Good morning! I hope your day is going well so far. It's been a minute since I've posted a Healthy Life update, so I figure that today is as good of a day as any. Bear with me, though, it's a bit longer than my usual updates!
1. First, I'd like to address my plant-based diet. I was a vegan for 3.5 years until January of this year. Between extreme hormonal changes and deep, personal issues, I really started craving meat back in September of last year. I fought it for as long as I could, but I realized that my body was trying to tell me something, so in January, I ate meat for the first time in 3.5 years. Now, I was never the perfect vegan anyway, having bordered on vegetarian several times (namely in the ways of mayonnaise and ranch dressing, two condiments that I cannot live without and will use non-vegan versions of it if vegan versions aren't available to me), but eating meat was something I had not done at that time.
Now that my personal and hormonal issues have righted themselves, I noticed that I was really starting to miss my old plant-based diet. On top of that, I also noticed that I was starting to eat like crap again. One of the reasons I moved to a plant-based diet in the first place was my horrible diet. If I have no restrictions on what I can eat, then I tend to eat whatever crappy food/snack looks good. So, I've moved back to my plant-based diet and I forgot just how awesome it is! (Not to mention, I feel much better not contributing to factory farms and animal cruelty.)
2. In addition to going back to my plant-based diet, I also started eating nutrient-dense meals. This means I try to eat healthier, whole foods as opposed to sugars, carbs, and easy processed foods. This also means I have to spend time planning out and cooking meals instead of grabbing whatever is easy. Let me tell you, it's been a struggle. It's so tempting just to eat whatever is handy when I get home from work, but planning out meals and cooking large batches a few days a week has been a lifesaver for me. On top of this, and as much as I hate to do it, I have been counting my calories using MyFitnessPal. When I eat like crap, I tend to overeat, so I wanted to make sure I was still eating a deficit of calories WHILE eating nutrient-dense foods. I don't plan on counting calories forever, but it's a good way of getting a general idea of how much you should eat each day firmly in your mind.
3. I haven't lost any weight at this time. The reason for this is the aforementioned eating like crap. When you eat like crap, it's easy to overeat. Luckily, since I walk so much I haven't gained anything, but we all know that won't last forever, so getting my food back on track was essential. Now, while I didn't lose any weight, I toned up immensely. I know this from the various compliments I've gotten recently combined with how my clothes have been fitting. Yay for small goals!
4. You all know about my 100-mile a month goal of walking/hiking that began last year. This resulted in me acclimating to, and tackling all the issues of, every season. Between walking to work and hiking on weekends I achieved that goal nearly every month - except for winter when conditions often prevented me from walking. Well, around mid-June of this year, I realized how quickly my hiking trip to conquer Black Elk Peak was fast approaching, so I ramped up my walking routine. Where I would typically get around 3-3.5 miles a day, I started getting 4.5 miles a day. The reason for this is that I started walking 1.5-1.75 miles on my lunch break. It completely paid off as hiking while on vacation this year ended up being pretty easy for me. I've kept it up since vacation and it helps me feel healthy.
5. I cut my drinking back down to Friday and Saturday nights. Another terrible habit I do when times are tough is to drink more often. This is bad on so many levels! Like giving up crappy food, giving up booze during the week was tough, but necessary.
6. Something new I started doing is evaluating my sleep. I was starting to feel exhausted all the time. I realized that my diet and over-indulgence in alcohol was a factor in this, but it dawned on me that my sleep schedule wasn't helping. So, in addition to giving up weekday drinking and eating better, I've set an absolute latest time to get to bed at night. Let me tell you, what a difference this has made. Most nights, I get an average of seven hours of sleep and I wake up feeling rested.
So that's the Healthy Life update. A lot has been going on! While I definitely experienced some setbacks, I didn't let those setbacks completely derail me. Before, I would always go completely off the rails if I made one step back. I'm proud of myself for taking two steps forward to come back out of that. It isn't easy, and I'll never pretend that I'm an expert nor that I won't falter again, but at least I recognize my problems and try to right them. On top of that, I'm overall in the best health of my life. While I've said this before, and it was true then, it's even truer now.
I hope you have a great weekend. I got my weekend coffee and the house is quiet. I'll relax on my back patio for a while before taking my daughter out on a planned mom-daughter day hike. I'll be sure to post about that in the future.