Without sickness, how would you know health?
– Steve Ross, Happy Yoga
This quote from Steve grabbed me. He was referring to opposites in partner yoga, explaining how all opposites join to represent a union, in essence the union of yoga. Yoga has more than transformed my physical and mental health, in addition to quieting my mind through meditation and my daily habit of eating mostly vegetables, grains and fruits. I admire those who have always been on this path, however I don’t think I would understand the true benefits of my good health had I not been severely overweight and slightly addicted to alcohol a few years back.
So, here’s my story.
In 2003 I met and fell in love with an open-minded meat eater (AKA loves vegetables but is not interested in becoming a vegetarian) . On our first date, I told him I was a vegetarian and would not be changing, and that was pretty much the only time we discussed it. We moved around a few times, and throughout our marriage began to feel a lot of the normal stresses in life, all of the stresses that truly do not matter. But at the time, work, money, home repairs and renovations, social responsibilities, and relationships began to overcome us, and the next thing we knew, we were drinking and eating our health away. Enter in weight gain of approximately 100 pounds between the two of us, more stress, sleepless nights, grumpiness, low creativity, low sex drive… Sounds appealing, huh?
Fast forward to 2011, our wake-up call happened. It was a horrible wake-up call, but one none-the-less. A friend of my husband’s passed away from cancer after battling for many months. My husband was distraught, and dove head first into the world of cancer research, why we get it, how to prevent it, and what to do about it. Those Google searches led him into a binge weekend of documentary watching (Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead & The Gerson Miracle among others), and more research on overall health and cancer prevention. He decided to give up all animal products that day, and he pretty much has not looked back. At first, I was not comfortable with being on board (how can anyone live without goat cheese???) but decided to give it a try. And I’ve never looked back. I’ve never felt healthier.
I would love to say I’ve always lived this life, but that’s not true. I know what it’s like to shop at a plus sized store, to be told that your favorite clothing store only sells “clothes for big and big, big girls online” to be too scared to join a fitness or yoga class because everyone else is seemingly fit and happy, to be told by your doctor that you have high cholesterol and high blood pressure. On the other hand, I also had a dietician tell me to replace my nightly red wine intake with diet coke. A nutritionist. I’m not kidding. Maybe don’t drink so much red wine. But diet coke, is this a joke?
Always, always, always use your best judgement. If it comes in a box, it’s probably not good for you. And just because someone has credentials doesn’t mean they get it.
Going vegan didn’t magically change our lives overnight. We did feel incredibly better almost immediately, but it took a good two to three years to become physically healthy, thanks to giving up processed foods, not eating out much, and mostly to giving up alcohol in 2013, which should be a whole other blog post, as well as moderate exercise. He bikes, walks and practices yoga, and I just do the latter. I reached my goal BMI in 2013 and I cried tears of joy. I know BMI is not for everyone, but it meant the world to me to no longer be in the overweight category.
How to stay focused.
Even though most of this site is dedicated to vegan restaurants and dishes while eating out, I try not to eat out. Not when I’m home at least. I try to limit it to once a week with my husband and once a week with another family member, coworker or a friend. Even when traveling I stop at a grocery store and make sure my hotel room comes with a mini-fridge to ensure at least one meal a day is made by me without added oils and to ensure my snacks are healthy.
My rules are simple: eat mostly vegetables, fruits, legumes and grains. Don’t add too many oils. If it comes in a package, try to avoid it. Practice yoga or meditation daily, and be thankful for everything this life has provided.
And indulge every once in awhile. My favorite vegan restaurant in my new home town makes the best desserts, and you’d better believe we each grab one on our date nights. For us, we no longer indulge in alcohol and are such clearer thinkers without it. I love not drinking. I did lose a few friends over it. Turns out not all friends are healthy. The best friends support you and encourage you. The ones that don’t are no longer in my life, leaving me with more time for reflection, meditation and yoga. Win, win.
I encourage everyone to push themselves and try to lead their healthiest lives. I can be a little annoying about it, but it’s my passion and I truly know both sides of the coin. I know sickness, and now I know health. If you want to know more, please email me at email@example.com. I’m in love with this life and am eager to share and learn from you.