An Unlikely Vegetarian
I didn't intend to like it so much. The whole, "no meat" thing. I was never a huge lover of red meat so that was not an expected issue. There would be no longings for a big, juicy steak. That part of it all would be a breeze.
However, chicken by the end of 2013 had become a regular staple in my diet. The thought of no chicken left me wondering what vegetarian replacement would grace my lunch and dinner plates?
Yes, I said it. The V word. Vegetarian. GASP.
Half way through December, while filling my face with homemade cookies, bowls of Italian food and general holiday indulgences, I had the thought that maybe, just maybe, I would try a vegetarian diet for the month of January. I felt a pretty intense need to strip my body and detox it not just from the sugar overload it was experiencing during Christmas binges, but to test out the theory that for some, better healthy, energy and clarity could be experienced by wiping all meat from a person's diet. Strictly veggies, fruits, legumes, grains...no meat.
I will admit here and now, I did decide that I would keep fish in the mix. One of the things I was missing most from my "normal" diet was the lack of fish. By giving the vegetarian life a try, it would work as an avenue to sneak fish back in where it belonged...in my belly.
The long and short of my experience to date with living a vegetarian lifestyle has been extremely positive. In an effort to cut to the chase...here are my findings and experiences from the date I kicked off livin' the "v word" on December 26th (yeah, I was anxious to get going and started right after Christmas).
1) C L A R I T Y - I'm not sure who turned on the lights in my head, but the vision and clarity I have begun to experience is like nothing I've ever had before. I've always been someone that had the picture of what I wanted my life to be, but always lost steam when trying to plot out the map, so to speak. Or even if I got half way, I'd turn back. But, somehow through the magic of pure fruit and veggie power, the brain seems to be firing on more cylinders than usual. A definate PLUS in my book!
2) Headaches/Migraines - I have suffered from very severe migraines since 2011-2012. I have strong emergency meds available to take whenever one of these whoppers zonks me out. By the end of last year, I was taking them far too frequently due to an INCREASE in pattern of my migraine activity. Something that impacted not just my normal fitness loving self, but the quality of my life in general. Well, since starting my all veggie, no meat lovin' way I've had no migraines. The last one was a couple days after I started the vegetarian experiment, but since then nothing. I've had some minor "achy" head pain, but NO migraines. I have been able to just take a couple Excedrin like normal people do...coupled with drinking lots of water. If the change in my diet is even slightly responsible for the lack of migraines, I will not be switching back to meat any time soon. One thing that IS worth mentioning, is I removed yogurt from my diet as well. I have read over and over again that yogurt is very bad for people with troubled sinuses (and my migraines are set off by facial/sinus pain). I cut out the yogurt at the same time as the meat so I can't honestly say if it was one or the other, or maybe combination of both that has helped the head pain.
3) Energy - Without a doubt, my energy levels are up. Now normally, my levels are pretty decent due to exercising and eating well...but take meat out of that equation and I feel like I could go on and on...IF I make sure to get all the nutrients/protein in my diet that day. Going vegetarian IS challenging especially if you already struggle to eat enough throughout a day (which is ME, hello!). In the same way however, it forces me to pay attention. Only 1 time since I started this little experiment did I get to the gym and feel like I was going to pass out. FAIL! Not the plant based diet's fault, just mine for not paying attention. Since then, all is well and I'm feeling like I have plenty of energy to sustain a solid workout or run.
4) Waking up early - I guess you could pair this with"energy" but my goal has always been to get up early to eat breakfast and/or go for a run before work. Although on occasion, when feeling super motivated, I would manage to drag myself out of bed...this is a whole new world now. I find myself waking up BEFORE my alarm which is set for 6:10am. When I open my eyes I'm not groggy, or "out of it" (something I was used to being apparently while trying to put on compression running pants and bras...NOT easy!).
5) Digestive system woes a thing of the past! - I'm not going to go into great detail on this one. Major TMI! But I will tell you...my digestive system is moving right along in a way no fiber supplement could. Yes, I still struggle with some bloating but it is starting to subside and get better (see an early vegetarian themed post on my home blog www.bodymadebetter.com). That's a minor deterrent compared to how great it is to not feel like you are carrying a bag of bricks around in your belly.