Hello! Thanks for checking out my little corner of the interweb.
I’m a Silicon Valley-based vegan certified in Plant Based Nutrition through the T. Colin Campbell Center for Nutritional Studies eCornell Program. I love spreading my passion for whole foods, sustainable living, and fitness! My favorite past times include traveling, hiking with my husband, lifting heavy, and eating copious amounts of sourdough bread.
My health and fitness journey
I began taking an interest in health and fitness my senior year of high school. I’ve always been relatively athletic and never had any weight issues, but my senior year I became a lot more conscious of my appearance. I joined 24 Hour fitness, where I pretty much just ran on the treadmill (lifting weights was a foreign concept at that time), thinking that would get me that really “toned” look. My awareness of my physical fitness heightened when I met a guy who was training for the Olympics. Since he was an elite athlete who spent hours a day training, and was around equally fit women in his sport, I felt this self-imposed pressure to be in great shape in order to keep him interested.
2008-2009: My freshman year in college, I stuck to my regimen of eating what I thought were healthy meals (i.e. whole wheat bagels and low fat cream cheese, taco salads, and Nutrigrain bars as snacks. Lol.), and did workout videos in my dorm pretty much daily. I also went to the campus gym a couple times a week.
2010-2011: My sophomore year I studied abroad (because of the aforementioned guy), and over a six month period I lost close to twenty pounds that I did not need to lose. I won’t get into all the details, but basically it was a combination of a few factors. 1) I didn’t like the food at my school cafeteria in the Netherlands so I didn’t eat much on a daily basis 2) I worked out a lot, walked a ton, and rode a little Dutch bike everywhere while living in Holland, and most importantly 3) I went through a breakup. Unfortunately, it took a huge toll on my mental and physical health. That said, I felt as though the one thing I had “control” over was what I chose to eat and how much exercise I did. I became pretty restrictive and disordered eating took over. I came back to the U.S. looking like a different person which naturally scared and concerned family and friends.
2011-2012: I knew that I needed to fix my skewed perception of myself and my unhealthy relationship with food. I desperately wanted to stop categorizing foods as “good” or “bad”, but it was extremely difficult. My parents told me that I must gain weight, or otherwise see a therapist or go to a clinic which I did not want to do. Now a junior in college, I decided I would the gain weight back by attending BodyPump classes, and built upon that by following various lifting programs. My appetite started to come back, though I still had lingering disordered thoughts. During this period, I was eating extremely low-carb, low to moderate fat, and a TON of protein. Like, an excessive amount. I ate lots of egg whites, tilapia, chicken breast, loads of veggies…the typical bodybuilding diet. And I literally shunned bread. Bread was the devil. And so was sugar. I also dabbled in Martin Berkhan’s concepts of intermittent fasting, in conjunction with tracking calories and macronutrients. I got pretty lean from following that diet protocol. I became somewhat of a recluse since I was such a devout gym goer, and I didn’t go out with friends to bars nearly as much (except when I joined a sorority my senior year) because I couldn’t afford to be hungover and compromise my workouts. Still, I felt that my mental state had improved dramatically. And I was eating more.
After graduating from university and moving to Silicon Valley, I had a brief teaching stint in Poland. I had gained about 30 pounds from my lowest point, but I kept sticking to a low carb diet because it had worked so well to get me lean in college. But my body was rebelling. It clung on to calories because it had been deprived of adequate nutrition for several years. Still, I thought eating carbs would further increase my weight gain, so it was best to stick to a low carb diet. This proved ineffective because I would binge on the weekends, eat loads of carbs and processed food, and then hate myself for losing control of my willpower.
2013-2014: I began Crossfit in 2013, and in parallel with that, started eating a Paleo diet. Again, not eating many carbs (see a trend here?), but rather lots of animal proteins, fats, and veggies. I began to lose some weight after several months of attending 4-5 classes a week, but eventually plateaued and began experiencing lethargy and brain fog while at work. I also wasn’t improving in my workouts. I wanted to try a completely new approach to my nutrition.
Jan 2015- August 2018: I adopted a vegan diet cold turkey in January 2015. And I felt incredible. And light. And had endless energy. Finally, a diet that allowed me to eat large volumes of food, and not to mention, a boatload of carbs! I first adhered to a high carb, low fat vegan diet and ate mostly fruit and veggies with some grains. That began to feel a bit restrictive to me after a while however, and I knew I didn’t want to go down that road again. Fast forward to today. I center my diet around whole, unprocessed plant-based food. And let’s not forget the occasional pint of ice cream thrown in the mix (for those post-workout gains)! I eat what a crave, in reasonable quantities, and as a result have lost a little over ten pounds without trying. In fact, in the past five years, my weight has been extremely consistent and doesn’t fluctuate more than a couple of pounds. Although I’m not quite as focused on lifting super heavy as I was in college, I’m still satisfied with my strength and even more pleased with the endurance I have eating this way.
*Edit: Oct 2018: After sorting through some issues related to eating vegan and for personal reasons, I no longer choose to classify myself as vegan or put a label on how I eat. I still eat a predominately plant-based diet, but now include ethically sourced animal products and have already noticed a substantial improvement in my overall health.
Health is a journey. Our nutritional requirements change throughout the various stages of life, and I’ve come to realize it’s important to be flexible to change, learning to be in tune with our bodies, and nourishing it with as many real, whole foods as possible. Above all else, I believe it’s imperative our mental health is nurtured just as much as our physical health!
Thanks for reading!