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Sometimes a vegan

I borrowed the title for this post from a colleague at an office birthday party coordinated for our boss. I brought homemade “herbalicious” hummus and organic carrots and cucumber slices. She asked me if I was vegan (I often prepare vegan dishes for work events). After a moment of reflection, my response was, “Sometimes!” She said that should be the title of my next book…”Sometimes A Vegan”. I like it.

Homemade hummus.LPC

I paused when responding to her because I prepare and eat vegan dishes often. I do love meat, but I crave vegetables. I started off on my vegan journey with various detox cleanses that I would do a couple of times a year. What I loved about my vegan cleanses is that the food was filling. I was not hungry on any of the cleanses, plus I learned how to make amazing recipes, got the added benefits of improved sleep, mental clarity and glowing skin. I’ve written several posts about my cleanses.

When I think about it, my love of vegan food has progressed from an annual cleanse for a specified duration, to participating in cleanses a few times a year, to incorporating vegan dishes into my meal rotation regularly. I have even modified some of my Haitian recipes like beans and rice to make them vegan.

For example, my mom taught me to fry a few pieces of salted pork in my beans. I’ve even tried simmering my pot of beans with smoked ham hocks in the past. However, for the last couple of years, I’ve completely omitted meat from my beans. This happened organically over time, especially after my breast cancer diagnosis. I’ve learned to load up with flavorful spices and herbs. I don’t miss the pork.

Red beans and Rice. LPC

I purchased this book at the recommendation of my green smoothie Facebook group members. LPC

I’ve been doing research lately on perimenopause and the best food choices to help manage it. I’ve been reading about how this is the time in a woman’s life (my time) to be really vigilant about nutrition and being active. As you get older, it’s not as easy to lose weight, or maintain it, for that matter. I can attest to the fact that it’s harder for me to lose weight. I can tell my body composition is changing without much effort from me. I don’t need my butt or stomach to get much bigger than they already are, but they’re trying.

Is a vegan diet sustainable as I go through perimenopause? I don’t think it is for me. One issue is I developed anemia due to heavy blood loss during my periods. Just a few weeks ago, I think I hit a milestone in how much blood I lost during just the first two days of my period. It doesn’t happen every month, but when it does, it’s significant.

I’ve read that a vegan diet may be lacking in iron, which is what I need. Don’t get me wrong, it’s true: leafy green vegetables, lentils/beans, and other vegetables have iron. However, the best type of iron absorbed by the body is “heme” iron, which is found in meat sources. Since I learned about the anemia about 6 months ago, I’ve been focused on eating more iron rich foods.

Burger with cheese, sauteed onions, arugula, fermented pickles on naan bread.LPC

So what diet is the best diet for perimenopause? I’ve found compelling research that a low glycemic diet is the best diet. This is consistent with what my primary care physician told me in December 2018. She told me to replace the bad carbohydrates with good ones and to abstain from white rice, white floor, and sweets. Now, she made the recommendations because my glucose was getting a little high, but this diet seems to have multiple benefits. I’ve gotten my glucose down. I think my apple cider vinegar tonic helped.

Now, I realize I just used the words “good” and “bad” to describe food, which I prefer not to. It would serve us all better if we looked at food with a healthier mindset such as focusing on the nutritional benefits. Also, I’m not a “dieter”. I’m working on what food choices will be the most beneficial to me. I will work on my food narrative.

Mushrooms getting ready for the air fryer. LPC

My food journey has evolved over time and I’m ok with that. My main goal is to be healthy in mind, body, and spirit. I want to have a great relationship with food and it is getting better. Ideally, I don’t want to look at certain foods as bad. I’ve always adopted the mindset that moderation is the key. Over the years, I’ve become more mindful of the types of foods I put into my body.

What are your favorite foods? I’d love to hear from you!

Breakfast: sauteed sweet potatoes, quinoa, eggs, and bacon. This hardy breakfast held us for hours as we toured two museums on Saturday, 9/21/19.LPC

Blanton Museum of Art, 9/21/19. LPC

Blanton Museum of Art, Austin, Texas..LPC

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Back to basics self-care

I know “self-care” is a buzz word right now and you can find plenty of articles defining and identifying strategies for “self-care”. I’ve even seen articles questioning the possibility of effective “self-care” for certain groups like parents of small children. Whatever the case, I BELIEVE “self-care” is absolutely essential to survive and thrive in our personal lives.

Whatever strategies you employ, it has to work for you, whether that be taking bubble baths and/ or participating in therapy. There are so many things you can do, some I may not have considered or am not interested in, so I’m not going to make a list.

I will say some facets of self-care are very basic. I’ve noticed my team and myself doing things that point to a lack of basic self-care. I will share a couple examples with you.

  1. Holding your urine for extended periods of time. Go pee! Stop doing the pee pee dance at work. I’m guilty of this one right here! My work days consist of being in meetings all day, planning, problem solving, and collaborating. On one level, I drink plenty of water for health reasons, but what good is it to destroy my already weak, aging bladder because I think I’m too busy to stop what I’m doing to take a much needed restroom break? Really??? I’ve been working on changing the narrative in my head from “It’s so annoying I need to go to the restroom right now!” to “Thank Goodness! Relieving myself will make my body very happy!”
  2. Not preparing for basic needs like food. What do I mean by this? I mean bring snacks and lunch to work, or while running errands, to avoid being hungry. Yes, I know there are articles on the benefits of intermittent fasting, but I’m not referring to intermittent fasting or any type of fasting, for that matter. I’m also not referring to poverty related hunger. I’m referring to basic planning to have food on hand, especially if you don’t like to be hungry. Not eating when you need to can contribute to other problems such as binge eating, brain fogginess, and the “hangry” attitude.

I don’t have this issue because I take breakfast, lunch, and snacks to work EVERY SINGLE day. I’ve made the mistake of not bringing food, thinking I would have time to grab a lunch from somewhere. Silly me! With the nature of my current position, I learned early on I may not be able to leave the office to pick up food because of an impromptu meeting. Since I don’t like to be hungry for lengthy periods plus I enjoy eating healthy, I bring all my meals and snacks to work. It doesn’t help there aren’t many appealing restaurant options near our current work location. This is actually probably a good thing. On the weekends, I find having small packets of mixed nuts and a bottle of water life-saving when running errands.

Plan ahead people! Take care of the basic functions of your body: eat, drink, eliminate, and sleep. You have more control than you think! Your body will thank you. And ultimately it demonstrates self-love and self-care.

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Body image

The other night as I was perusing through a tray on my night stand, I came across an old high school prom picture in a pile of random photos. I’ve been thinking about aging a lot lately. It’s funny how distorted the mind can be. When I was 18 years old, I didn’t think I was pretty, thought I was fat, and was afraid to talk to people. Oh how I’ve grown…literally (pun intended because I’m silly)! Here I am today, wiser, smarter, and the most ALIVE I’ve ever been, and my body is literally changing every day. If I could have my current mindset combined with the body I had back then, I’d be unstoppable! Alas, as fate would have it, life doesn’t work like that.

So at forty six years old, I must contend with this next phase of my life. In the past few weeks, I’ve added to my research: perimenopause, anemia, iron deficiency, and healthy aging. Of all the health issues I’ve had over the years, not one of my doctors told me about perimenopause. I broached the subject with my primary care physician and she didn’t offer much, except to say I was probably experiencing it, but no tests would confirm it…only if I were in menopause. As a breast cancer survivor, my health is my main priority. I put in the work daily to keep myself healthy by exercising, eating healthy, controlling my stress, sleeping, etc. In addition to all of this, I am striving for a healthy body image.

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LPC Summer 2019

I’m glad I can laugh about a recent, real conversation I had with my husband about body image. It went something like this:

  • Me (looking in the mirror, squeezing my stomach & pretending like it didn’t exist): If I didn’t have this stomach, you wouldn’t be able to keep me away from cropped tops. I don’t care about the other parts of my body, I just want a FLAT stomach!
  • Husband: If that’s the case, if I got rid of my stomach, I would never wear a shirt while on my walks, EVER again! (Inside joke: We can’t figure out why most men, no matter their shape or size, or where we are in Austin, jog shirtless.)

I made a deal with myself a few days after our conversation that I wouldn’t be so hard on myself. I will focus on the positive parts of my body I love rather than the parts I don’t. Think about all the modifications we make to hide our imperfections. Think about how much energy that takes. Yes, I’ve had a pouch for 18 years (since giving birth to my 12.2 pound son), and I may never like my pouch, but in the big scheme of things, I have two beautiful children. Instead of looking at myself in the mirror in disgust, I will remind myself of the other parts of myself I love more. I’m hear to tell you, this is hard work, but it’s worth the effort. This may be too much for family members who may read this, BUT did I mention having a pouch hasn’t stopped me from having the best sex of my life? Yup, one of many perks of aging and aging with your love.

My oldest sister told me something recently which made me pause. She said, “You know, you’ve been through a lot in your short life”. Her simple statement rendered me speechless (for a few seconds). It’s true, but because I just move forward, I don’t spend time thinking about what I’ve been through. I focus on how else I want to grow and what else I want to accomplish. And because I’ve been through a lot, I no longer want to beat myself up or waste time thinking about how I look. I definitely don’t want to bring that negative energy into my fifties. We all have imperfections. These imperfections make us beautiful.

I want great health and great body image. I want the same for my daughter. I’m committed to aging gracefully, getting wiser, having a healthy body image, and inspiring others to do the same.

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LPC 7-21-19

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Age is nothing but a number

I’ve heard the expression “age is nothing but a number” at least a thousand times. I have so much going in my life that I don’t usually have time to think about my age; however lately, I’ve been thinking about my age. It could be because I feel more aches and pains in my joints, which can lasts for hours, especially after a good workout. I’ve been more tired due to long work hours and managing my family. I can visibly see the changes in my face: the forehead wrinkles, drooping eyes, under eye dark circles, and smile lines. I also have one gray hair on my right side burn (I’ve had it for years). This is what my 45 looks like sans makeup.

Here’s the thing…I’m not going to lie, I wouldn’t mind having the smooth skin of my twenties. Does this mean I don’t like the way I look now or that I wish I could go back in time or that I don’t want to get older??? No, it doesn’t. In fact, I actually appreciate the way I look now more than I ever did when I had the glorious skin and body to match. I also love my confidence in my forties. In my twenties, I was very insecure and had a lot personal growth to do. In my forties, I know who I am and have learned to care less about what other people think about me.

I’m simply processing how I feel about the fact that there is no mistaking I’m a woman of a “certain age”. What does that mean anyway? For years, I’ve been told I looked younger than my age, which was an ego booster, for sure. I think when people tell you that often enough, you can trick yourself into thinking, “aging isn’t that bad because I don’t even look my age”. However, what about the day when you actually start to look your age or look older? How do you deal with that? I’m not a shallow person. I’m acknowledging my tension with aging is likely because I’ve internalized society’s rules to some degree: beauty equates to youth. The message is everywhere. I need a detox from that message and different definition of beauty.

I intend to age beautifully with a full appreciation for all of my experiences, capabilities, accomplishments, failures, idiosyncrasies, my body, mind, and spirit, and the people who mean the most to me. Some of what I do to take care of myself as I get older are habits I actually started in my twenties such as exercising most days of the week and having a solid skincare regimen. I learned a lot about skincare when I used to sell Mary Kay products. Other things I’ve incorporated over the years are drinking green smoothies daily, eating lots of fruits and vegetables, and drinking more water. What I’m working on now is reducing my sugar intake and losing a few extra pounds.

The truth is the voice inside my head doesn’t have an age, so for me, it’s true: age is nothing but a number. In fact, I have to remind myself to slow down; otherwise I’ll suffer the consequences later (i.e. exercising too hard). I strive daily to be the best version of myself I can be. Inevitably, we’re all getting older and sometimes it feels scary, but it’s okay. Here are a few light lessons I hope you embrace:

  • Acknowledge and process your feelings about aging
  • Talk about it with someone you trust
  • Things you can do to age beautifully are:
    • Guard your mind, body, and spirit from negativity
    • Eat healthily
    • Exercise regularly
    • Do activities in nature (ex. walking)
    • Take care of your body (ex. stretch, doctor’s appointments, massage)
    • Practice gratefulness
    • Apply makeup and clothing that accentuate your features
    • Do things you enjoy
    • Learn new things
    • Keep setting new goals
    • Keep in close contact with the people who mean the most to you
    • Laugh A LOT

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