Month: September 2014

24-day diet challenge update

Unsplash Glen Carrie

(photo by Glen Carrie via Unsplash)

I’ve been promising to post about my diet for a while now, and I finally bothered to sit down and write up a meal plan! I’m in the middle of a 24-day cleanse challenge with a girlfriend and so far I’ve had great results.

A lot of people hear the word “cleanse” and automatically think of green juices, liquid diets, taking lots of pills and laxatives, etc. This isn’t any of those. It’s based around healthy, whole foods, lots of water, and a lack of the junk we typically inhale. You can take whatever vitamin supplements you wish. If you like replacing the occasional meal with a protein smoothie you can. But at the core, it’s just healthy, simple foods–lots of lean protein and vegetables–and no processed food. Simple!

On the cleanse you cut out:

  • Coffee, soda, alcohol, and any other sugary drinks (like juice or sugared tea)
  • Processed food (chips, packaged foods or “fast food”)
  • Fried food and any fatty add-ons like creamy dips and dressings
  • White sugar (basically anything with added sugar)
  • White flour (bread, pasta, etc.)
  • Most dairy
  • Red meat


Instead you eat:

  • Lean protein (tofu is perfect for me–my friend is eating lean chicken and Greek yogurt but obviously I don’t eat those)
  • Vegetables
  • Fruit
  • Complex carbs (sweet potatoes, quinoa, etc.)
  • Healthy fats such as nuts, beans, hummus, etc.


You also drink a lot of water. As a general rule you take your body weight, divide that number in half, and drink that many ounces of water per day. So if you weigh 150 pounds, you’ll drink 75 ounces of water each day.

Each day you have three meals based around a lean protein (like tempeh), a vegetable (or fruit for breakfast), and a complex carb (like sweet potatoes or quinoa). You also get three small snacks (of 200 calories or less) and endless cups of unsweetened tea and water. Here’s a sample meal plan from a recent workday:

  • 30 minutes before breakfast: green tea with lemon, no sugar
  • Breakfast: oatmeal* with a banana and a dab of peanut butter
  • Mid-morning snack: carrots and hummus
  • Lunch: veggie stirfry with tempeh; berries for dessert; more tea
  • Snack: apple
  • Dinner: large spinach salad with quinoa (for protein–could also use chickpeas or tempeh) and diced veggies; fruit for dessert
  • Snack: glass of warm almond milk


*I mix oatmeal with flax, wheat germ and chia seeds and shake it up in a large container so it’s premixed and ready to cook in the microwave. It’s tastier than plain oatmeal and gives you a nice health boost.

Obviously I’m eating a lot, but amazingly enough, I’ve lost ten pounds in the past ten days. I can’t say it’s because I’ve upped my activity level, either, because I’m being as lazy as ever (hey, there are books to be read!). Since starting this diet I have so much more energy and I feel so much better. I thought I would miss donuts, noodles and tons of coffee with tasty sugary creamer in it, but I don’t.

By contrast earlier this year when I got in a rut and was not eating healthy at all, a typical day might include…

  • Three or four cups of coffee with flavored creamer
  • Toast
  • Fritos and an apple (at least I tried to be a little healthy) for a snack
  • Teriyaki noodles for lunch; more coffee or an energy drink; some kind of dessert
  • A donut or other “pick-me-up” for a snack
  • Pasta, French Toast, mac n cheese, or some other similar comfort food for dinner


Very little in the way of vegetables and fruits, not enough lean protein, and way too many carbs and processed foods. It’s no wonder I was sluggish and cranky. The weekends were even worse, with fried foods, soda and extra desserts thrown into the mix. I was still eating vegan, I just wasn’t being a very health-conscious vegan.

A big part of this diet has been learning to swap out my less-healthy old favorites for better options. Once a week I’ll still treat myself to my old favorite, pasta, but instead of a big bowl of white pasta with garlic bread on the side I have a small bowl of whole-wheat pasta with an extra-chunky veggie sauce and a salad instead of bread. I’m drinking tea instead of coffee. I spread a little peanut butter on a banana instead of eating a plate of toast.

How much I eat also depends on the day. If I have a busy workday and feel I need to up my protein intake, but don’t have time for food prep, I’ll mix up a vegan protein shake. If I’m at home all day and I’m not that hungry, I’ll sip lots of tea and graze on fruits and veggies instead of forcing myself to eat a big meal. I listen to my body and eat more or less according to what it’s telling me.

Another key has been learning to “arc” my meals according to the rhythm of the day. I used to eat very little until I got home from work, when I would load up on pasta, French Toast or other “comfort foods”. Now I try to get most of my carbs in the first half of the day, when I really need to power up my energy (and admittedly, my mood). I also aim to start the day with a boost of protein and a little fat, since these help with energy and tamping down hunger. As I shift into the second half of the day, I’ll shift to lighter snacks/meals based around fruits and veggies. By the end of the day I’m not really hungry or if I do need a little something, I can have a tiny snack and be happy.

So that’s it! Simple, really. I still crave potato chips, bread, desserts and lattes now and then, but the longer I stick to my protein/veggie/complex carb system of filling out my plate, the easier it gets.

Any questions? Anything I didn’t cover?

Ten on Tuesday: yoga, dark art, and autumn


It’s time once again for Ten on Tuesday! Be sure to link up with Alyssa here. If you need motivation, she has an excellent cat photo on today’s post that I think you should see. (Well…it made me laugh, anyway. I can’t account for you if you have poor taste and do not like cat photos.)

1. Thanks to regular yoga I’m almost getting to the point where I can start doing back bends. My back and legs are still pretty stiff but we’re getting there.

2. I haven’t painted my nails in weeks. This needs to change…but I’m oh so lazy.

3. I officially have 10,000+ Pins on my Pinterest page now. Holy cow.

4. I’ve not had a cup of coffee in ten days now. Ten! And I can’t believe how good I feel. I know I’ve been promising more diet details and a meal plan for a while now, but I finally sat my lazy butt down and put one together for later in the week.

5. I love this poem by Mary Oliver. Poetry doesn’t have to be long and flowery. Sometimes the most simple pieces are the most powerful.

The Uses of Sorrow

6. Don’t ask me why but I’ve been into really dark and melancholy art/music/writing lately.

7. And yet at the same time, I can’t get “Good Day Sunshine” and “Here Comes the Sun” out of my head. Those darn Beatles are just too catchy.

8. We had our first real fall rain last night and this morning. So refreshing.

9. I adore Natalie Dormer’s half-shaved hairdo for Mockingjay but since that obviously isn’t practical for my life, I think I’ll have to play with something like this instead.

10. Pumpkin-flavored everything is coming. And I could not be more pleased.

Music Monday: Of The Night


If you’re wondering why this sounds familiar, it’s a mash-up of two ’90s Eurodance songs: “Rhythm is a Dancer” and “Rhythm of the Night”. Kind of a weird, depressing video, but then I like artsy videos that are like mini-movies, even if they’re not cheery. I find them much more interesting than people just standing and singing for the camera. I guess it’s my natural love of stories.

Thought Questions, #169-#175

Unsplash Amanda Sandlin

(photo by Amanda Sandlin via Unsplash)

#169: Who is the strongest person you know? Hmmm…not sure.

#170: If you could take a single photograph of your life, what would it look like? Me reading with my cats while the hubby plays Minecraft on the Xbox. Boring to some, but it’s one of our favorite ways to spend a day off.

#171: Is the reward worth the risk? I don’t know. Is the reward food? And will I have to cross any heights or bodies of water to get it?

#172: For you personally, what makes today worth living? Knowing I’m about to go snuggle in bed with the cats all night. It’s been a long week. The knowledge that my hard work is paying off in a cozy little home with the people (and pets!) I love surrounding me and plenty of books & tea on the weekends makes it all worthwhile.

#173: What have you done in the last year that makes you proud? Got a promotion at work. And also, figured out how to make my own vegan ice cream at home. That’s a big deal, people.

#174: What did you learn recently that changed the way you live? My husband would like to interject here that I’m a nicer person when I’m managing my caffeine habit. Which is true. I haven’t had a cup of coffee in a week (!) and feel great. (I’m still drinking tea and the occasional natural energy drink, but I cut out coffee, soda and Monster.) I guess I’ve realized that it really is worth it to stay on a strict diet, no matter how much I hate giving up the foods I love. I just feel so much better when I’m not eating tons of carbs and sugar. Though if you offered me pizza with extra green peppers on top or a dish of salted caramel fudge ice cream right now I’d probably inhale it without chewing. My willpower flags when I’m tired. Time to go to bed and stop thinking about food!

#175: What is your fondest memory from the past three years? Probably something involving sleeping in. I feel like I never sleep enough. Or food. Maybe the last time we scarfed pizza and binge-watched Fringe. I, uh, I’m detecting a pattern in my thought process today.


Ten on Tuesday: Concerts, bank drama and diets


1. Saturday night’s concert was legitimately one of the best I’ve ever seen, live or taped. Thirty Seconds to Mars put on an AMAZING show–Jared Leto isn’t just a pretty face, he’s also a kickass showman. And Linkin Park was pretty awesome–Mike Shinoda is incredibly talented (he was rapping, playing guitar and hitting the keyboards, often all at the same time) and the band did a great job of blending rock, rap and electronic music all into one seamless two-hour set. Being in the pit in front of the stage was amazing. If you’re curious what the venue looks like, you can search “Gorge Amphitheatre” and get some photos that will give you an idea of the sheer size of the place. It holds almost 28,000 people!

Linkin Park tickets

2. I do kind of wonder why so many people purchase pit tickets just to stand there and take photos and videos on their smartphones. No dancing, no singing, no fun? And you know the videos aren’t going to be that great.

3. After all that, I’m worn out. We were up at 5 AM getting busy with all of our other weekend tasks (work, homework, etc.) and then had to make the drive to the venue. We were standing there from 3:30 PM on waiting for the show, and after it was all over we had to drive back home–we didn’t get home until 3 AM! Totally fun, but I’m glad we don’t do things like that more often.

4. The not-so-fun part of my weekend: finding out my debit card info was stolen and someone pulled $400 out of my bank account. Grrrrrr. Now I have to go through the fraud process to see if I can get the money back. There have been a lot of attacks on local businesses lately so it’s hard to even know how the number was stolen. I’m so careful with my card too, so it freaks me out a little. At least my bank has an awesome fraud department to handle these things.

5. We’re supposed to have warm weather with temps in the eighties for the next few days. Yay for an Indian summer!

6. I may just be converting my meat-eating friends to the wonders of a good vegan chili…nom nom nom. Will have to post a recipe soon.

7. On day two of the cleanse diet and I feel pretty good even without any coffee. I haven’t had much of an appetite lately which helps. I’m sure I’ll be craving bread and sweets soon though.

8. One month until a proper visit with the family.

9. I finally got a hold of the eighth Outlander book from Diana Gabaldon (Written in My Own Heart’s Blood) and it’s just as good as I expected. I’m halfway through it but I have to knock out 400 more pages before it’s due back at the library on Saturday. Wish me luck!

10. Go link up with Alyssa here!

Music Monday: Kings and Queens


My favorite Thirty Seconds to Mars song, and one of the highlights of Saturday’s concert. Although it’s kind of weird to watch this older video and see how different Jared looks, without seeming to have aged at all!

Thought Questions, #162-#168

Unsplash Sylwia Bartyzel

(photo by Sylwia Bartyzel via Unsplash)

I’m back to doing Thought Questions! I took a break for a while because I was just too busy with other things to give them proper attention. But I’m picking up where I left off and I’ll try to continue answering them on a weekly basis.

#162: If today was the last day of your life, who would you call and what would you tell them? Well, I’d call my family and tell them I love them. I wouldn’t want my last words to be bitter.

#163: Who do you dream about? I don’t really know. I have a lot of dreams but they usually involve strangers and are really weird. Sometimes I don’t remember them. Occasionally I dream about having an argument with a friend or family member, which always leaves me feeling crappy when I wake up. I’ll take the strangers, thank you!

#164: What do you have trouble seeing clearly in your mind? Good things. I have a tendency to skew toward the negative. It’s a constant process with me to visualize the good, whether memories or things in the future.

#165: What are you looking forward to? Seeing my family next month on vacation. Being done with my current writing project, which is kind of dragging. Sleeping tonight (I’m still tired from yesterday’s concert).

#166: What is the number one thing you want to accomplish before you die? Writing a book.

#167: When is love a weakness? When you do something morally wrong for the sake of being in love with someone. It’s weakened you because it’s changed the foundations of who you are.

#168: What has been the most terrifying moment of your life thus far? Deciding to bite the bullet and go for a relationship with a guy whom I didn’t know well and couldn’t even be certain liked me in return, even though I was still scarred from my last relationship. Obviously taking the plunge turned out well for me–we’ve been together six years now and married for three!