Don't judge or come up with an opinion about something until you've tried it! This is something I've had to remind myself when researching different healthful approaches to nutrition, exercise and lifestyle habits and/or programs. SO...I'm embarking on 30 day challenge to see how taking a vegan/macrobiotics/whole & unprocessed foods approach to living will affect my energy levels, wellness, physique, lean muscle mass, body fat%, mental functioning, bodily systems/organs, physical fitness levels and so on.
I already consumed products somewhat 'vegan' for the better half of my days Monday -Friday. Oatmeal/vegan protein powder for breakfast, smoothie w/vegan protein powder and a salad for lunch, steamed veggies w/eggs or poultry or fish for dinner. So as you can see, for the most part, dinner was where I included animal product. So instead of eggs/poultry/fish/meat, I just needed to eat grains/legumes/beans/nuts/seeds in place of these animal products. Well, there is much more to it than that I found out!
I know that you need to eat a combination of seeds/nuts/beans/legumes/grains throughout the day when not including animal proteins/products in order to get sufficient minerals/vitamins/protein. However, since I do much more strength training than the average person, I really needed to monitor my macro-nutrient intake.
So I wrote down all of my 'food options', divided them up into categories (beans/legumes, grains, greens/vegetables, nuts/seeds/healthy fats, 'superfoods' & fruits, and 'seasoning'). 'WHOLE' grains like brown rice, quinoa, and amaranth are a main staple for this diet plan. Greens & non-starchy veggies will also play a big role in the 30 Day Challenge. Greens such as kale, spinach, collards, and veggies such as carrots, cauliflower, onions, cucumbers, celery, daikon, and cabbage. Beans/legumes like lentils, chickpeas, adzuki and tofu are about 10% of daily diet. Seeds & nuts such as flax, pumpkin, sesame, sunflower, and walnuts as well as healthy fats such as avocados, olive oil, and sesame oil are important as well but used in moderation. My 'superfoods' & fruits list consists of prunes, currants, Dulse flakes, dates, cacao powder, apples, wakame seaweed, kombu seaweed and Nori. Finally, 'seasonings' used sparingly such as miso paste & miso mayo, apple cider or ume vinegar, tamari, sea salt, dates, cacao powder, and as much fresh herbs as I want like cilantro, mint, parsley, and basil to add flavor to dishes.
Once I compiled a large list, I found out that most things like the grains and beans would need to be soaked and then cooked in a pressure cooker (pressure cooker cuts cooking time down by A LOT). I needed to avoid my processed products that I so dearly love (LOL), such as my protein powders, vitamins/minerals, fiber supplements, and caffeine such as coffee and also avoid using sweeteners as much as possible, also no alcohol. Also, I have to give up my beloved oatmeal for breakfast, but I'm replacing it with quinoa which I love!
I have already started to wean myself off of my coffee habit and incorporate more grains/beans/seeds and less protein powder. I thought I'd feel weak, but instead I'm slowly feeling clearer minded and more like my body is really using every bit of the food I eat to fuel my activities until my next meal. I'm still experimenting with correct daily amounts of grains/seeds/beans/legumes to ensure I have enough protein/calories by the end of the day. Like anything new, you learn as you go!
This 30 Day Challenge for me will be to experiment with 'whole foods' to see if my physical fitness levels & lean muscle mass can remain the same or even improve without the use of supplements such as protein powder or vitamin/mineral/other supplements. There are 'vegan bodybuilders' out there, so I know it is possible to achieve improvements in lean muscle mass while maintaining low body fat% but...from the vegan's I've researched they did use vegan protein supplements and other supplements. So this will be a testament to see how I do with going completely 'whole foods' & as unprocessed as possible.
My Goal: To stick to the rules! This is a 30 Day cleanse/makeover/challenge and in no way do I plan on restricting my diet to this extreme after the 30 days is finished...BUT, I plan on taking a lot of what I learned and implementing it in my nutrition & lifestyle habits post-30 day challenge. Will I stay 'vegan'? To be completely truthful...I doubt it...nothing personal to any 'vegans' but it seems very restricted and I don't do well with extremes. I do want to lower the impact I have on the planet and the types of products I use to be of no harm to animals...we will see how much 'veganism/macrobiotic' I keep with me after the 30 days, how about that?
My other goal: To help you see how veganism/macrobiotic/whole foods/unprocessed foods can make a positive impact on your health and to possibly help others wean themselves off of a highly processed, junk food, red meat, artificial sweeteners/flavor/additives, pesticide/fertilizer/hormone/gmo ridden diet and 'take a walk on the wild side' and transition to more whole foods because all-in-all, I think that if your diet includes a majority of whole, unprocessed foods you will improve & experience a higher level of wellness!
Wish me luck & questions/comments/suggestions are appreciated & welcome!
Health & Happiness,
Natty Mac ;)