes that go wrong.

Vegan for only two months (and counting)!

Current inspiration blogs:

Vegan Monkey
(monkey because my intake of bananas has increased 50x since becoming vegan)