Thursday, January 23, 2020

Judgy Vegans

It turns out being vegan is a whole new world of judgy. I mean, it has it's obvious benefits. I've lost 13 lbs in less than a month (part exercise, but mostly just what I'm eating), I feel better emotionally, my skin looks better. I could probably go on, but you get the point. It's also not as hard as I thought it would be, even though it involves a lot more cooking than I was previously doing. Both good things.

But, like, the judgmental things you hear from people when you tell them you're vegan are kind of ridiculous. The people you think will support you, don't, which has been the hardest part for me. Like, this is a good choice I'm making for my health, you don't so much have to understand it. But, really, even strangers and acquaintances give you the side eye.

I think what I've found most surprising and upsetting, though, is the judgy vegan social media crowd. These are the people you expect to support you because they're in the same boat. The ones who you think you should be able to cheer for you, even if they don't know you. It has turned out to be a bit more judgmental than I expected. A mixed bag of cheerful new vegans, helpful veteran vegans, and the curmudgeonly vegans who feel like too many people are encroaching on their lifestyle. 

I'm not talking about  most vegan bloggers, without whom I would not have been able to do this. I love them. No, I'm talking about those people who crop up with "don't eat that, it's processed!" every single time anyone admits to eating anything but plants that grew in the dirt from their own back yards. I joined a vegan Facebook page (thanks, Jodi!) and most of those folks are awesome. I've gotten some great meal ideas from that group. But, there always seems to be the one or two judgy people who wants to tell you what you're eating isn't vegan enough by telling you that the food is processed. I mean... shut the fuck up. 

Isn't it good enough that people are trying to do better, not eat cute little animals, and improve their health? Not everyone has hours to make elaborate, complicated meals 3x per day. Some of us rely on processed foods sometimes, much of which is actually pretty healthy. The frozen meat alternatives, like chick'n tenders, also taste great... well, okay, not the "smart dog" vegan hot dogs, they can go back to whatever hell they crawled out of and stay there!!! But most of the other vegan processed meat alternatives I've tried taste really good.

It's only been one month, and maybe I'm sensitive about it because I also joined the Peloton group on Facebook and some of those people can be downright mean. I think it's something to get used to, for sure. For now, I'm plodding right along making all sorts of delicious foods I don't think I would have even considered eating before. I'm feeling better and sleeping better, despite the judgment and feeling good about the supportive folks who are here for one another. 

Chickpea Salad Sandwich

Thursday, January 16, 2020

One Month Peloversary

Today is my our one month Peloversary! Is that a thing? We've had our Peloton bike for one month today and so far it's been... surprising. I started to say great, but that's not quite right. Surprising is much more accurate. I thought, in light of that, that I'd share a bit about my experience so far. If you have one of these things or have questions about the bike, please let me know.

First ride: This was brutal. To say I didn't make it far would be an understatement. I seriously underestimated how difficult this thing would actually be. Cycling/spinning is much, much harder than it looks. All those people who make it look easy are probably in good shape and regularly work out. If you are not in good shape and don't regularly work out, this thing will crush you. It will crush your body and your will.

I got off the bike after that ride wondering what the hell I had done. I wanted to get a damn treadmill, not a Peloton bike. Matt talked me into it and when I argued about the cost, said he would ride too (liar!), so we got this thing and here I was wondering if I would ever ride it again after that. At that moment, I thought I might have just paid a fortune for the worlds biggest paperweight. 

I went back: After I got over the emotional struggle of failing so spectacularly at my first ride, I pulled up my big girl panties and went back to the bike. The first few weeks were sporadic, with me not being able to develop any sort of schedule. I couldn't seem to be motivated to ride with regularity, but I think the most important thing to say here would be that I did keep going back, even if not terribly consistently. I missed one whole week, but went right back and did three days in a row. The next week, I rode one day, but I keep going back and I'm working on forming a routine. This week, I've done another three days in a row. Right now, I'm feeling like that routine might be riding during weekdays and taking the weekends off, but I don't know quite yet. I'm still working it out. 

I actually want to ride: This was the strangest part for me. I realized today, quite suddenly, that I actually wanted to get on the bike. I wanted to get on the bike in the middle of the day, but I had to work. I had no trouble finding the motivation to go in there, strap on my cycling shoes, and clip in. And today, I did a longer ride than any I've done so far. To want to exercise, to crave it, that's a completely foreign feeling for me. I like how I feel afterward. I like how I feel the next day. I guess what I'm trying to say is... I like it. 

A pain in the ass: This is not figurative. When you start riding this thing your ass will hurt. Not a little bit, it will hurt a lot. I couldn't even sit on this seat for five straight minutes when I started. It was excruciating. I got a gel cover for the seat and it honestly didn't help all that much. It still hurt. My sits-bones just weren't able to withstand this thing. So, I did something I haven't really seen anyone else admit to. I sat on a pillow. There's a guest bed in the same room with my bike, so I got one of the pillows and used it to make riding the bike less painful. 

Then something strange happened. I dropped the pillow one day last week and rather than clipping out to get it, I just figured I'd give it a shot without it. And, you know, I was able to sit on the seat without suffering. It still hurt, but not so much that I couldn't just deal with it. I could sit for ten straight minutes (that's about my average ride right now, don't judge me) without pain. Today, I was able to sit on it for about 15 minutes without too much pain. 

The shoes & clipping in: Shockingly, the shoes fit perfectly. They take a little putting together, but they're pretty comfortable. My biggest objection to the shoes is that they cost $125 per pair. We bought two pairs, which makes these officially the most expensive shoes we've ever purchased. It's especially expensive when you take into account that you can't wear them anywhere but on the bike. 

The clipping thing proved to be a little challenging for me. I never have trouble clipping in, it's clipping out that's a challenge. It's not the easiest. Those pedals hold onto the shoes for dear life. You have to have a little bit of leg strength to clip out and I won't lie, the first time I rode I couldn't clip out on the right foot. I took the shoe off, got off the bike, and disconnected the shoe from the pedal (not easy!). I've gotten it down, but man!

Yoga, Strength, & Meditation: This is something I really like about the bike. There are programs that aren't bike programs. You can do yoga, meditation, and strength training. So far, I've done yoga and meditation, in addition to cycling, of course. I still prefer to do yoga through other programs, but this is a nice feature. 

Classes & Scenic Rides: So far, my preference is scenic rides, by far. It allows me to ride somewhere I'll probably never go without leaving my house. It's lovely and allows me to ride at my own pace. But, there are also both live and recorded classes, and a feature that just allows you to ride without anyone directing you or any sort of scenery. I've done three recorded classes, but no live classes because I'm not that brave quite yet. 

The cost: This was the biggest hang up for me. This thing is very expensive. After the accessories (shoes, heart rate monitor, water bottles all x2, and the mat for under the bike) it cost us about $2,850. It's an investment, for sure. On top of that, we pay $41 per month for the subscription. This is not a cheap piece of equipment, but I think it's completely worth it. 

Let me tell you, that is not easy for me to admit. I fought against getting this thing for a long time because I thought it was just an exercise bike. I thought it was just like every other exercise bike on the market with a fancy screen. I was wrong. It's more than that. The whole package is worth every single penny. The motivation to actually exercise for the first time in my life, it's worth it. 

Overall impression: I love it and am looking forward to many more rides. My goal is to get in better shape, better conditioning, and I think this bike can do that. It already is. In just one month of fairly inconsistent rides, I'm already improving. I can do more than I could when I got the bike one month ago and that alone makes it worth it. I'm getting better and stronger, and when I work out I feel better emotionally which is a huge deal for me. I just feel better overall. If you're considering buying one of these things... do it!

Thursday, January 2, 2020

Going Vegan

We're not getting any younger, ya know? We're in our early 40s and we're looking back on our unhealthy adult years thinking we could have taken better care of ourselves. We're overweight, neither of us sleep very well, and we're not all that active. Okay, I'm not. The hubs works a job where he's on his feet a lot, like 15,000+ steps a night 3-4 days a week. We could have been doing better for ourselves all these years but we've always had a convenience foods lifestyle.

We've always eaten more than our share of fast foods, eaten in restaurants a lot, and when I cook it's generally been a sort of southern, soaked in oil, meat-forward type of diet. We've lived to eat and what we've been eating has tasted good (really, really good), but hasn't been good for us (really, really not good).

So, it would be impossible to overstate my complete and utter shock when my meat eating, cheese loving, dairyaholic husband decided he wanted to be a vegan. He did some research, watched some documentaries (The Game Changers & Forks over Knives), and made a thoughtful, conscious choice to do this thing. One of the many impressive things about him is that when puts his mind to anything, he usually succeeds. He's got great willpower, with some notable exceptions (smoking, boo).

I never thought I'd see the day, honestly. We've been together for 20 years and in that time I've never seen him consider anything even remotely similar to this. It's pretty remarkable how the people you spend every day with can change and grow, right under your nose, without you noticing. In fact, he's usually been completely derisive about vegetarian and veganism.

Since he's made this decision, I'm trying to change my eating habits, too. We're doing this together, but I have to say, so far he's succeeding much more than I am. It turns out I'm struggling to give up "normal foods," like chicken nuggets and mac & cheese. Something many people don't know about me, I was a vegetarian for a while as a teen. I could not stomach the idea of eating meat, most specifically red meat, so I cut it out of my diet. I still ate animal byproducts, like eggs and cheese, but not animals.

You would think, then, that I'd be doing better about this. If we were working toward being vegetarians, I would be crushing this. But, despite what any food documentaries or vegan food blog says, it is not as easy as it sounds to cut all animal byproducts out of your diet. There are things lurking in your food that you may not even know are animal byproducts!

So far, I've made some pretty tasty vegan recipes and, though he's not always been a vegetable fan, the hubs has enjoyed them. I haven't made anything he's turned his nose up at, so that's a good start. Granted, the foods I've been making are pretty basic--black bean enchiladas, veggie stir fry with rice noodles, that sort of thing. It's pretty hard to find some vegan foods around here, so that's not really helping. You would think in a community where everyone is sort of health conscious we could find more vegan foods, but you would be wrong.

Dispute the early struggles, which I am happy to say I have completely overcome now, we're doing okay at this. I've focused my energy on learning, which is really important because I do all the grocery shopping and cooking. If he's going to eat something, I've generally made it. So, it's fallen to me to tell him if he's eating something that might not be vegan and that's been a little bit challenging. Overall, we're doing better than I would have expected and are excited about how this will change our health!

Green Minestrone (Pintrest recipe) -- It was delicious!!

Tuesday, December 31, 2019

Goodbye 2019, Hello 2020

It's that time of year when I look back and reflect on the previous year and look forward to reflect on the new year. I try to objectively take stock of everything that's gone on in the year and make somewhat objective projections for the new year. But, as we all know, it's hard to be objective about your own life. The whole, "you're too close to yourself to see the truth" thing applies, but that doesn't stop me from trying.

This year...

Objectively-ish, this year has been kind of mediocre. I didn't really accomplish much. On the other hand, nothing earth-shattering has happened either. No one I love has died**, as has happened in December the last two years (Tommy in 2017 & my grandmother in 2018). We have the same jobs, for the most part. There have been a couple of pretty interesting little things...
  1. I impulse purchased a new car in March--went into the dealer to get my car serviced, came out with a new car. Same type, newer model. I'm pretty happy with my new car, it's both cute and fast. I regret nothing. Also, Road & Track named my car 2020 performance car of the year. So there's that. 
  2. I got a small bump in job responsibilities that came with a small raise--this has come with more than a little anxiety, but I'm trying to put myself out there and take on new things. 
  3. We semi-impulse purchased a Peloton bike earlier this month... Jesus help me!
  4. We paid off both of our cars this month... saving us more than $1,000 per month! 
I'm thinking that's pretty much it. Otherwise, we live in the same house. We have the same jobs. We drive the same cars (sort of). We're pretty dull.

Last year...

One surprising win this year was last year's New Year's Resolutions. I had resolved to write one blog post a week for a year and to do 5 days a week mindfulness meditation. I failed at both of these things. But...

I wrote more blog posts this year than I have in the past several years. In fact, more than the last three years (2016-2018) all together.

So, while I didn't write 52 posts this year, I still did pretty great and am claiming this one as a win for blogging. It really helped me push to put some thoughts down or write posts so I could remember events in my life. That's a win.

Next year...

Next year is 2020, which blows my mind... I remember when that seemed like the distant, distant future! That means it's my 20th wedding anniversary and we are planning a trip... more on that another time. I'm also planning to take the new year as a new opportunity to learn something new and try again to invest in myself. While I suck at that last part, and always let myself down, I'm still going to try.

There is this proofreading course I've just started taking that will show me how to start a proofreading business. I plan to keep tackling that in the new year. My intention is to start my own business. I hear putting intentions out there in the universe helps them along, so wish me luck. 

My New Year's Resolutions for 2020 are...
  1. Take the proofreading course
  2. Start my own business... I'm so scared.
  3. Keep trying to write one post a week... I'm so close to being there!
  4. Try to take off some of this weight. I'm getting a treadmill Peloton bike to help that along (and maybe so I don't have to go outside because, well, outside is cold and scary!)
  5. Try to keep my house more clean (I suck at housekeeping!)
That's more than enough resolutions. I'm bound to succeed at one or two of them! Bring it on, 2020!!

** As an aside... Since I wrote this a couple of weeks ago, my mom's brother was killed on December 16th. We didn't really know him, because family drama with his mom, but it's still incredibly sad. He was only 32 years old. RIP Andrew. 

Sunday, December 29, 2019

I Hate Being a Homeowner

Have I mentioned that I kind of hate home ownership? Well, maybe hate-love better describes my feelings. Either way, heavy emphasis on hate. I feel like that's an unpopular opinion, but I would much rather rent than buy. It's not even close. "But home-ownership builds equity... blah, blah, blah..." yeah, I don't care. But here we are, "homeowners" (parenthesis because the bank owns it much more than we do) and the experience is so not making me feel all warm and fuzzy.

I would like to take this opportunity, before I go on, to say that I actually do love our little house. This is the love part of my hate-love feelings. Our home is cozy and it's ours, we're pretty happy here and I like being able to do with it whatever we want without asking anyone's permission. I just hate the entire process of home-ownership.

I mean, buying a home is a horrible experience. The whole exercise of finding a house you like and can afford, then getting a home loan is the absolute worst. The amount of information they want is ridiculous. Oh, you had one overdraft for thirty-six cents a year and a half ago? We're going to need you to write the underwriter a letter explaining why you're such a failure. You have too many credit cards, your credit score isn't quite right, you don't make enough money... you now have to give us your entire financial history and then wait, on pins and needles, for a stranger to pass judgment on your worthiness to have a roof over your head. It. is. the. worst.

Then, when they decide you're worthy and you move into your new place, you're responsible for everything. When you rent, someone else is responsible for things that break. Got a roof leak? Yup, that's going to cost you $350. Your gutters need to be cleaned and repaired? That's gonna cost you $500+. Your sink is clogged up and you need a new garbage disposal (us, right this very second)? That's gonna be a pretty penny.

Home-ownership comes with a million little money-sucking costs. You have to get the yard up-kept, or you have to have a husband/child/person who will mow (mine won't and I can't). If you live somewhere cold, the snow becomes an expensive nuisance. There's mortgage, insurance, and taxes which are all expected expenses. But, then there's all the little unexpected things like a home warranty, which you have to pay monthly and then you also have to pay copays, and then there's only a 50/50 shot they'll cover whatever is wrong. And all the little fixes and "upgrades." It's all on you.

Yeah, I hate it. When we lived in an apartment and the pipes burst in the bathroom, our managers fixed it and sent a company to dry out the carpet, and it didn't cost us a thing. When the dishwasher died, they replaced it and it didn't cost us a thing. They sprayed for bugs, came in to inspect the smoke detectors every month for free, and all we had to do is pay our rent. It was so easy.

But, that was in the late 1990s and early 2000s, when renting was easy. Back when the rental contract prohibited you from burning candles, but you could smoke inside. When they allowed pets without charging pet rent or having a pet minimum. Now, if you rent, you can't smoke inside. This is fine by me, but not with Matt who is a throwback to the 90s south where everyone smoked inside. There're pet minimums, if they allow pets at all, and the pet deposits are ridiculous. Then they charge you pet rent, which is kind of the most absurd thing I've ever heard of. I mean, do they charge extra rent for people's kids? Of course not. But kids have the potential to do as much or more damage than pets.

But I digress. Right now, it's Sunday, it's snowing and we have two sinks half full of muck because our sinks won't drain. When I turn on the garbage disposal, water literally sprays out the back and all over the power plug for the garbage disposal. We're going to have to call a plumber in the morning and between the sinks and the disposal, I'm expecting a $500 bill. If we were renting right now, that bill would be on someone else. Sooooooo glad we're not renters. 😤 I'm taking this opportunity to blame Matt who insisted we buy a house, rather than rent, when moving to Utah. Thanks, honey.

Home Sweet Home, Winter 2015