What’s Going On With My Body?

These past two weeks have been something. Has anybody felt a shift in their mood or their health? Because I know I sure have.

Some people have said they felt a shift after the eclipse happened, and others have told me it’s because Mercury is in retrograde (I had to look it up). I don’t know if I believe in all of the astrology hoopla, but I know that I do get antsy and feel a hormonal shift with the changing seasons.

About two weeks ago (August 15th to be exact) I started feeling unnecessarily moody and anxious. I couldn’t really place my finger on anything that was different or out of the norm for my daily schedule that I should be stressed about, so I just kind of let it slide without a thought.

But that week my work schedule changed and I went from working 2 days a week to 4 days. I know that doesn’t seem like a lot, but for me it can be mentally tiring. That same week we attended a summer outing for Brendan’s work, and since I don’t always like social gatherings that might have made me feel a little on edge.

Anyway, it was that Thursday night (August 17) that a rash started to appear on my body.

My neck and eyes started itching and I thought it might be an allergic reaction to something. Besides the mild itching and inflammation there were no other symptoms, so Brendan gave me some of his allergy medicine and we went to bed hoping the itch would be gone in the morning.

Well, it didn’t go away and it only got worse as the weekend and week progressed. Friday night I was also fighting an anxiety attack, so that weekend was just a big mess.

The rash ended up spreading all over my body – neck, chest, arms, torso, legs, etc. Thankfully my face stayed clear!

 

This was just the beginning stages of the rash. I didn’t take pictures once it got worse.
Enter a caption


I sent a picture of the rash to my mom, and she thought that it looked like it could be poison ivy. I used to get poison ivy as a kid and there were a couple of times I had to go to the doctor because it spread to my face. But I haven’t had a rash from poison ivy since I was 15, and I couldn’t think of where I would have gotten it from. Besides, this rash looked more like hives to me – small red bumps all over my body, not blisters like I usually get with poison ivy.

If it was an allergic reaction to something, I couldn’t figure out what I would be having a reaction to. As far as I know I’m not allergic to anything, and I hadn’t tried any new foods or used any new health or beauty products.

The only thing that I thought likely to be the culprit was a natural flea/tick spray that we bought for Cheetah (my cat). The only ingredient in the spray I thought might have caused irritation was the sodium sulfate in it. But even that seemed unlikely.

Now, if you know me you know that I avoid going to the doctor at all costs. Like, it has to be a state of emergency for me to willingly go. I just really didn’t want to have sit in a waiting room where I could end up catching something else for hours only to have the doctor tell me that it was poison ivy/hives and have them give me a steroid. While a steroid might have helped by decreasing the inflammation it would have also reduced the activity of my immune system, and I didn’t want to risk catching something else because my immune system was weakened.

So, I set out to do my research on natural holistic ways to cure poison ivy/hives.

On Sunday (August 20th), Brendan and I did a little shopping to get a few things to hopefully help bring healing to my body. Luckily, I’ve been working on stocking my natural medicine cabinet this year and already had a decent amount of things on hand.

I bought the Be Gone Poison Ivy just in case, the Nettle tea to help with allergies, and the Taza chocolate just because 🙂

I tried just about everything for this rash. I used cut up cucumbers to rub on the rash, Raw Apple Cider Vinegar, Essential Oils, an oatmeal bath, baking soda, aloe vera gel, homemade calendula salve, etc. And while all of these things helped in their own way, I quickly realized that this rash was going to have to run it’s course.

Soothing Lavender Oatmeal Bath

We did eventually buy some Benadryl for me to take to see if the antihistamine would help. I really didn’t want to take it because the Walmart brand we first looked at had gelatin in it (that was a big no-go) and the Benadryl brand has D&C red no. 27 aluminum lake and other useless synthetic chemicals and dyes in it. But at that point I figured taking a couple of pills wouldn’t do too much damage to my body.

I honestly hate the fact that you can’t easily find medicines that don’t include some kind of chemical or dye in them. I was reading that most of the time D&C red no. 27 aluminum lake is used simply to add color. Do we really need a Benadryl to be bright pink? No, we don’t. And we don’t need to be ingesting aluminum either.

Anyway, I took the Benadryl on Wednesday night (August 23rd) and then again before work on Thursday morning. The Benadryl made me feel drowsy, light headed, and a little dizzy. I felt ‘bleh’ all day.

I showed one of my co-workers my rash (she is getting her Masters in Public Health with a concentration in infectious diseases) because I figured she could give me advice on what it was and if I should go to a doctor or not. She said she thought it looked a lot like a stress rash and said she had had one similar herself.

My rash ended up improving by Friday (August 25th), a week after it had first appeared. The burning inflammation and itching subsided and started to dry up and I started feeling a lot better.

Whether or not the rash was caused by stress, it certainly brought my attention to the fact that I need to be taking care of myself, both physically and mentally.

Even though the rash was a bit painful and inconvenient (especially because I had to wear long sleeves and and jeans at work to cover it up, which irritated it more), I learned a lot about poison ivy, hives, and stress from all of the research that I did. I also learned the importance of being patient and in tune with my body. So I don’t look at this as a bad thing.

While I am thankful for modern medicine and the doctors that we have today, I feel that too many people overuse medicines like antibiotics and steroids. It would be wonderful to see more people taking the time to get to know their body and how it works and responds to the world around it, so that they could better take care of themselves instead of running to the doctor at the first sign of something as simple as a cold.

Here is a more detailed list of some of the items I used to try and bring healing to my rash naturally:

  • Cucumber – I placed these on my eyelids and rubbed them on my arms for a soothing affect.
  • Witch Hazel – I applied Witch Hazel daily all over my body. Witch Hazel is an astringent and is soothing and can promote healing.
  • Tea Tree Oil – My grandma taught me about the amazing benefits of Tea Tree Oil years ago. She always used it to help stop the itch from bug bites. I used this all over my body (sparingly on and near my face), and while it did sting at first it brought great relief from the itching.
  • Lavender Oil – I used this the same way I did the Tea Tree Oil. I liked using the Lavender Oil at night to help me feel more relaxed and at ease at bed time.
  • Raw Apple Cider Vinegar – Seriously, what can’t ACV do?! I applied the Raw ACV with a cotton ball all over my body to help soothe the itch and inflammation and to help draw out toxins. And even though it was a bit strong and smelly, it felt wonderful and took the itch away.
  • Baking Soda – I dissolved baking soda in a bath to help draw out toxins.
  • Oatmeal Bath – I placed some organic oats in a tea towel, tied it up, and let the faucet run over them to create a nice soothing milky bath.
  • Nettle Tea – I don’t know if the tea helped or not, but Nettle is known to help with allergies, so I thought I’d give it a try. Plus, it tastes good!
  • Aloe Vera Gel – Aloe Vera is great for soothing skin and easing inflammation.
  • Cold Compress – During the last days I had the rash they burned more than itched, so a cold compress felt wonderful.
  • Homemade Calendula Salve – I made this salve for bug bites, but it’s also great for cuts and turns out it helps with rashes too.

Have any of you ever had a stress rash/hives? I’d love to know if you have any tips on holistic healing and keeping stress at bay!

 

 

Advertisements

Last Summer

This time last year I was struggling with something that a lot of young women can relate to – body image and anxiety.

During the beginning of 2016 I was feeling beautiful and confident in my own skin. I was working out more regularly and I had lost weight leading up to my wedding day.

Between work, graduation, and wedding planning there were times when I was simply too busy to sit down and eat a real meal. Juices and smoothies became my go-to for lunches when I was out running errands. I ended up losing weight, but I was also feeling fit and healthy.

After our wedding, that all changed.

The week after our wedding was spent packing and getting ready to move into our new apartment. Again, there wasn’t much time to sit down and have big meals, so we were always eating quick bites on the go.

Once we had moved into our apartment and I had unpacked everything and got our little apartment all set up, I almost didn’t know what to do with myself and all of the free time I now had.

The days seemed to stretch out ahead of me with countless empty hours while Brendan was at work. I didn’t know how to fill these long lapses of time while Brendan was away, so I started watching television. Having television to watch was a treat for me since I didn’t have cable when I lived with my grandma the previous year.

Televison became my constant companion. I always left some show streaming all day long, whether I was actually giving it my full attention or not. It was comforting to me to have some background noise of human interaction on.

I was excited to be married and living in a new city with Brendan. But I was also scared and lonely, and this resulted in me feeling depressed and very anxious all of the time.

I started to feel so alone and craving time and interaction with other people (rare for an introvert like me). It didn’t help that our small apartment got little to no sunlight due to the fact that our windows faced a parking garage. I never knew if it was sunny outside or not.

My mood quickly began to reflect the view I saw outside that window – dark, cold, gray, and ugly. I built up walls and literally made a prison for myself. For some reason I was scared to go outside in this unfamiliar city without Brendan by my side. I cry a little on the inside every time I think of how I isolated myself.

I craved going back home and visiting my family. I felt safe and comfortable there, and it was nice to have others to talk to.

I remember being excited to go to the dentist and be around other people. My hygienist complemented my hair, and I thought about that all day long and how good it made me feel.

I eventually found my way back to journaling and blogging and that helped me with getting my feelings and frustrations out. It also helped me to understand myself a little bit better.

I started going to Starbucks to sit outside in the sun to read and write. But this didn’t cure me of all of my woes.

July came and my body image came to an all-time low. I gained weight after the wedding and I began to hate my body and beat myself up for eating more than I had earlier in the year. I took up going to the gym to work out. I felt better at first. I started going to the gym at least 5 times a week and would work out at least 2 hours while I was there. It gave me something to do and helped the hours go by while Brendan was at work (4 p.m. – 12 a.m.).

I began to develop more muscle and as a result I weighed more. This crushed me. I couldn’t shake the number on the scale and the fact that my pants fit tighter. I had also become obsessed with tracking calories again and how many steps I was getting.

This immediately took me back to when I was a teenager, counting every single calorie and on the verge of an eating disorder.

I started regularly having anxiety attacks and would break down crying in Brendan’s arms. I hated looking in the mirror and I wanted to wear clothes that would hide my body.

One evening that really sticks out to me was at the end of August (2016).

Brendan and I had decided to go to Liberty University for a movie night they were having as a way to kick off the new school year, and I was feeling so defeated with my body that evening. Everything I tried on I hated – I felt bloated, fat, and disgusting. The worst part was that I knew we would end up seeing some of Brendan’s former co-workers on campus and I didn’t want them to see me looking the way I did.

Isn’t it stupid?! In my mind I thought I needed to be thinner and prettier, and I felt like I didn’t deserve Brendan. In reality, I’m sure nobody would have even noticed that I had gained a few pounds. I cried before we left our apartment that evening, and we almost didn’t go because of me.

When September rolled around I knew that I couldn’t go on like that much longer. I decided to stop weighing myself everyday and stop looking in the mirror to constantly pick myself apart. I also stopped wearing my Fitbit, gave up tracking calories on MyFitnessPal, and cut down my gym time to just 3 times a week.

And with these changes I felt the shackles loosen and fall off.

Of course, it didn’t happen over night. After a few weeks I started to realize that I wasn’t focusing on the reflection in the mirror anymore and I was actually starting to enjoy my food again.

I’d say it took anywhere from a month to a month and a half for me to start really feeling better. It took hard work and dedication, a change in my mindset, and the support of my husband.

I never really told anyone else besides Brendan that I was struggling. Body image and anxiety can be a difficult thing to talk about and trying to explain it to people can be even harder.

Those were some very dark days for me, and it hurts me to think about how I beat myself up so much. It hurts to write about it too, but I feel like it’s important for me to share where I’ve been.

Thankfully I am in a much better place now – body, mind, and spirit.

I didn’t write this post because I want people to feel sorry for me. I wrote it in the hopes that it might help somebody else out there that is dealing with something similar.

I’m still learning that it’s okay to not always feel okay. Television and social media are always showing us these beautiful little snapshots of people’s lives, and we don’t always see what’s going on on the inside. The important thing to remember is that we’re all human and none of us will ever lead a perfect life.

Learn to listen to your body and its needs. Surround yourself with a support system – even if it’s just one person you can confide in. And don’t be afraid to ask for help when you need it.

Take care of yourself because you are worth it!

 

 

Saturday – Breathe Easy

Today was exactly the type of day I needed. It’s Saturday, and it’s the first Saturday I’ve had off since I started my new job. After a hectic week dealing with Valentine’s Day in the world of retail, I needed a day to unwind, start fresh, spend time out in nature, and simply let go.

This morning I slept in until 9 a.m., I had some homemade vegan vanilla chai pancakes, read a little bit of Make Your Own Rules Diet by Tara Stiles (loving it so far), showered, and then got ready to go on a long walk on the Greenway with Brendan. It was 70 degrees today and it felt more like mid-March instead of February.

I’ve been on a few walks through the park downtown recently, but it was so nice to get away from downtown and be more submerged in nature. Granted, there were more people around than I would have preferred, so it wasn’t as peaceful of a walk as it could have been. But it was still nice to get outside, soak up some rays from the sun, sip some homemade green juice, and just forget about all of the stress of everyday life.

Green juice: Kale, Spinach, Parsley, Cilantro, Celery, Grapefruit, Lemon, Ginger. 

We ended up walking to Black Dog Salvage in Grandin and looking around there for a little while. It was our first time going and there was so much to look at.

I want to have an area in my house like this! 
And like this – I need this space for my yoga practice. So peaceful. 


We ended up walking a little over 3 miles and it felt amazing. Even though I didn’t really work my body very hard, it felt like it was such a better workout than going to the gym. I was able to breathe in the fresh air, and listen to the sounds of nature instead of having music blasting through my ear buds. I need all of the fresh air, vitamin D, and green juice I can get these days since it seems like literally everyone is sick with either the flu or the norovirus. Why? Why do people always get so sick this time of year and just accept the fact that sickness will occur? I fight it with everything I have in me – that’s why I try to nourish my body with everything it needs to fight off any cold, flu, or virus that may come my way. But I’m getting off topic. I could go on and on about this, but I won’t (not on this post anyway).

Sculpture in the park on the Greenway. 

I felt so relaxed and rejuvenated when we got back home. I decided to do some hooping and then yoga while I was feeling all the positive vibes. The fresh air gave me an appetite for something homemade and healthy, so I had some of my left over vegan butternut squash curry and jasmine rice for dinner. Perfection.

Vegan Butternut Squash Curry.

I plan on spending the rest of this beautiful evening doing a few chores and watching a movie with my man. Four years ago today is the day Brendan told me he loved me for the first time (I said “I love you too”). I remember feeling such a rush of butterflies and excitement that night, and I just couldn’t focus on my schoolwork. He was the first guy to tell me he loved me, and I’m so thankful that I got to marry him. ❤

My love. 

Looking forward to another beautiful day off work tomorrow! Happy Saturday everyone!

Winter Wellness

Recently my blog posts have been focused on health, wellness, and nutrition. Health is something that has become increasingly important to me over the last 5 years and I have come to realize that I have a fiery passion for all things to do with nutrition and holistic healing.

As my blog continues to grow and develop, I want to do more series focused on health and wellness – whether that be my journey to veganism, holistic healing, or nutrition. If you visited my blog recently, you might have seen my series titled “Vegan Views” where I share my thoughts on a plant based diet, animal equality, and other issues related to a vegan lifestyle. Well, today I am excited to share a new series with you called “Winter Wellness”. Here I will be sharing my tips for naturally strengthening your immune system to help ward off the cold and flu this winter.

I will start by saying that by no means am I a professional when it comes to nutrition or holistic medicine – that’s not what I studied in college. However, I have done some research, read a lot of books on health and wellness, and am simply sharing what I have found works for me.

Today I wanted to share some of my “must-haves” that I always keep on hand to keep sickness at bay during the long cold winter months.

The last time I had the flu was in 2012 and the last time I had a cold was 2014 (knock on wood?). I have never gotten the flu vaccine and since I started putting more focus on my health and what I put into my body, I have realized that I am sick less often.

I didn’t really start caring about my health until my freshman year of college, but even then I didn’t always put my health first. With classes and homework assignments, I was lucky to have time to dash over to the dining hall to get something to eat. Since I had poor sleep habits, didn’t eat the healthiest, and was surrounded by roommates and classmates, I did unfortunately get sick a few times during the course of my college career.

My grandma has always been a big advocate for natural vitamins and herbal supplements. So she kept me informed and stocked up on what I needed to keep my immune system strong while I was in school. My roommates always laughed at me for having a drawer full of supplements, but there were a couple of times when they came to me when they were sick asking what they should take to make them feel better. Sadly, they didn’t realize the importance of strengthening their immune systems B E F O R E they got sick.

I do take a few different supplements, however I think it is of the utmost importance to eat a variety of different fruits, veggies, nuts, seeds, and grains, to make sure you are getting the vitamins, minerals, and nutrients your body needs. I take supplements because sometimes I still fall short on the vitamins my body needs, and also because it packs an extra punch when the cold weather comes around.

Here’s a quick list of what I typically keep on hand during cold and flu season!

  • Raw Apple Cider Vinegar
  • Ginger Aid Tea (Traditional Medicinal)
  • Echinacea Tea (Traditional Medicinal)
  • Chamomile Tea
  • Kombucha Tea
  • Lemons
  • Ginger
  • Garlic
  • Apples
  • Grapefruit
  • Brussel Sprouts
  • Kale
  • Cabbage
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Red Pepper
  • Sauerkraut
  • Raw Almonds
  • Raw Sunflower seeds
  • Hemp seeds
  • Chia seeds
  • Wheat Germ
  • Cayenne Pepper
  • Turmeric
  • Ground Cinnamon

Supplements: 

  • Probiotic
  • Zinc
  • Vitamin B-12
  • Vitamin D
  • Vitamin E

By no means does this list include all of the foods, supplements, spices, and teas you should keep on hand for cold and flu season. This is just what I happen to have right now and foods I typically lean toward eating. I also take a ginger shot weekly to help give my immune system a boost, and I drink plenty of cold pressed juices to get all of the benefits of the fruits and veggies that I need.

These foods contain antioxidants, vitamin C, Probiotics, anti-inflammatory properties, vitamin A, vitamin K, and B vitamins just to name a few. While I could go into more detail about the health benefits of each item on my list, that would be quite the long post. So, if you are interested in learning more specifically about each item, you can do some of your own research :). I may try and do more posts in the future that include more detail about the health benefits of these foods.

What are some of the must-haves you keep in your pantry for winter wellness?

 

 

 

 

 

Vegan Views Part 2: Animal Equality

When I first started learning about what it meant to be a vegan, I thought that people only became vegan if they were hippie animal lovers. And while it seems that caring for animals plays a big part in why people become vegan, that’s not the only factor. People go vegan for their health, for the environment, AND for the animals.

My main reasons for wanting to go vegan are health related. However, I do care about animals and I hate the way the meat industry treats animals, especially livestock and poultry.

There is one aspect of veganism that many people believe in that I have to disagree with, and that is animal equality.

While I choose not to eat animals, for my health and because I don’t like the thought of an animal being killed just for my pleasure, I don’t think that everyone should have to give up eating meat. I’ve seen and experienced first hand animals that are raised for meat that have a happy, healthy life. Of course, they do get slaughtered in the end, but at least they were treated well during their life, unlike factory farmed animals.

I worked at my college’s campus farm last summer and we had some chickens that were being raised for meat. Unlike the birds that are raised for big meat companies, these chickens were pasture raised, and had access to the fields where they could eat grass and bugs. We also fed them non-GMO feed. I enjoyed taking care of these chickens, watching them grow, and seeing their personalities develop. But I was disturbed by the fact that I knew they were being raised to be slaughtered. And while I was uncomfortable with that, my coworkers all ate meat and it didn’t bother them. I was very grateful that my boss was kind enough to let me stay home from work on the days they slaughtered and processed the chickens. While I don’t want to eat meat and I don’t want to be a part of slaughtering animals, I don’t think that it is wrong to eat animals, as long as the animals have been taken care of and treated with respect during their life.

15060314_1238518979520782_838551576_o

The whole idea behind animal equality is that the animals should have the same rights and respect as humans. And while I do agree that the way the meat industry currently treats animals is absolutely cruel and so unnecessary (serious changes need to be happening in the way people raise livestock and poultry), I believe that humans have rule over animals.

As a Christian, I believe that God has blessed us with plants and animals to help us survive, and while humans didn’t eat animal flesh to start with it is clear that God placed man above animals. The Bible says “Then God said, ‘Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness, so that they may rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky, over the livestock and all the wild animals, and over all the creatures that move along the ground’.” – Genesis 1:26 (NIV).

When you look at scripture it is clear that Man and animal are not the same. While we do share similar body parts and characteristics with animals, we were not created equally and we did not evolve from animals. God created man in His image, that is why we are superior to animals. And the reason that humans and animals seem similar in some respects is because we were both created by THE Creator. But just because we are superior to animals does not mean that we should torture them or abuse them. Animals are a gift from God, and should be treated kindly, whether they are your pets or being raised for you to eat.

My heart goes out to the suffering animals, and I really do care about them. But we need to put other human beings first – we need to care about the millions of unborn babies that are aborted every year, the homeless people that are shivering on the streets, and the malnourished children in Africa and other countries, etc.

So whether you eat meat or you’re vegan, remember to treat animals kindly. And more importantly, always put people and their needs above that of animals.

15423744_1265105746862105_696788814_n

 

 

30 Days of Plant Power

On November 1st I made the decision to give up animal products – dairy, butter, and eggs – for a week. I had gone vegan for a week two years ago, but I had never made the commitment to do it again until this year. Well, here I am at the start of a new month and I’m still eating a vegan diet. What started out as giving up animal products for a week turned into 30 days of plant power.

The first week I missed my coffee creamer, honey in my hot tea, and eating cheese pizza. But as the week came to a close I was no longer feeling strong cravings for junk food, I grew accustomed to almond milk in my coffee, and I learned to drink my hot tea with just lemon and apple cider vinegar. Seriously, those are really the only foods I missed.

I was so thrilled that my body started craving more whole foods, my tummy bloat disappeared, and not once did I have the terrible stomach cramps that I had been dealing with all summer long. I’m also really proud of myself for surviving the in-laws visiting, traveling to Georgia to visit friends, AND Thanksgiving day all while sticking to a vegan diet. To me, those were some of my biggest victories.

I had the most fun learning more about this lifestyle and doing a little research to find out which chain restaurants offer plant based options. I discovered that it’s possible to eat vegan at Papa John’s, Dominos, Taco Bell, and even Olive Garden! Getting in the kitchen and cooking vegan versions of some of my favorite Thanksgiving foods was also an exciting experience.

So now that it’s December I’m wondering if I should continue on as strictly vegan, or if I should try occasionally eating dairy again. I’m kind of curious to see how my body will react to cheese after going a month without it. Regardless of whether I stay 100% vegan or not, I want my main focus to be listening to my body and giving it what it needs to thrive.

15292778_1254481647924515_1103002858_o

Even though we live in a country that is plagued by the western diet, it IS possible to follow a plant based lifestyle. Being vegan may not always be easy, but it’s worth the fight. I’ve gotten some weird looks and snide comments from some of my friends and family about some of the things I eat, but that’s okay. I like standing out. And really, it’s their loss if they don’t want to take the time and effort to nourish their bodies.

I don’t want to push anyone into this lifestyle, but I will always be here more than willing to share what knowledge I have with others. I want to make a difference in this world by helping to educate people on how to take care of their bodies, because we only get one. Our bodies are the temple of the Holy Spirit and God wants us to take care of His creation. I think it’s high time that we wake up and do something about our health.

 

Vegan Views Part 1: Do it For Your Health, Not Just the Animals

I’ve shared my journey to a vegetarian lifestyle on my blog before, and I’ve shared my experience of what it was like to go vegan for a week, so now I want to share my views on veganism and my reasons for leaning toward a plant based diet.

When I first started learning about what it means to be a vegan, I thought that vegans were people who loved animals and didn’t want to bring harm to them. And while that is true of most vegans, I never really thought about people turning to a plant based diet for the health benefits.

Like most Americans, I was raised eating meat, cheese, butter, and drinking cows milk. And I was a fairly picky eater – I don’t really remember liking any vegetables until I was a teenager. I remember thinking that if I drank enough milk I would grow taller, and as a young teenager thinking that if I ate enough low-fat or fat-free dairy products I would lose weight and be healthier. Why did I think that? Because that’s either what my parents told me or what I heard on TV. But there was never really any convincing evidence behind it, that’s just what my parents had been taught and were led to believe.

I grew up surrounded by people who hunted deer, squirrels, and turkeys for food, so I never really thought much about killing animals for their meat. I even went squirrel hunting with my dad a couple of times, but never shot anything. I was a tough tomboy growing up alongside my three brothers, but I always had a soft spot in my heart for animals. My family even thought that I might grow up to be a veterinarian.

When I became a vegetarian I did it for the health benefits, not really because I felt bad that animals were being harmed. But when I had been a vegetarian for about two years, I started following a couple of vegan bloggers and learning more about what it means to be vegan. After doing a little research, I decided to go vegan for a week to see if I could pull it off. I did it and had so much fun cooking new vegan recipes. The hardest part was doing it at home with my family, not because I was tempted to eat the foods they were eating, but because I always felt like they were rolling their eyes at me or making fun of me instead of encouraging me.

As the years went on I found myself eating more vegan meals every week, but never fully committing to a plant based diet. There was this part of me, deep down, that really wanted to become vegan, but it just seemed like a lot of work and effort at the time. One of my biggest reasons for not being fully committed to a vegan lifestyle is the fact that both my husband and my family still eat meat and dairy products on a daily basis. I don’t have a problem fixing separate vegan meals for myself, but it becomes difficult to stick to this kind of diet when visiting with relatives and friends. Just this morning I was talking to my mom about Thanksgiving and what dishes everyone will be preparing, and, to my dismay, every dish she named has some form of animal product in it.

Now a days, there are plenty of vegan recipes that can be found on the internet, but the problem is that a lot of people don’t even really understand what a vegan diet is and therefore don’t know how to prepare vegan friendly meals. My biggest fear of going vegan would be that I would end up being a burden to my friends and family when going out to eat or visiting them. I don’t want to ruin everyone else’s fun because they can’t go to a certain restaurant because I wouldn’t be able to eat there. However, I’m starting to realize that I shouldn’t put off a lifestyle that I want to pursue just because it may inconvenience  the people around me from time to time. After all, this is my health we are talking about, and we only get one body.

The transition to a vegan diet these past couple of weeks has been relatively easy. Even though I haven’t been fully committed to a vegan diet over the years, I have made it a priority to stay educated and informed on all things vegan. I’ve read books, done research, followed vegan bloggers, watched documentaries, and even tried to incorporate vegan meals into my diet on a weekly basis. I believe I’ve watched just about every documentary that is available on Netflix and Amazon Prime about the food industry/plant based lifestyle  – “Food, Inc.”, “Forks Over Knives”, “GMO OMG”, “Cowspiracy”, “Live and Let Live”, “Hungry for Change”, “Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead (1 &2)”, “Vegucated”, “Food Choice”, “Fed Up”, “Food Matters”, “The Kids Menu”, “Cooked”, “Farmageddon”, “Super Size Me”, “Bite Size”, “Sugar Coated”, etc. Seriously, I’m a documentary junkie! And while some of these documentaries are in favor of animal products, they are still worth a watch.  I encourage everyone who hasn’t seen these documentaries to go watch them! Even if you aren’t interested in pursuing a vegetarian/vegan diet it is still so eye opening to see how the food industry has brain washed us.

Honestly, I get really tired of people who question my knowledge on the subjects of health and nutrition. Yes it’s true that I didn’t study medicine or nutrition in college, but that doesn’t mean that I am not educated on these subjects. I’m not claiming to be an expert or saying that I know it all. And no, I don’t just read random people’s blog posts about health and nutrition and take that to be truth. I do my research, I read news articles from credible sources, I read what both medical doctors and holistic doctors have to say, I read books, I watch documentaries, and I have my own experience as well as that of friends and family to base my judgments on. I studied journalism in college and I know how to research and find credible sources.

I know that in my own personal experience, I have been the happiest and healthiest since giving up meat. And now that I’ve been vegan for the past couple of weeks I feel even better. As a teenager I used to have insomnia, I struggled with maintaining a healthy weight, and I had really bad acne. Once I gave up meat and started eating healthier I noticed that I slept better at night, I was able to eat what I wanted without counting calories and stay at a healthy weight, and my acne got so much better. Over the past year I started noticing that my body had a problem with dairy. Every time I would eat ice cream or have something with cheese on it, I would get bloated and have really bad stomach cramps. I started taking a probiotic everyday which seemed to help, but I was still struggling with occasional cramps and bloating. It wasn’t until I gave up dairy that all of that disappeared!

I’m not saying that a plant based diet is for everyone, but I think we could all incorporate more fruits and veggies into our diets and cut back on meats and dairy. From what I’ve learned, there are plenty of connections to cancer, heart disease, diabetes, etc. and eating animal products. Just go watch some of those documentarians that I mentioned earlier. It makes me so sad to see people that ignore these facts and continue on as they have been because it’s more “comfortable” for them. It’s not until they have a health scare that they open their eyes and realize that they might need to make some changes. And sadly at that point it might be too late. My  goal is to make healthy food choices now while I’m young, so that I can have a long, happy, healthy life. And I’d love to help other people make this choice too.

There’s a quote by Dave Ramsey, author of Total Money Makeover, that I love, and while it is pertaining to money, I think it could be applied to our health as well:

“Change is painful. Few People have the courage to seek change. Most people won’t change until the pain of where they are exceeds the pain of change.” ~ Dave Ramsey

Is it time for you to make a change?