Monday, August 8, 2011

No. I don't miss bacon

My New Year’s Resolution for 2011 was to give up meat and be vegetarian. The journey has been both a challenge and a breeze. I rarely ate meat  even before the official start of 2011. Being single and clueless in a kitchen, my meals usually consisted of milk, cereal, peanut butter, salads, ice cream, and other items consisting of ‘just add water’ or ‘microwave on high.’ I would attempt to incorporate chicken or turkey but had significant issues with defrosting. I’d forget to pull the package out in the morning.  Or by the time I would get home, I’d be too hangry (hungry + angry) to deal with the 20-25 minutes it would take to prep the meat and would settle for popcorn and cereal. I'd have turkey or chicken salad sandwhiches at lunch from our cafeteria once or twice a week.
In addition to laziness is post waitress stress disorder.  Years and years of working in the food service industry have made me very weary of most menus. I would never order any red meat that is not a hamburger in any establishment. I’m also cautious of salads. Flashbacks to reaching bare, unwashed hands into a grimy salad drawer to dump out week-old iceberg lettuce on to a plate that has been sitting atop a soup warmer for hours and then drowning it un-chilled ranch dressing makes my intestines cramp. With the exception of breakfast meats, I really cannot recall a time when I ordered anything that was not chicken or turkey from a menu. 
Don't eat this. You have no idea where it's been. 
I never liked fish or seafood--with the exception of crab and shrimp. The aversion to seafood is another reaction to too many years in the food service industry. I worked one summer as a prep cook at the Lobster House in Cape May, New Jersey. I swear my hair still smells like fish grease to this day.  Perhaps it's my Zodiac sign (Cancer, the crab) or growing up near the Chesapeake Bay and Jersey Shore, but I do enjoy a good crab cake. 
The transition to full meatless was not too life-changing. For me. For my mother, it was a different story. My (Italian) mother expresses love through food. You will not last five minutes in our house without getting offered a snack. One crazy night in college, a friend and I got home at 3:30 a.m. from a concert in Philly to hear my half asleep mom yell down stairs to ask if we wanted meatball sandwiches. 
"I just don't know why you're doing this to yourself!" She's cried.
"What am I supposed to feed you when you come home now? Are you still going to come home?" Yes, Mom. I'll still eat. As long as you make macaroni and cheese, scalloped corn, pasta salads, lasagna, ziti, etc., I'll come home. And I probably won't pick off of the meat. I'm a good daughter of an Italian mother. I know to eat whatever is put in front of me and to ask for seconds. 

Mom and me, December 2010. 
I'll admit that there have been a few cheats. When I do cheat it's because of lack of menu options or the social situation. I know my stomach won't tolerate red meat or chicken at this point, but seafood is the only acceptable alternative. Yes, I've forgotten to say "no meat" and had to pick around chuncks of ham or bacon. 
My observations of meatless life are that I eat a lot more and more often. I love salads and veggies but I find you have to eat a lot more spinach to feel as full as you would from a burger. I don't diet but I do believe in the food pyramid and try to eat a little from each category and it's very easy to loose balance when your pyramid is off balance. If I don't pay attention, I'll go days eating nothing but carbs, starches, and breads. I'm also more prone to crazy cravings than I used to be. I will NEED vegetables and absolutely obsess about fruit. Also, when I'm hungry, I'm HUNGRY to the point of shaky and light-headed.  I also sometimes overdose on the fiber and we all know those side effects. ;-)
The most interesting part of this veggie experience is other people's reaction. Like I said before, I'm not the only meatless maniac in the world and selective dietary choices are the new black. I'm a lot more comfortable ordering nachos with the ground beef on the side and burgers with no burger than I used to be now. I'm not the only "veggie" out there and I'm finding that more and more restaurants are accommodating. (Best franchise restaurant I've found is Pizzeria Unos. They go far beyond a veggie lover's pizza).
Just like when I used to tell people I was runner, they would  immediately tell me how far or fast they could or could not run. Just like when I tell people I work for the company that makes the SAT's and they tell me their scores..... I immediately hear's people's favorite meat product. And it's almost always bacon.
"You don't eat meat? What about bacon? I could never live without bacon!" 

No, I don't miss bacon! I never liked it all that much to begin with and certainly not enough to make an ice cream sundae out of it (shame on you, Denny's). Yes, it's yummy and salty but there are other meats I miss more. I have to hold onto to every ounce of self control in the mornings to resist a Wawa sausage/egg/and cheese sizzli. I try to justify it as there is really no meat in that meat product and no one would know......

Does it count as meat if no live animals were used?

I'm a little over 8 months into this veggie venture and so far so good.I'd say I've "cheated" about 10 times. In 8 months, not too shabby! Most politicians can't even say that! I'm  proud of myself for holding out so long. I also really respect and appreciate when others acknowledge this choice without judgement. It really does make me happy when someone buys veggie burgers for me or asks if I eat fish or tofu. Thanks!

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Running is my BFF

I wrote before about how running is a big dumb jerk. And it is. But I felt kind of bad for talking trash. And I was worried about how running would punish me for gossiping. Running isn't all bad. It can also be a really good friend.

Running can introduce you to people you'd never meet or really get to know otherwise. A lot of people run and for completely different reasons, at different paces, all over the world. I love meeting people who run, reading about runners and supporting running-related causes. There is a community out there of healthy, supportive folks who share in a sweat obsession and passion for pacing.

My super speedy, super hot runner friend Bonnie who is about to start a new
and challenging journey with the US National Guard. 

Running is always there for you. 
Plans fall through. People disappoint. Life changes.  Your pace or endurance may fluctuate. Injuries will (should) heal. A road is always a road. A treadmill is always a treadmill. But the ability to put one foot in front of the other, to sweat, to pump blood, will always be there. You may not even run, per say, you could walk. You can hobble. But you can move forward with your thoughts and hear your own voice.

Running will listen, but it won't try to solve your problems. 
Running is clearly female. I complain about everything and everyone when I run. I hate everything and everyone. I get  rant, vent, ponder, bitch, dream, plan, scheme to someone who doesn't have a smart answer
who doesn't tell me how to solve it
who doesn't tell me how worse off they have it
who doesn't story top
who doesn't judge
who doesn't ask questions. It just listens.

And at the end of session, the problems are still there. A boss is still a boss. A bill is still unpaid. A paper is still not written. But, damn it felt good to just talk. 

Running keeps you out of trouble. It makes you behave. You don't go boozin' on a Friday night if you're planning to run on Saturday morning. (A lesson I WILL learn SOMEDAY) You don't eat massive amounts of junk food and then jump on a treadmill. It doesn't end well. The more you run, the better you will want to eat. Running is that friend who holds you accountable to diets or lifestyle changes.

You also end up spending so much $$ on sneakers, moisture-wicking clothes, race fees, travel fees, gu-s, and Garmins that you barely have any leftover money to waste on yet another purse. Who needs purses when you get a gear bag at every race? If only tech-tees could be considered business casual. 

Running believes in you and makes you stronger. You can run 1 mile. You can run 2 miles. You can run 3 miles. You can do anything. Running isn't the one who makes you stop. You make you stop. Running knows you can do it. And you can. And even after you run miles and marathons, running still believes in you and you get stronger. I was amazed when I was able to run 5 miles for the first time. I cherish the feeling of crossing my first finish line. I am proud of myself for transforming a New Year's Resolution into a such an important part of life and continuing to lace up my sneakers. 

How has running been a good friend to you? Do you wear your race tags on your shoe like tweenS wear BFF charms?