Monday, May 23, 2011

Juice Fast Review

 Just a quick little post before I head into work. I've had a busy weekend; first with the juice fast then all the fun we had after breaking the juice fast! I will post more pics and details later but I did want to comment on how I've felt since breaking the fast.

 When I broke the fast I could technically eat anything I wanted. Strangely, though, I only wanted fruit and vegetables (juices to be exact). I remember thinking "I could have anything I want, but I'm eating a salad?!" I also remember thinking that I didn't feel that much different after my fast, but apparently I didn't know exactly all it had done. The morning after I broke the fast, not only was I not hungry, but when I became hungry all I wanted was carrot or apple juice. I juiced and had a green smoothie for breakfast and lunch, and dinner was great, but I got full quickly.

 It's been a few days since the fast has been over and in general, I feel good. I was able to go to the gym today and we've spent a lot of time outside enjoying the sun and good weather. In retrospect, it was mentally hard to make it through the fast, but I made it, and now I crave healthier foods in general.

 If anyone is thinking of doing a fast, I encourage you to do try it. In the very least, it will show you were you stand with will power!

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Juice Fast Day 4

 Well, day 4 is coming to a close and this fast is almost behind me.

Yesterday was hard to get through but somehow, I made it.

This morning I woke up and was going to get beets from the store so I could drink beet juice all day but I was too tired to go to the store, so instead I just drank carrot juice, apple juice, lemon juice, and a mixture of apple/celery juice.

 My day looked a lot like this:
and this:

And this:
 and a little bit of this:

 In the afternoon, we took the tram uptown and walked around in the sun. It was a beautiful day and we enjoyed being out in the sun, but for some reason all I could think about was food. I started to get really tired, and cranky. On the drive home I thought I was going to fall asleep. When we got home, all I could do was crawl into bed and fall asleep.

  Even typing this now, I still feel a little tired, a little groggy, and a little dissapointed. I know I made it farther than The Boyfriend did with this fast, and even farther than I did last time I tried this (last fall when we only made it one day) but for some reason I envisioned myself lasting a lot longer and feeling a lot better. Let's face it: fasting isn't easy, and thoughts of food become all-consuming. I could never cut it as a starving artist or homeless person.

 Last night I made it through the night by telling myself to imagine it like any other challenge I would face in life. Yes, it may be painful and hard at times, but the pain won't last forever, and this too shall pass. When I'm running races, there are times I want to stop, but I don't. I push through and somehow cross that finish line, and the resulting feeling is worth it. I imagined feeling somewhat the same with this fast; knowing that yes, it was hard, but proud to have made it through.

 But that's not how I feel. The problem is, I don't think I will ever feel good "enough" to bring this fast to an end. When would I finally call it over? When I feel clean enough? When I feel like I've lost enough weight? When I feel like I've detoxed (from a life that was almost entirely clean to begin with?) Is it over tonight, on Saturday night, when I go to sleep, meaning I break it Sunday morning? Or is it over Sunday morning, after I've already juiced? Is it over Sunday night, after juicing all day, and then I eat food for the first time on Monday?

 I had wanted to do a 4 day fast, and technically that means I'm done tonight. Therefor we have decided to bring this fast to an end and I will eat food tonight. Partly because I don't think I will ever be satisfied with how this fast ends, and partly because if I stop now I can salvage what's left of this weekend and not spend it being entirely cranky and hungry.

In general, I don't feel that much different. I guess the dissapointment comes in because I was expecting to feel like I participated in this huge detox and cleanse. Overall, I feel the same. I don't feel like I detoxed. I feel the same, except maybe hungry. Perhaps it did more good than I'm giving it credit for and I just haven't noticed yet, and maybe my internal organs are thanking me for giving them rest for 4 days. Only time will tell...

Friday, May 20, 2011

Juice Fast Day 3

Juice fast day 3: Carrots

Today has been rough.
I'm cranky and want to eat.
I've slept,
worked out at the gym,
went on a long walk,
spent time with dogs,
and relaxed.
Nothing takes away this cranky mood.
I've juiced carrots, juiced more carrots,
and then juiced some more carrots.
I'm still cranky and want to eat food.
All I can think about is all the food I am going to eat when I am done juicing.

If I'm still doing this juice fast by tomorrow, I'll post about day 4.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Juice Fast Day 2

Day two of our juice fast: Lemon day.
We bought three bags of lemons and have just now finished the first bag, and the day is almost over. Oops. Lemon juice is much more concentrated than you think it is, and it's hard to juice more than two lemons at a time. I wonder if lemons freeze, because we will definitely have leftovers!

This is two juiced lemons and one cup of distilled water, aka, my breakfast:

Recap of our feelings on day two:
 I woke up early (8 am) to go to the dentist after going to bed around 4 am. I was surprisingly awake, despite never getting up that early, and I felt good. My stomach felt empty, but not ravenously hungry. I quickly juiced one lemon and put it into my water bottle to take with me. When I came home I juiced two lemons (the above picture) and drank it slowly. Throughout the day I have continued to drink lemon water. This afternoon we went to the park and laid on a blanket and read in the sun. It's really sunny out, but there's a cool breeze and there wasn't any humidity, so laying in the sun soaking up some vitamin D was completely do-able.

 I regret to report that The Boyfriend has broken his fast and he ate regular food. He was completely cranky and unable to last any longer. No sooner did he devour a huge bowl of oatmeal than there was a smile on his face and he was more human-like. I, on the other hand, am still going strong with the fast and haven't ate solid food since Tuesday evening.

 Dominant feelings today include energy, mental strength, relaxation, and a feeling of lightness. I don't have any weird tastes in my mouth yet and the dentist even commented on how strong and clean my teeth are. She asked what my secret was; I of course told her about my vegan lifestyle :)

I really thought I would be struggling more with this juice fast. Last time I did it, I was constantly hungry and thinking about food. This time I hardly notice I'm doing a juice fast. I think this is entirely due to the fact that I incorporated juices and green smoothies into my day and only had one meal of raw food each day in preparation for this fast. Last time I did the fast, I wasn't eating vegetarian, vegan, or raw food. I went from eating a meat and dairy filled diet to juice fasting for a week. In retrospect, what was I thinking? And how in the world did I survive the entire week?

 This time is much, much easier and although there are times I find myself wondering what to make for dinner or wandering into the kitchen to eat, overall it isn't that hard. In my moments of weakness I find it helps to repeat a mantra. It could be a word, or a saying that you repeat to yourself. Mine is "the body will follow the mind", which tells me it's all in my head and if I get my mind right, my body will follow. Hunger is just a physical feeling, and it doesn't last forever.
In the words of my wise Dad, "This too shall pass..."

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Juice Fast Day 1

  I have always been a person who likes challenges. Whether it's training for a big race, moving to a new state, or starting a new job, I have a problem saying no and backing down. When presented with the opportunity to try something new or go somewhere new, I usually jump in feet first and become passionate about it from the get-go.

 I recently challenged myself to train for another half marathon while having a busy spring full of traveling out of state almost every weekend all the while working full night night shift. Now that those activities have wound down and I am back to normal, I find myself yearning for another and more intense challenge: a juice fast.

 I did a juice fast years ago while in college and it was the most mentally challenging thing I have ever done. Even when the body stops feeling hungry, the natural urge to spend time eating doesn't go away, and the desire to keep opening the fridge never stops. My Dad warned me ahead of time that even though we are drinking our calories and may not feel hungry, our mind still thinks we should be chewing, and a few days into it we just desire to physically munch on food. In addition to this, food media is all around us, taunting with billboards, commercials, mailings, internet, etc.

 Last week I realized that this weekend's plans had changed, so I knew what I wanted to spend my time doing. I have been eating more raw foods lately so I knew the transition into a juice fast would be less alarming to my body. I have no idea how long I will last or the obstacles I will be presented with this time, I only know I have a fierce desire to complete it and a firm resolution to see it through.

 I also believe that sometimes it's good to rest the body and stop overloading it with sugar, salt, carbs, and junk. A cleanse feels good for the body and the mind. Perhaps more than resting the body I am looking forward to resting my mind through meditation, prayer, yoga, and relaxation. I've heard it before and it bears repeating: nursing is more than a physical job, it's mentally and emotionally draining. It's hard to not get involved with people's lives when family members are literally hanging onto your arm crying, and it's hard to not think about your patients when you go home after you spent the last 12 hours standing at the bedside keeping them alive. It's even harder to be the one who turns off the ventilator and has to stand there waiting for your patient to gasp their last and final breath. I was told that ICU nurses burn out faster than other nurses because of the stress of the job, and although I do love my job intensely, I can see how that statistic is true. I don't want to be another burnt-out nurse, so I know this cleanse and relaxation weekend is necessary for both my physical and mental health.

 I prepared myself for the juice fast by eating only raw foods for 4 days prior to the start of the fast. From Saturday to Tuesday I drank vegetable juice and green smoothies throughout the day and had one very large salad for dinner. It also helped that I was working all of these days because I slept the entire day away and then packed a salad for dinner at work. The typical day looked like this for me:
Wake up at 4 pm, juice carrots, apples, cucumbers or celery. Two hours later make a large green smoothie which consisted of spinach or other greens, bananas, strawberries, almond milk, and chia seeds. Two hours later, eat a piece of fruit like a peach or pear. Two hours later eat my large salad for dinner. Four hours later eat a piece of fruit for breakfast, go to sleep. Repeat each day. Even if you didn't work night shift, you could still incorporate this into your day shift routine. Simply start the day with green smoothies or juices, and drink them all day long until your one large meal of raw fruits and vegetables. Don't get all hyperactive wondering "where you get your protein" from. Woo-sah through it and pick something else to be anal about.

Day 1:
 This morning when I came home from work I went to bed and slept for about four hours. I awoke hungry and heard the juicer already running. The Boyfriend was juicing apples, the fruit we decided we would juice for the entire first day. Originally we bought two large bags of apples but ended up going out again for three more bags. Years ago I made the mistake of not juicing enough, and I don't want that to be an issue this time around.

All in all we bought three bags of red delicious apples, one bag of gala apples, and one bag of fuji apples. We also bought 8 jugs of distilled water as this is an important component as well.

 After a few glasses of apple juice I was full and we decided to go to the library. I love reading but haven't had the time as of late. We recently got library cards so we spent some time picking out books we would like to read this weekend. Upon returning home I took a nap and The Boyfriend went to work. I slept well and had one very vivid dream.

 I woke up a few hours later feeling hungry again, so I juiced two more glasses of apple juice. The Boyfriend came home from work and we took an easy, one mile walk with the dog. When we got home, I felt energized so I did thirty minutes of yoga. Since then I have juice two more glasses and we will probably go to bed shortly.

How we feel:
 The Boyfriend, who is doing the juice fast right alongside me, has been cranky pretty much all day. If anyone knows him they know he is very quiet, calm, and easy going. However, today he has been short tempered and irritable. I feel the exact opposite: calm and happy. I know we will go through our detox's at different speeds and experience things at different times. If I remember correctly, my irritable days were around day 3 and 4, and by that time, The Boyfriend may be feeling great. It is mentally and physically painful to rid your body of toxins, but we know this will soon pass and we will reap the benefits.

 Although it will be hard to do, I won't be reading other food blogs this weekend for the sole reason that it is simply too hard to look at food. I will be updating my blog each night with details of that day's fast, and I look forward to any questions you all may have and I would love any comments or encouragement you feel so inclined to leave.

 We are so excited to embark on this challenge!  It feels so great to have someone to go through life experiences with, and we look forward to learning how to support each other while also challenging our mind and resting our body at the same time. We hope you enjoy our journey as much as we do!

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Juice Fasting

 I know I have been MIA- working night shift does that to you. But today I have come out of my dark dungeon, for one night at least. Tomorrow night it's back to working night shift, but there is an end in sight: four days off next week.
 Next weekend is the half marathon that I have been training for. I've gotten up to ten miles twice and ran it in great time (for me), but then discovered some sad news. The person I was going to run the race with is having some health problems and is unable to run. I know I could technically drive 10 hours to run the race by myself, but what's the fun in that. The whole reason I was going to go up North to run was so that we could run it together, otherwise I would have just ran one down here by myself. There is a silver lining in this cloud. Even though the race is off, now I have four days off work and nowhere to go! Perfect timing for a juice fast!

 Years ago when I was in college, my Dad had a doctor design a 7 day juice fast for him. Each day was a different fruit or vegetable juice and each day you drank only that juice and sipped on distilled water. It looked something like this:
 Day 1: Apples
 Day 2: Pineapple
 Day 3: Lemons
 Day 4: Carrots and celery
 Day 5: Beets
 Day 6: Greens
 Day 7: Distilled Water

 On the 8th day, you had raw vegetables and a cup of brown rice throughout the day as you eased your body back into real food. My parents did this fast together and said they felt great. Each fruit or vegetable is designed to detox a different organ. For instance, pineapples for the stomach, apples for the intestines, beets for the heart. This sounded great to me, and I talked about it with Dad at length. The next time we got together, my parents surprised me with a very nice present: my first juicer. I went home armed with the papers on the fast and my new juicer, determined to have a successful fast.

 Upon starting my fast, a couple things were made quite obvious to me right away. First, while my parents had each other to lean on, I had no one. I was living with two college roommates and they had to eat, so they were cooking dinner and eating Chipotle in front of me, and that made it was very hard to stay strong. I ended up on the phone with my Dad several times a day doubting my will power and expressing my desire to eat food.
 The second obstacle in my path was the fact that I was working full time at the hospital. My parents didn't work, exercise, or do anything strenuous during their fast, as instructed by the doctor. During a fast it's most important to relax, do some light walking or yoga, and rest. I was on my feet at the hospital from 8-5 five days a week because I was doing my preceptorship.
 The third thing was how much I juiced (or, didn't). Being a poor college student and not getting paid to do my preceptorship, each quarter I was living off the leftover pennies of my student loan. One time when I went to the grocery story to get my veggies for the day, I got one pineapple and a few lemons. Looking back, I wasn't consuming enough calories, which is probably why I was so hungry. My Dad said I should not have ever felt hungry.  He said to juice a lot, and all throughout the day, and whenever you feel hungry.

 So looking back and seeing the things I would change, I think now is the perfect time to do another fast. I have a partner to do it with, I have the time off work, and I have the funds to buy enough produce so I don't starve my face off. It's also best to do a fast during the warm months, which it is now. So while I'm sad I won't be running the half marathon, I'm excited for the opportunity to be able to do this. So far this Spring I have been traveling, traveling, traveling and working. It will be so nice to take a weekend to re-focus, rejuvenate, and relax. I also want to do it because I feel like I have slowly been eating more salty food, processed food, and sugary food. Add a few alcoholic beverages in the mix every now and then and you get one awful-feeling body!  I would love a cleanse and have been wanting to do one for months now but haven't had the consecutive days off work.

 The only question I have now is which juice fast to do. Like I said, the last one I did was seven days long, and I only have four days this time.

Have you ever done a juice fast? Do you recommend it? Is it online so I can look it up? Or do you remember it? Any help on this would be greatly appreciated. My other option is to choose a few days from the above fast and just leave out the rest. (I can tell you right now which days I would cut out, and it would be greens and distilled water day!) Green smoothies are delicious, green juice is nastier than dirt.

 Looking forward to hearing your input. Thanks everyone!

Monday, May 9, 2011

Eggplant Parmesan & Coconut Water

 I've had an eggplant sitting in my fridge since the last time I went to the Farmer's Market. It's been hiding behind all the other food until today. There isn't much left in the fridge, and I refuse to go to the grocery until payday, so I had to get creative with what we have left to make dinner for the next couple of nights. Tonight we're going big with eggplant parmesan...I can't promise the next couple of nights won't be spoonfuls of peanut butter from the jar :)

 Easy Eggplant Parmesan

1 eggplant
garlic salt
salt and pepper
non-dairy milk (I used unsweetened almond milk)
oil for frying

 Warm oil in skillet over med/high heat. Slice up your eggplant into rounds. Make three bowls: one full of milk, one full of breadcrumbs, and one full of flour mixed with seasonings. Dip the eggplant piece first in milk, then dredge through flour and seasoning mix, then dip into milk again, then dredge through breadcrumbs. Place into skillet and fry.

Eggplant pieces frying in oil
My eggplant pieces weren't floatig in oil. It was just enough on the bottom of the skillet to keep the eggplant pieces from sticking. Also, I've tried this method when making onion rings, and every time I dipped them in the milk, the previous coating would slide off. Not the case with the eggplant; the flour and seasoning mixture stayed put and then so did the second coating of milk, and then so did the breadcrumbs. I recommend using as much seasoning as possible, and maybe even italian flavored breadcrumbs? Like I said, I had to work with what I have, but feel free to throw anything you want in the dry seasoning mixture!

 Continue the process until all of your eggplant pieces are used up.
Lay on a papertowel to dry/soak up the oil.
My beautiful fried eggplant pieces

Cook pasta, or quinoa, or couscous, whatever you are serving it over. I chose pasta, because The Boyfriend absolutely loves anything pasta. Top with some marinara, sprinkle with some vegan daiya cheese, and voila! 

I made this a few hours ahead of time, because I knew it would be a great dinner to come home to after a run. Tonight we ran 10 miles and we were good and hungry when we got home! But first, coconut water to rehydrate!

 I bought two kinds of coconut water at the health food store:

 Coconut water benefits include:

  • helps promote weight loss
  • improves your immune system
  • breaks up kidney stones
  • boost thyroid health
  • fights viruses
  • aids circulation
  • reduces swelling in hands and feet
  • good for burns
  • good for hangovers
  • reduces urinary tract problems
  • aids digestion by removing toxins
One drink has more potassium than a whole banana in it, and since we are fresh out of bananas and just did a 10 mile run, this electrolyte-replacing drink was a must. It's not coconut milk, mind you, it's the water that's found inside the coconut when it's still maturing.

 Have you ever tried coconut water?  This was my first time drinking coconut water, although I have tried coconut milk before (read this post to find out the health benefits of coconut milk). I did like the coconut water, but will probably just continue to drink water to re-hydrate after a run. The coconut water is kind of pricey, and while I'm glad I tried it, I can't see myself buying it every time I'm at the store.

Raw Foods Restaurant & Blogger Meetup

  Hope everyone had a great weekend and Mother's Day! I had a fantastic weekend! Some highlights included sleeping, exercising, being out in the sun with a friend, meeting up with another blogger in Charlotte, and trying a raw foods restaurant.

 Andrea is a fellow food and fitness blogger who lives in Charlotte with me and this was our second time hanging out. The first time was at an exercise class, so obviously we didn't get to talk as much as I normally do. I have been wanting to try out a raw food restaurant called Luna's Living Kitchen for awhile now. Everything on their menu is raw. That means not cooked. It's healthy, vegan, raw foods.
 I got the quinoa burger and greens salad

 and Andrea got the lettuce wraps. 

Everything on the menu sounded good, so it was hard to choose, but I was not dissapointed with the quinoa burger! It was better than I could have ever dreamed up a quinoa burger to taste like! Andrea said her wraps were just as good. 

 After we ate, we walked around the indoor farmer's market which was right next door. 

This farmer's market was different from the produce one I usually go to. This one had tables set up with different vendors selling anything from breads to soaps and herbs and salsas.   Here's me sampling some pickles and salsas (excuse the messy hair, I had the top down on my convertible and it got a little wind blown :) 

We did a lot of sampling (yum!) and I ended up buying some steel cut oats and two different dips. Sure, I could make homemade salsa and black bean dip at home, but this peach salsa and black bean dip were soo good, and sometimes it's nice to not cook everything myself.

 I don't particularly love peaches, but The Boyfriend is absolutely crazy about them, so I bought the peach salsa for him. He is counting down the days until we go peach picking here in the South! 

 Have you ever tried a raw foods restaurant?  This is the first raw foods restaurant I have ever heard of, and I loved it! I am pleased to know that Charlotte is going this direction with healthy foods, because most things in the South are deep-fried, rolled in butter, and dipped in meat. (That may be a bit of an exaggeration, but there is an abundance of grease, fat, and lots and lots of meat.)

 Does your city have a lot of health food stores/restaurants? 
 I thought that Charlotte would have more vegetarian/vegan and health-friendly stores and restaurants, but I was surprised to find out that even Dayton, Ohio (what I considered to be the armpit of Ohio) has more health food stores than Charlotte, which is considered an up-and-coming and very modern city.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Mother's Day

 My Mom used to
make separate dishes for my picky-eater sister
instead of making a dish for herself.
"Why do you do that?" We'd ask
"One day you'll understand" She'd say

My Mom would wake up early to pack my lunch
and put notes in my lunchbag:
"I love you"
"You can do it!"

My Mom is
smart, creative,
and funny.
She can talk with her hands like she's doing 
sign language.

My Mom would stay up all night
to nurse a sick child,
then worrying about a late teenager,
 and now talking to a struggling young adult.
I don't think she's ever gotten much sleep.

My Mom is someone who
made up songs and rhymes
to help us remember
numbers and facts.
I still sing my 6's to the tune of london bridges! 

My Mom likes
coffee creamer
and cupcakes
but always serves everyone else first,
and last, then is left with none.
When my brother notices and offers his piece,
"No, you eat it, I'm not hungry!" She says.

My Mom 
can speak 
with her eyes.
One look
 and we knew we were in trouble.

My Mom 
learned to skype,
and even gave facebook a try
Just to communicate with us.

My Mom
is still the first person I call when I'm sick.
Even though she's on the other side of the country
and can't do anything for me,
I just want to hear her voice.

My Mom 
is such an amazing individual
Everyone she meets falls in love with her.
The park, the school, the grocery.
Oh, the grocery.

Happy Mothers Day,
One day, I hope to be a Mom
so that I can be to someone else
the Mom that you were
to me.

I love you! 

Saturday, May 7, 2011

One Year Tribute

 Time goes so fast. I can't believe I've been in Charlotte, North Carolina for an entire year already.
My one year anniversary here was May 1st, 2011. That could only mean one thing: it's anniversary/tribute time. Enjoy my memories :)

 April 2010: two days before I moved from Ohio to North Carolina, my friends and I gathered for a going away party in Dayton, Ohio
 I said goodbye to my best friends, girls I've known through college and after.

My best friend, big sister, soulmate

I was touched by how many people came out to see me off and wish me well

Saying goodbye to my sorority sisters was so bittersweet. I love these girls so much and while we were all excited for my new beginning, it was scary and sad to say goodbye!

 The next morning I packed up the Uhaul with one of my best friends, Dan. Dan and I met in nursing school and became fast friends. We studied together almost every single day, and I swear I wouldn't have gotten A's in physiology if it weren't for his awesome tutoring skills. Everyone thought we were dating (although I had a boyfriend) but the thing I loved about Dan was that he never cared what anyone else thought. He was always there for me, looking out for me like a big brother. He stood by me through moves, breakups, new jobs, bad days and good days. He also drove the Uhaul down to NC for me while I drove my car down!

For the first couple of days after arriving in Charlotte, our apartment looked like this. Sometimes it felt like I would never get everything unpacked.

 You would think that moving down South to warmer weather and getting to live in the same state as The Boyfriend after doing a long-distance thing would have made me ecstatic with joy and happiness.

 Quite the contrary: I underestimated what a huge life change this would be and spent a lot of my first weeks in North Carolina simply crying. Many long hours of counseling were spent on the phone with my Mom and friends, second-guessing my decision to move and crying my eyes out. Often times I would burst into spontaneous tears throughout the day, wondering what had become of my life and feeling lost and alone. One time The Boyfriend and I were driving to church and out of nowhere I started crying and couldn't stop. Needless to say, we never made it into church. I'm such a treat.

 Some of the best advice my Mom told me was that it takes 6 weeks for culture shock to subside. The Boyfriend was so patient with me and sure enough, within 6 weeks I was feeling like myself again.

 Once I had stopped crying, we had a lot of fun being in the sun and doing things outside. This boardwalk is attached to our neighborhood!

We loved going Uptown and walking around, or doing anything having to do with exploring new parts of the city:

It wasn't all fun and games, though. We had a pretty rough start to our life in the south that we still haven't completely come out of. Starting that summer I held down two jobs: I was nursing in a hospital full time and serving tables on the weekends and inbetween nursing shifts. It was hard working 7 days a week and I didn't enjoy it. It took months and months for us to realize that money can't buy happiness and we had to force ourselves to live life  despite the financial situation we found ourselves in.

 One of the best things we did was take a small trip to Charleston, SC. This trip showed us that it only takes a little money to have a lot of fun.

One of the other things we did that summer was get a rescue kitten. Jakie has brought so much joy and love into our life, it's hard to imagine what our lives were like before him.

He is absolutely precious. 

  That fall The Boyfriend and I watched the movie Earthlings and dove head first into veganism. I have been vegan for 3 years but this was the first time I really embraced it for other reasons: ethical, environmental, moral, and health reasons all meshing and working together. I was surprised and delighted to find that The Boyfriend felt so strongly about veganism and we have been an unstoppable team ever since!

 That fall/winter we also made numerous trips up North to visit friends and see family:

In December I started a new job working in the ICU at one of the biggest hospitals in north carolina. I immediately loved it and have been fully happy for perhaps the first time since becoming a nurse.  There were times (and years) I wondered if I answered the wrong calling or if there was something else I should be doing with my time. Working in the ICU has restored my faith in nursing, myself, and my calling in life. Nurses save lives, sometimes with their bare hands. How many people can say that about their career choice?

Late December, for xmas we went to california to see my family:

It was a short, fun winter for us in the south. We spent a lot of time at the gym and inside with our animals. Jake especially likes juggling shows:

and lots and lots of cuddling

Some of our favorite spring memories include taking the tram uptown on a warm February day

Celebrating The Boyfriend's birthday in March

Starting this blog: The Big Personality of a Little Vegan,

drinking green smoothies

and cooking lots and lots of yummy food!

Going to a St Patty's day parade and spending the day in the sun:

Going to Savannah, Georgia:

and making date night a priority in our lives:

Time goes by fast when you're hanging out with good friends
And working night shift!

 In April I went to Chicago:

and then Indiana for Easter:

 That takes us to present day, where I am once again training for a half marathon, still cooking vegan food, and blogging more than ever before. Can't believe it's been a year since I've moved here! Although time has gone fast, our time in Charlotte has taught me a few very important things:

  •  Live each day as if it were your last, (for me, that means doing things you've always wanted to do now because tomorrow may never come) 
  • Money can't buy happiness
  • If you wait for the "right time", you will be waiting forever
  •  Don't take your health for granted. People are dying every minute of every day. Be grateful and thankful for your health, and do everything you can do treat your body the way it deserves to be treated.
  • Family is important. You may not realize this until it's too late.
  • When it rains, it pours. And then... there is usually always a rainbow :)