Health Matters

I’ve gained some weight over the past four busy, stressful, joyful, hard years. The “why” is easy, I know myself and it isn’t hard to figure out. Stress makes me crave carbohydrates, preferably in the form of cake, and fat, in the form of fried potatoes. Portland has a number of awesome bakeries and numerous places to get very tasty potatoes fried in oil. I’ve been able to mostly look at this weight gain with compassion and try not to let my self-criticism over it get the best of me. It is a good time to practice Metta for myself, but then again it is always a good time for me to practice Metta for myself!

Mindful of the weight gain, and my desire to do my very best to be here in good health for those who love me, in the past couple of weeks I’ve committed to being very mindful about food, eating very healthfully, and making a point to exercise some every day, at least 25 minutes. I’m taking inspiration, particularly in regards to food from Eat to Live.

When I was losing a much more serious amount of weight I found tracking calories and exercise really helped me understand more about what I was eating. I used a site called FitDay for quite some time to do this. It worked pretty well, but was less than ideal.

The thing I found the most difficult with FitDay was a limited food database, at least for a vegan. I spent so much time meticulously entering nutrition details and trying to deconstruct what was in my food in order to add it. Doing so was worth it and taught me a lot, but it was tedious and took up a lot of my time.

Fast forward to now and I have a smart phone to add to the mix, so I set out to find out what else was out there for both a web site and an Android application for my phone. I started using a site called MyFitnessPal and am finding the site very easy to use and the Android application is very quick. What’s even better is the database of food!

I stumbled across several brand-name products, like Soy Curls in the food database. Then I started searching and found several recipes from favorite cookbooks and websites I use a lot. What I realized is that each time someone goes to the effort to manually input all these details, it is added to the database for everyone to use! There’s also a community access and I’ve connected to other vegans working on weight loss, fitness and generally focusing on a healthier lifestyle.

And it is working, of course. Since I started tracking things on October 12 I’ve already lost 6.8 pounds. In fact I want to be mindful of not losing too quickly, but things might slow down after this initial kick-start of energy.

When people ask me how I’ve lost 130 (at this point) pounds and I tell them that being vegan in and of itself it is a huge help, but aside from that I watch what I eat and exercise more.  That’s it. No magic formula. No pill. No miracle.

Calories in/Calories out

I’m focusing on the type of calories quite a bit, that’s the influence of Eat to Live, so even more veggies and more beans. I love tofu and tempeh, but am using a little less of it to keep calories down. Even with trying to keep to a fairly specific low-fat diet, it has been easy to mindfully include occasional indulges like a biscuits & gravy brunch, a pint of beer, tofu salad rolls with peanut sauce, and even a few kettle-style potato chips with my lunch today with CK.