I Stopped Eating Meat…Kind of

Exactly 31 days ago I stopped eating meat…kind of. I must be honest. I had one meat dish a week and for the first three weeks those were some sort of fish dish. This week I had chicken for the first time. But other than that it has been 28 days without any meat at all and here are a few things I have learned/noticed and things no one tells you when I stop eating meat, just in case you were wondering.

1. It wasn’t as difficult as I expected in some ways. I figured I would have killed someone for a chicken nugget by now but I’ve been alright. There has not been any murder due to meat deprivation…yet. There have been times though that I have been really upset at vegetables.

2. A meatless diet makes you gassy. Like seriously flatulent. Not even silent but deadly just full on loud and disastrous! I had to google this to make sure I wasn’t dying. I wasn’t, I just smelt like it.

3. Probably common sense, but I did not realize how limited the non meat options are at fast food restaurants. Essentially you have French fries and salads and that’s not easy to eat driving down the highway.

4. Your family won’t immediately jump on board. I started this partially because my daughter said she wanted to but then she bailed on me until about 2 days ago. My parents are still very much judgmental carnivores.

5. Bread and cheese become the most logical substitute for meat. Which as we all know isn’t the most healthy of options. I have not seen any weight loss, which I’m not sure was actually a goal. If it was, this would definitely be the reason.

6. Family reunions are tough but under absolutely no circumstances should you bring black bean burgers or veggie dogs to a black family reunion as an alternative. Just lay low and only eat sides. Also, pretend you don’t see the ham hock in the greens.

7. Tofu is meh. It’s just a thing. It does the job. Black bean burgers are pretty good though but you can’t eat burgers every day, black bean or not.

8. I have been craving a roast beef sandwich for a few weeks. I couldn’t tell you the last time that I actually had a roast beef sandwich.

9. Meat makes your skin break out. Not eating meat clears it up. Or at least this might be true. My mom told me it was all in my head but I don’t normally get acne except for my monthly period pimple. Throughout this process I noticed an increase in acne. I then realized I was getting one or two, painful bumps once a week. I didn’t pay that much mind until this week. On Tuesday I had wings (not even going to lie, they were good) and then on Wednesday I had two new bumps. Coincidence…I think not. I also have weird blotchy skin on my back and was mildly hopeful it might clear up. I went to the dermatologist a while back and the antibiotic cream they prescribed didn’t work. The next step was two months of daily antibiotic pills which seemed like a yeast infection and pregnancy waiting to happen so I declined. Throughout the month I started to feel like things were clearing up but didn’t want to say anything. The other day my daughter randomly said “your back is clearing up” so I’m not crazy!

10. I am actually capable of doing something that is totally internally motivated without much pomp and circumstance to encourage me. I tried to only tell people when absolutely necessary and to not make a big deal out of it. Other then my daughter, I didn’t ask anyone to join in. I only didn’t really set a goal. I figured I’d give it a go, see what happens and reassess at the 30 day mark.

So here we are, 30 days in. I thought at this point I would probably decide to go back to some meat consumption while being mindful, but honestly number 9 is a huge motivator for me to at the very least keep up what I’ve been doing if not cut it out all together. Next stop, return to meal prep. Which should be a lot easier since…well…vegetables. Who knows…that roast beef sandwich still sounds really good.

Happy Thursday beautiful people!

I have become that person…but how?

I spent a lot of time with friends yesterday. A group of friends for brunch and then another friend stopped by to chat for a bit. That’s what adults do right? Eat brunch and chat? How did I get here?

Those two conversations were filled with lots of catching up and discussion of future plans as most conversations are. I’ve had similar conversations with all of these people multiple times because while I love them all dearly and am super close to them all I don’t see them frequently because of life and adulting. And that’s fine. We all are doing it and no one gets mad about it. I appreciate that about my friends.

At some point during both conversations though I realized, I have become that person. What person you ask? Well if your just a little patient I’ll tell!

In discussing some of my personal goals, the usual, weight loss, saving money, moving out (yep…I’m 30 years old and still live with my parents. That’s a blog for another day) came up. I’ve recently started to pick up on peoples responses to my saying I’m going to do these things. Let’s just say they aren’t good. Sometimes it’s met with laughter (thanks Dad), sometimes it’s met with harsh reminders (I thought you were on a diet) that only really serve to annoy me and trigger my stubbornness (thanks Mom), most times it’s met with slight side eye, sighs of “that’s great” with the undertone of “we’ve had this conversation plenty of times but yet here you still are” and encouragement with a hint of “there’s really no reason why you haven’t already done this you’re just lazy/content and used to this lifestyle” (thanks friends, family, coworkers, strangers). And I admit, since these are areas I am not happy with in my life, I probably read more into people’s slight shifts in tone, side eyes, eye rolls, and comments than they actually mean. And I put some of the stuff I’ve been already thinking into their comments too.

But, the realization that I have become that person, officially hit me after brunch, when my friend Michael stopped by and I told him my plan to move out and then my thoughts about potential life style changes for health purposes and both comments got a sarcastic slow clap with a “we’ll see.” A lot of people would be pissed at Michael for this response. I, however, have known Michael for going on 20 years (how did we get so old) and while he may be a self proclaimed ass hole, his intentions (towards me at least) are never to hurt or harm. We could all use a level headed, blunt, call it what it is friend…even if it bruises our ego a bit because on the flip side, Michael has always celebrated any of my successes with the fierceness of a loving brother.

So, what have my friends responses for several weeks/months/years and at brunch and Michael’s slow clap helped me to realize…I have become that person. Dear God lady what person?!?! I’ve become the person that no one actually takes serious when they set goals. The person that sets these goals and is super excited about them but somewhere down the line, and usually very quickly, falls off. It would not surprise me if my family secretly takes bets on how long I will keep up any dieting or healthy living practices. And I know for certain they do not believe me or even entertain my talks about moving out anymore. It’s as if everyone is just waiting to see if it happens but no one is holding their breath because they know the possibility of them dying in the process is high.

But how did I get here?

I’m not sure I’ve ever been a highly goal oriented person. I’ve always felt like most people have known since they were 6 what they wanted to do with their life. I literally decided I wanted to be a counselor one day while on campus my senior year of undergrad talking to a friend. I had about 3 months to get my application turned in take the necessary tests to apply. Then in grad school I felt everyone knew what population they wanted to work with. I have stumbled through the last five years finally finding a population that I absolutely love but even then had to step away from in order to be effective and not lose my own mind. Once a month, usually right before I start my period when I feel bloated and disgusting I go to bed and say “ok this is it. I’m going to get my life together.” Then I start my period, refuse to do anything that week because life is hard enough when your vagina is dying so I have all intentions of doing something when it’s over. My period ends, the bloating goes away, and while my body is far from perfect I usually catch a glimpse in the mirror before I shower one day and say “you know what, you good Ashley! If someone can’t love all of this then they don’t deserve you” and the cycle begins again. I can justify a lot of things and I ultimately refuse to shame myself for being human and doing things that humans need to do like eat, and rest, and enjoy life so as not to go crazy…but then I can justify doing these to excess which is where the problem begins.

It’s almost as if that slow clap Michael did made me connect all the dots and realize that while he’s the only person who did it outright, everyone else is probably doing it in their mind. My response to him was something along the lines of “don’t doubt me” to which he responded with something far less enlightening but similar too “I don’t doubt you can do it. I’m just waiting for it to happen.”

I know a few things about myself. One of which is that I can be really stubborn and strong willed and there is a certain level and type of negativity that I use as a driving force. It’s what caused me to give birth without an epidural, because everyone said I wouldn’t. It’s what caused me to go to college and grad school and find a career that I love, because I was afraid of becoming a teen mom statistic or being what I knew people were betting I would be…a failure.

But sometimes that backfires. And there is a moment where those negative comments become my way of fighting the system and my stubbornness becomes “oh I’ll show you that I absolutely do not have to do these things.” That’s usually surrounds any negative responses to my weight gain/loss or my still living at home.

So yes, I have become that person. I’m aware. I apologize to the people who are sick of hearing me talk about these things without seeing any action. I thank you for loving me all the same and not giving up. I’ve decided to make no promises and to also stop talking about it. Thank you Michael for that slow clap and gentle chuckle of supportive pessimism.

We shall see what happens!!

You Can’t Have Your Cake and Eat it Too

So at first glance that statement is often confusing to me. Why not? It’s my cake! I should be able to eat it! A quick Wikipedia search though clarified it more for me and it makes sense. In essence you can’t have/retain/keep your cake but at the same time eat it because then it will be gone. You can’t do both. Either you want to look at the cake, have it in a dish for all to admire but never actually experience it. Or you want to devour it, consume it and have it be a part of you forever. An extra inch on your waist or dimple in your thigh. However, you just can’t do both.

Anyone else want cake now?

So, prior to my search for clarification, I came up with a better metaphor that fits what I want to say. And yes, this post is about relationships (or lack there of) because what else do I have to write about.

So, I fancy myself a semi-decent amateur baker. I always say whenever I get fully burnt out from counseling and quit a job in a fit of rage and decide to do something different with my life, I’ll open up a quaint little bakery called “Anything but Coffee” where I’ll just wake up every day, bake whatever I feel like it, so you could essentially get anything…but coffee because coffee is gross.

(One time I made peanut butter chocolate spread for a co-worker and the dream started)

So, while you definitely can’t have your cake and eat it too you know what else you can’t do? Expect to constantly get cake without contributing to the process! Baking is expensive! Eggs, flour, milk, good vanilla, spices, pans, electricity. That shits not cheap! And it takes time. I spent three evenings this week baking until 11 or 12 at night as a way to say thank you to my co-workers as I was leaving the job. I did it because I wanted to. And my payment back was the many thank you’s, some jokes of it not tasting good, the euphoric faces as people tasted it and apparently almost sending someone to the hospital over some double chocolate brownies. When I bake out of love there’s not enough money in the world someone can pay me to do it.

But we aren’t talking about actually baking! We’re talking about relationships.

I’ve learned a few things about myself over the last year.

1. Had I learned these things a long time ago life may have been easier in the relationship or lack there of department

2. I can’t beat myself for not learning it sooner

3. Change is hard

4. When I love, I love hard. Whole heartedly, unashamed, no questions. I’m just like a fountain over flowing with love for this other person.

Things I’ve learned about other people

1. Most people find that very overwhelming and if it’s not what they are looking for they will run for the hills every time.

Back to me:

5. I do this when I just like someone too.

I have sat around thinking for countless hours, why it is that I can go from not knowing someone to head over heels crushing on them with little to no information about them. “Oh you’re paying me some attention…awesome” and my brain automatically starts planning out insane details about the time we will spend together.

I wish I knew who or what to blame. My dads always been there for me so I can’t blame not having a male role model in my life. Sometimes I want to blame Disney movies but even those stupid princesses put up a fight. But here I am, not so patiently waiting for someone to show up and want to receive all this love I’m about to spontaneously combust from holding in.

And I don’t think it’s inherently a bad thing. Wanting to love someone unconditionally and completely is not a flaw (though people will make you feel that way and then you will make yourself feel that way). I have realized my trouble comes in that I’m just ready to give it to anyone who shows up. And without fail, they don’t want it an I end up hurt.

But more specific to that here’s what usually happens.

They show up. I get excited. I’m ready to be all in. They can sense this and back out…BUT…they don’t actually back out. They want the option. They somewhere deep down know “one day, this is what I’ll want. Not today. But one day I should and therefore let me see what I can do to keep her around until that day.”

Here is a short incomplete list of ways this typically happens:

Hey stranger text

Just checking in text

Can we still be friends

The Fuckboy Backout (see my fellow bloggers post for reference if you are unaware of what this is)

Let’s just take it day by day

And my personal favorite (insert sarcasm there): begging for a chance to make things right once I finally walk away and they realize what they’ve lost but still having no intention of doing anything different.

So basically, they want the cake, but they have absolutely zero intention of contributing to the cake making process. They appreciate that I show up with a whole damn cake ready for them to devour but have no intention of helping me make another one. Then their like “wait…that was the best cake I’ve ever had. Why isn’t there anymore… you just gonna leave and not give me anymore cake.” Yes. Yes I am because you took what I had and forgot to bring me more groceries to make another!

I can be a limitless supply of cake. And a lot of the ingredients just come naturally. But some have to be contributed. Or maybe I just need an oven to bake it in. Idk. I may need to think the metaphor through some more. But you get the point. And before you even start. Yes. I can be both the baker, the ingredients, the supplies and the oven. How do you think the new cake that the new man gets is made. Self-esteem, self-love and putting the pieces back together after the last idiot ate the cake and ran without paying the bill!

So moving forward, my goal is to not so easily offer up the cake. Pay attention to whose just eating the cake and running away and who is actually trying to invest in the cake making process. Everyone does not deserve my cake.

And if you don’t know already…ask about me…I bake a mean cake (and cookies, and cheesecake).

The problem with being overweight in an environment that doesn’t think you are…

When I say I’m fat, I’m not saying it just for kicks. I’m not saying it to hear someone reply back to me “no you’re not”, just so I can feel better about myself . I’m not saying it because it makes me feel better in certain situations.

I’m saying it because it’s true!

Sure, “fat” is a harsh word, but it’s the truth. Overweight, of course, is the better choice of word here, but in any case, it’s a problem that I need to deal with. I just love the fact that when I say I shouldn’t be eating something because I need to lose weight, I get so many interesting, perplexed even, looks. Looks from people who may be bigger than me that says “You are not fat, I’M fat”. Looks from people who are smaller than me saying “I wish I was your size, I can’t gain any weight”. Looks from people that literally say “You’ll be fine”. Looks from people who’ve said “Well, it’s because you’re tall!”.

And yes, while some of these things are true, this still doesn’t negate the fact that I am overweight; Height considered and all. But, of course, I give into the idea of being perfectly fine because I have no willpower. Invite me to go fast food, I’ll go along with all the dinner plans. Mostly because 1, it’s convenient and 2, I can’t eat healthier foods when I see friends are going out and ordering terrible foods. All in all, I’m glad that my weight isn’t a problem for you, but my weight IS a problem for me, and I intend to address it.

I had a enlightening moment the other morning, attempting to put on a pair of pants that I probably have worn no more than a year prior with ease, and I could no longer button them. All of my favorite shirts are starting to “shrink” and I have to buy things in 2XL out of necessity, and not choice (like we used to do back in the college, over-sized shirt, days). It was an eye opener.

The problem with being overweight in an environment that doesn’t think you are, is that you’re surrounded by well-intentioned enablers. Even if it’s on purpose or by accident. This is my reality, plain and simple. No I may not be your definition of overweight, and that’s part of the problem. People around me don’t truly understand that I need to do something about my health before it gets too late. And the “you’re fine the way you are” comments make it seem like people are disregarding my feelings about my self, my health or my general happiness. Being close to being pre-diabetic will have you thinking about these things.

But you know, I can’t blame my environment. I can only blame myself. I should have the willpower and wherewithal to be a healthier person, but in certain situations, that’s easier said than done.

Temptation is a bitch…

I should definitely have more self control…

My appetite laughs hysterically at both of those statements. I can’t control it (how many people are rolling their eyes at this); And I feel that it’s getting worse as time goes along. So when I make these statements, it’s because I’m trying to train my brain into wanting to be better. Trying to tell myself that hey, you might want to catch this before you get too crazy. Before it’s too late. So yeah, I might not be your definition of fat, but my physical from the doctor is saying I’m headed on the wrong path.

And yeah, for the people who knew me when I was in the gym 5 times a week, working out regularly and keeping up with it pretty consistently. I enjoyed that I was getting stronger, but still not dropping most of my fatty weight. It was kind of the trade off muscle for fat thing going on, but the reason for this happening was because I was still eating like a pig. So then i got to a point where I stopped working out, and lost track of my progress, never to find it again. I stopped working out, but kept eating like I was still working out. A recipe for disaster.

This started due to the fact of going through a mild case of depression during the end and after my last serious relationship, which kind of led me to just not really being into ANYTHING other than food. Eating was a comfort zone for me, instead of hitting the gym harder. It’s known to be a common coping method for many people, and I ended up gaining about 20 or some odd pounds (after already being like 30 pounds overweight). I wouldn’t say that I am addicted to food, but more so addicted to unhealthy food. And even though I’d like to think that I’m technically out of that depression phase, the eating continued and I just started not caring. Then when I got back to the point where I wasn’t happy with my weight and vocalized it, the majority of people I’ve hung out with or around has always asked me why I was so worried about it. Well, because I am, in a word, fat. I’m owning it and will continue to until I do something about it. Hopefully the path I’m taking now will lead me back to the track that I once wandered off of, but I can’t say for sure at this point.

It will be a process.

Life is tough. No sugarcoating it. You will be beat up by it time after time. I don’t think I was ever taught that officially until college. I had to learn on my own, and this is just another battle I’m trying to take head on. And if I’m being honest to myself, I haven’t been trying hard enough, I know that. So if I say I’m fat around you, it’s because I am; And I need to do something about it. I might be annoying…sure. Just ignore me. I know that just saying it does nothing about it, but just know that I’m working on it. This is just me trying to get my mind back to the point where I NEED to force myself to be better. Hopefully this is the beginning of another era of working towards health.

Regret (a story/poem thing)

*Before the poem: it would be really awesome if this blog became a huge sensation and Ellen had us on her show and Oprah came to cohost just so she could interview my friends and I and we traveled the world doing interviews and speaking to crowds and offering inspiration, encouragement and laughter. But until that happens, I am supper thankful for a place to go when at 2:30 am when I can’t sleep, either from excitement about a mini vacation, or from the words you are about to read, and put my thoughts in writing. I’ve never been one for journaling as I didn’t understand the point of writing something no one would read. And while maybe only my fellow bloggers, two friends I’ve guilt tripped into reading, my family, and a handful of people who stumble across the page read it, it’s still helpful. I hope you enjoy my early morning/late night ramblings and those of my friends. And now a story/poem of my current thoughts. Not sure what it’ll end up being so we will find out together.*

I regret few things in life

Because every decision good or bad, right or wrong has played some role in who I am today.

A short list of things I regret:

1. Any time I have made a boy more important than spending time with family and friends.

And not in the like hey I’m getting to know you so I’ll be hanging out with you instead of sitting at home.

But more in the way of, I’m going to wait upstairs by the phone as my Nan lays dying downstairs. Because I’m too afraid to miss a call but I’m also afraid of death.

Other people’s and my own.

As in, spending every weekend not on call out of town for fear of argument to the point where my mother felt like I was divorcing her, I turned away from God and I’m too fearful to know how my daughter felt as words like neglected and forgotten come to mind.

As in best friends, who for a brief moment in time became infrequent acquaintances whom I feared I lost and the relationship that took its place was no where near as beautiful and amazing and important as the one being ignored.

2. Mentioned above. As my precious Nan (my maternal grandmother) lay dying down stairs, I stayed upstairs.

Watching Orange is the New Black on the worlds slowest WiFi

Pretending to work

Waiting for phone calls.

Wanting to spend the moments that I knew would be the last time I saw her, with her, but not knowing how.

People often ask where I’m from and I don’t have an answer.

But if anyone ever asked where I called Home I would quickly respond. Nan’s house.

A constant in an early childhood full of adventure and travel.

“We’re going home this summer” always meant Nan’s house.

Always felt like Home

Always felt safe

Always felt like love

Always had her

Until it didn’t anymore

I regret saying bye, having never fully said hello.

I once did a project on her in grad school but asked my mom all of the questions.

3. My father once encouraged me to spend some time at Grannie’s house and learn to cook like her.

I regret saying no

Fearful of a woman I barely knew

Memories of switches torn from branches meant for my cousins for crimes we both committed.

She was a strong, beautiful, black woman.

As a child, this scared me.

I regret not having any long, deep, intimate conversations with her.

I regret not knowing her story.

I regret, as a child, not wanting the black American girl doll that shared her.

I know I will never enjoy corn bread again.

I fear this recipe is now lost on earth but am certain it is enjoyed daily in heaven by all who are there.

I am not certain of much in life. But if this one thing I know.

God has gone to prepare a place for me. If it were not true he would not have said it.

Whether it be a mansion on streets of gold.

Or a wooden shack in a quiet wood.

In it is a table.

And at that table, maybe once or twice a week,

Nan and Granny meet.

Over a plate of corn bread and scalled buns.

And they look down.

And check in on their not so little mixed granddaughter

Who tonight, sits crying in bed for reasons she doesn’t quite understand

Over regrets, that have too, shaped who she is as a woman.

And they laugh, and they cry, and they facepalm themselves, and they high five, and talk to each other.

And occasional they whisper

“It’ll be okay.”

Hello Fresh and My Experience! (Pics)

So most of you know that I subscribe to Hello Fresh but a lot of people don’t understand why? Mostly because of the price and I get that.  But the number one reason why I subscribe to HF is…well, to be blunt, I’m lazy…as hell!

But for real though, I’m bad at grocery shopping. The following reasons are why (but not limited to):

  • I can’t plan meals for dinner worth a crap
  • Most of the food I buy will sit in the freezer or go bad, because at the time I wanted it, but then my mind changes.
  • I’m lazy. (that part)
  • I’ll usually buy too much food, because I be like #mealPrep
  • I get tired of eating the same thing over and over
    • It’s hard to cook for 1 without having a massive amount of leftover sides
  • I’m lazy

So, instead of buying a weeks worth of grocery that will probably only feed me for about two days and then go to waste, I’ve decided to go with Hello Fresh and see what it’s about. I’ve only had good things to say about it, honestly.

 

Here are my Pros to ordering Hello Fresh

Food Delivert to your doorstep

This is BY FAR the best part of HF because again, I AM LAZY! The hardest part is putting the food in the fridge, and BAM I’m done.  I mean, if the pricing was a little bit better, it would be a no brainer that I would continue to do this.  Which kind of brings me to my second point!

Each meal feeds me twice!

I do the 3 meals for $60 plan.  Which, since I’m single, turns into 6 meals for $60, because each meal serves 2, and I bring the second serving to work for lunch the next day.  However, this does not necessarily save me money, it does ensure that I’m eating “decently” at least for half of the week.

Decently healthy

If I didn’t have Hello Fresh, I’d probably be eating fast food for every meal.  Which I have indeed done and the reason I’ve gained like 20 pounds over the course of the last year. That and no exercising…lol.  HF keeps me eating veggies (which I hate), and keeps me from overeating because I know that the serving size is exactly what I should have instead of cooking too much and force feeding my face.

Bunch of options

Vegetarian? No problem, they offer those options.  Vegan, not so much.  The food is pretty awesome and easy to cook. Considering if you know how to follow directions.

The only Con I can think of is that at the price point, I can’t see it being a long term option.

And this is where the fun part comes in.  Hello Fresh sends you recipe cards for EACH AND EVERY MEAL.  So after you get yourself a little catalog of recipes from them, you can cancel your subscription, and cook your favorite meals over and over again. Only thing is, you give up the convenience of having food sent to your door, but you save money on getting food shipped to you, but then again, you’re bound to pick up extra items if you go to the grocery store (like wine and candy), so I guess it’s kind of a Catch-22.

And yes, I know that you can just look up your own recipes online, but there’s something about cooking it first from HF and then going out and cooking it again yourself and doing it your own little way.

Things that don’t really matter but bother me anyway…

Why all the Garlic?

Also can you all send the Garlic pre-minced?

Don’t send me those little jars of ketchup that requires me to get a paintbrush in order to scoop out…ketchup is a household staple. Add that to the “you should already have this” list.

(Note: Hello Fresh has a list of items that it will never provide in their boxes, such as Oil, butter, salt, pepper, etc. “Everyday items”)
ketchup(Tomato for scale)

Send me something like EVOO….not no damn ketchup.

Why do your recipes require me to use multiple medium sized pans and bowls? I only have 1 of each.

It’s impossible to get into the vacuum sealed proteins…I almost die EACH TIME.

Can you all ship herbs OFF of the stem please? Thank you!

Anywho…

If you have any questions on Hello Fresh, let me know! I’d be glad to share my experiences in more detail if needed!