Sunday, September 22, 2013

Deaf Day at the Zoo

I'm a sign language interpreter.  So I enjoy going to deaf community events so I can learn new signs, improve my ASL (American Sign Language), and meet more people.  I love meeting new people whether as a new friend or as a possible future client.

Yesterday, I went to the Brookfield Zoo for the Deaf Day.  I had such a great time.  I didn't get to meet anyone new, but I did bump into some friends and their kids and some new acquaintances.  I'm hoping to interpret at next years event.

No idea who the man in the picture is.  There was a lot of people and I wanted a picture of the sign.

A kid was roaring at him and he roared back!

I swear he's looking at me!

This reminded me of Ferdinand the Bull and him sitting quietly and just smelling the flowers.

A tidal wave washed over us.

What's that smell?


I had such a great time and I'm looking forward to next year!
"Keep Moving Forward"

My First Fall Workout Outfit of 2013

My first fall outfit!  I'm so excited!  I love colder weather.  Fall is my favorite season followed closely by winter.  I just love all the layers.  I've had this sweater for a couple of years.  However, I didn't like wearing it for a while since it was snug.  Now that I've lost weight, it fits better.

It was a beautiful day.  It was sunny and I was very hot by the end of my run.
I ran a quarter of a mile straight and then ran sporadically, roughly an eighth of a mile.  Progress!
"Keep Moving Forward"

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Grocery Shopping on a Budget

I have been working on budgeting for grocery shopping.  Many people hear the word vegan and think I spend hundreds of dollars on groceries each month.  I'm trying to prove that you can be frugal while eating a vegan diet.  I've shopped around and I've looked for deals.  I always buy the cheaper products.  I also will pay a little extra for fortified foods.  I want to make sure I get plenty of calcium and iron.
My favorite grocery store is Trader Joe's.  I've found it's cheaper than my local grocery store.  If I cannot find what I need, I will go to my local grocery store, Wal-Mart, or Whole Foods.
I went grocery shopping the other day to test out my budget.  I have a monthly limit of $200.  I live alone.  I'm sure those with a larger household will have a different budget.  You'd have to play around with it and figure out what's best for your home.
The top of my receipt.

My total: $149.78.
 All my groceries will last me a month except for the fresh stuff.  So when I run out of those, I will buy more.  And I will still be within my budget.  I also did not buy faux meat.  I bought a couple boxes of my favorite veggie burgers, but that was it.  I stuck to fresh/frozen fruit and vegetables, nuts, seeds, whole grains (I got some new ones to try), beans, canned tomatoes, and vegetable broth.  Those are my basics.  I don't need anything else.  Although there's a dessert I'd like to make and I need one more ingredient.  I can always run to the store.
During my trip, I paid attention to prices and went through my meal plan in my head.  I'm pretty confident I calculated correctly.  However, if I didn't, I can always go back to the store.
Here's what my fridge and pantry look like now:
I have brussel sprouts, celery, regular/baby carrots, grapes, tomatoes, grape tomatoes, Portobello mushrooms, cucumbers, romaine lettuce, corn, avocado, lemons (I use avocado and lemon as dressing...something I learned from my mom.  So delicious!)

Earth Balance butter (vegan), fruit preserves, unsweetened applesauce, salsa verde, garlic, pineapple

I found Gluten-free Brown Rice bread.  I haven't tried it yet but it was the only bread that wasn't made with milk or eggs.  I have tons of frozen veggies on the top shelf: peas, corn, pearl onions, green beans, peppers.  Then I have Trader Joe's Masala burgers on the bottom (my favorite) along with frozen fruit that I use for smoothies.

I have oats, brown rice, a whole grain mix, whole wheat pasta, popcorn kernals, almond butter, beans (garbanzo, black, baked, red, and white), potatoes, freeze dried raspberries (so yummy; I'm hoping to try the pineapple ones next), vegetable broth, a corn soup.

Then I have soy milk and all my seasonings; olive oil, agave nectar, maple syrup, tea, flour, sugar.

I always try to keep my pantry and freezer stocked for the entire month.  That way, if I don't have time to pick up new fresh fruits or vegetables, I still have what I need.

Food is fuel.  Our society teaches us to live to eat.  So many people live by what they're going to eat next.  I'm teaching myself how to eat to live.  I've already stopped craving meat and a lot of sweets.  I used to crave a lot of chocolate and candy.  Now I don't.  I'll sit and eat fruit or vegetables and will be satisfied.

What do you have in your kitchen?

"Keep Moving Forward"

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Running on Empty

I've been so busy lately.  I work 6-7 days a week.  All my spare time is spent prepping for an exam I'm taking in October.  I'm a sign language interpreter.  That's what my degree is in.  However, I cannot interpret until I get my license in the state I live in.  The test I will be taking will be my fourth attempt.  I'm one point away from passing.  I know I will pass this time, but that doesn't change my anxiety over it.  So I spend any spare minute I have trying to relax.  I watch movies, do my nails, listen to music, clean my apartment. 

I've been exhausted.  I lay down to sleep but lie awake instead.  I know I'm not getting enough sleep, but I still lie awake.  I'm planning on trying meditation, yoga nidra and a regular schedule (i.e. washing my face, brushing my teeth, putting on PJs, writing in my journal, yoga nidra/meditation).  Hopefully this will help my energy levels and help curb my anxiety.  As it is, I feel like I'm running on empty.

It's like I need coffee running into me through an IV.

My busy schedule plus a lack of sleep is not helping me any.  I need to work on this so I can stop running on empty.

Are you catching enough Zzz's?

"Keep Moving Forward"

Fitness Inpiration

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Facing my Fear: Getting Back to Running

I have been scared to start running again.  It's been two years since I last ran.  I decided today was the day to get back out there and just go for it.

Before run

After run
I'm so proud of myself!  I ran a quarter of a mile today!  That's an accomplishment after two years of not running.  I cannot wait until tomorrow so I can go back out and try to go farther!
What's your fear?  What can you do today to face it?
"Keep Moving Forward"


A friend of mine asked me about snacks.  What can she put in her bag without having to keep it at a certain temperature?

If I have them on hand, I'd throw in a Kind bar.  They're quick and delicious. 

Apples or pears are great for throwing into a bag.  I usually wash it at home then put it in a Ziploc bag along with a napkin.  Then I just have to grab it out of my bag.  Oranges could work too, but they can be messy.  Applesauce is great too.  They have these nifty little packs now.  You just squeeze it like a juice box.  No spoon required. 

Having a bag of nuts/seeds/dried fruit comes in handy.  I try to eat the raw nuts/seeds/fruit since they're healthier for you.  For dried fruit, go for the ones without sugar.  They're harder to find but are healthier (plus I just think they taste better).  I personally love almonds, pecans, walnuts, dried cranberries/cherries, and sunflower seeds. 

Whole grain crackers are great.  Popcorn is also great.  Pop some before jumping in the shower in the morning.  Then separate it into bags for a quick snack.  Make sure that the popcorn is cooled off first.  I know we're in a hurry a lot, but hot popcorn is not something you want in a Ziploc bag.  The bag will melt.  I learned that the hard way when I was in high school.  I was in a hurry and just threw some in a bag after it came out of the microwave.  I had to throw out a lot of the popcorn and had kernels roaming around my bag.

Those are my ideas for quick snacks you can just throw in your bag without thinking about keeping them at a specific temperature.  If you don't mind bringing a small lunch box, pack some veggies and hummus/carrot dip (Kris Carr has a great recipe I'm dying to try).  And always pair a veggie snack with some fruit.  Cut up some strawberries or watermelon.  Have a cup of grapes or berries.  Cherry tomatoes are also great.  Don't forget, tomatoes are in fact a fruit!

All my suggestions are based on my favorites and what I've found convenient. 

What are your favorite snacks?

"Keep Moving Forward"

My Meal Planning Guide

In order to eat a vegan diet, I need to make sure I'm keeping my nutrition levels in balance.  For a while I had a hard time giving up chicken entirely because I'd crave it.  I figured out that I probably wasn't eating enough of something to make a complete protein.  So I paid attention, altered a couple things, and now I don't crave chicken.  I have been officially meat free for 17 days.  I feel wonderful.

My goal right now is to start meal planning.  I'll start by planning one week at a time and then eventually be able to plan for an entire month. 

I'm using the vegan food pyramid as a guideline.

I want to make sure my body is getting all the nutrients it needs to live.  I also want to be able to eat what I want.  I'd want to be able to bake vegan cookies or anything else I want to make.  I love baking.  Right now, however, I need to meal plan so I can get everything I need on a daily basis.  After a while, I most likely won't think about it.

According to a vegan pyramid, I need to consume fats/sweets sparingly and preferably in liquid oils.  I need 2-3 cups of dairy substitutes, 2-3 cups of legumes/seeds/beans, 6-11 cups of whole grains, 3-5 cups of vegetables, and 2-4 cups of fruit.  I also need to drink 8-10 glasses of water and take a multivitamin, Vitamin B12, Vitamin D and calcium supplements. 

I've written out a guideline for myself based on the food pyramid:

Morning - drink 2 bottles of water (one average water bottle is two cups of water) and take vitamins
                 Eat 1 cup whole grain (i.e. oats for oatmeal/breakfast cookies, whole grain pancakes/toast/bagel)
                 Eat 1 tbsp. nuts (in oatmeal/cookies/pancakes)
                 Drink 1 smoothie for 1 cup fruit, 1 cup soy milk, and 1 tbls. chia seeds (meets serving size for seeds)
                  Eat another serving of fruit, either by itself or mixed in with your grain

Snack #1/2 - Eat a serving of fruit
                  Eat a serving of a vegetable
                  Eat nuts
                  Drink 1 bottle of water
          All of the above paired together will fill you up until lunch/dinner time.

Lunch/Dinner - Eat 2 servings of vegetables
                          Eat a whole grain (pasta, rice)
                          Eat a serving of beans
                          Drink 2 more bottles of water

Snack #3 (if you're a little hungry) - 1 cup vegan ice cream

Tally of my servings: Vitamins, 10 cups of water, 3 servings of whole grain, 6 servings of nuts/seeds/beans, 2 cups of dairy substitute, 4 servings of fruit, 6 servings of vegetables

With my meal planning guide, I meet all my goals.  All the meal ideas I have listed above are examples.  I mainly eat oatmeal for breakfast or breakfast cookies.  I do need to add more dairy substitutes to my diet.  Without the last snack, I wouldn't have reached the minimum.  I'll have to look up some recipes to try. 

I will be grocery shopping this week.  I will post later on about my grocery list and how to be frugal about shopping vegan. 

"Keep Moving Forward"

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Dream Activity - 1

Is there an activity that you dream of doing?  Skydiving?  Rock climbing?  Joining an art class?

I'm creating a vision board right now.  To create one, collect pictures of everything you want to do or want out of life.  Put them on poster paper or however you choose to create it.  The point is to see your dreams on your wall on a daily basis.


I have many dreams, big and small.  I'm a very adventurous person.  I just can't afford to do everything I want to do right now.  I'm hoping to accomplish one of my dream activities next year.

I'd like to take a trip to Florida.  I want to visit family and go up to Gatorland.  I LOVE ALLIGATORS!!!  They are my favorite animal.  I've loved them since I was five when my parents took me to Gatorland.  They weren't able to get me to leave.  We were there from open to close.  I still would not leave until I got this large plastic alligator from the gift shop.  My dad ended up caving and buying it for me.  I loved it and I actually still have it.  We nicknamed it Visa Gator because my dad needed to use his Visa to buy it since he didn't have enough cash. 

Gatorland now offers a zip line that races above alligators!!  AH!!  Can you hear me squeal through the computer?!   I've always wanted to try a zip line and this one fits me perfectly. 
Zip line + alligators = BEST DAY EVER!

I'd also like to go to the Hippocrates Health Institute while I'm there too.

Hippocrates Health Institute promotes the vegan lifestyle and overall well being.  Many people attend the institute for a variety of reasons.  I am choosing to go to continue my education in the vegan diet and lifestyle.  I want to go for a week, minimum.  I'd also like to apply for a scholarship or financial aide since it is offered. 

My Florida trip is my dream activity/trip that can become a reality within the next year.  It's going to be first on my list.  I'm excited about it and cannot wait until I can go!

What is your dream activity?

"Keep Moving Forward"