Tea time – Better me time

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Recently I gave up coffee in exchange for tea, and boy was it hard. I’ve been a coffee drinker since early college, and I haven’t stopped since. I love it. The smell wakes me up and the taste pleases my tongue. It’s always been a liquid bundle of roasted joy each morning. That is, until a few months ago when I noticed that coffee wasn’t doing what is seemingly had in the past.

Of course, the smell was the same, and the flavor was just as delicious. However, I was feeling worse after drinking it. That was new. For as long as I can remember, coffee has always had a positive effect on my energy levels. I mean, sometimes it didn’t work as well, but I would at least stay neutral. I never felt worse. Never.

But now, I do. If I drink a cup of coffee, I feel more sleepy and sluggish than I did before drinking it. Can I possibly express how sad this makes me? Coffee let me down! At first, though, I thought it was just from working too hard and the stress that came along with it. I figured that, after work and my life petered out, thing would go back to normal. They didn’t.

Cue my new affinity for drinking tea, which, to be honest, surprised the hell out of me. I never had faith in tea to do as good a job as coffee. I didn’t necessarily scoff at tea, but more calmly looked the other way. But these days, it’s taken over coffee’s job, and it’s doing a much better job, surprisingly. I feel a steady, consistent amount of energy after drinking tea without the huge crash that coffee recently introduced to me. I also sleep better at night, which is helping give me even more energy each day. I’m seriously so grateful.

In the mornings I usually stick to black tea, Earl Grey to be exact, and add a little almond milk to give it a creamy texture. Gosh is it heaven! Later in the day, if I’m feeling like another cup is warranted, I’ll turn to a green tea since there’s just enough caffeine to get me through the rest of the day without highjacking it.

I still need to experiment more with different tea flavors, though. I’ve so far only drunk the traditional flavors of simple blacks and greens. For example, I would love to try rose-flavored, or vanilla-flavored black tea. Those two sound divine. I also want to purchase a proper tea set to add a bit more pleasure while drinking. After all, most experiences are pleasant because of the details. I can’t deny that.

Overall, I’m exceptionally satisfied with my new tea-drinking habit. It has offered me a whole new way to start my day, as well as a vast culture and history to further explore in the future. Let’s get started!

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Falling Off the Veggie Wagon

For the past two to three months (basically since I moved apartments) I have essentially fallen off the proverbial veggie wagon. I haven’t been eating as many fruits and veggies as I promised myself I would, and I haven’t been cooking at home. Instead, I’ve been eating out almost every day, and I resort to semi-fast food vegan dishes. My refrigerator is emptier than it’s been all year, and my body and mind are feeling every bit of the consequences. I’m extremely disappointed in this situation, to say the least.

In general, because I haven’t been eating as well as I was for so long, I have way less energy, sleep more poorly, and my mind feels more sluggish than usual. I’m even experiencing serious mood swings, which I thought I got rid of a long time ago. In essence, I’m not doing so well. The worst part of it all? I’ve known that this is an issue this whole time, yet I haven’t taken the necessary steps to fix it.

But it’s not easy. For example, the new neighborhood I moved to has a serious lack of prime produce, and it’s hurting my motivation to cook. I wish I could be more creative with what’s available here, but I’m just not feeling up to the challenge most of the time. This is probably because I instead have to go grocery shopping immediately after I get off work, and then make the 30 minute trek back home by bus and foot with all the heavy bags (I live up a ginormous hill, no exaggeration, which makes getting home even harder). I get home between 7:30-8:00PM, and I have to start cooking right away in order to have enough time to finish any chores before I need to go to bed (I think Sunday prep should become more of a thing for me). I have little to no time for anything else.

Through all of this, though, my eyes have opened to just how fortunate I am to even have access to these kinds of foods. I have no excuses for not cooking and eating the foods that nourish and strengthen my body. I still have a choice to access these foods, and I definitely have the financial means to purchase them. All it takes is dedication to my health and the ability to say “No” if I want to resort to laziness and excuses. There are millions in this world without such a luxury.

My motivation is slowly growing once again as I begin to remind myself more and more how fortunate I am to be able to eat the foods that my body needs to survive and thrive. I just need to put my foot down and do it. I will never give up on my health.

Pure Plant Happiness

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If someone were to ask me what kind of person I am, I would most likely answer “chill” as the first descriptor. I go through many different kinds of moods and emotions, but being chill is definitely my base personality zone. However, since going fully vegan in March, I have begun experiencing way more bouts of excessive energy and happiness.

When I say that these bouts contain excessive energy, it’s almost an understatement. Just ask my poor boyfriend. It’s almost as if I take some kind of happiness pill that kicks in after eating. I start to dance or wiggle my body in strange and entertaining ways, and holy laughter! I literally just start laughing because everything seems so bright and funny. It doesn’t stop for at least ten minutes. Some of you might be thinking I need to go see someone about this, but it’s honestly one of the greatest feelings in the world. It’s as if my body is rewarding me for giving it all that it needs to survive and thrive. It’s like receiving a small gift.

These bursts don’t happen after every meal, nor would I want them. But they do happen way more often than before, and it’s so incredible to think that it all comes from the food. There has literally been no other drastic lifestyle change that would account for me feeling this way. The only logical conclusion is that the whole plant foods I’m eating all day, every day are the main cause. Thank you, bananas!

I’m sure there are many people who have gone vegan, and yet don’t experience what I just described, and I can’t comment on why that is. For whatever reason, this is something I’ve experienced since going high-raw vegan (maybe this is a big reason?), and it’s awesome! I just feel consistently happier every day.

My body loves me, and I love it.

Reflection and Redirection

Hey all!

I know it’s been forever since I uploaded my first post, but I took a step back to focus more on aspects in my personal life. I was feeling caught in a whirlwind of emotions and unnecessary stress so I knew I needed some reflection time. Fortunately, it really helped, and I even emerged from the recluse with a new direction for this blog.

Starting in March, I went completely, totally vegan, and I now want to share this lifestyle, and the experiences that go with it, with anyone who’s interested. It has been a change and redirection in my life for the better, one-thousand times over. I can’t even fully describe how amazing my choice has left me feeling every single day. Incredibly, the changes aren’t stopping, nor do I think they ever will. I’m continuously learning and evolving within this lifestyle, and I couldn’t be happier.

It’s not all rainbows and sunshine, of course. There are a lot of difficulties that come with it, and they most definitely cannot be ignored. It also doesn’t help that I’m currently living in a country where most meals consist of some form of meat or animal by-product. Other products, such as clothing, aren’t easily labeled, either (my Korean isn’t that savvy yet). It’s definitely much harder here than it would be back in the United States.

However, I’ll never be able to go back to the ways in which I lived before. The changes that have occurred from going vegan have been so beautiful and life-giving that thinking about how I used to feel in life before this makes me anxious and sad. I feel more alive now than I have in a really long time. There’s no exaggeration in that statement, not one bit.

I, in no way, am commenting on how others eat or live. I’m only describing my own personal experiences. People are different, and their opinions/experiences are different. I completely understand. Yet, if I can inspire one person to try this out and feel better because of it, I say success! When we all feel healthy, complete and loved, we become our best selves. Here’s to journeying towards a better self ❤

 

 

Why I Don’t Eat Added Sugar

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I still think about this gelato.

For the past decade or so, research on the negative effects of sugar consumption has been exploding onto the science scene. Different papers detail how too much sugar can cause different illnesses, and that the spread of sugary foods has contributed to the spread of obesity and other diseases across the world. Thankfully, this research was available around late 2014. I began experiencing a few unpleasant issues with my own body, and I basically had no choice but to look into the research on sugar. Nothing else seemed to explain why I was dealing with body issues. But, was sugar truly the cause of my problems, and if so, could I bring myself to quit eating it?

Long story short, it definitely seemed to be the cause, and I officially quit eating added sugars shortly after looking into the research. Then, not long after that, my body problems quickly and efficiently cleared up. I’m not exaggerating. It took less than two weeks for everything to disappear (I was dealing with random rashes on my skin – very unpleasant, and I still don’t know exactly what they were or where they came from). It almost seemed too good to be true. Yet, amazingly, it wasn’t.

Now, in the beginning, it was complete hell. I saw sugar everywhere. It was in all the sweets, of course; but it was in things that I didn’t even associate with sugar, such as savory sauces, dressings, breads, and much more. I had no idea it was so pervasive. Was it always in those foods? Anyway, the first week exhausted me. All the foods I had grown accustomed to eating were swept away in a flash, and I had to find replacements fast.

Immediately, I turned to more and more whole foods. At first, it felt strange, especially since I began eating way more fruit than I previously had. I even felt guilty because I knew there were large amounts of sugar in the fruits. However, I quickly found out why fruit isn’t as bad as a glass of juice or a handful of cookies: essentially, the fiber in the fruit helps slow down the absorption of sugar into the bloodstream, which helps curb spikes in blood sugar levels (not to mention all of the added vitamins and minerals). So, those apples and pears were good to go.

As I stated earlier, after about two weeks my skin problems cleared right up. To be honest, I was quite shocked. But, I was even more shocked by what happened to my mind and the rest of my body. For example, I was able to sleep better at night, I had WAY more energy, my spotty acne noticeably healed, I seemed to build muscle faster after working out, and my brain didn’t feel as sluggish after a meal. Also, I didn’t experience intense cravings like before, and I even began forgetting about all the foods I had previously enjoyed. Unbelievably, they started to sound kind of gross and unappetizing. Needless to say, I was completely astonished by how different I felt after such a simple, yet very dramatic lifestyle change.

Of course, it wasn’t all rainbows and sunshine. My mind and body were making positive progress, but my social life took a strange turn. It became tricky and inconvenient to go out to eat with friends. Seriously, it was so difficult trying to find a restaurant that served food without added sugar. On top of that, I had to battle a language that was completely foreign to me, so requests and explanations became demanding and awkward (I was living in Busan, South Korea). Also, the conversations and questions after telling someone that I didn’t eat added sugar were pretty interesting: “Do you still eat fruit?”, “When did you quit?”, “What CAN you eat?,” and my favorite, “But…why?”.

Still, the worst part, I admit, was having to say no to those who wanted to give me treats as a gift (or just accept them, but not actually eat them). In so many cultures around the world, giving sweet treats is a staple of showing affection and gratitude, and Korea is no exception. There were countless times when people either gave or offered me foods with sugar in them, and I was forced to get pretty creative when saying no. Heartless? Maybe. But at the end of the day, those who cared about me understood and accepted my reasons for saying, “No, thank you.”

Now, I wasn’t completely sweet-less. There were certain occasions when I rejoined mainstream society and indulged in the sugary stuff. Usually on birthdays of loved ones, or while visiting foreign countries with new desserts, I went all in. Understandably, I still wanted to experience and enjoy all that life had to offer. But, I made a firm decision that one time was enough, and then I moved on. It was such an extreme practice of willpower, but after doing it enough times, it became a habit and a part of my daily experience.

Fast-forward to today, and I must concede that I went back to eating added sugars while living in Los Angeles, as well as my first months after moving to Seoul (pretty much all of 2016). I was bombarded by so many delicious and interesting looking sweets that I made every excuse in the book to eat them, even while feeling like crap and recognizing tell-tale signs of too much sugar consumption. So, a few weeks ago I officially went sugar-free once more, and it feels good to be back. All the positive effects have resurfaced, as well as the slightly awkward social effects. However, I’ve been here before, and I feel much more comfortable treading these waters this time around. It’s just my life, that’s it.

After all is said and done, I’m 100% satisfied with my decision to give up added sugars. It’s not easy, not by any stretch of the imagination, but the payoffs are so incredibly rewarding that I can’t even imagine going back. After all, my mind and body are the only tools I have in this life to achieve my dreams and goals, and I’m going to do everything in my power to keep them as sharp and healthy as possible. Removing added sugars from my daily life has been one of the greatest decisions towards making this a reality. 

New Project

I’m here, and I’m doing it. Really, I’m just going to do it. I’ve been wanting to start a blog for some time now, but I always thought I didn’t have anything meaningful to say. However, these days, half of me thinks this isn’t true, and the other half just doesn’t care. Even if I only reach one person with what I have to share, it’s enough for me. Of course, I’m going to make a lot of mistakes along the way (as everyone does, naturally), but I’ll learn so much more, and I hope to share all of this with those who give a damn.

My posts are going to span a variety of topics since I’m interested in so many different things, just so everyone doesn’t get confused as to what my main purpose is. Perhaps after some time, I’ll narrow down and specify my blog posts, but who knows. I’m just going to let my mind and spirit flow, which I know will take me where I need to go. Also, the posts will probably be more sporadic in the beginning since I have no experience doing this, but I’ll try my absolute best.

I would love if people would interact with me on here, as well. I don’t want this whole venture to be a personal virtual soapbox. It would just feel a bit narcissistic, which, truthfully, is partially what kept me from doing this in the first place. I want to talk with, not at, everyone.

Anyway, I wanted to introduce this new project in a short and sweet fashion. Once I finish my first official post, I’ll share it right away. I hope some of you find meaning from what I have to say, especially since so many of you do the same for me.

Have a beautiful day.