What being a vegetarian has done for me… so far.

As I briefly mentioned in my last post, I decided I would adopt a vegetarian diet upon my return from Vietnam three months ago, where I most certainly consumed too much meat. While overseas, of course, I had no problem with my choices; I wanted to live the life, breathe the air, eat the food, and drink the drink! However, here's where it's important to listen to your body and understand how it functions. Mine functions much better when fueled by plants rather than pork. For a while now, I've been cooking solely meatless meals at home (100% because I don't like the way raw meat looks, smells, and feels), so the transition to full veg wasn't as hard as I'd expected. Maybe I shouldn't say full veg - there are times at school where I eat meat because it's just way too hard to avoid, or when having a special meal with friends or co-workers, I'll partake.

Two main byproducts of my changed lifestyle are intentional eating and weight-loss. Now, I don't have any weight-loss goals. I'm at a perfect place right now and am only so serious about my health and wellness in order to maintain where I am. Howeverrrrrrrr, I shall not complain about losing a few inches here and there. No, I shall not. I do think that my slimming down (so-to-speak) is more a result of me being more intentional with my consumption than of me simply not eating meat. As I understand the body (my body, because there are no scientific facts to back this up at all whatsoever), when you continuously feed it fresh/healthy food, it becomes used to that type of fuel. The moment you feed the body processed food, or something so the opposite of what it was getting before, the body starts to reject it and you can start to feel sick. Well, class, this is what would happen to me when I would consume junk in the midst of my consistent healthy eating. As I'm more aware of what I put into my body, I realize mama needs to stay ready so I don't have to get ready. I am a HUGE snacker. I think I'm always hungry because I'm always eating (and maybe the other way around, too). In the past, along my days, I'd usually bop to a convenience store and grab whatever snack that called my attention - usually laden with zero nutrition and endless sugar and fats. Or if I wanted something more savory, I might go to a fast food joint and pick up a small burger that would fill me but never satisfy me. These days, though, I'm always ready with some odd mixture of fruits, vegetables, and nuts as a snack. I prepare it the night before in a baby container and enjoy it at that deliciously annoying time an hour before work is due to end but you can't think about anything productive because you're so damn hungry. It's always a light snack, and I won't say it's very filling (unless it's like strawberries or oranges because all that water fills me right up), but I feel satisfied and not guilty for feeding my body crap that it doesn't deserve!

I won't sit here any say that I don't indulge, though. I'm a chocolate fiend and have a sweet tooth, but for me it's all about moderation. My physical health is just as important as my mental health, and if I overindulge in a sweet treat, not only does my body suffer, I begin to rag on myself for not exercising the discipline I know I have. Who woulda thought one could glean so much nuance from removing one thing from her diet.

Before I wrap this up, I shan't forget about cooking! It's funny how the mind works, because, like I said, I've been living in a meatless household for a while, but it's not until I decided to get serious about being a vegetarian that I realized I need to make sure I have a balance of nutrition and am not just eating celery with peanut butter for B,L, and D (albeit mighty tasty). I made lentils and chickpeas for the first time, which apparently had such a profound impact on me that I dreamt about my chickpeas while they soaked overnight. So, now when I grocery shop, I make sure I have enough variety that I'm hitting as many nutritional groups as I can, not just getting what I want because it tastes good. And when I eat throughout the day I try to make sure I'm consuming as much of the rainbow as possible. I think that's a good rule of thumb, right? I don't know, but I feel great, look great, and am in control of my body and health - that's what matters to me! For real, no one else is going to take care of me but me, and ya girl is trying to live for a long time!

Above are a few of the meals I've cooked ranging from really simple to more complex to prepare. I love how creative I'm forced to be, now. I can't be the only person who takes photos of my food when I think it looks delish, right?

I'm looking forward to seeing where this lifestyle takes me, and hoping I stop craving juicy burgers now and again (secret revealed!).

Any of you making the transition into vegetarianism/veganism, or a healthier lifestyle in general? How's that going so far?