This week on the Five Fs: 7-day vegan challenge

Readers, it’s that time of year again. Summer has arrived abruptly (I slept with my window open for the first time last night) and the call of nature… calls.

There’s fresh food everywhere and the renewal of my commitment to striving for a healthy, sustainable, kind lifestyle.

Unfortunately, I’m at that age where everyone eats out all the time. And while I like cooking, it’s easy to fall back on chips and bagels as means of nourishment. I also struggle with kindness in eating sometimes; it’s hard to verify that all the meat I eat is ethical, and there’s so much societal pressure to ignore the realities of our food. It’s easy to be disconnected from our food and our bodies, and hard to stay mindful.

Enter Leo Babauta’s 7-day vegan challenge! I love reading his blog, zenhabits; if you don’t already read it, you should. And while you’re at it, try the 7-day challenge with me! I’m more of a bursty person than a sustained activity person (I’ll go crazy and clean the whole house, then not do anything but the most basic chores for weeks and weeks, for example), and I enjoy short, intense challenges like this one. And, of course, blogging about it.

As a side note, I’ve tried to do a weeklong cleanse before, and it didn’t go so well. But that’s because the Male Compatriot and I decided on a whim while out of town that we should spend one week vegan, raw, gluten- and drug free. Which meant quitting coffee cold turkey after years of using the coffee machine as an alarm clock. We loaded up the car with a random hodgepodge of veggies with a vague plan to eat tons of salad, and by Thursday we caved and had a salami sandwich.

This time around I’m doing more planning. I’m keeping cooking, gluten and coffee in my diet (though not alcohol) and making sure I buy to fit my meal plan, not planning my meals to fit what I bought. So tune in the week of 5/5 — 5/12 for my spin on some fantastic vegan recipes.

I’m not a big fan of imitation things; I like my tofu to be tofu, not tofurky or facon. I like my black beans to be black beans, not burger patties. So my recipes will be focusing on that. They will also likely be mostly Americanized-Asian and Americanized-Latin cuisine, especially dinners, because that’s what I love to eat, and what I have found easiest to healthenate.  Also smoothies and fancy oatmeals.

The other half of this week, and the weeks to come, will involve fitness.

I gained a good deal of weight this winter, what with having no actual need to go outside when it’s snowing, and succumbing to the lure of playing video games all weekend and watching the snow fall while drinking beer and cider.

No big deal, though, I don’t like watching the scale. I mean, sure, I don’t fit into my jeans anymore, but so what? I’m thin already, an extra 10-15 lbs isn’t the end of the world. I am a huge believer in not obsessing over weight, and instead just accepting yourself. I mean, I can tell that I’m heavier, and stepped on a scale to confirm it, but I’m not going to freak out and stop eating.

Unfortunately, last weekend I took a late-night 2-mile sprint (without stretching. Oi), went dancing all night, and hopped into a canoe for an overnight (very cold) camping trip by boat. Great stuff, stuff that last year I could do without a second thought. Heck, for my 22nd birthday we backpacked down into a canyon at midnight carrying a huge tent and about 30 lbs of beer down ropes, spent the day climbing rocks and soaking, climbed back up and spent the same night clubbing in Vegas — no problem, and that was way more strenuous.

But when I woke up this past Sunday, I couldn’t walk. My calves had turned into an unholy clump of pain and suffering. It was as though someone had snuck into my tent, shortened my hamstrings by about 3 inches, and then tied them back to my ankles. Apparently I overtrained the heck out of myself without realizing exactly how sedentary I’d become.

I spent three days in my office chair, hobbling back and forth from my desk to my room — I’m incredibly glad our trip was by boat, so I could sit and paddle. Not sure how I’d have made it back if there had been hiking involved.

So I will be getting myself back into shape over the next couple of months, and posting exercises that I’ve done during the week. I hope to provide a sensible program that maybe others can follow, to do it without resorting to Pinterest-style infographics featuring giggly women in underwear, and to make inspirational content without using phrases like “It’ll be worth it when people tell you how good you look.”

Because really, being fit is about what you can do — the visuals are just a nice reminder of the power of your own body.

I’m very excited about the vegan challenge, and about adjusting my lifestyle to fit my new sedentary work schedule. Hooray for summer!



  1. ahappylass

    Sounds like an awesome challenge. The 7-days vegan I mean. (although your Grand Canyon trip sounds epic) One of my goals for May is to do at least one veggie and one vegan day per week. So far so good!

    • Jessie

      Nice! That’s probably a more sustainable way to make a change to your diet. I may copy you when the challenge is over. I like the thought of transitioning to a healthier lifestyle but I’m not sure I could go vegan cold tofurky.

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