Posted in Fitness, Self Improvement

This Baby Is Gonna Change My Life, and We Haven’t Made It Yet: Getting Fit

In a continuation of my “getting ready* for baby” series, that started with Eating Right, today I’d like to talk about fitness.

* Please leave your “You’re never ready”s at the door. I know, I know. But you know what I mean, so let’s not get lost in semantics.

Getting fit

As I mentioned in the post noted above, my progress to a healthier, more informed human has hit some major stumbling blocks. After tremendous growth and weight loss not only did I lose site of my dietary progress, but also all the physical progress I’d made. I went from mostly sitting in an office and on the couch to running half-marathons, climbing increasingly hard routes in the rock climbing gym and playing in a recreational volleyball league. And then found my way back to the desk and the couch.

I’m not here to fat-shame anyone, especially pregnant women, and I know that there are many reasons why pregnancy can result in bedrest and reduced exercise. That said, I would much rather have a pregancy where I’m capable of doing this (assuming no restrictions):

Woman doing cross-legged pull-up.
Photo by Charlotte Karlsen on Unsplash

Than one where I’m only doing this:

Hands with painted nails holding a bitten sugary donut
Photo by Thomas Kelley on Unsplash

In any case, the key to being as fit as possible before, during, and after pregnancy is not expecting yourself to suddenly be able to start running 10 miles or bench pressing 250 now that you’re pregnant or “to lose the baby weight” when you’re exhausted and focused on nurturing new life and adjusting to parenthood.

By building good habits NOW, I’m empowering my body to tell me what I can handle and when I can handle it – even as my life, and body, start to change.

What I’m Doing

  1. Walking. A lot.
    • Using my FitBit I’m attempting to get at least 10,000 steps most days. That’s not much in the grand scheme of things, but considering I have a job that ties me to the computer for 8+ hours per day, it’s a big deal.
  2. Hitting the gym. A lot.
    • Working with a buddy, we’ve developed a workout system by which we can only watch a TV show we’re both into (The Magicians, at the moment) if we’ve gone to the gym or otherwise worked out at a minimum of a moderate effort. It’s been pretty helpful in getting me out of bed and to the gym. No more bingeing without earning it!
  3. Incorporating strength training. Slowly.
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The Kindness Jar

What if instead of focusing on how frustrating and taxing your loved ones were, you focused on why you love them in the first place? What if you saw them with the eyes of someone focusing on the positive and it encouraged more positive behaviors?

Glass jar full of various seashells
Photo by Clever Visuals on Unsplash

Recognizing Kindness

The concept is simple. Every time you focus on the kind act of a family member or partner, put a token in a special jar. They should do the same. When the jar is filled, you are allowed to (and encouraged to) do an activity as a family or couple that brings you joy.

Go for a hike and a picnic. See a movie. Go to a new restaurant you’ve been meaning to try. Check out the concert that’s coming to town.

Focus on recognizing the kindness that is around you, every day. You’ll feel better. They’ll feel better. And you’ll be rewarded for you diligence! What could be sweeter than that?

Posted in Self Improvement, Veganism

This Baby Is Gonna Change My Life, and We Haven’t Made It Yet: Eating Right

A pregnant woman in a sweater forming a heart with her hands on her belly
Photo by Suhyeon Choi on Unsplash

No. That’s not me. But I’ve recently come to realize that maybe one day, sooner than later, I may want it to be. And that got me thinking.

I’ve got a lot of cleaning up to do before I’m ready* to start trying to make a baby.

* Please leave your “You’re never ready”s at the door. I know, I know. But you know what I mean, so let’s not get lost in semantics.

Eating right

I’ve already posted about the benefits of veganism and why I chose to go vegan over six years ago. What I didn’t get into was the fact that six years of veganism doesn’t mean six years of healthy choices.

After going vegan, I lost over 60 pounds. Wow, right? And while vegan, I gained all that and then some back. Yes, really.

Pile of vegan frozen junk foods
Photo by u/Katshi on Reddit

Is it starting to make more sense?

While I am SO happy that vegan food has become more mainstream (aka profitable) and therefore more available, it means there are more restaurant and junk food vegan options than ever before.

Slowly over the course of the past 4 years I began consuming more and more of the above and less of this:

Colorful fruit and vegetables on a market stall
Photo by ja ma on Unsplash

Well, to have a healthy pregnancy and be able to set a good example for my child(ren), I need to start making some changes, to take some cues from 27-year-old Sam about how to eat, and get back in the kitchen!

(Yes, I realize that effectively means I want to be pregnant and in the kitchen more in the next few years. Don’t even start with me.)

What I’m Doing

  1. Reading. Everything.
  2. Logging. Everything.
    • In order to eat better, I had to baseline how I was eating, and start making changes. I use MyFitnessPal to do it, but any form of food diary can work.
  3. Cooking. More.
    • I love to cook! I love finding new recipes and trying new foods. I don’t know why or how I chose to forget that for the past few years and started opting more and more for takeout, but I did. Now I’m back to shopping about three times per week and making almost every meal for myself. I use Pinterest to hunt for and save new recipes I’d like to try.

Read about how I’m also Getting Fit in preparation for parenthood.

Posted in Self Improvement

Wellness: The Journey of a Lifetime

It recently occurred to me that we spend a majority of our lives in a phase called “adulthood” – about 35 years, and much more if we include our time as seniors in that period. What’s interesting about that to me, and why I mention it now, is that period (adulthood) is one of the most ill-defined and unstructured periods we experience.

Think about it. From infancy to childhood to adolescence we are given structure, milestones are monitored, and we have expected outcomes. But once you’re an adult, once you’re no longer being raised, that’s it. Sure, maybe you have higher education to guide your time, or perhaps your career path has a trajectory you can follow.

No matter the case, how you spend your time as an adult is totally up to you. It’s boundless, malleable, and there are very few wrong answers. So why do we struggle with that freedom?

Becoming Clairvoyant

A theory that I’ve recently begun to cultivate about the malaise that sets in at various times in our adult lives is that it is so often rooted by a fundamental fact of human existence: We can’t see the future.

Neon sign that reads Psychic vision, present, past, future, tarot cards
Photo by Wyron A on Unsplash

Living things are built to survive. Our brains, our bodies, our souls – everything about us is oriented around survival. Of course, as technology, society, and even the planet change the terms of survival do as well. Yet it always remains, this will to survive. As we intake information and sort it (consciously or unconsciously) into categories in order to understand it and assess if it helps or harms our case for survival, we are doomed by the dastardly fact that we can’t know what will happen tomorrow.

In our ancestors it manifested as moving away from a nomadic, herbivorous lifestyle to a settled, omnivorous one.

And here’s the crux of my new theory:

Today our inability to feel secure in the future leads the paradoxical worst of both worlds. We try to cope with uncertainty both by asserting our will to control through short-term goals and self-imposed constraints and also by ignoring the fact that what we do today has a long-term impact on us.

Live in the Now… for Your Future

I say fight paradox with paradox.

If we want to make better choices for long, happy, fulfilled lives (and notice I didn’t use anything resembling “100%” or “absolute” in that descriptor), I’m coming to belive that we have to retrain our brains to focus on living the absolute best day today so that tomorrow and the day after and the day after will follow suit.

Perhaps not all that strangely, my adventures in weightloss (and weight gain) helped to bring this concept into focus for me. Since puberty I’ve had multiple periods of one or the other. Most recently, as I’ve started re-prioritizing my wellness, it occurred to me that I was carrying a lot of guilt and shame about having “fallen of the wagon” when I’d “turned my life around” years ago.

I’m sure this langauge isn’t unfamiliar to you.

But here’s the thing – I didn’t decide one day four years ago that I didn’t give a #$@! about my health in the future or I wanted to slowly start replacing all my good habits with bad ones. Of course not!

My life changed. Circumstances changed. And I didn’t know how to cope. I didn’t focus on having a best day every day. Instead, I focused on what I thought I was supposed to be doing. What I thought others wanted or needed from me. And I lost sight of myself and my own life. I didn’t make decisions, day-by-day, that were best for me then and in the long-term. I didn’t really think through my decisions much at all. Instead, I relied on the autopilot of my environment and circumstances to run my life.

No more. I’m not committed to thinking about me now and later, every day. Because honestly, what’s good for me now should be good for me later, and vice versa, or I’m in trouble because I’ve only got one life, one me, and she’s continuous.

Posted in Veganism

Why Be Vegan?

What’s the first thing you think about when you think about veganism? Scrawny hippies who don’t get enough protein and love trees just a little too much?

celeste-horrocks-559369-unsplash
Photo by Celeste Horrocks on Unsplash

Or maybe you haven’t thought about veganism much at all.

Back in 2012, I did. A great friend of mine had transitioned from vegetarian to vegan, and randomly during lunch at work they’d decided to do a “brown bag” viewing of a documentary about veganism – Vegucated. The film opened my eyes to the fact that the ethics/compassion-based reason for veganism was about so much more than just not wanting to eat animals. But it also clued me into the health benefits and the impact I could make to reduce global warming.

Wait? Veganism can really do all that?

Yes, yes it can.

Health

Doctors like those at the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine provide information about the health impacts of a plant-based diet. Studies, like The China Study, provide scientific data to support those physicians beliefs.

Here’s a quick run-down of the reported health effects of a vegan diet:

  • Lower blood pressure
  • Lower LDL (bad) cholesterol
  • Reduced incidence of stroke
  • Reduced incidence of heart disease
  • Reduced incidence of various cancers, particularly colorectal and prostate

And if you’re more interested in the weight-loss or body image aspect of health, you can see 8 inspiring vegan weight-loss transformations here. (And before you start saying, sure I can be small, but I won’t be able to gain muscle as a vegan, read further below!)

The Environment

While the infographic below sums up the key points of the environmental argument for veganism, a quick Google search will lead you to a plethora of mainstream news coverage on studies investigating the impacts of the meat, poultry, fish, and dairy industries on climate change.

veganism infographic
Graphic by CulinarySchools.org

Compassion

If you think, like I did, vegetarianism or veganism is simply about saving animals from being eaten, I’m sorry to tell you that it saves them from so much more emotional and physical pain. I’m not going to post any videos here that illustrate the meat, poultry, and fish industries cruelties, but you can certainly find that info in various documentaries currently available on Netflix, Hulu, and other services.

But a few resources that I want to direct you to talk about the kinder side of veganism:

And it’s important to learn more about animal testing and the use of animal byproducts in non-foods.

Okay, great, but you can’t be fit and vegan, particularly if you need to be able to lift or compete.

Nope.

Vegan Athletes & Olympic Competitors (aka Vegans Get Enough Protein!!)

Plant-based proteins power world-class bodybuilders, Olympians, and NFL players. Again, a quick Google search will provide endless articles that interview athletes powered by plants.

Here are 23 world champion vegans. And a great article about how the Tennessee Titans defensive line is converting to veganism.

But what about–

Vegans & Vitamins

There’s a common misconception, even among vegans, that the following nutrients/vitamins can only be found in animal by-products: B12, D, calcium, and long-chain n-3 (omega-3) fatty acids. Where do you think that the animals get those nutrients? Plants!

While I always advocate consulting your doctor to check your vitamin levels and to arm yourself with more information about your nutrition and other levels – and you may need to take vitamin supplements for some or all of those key nutrients – it is possible to consume appropriate levels of B12, D, calcium and omega-3 fatty acids as a vegan.

Here’s one of many great articles that provides great insights about these nutrients and more.

Vegan Pregnancies & Parenting

It is the position of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics that appropriately planned vegetarian, including vegan, diets are healthful, nutritionally adequate, and may provide health benefits for the prevention and treatment of certain diseases. These diets are appropriate for all stages of the life cycle, including pregnancy, lactation, infancy, childhood, adolescence, older adulthood, and for athletes. Plant-based diets are more environmentally sustainable than diets rich in animal products because they use fewer natural resources and are associated with much less environmental damage. Vegetarians and vegans are at reduced risk of certain health conditions, including ischemic heart disease, type 2 diabetes, hypertension, certain types of cancer, and obesity. Low intake of saturated fat and high intakes of vegetables, fruits, whole grains, legumes, soy products, nuts, and seeds (all rich in fiber and phytochemicals) are characteristics of vegetarian and vegan diets that produce lower total and low-density lipoprotein cholesterol levels and better serum glucose control. These factors contribute to reduction of chronic disease. Vegans need reliable sources of vitamin B-12, such as fortified foods or supplements.

Position of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics: Vegetarian Diets

In summary, if take good note of what you (as a pregnant woman) or your child is eating, and maybe consider food tracking to watch your nutrient intake, then there’s no reason why you couldn’t life a perfectly healthy life as a vegan from start to finish.

For even more resources and information, check out: The Vegan Society.

Posted in Random Thoughts

The Journey Begins

Thanks for joining me!

Good company in a journey makes the way seem shorter. — Izaak Walton

danielle-macinnes-222441-unsplash
Photo by Danielle MacInnes on Unsplash

First, a confession: this is indeed the first blog post (title, intro & quote) supplied by WordPress as you start your very own blog. I appreciated the idea, though, of starting off with a welcome, and by setting the stage with verbiage like “The Journey Begins” – epic. So I kept it.

What is “Sammie Gets Fit” and why should you care?

Well, it’s a lifestyle blog that will include articles containing interesting research I’ve done, along with how-tos and recipes for various projects and meal-time adventures and any other random topics I feel others might be interested in. And you don’t have to care. Not in the least. But if you are like me and find the perspectives of others insightful and helpful, especially when they summarize and provide links or step-by-step guidance, you just might find something you like here.

Who am I?

I am a vegan, a wife, a professional, a writer, and a person trying to improve myself and my life. Through this blog you’ll be able to read more about these topics as they form the core of my identity and a large portion of what I’ll be talking about, along with the other random facets of life that make it interesting.

adult book business cactus
Photo by rawpixel.com on Pexels.com

Let’s begin.