Irish gal living the American dream in Austin, Texas y'all!

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Month one done: I still wanna be a hippy

My hippy month is over.. except It's kinda not. I did survive the month, and I was expecting to want to head to the nearest steakhouse last Sunday, but no.. I still haven't eaten any meat. So, I survived in the end, despite majorly struggling with tiredness like I mentioned last time.

Kale smoothies were the saving of me..Here's the one I'm making . I'm a lot less tired and until I started making them, I was hanging on till the month was over. Weirdly, I now have no desire to eat cheese or any dairy... I kinda do want a juicy piece of meat, that's all. Maybe iron deficiency??
BUT I confess that I did break my veganism for Thanksgiving! The food I made was kinda icky so I had some mashed taters and other vegetarian stuff that had butter and cheese in it.

Doubt this would make it into Jamie's kitchen

I can forgive myself though; it's fairly tough being surrounded by food all day that you can't eat.

So, can I do it longterm? 

I'm gonna try.

I was a vegetarian as a teenager and I kept it up for 5 years until the morning after a night out on the town (my 18th birthday), a sausage sandwich managed to make its way into my gob..and a mighty cure it was! I was anemic despite taking those awful iron tablets and I don't think my diet was good enough. I was a picky enough eater but I would eat anything now, so I don't think It'll be much of an issue. If the doc tells me otherwise next time I get a blood test though, I will rethink it coz I definitely won't take supplements. You should be able to get all the nourishment you need from food, that's my thinking anyways.

I went vegetarian for ethical reasons. I wanted to be a vet and I thought it would be hypocritical to eat animals  and also want to help them. I also saw a disturbing documentary on how pigs are reared for meat. I'm not going to force this information on anyone, that's what Google is for. What kills me about pigs is that they are actually very intelligent animals. Chickens, sheep and cows are a different story so I don't have as many issues with eating them.

This month's challenge wasn't brought on by my guilt per se but I have decided that I won't eat pig products again. I also really really want a pet piggie one day... so it'd be a bit funny to be eating its cousins :)

Cutest thing ever
Yes, I think that eating animals was probably a big reason why we rose to the top of the food chain and was key for evolution, and if I lived in Ireland, my issues with meat probably wouldn't have spurred me to keep eating vegan as much as possible. But it really bothers me that you see advertising campaigns in america for ''grass-fed'' beef. Say this to anyone in Ireland and they'd look at ya and say, ''sure what else would they be eating?'' Well, surprisingly few are exclusively fed grass (read more about it here).

I also read in a proper science article this month (i.e. a trusted source) that 73% of antibiotics consumed in America are consumed by animals.. isn't that kinda ridiculous and disgusting? Again, I don't want to push my opinion/ the facts on people but if ya want to know more about the link between antibiotic resistance and meat, read this and this.

So, I'm going to eat vegan for the mostpart but I won't say no to my mother's food (we have eggs fresh from the hen's arse!). If I eat meat, it'll be from a cow that roamed the fields. Eating that kinda meat would be fairly pricey here so about once a month I'll go to Whole Foods (expensive supermarket) and get something good.

Things I didn't know before veganism

One thing you mightn't know about veganism till ya try it.. there are repercussions for dramatically increasing the amount of beans ya eat!  I made this chilli and apparently everyone knows what chili does to you. Here's a hint: beans, beans are good for your heart, the more you eat, the more you *art. Apologies to Mr Man if ur reading this.. hope you didn't think I was a lady. Moral of the story, beans are key for vegan survival but gradually increasing the amount of beans in the diet would be a good idea.

Another thing this month made me realize is that it's the fat in foods that makes you feel satisfied. This was learned though evenings of scavenging the kitchen for food every half an hour. Vegan fats to include in all meals can be nuts or avocado on a salad or using coconut milk in a curry. Or dark chocolate with the tea.

So how did I get on with the yoga?

I was attempting to do yoga every day for a month,or practicing as the yogis call it. My confession numero uno is that I was supposed to start my year of experimenting in September, with Bikram yoga, and it was a flop.

It you're wondering what the feck Bikram yoga is then I'll share my limited knowledge  It follows a sequence of 26 postures (the same 26 every time, see here), it lasts 90 mins and It's in a 110 degree room.. ah that's 43 degrees celcius. Basically it'll like having no air conditioning in Texas in August ;)

How did I think this was a good idea? Well, a certain Ms O'Donovan might think that I just love torturing myself but I'm also easily talked into trying new things so my friend Esteban invited to join him for a class, so I did. I went to 4 classes total. And that was that.

I got used to the nakedness (not total but you wear as little as possible).


Believe it or not the heat wasn't as bad after the first class (the first one was terrible), and I finished every class fairly proud of myself for surviving and attempting every posture. Some things you mightn't expect: even if you feel like you'll pass out, you aren't allowed to leave the room. You just lie on your mat. I think it's incase you faint outside.. kinda scary though. 90 mins and I'm trapped..eeeekk!

The smell is absolutely foul. The only way I can describe it is in relation to a smell of dog. Stale, sweaty wet dogs in a confined space X 100. You can even smell it from the street. After a while you get used to it. They don't recommend you wiping your sweat off coz It's supposed to help keep you cool.. I'm not convinced!

To cut a long story short, it wasn't for me. It was too intense. My job is stressful enough and after a summer of worrying about drinking enough water (with the running in the heat), I didn't want to spend my days constantly drinking water again. The classes are too structured too, the same sequence, the instructors all even say the exact same things, it's too regimental, for me that is.  Some people swear by it. Each to their own, at least my curiosity is now satisfied.

So I still wanted to give yoga a shot, since it's supposed to be relaxing and help prevent injuries and I actually did it every day for November.. and really liked it. Yoga has lots of benefits but if you're thinking of starting, here is a good article of he risks as well as rewards of yoga.

I did it through online classes, two websites I'd highly recommend are Doyogawithme and Reflexion Yoga. Yoga definitely can be super relaxing and mellow but it doesn't have to be. Doyogawithme has more relaxing ones (for beginners at least) so if I wanted to do one just before bed, I'd do one of these. The classes can be as short as 10 mins. On Thanksgiving, I still hadn't done it when I got home around midnight and did a 15 min class, just to stick to my everyday challenge!

Reflexion yoga has more proper sweaty workouts.. give it a lash! Free 15 day trial and It's only 12 buckaroos a month for unlimited classes. once you've gone to a few classes in person to learn how to do the basic poses right, I think the at-home classes are just as good as the real deal. is totally free by the way. I really like the flexibility of not having to leave the house sometimes too.. and unlike running, you can pretty much do it on a full belly, or right before going to sleep.

Keep an eye out for free classes too.. Austin is kinda a haven for the hippy types, so there's nearly always free classes somewhere in town. I go to a free one on Sunday's at Luke's Locker. I'd give it the two thumbs up.

If you don't like a particular class or instructor though but still like the idea of yoga, then definitely try a few more. I went to a terrible class 2 weeks ago.. it was seriously hippy in a bad way. I'd never been to a class with music and her choice was bad! Gipsy Kings and Ace of Base while we are supposedly connecting with our breath.. are you having a larf!

She goes 20 mins in to class and says ''If you didn't pick up your feather on the way in, please go grab one now''. Say what now? I was intrigued as to what was coming next when she pipes up.. I want you to hold the feather up and then watch it as it drops to the ground. Now, I want you to embody that feather. Serious eye-rolling ensued. Oh, and I saved the best part till last. We had imagine all our troubles were a ball of clay and then to smear said clay ball all over ourselves and then vigorously shake it off. Stupid. Asking you to recount all your problems is ridiculous, and to me counter-prouductive. And don't get me started on the clay! But hey, it was an experience, glad I went. It's good to know what you don't like too :)

So, what did I learn/achieve from yoga?

Firstly, I learned that yoga is a genuine form of exercise! I used to think that yoga was for people who were too lazy to actually do cardio exercise, but it's alot harder than I expected. I learned that I have a lot of work to do to even attmot 99% of the yoga poses but that's not a bad thing. Yoga takes years to build up. I like that it's non competitive and you are only doing it for yourself. People that have done yoga for years still struggle with certain postures so I like the idea of you always seeking don't reach a peak at a certain age or whatever.

I attempted this today.. Oh I am sooo far off being able for this!

I have more upper body strength.. got me some guns now (very little ones mind, hardly lethal weapons).
My legs are stronger. I went for a run with my running group a few weeks back and although I was puffing and panting more, when I went to sprint at the end my legs felt wayyyy stronger.. yoga has a lot of lunge holds. I expected my injuries (calve and foot half marathon injuries) to feel better, but not really yet.

I probably put on a pound or two.

I think my circulation has improved. I am always cold, and I didn't need to get extra layers at work as often. Might be the extra insulation on me too :)

My finger after biking with TWO pairs of gloves
So I'll keep it up, maybe 3 days a week and get back to the running a bit more.
Speaking of which, I have a race next weekend, at the formula one track! How cool is that?! I have no intention of going to see F1 but It'll be really cool to see the track! The month off running means the 10K will be a struggle but it'll be a good time since there's a few of us running together. See, excited!!

So, what's up next?! 

Dancing! Well I haven't actually done anything yet, but I will now that I've written it here! I love dancing and I'd like to actually have a move or two so I bought a Groupon and I'm gonna go tomorrow and aim for 3 classes a week, unless they ban me for crushing too many toes ;)

My other thing I wanna do this month is to call up all my close friends/family. It's really hard to stay in touch when you're on a different timezone than most of your peeps and Facebook/email are no substitute for real conversation. This'll be a good way too to ward of loneliness since I'm not going home for Christmas.

Wowee, sorry for the long post! As a reward for getting to the end, here is a fetching pic of me.

Hope y'all have a great week and as the yanks say, ''Happy Holidays''!

chilly willy

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