Monday, November 7, 2011

Considering a vegan challenge...

For the last couple of weeks, I've been considering the idea of doing a week-long "vegan challenge". Not forever, my fiance would kill me (you should have seen the look on his face when I mentioned it). Not because I'm a big animal cruelty adversary; I tend to think if we didn't eat a chicken or two, there would be over-crowding and chickens running amok everywhere. For me, it's more for the experiment of it, seeing how my body feels after a week of vegan/"clean" eating. It seems kind of fun, in a "this sounds like way too much work" kind of way.

Not one to jump into something without just a little research, I'm beginning to realize just how difficult a week of vegan living sounds. I already knew the basics: no animal products or by-products, which means no milk, no cheese, no eggs. ("No eggs" is a hard one for me, I eat the little wonders nearly every day.) But the more I read, the more I became somewhat disheartened. No honey??!! Are we really that concerned about how hard the bees are working? Are we worried that the living conditions of bees are unfair?! Seriously. They're bees. Their sole job in life is to pollinate flowers and make honey. It's not like if we stop eating honey they are going to find a new job changing oil at the local Uncle Ed's. They'll probably die out.

I guess what I'm getting at is that I find veganism to be somewhat pointless, if not actually detrimental to animals in the longer run. Yes, we can find alternate sources of protein from ancient grains and other plant-based foods. But what happens when we all suddenly stop eating animals and their by-products? For example. Let's say the year is 2080. Humans have become intolerant of an carnivore's diet, and thusly America is a completely vegan society. Now, I'm no farmer, but a cow has to be milked. I'd imagine that for all the cows that are now over-populated to be milked, everyone, including city-dwellers, would have to own several cows. They would have to be able to afford to own and milk those cows. And then, after paying to own, house, and feed that cow, they have to milk the cow and throw the milk out. Which makes so little sense to me; a cow has to be milked. It's not like we're doing it to be mean.

And that's just the cows. Imagine how many chickens we'd have to own, how many eggs we'd have to discard... good luck working. There's a reason moms stayed home in 1880; they had to take care of the kids and take care of the farms. Perhaps this simpler way of life worked then, but capitalism and consumerism have taken over this country in the last 100 years, and I have a feeling not too many people are willing to give up their iPhone so that they can take care of a roost full of chickens they can't eat.

I understand and support that the living conditions of many stockyard animals are far from ideal. I would like to see more farms raising animals in an ethical way, which is better for them and healthier for the people who consume the products they produce. I imagine if organic continues to catch speed, more farms will make the switch to better practices. So, if you're going to buy meat and dairy, keep buying organic meat and dairy! And in the meantime, I think I'll continue to eat a balanced diet of mostly organic plants, with meat, fish and grain as my side dishes.

Which is, most probably, the best way to support this eco-system and yourself. In my own opinion.

until later...

If vegetarians eat vegetables, what do humanitarians eat? ~Author Unknown

Friday, November 4, 2011

Jillian Michaels attacks again....

Okay, so towards the end of October I made all of these big claims about November, because it wasn't November yet and therefore I didn't have to worry about them until it was. It's funny how invincible you feel when you set a goal in advance, isn't it? Funny like a treadmill set to 10mph.

Yeah, November is here. I'm posting this somewhat unflattering picture of myself, as earlier this week I began the Jillian Michaels' 30-Day Shred for an actual 30 days, an idea that was much more fun two weeks ago. (The picture was shot the night before I started, in an effort to see change and hold myself accountable.) Today I finished Day Four, and let me tell you, I'm a little sore. Actually, I think the only thing that is keeping me from total muscular meltdown and skeletal disinegration is the fact that I am doing it every day; I'm not even giving my body a day to process it's in pain.

A typical morning goes a little like this:
BODY: Heeeeeeey, Jen. Whaddya say we lay off the anterior raises today, huh? We could just do a little extra squatting? Huh? Huh?
JEN: Sorry, body. Jillian says pain is fear leaving the body. It might be bullshit, but what if it's not?
BODY: *big sigh*
JEN: I know, I'm tired, too. But change comes when you push past fatigue. So, yeah. Let's go push for 25 minutes.

The funny thing is, as much as my body tends to protest beforehand, once it groans to life and starts warming up, the rest happens pretty fast. Like it's no big deal, really. When I finish, I almost always wonder what I was whining about. Are you kidding? It's 25 flipping minutes. It's an episode of The Office. It's a drive to Battle Creek. And it's less than a game of Chutes and Ladders with Anna.

Point being, by the end of the workout, perspective lets me remember why I did the workout in the first place. I did it because I wanted to ignite a change in my spirit more than anything. I'm not on a big weight-loss quest. I'm simply trying to reignite my brain into remembering what an extraordinary creature I can be, when I put my mind to it. What extraordinary creatures we all are. Are we capable of greatness? Yes. Is it work? Yes. Do all the crappy things in our lives tend to weigh more than the good? Unfortunately, too often the answer is yes. But it certainly doesn't have to be that way, when we're open to the possibility that we are worthy of the best life can offer.

Make a goal; face your goal when it's hard; applaud yourself when you reach it.

until later...

I hated every minute of training, but I said, "Don't quit. Suffer now and live the rest of your life as a champion." ~ Muhammad Ali