My Journey to a Smaller, Firmer Cindy

I would like to use this second post to explain a bit about my weight-loss journey. My weight has always been a struggle for me. I was very active with the swim team in high school. I did particularly well in long distance, the 500 yard freestyle. I made it my goal to beat the school record and managed to achieve it my junior year. I also broke the 100 yard backstroke my senior year. My school didn’t have the most intensive swim program but I woke up every morning before school to practice in addition to our regularly scheduled practices. I was also involved with the show choir. My lowest weight was around 150 lbs but climbed to over 220 by graduation.

I fell into a bad relationship and that combined with some family issues led to a lot of emotional eating. My weight continued to go up through college to a peak 315 lbs. Over doubling my weight in just a few years was the wake up call I needed to start making some changes. I slowly started increasing my physical activity and decreasing my portions. I started swimming again and began to train for a 5k open water swim. I accomplished that goal and swam a 2.5k in Lake Michigan that same year. I was starting to feel really good. I tried a few “diets” but mostly just worked on decreasing sugar, fast food and the amount I ate. I tried using the OTC pill “Alli” for about half a year. It did increase my weight loss but the side effect (weird greasy poo) if I ever over-indulged was a bit much to deal with.

Eventually just increasing activity and cutting back was enough to get me into the mid 200s. I met my boyfriend a little over a year ago, he’s been a vegetarian for over 7 years. After reading about the benefits of a plant-based diet on nutritionfacts.org (an amazing site by nutritionist Dr. Michael Greger M.D.) and other sites I decided to start transitioning to vegetarianism and eventually veganism. My mom has been gluten-free for a few years and after hearing the benefits from her decided to try that as well. Being gluten-free not only prevents me from eating many things, vegan or otherwise, that really aren’t good for me, but I have noticed changes in my digestion. I’ve had digestive issues for a while, probably the result of my past horrendous eating habits (foot-long Penn Station Philly cheese-steak subs with extra mayo and a Taco Bell chaser…insanity). My only source of processed sugar anymore is dark chocolate, which I indulge in daily. I allow myself some Ruffles Simply Natural Sea Salted Reduced Fat Potato Chips (my absolute favorite, and somewhat less bad for you) as a snack, but otherwise really try to avoid processed foods, especially sugars. I buy a bag of organic Granny Smith apples each week, Cara Cara oranges and organic lemons to put in my water and tea (I make a blend of loose-leaf peppermint, lavender, hibiscus, green tea and chamomile a couple times a day, many health benefits!). I buy fruit that’s on sale and try and get organic if possible, especially if it is one of the more pesticide-ridden foods (see http://www.ewg.org/foodnews/list.php). I hula hoop with my weighted hoop nearly every day, do a few arm exercises with my 3 pound weights and take a yoga class at my local YMCA each week. During the summer I bike, walk and swim. Following this has allowed me to lose an additional 20 pounds from the weight I was stuck at for a while before moving towards a plant-based diet. The best advice I can give anyone on how to lose weight is to create a diet and exercise program that will work for you long term and stick to it. I find it’s much easier to exercise if you do something you enjoy. I was so out of shape I had to start slowly, 30 minute walks daily and some light lap swimming, and sometimes even that felt like too much. Trust me, if you stick with it you will not only see improvement in your physicality but your weight as well. Persistence is key!

To end this post I’d like to share a life-changing pizza crust recipe:

http://almondsandavocados.com/gluten-free-quinoa-pizza-crust-and-vegan-pizza/

This pizza crust recipe is both vegan, gluten-free and extremely healthy AND delicious! I make it almost every day. I modify it slightly because I have a larger cast-iron skillet but otherwise pretty much follow the recipe exactly. My favorite pizzas to make include vegan buffalo, cheeseburger or BBQ. I use Bob’s Red Mill TVP for the “meat” topping. After taking out the pizza crust I top it with homemade vegan cheeze sauce (similar to recipe: http://detoxinista.com/2011/01/move-over-kraft/) and whatever additional toppings I’d like, then bake until the toppings are hot. I use about a cup of TVP and mix it with various things to get the taste I’m looking for. For buffalo I use Frank’s Red Hot sauce with a little extra onion and garlic powder and top with homemade vegan ranch (recipe: http://vegetarian.about.com/od/saladdressings/r/veganranch.htm). For cheeseburger I mix it with extra cheeze sauce, salt, pepper, onion and garlic powder and top with ketchup, mustard and pickles. For BBQ I just mix the TVP with whatever BBQ sauce I have on hand and top with pineapple and pickles. Sometimes you may need to add a little bit of water to re-hydrate the TVP.

Also, it is National Reading Month! If you are interested in Buddhism at all, or even just how to be more at peace with yourself and others, I recommend the book, “Being Peace,” a compilation of talks and lectures from the Vietnamese Buddhist monk Thich Nhat Hanh. I have read other books of his but enjoyed this one most. It is a very easy read with many practical lessons for everyday life. On amazon: http://www.amazon.com/dp/188837540X/ref=wl_it_dp_o_pd_nS_ttl?_encoding=UTF8&colid=9FXB5BOPU3LT&coliid=IWB1MV1BI8UUS

Thanks for reading! Thank you to anyone whose recipe I shared! If anyone would like more information about any of the items or recipes I posted about let me know! ❤ 🙂

A New Day

I titled my first post “A New Day” because, firstly, I am a dork and love Celine Dion. Secondly it is an appropriate title for what I am starting here. 2014 is the year I have been working towards my whole life. I have met and overcome many challenges in the past 28 years and I feel like this is the first time in my life I know enough about myself and what I want to do to feel somewhat secure, even happy. I have an amazing boyfriend, Grant, who treats me like a goddess and tells me as much every day. I have two wonderful pets; Cubby, my adorable little monster puppy, is a 5 year old schnoodle and Minnie is the most amazing 6 year old kitty that has every existed. I am the oldest with seven pretty fantastic siblings. They range in ages from 4 to 25 and thinking about them makes my heart feel warm. My parents divorced when I was about 13 but my dad is remarried to my stepmother of 13+ years. My mom is single and always looking to mingle 😉 but spends a lot of time with her hoard of cats and dogs and with her best friend Mary, who is like a second mother to me. I also spend a lot of time with my amazing grandmother who is a constant inspiration to me. I love my family and wouldn’t want it any other way.

I started a new job recently at a call center for a moving company. I enjoy the job very much and especially love that it allows for some free-time to browse the internet, read, etc. I’ve been using my StumbleUpon quite a bit and after subscribing to the writing interest found a post that encouraged you to write every day. I looked up the best blogging sites for beginners and remembered I had an old wordpress blog. I only had three posts so considering my “new start” attitude decided to delete those and start fresh.

I would like to use this blog to improve my writing and have an outlet for the multitude of thoughts and ideas I have during the day. I also think that one of the best ways to improve is to celebrate the accomplishment of goals. I can proudly say that as of today I have lost over 100 pounds from my highest weight. I started transitioning to gluten-free veganism last year and have been almost 100% vegan since the start of the new year. I am an advocate for veganism because I have personally seen so many positive results.

I also used to be a pretty heavy user of marijuana. It has been 28 days since I last smoked and although I never thought I would say it before I am very happy with the results. I feel like I have my energy and intellect back. I just started learning to play the guitar (another goal!) and cannot believe how quickly I am picking it up. I took a class in college in 2009 but haven’t played really since. I already feel I am back to and even a bit beyond my previous level. I don’t think I would be doing so well if I hadn’t committed to stop smoking. I quit smoking cigarettes a few months ago as well and am happy to be able to breathe easy.

I think that is probably enough for the first post! I appreciate anyone who takes the time to read this. Even if no one does, it feels good to have a place to cheer myself on in the quest towards being the best Cindy I can be! ❤ 🙂