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Here is a quick challenge update: James and I are on day 17 with no alcohol, and day3 as vegetarians.  The no alcohol was a bigger deal than I expected it to be, especially on weekends during social events.  Sometimes it’s nice to have a glass of wine on a Friday after a productive week of work.  To help avoid temptation, we have been cooking much more at home (in our respective cities) instead of going to restaurants.  Also, not  having a cocktail or two has been much kinder to our wallets.  As with any challenge, resistance gets easier with time.  I find on week three that’s it is almost a non-issue.  However, we will be ending our fast this Friday with Music Midtown in Atlanta.  That will also be our last day as vegetarian (with Thursday & Friday being vegan).  Speaking of being vegetarian, I’m always pleasantly surprised at how easy it is to transition over to no meat.  My body always reacts kindly by feeling less heavy and having more energy.  There are so many natural sources of protein outside of meat that it’s almost not even a challenge.  I also think we eat less in general when we aren’t preparing a meal around a piece of meat.  Going vegan is going to be a whole different story, as I’ve never attempted it before.  After talking with some vegan friend though, seems like there are more options than ever to make it more convenient.  I will probably hit up some local restaurants that I know for sure serve vegan meals so I can learn some preparation ideas.  I’m excited to see how it goes!

My friend Bonnie posted an inspirational quote today on her FB page that said, “Yes, I’m trying to eat healthy.  No, I’m not on a diet.”  It does seem to be ingrained in our brains that eating healthy equates to temporary dieting, that it isn’t something we do long-term.  I think that is one of the reasons why I love Vero so much – she has no “normal” reason to eat healthy – she is the perfect size and is in good health & shape.  However you will never see her order a serving of french fries.  She loves to put nutritional things in her body.  She is completely vegetarian all of the time and goes out of her way to order specifically what she wants at restaurants.  I won’t disclose her age, but let’s just say she looks about 7-8 years younger than most of her peers.  It’s because she cares about her body.  Nothing more, nothing less.  I think that is one of the most beautiful things about her.  Eating healthier doesn’t have to be anything extreme either, it can just be a process of adding more fruits & veggies over time while learning new ways to prepare food with less fat, chemicals & refined sugar.  Baby steps!  Slow and steady wins the race.

Happy Friday!!!

The two-day juice thing is OVER.  I am so glad, I have no words.  :)  I haven’t done anything like that in quite some time, and honestly, I didn’t enjoy it very much.  I would much rather eat 1,200 calories of real food than 1,200 of liquid any day.  Maybe it had some benefits that I can’t see from the outside, but I have a feeling all it was really good for was some significant sugar crashes and starvation.  That can’t be good for the metabolism.  So happy we only did it for 48 hours!  Now, back to a regular eating schedule.  I am actually looking forward to our other two challenges this month: one week of vegetarian and two days of vegan.  I believe that starts on the 14th, so I will keep you posted on how those go.

This weekend is Artwalk here in Birmingham!  Soooo excited.  James is coming down today on the Megabus and we plan to hit up the loft district downtown for some amazing local art.  Before we head that way we will be having dinner with my good friends Charles & Carrie Beth.  I haven’t gotten to see them much since their wedding a few months back, so it will be great to catch up on their lives.  I know Charles just finished his book, so we will be celebrating that for sure.  Once it’s published I will post a link for it!

Speaking of books, I’ve actually been working on mine lately.  I’ve done a big overhaul on the storyline that I think fits much better.  What I’ve come up with now feels perfect, and it is flowing much easier.  God only knows when I will actually be done with it, but I have a feeling it is going to be a faster process.  My friend Gin who is an accomplished novelist told me that her first book took her years, and she was still never 100% happy with it.  However, her second and third books were much easier to write and were more successful.  That makes me feel a little bit better about my snail’s pace.  You know though, I think some congratulations are in order for me on that because I am always in such a rush to complete creative projects.  I am proud of myself for giving this time to breathe and unfold as it’s ready.  Mark my words, this book will be written and it will be a true labor of love!

Today starts the two-day juice challenge for James and me.  We aren’t doing anything too fancy, basically just drinking an assortment of Naked drinks to make sure we get enough veggies, protein & healthy carbs.  I don’t necessarily promote diets that eliminate food groups, but it’s only for two days and it makes me feel excited for a challenge.  Tonight I am going to my first yoga class of 2012 with my friend Micah.  I know it will be hard for me since my upper body is fairly weak, but this is the first step to changing that!  I’m trying to adjust my attitude about slower exercise in general, because I think it could be a peaceful experience to add to my weekly routine.  Micah has already been a few times and is completely in love.  If I could get into it, I know it would be a great full body workout and help with strengthening my hips, butt, core and arms.

Another thing James and I are doing is planning out our weekend meals in advance (since that is the time we get to spend together).  This is both to save money and watch our caloric intake.  We both love fun food, but neither of us can afford to eat countless calories and spend like we are the next Bill Gates.  With that being said, one of the things that I love most about James is that he is passionate about food.  Not in quantity, but in quality.  Some of my best experiences with him have been exploring local restaurants in Atlanta and Birmingham.  We end up ordering several things and sharing plates.  He appreciates details, preparation and creativity, which makes dining with him a lot of fun.  I also love that we have similar body types so our challenges are usually the same.  It makes it easier when your significant other is on the same page as you food-wise.  I am looking forward to cooking more with him and enjoying our own home-made meals.

I never really appreciated home cooking until fairly recently.  While my mom cooked amazing food for us growing up on a daily basis, I still never put much thought into it being something fun to do.  I think that had mostly to do with my unhealthy relationship with food, up until a few years ago.  Food was a major source of anxiety for me…I knew I loved it, but I had so many negative emotions attached to what it did to my body when I ate too much.  I struggled to find balance with food for a long, long time.  I don’t think I appreciated the care put into making a meal due to the cloudiness of other thoughts in my head.  Fortunately, that all changed a few years ago.  I still struggle with maintaining a constant weight, but I know that I will never be at a point again where I’m unhappy with the way I look.  When I eat food now I think about where it comes from, who made it, and why it’s different.  Meals are more about the process, time spent making it with others, and enjoying it together.  I find that I even have a desire to grow things, so I’m hoping one day soon I can have a garden.   This weekend we are also going to try our hand at canning – possibly pickling some okra from the local farmer’s market.  I will keep you posted!

Sometimes it seems surreal that I am at a perfect weight.  Every now and then in my own mind I’m still the size I used to be.  I will feel like I’m having a “fat” day, only to have the scale tell me that there is no reason to worry.  There are days during the week when I have meals with more calories than I’d like, but it all balances out in the end despite my concern.  I still firmly believe that it’s because I’m not eating certain types of food, like fast food and empty calorie junk.  If I splurge, it’s usually on chocolate in moderation. However, sweets remain dangerous territory for me as I usually want more after eating my alloted portion.  I seem to have my chocolate cravings mid-afternoon while at work.  Having a healthier snack option helps to take my mind off of eating things less nutritious for me.

This is a TMI Alert… so don’t say I didn’t warn you!   One of the most amazing things that has happened to me since losing weight is regaining the desire to wear underwear again.  Gosh, I must have gone commando for years and years… all b/c I hated the way I looked and felt in panties.  I especially hated the kind with elastic bands that cut into your skin, only to make you look & feel even fatter.  Of course, this could have had something to do with the fact that I refused to buy my real size… so I always looked like a sausage bursting out of its casing.  So at some point I decided it was better to just go without them all together.  I did a similar thing with baggy clothes/pajamas.  When I was bigger, I would always come home from work and immediately put on  over-sized pajamas because it helped me visually hide the fact that I didn’t like my body.  While I am still trying to mentally undo some of these bad habits I learned while being overweight, I am happy to report that I am now an underwear-wearer again.  :)  I even buy my real size – a large – and feel great in them.  I’m never going to be the girl who wears a size small in anything, and I don’t want to be.  I’m 5’10″, 32 (almost), and finally able to accept every ounce and part of my body.  Hooray for self-acceptance!!!  And YAY for underwear!!!  :D

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