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Starting a plant-based cookbook club, by Diana Goldman, VLCE

I’ve heard that on average we only use three recipes from each of the cookbooks we own. Why so few? Perhaps it’s lack of time, fear of failure or something else. This is the beauty of a Cook Book Club. The club chooses a cookbook and each member prepares one recipe from the book to share at a pot-luck gathering. I love my Plant-based Cookbook Club. I’ve met a wonderful group of new friends who share the common interest in preparing and sharing delicious and healthy food. It’s a fabulous way to try more than three recipes in a cookbook and to spread the word about plant-based cuisine one mouth-watering dish at a time.

Sound appealing? Here are 6 steps for starting and maintaining a Plant-based Cookbook Club of your own:

1) Recruit Members

Find one or two friends who are enthusiastic about the Plant-based Cookbook Club idea. Each can reach out to spread the word and invite members. Consider starting a club amongst coworkers, the parents of your children’s friends, neighbors, high school classmates, sports teammates, your family, members of your religious institution or residents of your dorm.

In my case, my friend Jill and I, both vegan, read an article about a cookbook club and thought it would be fun to start one of our own. We reached out to members of our temple who have an interest in healthy eating. Our group has about 18 members. It’s not always easy to settle on a date that works for everyone, but with this many members, we tend to have 6-10 at each gathering. Whether the turnout is large or small, we always have a wonderful time.

2) Find a host, set a date and obtain RSVPs

We rely on Doodle or email to find a date that works for the majority of the group. We appreciate that Doodle allows members to leave a comment to indicate which dish they are planning to bring. This allows us to balance out the dishes between appetizers, entrees and desserts as well as avoid duplication of recipes. A shared Google document or spreadsheet would work well for this too. In our case, we take turns hosting the get-togethers.

3) Break-the-ice [Read more…]

The Omnivorous Septuagenarian’s Experience in a Vegan Home, by Carmella Lanni-Giardina, VLCE

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My mother enjoying Mother’s Day brunch at Candle Café West, New York, NY (May 2015)

That photo is of my mother, Effius, enjoying Mother’s Day bunch in May of last year.

This Mother’s Day, my mom fell ill. I won’t go into the particulars, but it was shocking to say the least. She hadn’t been sick, since I was born, except for the rare cold or flu. Needless to say, having to go to the hospital was a shock for everyone, especially her.

Up until that day in this May, my mom was relatively healthy, despite being a diabetic. In all her 78 years, she’s managed the disease well. She believed in a combination of Western medicine and homeopathic care. She mostly took her medicine as prescribed, while incorporating more natural treatments that worked for her. 78 years old and full of independence and spirit, my mom always did things her own way.

She even tried being plant-based for 3 months last year. That was HUGE! Granted, it was done more on a dare, but she stuck to it until she felt it was “enough” for her, whatever that means. While sitting on our couch a couple of weeks ago, she said she remembered feeling a lot better when she ate just plants.

While my mom recovers from her health battles, she has been staying with Carlo, our 2 cats and me in our one-bedroom NYC apartment. It’s been interesting. Having health restrictions and being in a vegan household (one without cable TV, mind you) has been a challenge for Mom, but she’s getting through things day-to-day.

I conducted a little interview with my mom to share her experience in living in our crazy vegan abode, and how it has impacted her as she prepares to move back to her own home.

Question: What has been the biggest challenge in living in a vegan home?

Mom: I’m not used to all the rules. Sometimes, I’m not too sure what’s vegan and what’s not. It’s not just the food: sometimes you forget where things come from, like leather in handbags. You told me there is even vegan toothpaste? How do you know these things?

Carmella: We learn something new every day. We apply that knowledge to how we live. We try to do the least harm against all animals, including us.

Mom: It’s a little too much to learn at my age. It’s your home so I follow your rules. I don’t bring meat into the home, like you asked.

Carmella: We appreciate that, but you understand why, I hope.

Mom: I’m learning.

Question: Some days you spend time at your sister’s home, which is far from vegan. You’re not eating as much meat there as you used to. Why?

Mom: You know I was never a big meat eater. Chicken and fish, usually. I just don’t care for the taste of it as much. Maybe because I’ve not been well.

Carmella: But you’ve been feeling better since you’ve left the hospital

Mom: Yes, but I don’t really want meat. and I don’t really need it. I do like most of what you and Carlo make at home. I like eating at home more. However, if your aunt makes lunch or dinner, I will eat it. Lately, she’s made me some vegetarian meals with mac and cheese or something with beans or sweet potato.

Question: Do you think diet and lifestyle changes are more difficult for someone your age versus someone younger?

Mom: I think we can change at any time. We have our own ways of doing things, but we all can change. We just have to want to do it.

Carmella: Are you planning on making changes?

Mom: I have to. Being in the hospital changes you. I have to start over.

Question: Soon, you’ll be moving back into your home. Do you think you’ll eat more plant-based meals, or even go vegan? [Read more…]

Simply Step Up to the Plate, by Carol Schneider, VLCE

In celebration of July 12 – National Simplicity Day – let’s get simpler to de-complicate our lives.

I love simple. So did Emerson, who said, “To be simple is to be great.”  Jill Milan, Moo Shoes, Steve Jobs, Spanx, and on and on, built empires on concepts of elegant, staight-forward, technical, focused, spare simplicity.  Simple. Focus. Simple. Focus.

Banishing animal food for beans simplified our eating lifestyles – turning upside down what we previously thought we had to have. Don’t let complexity muck it up.  Whatever you’re absolutely sure you must have… you probably don’t. SimpleSize any thing and it’s likely to be better.

Try one of these to edit to a simpler vegan life:

Declutter. Joyful eating means fine vegan food – not more vegan food. Excess loads you down and complicates your body. A vegan chef said ask yourself, “How do you want to feel at the end of the meal?”  Not stuffed – nor stressed from eating it just because it’s there. Leave half for tomorrow or give it away. “Tell me what you think you need and I’ll tell you how to get along without it.”  Dilbert

Make it up. Forget recipes. Avoid them for a month and see what you create without them. Chop, stir, steam, simmer, or saute real food and see where it takes you. Use the flavors you love – and try new ones. Former NYT restaurant critic Mimi Sheraton said, “Are we going to measure or are we going to cook?”

Open it up.  Rock your kitchen! Add square footage by removing cabinet doors – or the entire cabinet. Once I dumped the just-in-case plates, stale spices, unused spiralizer, and other silliness I thought I had to have, I released possibilities. Our gatherings from 2 to 25 still work in our lighter kitchen. There’s just enough food and gear and nothing more. Keep only the essentials – including great people – that fuel and reveal who you are. [Read more…]

I’m a Compulsive Overeater

People who meet me are taken aback if I mention that I am – present tense – a compulsive overeater. “But you’re not fat!” they protest. Yeah, and Joe the alcoholic who hasn’t had a drink in twenty years isn’t drunk, but he’s still an alcoholic.

My last eating binge was over thirty-two years ago. (I’m going to pause for a minute and just breathe that in. I forget sometimes the enormity of it.) I hated my life when the food was out of control. The up-and-down weight was a lot of it (it’s embarrassing to see someone at one size in June and be a whole different size in September), but the real agony was the bondage. There was no freedom in having to turn into a drive-thru when part of me didn’t want to but a stronger part did. I was a slave to trying the next diet just because it was Monday (even though I hated diets and knew they didn’t work).

Fast-forwarding to now, I’ve been free for a really long time. I don’t diet or agonize over food. Sometimes I eat too much but I’m not “going off” of something because there’s nothing to go off of. I look healthy and normal. I am healthy, but I’m not normal. I am, as I said, a compulsive overeater.

Isn’t saying that negative and horrible and inviting disaster? No. For me, knowing who I am and what I am is the path to emancipation. It tells me that I need to take certain actions to maintain the gift I’ve been given. They are, basically:

  • Having some kind of spiritual life. I’m no saint, but without contact with a Higher Power, I’d still be looking for God in a bag of Doritos.
  • Willingness to help other people with the same problem. I can feel bad for the homeless, the terminally ill, or victims of domestic abuse. But other than giving money, I can’t do anything for them because I don’t truly understand their experience. I do understand hiding food, stealing food, bingeing alone, and hating myself afterwards.
  • Eating within some gentle, flexible parameters. For me, that’s (pretty much) three meals a day — if you only start to eat three times, you only have to stop three times — and (pretty much) natural foods – vegan, of course, but that’s for the animals. Anything beyond this gets diet-like and crazy-making.Pretty breakfast
  • Making this about freedom, not about weight. Weight has to do with a variety of factors. People come in different shapes and sizes. In our culture, large people are discriminated against, and so are very thin people who are often accused of having anorexia. I can’t be at peace if I’m obsessing over the size of anybody’s body, including my own.

If I gave up on the simple actions listed above, I’d almost certainly binge again. That’s who I am. I could reject my spiritual life and not turn to drugs or gambling; I don’t relate to those. Cookies, however, I get.

Besides, this a syndrome. Binge eating is just the extreme end of it. When I don’t go to the gym for days (or weeks; it happens), I’m not overeating, but I’m in the syndrome. When I want to stay in and watch TV instead of go out to a networking event, I’m in the syndrome. When I’d rather eat alone than with company — even the most nutritious, moderate, and beautifully balanced meal ever prepared — that’s the syndrome.

As an imperfect person, I dance around with it. I recognize it and, thanks to those actions I’m committed to taking, I haven’t binged and I’ve stayed at a good weight for me. But that’s not the point. I’m a compulsive overeater. That fact will remain as long as I live in this body and have this brain. I used to think it was curse. Now I know that it’s a gateway: to understanding myself, depending on a Higher Power, and being of some use in the world.

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Victoria Moran is the author of twelve books, director of Main Street Vegan Academy, and host of the Main Street Vegan Podcast. She has been vegan since 1983. Current projects include producing the upcoming documentary, The Compassion Project, a film to interest religious and spiritual people in the vegan lifestyle; a one-woman show about her life and vegan journey, The Making of a Main Street Vegan; and writing A Coach in Your Kitchen: The Complete Main Street Vegan Academy Cookbook and Lifestyle Guide, with co-author JL Fields and contributions from the graduate coaches of Main Street Vegan Academy. This book will be published by BenBella in January 2018.

The Judgment-Free Vegan, by Kristy Draper, VLCE

I’m vegan. I love kale, quinoa, and legumes. I drink green smoothies and make my own peanut butter. My clothes are free from animals, with the exception of cute images of pigs and cows. My makeup and household products were not created with the use of animals or tested on animals. I embrace and embody the vegan lifestyle. Did I mention I am also overweight and sometimes shunned by fellow vegans?

Veganism is a relatively new term.  The founder of the American Vegan Society, Donald Watson, coined the term in 1944. Although this was never the intention of those early vegans whose motivations were entirely ethical, the word quickly became associated with being thin, fit, and healthy. I have seen dozens of marketing campaigns that swear if you go vegan that you will lose weight, be fit, get healthy, and look great! Yes, vegans generally do eat a healthy diet. Our foods are free of cholesterol and usually have fewer calories. But what does healthy mean and what happens when a person is vegan and still not thin? [Read more…]

Ten Easy and Cheap Cooking Hacks to Make Eating Vegan Simple, by Jennifer Gannett, VLCE

Sometimes you’re just busy. Or tired. Or you’re saving the world, training for a marathon, or being a mom, which is a little like saving the world and training for a marathon. Cooking shouldn’t be a burden. With these 10 hacks from real-life mom Jennifer Gannett, VLCE, you’ll start to love your time in the kitchen. Only thing: there’ll be a lot less of it. — VM
 *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *

1. Purchase the prepared or pre-chopped produce.

You know how it is. You see pre-chopped produce packages and you throw some shade in your mind about who on earth is really too lazy to cut up their own carrots, celery or onions, right? If you find yourself reaching for take out menus or processed foods because you are out of energy at the end of the day to prepare a meal and need to revert to something familiar, fast or easy, give yourself and your family a break. Although I am not typically a proponent of buying in the package what you can prepare more inexpensively at home, I want you to feel good about your meal! Sometimes these items can be helpful in a pinch, like when you are traveling, moving, working late on a project or have little ones. Try a few prepared produce options out and see if the time and energy you save in the decision making and chopping helps you to simplify your meals.

2. Purchase sauces and toppings from a favorite restaurant.

You like the flavors but not the entree’s price tag. Ask your favorite Indian place to sell you a container of that green chutney your family really enjoys. Get some extra salsas to go from Chipotle. You love the tahini sauce from that falafel store? They will to sell it to you! Bring it home and add it to your beans, grains, pasta or salad. For a fraction of the price, you get a flavor profile you love.

3. Lunch specials.

An oldie but goodie: get the cheaper lunch special and bring some home for another meal. Lunch specials tend to be lower cost than dinners, often for a similar amount of food. Bonus points for bringing your own reusable container.

4. Use a pressure cooker.

61FHFKGAD1L._AC_US160_You are likely hearing a lot about pressure cookers in the last few years — in part because of my friend JL Fields and her excellent classes and cookbook: Vegan Pressure Cooking: Delicious Grains, Beans, and One-Pot Meals in Seconds.  Once scary, newer electronic models are easy to use; their resurgence is not accidental. Save a lot of money and time by pouring some broth and lentils into your pressure cooker. Add frozen or prepared veggies, maybe a grain if you want. Cook. It is that simple, super-tasty and delightfully inexpensive.

5. Roast and bake.

This sometimes-lazy lady’s favorite is to roast up some veggies, sprinkled with spices and drizzled with oil, serve and watch disappear. Fun fact: you can roast veggies while simultaneously baking veggie burgers (store-bought or homemade). Roasted cauliflower, oven fries and veggie burgers are all popular foods that combine to make a healthy meal.

6.Utilize prepared grains/protein.

You have gotten the animals walked and fed, the kids their breakfast and made their lunches and managed to clean the kitchen while doing so, which leaves you all of 97 seconds to prepare your own lunch or be stuck with yet another slice of cheese-less pizza from the place two doors down from the office. You call on your pre-made rice or couscous, or pull some out of the freezer and microwave for 40 seconds. While it defrosts, you throw your salad greens, prepared marinated tofu or canned beans and some prepared veggies into your container, throw in some dressing and nuts, toss the rice on top, cover it and you are out the door with 20 seconds to spare. This is not a fictional scene. That batch of grains or package of seasoned, prepared seitan or tofu can make a difference.

7. Bulk cook or pre-prepare.

You don’t have to give up your entire Sunday to bulk cook. Little Pinterest-perfect mason jars of deliciousness parceled out for the week are great. However, you don’t have to be fancy: sometimes you can just double the amount of quinoa or beans that you are making and suddenly you’ve got another meal.

8. Cook with friends. IMG_3174

Identify ahead of time what you are making, who is responsible for specific ingredients and how you will transport finished items. Enjoy as a group or take home for the week ahead.

9. Stock your freezer.

Keep a ready supply of frozen veggies, grains and meals and snacks to grab when time and energy are at a premium. This is an unbelievably easy way of getting cheap and easy vegan meals into your tummy.

10. Use up your leftovers.

Yes, vegans are leaving a lighter environmental footprint but aren’t immune to the ongoing problem of food waste. Soups are a good choice and I learned a great trick from the wonderful book Raising Vegetarian Children  that you can puree a variety of leftovers together with a savory base and call it a spread, dip or pate!

BONUS

11. Don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good!

As I tell my classes at MSVA, not every meal has to — or is going to — be perfect. Sometimes our bodies just need a little well-balanced fuel to keep us motoring. Don’t stress the easy choices, and embrace those moments when you have more to give.

Jennifer Gannett is a faculty member at Main Street Vegan Academy, a graduate of Lewis & Clark Law School, a cat socializer, dog lover, and busy mom, who works formally and informally to make the world a better place.

Health Markers—Weight Is Just One of Many, by Vicki Stevens, VLCE

Indulge with me in a bit of imagining. Before you stand two women—or men, your choice. In addition to being of the same gender, both share the same ethnicity, age and height. At a glance, both seem similar in appearance, except one is slim, while the other is overweight or even obese. Quick—which one is vegan?

Trick question. They’re both vegan!

Which one is healthier?

The slim one, obviously. Right?

Not necessarily.

Perhaps the overweight vegan has lost 100 pounds over the past several months through careful food choices and a dedication to consistent, strenuous exercise. Perhaps the slim vegan enjoys a fast metabolism and sedentary lifestyle, paying little attention to food quality. I personally know vegans in both categories.

We’re bombarded with the message that “overweight” is bad and “obese” is even worse. In her book What’s Wrong with Fat?, Abigail Saguy points out that these two terms inherently imply “medical problems.” And both are labels the Centers for Disease Control use for Body Mass Index ratings that rank above the “healthy” range (BMI is the ratio of a person’s weight to height). But here’s the thing. You can’t necessarily tell the state of a person’s health merely by guessing or even knowing their body fat percentage. While obesity is correlated with greater disease risk, it cannot be said to be causative. This means that, as a group, heavier people are more at risk than slimmer people of developing certain diseases such as diabetes and colon cancer. But it’s not proven that the weight itself causes the disease. The disease might be triggered by one or more lifestyle factors that also contribute to obesity.

There’s also the “obesity paradox” which describes protective powers associated with obesity in relation to certain conditions, such as heart failure and osteoporosis. Obese women have an increased or decreased risk of breast cancer dependent upon when in life they gained the weight, and whether they were obese prior to or after menopause.

Why does this matter? [Read more…]

Animals, Believers, Compassion, by Victoria Moran

It’s a new ABC: Animals, Believers, Compassion. I’ve long been perplexed at why so many people of faith, just about all faiths, strive to show compassion to their fellow humans but turn a blind eye to the animals they eat and wear. In both these ways, most “religious” or “spiritual” people are identical to most “secular” people.

Vegans hear the arguments: “Jesus ate fish.” “The cow is sacred and we’re supposed to consume her milk.” “The Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, ate Halal meat.” And yet, at the heart of every faith, and at that unnamed place of connection where the “spiritual but not religious” find solace, we find the same stunning substance: love — boundless, blind, without condition or prejudice.

In the day-to-day world, it can be difficult to be a vegan and a person of faith. The difficulty doesn’t lie with the vegan and God; it’s between the vegan and God’s other children. Our presence makes non-vegans uncomfortable. Especially in a religious or spiritual setting, there’s an understanding that everybody is following the basic tenets: loving their neighbors, treating others as they’d wish to be treated, and doing okay on the Ten Commandments, certainly the one that says “Thou shalt not kill.” There’s the sense of “Morality-wise, we’ve got it covered.” Then along comes the vegan who, without saying a word, points out the obvious.

Filmmaker Thomas Wade Jackson noticed these disconnects when he was active in a church in New York City and saw people there go the extra mile to be kind and seek to do the will of God in their lives — until it was time for Sunday brunch. Then he noticed that even the pastors and chaplains and the leader of the choir were eating what was left of poor, dead animals, and their “byproducts,” leading to more poor, dead animals. No one questioned it, even though this particular Protestant church (Unity) was founded in the 1800s by two strict vegetarians.

CompProj logo

This led Thomas to think back to previous church experiences in his life, and he realized that he’d never met a vegetarian, let alone a vegan, at any religious institution. While he knew that some yogis were vegetarian in keeping with the tradition of ahimsa, many of those were strongly anti-vegan, singing the praises of milk, cheese, and ghee. He knew of the many dietary rules of Orthodox Judaism, including the one that doesn’t allow the consumption of meat and dairy at the same meal, or even prepared and served with the same utensils, acknowledging that the cow killed for beef is the same one whose baby’s milk humans also consume. He was also aware of kosher and halal slaughter, an attempt of ancient people to make the act of killing as humane as possible, and yet as he looked around the world in 2016, he was met with the fact that this is no longer antiquity. Why are religious people still making excuse for imprisoning and murdering God’s other creatures? If indeed a beneficent Creator is there to see a sparrow fall, what could God possibly think of a Tyson Chicken plant?

With all these questions swirling about in his mind, Jackson was determined to put his filmmaking skills to use in creating a documentary looking at vegans of all faiths: Roman Catholic to Native American, Jewish to Jain, Buddhist to Zoroastrian, and many points in between. Then he proposed to take some this footage to non-vegans of those same traditions and see if someone from within the fold could convince a fellow believer of the spiritual, as well as the moral and practical, necessity of going vegan. Thus, The Compassion Project was born. He brought me on as producer (that sounds very grand; it just means I know a lot of people and am willing to talk up projects I believe in), and already on board to participate are such vegan luminaries as Bruce Friedrich, Milton Mills, MD, and Will Tuttle, PhD (It’s Will who’s shown below, recent shots flanking an image of him as a young Zen Buddhist monk.)

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The Compassion Project is a labor of love, and I feel certain that, with some help of other vegans, Thomas Wade Jackson will pull this off. People have asked, “But why not atheists? We’re vegan, too.” Of course, and vegans with a fully secular worldview are doing incredible work in saving animals. Mr. Jackson is actually considering a future film called The Justice Project to look at atheists, agnostics, secularists, and humanists taking a stand for our fellow beings. But that’s another movie. This one is focused on a target audience, the 80 percent of Americans (85 percent of people worldwide) who claim to believe in some Higher Power. This is a ripe market. I’m envisioning screenings of this film — and lively debates afterwards — in church basements and yoga retreat houses and Jewish community centers all over everywhere.

In the meantime, those of us who do attend worship services — or yoga classes or 12 Step meetings — are usually the odd vegan out. It’s important, I think, that we stick to our convictions and maintain enough humility to know that many of the non-vegans we meet there are doing brave and laudable work too. I see these people use their vacation time for mission trips to work with the profoundly poor, or sacrifice their own comforts so that strangers can have some necessity they’d lacked. I can have admiration for them and gain inspiration from what they do. I can also offer them a bowl of vegan chili or a bag of vegan cookies. And I can strive to be healthy and let them know how I do it. I can go out of my way to help animals when it isn’t easy or convenient, and know that they’re noticing that, the way I notice that their Saturdays spent building houses with Habitat for Humanity.

And I can speak up and speak out, in a spiritual community just as I would anywhere else. Way back in the early 1980s when I was researching the college thesis that would become my first book, Compassion the Ultimate Ethic: An Exploration of Veganism, I was hosted by a charming Catholic priest in Dublin. He told me that he’d be assigned to a church, stay for a year, and then give present his homily on animal rights. “After that, they move me somewhere else,” he said. “It used to bother me, never getting to stay in a parish after telling them about the animals, you see. But now I look at it differently: they send me so many places, I’m talking about animal rights all over Ireland.” Maybe that’s what we all get to do. And with enough talking — and living, shining, cooking, sharing, being — we’re going to change some people.

Hallelujah to that.

Unity On The River

Victoria Moran majored in religious studies and has written books about spirituality — Shelter for the Spirit, Creating a Charmed Life, Lit from Within — as well as Main Street Vegan and other vegan titles. She is producer of The Compassion Project, the in-the-works documentary  discussed here. To see clips from the film, and contribute to its making if you’re so inspired, please visit the film’s crowd-funding page — there are wonderful perks for contributions of every size. You can also “like” the film’s Facebook page  and follow on Twitter: @CompassionMovie.

 

Vegan Food Bars for Omnivores, by Michael Suchman, VLCE

As a vegan lifestyle coach and educator, I can talk to anyone about veganism from whatever angle I think they will be receptive to, whether animal rights, individual health or the environmental issues. However, I have learned that no matter how much information I share with people and how much they seem to absorb, more often than not they will reply with, “But I just couldn’t give up _______.” The takeaway from this for me is that, as long as people know they don’t need to give up any of their favorite foods, they will be more open to veganism.

An easy way to teach omnivores that they won’t miss anything by going vegan and that no special skill is required to cook vegan food is to set up a food bar. What is even better is that aside from a little prep work, you don’t have to do much cooking. The easiest foods to do this with, and ones that most people like, are pizza, tacos/fajitas, and ice cream.

To set up a pizza bar, all you need to do is get some store bought pizza crusts, sauce, and an assortment of toppings. In addition to vegetables, make sure you have plenty of vegan pepperoni, beefless crumbles and vegan sausage available. Of course, you will want a selection of vegan cheeses as well. Your friends will be surprised when they see all the vegan meats available. Let everyone make his or her own pizza, then all you have to do is toss them in the oven for a few minutes to cook. Leave the boxes/packages the vegan meats come in out for your guests to look at. Let them know you got them at your local grocery store. The more you can show how readily available vegan products are, the better the chances are that your friends will get them. [Read more…]

Fitness: It’s All in Your Head, by Danielle Legg, VLCE

January, the month where just about everyone decides that this is the year they’ll get fit. The year where everything will change if we just do this one thing. Every year, after a few weeks, we give up because we’re not seeing the results we want, and our life just isn’t changing quickly enough. That’s been every January for me for years, more years than I care to even sit with, or admit. THIS January was different though, because this year I had Beachbody, and I’d signed up to coach others, so I gave myself more reason to stay with it. I was so sore after only 2 days that throwing myself down the stairs felt like a better option than walking, but I didn’t quit because I was a coach now. I had to keep going, because how can I help others if I’m not helping myself? But the hard work wasn’t how sore I was, or working through that. It was the personal development.

January

In coaching, personal development is vital, you have to do it. It’s just like going vegan. You can’t just say “Okay cool, no more animal products,” and then stop learning. You’ve got to pick up books and fill your head with knowledge. That’s what getting fit has been for me. Within three days of starting this journey, I was starting to actually, finally, love myself as much as I love animals. I’ve wanted to love my body for as long as I can remember, but wanting it and actually feeling it are two completely different things. I’ve wanted to change something, or a million things, about my body since boys started picking on me in grade school. Years later when I couldn’t get my body to look a certain way, I started making fun of myself. Laughing feels better than crying, even if the jokes are mean and you’re the one making them. “Champs-fed thighs” and “Doughnut-fed breasts” I’d say as I laughed, and my whole body would jiggle as I giggled. Then I started learning. I realized that I hated my body not because of anything anyone said, maybe a little bit because of stupid “thin is pretty” ads you see on EVERY stupid magazine, but really, it was mostly me. So in January, I finally decided that it was time to love myself. Not just “want” it, but actually DO IT. [Read more…]