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 :

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.

My Healthy Valentine

Happy Sunday, everyone! I hope everyone’s weekends were enjoyable and snow-filled, like mine (just a casual 20 inches)!

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I figured I would give you guys a recap on my Valentine’s Day, since my day was probably spent a little differently than most.

After a very snowy few days and two unheard of snow days given by Virginia Tech, I was getting a little irritable spending so much time indoors with no way to get around. There was some snow trekking and sledding, but there’s only so much you can do outdoors when it’s blizzarding on ya.

Naturally, I was even more excited than usual to go to the gym. Two days without working out definitely got to me. Once you’re so used to going everyday, just a little time apart feels like an eternity. First thing in the morning, Ryan and I finally were able to head to the gym for our routine Friday workout, leg day, both of our favorites!

Leg Day

  • 5×12 squats
  • 5×12 leg presses
  • 5×12 leg extensions
  • 6×10 Romanian dead lifts
  • 4×10 (each leg) step ups
  • 4×10 (each leg) walking lunges
  • 3×15 leg curls
  • 4×20 front squats
  • 3×20 calf raises

I’ve been upping all of my sets, as well as weight little by little. I can tell I’m definitely getting stronger. I’m sure doing legs twice a week helps a great deal too!

I thought this was funny and kind of ironic.

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A little later in the day, after Ryan dug out my snow buried car, we went grocery shopping to pick up some things for our plans to cook dinner together later that evening.

It can get a little complicated when cooking both for a vegan and non-vegan, but after careful deliberation on what dish to cook, we decided on a quinoa stir fry. I decided to go the Italian spicing route, as that tends to always be a favorite of mine.

We chopped up tomatoes, onions,  and garlic and placed them in a pan with spinach and a drizzle of olive oil, turned it on medium-low and let it cook while the quinoa did the same. I added in some fresh rosemary and ground black pepper to the mix as well.

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My handsome chef!

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Once both the quinoa and veggies were cooked, we poured the veggies into the quinoa pot and stirred.

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Ryan asked me to give him a 10 minute countdown before the dish was ready, so he could put on a steak for himself to add to the mix. We both agreed it didn’t really go with the meal, but what can ya do? Boys love their steak.

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It was a lovely, relaxing night in and with such a delicious, healthy valentine meal that suited both the vegan and non-vegan appetite.

Sometimes it is challenging to always be around someone that is constantly consuming all of the foods I have given up for so many reasons, as I’m sure it is hard for him to be around someone that doesn’t eat what he does. It’s all about respect though. We both maintain very healthy lifestyles, but with different healthy diets. Ryan promised me that he would try being vegan with me for a week or so over the summer, so that’s something! I will take what I can get. A few documentaries, some plant-based research articles and decadent vegan dishes and who knows what will come of it? ;)

Since we didn’t get a cute Valentine pic, here’s one from last night before we headed to one of my sorority sister’s birthday party. Prom pose of course!

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Well that’s all for now! I need to get to my studying, as it’s been a lazy Sunday so far. At least I wrote a blog post, right? That’s gotta count for something.

Until next time! Chow.

7 Months Vegan Feels Pretty Darn Good

As you might have guessed, today marks 7 months on my 100% plant-based journey. And golly gee, does it feel good! Besides the fact that 7 is my lucky number, I would say this is a pretty grand feat.

There are so many incredible things about consuming only foods from the earth that give me such an electric sense of pride.

Over the past few months, I’ve grown to love the question, “why did  you go vegan?” a question I once got a little nervous answering because I was still figuring it out myself. All I knew then was that I was doing good and enjoyed it. I luckily have a little bit more knowledge under my belt now.

So WHY AM I VEGAN you ask? Well, let me tell you!

  • My own personal nutrition: I’m the healthiest I have ever been in my entire life. Plant-based foods are the most nutrient dense foods known to man, packed full of every nutrient (phytonutrient poppin’) you could ever want or need. Nutritionally, I am missing absolutely nothing from my diet. If anything, I am intaking even more vital nutrients than I was before. Without all the extra fluff (sugars, fats, etc.) in my foods, I am able to stay lean and am able to live super comfortably (aka I can eat all the food I want) without any gain. I’m also very physically active and do a good deal of weight training, so I need lots of energy to perform adequately. My food keeps my body performing at its potential and looking good while doing it. Food is fuel. If you put exceptional, high quality fuel into your engine, your body will only output that of the highest quality. Why put anything less into your system?

Here’s my handy dandy vegan nutrition chart if you were curious to see the wholesome breakdown!

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  • The environment: I’ve reduced my eco-footprint. When I first decided to go vegan, it was honestly not for any environmental reason at all. It was solely for me. After educating myself as I went along, watching documentaries, reading books and articles, it hit me. Veganism is something greater than myself. It’s about people changing their ways as our world continues to change. The world population is rapidly increasing and with that, our resources are not doing the same. At the same time, carbon is being emitted into the atmosphere left and right and causing a serious detriment to our society. Did you know that the livestock instrustry emits more green house gases into the atmosphere than the transportation industry does? If everyone would simply eat less meat, our world’s current environmental burden could at least be partially lessened. Some people are unfortunately unaware, but then there are others that simply turn their head to this rising issue. All I’m saying is if I can make a small change in my life to help the world out, why wouldn’t I? I mean it’s been so good to me. It only seems fair.happy_earth
  • Animal cruelty: I don’t have to feel sorry for my food. The documentary Vegucated first englightened me to what actually goes on behind closed doors in the livestock industry. The truth behind these mass producing animal farms would leave anyone disturbed.  Intelligent animals are often kept in cramped and filthy conditions where they cannot move around or perform their natural behaviors. At the same time, many suffer serious health problems and even death because they are selectively bred to grow or produce milk or eggs at a far greater rate than their bodies are capable of. Regardless of how they were raised, all animals farmed for food meet the same fate at the slaughterhouse. This includes the millions of calves and male chicks who are killed every year as ‘waste products’ of milk and egg production and the animals farmed for their milk and eggs who are killed at a fraction of their natural lifespan. The fact is that this is so disgustingly unnecessary. In no way do we need animal products to feed or clothe ourselves. Choosing a vegan diet is a daily demonstration of compassion for all these creatures.

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  • It’s delicious: Everything I eat tastes [and usually looks] amazing. I’ve developed a passion for cooking, or concocting as I like to say, and experimenting with plant-based recipes has been one of my favorite past times. I don’t just eat these things because they’re good for me. I eat them because they taste freakin’ delicious. Once you’re familiar with the plant-based staples and start exploring new herbs, spices and different techniques to prepare meals, it gets exciting. I get asked often if I miss certain foods in the typical American diet, but I honestly don’t. There are so many options and alternatives that are 110% better for you. There’s absolutely no reason to go back. In reality, I feel that those who eat the typical American diet are missing out on the amazingness of a plant-based diet, whether it be the foods, the taste or the way it makes you feel. There are so many mouth watering options, and as long as I keep up with my fellow plant-based foodies on social media, I know my taste buds will never got bored and my tummy will never be hungry.

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…or if I want to be a smart pants, I answer “because I know too much.” And then they start thinking I’m Charles Darwin, Benjamin Franklin, Einstein, Ghandi or someone of the sort. I then let them know they aren’t too far off, as all of these brilliant political and cultural figures were vegan. I’m just here trying to follow after some of the most brilliant minds of all time. I feel like they might have known what’s up.

Now I don’t know if I’ll stay vegan for life, but at this point, it doesn’t sound like a bad idea. The only question that ever comes to my mind anymore anyways is “why shouldn’t I be vegan?” Crickets.

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This 7 month strong vegan is out.

Ya c-how-I-do? ;)

So Spring Semester Starts

Hey strangers!

I haven’t posted since the beginning of the year, so I sincerely apologize for that. I would say that I promise to never let that happen again, but you know what? Sometimes life just happens. I will, however, try to be better!

Well, this semester finally seems to be in full swing, and I have already gotten into a weekly routine, which leaves me at ease as a serious creature of routine.

I never technically posted about the final results for that so called “challenge” I put myself up to, but boy am I pleased! Weight training 4-6 days a week for approximately 3 weeks during winter break seriously paid off.

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Being able to notice the changes in my body, whether it be my tighter abs, lifted glutes, more defined legs and arms, or any of the other wonderful differences, made getting up at 5:25 AM to go to the gym before my internship so worth it.

Here are the workouts I followed over winter break that gave me such great results (created by Ryan, my trainer boyfriend)! As you can see, there are only 4 workouts here. Most all weeks I did two leg days, as that is definitely my favorite, and therefore my preferred muscle group to work. If I were to workout for a sixth day in the week, I would do a cardio day.

WBWL Challenge

With time, I have added sets and reps to these workouts, since I’m gaining strength. Once that super intense workout becomes less challenging than before, that’s when you know you’ve gotta step it up! Ya gotta feel the burn or you’re not doing it right!

Well, those three weeks of winter break just weren’t enough for me. Now that I’m in the swing of this weight training business, I can’t stop. And I won’t stop. ;)

After being early to bed (10PM-ish) and early to rise all through out break, it made the transition to early morning, before class workouts a breeze. I have been doing my very best to get up and head straight to the gym, usually around 6:45 AM–a whole 1 hour and 20 minutes later than what I had been doing! Working out first thing in the morning allows me to get my workout over and done with (although I enjoy it when I’m there) and feel nice and energized for my day. Feeling the soreness from my workout earlier in the morning gives me such a sense of accomplishment as I go through the hustle and bustle of my day. Plus, its an excellent way to beat the mid-day and evening crowds! I know I’m not a fan. I highly doubt you are either.

I would say the hardest part about getting up at wee hours in the morning has been the cold weather. The walk from my apartment to my car and then my car to the gym has been the biggest struggle, especially during record lows. :/ It’s all worth it though!

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Since I’ve been back at school, I’ve been working out 5-6 times per week at about 1 hour and 15 minutes per work out. I always begin with sprint intervals on a treadmill or on the track and go at that for about 10-15 minutes. This way, I get my supercharged cardio warm-up in, burn tons of calories and build muscle all in less than half the time of a prolonged endurance run. Afterward, I head to the weights to begin my muscle group workout for the day.

It’s a great little routine I have going on. I have a feeling I will probably stick with it for a while!

As far as food, I’ve been keeping with my deliciously nutritious plant based diet, and I wouldn’t have it any other way. I have been meaning to try some new vegan recipes lately, but haven’t found time in the midst of sorority recruitment, classes beginning, sorority new member events and being President of my business fraternity, but I will make time soon, don’t worry. Otherwise, I have been eating lots of the usual oatmeal, nuts, nut butters, beans, lentils, fruits and tons of veggies! Same old yummies.

Here are a few foods I have prepared since I’ve been back at school.

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All of these food pictures above were snagged from my newly created healthy living Instagram account @chowidohealth. I figured it was about time to separate my personal account from my high passionate health posts. Feel free to follow and enjoy!

Well it’s getting to be past my bedtime here in Blacksburg. I have my all time favorite muscle group, legs, to work tomorrow, so I gotta get some shut eye!

See ya soon, but Chow for now.