January 19th – Discipline

One Minute Writer Prompt:
In what area of your life are you the most disciplined?

I would love to say writing, but honestly, I would be deceiving myself on that. I write regularly, but definitely not with as much discipline as I should.

For this question, I would have to go with health and fitness. More so, with my eating. I now keep track of everything I eat from the moment I wake up to the time my head hits the pillow on my bed at night. I don’t always keep a list of every food and drink, but I do know how many calories I have consumed throughout the day. This helps me keep on track with maintaining my weight.

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January 14th – Odds

One-Minute Writer Prompt:
In what way have you beat the odds?

I’d have to say I’ve beat the odds in regards to my health. Just over a year ago, I was obese and completely unhealthy. I never truly felt good or well. It was a miserable way to be living. Finally, I decided to change that. I not only started regularly working out, but I ate healthier and less.

The odds I beat was getting an illness like diabetes and/or shortening my life. I don’t know the numbers that I was up against, but I know that I have prolonged my life by getting healthy and dropping over 70lbs. Feels great to know that I accomplished this for myself.

December 25th and 26th – Gift & Insight

What’s a gift you gave yourself this year that has kept on giving?

The gift of better health. I started to approach the getting healthier and losing weight at the tail end of 2008, but it was the first half of 2009 when I achieved this betterment for myself.
By the summer, I was not only 70lbs lighter, but I was in the best health I had ever been in my life. I felt good and what was inside was showing on the outside. Giving yourself the gift of good health is one of the best things you can ever do for yourself.

Insight or aha! moment. What was your epiphany of the year?

What was my epiphany…. well, this came to me most recently. I believe that it was lingering in the air above me for awhile before, but I just never saw it. Maybe I didn’t want to see it, or maybe I just couldn’t until I was ready. Irregardless, my epiphany pertains to my writing and photography. The writing of course is something I never stopped doing, as I’m always working on some story or another during any given year. However, my photography did end up taking a sabbatical for awhile. Whether this was because I felt uninspired or what, I cannot say. Doesn’t really matter when it comes down to it though. I feel as though my future involves both writing and photography. This is not a new thought, but something about it now just feels different. I feel as though it is more of a realization now that it has ever been. I plan on focusing more on the two combined loves in the coming year than I ever have before. It just feels right.

Life as a vegan

I’ve now been a vegan for just over a month, after having been a vegetarian for a month. My original choice to go vegetarian was a health-related one. Originally, I felt that cutting out meat and eating more veggies would be beneficial to my health and was the next level, so to speak in my healthy living journey. Only way I can explain it is that I felt that it was the right way to go for me. I believe that you need to follow your heart on things and that is just what going veg was for me.

After about two to three weeks of being a vegetarian and still eating eggs and drinking dairy products, I began to do more research about the vegan lifestyle. While I was happy with the fact that I was no longer eating meat, I wanted to learn more. I have friends who are vegan, so I of course already had a general idea of what the lifestyle consisted of, but it was just a basic knowledge. Also, one of those friends told me that while it was great that I had gone vegetarian, that I should read about the production of dairy and eggs. She said that I would be surprised at what I would learn. My friend was very right. I learned that “free-range” eggs are not necessarily so free. I believed that these chickens were allowed to run around “free” on farms and generally be as happy as they could be. Unfortunately, this is not usually the case. While the government does regulate the free-range and organic labeling on food, there are many loopholes in the regulations. The same goes for milk and the cows. These loopholes are used by many an egg or milk producer. This means that the treatment of grass fed cows may not be any different than that of the corn fed ones. This sad reality made me really think. Did I want to contribute to this? Or, did I want to stand up and do what was right?

I chose to stand up. I decided that I could not continue to eat eggs and dairy products and not feel dirty or bad about it. I chose to cease and desist putting anything containing these ingredients in my body anymore. I became a vegan. This in my mind was the one and only way for me to feel good about how I responded to the truth of the food industry and the treatment of animals. Now, I am in no way a perfect vegan. I do not believe there is one. Being a new vegan, I’m learning more and more everyday about the products I normally consume or use in my everyday life. Have I made mistakes and consumed animal products? Yes, I have. Not on purpose, but yes I have. But, once I learn that the product is not vegan friendly, I make sure that I don’t buy or consume it in the future. You live and learn, that is how it goes. Thirty years of eating meat and other animal products means that I am not going to be able to make the right choices right away or all the time. Once I know more; once I have educated myself more on what is okay to eat, I will make less mistakes. I will grow the longer I am a vegan.

A great thing about being a vegan is how calm I feel most of the time. I feel more relaxed than ever before. Whether this is because I have changed my mentality to be this way or whether it has to do with ridding my body of the poisons and artificial things found in animal products, I don’t know for sure. I like to think that it is both. Not consuming those things has helped me clear my head, thus allowing me to be calmer. That is how I see it. Also, I have decided to do all that I can to enjoy life. No, not everyday is great and happy, but it is what you make it. You can decide to not let things bother you more than they have to. You alone decide how to react to a situation. I’m working to be the calmer, happier individual that I have seen in others. I always admired that trait in those that possessed it. I saw this more in North Carolina. There’s just something about those mountains I think that makes one at peace with life. Well, that’s how I like to see it anyway.

December 17th – Word or phrase

A word that encapsulates your year. “2009 was _____.”

2009 was full of changes. Yeah, just can’t go with just one word there. This was a year that started off as a roller coaster of a ride and has continued to go through the ups and downs of the track along the way.

At the start of 2009, I was unemployed and in all honesty, desperate for work of some kind, anything. I had returned to Central Florida from the beautiful mountains and all I wanted was a paycheck every week or two that would pay the bills and help me get back on my own two feet. Thankfully, my prayers were answered not long after the New Year’s ball dropped. On February 2nd, I started my current call center job.

My weight loss journey was still at the forefront of my mind back in January. I had only just begun my weight loss about three months prior, so I still had a ways to go. By April and my birthday, I was close to where I hoped to be, but was seriously struggling with self-image issues. A great support system aided me in getting over that mountain of a challenge and by the summer, I was 70lbs lighter than I was when I began the journey to better health.

Creatively, I’ve gone through good and bad this year. Thanks to Debbie & Joe’s wedding last year, my excitement for photography had returned while I was still in Asheville. After getting my tax refund, I was able to purchase my first DSLR in late April. It quickly began my new “baby.” I was more than excited about showing it off to anyone who would listen to me ramble about it’s awesomeness. In early May, the camera came with me to Asheville for a quick in-and-out trip to collect the remainder of my belongings that another friend was holding for me in her basement. It was a good feeling walking around downtown Asheville with my new camera firmly in hand, even if it was only for a few hours that sunny Sunday afternoon.

Writing-wise, I’ve been through a number of highs and lows this year. When I first got back down to Florida, I told myself that it was a good time to really sit down and write. That I not only had a lot to write about, but that I need to utilize the free time I would now have until I found a job to do just that. Unfortunately, I did not do this. Instead, I found myself depressed and uninspired. I was waiting for inspiration to walk up to me and punch me in the nose. I now know that not only will inspiration not do this, but that I was naive to even think that it might happen in that way. Inspiration usually does not just jump out in front of your car in the road ahead waving its arms wildly. It comes as you are working and doing all that you can. You need to be open to inspiration, not just sitting there calling out its name. So, after months of excuses and not writing more than I absolutely had to, I had nothing but notebooks full of blank pages. Gradually, I got back on the writing wagon and got my butt in gear. While I had been writing prior to NaNoWriMo, it was this event in November that really got my writing ignited again. I now write something everyday again like I had been doing and I feel like I’m not that lazy, procrastinating writer that I was most of 2009.

Another big change in my life this year is that I went vegetarian in October. After having considered this option in the past, never did I seriously think I could or would do it. But, I decided to give it a go for health reasons. I felt that cutting out meat and making myself try new veggie meals would better my health and maybe help me lose the last few pounds that I had been trying to get rid of. After just a few weeks in, I then educated myself about the treatment of animals in regards to dairy cows and chickens, as I was still consuming milk and eggs. As soon as I took in the reality of how free-range was not the free-range I had believed it to be as well as considering my lactose-intolerance situation, I gave up anything animal derived. I am now a vegan. Admittingly, I am still working on the lifestyle part of being a vegan (getting rid of leather shoes and what have you), but I no longer eat anything that comes from an animal. I am happy about my choice to become vegan and feel better than ever for it. Definitely no regrets in the slightest.

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This blog post is in response to Gwen Bell’s Best of 2009 Blog Challenge.