Towards Redemption

IMG_9535It’s pretty hilarious to look back on early evidence of my journey towards a plant-based lifestyle. There is plentiful hemming and hawing as I gradually convince myself to exploit animals less, making various justifications and exceptions along the way. Recently, I even stumbled upon my handwritten journals from high school, in which I lament the way vegetarians made me feel guilty for eating meat (early cognitive dissonance FTW!)

Even now, I am not 100% plant-based. I eat exclusively vegan at home, but make allowances when I’m at a restaurant, traveling, or a guest in someone’s home. In those instances, I typically compromise to vegetarian or pescatarian levels. In other words, I’m still working on it.

But, I am far more “radicalized” today than ever, and I speak up passionately for the cause. That said, I am perpetually conflicted about it. Not about veganism itself, but about my advocacy. There are days when I feel horribly guilty about “telling people what to eat” or about pressing my viewpoint on others. I remind myself that it’s less and less a matter of opinion. The more we learn about animal sentience, environmental degradation, health, global hunger, and climate change, the less we can dismiss veganism as a lifestyle choice or dietary preference. Now more than ever, it’s an existential and moral imperative. Continue reading

American Bloat

While I was in France, I ate whatever I wanted. French food is heavy on all the currently “taboo” food groups in this country (depending on who you’re talking to these days), to include dairy, grains, meat, fats, and everything in between. And I have to tell ya – my digestive system never felt better while I was over there!

I returned to the U.S., and while I surely love American food in all its glory, I am back to being bloated, irregular, and less energized. It’s not because I eat bread… or because cheese is wrecking my digestive system…or because I enjoy red meat. I ate all those things in Europe. I know this is no secret, but it really is the fact that food in this country is SO overly processed. Even the packaged foods in Europe had smaller lists of ingredients, most of which I could actually pronounce. Everything is fresh and mostly local there. I ate raw eggs and beef for crying out loud (and lived to tell the tale.)

I’m not one to judge the U.S. based on what other countries are doing. I’ve never thought it’s a fair comparison – we are so much bigger and more diverse than most European countries. However, I do wish we could take at least SOMEWHAT of a hint from their dietary practices. Natural ingredients. A reduced reliance on corn. Cleaner, more humane livestock care. And perhaps the elimination of preservatives, dyes, and other miscellaneous ingredients that are banned everywhere else in the developed world except here! Of course, Americans could take a little personal responsibility and work on portion control, too…

I hate to be that Northern Virginia snobby white girl, and I probably won’t have this opportunity on a military base in Okinawa, but I may have to start shopping organic (it’s a start!)

…But on a lighter (or at least more thoughtful!) note…

While I was puking my guts out Monday night into Tuesday morning, I took a moment to Google some tips on relief. The first several links were – sadly – all about how to deal with cancer and chemotherapy. It gave me a serious wake-up call in the midst of my self-pity… I’ve said it once and I’ll say it again, and again, and again… I am SO thankful for a healthy body.

I’ve always wished and prayed for health and happiness – for myself, for my loved ones, for everyone! I think those are the two most important things. But in that moment (I’m sure exaggerated by the situation in which I found myself), I decided that if I had to choose one, it would be health. Not that happy people are always healthy, or unhealthy people always unhappy, but happiness is so much more difficult to achieve if your body (and mind) won’t cooperate. All I could think about were the cancer patients reading the same links I was reading. All I could think about was my mother, homeless on that freezing cold night. I had it damn good, curled up in the loving embrace of my porcelain potty.

Freedom from disease of the body and of the mind is a beautiful thing. It’s so much more difficult to pursue happiness if you don’t have that. I hope I never take my freedom for granted.


I have to avoid the Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show and social media every year because people are so damn stupid and insensitive.

I want to punch every single person in the face who says that they need to eat a cheeseburger.

Or if they say that “real women” have curves.

No boobs. No curves. Middle finger up. Still a real woman.

Women need to stop body-shaming each other. We are all “real women” and come in various shapes and sizes. Just be HAPPY and HEALTHY! We should all know what that means for ourselves.

I work out!

I’ve never been the type to commit to working out, and have always relied on the fact that I’m skinny to avoid doing much about it. Of course, like many women, there are things about myself I’d like to change (and I certainly recognize the value in being healthy), but I never had weight issues as an incentive to get to the gym and actually do something about it.

Now that I’m not working and the gym is free and 2 minutes away, I really have no excuses left. I’m officially letting Chuck be my personal trainer for the remainder of our time here in Georgia. He studied fitness a good bit during his ample free time in Afghanistan this past deployment, and he’s convinced he can help me attain aspects of the body type I want, without turning me into some sort of muscle guru/gym rat…

Half my problem is I don’t even know what I’m capable of! I know I want to be toned, build some muscle, and feel healthy and strong, but it’s not like I am a heavy person who was once thin and has a mental image of what I need to work towards. I have no tangible realization of what I can or want to look like, within the limitations of my body type.  No target weight, no concept of what I’d look like with muscles, etc. So, this could be a very enlightening piece of work!

Yesterday Chuck started me with chest, shoulders, and back. I did dead lifts and baby bench presses, among other things. This morning, I am crazy sore in all of those places, and if there’s one thing I do love about “working out”, it’s being sore! It’s not so bad now that I have someone to guide me. I hate going to gyms alone – everyone watching everyone else, and here I am not having a clue on how to work the crazy looking machines…

Wish me luck!! We will see how this odyssey goes..

How is the cruelty-free shopping going?

It’s actually going really well, thanks for asking! I’ve replaced *most* of my bath/body/beauty items with more eco-friendly (and at the very least, cruelty-free) alternatives.

These are some of my faves:

Too Faced Cosmetics – foundation, blush, and bronzer

Physicians Formula – mascara, brow pencil, eyeliner

Alba Botanicals – shampoo, conditioner, face wash

Village Naturals – body wash (though I love Jason, for an occasional splurge)

St. Tropez – self-tanners

Basically all I need now is a good face moisturizer and eye cream. I have some in line to try, but first I need to finish my current bottles (which I thought were cruelty-free, but actually aren’t… which is a bummer because I really like these.) I’d like to find a good toothpaste next! I feel like that may be harder, unfortunately… especially since I’d have to impress Chuck with that one too 😉

Anyway, that was probably way more info than you wanted, but yeah – I am on a roll with it!

40 maps that explain the world

This is one of the most fascinating things I’ve seen in a long time, and I could probably spend hours on it, if I include the linked explanations and analyses. There are quite a few surprises in here, too! The world is such an incredible place, in all sorts of ways.

40 maps that explain the world

I’m no beauty guru, but…

There are only 3 products I’ve ever used that truly, dramatically accomplish what they claim:

Agadir Argan Oil Spray. I have fine hair that tends to get limp in no time. It was severely damaged several years ago, so I gave this stuff a try, and now my hair is in great shape!! (It didn’t take all several years though, don’t worry.) I still use it after every wash, whether I blow dry or not. Other leave-in conditioners are too heavy for my hair, but this is perfect!

Revitalash Conditioning Serum. Non-prescription Latisse. Not to brag, but my eyelashes are kind of amazing after using this for a few weeks. The drugstore equivalents do nothing in comparison. It’s kind of pricey, but you can find it cheap(er) on sites like eBay, and it does last a while!

St. Tropez Self Tan Bronzing Mousse. I’m not just fair – I’m pasty – so I’ve tried every self-tanner in the world it seems. I was really skeptical about St. Tropez, thinking it was overhyped and overpriced, but let me tell you – it’s NOT! I’ve never tried anything that’s more fool proof and odor free than St. Tropez. The mousse goes on evenly and dries quickly. It doesn’t stain my clothes, and it’s actually brown, rather than orange. It can be used for subtle glow, or for a deep tan, though it’s more cost-effective to use it for the glow. I think I’d still rather get a professional spray tan for the deeply bronzed look, but for a quick and nice light tan, this is a gem and completely worth the money!

Anyway, just thought I’d share my success stories, for anyone who’s wasted a lot of time and money on useless gimmicks, like I have…

The Insanity Virus

Absolutely fascinating theory on schizophrenia, multiple sclerosis, and bipolar disorders (and perhaps other mental illnesses as well?) This could provide so much hope for prevention and cure, if it’s true!

The Insanity Virus