An Interesting Way To Start The New Year

I have been inspired by a friend of mine to reflect a bit on how I wanted to start the new year and how I actually started it. Now she had two separate posts on what she wanted and what actually happened but I think I can cover all of mine in just one (especially considering I started thinking about posting this just now).

So initially I actually had contemplated starting out the new year quietly, at home, by myself. I know this doesn’t sound particularly exciting but I’ve had an exceedingly busy and social year and I really just wanted some down time. I was thinking of a good book or maybe a stupid movie or better yet working on my website and playing around with some Ruby on Rails. That was my idea for a perfect New Year’s Eve. And to follow that with some loose resolutions (because I don’t really believe in resolutions) that I will be healthier and make time for myself amongst all my crazy activities.

My actual New Year’s Eve was spent with some of my friends in Austin, who I have not seen in years. And to be honest it didn’t really feel like a new year’s celebration, we went out for dinner and then to one of the bars downtown and ended up wandering around Austin for hours after the bars closed (it’s a long story, let’s just leave it at that). But it was not too far from what I had initially wanted because it didn’t actually feel like the typical New Year’s Eve celebration, it was more like a few very old friends of mine and I going out and “getting into trouble” as usual.

Actually it was pretty interesting getting up in the morning because we didn’t drink all too much yet all three of us (that went out and were crashing at the same place) still weren’t feeling 100% in the morning. And I dubbed it the “Adult Hangover”; you don’t have to drink excessively to be tired and cranky after a night out. It’s the grown up version of that lingering feeling of regret for going out partying with your friends. Except now, as adults, you are smart enough not to drink yourself stupid but you still get the consequences of not being able to bounce right back after a long night.

So for my first day in the new year I decided to visit my cousins who also live in Austin and I really couldn’t have thought of a better way to begin the new year than with people that I love that I rarely get to see because I live so far away. And after such a great kick off to the new year I decided to make some slightly more concrete new years resolutions: actually eating healthier, seriously trying to keep up a vegetarian diet and hopefully by the end of the year become vegan, go to the gym/exercise at least 4 times/week (excluding soccer and dance), have a more positive body image, seriously focus on my academics (no more lame excuses), be more positive and productive at work and last but not least make sure to fit in some substantial time (at least a couple of hours) every week to just be by myself.

And I did learn something while I was back home. “You can take the girl out of Texas but you can’t take Texas out of the girl.” I don’t know if I’ll ever live there again because I do miss seasons whenever I go south but I will always have a special place in my heart for Texas and everyone I know that still lives there.

Unintentionally Vegetarian/Vegan

So here’s the thing, I’ve been reading this book Skinny Bitch, which by the way is awesome, that has some really horrifying passages about slaughterhouses and dairy farms that are pretty darn disturbing. So the first day after I read it, I was a little put off the whole meat and dairy thing. Now, I find this interesting because well I read The Jungle and that had absolutely no effect on my eating habits or desires. So I don’t know when I gained such a conscience or perhaps the passages were just different from the ones included in this book, I read that over 10 years ago (for school) so I’m a little fuzzy on it. It might also have to do with the fact that I’m reading this book by choice and I was reading The Jungle because it was on the reading list in high school.

I’ll put a disclaimer on this here and now, I may not be a vegetarian/vegan permanently, I truly do enjoy my animal products, I just find it fascinating what one book can do to your life which is why I am writing about it here.

The thing that I find most interesting is that it has been a few days since I have read those horrifying passages and I can generally forget things I don’t want to know relatively easily (at least when it comes to food that I like and don’t particularly want to give up). But for some reason I am finding that when I go out or am in the office cafeteria I will actually opt to get something vegetarian and if possible vegan before I choose anything with meat or dairy. It’s almost as if the women who wrote this book got into my head and changed my psyche a bit. I choose to eat differently. And I keep telling myself that I miss meat but honestly, I don’t really mind not having it. It’s only been a week that I’ve been doing it but um, I’m also the girl that used to say she likes to “eat her steak still mooing”. I mean one of my good friends and I talk about how we like to cook our steaks “black and blue” which basically just means it’s very rare. So I just find it fascinating that just by reading one book I have made a huge change in my diet. It just jolted me into the realities of the industry and my opposition to eating meat and dairy really has more to do with the way that industry works than my taste preferences.

Also, what I have found in the past week is that you can find tons of really tasty vegetarian/vegan food out there! You don’t necessarily need meat or dairy to make yourself a fabulous meal. All it takes is a little creative thinking. And quite frankly half the vegetarian/vegan food is better for you anyway.

The only thing I will say is that my experiment with a soy latte was horrifyingly disappointing. I really didn’t think it would taste all that different but I don’t put any sweetener in my lattes and I swear the soy milk made it sickeningly sweet. I couldn’t even finish it. That was really sad because while I don’t drink lattes often, I do like them on occasion.

I’m curious to see what this difference will make in how I feel when I go to the gym. I injured myself last week so I took a week off but I’m back as of today I think it should be interesting. And I mean the book is called Skinny Bitch so I’m curious as to how much changing your diet so drastically will change the rest of your body image etc. I suppose simply making healthier changes should make it easier. I guess we’ll just have to wait and see.

Being a “Skinny Bitch”…

seems to be a tall order. At least if you read the book Skinny Bitch by Rory Freedman and Kim Barnouin. I never truly intended on reading this book, I had read a review in the New York Times and aside from the catchy title I didn’t really have much interest in it. But recently I’ve been a little more into health and being more proactive about getting healthy and well I ended up with a 3 hour delay on my flight back to Chicago after Thanksgiving. So what’s a girl to do other than go pick up the first relatively interesting book she finds at the airport bookstore.

I inteded this to be an amusing, interesting read. Considering I had already read the Times review on it I had a vague idea what the book was supposed to be about and I had no intention of changing my eating habits to become a vegan. Little did I know that they took excerpts from a book slaughterhouses when I first cracked that book open. The most interesting part of the whole thing was that this little book does not look like it can change your life. Quite frankly, it looks like a fabulous piece of fluff to put on your bookshelf for shock value – much like this book Queer that I own which just has fabulous pictures and some historical content but mostly fabulous pictures.

Yet I couldn’t take my eyes off it. I read it on the plane and then the train and in the cab and even in bed once I got home. I haven’t gotten through the entire book yet but I am about 3/4 of the way through and I think it is great. I also had no intention of becoming vegan yet I can’t seem to look at meat the same way. Those passages about the slaughterhouse just changed something in my psyche. I can’t say that this will be a lasting change just yet since it has only been 2 days of relatively vegetarian eating (I am stubbornly trying to hold on to my carnivorous roots, it’s not working out so well for me – I rebelled when all my friends became vegetarian and I have a hard time eating my words).

It’s amazing how without even intending to make a huge change in my life, I have done so anyway. And I actually feel really good about it. Partially because, well if even a fraction of what they said was true about the slaughterhouses I can’t eat meat in good conscience. I was happy being blissfully unaware but now that I know I do think it may just be time to make that change in my life. I don’t know how I feel about being vegan because well, I haven’t cooked in about a year and it is hard to find easily available vegan food. I will try to be as vegan as possible but I don’t know that I can go the whole 9 yards that the girls tell ya to go.

And I would truly recommend this book to anyone. I mean you don’t have to believe what these women believe to find this to be an interesting read. If nothing else it makes you well informed. I may not stay vegetarian or vegan for long but the information that I have gathered here has certainly changed me and will stay with me for the rest of my life. I think that just changing your mindset and your outlook on life can be helpful and these women just put it so well in the book. I think one of my favourite passages was one about carbs when they start ranting about how only idiots don’t eat carbs. Having been an athlete, I have known about the virtue of carbs for years – trust me crew coaches don’t let you get away with not eating carbs.

The other thing I really love about the book is that it gives you a place to put all that energy most women spend about obsessing about being skinny. It gives you so many things to think about that are truly interesting and ways to change your life that are not difficult. Most of all it uses common sense that people can relate to easily. I mean what’s better than a book that tells you, come on idiot just use your brain, think about what you’re doing and you’ll be fine. It’s pretty awesome, at least I certainly think so.