Monthly Archives: June 2013

HIIT and Kickboxing and Salad Day

My motivation and inspiration has been rather low lately. I’ve been less consistent with my postings (sorry!) likely because I’ve been stressed and busy, though I know that’s never a good excuse – we’re all stressed and busy. Yesterday I had a particularly awful day with the kids (misbehaving, fighting, yelling, etc) and with other current worries, like job-searching and the feeling of being totally over my current life as an au pair and life abroad, and worries about being pretty much broke, and homesick, and of course I haven’t really had time to exercise as much as I would have liked, so I think the stress and anxiety got the best of me last night and I nearly lost it.

You know that feeling when you just really want to punch the living shit out of something/someone? Well, I was at that point yesterday and that’s when I remembered the beauty of kickboxing! There really is no better feeling than punching or kicking a big heavy bag with all of your power, letting go of all of your frustration and rage and stress in the most cathartic and liberating way. Before moving to Paris, I did kickboxing about 2-3 times a week at a kickboxing gym, fully equipped with bags, dummies, pads, etc and there was nothing better than heading out of work and straight to the gym, wrapping up my hands, slipping them into my red gloves, and beating the shit out of imaginary people. Never have I been stronger, sweatier, or braver than during that year of kickboxing. I am so, so eager to get back into it when I move home.

Today when I finally got my ass up and went out to exercise outside, I tried to let go of everything that was awful about yesterday and start the day in a new way. I ran to my park (about 10 minutes), then followed this HIIT routine. (I don’t remember where I found this because I had it written down on a piece of paper that I found on my desk, so I apologize to whoever I am failing to give credit to for this workout.)

0:30 high knees

1:00 squat jumps

1:00 mountain climbers

1:00 burpees

1:00 jump lunges

Repeat 3x

Then I did about 10 minutes of kickboxing, which entailed shamelessly punching the air (aiming at a nearby tree) while tons of French people (mostly creepy French men) stared at me and judged me, probably.

Then some crunches of all shapes and sizes, side planks, lower back exercises, and then I ran… more like wobbled… back home. A nice long stretch followed, as well as a CLIF builder protein bar (gotta restore those muscle fibers!) and an apple, and I felt so good. Amazing how quickly you forget how great a good workout is.

(If I eat a food bar, I try to find one that is as natural and raw as possible. These are pretty good, though they tend to be too dense and ingredient-rich, but its better than other options out there. My favorites are Lärabars.)

Later, I made a delicious salad (I think I’ve gotten better at salads over the years. I lived a long time thinking a salad had to be nasty iceberg lettuce and croutons) with lots of my favorite ingredients, and a few things I just had on had to make it well-rounded:

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White beans

Kidney beans

Avocado

Almonds

Red and yellow bell peppers

Golden raisins

Sesame seeds

Spinach

Lemon juice, salt, pepper

 

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How pretty was this avocado?? Nature is so cool.

 

It’s been a much better day today than yesterday. Exercise always helps more than I realize. I feel strong, sufficiently sore and tired, and well-fed.

Dinner tonight will surely be a challenge, but I’m going to go easy on myself and not feel guilty after eating whatever it is that we’re eating. I can only control so much, right?

Here’s to another good day.

 

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Couscous Decisions

I’m proud of myself today. I went to lunch with my coworkers and we went to a restaurant to eat some amazing couscous, and I kept it as healthy as possible by ordering the vegetarian couscous. It was actually quite a display of my indecisiveness and internal torment, because I ordered vegetarian, then I heard everyone’s order and I decided I wanted chicken, so I changed my order. The waiter left and a few minutes later, I got up from the table (after sitting there, feeling guilty with my decision for quite some time) and asked if he could change my order back to vegetarian. I was mildly embarrassed to be so indecisive in front of colleagues  but at the end of the day, my health was more important and I’m happy I went with the veggie meal.

Somehow, I think I’ve developed a bit of a distaste for meat now… Or, perhaps not a distaste but a slight disgust. Don’t get me wrong, I still love eating it (this past weekend I ate 2 burgers… oops), but I think when it looks like flesh, it creeps me out, whereas in the past I never would have thought about it. Seeing the waiter bring out a tray full of meat, a lot of it on the bone, and seeing people at the table pick at it and cut it with difficulty with their sharp knives made me so happy to be eating just vegetables, chick peas, and couscous. I felt light after eating rather than bogged down as I normally feel after eating meat, and I know I didn’t consume any cholesterol or saturated fat in my meal while the others surely did, and best of all, no one had to die a miserable factory life so that I could eat lunch! So really, whats not to love about being vegan? I get all the right nutrients, I eat cleaner, no one dies, the planet doesn’t suffer as much, and my body thanks me and rewards me for my healthy choices every day.

Now to be clear, I’m not 100% vegan. But I’m okay with that still. Perhaps I may never be fully vegan, but if 80% of what I consume comes entirely from the earth, then I think I’m in a better place than I was before. I want to stay flexible and I don’t want to feel deprived, so I will allow myself a relatively guilt-free non-vegan indulgence when the situation calls for it, and I know it won’t cause that much damage at the end of the day. My family is from Colombia where I’m fairly certain the concept of vegan or even vegetarian just simply do not exist. I know with my family and family friends, living a vegan life would be nearly impossible, so I’m open to eating meat and dairy in social occasions when other options are not available, and sometimes when going out with friends, I’m okay with eating a burger or ice cream. Not the end of the world. But while I have the power to control what I eat, I want to try to stay as vegan and clean as possible, and that is a solution for my daily diet that I can be very comfortable with. Fortunately today my meal allowed for that flexibility. It won’t always be like that, and I’m learning to be okay with that.

I’m trying to be gentle with myself. If I label myself as “vegan”, I’m bound to feel guilt when I break the rules. But if I can make my own rules that suit me, I’m more likely to feel satisfied and happy with the choices I make.

So today, I’m proud of my choice. I’m proud of all of my choices today, actually. They weren’t all perfect, but they were as good as they could have been and I managed to eat clean, vegan, and light all day long and I went for a 4-mile run in the evening. I’m feeling pretty good about how today has gone and I hope to have more days like today in the future.

Go me!

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All Talk

All Talk

A conversation last night with a friend led me to think about something that has been vaguely on my mind the past several weeks, which led her to send me an article which helped me understand what I have been feeling.

The article from Nerd Fitness is about taking action on your goals, not just talking about them and expecting results. Read it!

I am so much like the underpants gnomes he references from South Park. I collect underpants (knowledge) and I even make underpants (I write this blog), but I so often forget about Phase 2 and I eagerly jump to expect Phase 3, “profit” to happen automatically. Confused about what I’m talking about? I told you to read the article!!

I have spent years reading health blogs, books, watching documentaries and TED talks, and in every other way absolutely inundating my brain with knowledge about health and fitness. I should get an honorary fitness and nutritionist certification with all the research I’ve done. So you’d think, you know… I would have reached my goals by now. But the reality is, I’ve looked and felt mostly the same pretty much my entire life. I’ve had little moments of brilliance, where I really stepped it up and lost weight and felt amazing, but I quickly fall back into my old habits and my changes fail to stick.

I talk a lot and think a lot about health, but I’ve been feeling lately like I don’t actually DO anything about it. I mean, I’ve made changes that I shouldn’t ignore, like my slow progression to a mostly vegan diet which has been a great accomplishment for me so far, but if I’ve lost weight, it has been maybe a pound or two. Nothing noticeable. And while I do feel a lot better eating a clean, plant-based diet, I’m feeling impatient and I’m feeling disappointed that my progress has been so slow and mostly invisible. I don’t want to just talk about making changes… I want to actually make them!

My question is, how do I make these changes really stick this time? I’ve done this before. I’ve been right here many times, and I’ve temporarily succeeded. I’ve lost 10-15 pounds several times (gained them back, of course) and I’ve felt accomplished and proud, but why do I struggle with sticking to my lifestyle changes? I’m determined to get to the root of the problem, in one way or another.

Perhaps the key for me (and anyone else struggling with this feeling) is to make a list of tangible, quantifiable, achievable, realistic goals (or assignments/homework), write them down, and stick them on your wall so you remember them every day. Maybe if I try to think of this as a game, or as an assignment for work, maybe I’ll feel the same sense of urgency or desire to accomplish them. I don’t know. Just a thought. I’m a lists-person. I feel great when I can check things off of my list, and often I can’t accomplish much without one because I’ll just simply forget, so maybe I can work with my goals and see them as “errands” that I can check off today, and perhaps that will help me just get it done, and thus slowly start building patterns and habits, maybe without all the emotional baggage that I tend to tie into “changing my life.” That feels too heavy. Do I have to think so hard about it? Can’t I just… do it?

Anyway, my point is… I feel like I talk too much and don’t take enough action. I still give in to my snacking cravings every time they come and I still eat the same sized portions as I normally do and I still stay up late and miss my morning workouts and I still eat crap if its in front of me and I still overdose on my addictive favorites like granola and almond butter. I suppose, as I mentioned, my biggest accomplishment is sticking to a mostly vegan diet, with exceptions whenever I don’t have a choice (like occasional dinners with my host family or social gatherings, etc).

I can’t tackle all of these at the same time, but I can start by what I can control today.

– I will try really hard to eat at the designated eating times, the way French people do. In following the Tone It Up  lifestyle suggestions (as well as the suggestions by most other nutrition experts out there), I will eat 5 small meals today, and if I get hungry in between, I will drink water or green tea and remind myself that my next meal is not too far off. I need to learn patience and I need to learn not to be afraid of hunger. Now DO NOT misinterpret that, please. All I mean is… I live in this perpetual fear of hunger and at the slightest grumble in my stomach, I immediately feel the need to binge on something to avoid starvation. It’s irrational, and I end up not even being that hungry when I actually do eat a meal. I just want to not feel so controlled by the hungry animal impulse, and usually drinking a glass of water does the trick for a while. So without further ado, here is my plan for the day:

Meal 1: 8am, breakfast quinoa – DONE

Meal 2: 11am, soy yogurt with banana – DONE

Meal 3: 1pm, lentils + sautéed veggies + apple – planned

Meal 4:  5pm, half sweet potato + spinach + almonds – planned 

Meal 5: 9pm, something healthy-ish at the restaurant + red wine – planned

– Even though its Wednesday (long day as an au pair), I will try to find time to squeeze in 50 squats and 20 pushups. Like, maybe right after posting this.

– I will take a moment to reflect on my accomplishments thus far, and I will try to be proud of myself for them.

Those are my small goals for today. I will let you know how it goes. I have plans to meet a friend for dinner and drinks tonight, but I will try to order something healthy and I will stick to a glass or two of red wine. No day is perfect, but I can still be strong.

Enough with collecting underpants. I want to be ready for Phase 2.

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Damn, Girls…

Damn, Girls...

These ladies are fierce. Enviable. Strong. I always forget that people like them had to WORK for it. They were not born looking like that. So if they can do it, why can’t anyone else?

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zwow 42

 

I’m just posting this for my own reference. I did this work out last week and it was SO good, as Zuzana Light’s workouts always are, and I didn’t want to lose it. So, if you have 20 minutes, knock this one out and you’ll be sweating like a dog in the end. In fact, I might just go do it again right now.

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Healthy Breakfast Quinoa

This morning I woke up and realized I only had a tiny, tiny amount of oatmeal left. Since I’ve been trying to eat mostly vegan lately, I didn’t want to eat yogurt or eggs for breakfast, so I thought I’d get a little creative and use inspiration from many recipes I’ve seen to create my own breakfast quinoa.

The result was actually amazing! I can’t wait to try this again tomorrow morning.

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Since I rarely use real recipes and I just make things up as I go, here I’ll try to describe my process, in case you want to recreate it (which you should, because this was SO good).

Ingredients:

Quinoa

Almond Milk

Raisins

Dried Apricots (or any dried or fresh fruit)

Cinnamon

Honey

Almonds (or walnuts)

I already had quinoa pre-made from last night, but if you don’t, you can start from scratch, which might actually be better. (I’ll be trying that tomorrow.) Mine was a quinoa-bulgur wheat mix, but I recommend just straight quinoa. I had… a normal serving size? About a cup? Not really sure. You can be more precise if you want.

I put it in a little sauce pan, turned the heat on low, and poured in some almond milk (but not too much at first). I tossed in some raisins, and a small amount of honey and cinnamon and some sliced dried apricots (though you can use whatever fresh or dried fruit you desire). I mixed it all together and kept adding almond milk until it was a consistency that looked good to me (I didn’t want it to be too watery but you can make it as watery or dry as you’d like). At the end, I chopped up some almonds (if you have slivered almonds, or shelled walnuts, even better so you don’t have to deal with cutting whole almonds) and tossed them in, and gave it a little taste test to see what I thought. YUM.

Since I had a tiny bit of oatmeal, I cooked that and mixed both together, and the result was a delicious, sweet, healthy, protein-filled, fiber-filled, nutrient-dense breakfast to start my day. Seriously this might be my new favorite thing. Dare I say… better than oatmeal??

TRY IT. I dare you.

Here are some suggestions for things to add, though the beauty of this is that you pretty much can just do whatever you want and it will most likely be amazing.

– Fresh blueberries

– Fresh strawberries

– Almond butter

– Avocados

– Maple syrup

– Peaches

– Mashed banana

– Protein powder

– Chocolate chips

– Greek yogurt

… The list can go on as far as you’d like. Just some ideas to get you started.

Seriously this is my new favorite discovery. Can’t wait for tomorrow!

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Women and Weights

I have a sincere issue with the gender divide in health and exercise. When you step into a gym, you will usually see the cardio section occupied mostly by women, and mostly by women reading magazines or watching TV. When you look at the area with the mats, resistance bands, bouncy balls, and small dumbells, again, you’ll see mostly women, and sure, there will be a few women working hard, but more often than not, you’ll find women with their friends, chit-chatting and taking long breaks after 10 reps of bicep curls with 5 or 8 pound weights.

Scan your eyes over to the weight machines or large dumbells and you’ll see men. All men, only men, forever men. Men of all shapes and sizes, except not really… beefy men usually, sweating through their clothing, grunting, flexing, and moaning with each bicep curl. Often times with poor form. But one thing is clear: these men are cut and those women are not.

Let me just say… THIS IS BULLSHIT.

I used to be one of those women, who would spend 30 or 45 minutes on the elliptical at medium resistance, then maybe 15 minutes of weights (never more than 8 pounds), then I would go home and eat whatever the hell I wanted, thinking I had earned it. Early on in my college years when I started exercising more, this was mostly how I spent my time at the gym, and sure, I’d break a sweat, but I would leave with a false sense of success. I imagined I had burned 6,000 calories and that all those frozen lasagnas that I used to eat would be well-deserved. Honestly, if I burned 100 calories during my workouts, I’d be surprised. But I didn’t know any better, and most people don’t know any better either. Especially women.

There is a very terrifying lack of education in the female population about how to exercise and how to achieve the results that most of us want. Most women out there (even if they don’t admit it), in one way or another desire that “lean, toned” look, and most women think that spending their days fiddling around on the cardio machines is going to get them there. It pains me that this is our foolish reality. That women are so uneducated and so misinformed in fitness, and that they are so terrified of trying something truly challening, for fear of “bulking up”.

There are countless articles written about this subject, but in summary, women, listen up: YOU CANNOT AND WILL NOT GET BULKY UNLESS YOU TAKE STEROIDS AND/OR DEDICATE YOUR LIFE TO BECOMING A BODY BUILDER. You just cannot. We do not have the levels of testoserone that men have so no matter how hard we try, we just cannot bulk up! We can build muscle and lose body fat and achieve that “toned” look that everyone is after, but anything more extreme is supremely difficult for us to achieve. Women sadly live terrified of the real weights because they think they’ll look manly, and as a result, women exclude themselves from the one and only real way to getting the healthy, beautiful body that they desire.

Want to know what happens when women lift weights and drink lots of protein shakes?

Yeah, terrifying, right?

Women cannot be afraid of challenging themselves, because as they say, “What doesn’t challenge you doesn’t change you,” and if its change you’re after, then its change that you need.

The other part of this issue is the fact that men are not used to seeing women in the weights section, and women often feel intimidated and unwelcome, or perhaps a little too welcome, feeling more like a piece of meat than a strong woman who just wants to get her work out in like everyone else. This is true anywhere in the world, but I have become more aware of it since coming to France, where the spaces between the genders are much more culturally engrained. I was invited by a friend to come to her gym for a day, so after my insane 15 minutes on the spin bike (literally sweat flying everywhere, grunting and breathing heavily, getting all sorts of stares from the poised and clean French women leafing through Elle on the pussy-bikes next to me), I put on my weight lifting gloves and marched proudly into the weight room, which was separate from the other parts of the gym. Before walking in, I felt tough, confident, and excited to lift some heavy weights. As soon as I turned the corner, all the meatwad men with enormous biceps essentially stopped what they were doing, turned, and looked at me as I walked in to “their” section. Rather than going to the middle of the room to a spot where I could see myself properly in the mirror, I instantly felt like I was being eye-raped by these gross men, so I resorted to a corner of the room where I had a sliver of mirror and my squats would be as minimally disruptive as possible. It was a horrible feeling, but I pushed through it anyway, finding myself opting for tougher-looking exercises (lots of boxing moves, with weights) to assert myself as a strong woman. I felt self conscious and alone, like I’m sure many women fear feeling when considering lifting heavy weights.

The worst moment for me (a raging feminist and heavy-weight lifter) was when I was scoping out gyms in my neighborhood, and on the tour of one particularly gross-looking gym, the guy said to me something along the lines of, “…And downstairs we have the weight room. Its for men, but I’ll show it to you anyway.” And when we got down stairs, again he said, “So here you can see the weight room. It’s probably not of any interest to you because its mostly for men, but here is one machine that you could use if you wanted.” And he pointed to some dinky little cardio thing. I felt offended. I wanted to say so many things, but my limited French only allowed me to smile and say “Merci.” What a dick.

Ladies out there, my message is this: Do not be afraid of lifting weights. Real weights. Heavy weights. Weights that are heavy enough for you to feel muscle exhaustion after 8-12 good reps, without losing proper form. Weights that leave you utterly sore the next day. Weights that challenge you and push you out of your comfort zone. This is the only way to build muscle, aka “tone up” your body and get “lean”. Add cardio, yes, but good cardio (not 30 minutes on the elliptical while reading a magazine. Instead, choose a short, intense HIIT routine) a few days a week, and you will see the results you have always wanted (as long as you’re eating clean). And you will see them fast!

Again, I will use myself as an example. I had a personal trainer in college for about 6 months, and she entirely revolutionized my way of looking at exercise. She had me doing bicep curls with 15 pound weights, when I thought I could only handle 8lb, or maybe 10 if I was feeling tough. But she showed me that I could do better than that, and in just a few months, I remember looking in the mirror and actually seeing my arms look different. (At one point during one of our sessions, I remember her saying, “Damn girl, look at those guns!”… It was a proud moment.) The 15lb weights had been killer, but within a short amount of time, my body had actually changed in all the ways that all women want it to change. I wasn’t bulkier, I was leaner. I wasn’t manly, I looked feminine and strong. My arms looked amazing, my thighs were thinner, my waist was leaner, and I know it was entirely because my trainer forced me to lift heavier than what I thought I could. I’ve never looked back, and I can’t wait to get back to lifting weights again. It is the only thing that has ever made a significant difference in my appearance in all my years of being an athlete and fitness monster.

Also to note: There is no such thing as “weight lifting for women” or “exercising for women”. Anything that markets itself as women-specific is bound to sell you short and make reaching your goals that much harder and slower. We are all bodies, and we should all train the same way. To get the toned womanly body you want, you need to train “like a man.” That is to say, train like a human. (There’s a reason those men in the gym are cut, and yes, part of it is testosterone  but the other part is training. If you want to be firm and toned, you need to work for it like they do.)

So ladies, let’s break the stereotypes and the fears and the miseducation. The weight room is not just for men. I challenge you to go in there during your next session at the gym, and lift heavier than you normally would (even if its just a few pounds heavier. Strength and muscle take time to build. Also, please make sure you have proper form and consult your doctor before taking on a new exercise regimen. Thats my PSA for the day) and I promise, PROMISE, PROMISE that you will see results. You will have the “lean, toned” look in no time, as long as your diet is clean. You will wake up every day loving your sexy body, and you’ll be saying, “Thank you, C from Strong Fits Well. Thank you.”

You’re welcome.

Oh, I forgot to mention: Muscle burns a ton of calories, so the more muscle you have, the more calories you burn when you’re not doing anything at all. So the more muscle you build, the more fat you’ll burn off, making it easier and quicker to see those pretty, shapely muscles under the layer of fat that currently hides them. Just a fun fact.

Watch this video. Very funny, very relevant.

 

A few links for those of you who have had their curiosity piqued:

The Best Strength Training For Women, Women’s Health Magazine

8 Reasons You Should Lift Heavier Weights, Shape Magazine

Why Ladies Should Lift Weights, Fitocracy

Why Women Should Lift Weights!, BodyBuilding.Com

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Lift Heavy

Lift Heavy

Such a terribly common misconception. Lifting weights will NOT make women bulky! Neither will protein powder. More on this to come on an upcoming post.

“As a child, I never heard one woman say to me, ‘I love my body’. Not my mother, my elder sister, my best friend. No one woman has ever said, ‘I am so proud of my body.’ So I make sure to say it to Mia, because a positive physical outlook has to start at an early age.” – Kate Winslet

A friend of mine recently shared this quote with me, and it really hit close to home. As I said to her, as children, especially as girls, our mothers are the mirror into which we look at ourselves and form our self image, and if that mirror is cracked, then our view of ourselves will share the same scars. I know I’ve picked up so many of my mothers’ own critiques and only lately, now that I’ve started to see my mother as human have I finally started to try to shed some of those inherited insecurities. But I hope that despite all of my own humanity, that one day if I have kids (girls or boys), I will always try to speak of myself in a positive, confident voice. If finding that voice now for myself isn’t enough motivation, then perhaps the idea of my future children might serve as a good reason to work on this, starting now. It’s never too late to learn to love yourself.

“As a child, I …

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Guilt. So much Guilt.

Oh dear… the guilt! I worried if this day would come, and it has.

A while ago, my host mom told me that if I ever felt like the food they eat at dinner time is too heavy or bad for my cholesterol, that I’m free to eat anything else. I was so relieved to hear this, as dinner time (as you may know if you’ve been following) is often the biggest struggle for me, since the meals are outside of my control and often cooked decadently and always with lots of love, and cheese. Saying no to my host moms meal often feels like I’m rejecting her love and appreciation for my work, so I ate what everyone else ate, and swallowed my guilt in the process. So when she showed some concern for my cholesterol and gave me the green light for a little bit of freedom during dinner time, I felt an overwhelming sense of relief and gratitude. I still remained hesitant to take her up on this offer, but one day I asked if she would mind if I ate some quinoa and vegetables instead, and she was totally okay with it. Since then, I’ve managed to more often than not, eat my own food for dinner (usually I pre-make it during the day), thus being able to stay about 99% vegan for the past 2+ weeks.

But tonight, like the past few nights, I did the same – opted out of the croque monsieur (ham and cheese sandwich with butter on white bread) and ate my quinoa and veggies instead, and in the middle of dinner, my host mom jokingly, but kind of not, made a sad face and said, “C doesn’t eat my food anymore…” (C is me, obv) and she jokingly continued to pout, and I said, “Aww, that’s not true!” and two of the girls chimed in to help me out, one saying, “She ate some of your tabouleh tonight!” and the other eventually looked at her mom very seriously and said, “Mom, stop.”

And it was done.

The girls know, somewhat, that I’ve mostly stopped eating meat and dairy because last Wednesday when I made them their lunch, I made myself a salad and they asked why and I explained. But I haven’t had the heart to be straight forward with my host mom to tell her I’ve essentially stopped eating all the staples of her cooking and of the French diet in general, because I know how important food is to her. Food is her way of showing love, and holy Jesus, woman can COOK. Seriously I don’t know any better chef than her. So refusing her food is taken deeply personally, and I really don’t want to offend anyone.

I’m stuck in a strange place. I want to keep with my vegan streak, but more importantly I want to keep with my developing healthier lifestyle, but the relationships I build here are also important to me, and for better or worse, food is one way to build those relationships. I don’t want my host mom to think I don’t like her cooking (though I’ve complimented her many, many times) or that I think I’m above their food, because none of that is true. But expressing my desires to get healthier (and yes, lets face it, to lose a pound or two. Okay maybe 10 or 15) are beyond my abilities in this situation, or at least so it seems. I don’t want to bombard them with all of my nutritional research, so all I can do is just request to eat my own thing, and while I thought that was going well enough, apparently its not. It seems like opting for my health means hurting someones feelings, and that puts me in a sticky situation.

So, what to do? Do I try to eat more of her home-cooked dinners instead of my own, likely sacrificing quite a bit (and dealing with intestinal adventures the rest of the night), in order to keep a happy relationship with my host mom? Do I try to explain to her my food goals and hope that she understands without being offended? Do I continue doing what I’m doing and not let tonight bother me? Do I have any other options? On the “bright” side, I’m leaving in 6 weeks, back to healthy California, where this bizarre issue will be behind me. But until then, what do I do?

Thoughts would be greatly appreciated! I feel at a loss no matter what.

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