Farmacy vs. Pharmacy

Hi everyone, I’m officially back home from Spain and back to my primary blog! (Check out my Spain blog, ChowidoSpain, to check out my 6-week Spanish adventure!)

I’m so, so excited to be back to blogging about my plant-based eats, exercise and adventures.

While I’ve been gone—

July 5, 2014- I hit 1 year of being vegan! I couldn’t be more happy to be where I’m at today and so grateful for the support that has gotten me here. I am overjoyed to have found veganism and to have been introduced to a plant-based community where it seems that each and every person is just as passionate as I am, with their own unique story for reaching the plant-based lifestyle they’re at today.

Upon arrival home, I began working as a marketing intern for a holistic wellness center on my area, called The Wellness Center, that has allowed me to dive into the marketing of a brand new company with an intention that is more than I could have ever hoped for. At this all-encompassing wellness center, the idea is to treat the client as a whole person, from the mental therapy aspect to massage therapy to acupuncture to nutrition and fitness. Right up my alley, huh?

One of my roles as the marketing intern is to manage all of our social media accounts, including Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, FourSqaure and our blog. So upon brainstorming some interesting topics to write on, I came across the idea of “Farmacy vs. Pharmacy” and my brain started running a thousands miles a minute with all I could say. With time and knowledge, I’ve grown to have quite a strong opinion on this topic and so here is what I wrote up:

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“Headache? Take some of this. Common cold? Try these pills. Stomach ache? Take this syrup. High cholesterol? Take this everyday. Arthritis? Take two of these daily. Heart disease? Inject yourself with this 3x daily. That should take care of it. For now.

Our country has spiraled into a medical crisis, relying on artificial, chemically derived substances to maintain our everyday lives. Americans have mindlessly short-changed themselves by falling dependent on these modern day conveniences and not taking matters into their own hands.

As technology has advanced and made our lives more convenient, we have become sedentary as a people, only doing and consuming what is easiest. Because of this, we are now experiencing illnesses that did not even exist 50 or 100 years ago. Think there may be some type of possible correlation? Bingo. No fear though. As the the medical industry is a business run by supply and demand, they have met this need with new drugs for these conditions, allowing the public to believe that any of these ‘sicknesses’ they fall victim to are cured with some type of medication. This pattern that will only continue and worsen with time.

We have lost touch with the most crucial element to our well-being—nutrition.

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The American people have been trained to have a reactive perspective and approach to health and medicine. The idea that nothing should be done unless there is something wrong (don’t fix it unless it’s broken) is exactly what has led us to the obesity, cancer, diabetes and heart disease epidemic we have reached today.

Our bodies are self-healing. All our bodies’ need is the right fuel to allow the internal workings to take place. It is our job as ‘managers’ of our bodies to allow this to happen. Your fate is in YOUR hands. If we come to believe that we are victims of circumstance, we are doing ourselves a grave disfavor.

The idea of a Farmacy vs. Pharmacy is to realize the benefits of proactive care and self-healing through wholesome and nutritious food consumption instead of being dependent on artificial substances that create misery and medical bills out the wazoo. It is the realization that what you eat affects a whole lot more than people realize.

Next time there is a diagnosis of some sort, check out what the person is consuming first and foremost—most likely the root of the problem. The research is there.

Health reform starts in YOUR kitchen, not in Washington.

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I hope this post opened your eyes up a little more to this serious issue or maybe even just got your brain thinking about things. Whatever it did, I hope you enjoyed! I need to get back to summer class work now, my second job! ;)

See you all very soon! Chow!

1 Year Blogiversary

Today marks 1 year since I began this blog! Time sure does fly when you’re blogging fun. ;)

Let’s flashback to my first blog post. How cute! I had no idea what I was doing, just typing along.

Wow, how times have changed! Here I am 12 months later, 21 years old, a vegan and professional weight lifter (lol okay maybe still amateur), but STILL, I have evolved quite a bit and will only continue to do so as I keep heading down the path toward bettering myself and the world around me. I’m just over here trying to be the best Colleen I can be! :)

Back to preparations for my trip to Spain…I leave in T-minus 4 days! Where is the time going…

I went grocery shopping today with my mom to grab some comfort snacks for my trip! I am banking on loving the food in Spain, as I’ve heard its the bee’s knees, but my favorite bar or SIXTEEN never hurt. Gotta love the Sweet Sixteen bar deal at Whole Foods! They know how to hook a girl up.

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I also had to stop by their amazing buffet and grab some of my favorites, without failing to try something new. I make myself get at least one new thing every time. I haven’t not liked one thing yet.

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I need to look further into Spanish customs, but I am hoping to bring some nuts and nut butter with me too!

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I also started a group chat last night with all my Barcelona roommates, as our housing specifications were posted yesterday, and let’s just say, I think we’re all going to get along just fine. On top of all being from different states through out the U.S. and bringing our own little piece of diversity, I had mentioned I wanted to join a gym once we arrived and not one, but all of them expressed how avid they are about staying active and adventurous. We have plans to go hiking, go running in town, travel everywhere, EAT everywhere, visit an ice bar (?), and of course beach it like everyday, while making sure to show each other our gym moves. Oh yeah, and I guess go to class too. There are 6 girls living in my apartment, which sounds a little dangerous, but with these ladies, I couldn’t be more excited!

I’ve been trying my best to eat even better than usual in preparations for las playas de Barcelona. I’m essentially just trying to lean out a little more in my week leading up. In doing this, I’m cutting out coffee, so that includes my coconut or soy creamer and Truvia sweetener, excessive fats (not too much nut butters, nuts or oils!), and carbs past lunch time. I’m also trying to incorporate more green smoothies, teas and water. Hopefully I see a little pay off and if not, that’s okay, I know it’s excellent for my bod.

I forgot how awesome dandelion root is for you! You’ll definitely be finding me downing this tea all week.

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I have yet to start packing. I’ll hopefully get to that tonight. How will I ever fit 6 weeks worth of stuff into one suitcase under 50 lbs?! I don’t really think this will be possible given my history.

Well I need to grab some food before I head to my brother Kyle’s lacrosse game! My thoughts keep taking me to the rest of my Whole Foods fixings.

Talk to all you chowido-ees later!

Where Has the Time Gone?

Hi there all and Happy May (best month)!

As stated in the title…where the heck has the time gone? Really. I can’t believe my last blog post was during spring break. My serious apologies.

Good (sad) news though, my junior year at Virginia Tech is officially done with and my Summer has begun!

Before I move on, I must update you on what you’ve missed out on since we’ve been apart.

  • I’ve been continuing with my sprints weightlifting usually 6 times per week and eating entirely plant-based.
  • I attempted running distance for the first time in 6 months because the weather was so beautiful and found my endurance to not be as strong as it once was, having to slow down much quicker than I remembered. Since then, I have been trying to incorporate more cardio than just sprints into my workouts. I’ve always loved jump roping, so thats been a winner lately.Image
  • Exciting news–I hit 10 months of veganism on May 5!!! Who would’ve thought? Not me. Thats for sure. I will say with final exams and end-of-semester projects and papers to cram for, my routine was thrown a little off whack. That’s life for you, I guess.
  • Oh, and then my 21st birthday happened last Saturday, May 10. That didn’t exactly have me on my A-game either. It was my 21st though. Go hard or go home, right?Image
  • Yesterday, when I arrived home, we celebrated my birthday, Mother’s Day and my mom’s birthday. Its always back-to-back-to-back in my family, and I wouldn’t want it any other way! I got some awesome kitchen supplies for my future homes, bracelet charms, some gift cards and money. I also heard word that a special surprise would be waiting for me upon my arrival back from Spain. You will hear more about that later though. Any how, birthdays are the best.

“Spain?!” you ask? Yes. The rumors are true. I will be departing for España in one week from now, Tuesday, May 20. I am crazy excited for my study abroad trip. I feel so lucky to be able to spend 6 weeks in Barcelona, Spain while earning credit toward my International Business minor. I know this is a once in a lifetime experience, so I am pumped beyond words!

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With all this excitement, I decided to make a blog specifically for my time in Spain. I will be documenting all my adventures and hope that you might tune in to see what I am up to.

Check it out. CHOWIDOSpain :)

I’ve also made the executive decision to consume seafood while in Barcelona, as it is a coastal city specializing in fresh, local seafood dishes, like the famous Paella. It was an extremely difficult decision to make as I’ve grown and become so accustomed to eating plant-based only, fully understanding the plethora of benefits the lifestyle yields to our society and my personal health. With that being said, I also do not want to miss out on the cultural experience of Spain or feel continuously limited as I find means to nourish myself.

Fortunately, I will be living in an apartment with a full kitchen and will have access to the wide variety of Barcelona produce markets, rumored to be some of the greatest and largest in the world. I’ve also done my fair share of vegan restaurant research and since Barcelona is a large city, it boasts its fair share. I will most definitely make sure I make my way to some of those!

As far as exercise in Spain, from the info I have gathered, it seems as though working out is not something of too much popularity in Spain, especially for women. Yes, my jaw dropped too. Everyone is expected to have nice bodies, but being seen working out is apparently against the social norm. The university doesn’t even have a gym! Crazy, I know. Don’t worry though, I have requested recommendations for gyms in the area from my program specialist. I was also told that wearing workout clothes while not working out is socially unacceptable. Goodbye yoga pants? Shorts are also not socially acceptable. However, skirts, dresses and pants are. Goodness gracious, Spain, ya killin’ me.

Well I have a lot to do before I leave next Tuesday, so I better get to it! I’m sure I’ll be making some yummy concoctions and hitting up the  gym while I’m home so be looking out for that.

Chow for now! P.S. It was so nice catching up :)

My Not-So-Typical College Spring Break

Hi, people! Good afternoon and happy Spring!

Last week was my university’s spring break. As many of my classmates were off in some tropical paradise drinking fruity drinks and getting a little wild among thousands of other college kids on a typical ‘college spring break,’ I was at home not doing much, and loving it.

I was initially a little bummed about not actually doing the ‘college spring break,’ but in retrospect, I’m glad I didn’t. All I really needed for my spring break was an actual break; a break from school work, my organization leadership roles, and all the other stresses that come along with being a college student. I got just that.

On top of that, I got to hang out with my amazing family and my little Hudson pup whom I missed so much!

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For a solid week, I hung around my home town in Northern Virginia doing very average things, truly my own simple pleasures. I would wake up, make some breakfast, go to the gym, shower and do whatever else I wanted to do that day, whether it be shopping (missed my NoVA malls!), grabbing lunch with a friend, getting my nails done, going to my brother’s lacrosse games, etc.

Here are some highlights from my week:

I actually had lab work done at my family doctor to insure that I was nutritionally sound as I approach my 9th month of veganism, and guess what? My full nutrition panel came back with beautiful results, as I had suspected ;). Every single nutrient level was on par and I even had a surplus of B12 and Iron! Oh, the irony! (P.S. Creatinine marks simply mean I was slightly dehydrated, as I had just woken up.)

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I’ve never been one to obsess over the number on the scale, especially as I’ve delved deeper into consciousness of health and my body. I can confidently say I weight myself maybe 1-2 times a year, only when I am required to for doctor’s visits. I simply don’t find that number to be beneficial to me. I go by how I feel, how I look and how my clothes fit to determine where I stand. I even figured I had gained weight since I started weight lifting, with all the added muscle mass. Poundage doesn’t determine much in my eyes. Funny thing–I actually weigh slightly less than before. I ranged from 146-150 lbs eating a healthy, balanced omnivorous diet before I began eating plant-based and weight lifting. Check out my current standing!

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I went to the dentist, as well. My teeth are lookin’ good too incase you were curious!

I grabbed lunch with my friend Megan at Cava Mezze and did a little shopping around the Mosaic District afterward. Megan and I are both studying abroad in Spain for a little over 5 weeks this summer, but on different programs. I will be in Barcelona and she will be in Madrid. We booked our flights together though and will be making a few excursions to visit one another. This summer can’t come soon enough!

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And of course with a European trip ahead of me, I had to get some cool European-acceptable attire. My boyfriend Ryan and I headed to the mall and had some shopping fun. I hadn’t been to a mall in months, so this felt like a real treat, especially being at Tysons Corner.

Of course it was a long day of shopping and the two of us eat pretty often, so naturally we packed ourselves some snacks and ate up in the food court among all those eating food court food. You get stares, but who cares! I packed myself a Go Macro bar I had been meaning to try and an apple, and Ryan packed himself an almond butter sandwich on cinnamon raisin Ezekial bread. MMM!

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I went to the gym every morning and was loving all the time I had to do my thang. There was no pressure to get in, get out and head to class, like at school. It was pure work out bliss. I even had some time to take some progress selfies. We all know I love these. I’ve been trying to work on more “muscle separation,” as Ryan has informed me.

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Toward the end of the week, right before I packed up and headed back to school, my mom and I whipped up some scrumptious vegan desserts for me to take back!

Avocado Chocolate Chunk Brownies

Snagged from The Blonde Vegan

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Lemon Ginger Cashew Balls

Recipe posted on previous blog post!

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I also couldn’t go back to school without stopping by Whole Foods to stock up on bars beforehand! How I love being home…and Whole Foods Market. Sweet 16, anyone?

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All in all, my spring break was not that of a typical college student, but typical is boring! All I’m saying is that different is good. Different is what makes an impact. That statement can be pretty generalized, but I’ll leave it at that.

Well, I’m off to enjoy this beautiful day! I am overjoyed that Spring has finally decided to show itself.

Chow for now, and enjoy your weekend all!

Meatout: Take the Pledge!

chowido:

Today is MeatOut day. Do your part!

Originally posted on What I Vegan:

Today, March 20, is Meatout Day!

meatoutlogo_FINALWhat’s that?

Meatout is the world’s largest annual grassroots vegan education campaign. All around the globe, volunteers hold events to ask people to pledge to eat vegan for the day.

It has been celebrated each year since 1985, and this year, there are events from the US to India to France and beyond.

One event will be right here in Charleston!

I’ll be there handing out vegan literature and food samples with some of my Super Veg Support Heroes I met through Charleston Veggies & Vegans.

I’ll be posting pics on Twitter (@what_i_vegan), and check out #meatout for pics and news from all over the world!

Find an event near you, or take the pledge to eat vegan for the rest of the day, once per week, or all year!

mo-counterWhy take the pledge?

For Animals

Around 10 billion animals are…

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The Ultimate Vegan Transformation Tuesday

Happy Transformation Tuesday!

I have never actually done a Transformation Tuesday before, but I figured I would give this one a shot, and I might as well call it an ultimate, right? Go big or go home.

I’ve always regarded myself as a relatively fit individual, but veganism has taken me to greater heights, opened my eyes to the possibilities and the benefits of a plant-based diet. It has become who I am and what I believe in. Veganism has changed me, for the better, forever.

In July 2013, I began eating completely plant based to continue along the journey to better myself, by cutting out all meat, dairy and eggs, which covered almost all processed foods and essentially all unhealthy fats, sugars and salts that comes along with them. In turn, I leaned out and my inner fitness fanatic veganista goddess was revealed. (An 8 month vegan is entitled to goddess status, right?)

I think I can say I’ve undergone a decently grand transformation over the past 8 months or so. Wouldn’t you say?

 June 2013                                                         December 2013

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April 2013                                                          February 2014

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 May 2013                                                              January 2014

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 April 2013                                                                 January 2014

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 June 2013                   December 2013                    February 2014

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It’s so crazy to put all these pictures side to side to compare where I was and where I’m at now. I knew that I felt leaner and more toned, but I didn’t know the extent of the changes my body had endured. Plant power, yo.

Back when I became vegan, I also decided to completely ditch any fake tanning and have learned to embrace my paleness. It’s so easy to get caught up in the fad in college and I’m so shameful to say I did for a little while. Healthy, pale skin is better than wrinkly cancerous, tan skin any day. #palegirlsclub After all, it’s kind of fun to be able to blend with the ground when it snows! ;)

Now I can’t simply give it all up to my diet, although diet is #1 in my book. Last November is when I really began my weight lifting regimen. Before that, I exercised plenty, but it was almost entirely cardio, and cardio will only take you so far. Weight lifting 5-6 times a week and eating 5-6 small plant-based meals a day has gotten me to where I am today, a state of utter veganista bliss.

Oh and trust me, I’m not one of those individuals that simply didn’t care for animal products and so giving them up was no biggie. I would say majority of my daily diet revolved around animals products up until July 2013: eggs/egg whites for breakfast, chicken or seafood for lunch/dinner and greek yogurt for the best snack around. Becoming vegan was a sacrifice, but a sacrifice well worth it.

So yes, eating all plant-based foods has its challenges, but what is something rewarding that doesn’t? I can’t think of something more worth the struggle than improving your health, the environment, others lives and the world as a whole.

You want to make a difference you say? Go vegan.

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And trust me, you’ll see change alright. ;)

Chow for now!

A Typical Vegan Grocery Trip

Good evening, people!

I get requests here and there for certain blog posts, but this has been hands down the most requested, so I figure I’ll give the people what they’re asking for! :)

I often get asked if my groceries are super expensive as a vegan, and to answer that question, yes and no.

Of course natural and organic food brands tend to be pricier, but there is no saying those products need to purchased all the time, and by all means, if you’re on a college budget, let’s hope you don’t purchase them all the time. You just gotta be smart with your purchases. Personally, I am always tempted to buy new natural food items to try and of course my staple favorites, but as a college student, I must be conservative. Keep in mind though, you get what you pay for! Most of these foods are more expensive for good reason.

Think of it like this…would you rather pay a few more dollars now or thousands upon thousands later for open-heart surgery? I know that’s extreme, but heart disease is one of the most common causes of death in America and the source is within your grocery cart!

As far as the bulk of my groceries goes, they are relatively inexpensive. These include my legumes (beans and nuts), grains (oatmeal, quinoa, barley, etc.), fruits and vegetables.

What does add up is keeping myself constantly stalked with fresh fruits and veggies, as we know these items tend to go bad if not consumed in a timely manner so constant replenishment is necessary.

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Colleen’s Typical Grocery List

Food I buy on the reg:

  • Apples
  • Clementines
  • Red grapes
  • Tomatoes
  • Spinach or kale
  • Broccoli or brussels sprouts
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Onion
  • Garlic
  • Bell peppers
  • Hummus
  • Black beans
  • Garbanzo beans
  • Steel cut oats
  • Almond milk

The more expensive items I usually like to buy in bulk and somewhat conserve them (usually at a wholesale store at home):

  • Nut butters
  • Bars (Larabar, KIND, Vega, etc.)
  • Sprouted grain wraps or bread
  • Raw nuts (almonds, walnuts, cashews)
  • Ground flax seed
  • Chia seeds
  • Truvia

Grocery trip frequency

I would say I find myself going to the grocery store about 1-2 times per week, depending on my amount of free time. If I have no time to stop by the grocery store or am running low on funds, I stop by a dining hall salad bar and pick up all the raw veggies I need for the time being to cook meals. Perks of having a meal plan!

Personal updates

This semester is zooming by and I’m busy as ever! This is the last week of classes until spring break. No crazy tropical plans here– just a little bit of refreshing time at home with my family and then a short trip to my family’s house in the Outerbanks with some friends.

This past weekend was an exciting weekend for my sorority, as we had big-little reveal and a date party. Let’s just say fun was had by all!

Meet Lauren, my little! She’s actually a vegetarian, so I guess you could say she’s pretty cool. People also say we look like twins (she’s the one on the left).

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That’s all for now! This girl has gotta head to bed. She has a date tomorrow at 7 AM sharp with the gym and she can’t be late!

Yes, the gym and I have been going strong through out the semester, usually hanging out 5-6 times per week, where we do sprint intervals and weight training. I can’t wait to see where our relationship takes us! I can tell this one is a keeper. ;)

I try to be clever. C-how-I-do?

Goodnight.