Experiments in Happiness: "Meatless In San Diego"

Last week I talked a bit about my vision board, Happiness Bootcamp, and finding my theme for the year. Today, I'm going to tell you about a pretty substantial life change that I made around one of my theme words, ENERGY.

While for me, "energy" has a few different meanings (surrounding myself in the positive, not being tired all the time, having the mindset to be able to be a good parent and wife, etc) I realized the first step is to make a change to impact the physical part of this theme. Basically, I need to not always be exhausted. Since physical energy levels affect so much of your happiness, I decided to tackle that first. And since energy comes from our food sources, that's where I started. And?

I stopped eating meat.

I know that current diet fads are more about more meat and no grains, and that cutting out meat is not very vogue at the moment, but that is the direction I took. I don't really have a gluten allergy but I do have other health issues, mainly high blood-pressure and a history of heart disease and diverticulitis in my family, that made me weary of eating a high meat diet. After talking with my Doctor, she suggested going to more of a vegan platform, but we both felt that to be a bit extreme for me to launch into. So she challenged me to eat less meat and cut back my dairy intake. We had a follow-up appointment in four weeks, so I gave myself a month to see if I could do it, and if it made a difference in how I felt. 

That was six weeks ago. Six bacon, steak, chicken and pork-free weeks ago.

Additionally, it was also 12lbs ago. 

It became a challenge to me to see how long I could go, and I just did it. While there have been moments (of PMS) that I have wanted to swing through the Carl's Jr drive-thru and shove a bacon cheese burger in my mouth, for the most part it hasn't been that hard. Since it's a diet thing and not an "animal" thing, I am still eating fish and having the occasional egg.

But contrary to popular belief, I'm not just sitting around eating pasta and grilled cheese sandwhiches. In fact, since I'm limiting dairy, I haven't had a stand alone piece of cheese in 6 weeks either. Yes, I've had cheese sprinkled on things or lightly added into a dish, but I have not sat down and gotten personal with a wedge of brie or a loaf of cheddar in over a month. 

So, how do I FEEL? 

Actually, I feel good. I'm not bloated anymore and no longer have that "too full" feeling after eating dinner. While I'm still tired a lot, I know it's not from what I'm consuming. What I am consuming is a lot of greens and "clean food"; Kale, arugula, beans and fruit have become a go-to for me. I'm having raw almonds and avocado and some whole grains like brown rice, quinoa and farrow. I've been so bored of food that it's actually been a nice change-up for me. Having to go outside my comfort zone for food, I've discovered a few things that I really like that I hadn't thought of eating before. 

I'm not sure this is a permanent change for me, but the funny thing is that I don't think I'll go back to chicken.. I do miss a good steak, and I'm sure this summer I will need to break down and eat carnitas at some point. But right now I'm almost afraid to. My digestive system has adjusted, and I fear what a burger may do to it. 

An interesting side note is that it's caused me to start cooking more and experimenting in the kitchen. Tonight I made a toasted quinoa and kale salad, the other day I used "hemp hearts" on a salad (que college drug paraphernalia joke). I've never paid attention to the vegetarian area of restaurants menus before, and I'm kinda digging this change up in my diet. 

Experiment Outcome: So far, so good. But I can't guarantee I won't be swayed by a good 'ole Santa Maria tri-tip sandwich in the future.