I wrote, a while back, about tweaking your diet and not making any major changes, all to prevent that oh-so-familiar “what the frig, I can’t stand this diet!” syndrome. Anyway, I have recently adopted a vegan lifestyle for my own reasons; I do not preach about the merits on your health, the planet etc., while I do embrace all of those truths. I just do it in silence, on my own, respecting that those close to me may not fully follow the same drummer, but are enjoying the spill-over of healthy meals, a broader range of nutrients, and yummier meals.
I lead a fairly active life, weight training five days a week, teaching a couple of indoor cycling classes, yoga and then accompanying my personal training clients through their paces. They all seem to like it if I do the planks as well, rather than just watch.
What it’s really like being a vegan
Being a vegan, I have monitored my intake of things such as protein (the perennial panicked question, “where do you get your protein?” to which I answer “food”), vitamins and minerals and the like. I’ve had a few peaks and valleys, a few dips in my weight or my “pre-workout pump” at the gym. But I am looking more or less like I did before I became a vegan, a little better, a little leaner, a little stronger (only because I am continually trying to get stronger).
But the other day I did notice a bit of a thickness around my middle, something that comes and goes, usually comes about half way through a vacation when I’m tanned enough to want to be photographed but have been drinking and devouring to my heart’s content — and the bathing suit shots don’t lie.
I’ve never counted calories in my life
I have counted grams of protein but that’s about it. I usually know my limit, but there was no hiding this kind of thing happening around my middle and it wasn’t bloat from too many beans. “What on earth! I’m a vegan. I need all the calories I can get!”
I suppose I had a Eureka moment, glancing at the nutrient label on the peanuts and almonds I’d been noshing on, while making dinner. I realised that I had likely eaten well beyond 10% of my daily caloric intake, while making dinner…
I got curious, checked the jar of almond butter, as I had done before when checking the protein content. I realised that after loading up my whole grain, home-made toast in the morning, eating a bowl of steel-cut organic oatmeal and maybe topping it off with a protein smoothy that I may have hit the 50% mark before 8:30am! (I estimate my daily caloric needs to be about 2800.)
Throw in a peanut butter and banana wrap, with peanut butter generously loaded, nay dripping, and then some other handfuls of food pulled from my gym bag, and THEN dinner, salad dressing with avocado oil free-poured, hummous made with more oil and a glob or two of tahini, and I’ve racked up quite a lot of calories! Like I said I don’t count calories, BUT the past two days I have been eyeballing them.
So, the cure?
Well, I am a tweaker, and I have reduced the gobs of nut butters, handfuls of nuts and I find that even spread thinly I am sated, get enough protein, loads of nutrition, energy and some breathing room. I didn’t cut them out. I just have a second thought, when my hand dives into the cashew jar. I’m a little more cautious pouring out the oils onto the frying pan, into the salad or wherever. I always laughed when recipes suggested a table spoon of oil in a dressing.
“Are you serious?” I am now
I go through the motions and hope to return to that svelt personal trainer who has to set an example to his clients day after day, with no pain, no struggle, no deprivation, just less with a little less flair.