Living a Cruelty-Free Life

February is almost over and I’m continuing to embrace change and transformation. Some of the goals I set out for myself at the beginning of January and February were not met, but they were replaced with greater and more permanent forming habits. January was more about shifting my mindset and gaining focus and starting the routines I want to keep with me. February has been about setting goals and making a plan on how to achieve them. These new practices are really all derived from one main idea: I want to take care of my body, mind, and soul.

One way I’ve decided to do this is to shift into a cruelty-free lifestyle. It’s been something I’ve contemplated for a while, but I was motivated by my friend Lindsey over at Listy Lemon and her post about making the cruelty-free switch in cosmetics and skin care. It makes the journey for me easier when I know there are other people in my life with the same ideas.

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What this means for me personally is that I no longer wish to purchase products that are tested on animals. In my opinion, my dollar is a vote. When at all possible, I want to use the money I earn to support businesses that share my beliefs. There may be times where I am not able to follow this, but I’d like to do what I can. When it comes to cosmetics and cleaning products, I’ve discovered how many options there are that don’t involve harming animals. With a quick Google search I found so many blogs that are rich in information on cruelty-free brands. Cruelty-Free Kitty is one of my favorites to visit for an easy answer. PETA’s website also has a super easy resource for discovering if a brand is cruelty-free or not.

Shopping cruelty-free can be different for everyone. There are some companies that do not test on animals but are owned by a parent company that does. An example of this would be Urban Decay, which is owned by L’Oreal. There are some people who choose to buy from fully cruelty-free brands, and some who use their voice and money to support the cruelty-free company and not the parent company. I’m more aligned with the latter group; it’s a less-limiting way to shop, and I’m still showing the parent company which products I would rather purchase.

I have a lot of makeup products that still have plenty of use left. The money is already spent, therefore I see wasting it as worse than the purchase I made when I wasn’t shopping mindfully. However, any new cosmetics, skin care, and even cleaning supplies I buy from now on will be smarter purchases. With resources like the two I listed above, it’s incredibly easy to find products that don’t harm innocent animals.

Another way I’ve chosen to live more mindfully is changing my diet to a vegetarian one. For years I’ve watched all the documentaries on Netflix, Food Inc., Hungry for Change, Fat, Sick, and Nearly Dead, and more. I’ve known how bad our food industry is and especially when it comes to meat. I’ve seen the videos of chickens being mistreated, and I know about the added hormones and preservatives. For so long I’ve turned a blind eye to not only the treatment of animals before they become my dinner, but also the way eating meat makes me feel physically.

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Don’t get me wrong, I love Chick-Fil-A, Big Macs, and bacon. Never say never, so maybe I’ll eat meat again someday, but I do know that from a health standpoint I feel much better when I don’t eat a lot of it, even when it’s something I’ve prepared at home. As of recently, every time I eat meat (especially red meat) I feel sick and sluggish. As far as my diet goes, at this time I don’t have any plans on going completely vegan. Honestly, it’s about my own comfort socially and financially. I think I would like to eventually make the transition to veganism someday, but that isn’t in my plan currently.

As a strong animal lover, I’ve always struggled with knowing where my meal came from. So far the decision has been an easy one. I still think fondly of meat-lead meals I’ve enjoyed in the past, but I don’t crave them. It makes me much happier to know I’m making a small impact on the world. Not only am I not supporting the treatment of these animals, I’m not supporting the incredible destruction of our planet by animal agriculture. 

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There are enough things I do every day that aren’t good for the environment; I drive a car, I don’t recycle (that’s not entirely my fault when my apartment complex doesn’t have recycling bins), I use aerosol hairspray, etc. Despite this,  I have switched from using pads and tampons to a reusable menstrual cup, I recycle whenever I can at work, and cutting out meat is another way of being kind to the planet.

With my new spiritual views, I no longer feel right morally harming another creature for my own gain. Having opposable thumbs doesn’t make me superior to my dog or the cows that are sent off to make steaks. As I live a more positive life, I can’t do that when I’m knowingly supporting the food products or cosmetics that are so negatively created.

Part of me wants to assure you that I won’t be the stereotypical vocal vegetarian: you know, the one all the jokes are about. The other part of me remembers that I’ve never been subtle about anything, so why should my diet be any different? I remain, as I have become, a straight-edge, democratic, hippie, vegetarian feminist.

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What Does it Mean to Be Healthy?

I’ve written a lot of posts about rebooting my health goals. Like, a lot. Like here, here, also here, and you get the picture. It’s not that I just stop caring about my health; it just gets hard. Even when I stop eating what’s good for me or lower my activity level, I’m constantly thinking about how good I felt. But let’s be honest with ourselves: “health” isn’t just diet and exercise.

I’ve done a lot of diets and workouts and weigh-ins and measuring and counting. That’s great if that’s what you want or need. To me, my health is not defined by numbers anymore. It also isn’t just about food. Mental health is just as important as physical health.

What does “healthy” mean to me?

  • not biting my nails
  • keeping a consistent schedule
  • hydration
  • not eating only junk food
  • raising my activity level
  • giving myself love and grace
  • not hitting the snooze button

These don’t sound like the epitome of health, do they? But listen, they’re all steps. Having scrambled eggs and sausage for breakfast is better than ice cream (I may or may not have done that yesterday) and even opting out of my daily soda at lunch is a step to making my body happier. Making a turkey sandwich for work instead of stopping by McDonalds saves calories and money–a two-for-one deal!

I’ve never been a “snoozer.” I don’t know what happened recently (actually I do), but I don’t want to get out of bed when I have to. I reset my alarm for a later time and get ready for work at the last minute. I always feel so much better when I just get up and start my day, plus I get to have time to write before work.

Like I said, my health is not defined by numbers. I don’t need to lose a certain number of pounds or eat a certain amount of calories or run this many miles a week. That puts too much pressure and anxiety on me if I don’t meet those numbers. I see nothing wrong with people who need those numeric goals, it definitely works. But that isn’t the best way to motivate me personally. My Fitbit step goal is really the only number I care about.

I’m so incredibly proud of the race medals I’ve earned. Even though I didn’t do as well as I wanted, running a half marathon or a 5k is a huge achievement for anyone. It’s like the quote that says, “No matter how slow you go, you’re still lapping everyone on the couch.” And that’s what I want for myself. Running is so rewarding to me, and after running (mostly walking) a half marathon last November, I got a little taste of the person I could be. I didn’t train like I had wanted to, and that is my biggest regret as far as my health goes. If I could comfortably run three or four miles, that would mean everything to me to be able to work harder for longer races.

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Last night, Enthusiasm asked me how badly I want to meet my goals. It made me think a lot about my past attempts. I won’t call them “failed,” but they were forgotten. Disney costumes are so unflattering, and I’m tired of looking down and seeing my stomach in the pants I wear at work. I know how to dress my body on my own time, but I want to feel better at work. I don’t want to hate myself or feel down about myself for one emotional reason or another. I want pretty fingernails again. I want to be happy and energetic again. Diet, activity, mindset, and consistency are all equal factors to finding peace with myself and my health.

Being healthy, both emotionally and physically, is hard. Creating and keeping healthy habits takes time, but I know just as well as anyone else that it’s so incredibly worth it. So here I am, starting again. I’m picking up where I left off with my health and doing my best to make a better physical and emotional situation for myself.

Eating in the DCP?

From older blog posts, you know I have been on a journey to change my diet and health lifestyle. It’s had its ups and downs, for sure, but I’m actually quite proud of what I’ve done. Even times where I haven’t stuck completely with health, I’ve made up for it with other things. Because I haven’t been working out like I wish I would, eating less than I normally would have and trying to make better decisions has made all the difference. 

There’s no way I won’t eat cake if we  have it. Or have a soda if I’m out with friends at dinner. But the trick is not getting a refill, or not eating ALL the cake we have. That’s what has made me able to maintain the weight I have been at for so long. NOT gaining back everything I lost over the summer is much more important than losing more. 
But, with that said, I WOULD like to get under 200 pounds before I move off on my own to Florida. Life will be so busy and tiring, I can only imagine I will NOT go to the gym like I would like to. If I go at all. But I have decided on a grocery list already that will help not feel so bad about what I eat while I’m down there. I’m hoping eating not-awfully will be easier than I think. With two of my roommates NOT eating any kind of gluten, and one not eating red meat, I think it will be easier to not buy those things in the first place. Not to buy Oreos and M&Ms and Lucky Charms and ice cream, but to get better options to at least keep around the apartment. If I don’t buy it, I won’t eat it, and won’t really even crave it. 
In the parks, it’s another story. I will still most likely eat whatever when I go there. But what is most important to me is to keep food AT HOME that is good for me. 

Health and Lifestyle Updates

So many things I want to talk about…and knowing me, I’ll probably forget half of them before I publish this post. But I’ll write what I can and either edit later or just write a second post. I HAVE ADHD, OKAY!?!!

First off, I completed the first week of the ShayLoss Five Week Challenge! In reality, the “challenge” is more of a motivation to continue what I have already been doing since May than any actual challenge. It’s been a way to keep going, and stay accountable because I’ve been blogging more and making videos about weight loss.  As far as any extra exercise, I haven’t been doing it. I’ve really just been doing everything gradually and seeing what is going to work for me in changing my lifestyle.

Things I’ve changed this week:

  • I started doing weight workouts. 
            I hadn’t been concerned at all about doing weights, mainly because I haven’t known exactly what to do or how much to do it. Pinterest has been a great help for that and now I am adding arm workouts at home or at the gym to my activity. 
  • I started juicing.
           Obviously, I’ve blogged about this and made videos. But This is MY update, and I can say what I want.  So I started juicing after visiting our AWESOME juice bar. It’s also a way for me to get more vegetables in my diet. I really love it and it fills me up even more than my morning smoothies seem to. 
  • As I have been since May, I’ve started cutting back on portions.
           When I first began this change, I started with just doing smoothies. After I felt comfortable with that, we got rid of packaged foods. Once I got comfortable with that, we substituted things or got rid of things altogether, etc.  Today I decided to try and not snack quite so much. I felt like I snacked a lot yesterday, even if it WAS better snacks, and would just like to do better.  So the next best thing is just to re-evaluate how much food my body ACTUALLY needs me to consume. 
My eventual goal would be to do more juicing or something equally intense and good. Be able to cut out bread (even Ezekiel Bread) just a little bit more than I already am, and see what happens. I’m trying to do research about juicing while training for half marathons, because I don’t know whether or not I should wait until after my Tower of Terror Run to do anything TOO intense, or if juice will still give me what I need. 
I found a GREAT idea on Runningonjuice.com that I think could be very doable for a meal or two, and maybe still eat a “normal” meal in between. They juiced, then put it in a blender with protein powder, coconut water, and CHIA SEEDS. I will definitely be trying this in the morning. I know Chia Seeds are SO great for you. 
Another thing I found in my research are some good quotes:

“My body is THRIVING (not surviving!) on freshly extracted juice from a wide array of fruits and vegetables.”

“…think of juicing as a ‘gateway drug’ to better health and eating clean.”

I also found the idea to “reestablish a RELATIONSHIP with clean food.” That’s something I’ve never had: a RELATIONSHIP with clean food. Isn’t that a neat thought?!?!

This evening, I was watching old ShayLoss videos in the kitchen and Shay said, “If you want to be fat, do what fat people do. If you want to be skinny, do what skinny people do.” My mom and I just thought, “WOW.” It’s such a “duh” idea, but to hear it SAID just made it click.

Mom also said, “We’re going to look so different in our family pictures at Disney in October. We’re going to be THOSE people. The people who DID IT.” And I can’t wait to be THAT person. To look back at this journey and say, “I’m SO GLAD I didn’t give up when I wanted to.” I already feel like such a better person than I did five weeks ago.

Since today on ShayLoss it was an update day, here are my measurements. I wanted them side-by-side the old ones, so if there are two, it means there was a change. If not, I stayed the same in that area. Made some good progress in a week! I’m definitely proud of myself.

Like I said…I knew I would forget my thoughts. But there’s a great deal of them!! 

ShayLoss Five Week Challenge Day 3

Today on ShayLoss, it’s recipe day. So I thought I would write out a few recipes of my own. Since I have several I want to post, I’ll do different types of recipes each week during these five weeks. I may have several in one post, or just one. But I’ll try and do a new one each week until August. 

Week 1: breakfast (smoothies)
Week 2: lunch
Week 3: snacks and “desserts”
Week 4: dinner
Week 5: ??
Smoothies::
Smoothies are my favorite thing. I usually have one for breakfast and one for dinner. They’re probably one of the easiest, healthiest things besides just acting raw fruit. I know it all depends what you put in it, but it’s great to stay in track, especially if you’re busy. 
My two favorite smoothies are strawberry and “Dole Whip”
For the strawberry, it’s literally strawberries, water, protein powder. I also add flax seed to my smoothies, because its great for your metabolism. Sometimes I’ll add some vanilla or something, but that’s only if I’m feeling really fancy. I don’t usually add milk or almond milk to it, just to save calories. The protein powder gives it a good texture. I’ve heard adding frozen bananas to a smoothie will make it more creamy. 
My “Dole Whip” smoothie is pineapple, half almond milk and half water, lemon juice, and protein powder. It tastes just like a Dole Whip from Disney World. I’m not a HUGE fan of pineapple, but it’s a little taste of Disney when I’m waiting for our next trip. 
None of my smoothies have measurements. I just eyeball it and wing it. So don’t be afraid to get creative with it! There are endless possibilities for smoothie making.