Before we even dive into my eating habits I need to take a second (or ten) to shed some much-needed light on the following “this is how I eat” blog post. First and foremost, please know that this post is all about my journey through the food jungle and how I choose to eat on the other side. Its purpose is to inspire you to explore your own nutrition choices and remind you that to define ‘plant-based’ is sort of up to you, sort of not. I promise to be less ambiguous as we continue. So, let’s get to the meat (wink, wink) of my article. Without further ado, drum roll, please… here’s why I choose a plant-based lifestyle.
When I get right down to it, plants are pretty magical. Modern medicine spends a lot of time trying to mimic plant magic. Did you know that the synthetic version of Methyl Salicylate, also known as wintergreen, is a member of the same plant family as mint and is the primary ingredient in aspirin? See, chemically-made magic that exists naturally in nature. That is just one simple example of how you can use your plant-based diet to help holistically treat muscle and joint pain.
This type of pain is what I experience a lot as a spin instructor now, but it was actually a different type of physical suffering that first led me on my plant-based crusade. I used to spend a lot of my life suffering; I was tired, sick, overweight and quite frankly, miserable. Admittedly, some of this had to do with very poor lifestyle choices, but most of it had to do with the fact that I was basically living off hotdogs, cupcakes and American cheese.
I wish I could say that I had an a-ha strike of clarity, declaring “screw you processed foods, we’re breaking up and I’m only eating plants,” but I didn’t. I did, however, begin to understand the direct connection between my physical wellbeing and my food. I realized that a more plant-based diet gave me more vitality, energy and a ‘let’s slay today’ attitude. This self-discovery phase led me to the diet I follow today, though if I am craving a cupcake (because we all have those days that only a buttercream-topped cupcake is going to do it), then I eat the dang cupcake. Balance, friends.
To me, plant-based eating is basically the process of basing my meals around plants like vegetables, fruits and things that don’t have eyes. Yes, I know potatoes have eyes, but those are the exception! This might look like a huge salad á la arugula, tomatoes, avocado and some dreamy extra virgin olive oil topped with pink Himalayan sea salt and a can of tuna. Plant-based. Not just plants. See the difference?
That little tuna on top curveball is why I don’t label myself vegetarian or vegan. In fact, I try to steer away from conforming to any labeled diet or eating lifestyle because I find it restricting and full of guilt. Though I have found a loose definition of “plant-based” that works for me, you may have one that means only eating plants. That works too. Because here’s the major takeaway: Listen to your body and nourish it the way it wants!
I am a group fitness instructor, former fat kid and all around body-positivity-self-love-is-the-best-love advocate. I sweat a lot. I used to eat a plants-only plant-based diet. For two whole years, it was fulfilling, education and magical. Then one day, I woke up and my body was like, “Yo dude, we need some animal protein,” and I listened.
Learn more about how protein can boost your productivity at work.
So where does this leaf us? Pun, very much intended. I fill my plate with plants first and all the other things second. I find that by focusing on adding those things to my plate it leaves less time subtracting the hotdogs, cupcakes and American cheese because there isn’t room for it anymore.
The way we eat is very personal. In fact, food culture is so personal that I can’t even bear the thought that you’re judging me or anyone else around their eating habits. Yes, I would love it if you took the time to consider putting all the plants on your plate, but only because I know how it changed my life. Whether you eat plant-based, only plants, no plants or something in between, please remember that your food choices are yours. Have fun with it, discover what is best for your body and on the days you want a cupcake, I’ll always remind you that you can have your (cup) cake and eat it too.