What works for me

This is a post for my cousin. And if she gets her wish, it will even become a running series… or maybe I’ll even go back to writing a food blog.

The final project for one of my classes this semester was to review a popular diet book and present it to the class. I’m a fan of Mark Bittman’s column for The New York Times, so I chose his recent VB6: Eat Vegan Before 6:00 to Lose Weight and Restore Your Health… For Good.

But first, a little history: I believe I was skinniest back in my vegetarian days, when I had just completed my first half marathon and was playing with the idea of training for a sprint triathlon.

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Wow, what babies we were.

For the year before I moved out to Colorado I worked with a personal trainer and I was pretty happy with my body that first summer of 2013 too. Once here, I tried to continue working with heavier weights and move into an even stricter paleo-style diet. But between the social isolation of living in a brand new place with no one I knew and the sense of deprivation created by trying to cut out a whole food group, I’d find myself stopping by the bakery on my late night drive home from work to buy that lovely combination of chocolate chip cookies and buttercream icing. And I gained about 10 pounds in just a few months.

(Other people thrive on a paleo-style diet, my roommate is one of them. We all have to play around a little and find what works for us.)

But since then I’ve quite the bakery dessert habit, stopped restricting myself to heavy weight lifting just a few days a week and the goal of a routine closer to weights twice a week, running twice a week, and yoga once a week. But that grad school thing can get in the way. I think I only managed that one week last semester. Oh well. My weight was still heading in the right direction before winter break hit and the rec center stopped offering classes. And then there’s the sleep deprivation from being jerked around between early morning and late night shifts at work and the leftover cookies in the back office. The drive for sugar as a temporary source of energy isn’t doing me any favors either.

To bring this post back around, VB6 reminded me that eating something closer to a vegetarian diet is what works best for me. I’m not someone who will make a main course and various sides to go with it. My vegetables have to be incorporated into the main dish or they won’t even leave the grocery store with me. I’m not strictly following the concept of eating vegan meals before dinnertime. I’ll have half and half in my coffee or eggs in my cornbread, but I’ll try to make two out of three meals a day vegetarian at least.

And by vegetarian I don’t mean slapping a machine-processed veggie patty on a bun, I mean soaking a pound of dry beans, sauteing some onion and garlic before adding the beans to the pot with water, cooking them, and towards the end tossing in some red pepper flakes and three pounds of kale. Or sauteing onion, garlic, sweet potato, black beans, red peppers, and various seasonings before adding a cornbread topping (my lunches this week). I’m trying to come back to living by Michael Pollan’s words “Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.”

If you have loved ones suffering from heart disease, this mindset also ensures that you are following the Mediterranean Diet (recommended by the American Heart Association) or the DASH diet for those with hypertension. How very convenient.

Unfortunately, all of my recipes come from blogs that I follow so I can’t post them here, but I’ll try to make more of an effort to share links to my favorites as they are consumed.

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