Monday, July 24, 2017

Why Vegan? Part 1

This is a conversation that I have had countless times in my everyday life, but I really haven't had it so much over the Internet (though I'm sure that could easily change the longer I'm a presence here). I started trying to write this as a single post, but it was getting really long. So in order to really do this topic justice, I'm going to break it up. For part 1, I'm going to talk about my initial reasoning for choosing veganism (health, perks). For part 2, we'll cover the reasons for why I'll never go back (animals, civilization).

First off, there are lots of different ways to be vegan: dietary, ethical, raw, raw-til-4, junk food, and I'm sure there are more. I identify as an ethical vegan, and I try my best to switch more and more of our products to vegan options as we go on. But I started out as a dietary vegan who fell in love with the side benefits and decided to learn even more about the choice I was making.


Let me preface this by saying I just got a bad hand genetically. I was always active growing up, and I didn't eat poorly. We ate mostly home-cooked meals because my mother made health a priority. Not that it mattered because I still had borderline high blood pressure, high cholesterol, high triglycerides, and was having mini strokes - when I was 16. I started on this journey thanks to a paper I wrote in college that showed countless health benefits to veganism. I made the transition over the course of months starting out pescatarian and then switching to vegetarian. While I was vegetarian, my cholesterol dropped 40 points in 7 months.
Yep, these are my actual results. Haven't seen my maiden name in years XD
I was still pretty active through college going to the gym 3 or 4 times a week, doing yoga, swimming, and playing volleyball with friends. Nothing would fix my blood pressure, though, until I went vegan. I was mostly plant-based and avoided processed foods aside from plant milk. Thanks to that change, I finally solved the blood pressure issue. I really don't get sick anymore, and even my pollen allergy isn't bothering me as much. Some of the other benefits that I should be getting but won't really know for sure is significantly reduced risk for cancer and diabetes, both of which run in my family. So long as I continue to not develop any chronic diseases or terminal illnesses, I'll go ahead and add that to my win pile.

Side Benefits

Even being vegetarian I noticed a huge increase in energy, and I felt lighter and less foggy. Through pregnancy, I haven't really had much pregnancy brain except for one week where I was forgetting everything (baby brain on the other hand has been hitting hard). Another huge perk was the cost. I'm not sure where the misconception came from that veganism is more expensive than the Standard American Diet (SAD) because let's be honest, it costs LESS to buy beans and rice than it does to buy meat. And since I've been sick less, I'm spending less on OTC medicines and doctor's visits. I don't have to worry about ever getting put on medicines for my cholesterol or blood pressure.
Note that this is cost per CALORIE, not per pound.
One of my all-time favorite perks, though, is that I can pretty much eat all day because it's almost required. You have to stop looking at how much food is on your plate and think in terms of calories. I can't order salads at restaurants because they are a FRACTION of the size you actually need for a full blown meal unless you're loading up on avocado and olive oil and other fats. If you're eating a variety of whole foods instead of processed foods, it's very hard to overeat. And one bad day of eating a ton of vegan junk doesn't do as much harm since you're not binging on those high cholesterol foods.
You HAVE to eat more to get the same number of calories!
That's enough for today. We'll pick this up in part 2! So tell me, what's holding you back? If you are vegan, what started you on the journey?

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Why Home Birth?

Photo creds again to Sarah Wiseman Photography. Love her!!
As many of you are aware if you follow this blog, I am quite the flower child so it probably wasn't overly surprising to you all that I would want to try birthing my baby at home. But what led me to that decision? I'm not going to lie to you, I have pretty well done a 180 in my life when it comes to health. My parents were both in the medical field; my dad still is. My husband's father is, too. So both of us grew up fully believing in the wonders of all that modern medicine has to offer, but now I am on a much more holistic path.

Keep in mind, no matter how many stories you hear and how much research you do, all families are different. What works for me and us could be completely unfeasible for you in your situation. 

Before I got married, I couldn't imagine not giving birth in a hospital on my back with an epidural and all the monitors. As I grew more into myself and started questioning everything, birth was just one more thing I wanted to be able to do my way (The Business of Being Born anyone?). One of the biggest triggers for my depression is feeling out of control so it is extremely important to me to have a say in what is going to happen when I am in such a vulnerable state. Being at home is the easiest way to accomplish that.

Hospitals have the best of intentions. All their policies are in place to ensure that any emergency situation can be handled efficiently, but to me, that feels more like being put through a checklist. We are all so different, and each pregnancy and birth will be different even with the same parents. It is so important to me to be able to labor in my own way at my own pace instead of being rushed and interrupted and checked frequently. Additionally, if birth really was as mortal as we are led to believe, would we really have managed to almost overpopulate the planet? I think not! Birth is a natural biological process, not a medical emergency. Don't get me wrong, if this was not a low-risk pregnancy, I would have birthed in a hospital. But the odds were in our favor!

Here is a quick list of the things that I LOVED about birthing at home:
  • Not having to worry about my dogs and cats
  • Introducing the baby to the dogs was seemless
  • Having the freedom to walk and move around as I please
  • Being able to pee when I please
  • No needles and other hindering contraptions connected to me
  • Having the option to eat and drink as much as I feel comfortable (even though it was none)
  • Not having to wait for the hospital to bring food on their schedule and worry about if it was vegan
  • Not having to pack a bag for the hospital
  • Not having to birth on my back
  • Not being asked multiple times about getting an epidural or other pain relief
  • Not having to fight to keep my placenta
  • Being in my own home with my own bed and shower
  • Not feeling rushed or questioned or like I have to argue about the post-birth measures I would like to take
  • Being able to labor and birth in water
  • Being able to fully trust in my body to be able to go through this natural process and truly be in the moment through the entire experience
Have any of you birthed not in a traditional hospital setting? What scares you the most about birthing at home? Do you have any questions for me?

Sunday, July 9, 2017

Why Are Empaths Weird?

For those of you who don't know, I am what's known as an empath. It's similar to a highly-sensitive person (HSP) or empathic person in that we perceive the world a little differently, but being an empath is it's own category. Discovering this label was one of the best days of my life because I finally understood why I was feeling the way I was and knew what to do about it.

The biggest defining characteristic in my opinion for empaths is that emotion isn't just something that is felt, it is transferable energy. Most people can read body language to determine the emotion of another, but they will reserve sympathy and empathy for friends and family. Empaths are open to the emotions of all people until they learn how to filter and protect their own emotions from being consumed by the emotions of others. Before I knew I was an empath, I was extremely emotional simply because I wasn't aware that I was living other people's bad days.

A little back story for you, growing up I was very introverted and selectively social. Because of this, I didn't have much opportunity to be impacted by the emotions of others. Then I got married and moved in with a man who is very detached from his emotions so there really isn't much coming from him. But then we got a roommate who was by nature a very angry person. I don't know if he really knows that he is this way, but it was impacting me in a huge way. I had no patience anymore with our puppy or my husband. Or the roommate for that matter. I was very bloated and couldn't get rid of my belly chub (fun fact, empaths tend to carry extra weight around the middle as a form of protection or a buffer because we have weaker solar plexus chakras). My marriage was taking a huge hit because I couldn't figure out why I was so upset all the time. I would attach any reason I could find to try to explain what was going on inside of me when in reality, it was coming from outside the whole time. That's right, not all emotions felt by empaths come from within themselves, and discovering how to decipher between one's own emotions and the emotions of others is key to maintaining sanity.

So you know the emotions you're feeling aren't your own. Now what? Crystals. Crystals saved my marriage. I got a set of crystals from an amazing friend and started meditating with them daily to try to rebalance and strengthen my chakras. My husband would add his energy to my solar plexus and heart chakras as well because I needed the extra help - I have said this so many times, but I don't know how I got so lucky with this man. I spent more time in nature and focused on grounding myself and defining where it is that I ended and others began in my mindscape. Now that I am more aware and practiced, I am now able to shut myself off from the emotions of others, but it took a while and some trauma to get to this point.

Some more fun traits shared by empaths are we tend to be old souls who just know things. People we barely know feel comfortable telling their stories and sharing their pain with us. We can also take on physical symptoms from others in addition to emotions. Addictive personalities is a huge one, and we are truth seekers. We try to live as authentically as we can to stay true to our own happiness since there is so much misery we walk through everyday. Alone time is a must as it is exhausting to be around people. ESPECIALLY fake people. We can usually tell when people are lying if we stop seeing the best in people long enough to recognize the incongruence in them. And as much as we take on emotions, we can also put emotion out into the world to try to make others feel better. We'll give up our own happiness and take your sorrow so maybe we can save someone. When it comes to fight, flight, or freeze, we freeze because we believe so strongly in the innate goodness of people no matter how many times we have been proven wrong.

Being an empath has become trendy so there are tons of resources out there now. Any other empaths out there willing to share their experiences? Do you think you might be an empath? Are there any people that you just love being around because their optimism is that contagious, and they make you feel good?

Sunday, July 2, 2017

Watch Us Grow: Elisandra's Chapter

Some of these are for length, and some of these are for weight so keep that in mind when we go from a melon to a leek!
Small Pea


Green Olive





Navel Orange


Sweet Potato

Heirloom Tomato

Small Cantaloupe


Spaghetti Squash

Large Mango

Hothouse Cucumber

Chinese Cabbage
Butternut Squash

Large Jicama

Crenshaw Melon
Honeydew Melon
Swiss Chard
Mini Watermelon
40 weeks! 7 pounds, 20 inches