Mar 2, 2012

Rekindling my vegan love afair - with a side of lobster (hold the butter, please)

Hello everyone!  I have not fallen off of the face of the Earth, but rather have been doing some soul searching working through some stress.  It is coming out all good and I am feeling a sense of both relief and amazement that I am overcoming the largest hurdle in my life as of yet - myself.

I find that knowing the reasons why I am doing something helps me to pull through mentally tough times because it is about something greater than that moment.  Lately my focus has been on healthy eating and trying to break the code as to why I have an unhealthy relationship with food.

I saw a nutritionist and I have found a true partner in this.  I told her my history - all the good the bad the ugly (ugliest) of truths - as well as told her my goals:  I want to arrive at Ironman healthy and fit and ready for a long training day where I finish 140.6  miles strong and happy, as well as to look amazing for Mike on my wedding day (and lifetime thereafter).

I can train like a mad woman for Ironman.  I can lose all the weight I want for my wedding.  However at the core I have a broken-down, disordered relationship with food which will only work against me in my goals.

And it sucks. 


Over the past few months I have been working on my relationship with food, the final steps of which were to find a nutritionist to work with through Ironman and beyond.  I have stopped assigning feelings to food - i.e. comfort food - and I have stopped relating how I think of food in terms of emotional being - i.e. I love that, I hate this, I adore such and such - it just was all so unhealthy.

I feel confident that I am not "fixed" on this side yet I am confident that I have learned a lot about myself and food and now that I have made a declaration about who I am, it has totally redefined what I eat for me.

While I can still enjoy food I need to be responsible with it.  Like with any 'power', moderation and respect are necessary for successful yielding.   These are the struggles of a person with disordered eating habits. My disordered past has set me up for a lifetime of struggle with food, especially binge eating,  but it is something that I am finally making some headway in.  After all of these years and so many false starts, I am on the right path.


One thing that I have to be conscious of is getting all the nutrients that I need to be an athlete - protein, iron, calories, healthy fats, carbohydrates.  I am now tracking the foods I eat to see where I fall in my recommendations.

My goals are:
  • Consume enough calories to sustain my workouts and living requirements (no hard and fast goal, but I try to stay above my BMR of about 1700 kcals per day). 
  • Consume  ~90-100g of protein a day. 
  • Consume ~ 100oz of water a day. 

 I tend to fall below standards in proteins and above standards in calories.  This is being corrected now. with some success already!  I am down 15 lbs since Christmas and am on my way to better understandings of nutrition as a whole process, not just food to be eaten. 

Ever since I got the Vitamix for Christmas, I have been into making lots of raw shakes and soups and have enjoyed cooking so much more.  I find a way to add veggies into every single thing I make thanks in whole to the Vitamix's amazing ability to obliterate anything you put in there.  So really I have some remarkable tools at my disposal now to assure that I am eating varied, rainbow colored diet full of  proteins, minerals, vitamins, and healthy fats and oils.  I freaking love this machine.

Sorry Mike. 

I have also been researching the best "diet" for being an endurance athlete.  Obviously a vegetarian always hears issues about protein and iron consumption and is deluged all the time by people asking - "but what do you eat?, and "how are you going to make it through training let alone a race of that size by only eating plants?"  Well it happens.  Many have, many more will.   So to be clear by 'diet' I am speaking in life-long terms; in clinical terms and not marketing terms.  Not Atkins,South Beach, nor Weight Watchers.  I mean what eating habits are best for performance and endurance.  So far the non industry paid-for or sponsored studies point to plant based diets as being superior to animal based diets.  Hmmm. Interesting. I am sure the Paleoites hate hearing this.

This also brings me to the reason for the heading of this post.  The only reason I never made the leap from vegetarianism to vegan-ism was because of two things:
  1. I like cheese, and
  2. I like cheese.

Oh, and also I realized in my many travels when I have been in situations where I had no viable options ahead of me I just did not eat.  This resulted in some bad situations and irregardless if you are in another country or another person's home, there comes a time when you have to pick your battles.

So leads to the 3rd reason I never went fully vegan:

     3. I will eat, graciously, whatever is being cooked for and served to me in someone's kitchen or while
         traveling through an area with limited options.  Especially if there is cheese involved.   

Yep.  I have resorted to eating an occasional animal protein including fish, sea food, and turkey. Also interesting to note is that I am still alive. So, I guess that it was not so bad after all.
I have come to accept that in order to be happy and healthy sometimes I need to bend my self-imposed rules and think about why I am doing something.  I am happy with this, and still think of myself as a vegetarian that allows herself flexibility when things are out of her control - the term is  flexitarian if you want to be technical.  The interesting thing is that once I took the imposition of hard rules off my shoulders, I found myself not really going to animal products unless absolutely necessary. I fell into a bucket of ribs in Panama City Beach once back in November, but never went back for seconds nor have I had them since. Whew that was close!


I realize that I live by an 90% / 10% ratio these days.  I eat vegetarian at least 90% of the time and eat animal products such as limited dairy, eggs, poultry and fish  about 10% of the time over the larger time frame. 

I am happy with this since it no longer means that I live in fear of being a hypocrite or that I have failed somehow.  I still believe in animal rights and still fight the good war, but sometimes you have to give up a singular battle in order to wage war another day.

So with that I am leaving you with a recipe from my dear friend Aparna E. Bankston.  I made this for dinner last night and it was amazing just as I had imagined it, tasty and very warming on a cool evening.   You can easily sub in chicken for the tofu if you are not a soy lover or vegetarian, or if you wish do as I did and sub in another non-meat substitute (Gardein is my favorite so far) in lieu of the 'fu.

•1 block of extra firm tofu, cut into 1-inch cubes
•2 1/2 cloves garlic, minced
•1 1/2 teaspoons ginger, some minced, some grated
•1/4 cup soy sauce
•1/4 cup water
•1/4 cup orange juice
•1 1/2 tablespoons corn starch
•1/2 tablespoon cayenne pepper (we LOVE spice, so we added more. This amount is totally up to you, though!)
•2 tablespoons vegetable oil
We served this with rice, so start by cooking some rice.
In a large, deep skillet coat the bottom with vegetable oil, about 2 tablespoons.  When it’s nice and hot, add the tofu and cook until brown on all sides.
While that’s happening in a 2-cup measuring cup (you know, like those Pyrex doohickies), measure out the soy sauce, water and orange juice. Add the corn starch, minced garlic, cayenne pepper and add some minced ginger and then grate some in there too, Stir it all together and finish cooking the tofu. (C) not a leaf, 2011

NOTE:  I subbed Gardein's Vegan Mandarin Crispy Chick'n (without the mandarin sauce) for tofu in this since I really am not a huge fan of firm tofu and I stir-fried it all in coconut oil.  Either way this was DELISH.  I would consider adding some agave nectar or ever some raw coconut nectar to this for a sweeter take.  I also added mushrooms and broccoli to the dish to add more veggies and colors, and served my portion over 1/2 Cup of brown rice.   My version contained
448 kcals, 45g of carbs, 12g of fat, 38g of protein, 4g of fiber and 5g of sugar.  

 The original yields ~
418 kcals, 37 carbs, 14 fat, 37 protein, 6fiber, and 6 sugars

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