I think it is high time that I review 2015, fabulous with exciting changes and improvements and self discovery.
- Running, swimming and cycling.
Earlier this year, I started training for a marathon. I stick to the training program on Nike+ pretty well and get to a point where I can run up to 3h for 15 miles. I was running 4 times a week, on Fridays I would get so excited for the long run at the gym. I read a book about marathon training and educate myself. The whole training process is almost injury free, just some minor issues with IT band and balls of my feet. It turned out to be the problem with my running shoes. I lost a few pounds, because I wasn’t refueling my body properly. Then I increased the calorie intake and I am fine. In June, I increased the mileage to 88 miles, which I am quite proud of. Then I was back home for a vacation, and I just stopped the training. One reason is that I discovered swimming and cycling, and get excited over these. And also I felt very differently while swimming and cycling than running, it is refreshing, and relaxing. For running, I was super pumped and hyped. They are all good, I started to see the merits of different exercise. My fiancee started cycling with me and I am really happy to find him excited to go on weekend bike rides together. If we are not cycling, then we would go for a walk in a state park, go on the trail, take pictures of mushrooms after rain, frogs, water, sky. Some times we do long 3h rides, sometimes we do some hill work for shorter time. It was just a set time for the weekend that I am always looking forward to.
Then just a few days ago, I went to a ultra marathon race with 50k and 50 miles to volunteer. There is so much inspiration going on and I have my highest respect for the runners. Few are fit and lean, but the majority are not so much so. Fitness comes in all different shapes and sizes. Some are concentrated and determined, others are playful and singing and talking. Everybody has their own journey, everybody has their own battle to fight. Some are running alone, others have their husband or wife or even a group of friends to accompany along the way. Some throws up. Some couldn’t even talk in such agony. So many of the runners are so appreciative of us, they are saying thank you when they are at the aid station. You can see that they are just awesome people. Perfect dose of inspiration at the end of the year.
I started learning about animal agriculture, animal rights and vegan life style earlier in the year. There are a few documentaries that are very informative and lead me to the decision of becoming a vegan. <Cowspiracy> talks about the environmental effects of animal agriculture, it has become the single biggest contributor to deforestation, sea pollution, species dying, air pollution, water usage, global warming. There is simply no way that the planet is going to support us the way we eat meat like now. We will be running out of resources. <Earthlings> shows the clips and images from factory farms. It is just harsh to see how the animals are treated from the beginning of their lives. They are mistreated, tortured, confined to a small space, sitting directly next to each other. Their beaks, tails, horns, teeth are cut off soon after they are born. They are ill, sometimes going insane because of all the mistreatment.
There are people that inspires me to choose this lifestyle and assuring myself that this is possible, and this is healthy. Like Rich Roll, who is a ultra distance endurance runner and podcaster. Kristina, who is fully raw vegan promoter, artist. Steph Yu, who is 19 years old Asian girl who is going on adventures to discover and enjoy life. Colleen Patrick-Goudreau, who is an educator, pro veganator, advocate for compassionate living.
Once I adopt this lifestyle, it is not as what I had perceived. I thought vegan just means salad all day, but no, there are so many things to choose from, and honestly I never felt so satiated after each meal. And the best thing is I don’t feel lousy afterwards. The one thing I noticed is that I don’t have stomach pain or heartburn anymore. I used to struggle with heartburn after lunch almost everyday. Then it is all gone after I stopped eating meat. Also with the amount of fiber intake, morning bowel movement is never a problem again, 5min and I am done. I also started to learn so much things about compassionate living with the food for thought podcast, with Colleen Patrick-Goudreau. It helped me with my earlier transition days of how I come out, how I can explain to people my decision, how to be a joyful vegan when eating out. Beyond that, there are also so many more things like how you can help injured animals you see, how animals are treated in the film making industry. I started with the understanding of veganism to be a glamorous lifestyle, but this podcast is just so eye-opening that I know that veganism is so much more than what you eat. “Don’t do nothing because you can’t do everything, do something, anything.” is one of my favorite quotes from her. You just see compassion beaming through her, and I feel like I am opening up a new level of consciousness. After all, vegan is not the end, it is a way to an end.
The decision to go vegan is probably the most important decision I will ever have made, for myself, for the animals, and for the people around me, and for the planet.
3. Self love.
After the vacation home in July, I gained a few pounds. I was having a hard time accepting the fact. Then I started to realize that I should love and take care of my body no matter what. It is the only thing that I am in control of. I can nourish my body with good food, make it stronger with moderate exercise, and cherish it with great self compassion and self love. Whether you are comfortable within your own body shines through. I think the definition for fitness for me is not how I look, but what I can do. Of course it would be awesome if I have washboard abs. But I shouldn’t make it a default and say that if I have belly then I am not good, I am being lazy, or I am finding excuses, or I am eating too much. Fitness should come in all different shapes and sizes. At one point, I have filled my instagram with people with exceptional good physique. But then I deleted them all. I don’t need it. I already know what the society has imposed on us, and looking at the pictures would not be any inspiration but just recipe for self-loathing, and stress.
For me, I am happy with where I am now, I have a defined tricep, my leg muscles are strong, I have a tummy, but this is just the way it is. Thinking about what others think of you is stressful. Just do whatever you feel like in accordance with your value. And the truth is, nobody really cares, everyone is all too wrapped up in their bubbles to care. So if you eat so little, and exercise so much to achieve a great figure to get some compliment, think about it. I don’t think exercise and working out should be stressful, or a burden, or you feel like obliged to do because of what others think of you. It should be fun, relaxing and rejuvenating. You should enjoy the process of it. It shouldn’t be to own someone else’s compliment, It is to own you own applause, your own compassion and your own appreciation.
So before I was checking on my Nike+ all the time whether I am still ranking the first, and if I find someone before me I would go and run some extra miles. This is just not right. When I look at pictures from when I was thinner, I am thinking, oh this looks so under-nourished, like it is not even me. I am curvy, and that’s just me. After years of struggle I am back at an optimal weight, I figured this weight is just for me. No more, no less. Right on point.
Make peace with yourself. Praise yourself. Give yourself some love. Take it easy.
I am grateful with what JB did for me as I adopt the vegan lifestyle. I stopped cooking meat for him, he doesn’t have complaint. He is cheerful and joyful all the time. He is such a gem. He has taken good care of me. And I noticed his changes, he wants to go out hiking or cycling during weekends, which I had wished for. He is still playing a lot of computer games. But I decided to not intervene or try to stop him. He has his own decisions. Everyone has their own journey. Even us, even we are together, we are just companions, we can’t share the experience. So it is of his own decision what he wants to do. It might look wrong from my standpoint, but it is their own journey, and I can’t decide what is right and what is wrong for others’ way.
I find myself not wanting to buy things. Especially clothes. I have enough clothes, they should last for so many years to come. If I buy more, there will just be more sitting in the closet, with the current selection I have, I can’t have even wore all of them.
I like to DIY, especially my food. If I can make it, I wouldn’t buy it. Actually the first time I eat almond butter, it is my homemade one. After I tried the Costco pecan cranberry sourdough bread, I am so hooked! And I started my own sourdough culture, and now the sourdough culture is almost 1 year old! I bake with them every week now. I also make my own sauerkraut, mung bean sprouts, pistachio butter, granola.
I think it is the best to use few ingredients to make simple yet delicious food. Curry is such an example. Potato, carrot, onions, tomato, lentil and we are there. Fried noodles, fried rice.
And with our decision to spend Christmas in town, it will be an awesome minimalist holiday for us too!
Sending all the love and joy! Peace.