How to Satisfy Cravings While Remaining Vegan

Since I try not to eat prepared foods, there have been times since I’ve become Vegan that my cravings for, oh let’s say chocolate and peanut butter have simply driven me crazy. Easter was especially difficult this year. What do I do? My favorite way of dealing with that kind of craziness is to make a smoothie with bananas, peanut butter, cocoa, Almond Milk, and coconut sugar. A fabulous treat, and still healthy, so a win-win.

There is also a wonderful meal called nice cream that you can make.  This can be made out of bananas, any other fruit you can imagine, Almond Milk and either Vanilla extract or Almond Extract. Blend them together and freeze for as long as you like (if you can wait that long). You’ve got nice cream.

For those of you who don’t mind eating prepared foods, there are various Vegan alternatives to home-made treats.  As a matter of fact you can even find chocolates that are vegan. I keep telling myself I’ll try these, but have yet to do so. One of these days I’ll have to take the plunge.

So, for all of you who think that Vegans deny themselves deliciousness, you are so wrong! The grocery store abounds with prepared foods from either soy-based, almond, or coconut-based vegan ice cream to Clif Bars. Just take a look. They are usually healthier for you than the non-vegan alternatives. Try them and let me know how you like them.

Consistency is Key

The most important thing that I’ve learned on my journey toward health is that I must be consistent. Whether I’m eating a healthy diet or working out, I’ve found that the only way to keep my motivation going is to do something every day. In the past I’ve found that if I didn’t get up and work-out, I ended up with a motivation problem and sometimes stopped trying altogether. Not a good thing.

Now, if I occasionally decide I’ll sleep in (or shut my alarm off and go back to sleep), I just plan on going for a walk later in the day. I’m calling that my Plan B. Ever since I started calling this whole “Plan A” thing Training for the Rest of my Life, I’ve had a complete change in perspective. For example; on Tuesday I took my husband to the airport so he could go back to work in Michigan. I woke up at 3:00 a.m. and was back at my house by 5:30 a.m. I was in no mood to work-out, so I just jumped in the shower and started my day. Instead of feeling badly about not exercising, I went for a walk later in the day. No problem, no telling myself I was a failure because I didn’t do my usual Tuesday morning two-plus mile walk – see how I put that little shoulder pat in there? Somehow I’ve changed my “all or nothing” attitude that had never worked before, and probably would never have worked.  Any plan should be sustainable.  How is an all or nothing attitude sustainable?  The stress involved alone will defeat you.

This is an idea that has so far worked for me. What do you do that works for keeping your motivation going?

Sunscreens and You

When I was small, the only thing that people used sunscreen for was to help them get a better tan. They even sold oils that you slathered all over and laid in the sun to get a darker tan. How crazy was that? Now we know better, and should realize that any tan is really skin damage, so shouldn’t be encouraged.

Now we’ve got all kinds of sunscreens to prevent your skin from being damaged from the sun. But, we’ve got to ask ourselves the question – how harmful are the ingredients in our sunscreens?

Turns out that some of these ingredients are so troublesome that they can only be sold in the E.U. if they are clearly labeled on the product so that anyone who has concerns regarding them can steer clear if they want to. Not so in the U.S.

The ingredient in sunscreen that has caused the largest concern is Oxybenzone. This chemical has been proven to have several detrimental effects on humans: it has been found in mother’s breast milk; it acts like estrogen in the body and has been linked to altering sperm in lab animals, while a troubling link has occurred in increasing endometriosis in women; and it is also associated with skin rashes. It has also been linked to low birth-weight in female babies.
http://www.ewg.org/2015sunscreen/report/the-trouble-with-sunscreen-chemicals/

Another ingredient often found in sunscreen is methylisothiazolineone. The problem with this chemical is a preservative, and is linked to extreme allergy reactions in children. The American Contact Dermatitis Society named this chemical, also called MI, its allergen of the year.
http://www.ewg.org/2015sunscreen/report/the-trouble-with-sunscreen-chemicals/

Many sunscreens are made with zinc oxide and titanium dioxide nanoparticles. These are added to the sunscreen to help the zinc (which is added to sunscreen to add protection against the sun) to be less chalky; remember the lifeguard with the white nose?; this helps to eliminate the “white nose effect”. However, there is no evidence on whether these nanoparticles enter the skin, and if they do so what effect do they have?
http://www.ewg.org/2015sunscreen/report/nanoparticles-in-sunscreen/
Of course being nanoparticles, there are other environmental concerns about them.
http://www.photonics.com/Article.aspx?AID=44805

As of right now there has been little research into the effects that these materials may have on the environment, however the researchers showed a concern regarding their use.

So, as you can see, the use of sunscreens can be a little troubling. As an extremely fair person (light blue eyes, blond hair, Swedish heritage), I was more than a little upset to find out that there are these harmful chemicals in the sunscreens that I had been using so often. If you go here,
http://www.ewg.org/2015sunscreen/best-sunscreens/best-beach-sport-sunscreens/
there is a list of non-toxic sunscreens.

So, before heading out to enjoy your day in the sun, please be careful of what is in your sunscreen.

Finding Peace Within

I wrote about my surprising Yoga practice, and touched on the peace that I’ve found from just concentrating on my breathing and the poses. But, I thought I would share some of my favorite quotes on this.

I am guilty of worrying too much, or “borrowing trouble” when there is really no reason to.  Most of the things I worry about don’t even happen, and then I’m left feeling like I just wasted all this time worrying.  Crazy.  This is beginning to slowly, oh so slowly change.  There is a little spot of calm and peace within me, and when I can access it, I find my anxiety fading.

I hope you all have a peaceful Memorial Day weekend, and encourage you to find peace within yourselves.

Helen Mirren Made me Change my Life

Dreams are great. I usually don’t remember what exactly it was that I dreamed; instead I wake up with a vague notion of a crazy mixed-up madness. However about two months ago I woke up with a fire in my belly and a desire to do just about anything to change my life. What happened, you ask? Well, that question can be answered with one person’s name…Helen Mirren.

Now I’m sure you’re wondering what Helen Mirren has to do with my dreaming…well, here it is; I dreamed that I was at some kind of high-society, black-tie party. Of course I wasn’t dressed appropriately AT ALL in my usual black trousers and green top that I’ve worn to every Christmas party for the last five years. I was standing around awkwardly, by myself on my little island for those not dressed “properly” (not a new sensation), when Helen Mirren came up to me looking gorgeous, of course. She handed me a glass of champagne, looked at me with incredible pity in her eyes, leaned over, solicitously holding my arm, and stated the fateful sentence in that fabulously posh English accent of hers: “Oh, my dear, you have let yourself go.” Then she turned around and walked off. I assumed that she didn’t want to be seen talking with me, since I’d let myself go.

My alarm woke me up right after this, thank goodness, since I’m sure I would have forgotten the dream. Or would I? Since when has Helen Mirren made an appearance in any of my dreams? And, how could I have forgotten that?

So, how has the Helen Mirren of my dream changed my life? Simple, no more excuses. I get up and work out regardless of what time I go to sleep the night before. I’m not mindlessly shoving chips in my mouth like I used to. Geez Louise, when Helen Mirren tells you that you’ve let yourself go, you listen!  And not only that, you do something about it!

These are a few of my Favorite Things

I don’t usually talk about where I find my happiness. I wonder why that is? Maybe I’m too focused on doing and accomplishing here. But I did want to talk about what makes me happy.

Can we go yet?

Can we go yet?

Walking thrills me. Really, it’s true. I walk every day during the week, but four days out the week I take my Border Collie for a walk at 4:50 am. We practically run, since if we don’t he would spend the whole time sniffing and peeing. Lovely, right? We run across all kinds of animals on these walks. A few weeks ago, I spotted something – not completely sure if it was an opossum or a skunk, running across a field right toward us. In the pre-dawn half-light, all I could see was the white back. You should have seen us run! I’m sure we looked completely comical as I ran down the street pulling my dog behind me. But we often see the turkeys moseying along across a field or crossing the road. I can’t wait to see their babies, so cute. There is a little mini-farm down the road from me, so we can hear the roosters from a long way away. There are also lambs and ducks there along with the hens. But the most exciting things are the horses. Horses are so curious they come over to see us most mornings, just wanting to say hi. Every once in a while I’ll get a glimpse of some deer in the fields. That’s a real bonus to getting up so early. flowers1

Nature is another thing that I need just like I need to drink about a gallon of water every day. Going for a walk helps, but watching the sunrise or sunset is one of my necessities for happiness. I also love to watch the greening of the trees, and the flowering of my plants. Great stuff!

My nature lawn filled with violets and dandelions.

My natural lawn filled with violets and dandelions.

My pets have always added so much happiness to my life. My Border Collie has the biggest personality I’ve ever seen in a dog. He is hysterical, whether running around the house at top speed while snorting and pretending to be a warthog, or cleaning himself like a cat, life is never boring with him around. Our other dog, a mixed breed is a real lady…until dinner-time, then you had better watch out or you’ll be stampeded to death. She goes with me on shorter walks since she broke a leg a few years ago, and it’s gotten a little arthritic as she’s aged. We also have a cat (my granddaughter) who is of course the Queen of the World. She’s got the loudest purr and only wants to be with my daughter. She’s the most loving cat I’ve ever seen.

Just sunbathing for now.

Just sunbathing for now.

Yes, it's true.  I AM Queen of the World!

Yes, it’s true. I AM Queen of the World!

My family has always brought me the most happiness in my life. I love to eat dinner every night with them. Right now my husband is working out-of-state, so it’s just the three of us. But we’ve had the best conversations lately and are really getting along (not an easy task when there are three adults living here). My two kids have grown-up to be interesting people. I love to listen to them. I learn the most interesting things.

So, there you have it, my list of some of the things that make me happy. What’s on your list?