Friday, June 18, 2010

T2C: A Day in the Life...

This week, Olivia and I decided to tackle the subject of temptation. What does a typical day in the life of a health nut look like? Here's how we make it through a regular (which often means stressful) day while still staying in the nutritional black.

Olivia ~ Seoul

For a long while, I attempted perfection. I would pledge myself to weeks or months of…whatever I thought I should focus on next. Yoga every day. No sugar. Not surprisingly, this approach almost always backfired as I burned myself out and went clamoring to the cupboards or the couch.

So now I’m learning to balance virtue and temptation. Oh middle path, you’d make Buddha proud. Treats are awesome and perfection is boring, but it all needs to be balanced. This means that a treat must truly be a treat; I have to enjoy it, savoring every moment.

When virtue and indulgence meet:
A pause during a long bike ride to enjoy some wine (and yes, it's wine in a can).

Curious as it may sound, this means planning. How many times have we been tempted by Starbucks/a Snickers bar/insert-craving-of-choice because we were exhausted or hungry or just having a snack attack? I don’t want to waste my treats on situations on like this. I want my indulgences to be about pure pleasure, not a lack of preparedness.

To help make this happen, I try to set up my life to make the healthiest options the easiest ones.

At work: I keep healthy snacks that are likely to satisfy cravings at my desk: packets of toasted & salted seaweed sub in for potato chips, a bag of apples helps me combat a sugar slump, and a container of homemade trail mix gives me a protein boost when I need it.

At home: Our fridge is (almost) always organized with the good-for-you stuff easy to grab. A salad lives on the top shelf with a freshly made bottle of dressing. Everything I need to make my green smoothies is corralled into one part of the fridge door so I can whip it together when I’m still half-asleep.

For fitness: Running shoes are left out, and I try to do a load of laundry when I’m down to my last sports bra or pair of running shorts. The yoga mats stand at the ready against the wall of the living room. If I’m on the fence about going to the gym during a break at work, I bring the sneakers.

Does this mean I always make the healthful choices? NO! In fact, the last 24 hours have been particularly indulgent. But when I splurge, it’s because I want to, not because I’ve left myself without any other option. So today when I left my hummus-topped salad in the fridge at work and headed to Kraze Burger with my fella, it’s because I really wanted to split some damn cheese fries (and drink a Coke, a very rare occurrence), not because I scampered out empty-handed this morning. And I did still get a salad.

I’m not perfect. But I am pretty darn healthy while still leaving wiggle room for some of the less virtuous parts of life.

How do you handle temptation? Do you plan for it? Are you able to resist cravings?

Jen ~ Philadelphia

Although I’ve gotten used to going without coffee (for the most part), processed foods, alcohol, dairy (for the most part), and meat, I still feel tempted on a daily basis. Perhaps it’s the fact that for many people, these elements are commonplace in their diet…and I’m surrounded by subsequent opportunities to cave. It starts the minute I get out of bed when I’m visiting the folks and smell the coffee brewing (and see the non-dairy creamer in their fridge). On a workday, it starts when I reach the office waiting area. Co-workers can be found mingling around the coffee maker while I find myself sometimes pining for joe. If I’ve made it to 10:00 a.m. without succumbing, it’s just a matter of hours before the next hurdle approaches. Lunch is only hard when I haven’t prepared food in advance. There are a few options (emphasis on few) otherwise; my university has great vegetarian options but most are laden with cheese. 3:00 rolls around, the hunger hits, and the bad snacks at work call my name. Dinner is good if I have the energy to make food or if I’m not tired of take-out burritos, salads, or tomato pie (and that’s if the pizzeria has made any that day).

So far I’m not really doing a good job of selling this vegan lifestyle thing, huh?

Thankfully times have changed (since last week). I’ve gotten a buddy on board with food shopping and prepping on a weekly basis. We now meet up with vegan and balanced recipes to vote on, money to split the grocery bill, and sculpted biceps to whip up batches of food to get us through the week. Why didn’t we think of this before?!!

The temptations for coffee and dairy still continue and occasionally I partake. But with support of a fellow health junkie, I’ve got plenty of scrumptious meals on hand that are not only meat and dairy-free but my antidote to gratuitous indulging as well. Once you start eating whole plant-based foods on a regular basis (even in just a few days), you’ll notice your tastebuds and body wanting more!

How do you keep temptation at bay?

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