Then, Christmas came and since we were going to be out of town for nearly 3 weeks, I decided to loosen up my "rules" a bit in order not to go completely insane and have to explain myself at every turn. Call it laziness, call it what you will. In a way it was sort of an experiment with my body, too. As if I wanted to prove to myself that YES, it really is the cheese making your cholesterol go through the roof and making you such a chunkamonk.
So, I didn't go back to drinking cow's milk. I didn't butter my bread with actual butter. For the second year in a row, I didn't eat the traditional tortellini and opted instead for just a salad (it did have Parmesan in the dressing) and a couple of rolls. But I did eat cheese. And I had a couple of eggs. If it was mixed into something, I just didn't fuss over it. If it was easy enough to order without it, I did order without it or if there was something on the menu that was vegan (not often where we were) then I ordered that. A couple of times, I just threw my hands in the air as if I was giving up and giving in and ... (sigh).
When I got home, I kind of just didn't stop eating cheese. What the hell? I mean, again, if the vegan option was there and easy, I did it. But if it wasn't... I'd just eat the vegetarian thing. And in the last few months, I have been feeling it. I have been feeling every bit of this cheese. And 10 pounds of it have settled all over my body but especially around my belly. That's probably compounded by the stress of two 18-hour semesters bearing down on me plus quitting my job so less income also making me feel anxious. And the guilt of every bite... the guilt. I don't even want to imagine what my cholesterol could be. Yikes.
We just went out of town for spring break, and I vowed that when we got back home, not only would I be having a fresh vegan start -- clean slate -- but we would be moving even more toward using less processed food. There has been this sort of enjoyment that I've had with cheese for the past few months because I have always loved the taste and feel of it so much, but with it has come bad things for me. My taste buds want it, but my body just rejects it. My brain tries to justify it and then my body punishes me for it.
Same thing with all the processed foods. Sometimes, these last two semesters, I have had so much reading and writing and research to do that I would go the whole day without eating a thing and not even realize it. Then I would be ravenous when my better half walked through the door, so we'd eat whatever was easy for him to cook and that meant a lot less vegetables (even with the winter CSA) than we'd normally have if I was cooking everything from scratch.
I've learned from this for sure. I've learned that being newly vegan means you're going to screw up sometimes and that perfection doesn't come overnight or even after a whole year. But I've also learned that just because you drop the ball, it doesn't mean you can't pick it up again.
I've learned that I can just never go back to cheese again. My body really doesn't want it. It's only the *me* inside the body that wants it. And that *me* gets very hangry and weak, but should not be listened to when she starts arguing for "just taking a bit of a vacation from it" or trying to justify every little thing. Tell that girl to shut it and power through. Get a banana and some almonds and then make some sensible decisions. Remember those times in your childhood when you really were hungry.
I've learned that it's better to just go to a grocery store than a restaurant most of the time. I look at menus and I have noticed over the past couple of years that there are a lot more vegetarian options and that's definitely a step in the right direction. That's something I would have loved back in the day when there was never ANYTHING to eat out except a salad and usually even then you still had to ask for the meat to be left off. But, still, there's just so much on the menu (even veg options) that doesn't look appealing to me at all. And I'm tired of the only vegan option on the menu being something I eat at home all the time. I mean, I love hummus, but really? That's all you could come up with? And then even the vegetarian options are just yo dawg I heard you liked eating cheese so I put cheese in your cheese so you can eat cheese while you eat cheese.
I've also learned that some of the changes that I made when going vegan are probably already permanent. Though it was available to me every morning, I did not use half and half in my coffee. Surrounded by gallons and gallons of milk, I still did not drink a drop and took soy milk and almond milk with me wherever we stayed. I don't care about butter at all any more (and I'm really close to not even caring about Earth Balance, especially when avocados are around). While I did have a couple of eggs over Christmas, I find that I still don't want to bake with them and actually prefer making tofu scrambles a million times more.
Anyway, Two days since I've been home and I'm sensing a change already. It may be all in my head, but that's all right. I'll take anything that puts my mind at ease and eliminates any guilt, anxiety or regret. Yesterday, I ate mostly fruit and nuts all day and then made a good dinner. Brown basmati rice. Black-eyed peas in the pressure cooker that I then made into a potato / cauliflower curry. Having some of that as leftovers today + sri racha + statistics:
Fresh start. Better than no start.