Archive for the ‘goals’ Category

the quitter’s almanac.

February 17, 2011

QuitThis past Valentine’s Day marked two weeks for my vegan diet. For the most part, the only cravings that I had trouble with during this time were ones involving cheese or some product that normally contains cheese (pizza, nachos, cheez-its). I really had no other issues during the two weeks. That is, until my mom and sister were involved in an auto accident. They’re both fine, but the accident is hitting us hard financially and that brought on something that had really been absent for the previous 13 days: stress. I guess stress was creeping up either way – I’ve been studying for the MCAT and adhering to my studying schedule has proven less-than-stellar. Another event on Valentine’s Day that made things difficult was the absence of quality or really delicious vegan food in my house. I had mentioned before the importance of having a well-stocked kitchen, and I think it’s really helpful to have many options when stressful events arise and when willpower alone will not quell the cravings or provide comfort. Stressed, concerned about my and my family’s future, without many vegan food options, and feeling pretty lousy I decided to end the all vegan diet.

I’m pretty upset that I only made it halfway through my goal, but on the other hand, I’m also pretty proud of myself for doing it for two weeks. No it’s not an impressive feat; I didn’t do anything that would amount to much, especially when compared to what others have done with their diets. It’s not that I achieved anything, really. But I did manage to do something, even in my quitting, that I have had trouble doing over the years: I halfway kept a goal. I didn’t completely stick to my goal – and yes, that is failure – but I did keep it for two weeks. Normally I would have failed to merely keep it a day, let alone a full week or two. I still have difficulty exercising regularly, waking up on time, going to bed on time, completing my daily to-do lists, as well as a slew of other things. I by no means stuck with my goal. I in fact failed, rather miserably I might add. I didn’t form some new eating pattern or see the light. I didn’t stick it out long enough for my sense of taste to change. I didn’t even manage to make it to 21 days, which I hear is the time needed to form a new habit. After two weeks, I know what I knew before: I am a quitter. I quit when the going began to get tough. I quit.

So what now? Do I plan to resume the vegan eating anytime soon? I’m not sure. I have noticed that even though I’m allowing myself to eat non-vegan foods, I am still mostly eating vegan. I think if I learned anything these past two weeks, aside from the realization that I can somewhat stick to a goal, is that I am more aware than ever of what I am eating. I wish I had stuck it out and had realized some of those changes that I’ve read about – more energy, the change in taste, needing less sleep, better sleep, clearer skin, weight loss, etc. – either way, I’m still satisfied with the outcome of this experiment. I now need a new goal. Or maybe an anti-goal. Maybe I need reverse psychology or something. It’s true that we only want to do what we’re forbidden to do, so maybe I should go on a 28 day long non-vegan binge fest. Perhaps not. I think I just need to work towards change, as gradual or dramatic as I can handle at the time. And, when it doesn’t work out, give it another shot and keep at it. After all, you’re only a quitter when you quit. As long as I keep trying I’m not a quitter.


days 5, 6 and 7 results

February 8, 2011

Week 1 is in the bag. Here is a description, plus a recipe, of what I ate for days 5-7:

Day 5: 2 cups light soy milk and 2 cups low-sodium V8
Day 6: 2 slices Ezekiel 4:9 sprouted bread with 1 tablespoon of Simply Jif peanut butter and 1 banana, 1 cup light soy milk, and 2 cups low-sodium V8
Day 7: 3/4 cup old fashioned oats, 2 oranges, 1 cup low sodium V8, and a cup of hot green tea

Day 5: Whole wheat pasta topped with steamed broccoli, steamed cabbage, steamed brussel spouts, and marinated artichoke hearts
Day 6: Three-bean chili with Saltine crackers (recipe to follow)
Day 7: Three-bean chili and an apple

Day 5: Three-bean chili with Saltine crackers
Day 6: Domino’s Thin-crust pizza topped with spinach and green peppers (from my limited on-line research, it appears that Domino’s thin-crust and their basic tomato sauce is vegan. I admit, however, that I do not 100% know this to be the case. At any rate, this may have been a foul-up on my part, but it remains immensely healthier than a 4-meat, extra-cheese pizza. I might add that a cheese-less pizza wasn’t so bad. Although it could have used more toppings [I had a coupon for 2 toppings only])
Day 7: Rice mixed with kidney beans, black beans, southerwest corn mix (corn, tomatoes, black beans), fire roasted tomatoes, a salad with tomatoes and bac-o’s, and blackberry raspberry cobbler (recipes here)

Blackberry Raspberry Cobbler

I actually did not snack much aside from eating a bit more of the chili on day 5. For the Super Bowl, I just ate the pizza and nothing else. On day 7 I had an orange.

I felt hungry for most of days 5 and 6 – even after eating the entire medium pizza on day 6. Until day 6, I had not exercised at all since starting this plan. On day 6 I went for a 21 mile bike ride and I felt strong throughout the ride. This might have been why I was still relatively hungry not long after finishing the pizza. Overall, in one week, I have lost 5 pounds. Not bad!

As noted, I had a three-bean chili for dinner on day 5. I have also eaten it every day since. It is a combination of two recipes (first recipe here, second here) that I altered to fit my tastes. I believe it is one of the best tasting batches of chili I have ever had. It’s hearty, perfect with Saltine crackers, a bit spicy, and overall delicious. I think it would also go well stuffed in a tortilla wrap and eaten as a burrito or eaten as a thick and hearty bean dip. I will have to make more though to find this out, as I just finished the last of it!

Pepper and spice mixture for three-bean chili

Three-Bean Chili
1 can pinto beans, black beans, and kidney beans (I had made a batch of kidney and black beans earlier in the week, so I used then instead of canned. I did use a can of pinto beans, however)
8 oz can tomato paste
12 ounces beer (I used Yuengling Light – I think a darker beer would have been a better choice)
12 ounces water
1/2 red pepper, diced
1/2 yellow pepper, diced
1/4 green pepper, diced
1 orange pepper, diced
1 jalapeno pepper, minced
1 medium onion, diced
1 package frozen whole kernel corn
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
2 teaspoons minced garlic
1/2 teaspoon red pepper
3-5 tablespoons chili powder, or to taste
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1 tablespoon dried cumin, or to taste
salt and black pepper, to taste


  • Add oil and onion to large boiler on medium heat, cook onion until translucent (5-6 minutes)
  • Add garlic, all peppers, and all spices. Stirring frequently, cook for 3-5 minutes
  • Add beer, water, tomato paste, and beans. Stir mixture well, reduce heat to low for a slow simmer. Allow to simmer for at least 45 minutes. I allowed mine to simmer for almost 2 hours.
  • Serve topped with cilantro, crackers, or corn chips.

days 2 and 3 results.

February 4, 2011

Days 2 and 3 proved uneventful. Breakfasts were Kamut with flaxseed meal on day 2, and steel cut oats with flaxseed meal on day 3.

Lunch on day 2 was whole wheat angel hair pasta with Newman’s Own Sockarooni pasta sauce, I also had field peas and 1/2 ear of corn on the cob. Lunch on day 3 was the same pasta and sauce combo with black beans and an assortment of raw vegetables (tomatoes, celery, carrots, and cucumbers).

Dinner on day 2 was brown rice topped with black beans, a huge salad, and steamed broccoli. Dinner on day 3 was whole wheat pasta mixed with brussel sprouts, broccoli, and spinach, topped with marinated artichoke hearts and about 2 tablespoons of the aforementioned pasta sauce (it’s a great sauce!). I also had a huge salad before day 3’s dinner as well.

My snacks have varied depending on what I was craving. On day 2 I had an apple, baked corn chips, and 1/2 cup of salsa. On day 3 I had an apple, a piece of Ezekiel 4:9 bread topped with peanut butter and a banana, and a few cups of popcorn.

Overall, I’ve lost a pound a day since going vegan. This is in spite of nearly doubling my daily intake of carbohydrates. I am eating until I feel full. A goal of mine has always been to slow down while I eat and it seems this is almost required when eating whole grains. I cannot speed my way through steel cut oats or brown rice even if I wanted to. One thing that has really helped me is that I started off the week by going shopping. Because I have quite a few foods to choose from I do not feel limited in my dietary choices. I have plenty of options for meals and snacks, which I think is necessary when beginning any changes to one’s diet. It’s much easier to resist the whole milk when I have soy milk (which, by the way, I love!). It also doesn’t hurt that whole grains are stacked with fiber – thus, making me fill full on less. Another thing that has helped me has been drinking lots and lots of water. Water combined with the fiber really fills you up.

I’ll probably post my results for a few more days and then once weekly from then on out. The point of this blog isn’t necessarily to chronicle my dietary choices, but also to allow me to ramble about other things as well. Thanks for reading!

the results: day 1

February 1, 2011

The first half of my first day of vegan-only eating began slowly. I had breakfast planned but I was still undecided on lunch as I left for work. I decided to bring along with me some red pepper hummus and wheat pitas as snack or an option for lunch. After work I went shopping and picked up a good bit of fresh fruits and vegetables, dried beans, and some more grains. Here is what I ate for my first day:

Breakfast (~400 kcal)
1/2 cup Bob’s Red Mill Organic Steel Cut Oats
2 tbs. Bob’s Red Mill Organic Golden Flaxseed Mill (added to oats)

Lunch (~460 kcal)
2 Wheat Pitas
2 tbs. Whole Foods Market Red Pepper Hummus
Two Roma Tomatoes

Afternoon Snack (100 kcal)
1 pack Raw Almonds

Dinner (~650 kcal)
Romaine lettuce salad with 1 tomato and 1 cup alfalfa sprouts
4 tbs. Maple Grove Farms Fat-Free Greek Dressing
1/2 cup Steamed Brussel Sprouts
1/2 cup Steamed Broccoli
1/2 cup Hodgson Mill Wheat Angel Hair Pasta
1/2 cup Newman’s Own Sockarooni Pasta Sauce

I ate about 1600 kcal and I was able to limit my fat consumption to 19% of my caloric intake. I want to keep it below 10% to stay in line with Dr. Esselstyn’s suggestion. The oats, pasta sauce and hummus made it difficult to really limit my fat consumption. Overall, even though I began the day without a clear plan on what I was going to eat, today’s eating ended in success. Today marked the first time I’ve cooked and ate wheat pasta. It’s not the best, but it certainly wasn’t unpleasant to eat. Tomorrow I’m going to make Kamut for breakfast in place of the oats. I’ve never had Kamut, so we’ll see how it goes.

the vegan eating plan.

January 31, 2011

As I said before, Dr. Esselstyn’s program does not allow nuts and oils of any kind (exception is if you currently do not have heart disease, he allows for a modest amount of walnuts). I will strive to adhere to his program in the fullest, but am allowing myself some oil from time to time. I am also going to continue to eat raw almonds (I love them too much!). Seeing as how this still is technically a vegan diet, I don’t have any qualms about it. If things go well throughout February, I might consider further limiting oils and nuts, but for now they will stay.

In terms of overcoming any dietary deficiencies that may arise, I am going to take a multivitamin that has vitamin B12. I plan on taking fish oil (per Ornish’s recommendation, but against Esselstyn’s). I am confident that if I am able to incorporate as many vegetables, grains, and fruits as I plan on, that there will be no real dietary issues.

I am planning on watching the Super Bowl and snacking just like I do every year. This year, however, I will not eat the customary pizza, nachos, and hot wings. I plan on still having a few beers. I also plan on eating chips and salsa. I hope to find oil-free tortilla chips, but if I cannot I will settle on Tostitos Baked chips. For the main course, I am planning on either making my own black bean burritos, or buying a couple of Amy’s burritos.

Eating out proves rather difficult, especially fast-food. This isn’t such a bad thing, though. I could use a fewer trips to McObesities. I haven’t really eaten out that much this year as it is. If I have to be out-of-town, I will probably just pack a lunch.

As for the every day meals, I will stick to soups (lentil, split pea, vegetable), beans and rice (black beans, kidney beans, brown rice, black rice), quinoa, teff (if I can find it), as well as incorporate as many vegetables as possible (broccoli, carrots, bell peppers, onions, celery, potatoes, turnips, salsa, etc.). One doesn’t lack variety eating vegan. I also headed up to Whole Foods today and purchased some of the more difficult to find items. Tomorrow, it’s off to the races!

vegan for heart health month? why yes, please.

January 28, 2011

Vegetable Stand
February is, among other things, American Heart Month. I have mentioned how I am working on losing 1-2 pounds a week this year. On top of that, I have my 3-year follow-up heart exam in July. The last time I saw my cardiologist he called me fat. Okay, he didn’t use the word “fat”, but he did say I could stand to lose about 40 pounds, which was a polite way of calling me fat. Fast forward 2 years and I could now stand to lose double that, which is a polite way of saying I’m obese. Since I want to at least be back down to what I was 2 years ago by my follow-up exam this July, I need to lose some serious weight by then—hence the 1-2 pounds a week goal.

In light of this goal, I have been doing a walk/run program, and I have also been closely watching what I eat. I’ve also done a bit of reading regarding vegetarian and vegan diets. I began by reading two of Dr. Dean Ornish’s books (Dr. Dean Ornish’s Program for Reversing Heart Disease and The Spectrum). This prompted me to read John Robbin’s Food Revolution, which led me to read Dr. T. Colin Campbell’s The China Study, which lastly led me to read Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn’s Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease. Although I do not know whether or not a strictly vegetarian or vegan diet is the healthiest way to eat, the evidence saying so is rather compelling.

I should say at this point that I love my fatty burgers, potato chips, chili cheese fries with jalapeños, ice cream, vanilla/chocolate/strawberry milk shakes, filet mignon, fried shrimp, fried chicken, beef tacos, and so on as much as the next person. It’s not as if I awoke one morning and saw the light and all of these foods suddenly tasted like cardboard (although, if this were to happen it sure would make February that much easier). Anyone who has seen me the past few years could attest to the fact that I love these foods. What is also pretty evident is that I have not lost any weight while consuming them. Here you might say that if I had only eaten them in moderation instead of ordering two #10’s each time I went to McDonald’s, maybe then I  would be skinnier. Perhaps. However, I think it might prove easier if I just forewent the foods altogether. After all, if it’s a fact that once you pop, you can’t stop, why pop to begin with?

In Campbell’s book, he recommends giving the vegan diet a month’s trial run. Seeing as it’s near the end of January, I decided upon February. After all, it is the shortest month, and if I am to have any success with this it most likely would occur the month with the fewest days. As providence would have it, I received an e-mail from a local health care provider reminding, or in my case informing, every one that February is America Heart Month. Eureka!

As I’ve begun to plan out my entire month’s worth of eating, I surely have my concerns. What if I go out to eat? What about going over to a friend’s house for dinner? What about the Super Bowl? How strict am I going to be with this diet (primarily because Esselstyn calls for eliminating not only meat, dairy, nuts, and fish, but also all oils, and processed and refined grains)? What about vitamin B12? For your pleasure, I will outline a few of my personal dietary decisions, as well as my plans for the Super Bowl in a future post. As for now, let’s just get used to saying it’s going to be a meat-, dairy-, and fried-free February!

state of the resolutions.

January 26, 2011

Last night brought the highly anticipated, at least by me, State of the Union Address. I’m a political junkie, with a degree in politics, and I always get excited for the speech—regardless of the current president’s political affiliation. While I would like to provide insightful perspective on last night’s speech, I really do not have much to add to the already spectacular commentary that is making its way around the Internet. What I can report on, however, is the state of my previously mentioned new year’s resolutions.

1. Weight Loss of 1-2 pounds a week.
Well, I hit a rough patch just after the new year, with the arrival of 2-3 inches of snow and ice. I couldn’t leave the house for two days, work was closed for three days, and the roads were unsafe for four days. Instead of eating less and working out, I resorted to gorging myself and barely getting off the sofa. With that said, I have nearly returned to my pre-snowcopolypse weight, which translates, interestingly enough, to a weight loss of 1-2 pounds a week. Unfortunately it was all weight I gained after the new year. Oh well.

I began this week with my study plan. I’m just three days into it, but I’m more confident this time around. Smooth sailing so far.

3. Save $500
Stagnant, really. I’m expecting to use most of this year’s tax refund toward funding my savings (yes, I have already filed my 2010 taxes…), so this should take care of itself in a matter of weeks.

4. Get accepted into graduate school/have a better plan on what to do for the foreseeable rest of my life
This pretty much relates to #2 on my list. Although, the more I think about this, the more apt I am to really dream, which can’t be a bad thing I don’t think. This dreaming might make a better future post, so I will refrain from expounding on this for the present. As with #2, so far, so good.

5. Complete either a marathon or a century or both
I’ve already run a marathon and completed a half-century on my bike…just kidding! Although I have stuck to my walk/run schedule, save for the aforementioned snow days. I’m only completing two miles at a time right now, but I’m planning on increasing either my distance or my running time soon. I’ve also ridden nearly 50 miles this month on the bike. I wanted to have ridden more, but alas I’m a wimp and it’s been much too cold for me.

The state of my resolutions is strong…at least for now.

what running in the rain can tell us about…

January 18, 2011

Night rain in Moscow I went running last night—in the rain. Or, rather I should say, walking and occasionally running. I find it super difficult to actually adhere to any routine exercise regimen when the weather is perfect, let alone when it is drizzling and 35 degrees outside. I only lasted 30 minutes, but that’s what I planned to do anyway, so it was a success.

There’s something comforting in exercising in the darkness. Add rain to the mix and it’s extra comforting. How is it comforting? Glad you asked. It’s comforting because the darkness conceals, or provides a level of concealment unattained in the day time, the physical reasons why I’m exercising. Toss in some rain and people are less likely to see the monstrosity that is me outside running. I would like to say that I’m exercising to better my health, especially my heart. That would be noble, but a lie nonetheless.

I’m vain and my vanity has led me to go outside when it’s nearly freezing and brave (or succumb?) the rain in order to try and lose (how exactly is it lost?) some weight. I should be out there, working up a sweat, in order to improve my health. I have my share of problems right now, all of which could be remedied by being in better physical shape. Instead I’m out there trying to improve my appearance, which is sad really. I mean, it’s great that I’m exercising, which is almost never a bad thing. Yet, my intentions are all backwards. I won’t get out there and sweat and endure the painful shinsplints because my doctor told me to. No. I’m out there in near-Arctic conditions sweating, panting, and suffering all because I want to look better. Vanity of vanities; all is vanity.

Back to the title. What can running in the rain tell us about…new year’s resolutions? Probably not much, except that if you’re actually out there running in the rain (and cold), you’re faring well in your effort to stick to your resolution. I’m having about 60% success right now with this specific goal. I’ve run more this month than all of the previous 6 months combined. I haven’t stuck to my schedule as I had hoped. Regardless of this, last night in the cold and rain, I was out keeping my resolution. I can’t say that this will be the case tomorrow, next week, or next month. But, for one cold night in January, I ran in the rain. And, two hours later, it felt pretty good.

and the resolutions are rolling.

January 3, 2011


It’s 49 degrees outside right now and I’ve just returned from an 18 mile, and what I consider to be a frigid, bike ride. I have very little cold-weather cycling gear, and no wind gear, so I’m still technically frozen. This is the price I pay for eating the fatty burgers and imbibing the beers. Oh well. Maybe this will make me think twice before I consume another fat-laden load of fries. Let’s hope. With my first ride of the year now out-of-the-way, and me being left to thaw out, I’m not sure how much more of the cold-infused rides I can take. Regardless of how much more I ride this month, I can at least say I’ve gone 18 miles!

new year’s resolutions.

December 31, 2010

With the new year just around the corner, I thought I would jump on the bandwagon and publicize 5 of my resolutions for the coming year. I figure that if nothing more, this will serve as fodder for me to blog about in the year to come. I’ve decided to only document 5 of my goals. I certainly have more, but I figure these are the most appropriate for this forum. So, without any further adieu, my 2011 new year’s Resolutions:

1. Weight Loss of 1-2 pounds a week.
Ideally I want to lose 90 pounds. But, I have found that specific weight loss goals are limiting. While I have a specific number in mind, I am really aiming for the health and physical benefits I wish to receive. Specifically, I have mild hypertension which should go away with significant weight loss. I also suffer frequent heartburn. I am told weight loss will also help here as well. I am aiming for more of a pant-size goal than ideal weight. So, while I currently hover around a 40″ (oh the horror!, I hoping that by this time next year I will be a 32″ or so.

This one merely involves me sticking to my study plan and doing well on the exam. I am to begin my study plan around the 2nd or 3rd week of January and will be taking the MCAT on April 29th. Hopefully things will fare better for me this time around.

3. Save $500
I know this might not be a lot of money for many, but this number represents a great deal of cash for me right now. Not so much a great sum of cash, but having $500 and not spending it. I have around $50 right now and hope to have the $500 by the end of the summer, if not before.

4. Get accepted into graduate school/have a better plan on what to do for the foreseeable rest of my life
At first glance the second part of this might seem to contradict my second resolution. However, it’s not so much a part of indecisiveness, but rather I want to actually formulate a set goal and a plan. And by set goal I do not mean to have something achieved by a certain date, such as a specific job or marriage, but just a goal to work toward. Something like a contingency plan if my plans A or B do not work out.

5. Complete either a marathon or a century or both
In the spirit of my first resolution, I would like to, in the coming year, either run a marathon or bike a century. Neither are particularly realistic at this point in my life and I figure it will give me a huge goal, aside from the other 4 on this list, to work towards completing. If the contestants on the Biggest Loser can run a marathon after only 4 months of training, I hope that I can at least complete one by the end of 2011.

Well, there are 5 of my biggest goals for 2011. I hope that 2011 is a better year than 2010. 2010 was certainly one of the most difficult years of my life. I plan on keeping you all informed about the progress of each of these goals and hope you will enjoy hearing them. Until then, happy new year!

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