I Listened To My Body: It Warned Me About A Health Issue

For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid,

but gives us power, love, and self-discipline.

(2 Timothy 1:7)

Photo taken (by me) at the Gaylord Hotel, Grapevine Texas

Eat well. √

Exercise daily. √ 

Get enough sleep. √

Minimize stress… Well I am pretty sure that I have my stress levels in check but to be perfectly honest with you, sometimes we think we are doing a good enough job of managing stress when in actuality we are not. We package and shelf it nice and neatly on the inside, and that is where it (the pressure) quietly does its dirty work. I’ll get back to the stress in a minute.

For about two months, maybe longer, I had experienced occasional headaches. Something I rarely get. The headaches were random, so I wasn’t too concerned. We have two blood pressures devices at home, so I started to occasionally take my pressure. First thing in the morning, before you start moving around is the best time to check your pressure; so that is what I did.

My average reading has always been in the area of 117/72.

  • My readings were in the area of 180/99 and sometimes higher!!

Long story short, the diagnosis is hypertension.  

Anyone who knows me will corroborate, I am a health, wellness and fitness devotee. Wellness is a way of life that I take pride in. I do all the right things–not to perfection–but enough to look and feel vibrant and to have excellent physical health.

So when the doctor confirmed my suspicion, I was crushed. Honestly, I think it was an ego thing. You know–

How is the wellness professional gonna tell somebody how to prevent hypertension, when she has it?

It comes down to pride. The fact is, I am genetically predisposed to hypertension. Family history prevails over my lifestyle.

Know your body. Be aware of what your normal is and be prepared to take immediate action (see a doctor) when your ordinary is out of sorts.

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Confessions From A Vegan

There once was a time when I was relentless in my pursuit of perfection. A sparkling and stain free stove, a crumbless kitchen counter, clean bathroom mirrors, and bare floors that left no dust or particles on the foots’ bottom.

Impeccability on this level was too much to maintain, but it took me years to learn what and who was really important. The approach was stupid, and I am still trying to determine why “perfection” was such a priority for me.

I have felt for many years that in high school, I underachieved at everything I did.  I was an okay teenager but never really pushed myself hard at anything.  For most of my life, I blamed the adults (teachers, coaches, and advisors) for not seeing something in me that I did not see in myself. They should have pushed me, but they did not. I blended in a predominately white school with only two black teachers, neither of which I had as a teacher.

My guidance counselor never hid her lack of interest in my academic progress or achievement. I’m confident that Mrs. C.  had distorted views about the potential of most of the students who looked like me. How do I know? We talked. Like an over-copied handout, the sentiments were regularly used, and the similarities in stories align perfectly.

My parents got a free pass. Mother, one of 13 was dirt poor. She and other siblings quit school to work. During my high school years, she returned to school to obtain her GED. Watching her study was motivating. She encouraged me to do my best and to finish school.

“Get your diploma because you won’t be able to get a decent job without it.”

My dad came here on a boat from the U.S. Virgin Islands. Although he never earned his diploma, he was a teacher of hard work. “Doing my best” was excellent advice but I needed a more detailed narrative on what it looked like and how to do this…especially when my teachers had little expectations from me.

In my early 20’s when I thought that immediately after high school, I should have gone to college and believed that I should be further along in my career. When I was overlooked for a promotion because I did not have a college degree, I felt inadequate.

Perhaps the idea of perfection as an adult offset my underperformance as a teenager.  Every task that I completed would be perfect or as close to perfection as possible. I was always the model employee. I was the front desk clerk who never had a drawer shortage. The VIP Agent who never messed up a customers’ accommodations. At home, the linen was correctly folded and stacked. The list goes on.

Today, I’m the happy imperfect vegan.

Yesterday (Sunday) we celebrated a milestone birthday of my cousin. We enjoyed brunch at The Cheesecake Factory. Hmm mmm.

The night before brunch, my final thoughts before going to sleep was The Cheesecake Factory’s menu!!  Now ain’t that some ish? I didn’t toss and turn. I wasn’t stressing or anything. Ahem… I was planning!

Well, peeps, all the planning didn’t make a difference.

I read through the menu. I contemplated an old favorite.

I even thought about this blog, my Instagram, Twitter, and my Facebook pages. What am I gonna say? The truth! I am human! That I decided to do me.

Without guilt or shame, I ordered a Cajun Shrimp and pasta dish. It was delicious!!!

I came to terms with ordering and eating the fantastic dish with this thinking:

I am not a perfect Vegan.

Life is short, don’t deny myself of a dish that I really want.

This is my second cheat and the world has not stopped revolving.

I am a human being.

We falter.

Why does eating shrimp & pasta have to be a falter?

Change takes time.

I am a Vegan student.

Only eight months have passed.

I need the protein.

Looking at the plate made me grin. My face should’ve cracked! I was doing the right thing.

I live authentically.

My experience may help others.

The study of health behavior includes research on numerous behavioral change theories. Some of the contributing factors to successful changes in our behavior include our environment, community, family, work, knowledge, support, and finances.

Even if you have all the factors aligned, change occurs in stages, and it takes time. Change is hard, but you should keep trying.

Your goal may be to quit smoking, to learn to meditate, lose weight, start exercising or like me become Vegan, regardless the change in our behavior will not happen overnight. Having an understanding of this process can alleviate some of the stress. James Prochaska’s Readiness for Change Model is used widely in the field of wellness. His concept may help you to achieve goals related to modifying your behavior.  Below are the stages:

Six Readiness for Change Stages.

  1. Pre-contemplation – Lack of awareness; unconcerned; a person has no thought of changing. Ex: A cigarette smokes who has no desire to quit.
  2. Contemplation – The Person, begins to consider change; ambivalence. Ex: Cigarette smoker thinks about quitting but has not taken any action.
  3. Preparation – Person begins to explore change possibilities. We get ready for a change by gathering information about the subject and gathering resources. Ex: Cigarette smoker talks to their doctor about methods to quit smoking, talks and seeks support from family and friends or obtains medical assistance such as a patch.
  4. Action – Person takes action. Ex: The day the person chooses not to smoke a cigarette
  5. Maintenance – Person works at maintaining change. This is me. Lapse and relapse occur at this stage. Ex: Smoker experiences a relapse and takes a few puffs or smokes an entire cigarette.
  6. Termination – The new behavior is now part of your life. My goal! We engage in the new practice with little effort and without much thought. In other words, the new behavior occurs naturally.

If you are in the process of some type of behavioral change, can you identify which stage you are in? Being aware of your current stage may help you to understand your actions.  Working with a wellness coach will help you to move through and complete the steps.

My point here is to support you in the change(s) you are trying to make in your life. I relapsed and wanted to share this with you.  You might also relapse, and I don’t want you to beat yourself up about it.

Continue to surround yourself with people who encourage you; that’s why I’m here. Stay on your wellness train, it may be hard but please don’t give up.  If you’d like to talk, email me at tanyafcain@gmail.com

Happy Day!


Surprises in Mindful Meals

“Fill yourself with passion and purpose
that enable you to offer your best to the world.”
-Oprah Winfrey

Collectedness.

Determined.

Peaceful.

Purposeful

My feelings.

I am in week four, day two of my Vegan challenge.  Although this blog is dedicated to more than my transition to a vegan lifestyle, I am sharing this journey with you because it is essential and my experience may help you.

My journey may be different from yours, but most of us are on some kind of quest.  The common theme is a lifestyle change.

Quit smoking. Stop drinking.  Start exercising.  Stop cursing. Be more positive. Eat better. Spend more time with your children.  Become more timely.  Or something else.

We often identify a behavior that we want to change.  The practice is often a mindless habit like brushing our teeth, driving our kids to school, or getting dressed in the morning. Our awareness becomes dull, and we mindlessly perform tasks. Converting to a plant-based diet requires a shift in consciousness, which is not automatic.

Giving up chicken, turkey, seafood, and dairy products require mindfulness.  Each week that has passed represent my success.  Every new week serves as an opportunity to improve.  I expect hiccups and when (not if) they happen, I won’t beat myself up.

I intend to share my successes, my failures, and my thoughts with you. I want to inspire you to do what you’ve wanted to do but lack the confidence or discipline to execute.

In the wellness profession, numerous models for change exist. To effectively implement change in your life, you’ll need more than a desire.  A plan with concrete steps will put you on the path to a lifestyle of improvement.  To help you with you the change you desire, stay tuned for a Guide to Life Improvement.

Keeping with the weekly theme of introducing new food each week, this week, I tried unfamiliar foods but also cooked and combined some of my favorite veggies that I have never paired before.

  • Red Quinoa – It has a nuttier flavor than the regular quinoa. I cooked 1 Cup in  2 Cups of organic vegetable broth, and 1 Tablespoon of olive oil.

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  • Roasted Brussels Sprouts and Acorn Squash.  The Acorn Squash is a first for me. I found a Youtube video to instruct me on the best way to cut the squash.  I don’t always measure so I’m estimating ; 2-3 Tablespoons of olive oil, granulated garlic powder, 2 Tablespoons of Ponzu Sauce (Citrus Seasoned Soy Sauce), & some new (to me) Japanese spice I found, Shichimi Togarashi (Chilies, Sesame Seeds, Orange Peel, Salt, Garlic, Pepper, Seaweed, Ginger).  I combined all the ingredients in a bowl, stirred it well and placed the veggies on a cookie sheet. I baked them at 350 degrees for about 45 min or so.  The outcome?   Amazing!!

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  • Dinner!

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  • Lentils (plant-based protein) and Sauteed Kale – Nothing new here. Merely a combination of two of my favorites.  I cook the lentils in the crockpot.  Super easy.  Chop 1 Jalapeno pepper, 1 medium sweet onion and toss them in the crockpot.  Add lentils or beans of choice (black-eyed peas, black beans, etc..), season with a generous amount of garlic powder and ground ginger.  Add 1 1/2 carton (48 oz) of vegetable broth (prefer low sodium) or 32 oz of vegetable broth and 16 oz. of water.  Cover and cook on low (6 hours) or high (4 hours).  Serve plain, over brown or black rice, spaghetti squash, whole wheat pasta, or something else.

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  • Cauliflower & Carrots – I seasoned the carrots with Kerrigold butter (natural, grass-fed, hormone-free cows’ milk on cooperative dairy farms). Yup! As I melted the butter, I realized it is dairy, so eventually, I need to find a replacement.  Anyways, I seasoned the carrots with the Ponzu sauce, granulated garlic powder, and a little raw honey in a bowl, then placed them on a baking sheet.
  • I seasoned the Cauli with olive oil, garlic, a dash of salt, and the Japanese spice in a bowl, stirred them well and placed them on a separate cookie sheet.
  • I baked both at 350. I think they cooked for about an hour.  They still at a crunch.

  • For a blend of contrasting flavors, I combined the two.  Yummy!

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I remembered… when in doubt, substitute a vegetable for meat.  So here’s Monday’s dinner. It was delicious, but I have to watch my portions!  It’s time to get the scale out. Today we worked legs at the gym. The combination of kale, quinoa, cauliflower, and black-eyed peas gives me about 17 grams of protein. Not bad for a newbie needing protein.

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Finally, I made time to cook Kale Chips.  Crunchy baked chips are fantastic!  Olive oil, a dash of sea salt, and a sprinkle of ground cayenne pepper.  Lord!  These were my dessert!

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For more kale chips later in the week, I have extra kale already cleaned and cut. Heey!!

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One final note.  Earlier this week, I was tested at Longhorn.  My son and I always share the calamari appetizer.  He ordered, and I did not taste even one.  Yay!!!   Before we got to the restaurant, I mentally prepared and wasn’t in the least bit bothered.  I ordered my favorite strawberry salad without the chicken and the raspberry vinegarette on the side with an order of fries.

Passing on the calamari wasn’t a struggle.  I’m surprised and very pleased.  Who knows what this week will bring but I’m ready.  In one week, I will have gone an entire month for the first time ever without meat and dairy (except for the butter in my carrots, last weeks, dairy coffee creamer, and two weeks ago’s one piece of calamari).  I’m flipping thrilled because it has NOT been a struggle.

I feel fantastic and look forward to discovering more about myself on my vegan challenge.

Until next time!  Smooches!


Pay attention to the things you are naturally drawn to.
They are often drawn to your path, passion, and purpose in life.  Have the courage to follow them.
-Ruben Chavez

I am at conflict.  Like really feeling some kinda way.

Only two weeks into my journey, I promised myself that I would not to turn into a wacky extremest.  Hmm…  I am the only person in my household on this vegan trip.

No one is interested in a plant-based diet, so I have to cook two different meals, which isn’t new for me.  Right before I started training for my first figure competition, I began to eat clean (avoiding processed foods), so I cooked “clean” meals for me and regular meals for my family.

If you are not vegan, please; keep reading!  I am not trying to gross you out or offend you. I am sharing my private thoughts…that’s all.  You might have initiated some kind of change in your life and are facing a struggle with its execution.

To shift our behavior to more positive behavior requires some level of self-awareness and self-regulation (factors of emotional intelligence). Efficiently being aware of and managing our emotions can guide our thinking and our actions through the muddle and eventually achieve our goals. That’s what this post is about… me sharing my private thoughts with you and while sorting through conflicting emotions.  If this post helps one person, then it is worth my time and effort.

This blog is devoted to sharing insight on how to improve Health & Wellness (HW).  The food and beverage we consume impacts our physical, mental and overall well-being.

Chicken drumsticks

Ugh!

Anyways, while seasoning a pan of drumsticks for my peeps, all I could see where thousands of ill-health chickens squashed together in coop.

Then there’s the realization of the sheer volume of antibiotics and other chemicals that were injected… the thoughts produced feelings of guilt.  Yes. Guilt!

Why guilt?  Because I do the grocery shopping and cooking for my family.  If I prepare plant-based meals, they will be annoyed with me.

My 15-year-old son ain’t trying to eat plant-based…period.  Hubby and mom.  They enjoy meat too.

Knowing more about the effects of meat on the body, makes me feel bad.  I feel like I’m feeding them chemicals and contributing to future health problems.  I have to figure how out how to manage my unsettling emotions without passing judgment for their dietary choices. After all, other vegan family members have never judged me for sucking chicken off a bone or for eating a half dozen shrimp saturated in butter.  I’m merely trying to keep things in perspective.

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Private Thoughts Of A Transitioning Vegan


Deprogramming Of The Brain

Except for two (yes I counted) small pieces of calamari, I successfully navigated seven days of meatless meals.  On Saturday we (the family) ate at Longhorn Steakhouse.

My plan of attack was to order the strawberry vinaigrette salad (dressing on the side). Pick out the chicken and give the meat to hubby.   I knew our son would order our favorite Longhorn appetizer.  Calamari.  We usually share it; however, I already decided to pass.

My cousin joined us. She’s picky about how her calamari is cooked, so I assured her that Longhorn’s was one of the best. A slight crunch and the perfect combination of sweet and spicy.  Lord!  When it was delivered, I declined.

But after watching the two of them delightfully devour the calamari, for about 10 minutes, resistance was no longer an option.  I needed one last taste for the road.  The last time I ate calamari at this restaurant, I didn’t know it would be my last, so I had to kind of seal the deal.  I’m dead serious.

The lingo of living meatless is confusion. Vegan, vegetarian, pescatarian, and there are others.  My ultimate intention is to eliminate meat, seafood, and dairy.

I have to figure out what to replace the organic dairy hazelnut creamer with, in my coffee.  I don’t use sugar, but I like the flavor of hazelnut. I can live without cheese and can step away from eggs for now.

This being my second attempt to go meatless, my attitude and frame of mind are different. My understanding of the obstacles before me is more realistic. I am in a constant mode of searching for dietary resources and helpful tips.

Matthew 7:7-8: Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you. For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened.

Today I set aside time to catch up on a few of my favorite podcasts.  I was amazed when I realized the topics were about plant-based diets.  I did not search for the subject.  God knew my heart and my intentions so he made sure that I received the instruction and support that would guide me through the week. The two podcasts were:  Eating Like A Grown-up: Insights on a plant-based lifestyle with Renee Cowan and Plant-Based Eating, Faith and making the transition with Renee Cowan

I’m telling you, I needed to hear these messages today.  As I cooked dinner for my family, I listened to the podcasts and had several ah-ha moments.

Although the fact is logical, the most significant ah-ha moment for me was realizing that while animals such as cows are a source of protein, the cow’s source (most often) of protein plants.   The same goes for other livestock.  Hello!!!  If they can grow healthy and robust on plants, why can’t I?

If you are interested in learning how to transition to a meatless diet, listen to the podcasts.  Both parts are informative.

♥  ♥  ♥ . . .

Onto my meals…

I replaced my animal-based protein powder drink by adding three tablespoons of Hemp Seed Hearts  (10 grams of protein) to my steel oats (7 grams of protein) prepared with Califia Coconut Almond Milk (1 gram of protein).   Total protein for breakfast 18 grams!  For someone who thought she had to eat eggs or drink whey protein, I guess I did fantastically!  I’m so excited!

 

Another takeaway from Renee Cowan was to just replace meat with a vegetable, and that’s what I did today.  Added to my plate of Tempeh and green beans dish is a blend of kale and turnip greens with onions.

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I am learning that I must deprogram my brain and continue to search daily for inspiration and resources.

I’ve got black beans in the crockpot, and I am preparing for week two.  I am curious and eager to discover how my new diet and rigorous workout will affect my body.  Over time, I will know.  For now, I am patient.

Thanks for stopping by!

Smooches!


A Burger That Works For Me

Hi!  Yes.  I’m still here. Life is keeping me busy.  While my heart tells me that my blog is neglected, my mind tells me that grad is more important.

Anyways, look what I found!!

veggie burger

Why didn’t someone tell me about these??  I know all about the “other” Bubba burger, but I stumbled on these in Shoprite.

Now, y’all know that I am not big on processed foods, howeeeeeevvvvvver; in a pinch, the tasty burger works.  It has real identifiable vegetables! I mean, like, you can actually identify some of the contents!!  Imagine that!!

actual burger

The label reads like this:

ingredients

I will admit, that it has way more ingredients than I’d like in a box, but it still beats a big mac.  Eew!

As for the nutritional part…

burger nutrition

Will I eat this every day?  No.  But it’s not bad. I’m not thrilled about the 300 mg of sodium, but the most I would eat in a sitting is two burgers and this gives me 600 mg of sodium. The product is made in the USA.  Halleluja!! It’s gluten-free and the carton is made from 100% recycled paperboard.  They care about the environment, so maybe they care about the rest of us too.  Lol!

For lunch, I placed two “burgers” to a frying pan, added olive oil, garlic powder, and cayenne pepper and slowly browned them on each side. Instead of placing them between two buns, I ate them solo with a sliced apple.

lunch

Two thumbs up for the Veggie Bubba Burger!!  Of course eventually, I will mess around with some of their ingredients and some of my ingredients to create my own.

I hope that you’re enjoying your summer and thanks for stopping by! 🙂

Smooches!