Good News to Ring in the New Year

I have really exciting news! I found out a couple of weeks ago that I got into graduate school!!!!  I’ve been accepted to UVa’s Doctorate of Nursing Practice program. I’m still waiting to hear back from one more school but I’m pretty sure that I’ll be returning to UVa to become a Triple HOO regardless. It just makes the most sense financially since work will pay for most of it (who can argue with free grad school-especially since I’m still paying for undergrad…).

I spent a lot of time going back and forth with where I wanted to take my career but ever since I made the decision to apply I’ve felt a new resurgence for my chosen path. I’ve only been a nurse for a few years but during my time in the Intensive Care Unit, I found myself emotionally exhausted (often before I even entered the unit-knowing what was awaiting me). The most frustrating part of that was that many of my patients had illnesses that could have been prevented with lifestyle changes.

I know you can’t save everyone with dietary changes but I found myself so frustrated with the way America’s healthcare system is designed that I was seriously considering leaving the profession. It was around that time that I learned about the powers of plant based medicine. More importantly, I learned how many practitioners there are in the country that have found a way to blend lifestyle habits with modern medicine and I realized that you can have both!

I’m looking forward to working with patients to change their lifestyle through dietary modifications while also using modern medications and I’m glad that I have learned about the plant based lifestyle early on. I’m really committed to making myself healthier because I want to set an example for the patients that I treat.

I know how hard it can be to eat a vegan/plant based diet especially when coming from a poor or underserved community. I’ve witnessed the foods that my patients consume on a daily basis and I’m hoping that I’ll be able to show people how healthy whole foods are accessible even in areas where affordable options are scarce.

It’s so wonderful that this news came right around the New Year. I’m feeling very positive as 2016 begins. I can’t wait to see what it brings.

 

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I Tried a New Fruit Today!

Lately I’ve been slacking hardcore on my health endeavors. It’s the Holiday season still, right? Today, however, I found a new resurgence of my desire to treat my body better. While I haven’t been eating terrible in terms of consuming animal products, I have been eating a lot of unhealthy, fatty foods and treats that go along with the season. Now that I can say that the holiday parties at work and the random cheat foods will be less abundant at the office I’m looking forward to crowding in more fruits and vegetables.

Today I woke up in a bit of a food haze. You know that feeling when you eat something really fatty and greasy and it just doesn’t sit well? That was me this morning. Last night, I went to a local bar that has the most delicious vegan burger in town. I followed that with a serving of sweet potato fries and a beer (or two). I know that’s not the worst meal I could’ve had but their sweet potato fries are fried to the max. Although they are a delicious treat, I always eat too many and find myself bloated and puffy for the rest of the night (and in this case, also in the morning). To combat that, I woke up and eased myself into drinking water with lemon, apple cider vinegar, and cayenne pepper. I wasn’t hungry until around lunch time and I had already made plans to meet two friends from high school for lunch in Fredericksburg so I did not have much in the way of options.

For dinner, since I haven’t been eating much in the way of raw foods, I decided I needed to make myself a green juice. I walked to the local grocery store to stock up on a few fresh veggies and while in the store, I conquered my fear of trying new things and brought home a Persimmon. I AM SO GLAD I DID! How have I never eaten one of these before? They’re delicious! I cannot wait to grab some more the next time I need to go to the grocery store (before they go out of season). When I got home, I made a green juice with cucumber, kale, and a grapefruit. It was just the right amount of juice and I’m very thankful for this mini cleanse of sorts for dinner. I feel back on track even though I have been slacking off lately.

As 2015 comes to a close I’m preparing myself to go completely plant based in the New Year. I’ve taken the veganuary challenge and plant to eliminate all animal products from my diet for at least a month (although, hopefully forever). And obviously I want to focus on crowding in healthy plant based whole foods rather than vegan junk food. The biggest issue I’m still struggling with is finding a way to socialize without eating out because although Charlottesville is wonderful for foodies, the vegan and plant based options around here are slim. I’m hoping with the end of the Holiday season, it will be easier to cook for myself and just meet friends out for non-food activities.

 

Finding Passion Everyday

A friend of mine recently posted an article on social media that I decided to check out. It really resonated with me because lately I’ve been struggling to find what my daily passions are. One of the reasons why this article was so hard hitting for me is because it really made me ask myself what are my priorities.

I feel like I’m at the age now where its time to really ask myself that question. What are the things I hope to accomplish in the next few years and what are the steps I should take to get there? And the truth is that I’m also at the age where I. Just. Don’t. Know.

I recently celebrated my 25th birthday and it was the first time I spent it mostly by myself. My parents took me out to dinner but otherwise it was relatively quiet. Not that there is anything wrong with that, (I’m sure there will be many more birthdays like that over the years) it’s just the first time I haven’t been surrounded by a lot of people who wanted to go out and party all night. I’m at an age where my friends are branching off and finding their own paths and its becoming harder and harder to get groups together frequently. It can be really lonely sometimes and it can also be really freeing (I’m someone who gets energized from time spent alone but not TOO much time alone).

But that brings me back to my original question. What is it that gets me energized on a daily basis? After reading the above mentioned article and spending some time discussing the same thing with my therapist this week, I’m finding there are a few things that get me really excited. I need to focus on bringing those experiences out more in my life.

The first thing that I am passionate about is living a healthy lifestyle. I’ve found that I really, really enjoy cooking. There’s something about it that just makes me feel comforted. It’s not just the fact that you get to eat at the end of the process but the whole ordeal of prepping and tasting and testing as you go along until you find something that just works. I really enjoy that and I love sharing that with others.

Another thing that I truly enjoy and hope to cultivate a little more is spending time giving back to my community. Anyone can give money (and should if they can afford to) to causes they support. But for me, I get a sense of fulfillment when I’m actually interacting with people knowing that I am making a difference in their lives. That shouldn’t be too surprising given my chosen profession but I find that I need to be involved outside of work too. It just feels different when you’re not being compensated.

And the third thing that immediately comes to my mind when I ask myself this question is that I love to write and I haven’t been doing much of that lately. My priorities have been focused on getting into graduate school and I have just kind of let myself shift into this mental laziness. I feel recharged when I write, even if I don’t have much to say. I noticed recently that my current journal has entries in it from college. That was over TWO YEARS AGO. How is it possible that someone who loves to write has put her self expression on hold for so long?

There are other things that energize me as well, spending time with friends, exercising, being outside to name a few. These are things that I really need to put more of an effort into. There’s also horseback riding, one of my favorite activities and it has been over a year since Ive been able to ride. I’m not sure exactly when I’ll have the money to get back in the saddle again but that’s definitely a piece of my life that I’m missing at the moment.

I’m sure this will be an evolving theme of my blog in the coming months as I hope to reexamine what it is that energizes me on a daily basis.

Recent Plant Based Creations

After Thanksgiving this year, I went to Fredericksburg to catch up with some of my high school friends and spend some time with my brother who couldn’t make it to Charlottesville for dinner. I drove into town on Friday night and my closest friends and I spent a night at the newly opened Sedona Taphouse catching up over dinner and drinks. It was so nice to have everyone back together again even if it was only for a few hours.

I stayed with my friend Katie who had to be out of her house early Saturday morning to catch a flight back to Atlanta. I found myself alone in Fredericksburg for a few hours while I waited for my brother to wake up (he’s a bartender and tends to have the exact opposite sleep schedule as me). While I waited I found myself perusing the shops and ended up finding a rice cooker for a pretty good deal at Kohls. I tried to talk myself out of getting it because I really don’t need any new cooking appliances but I thought it would be a great investment and I’ve already used it several times since last week.

The first time I used it was to make a lentil sweet potato dish that I kind of just threw together. It turned out delicious. I put a cup of green lentils in my rice cooker with some water and curry powder as well as one chopped up sweet potato. I threw in half a chopped red pepper and when it was all cooked I put it on a piece of lavish bread from Trader Joe’s. I rolled the whole concoction up and threw it in my toaster oven. When it was nice and toasty, I covered it in Sriracha and wound up with this beautiful creation. It was so good I made another one the next night.

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Once I finished off my lentils, I found myself trying to eat up a bunch of vegetables I had purchased earlier in the weak. For dinner on Wednesday, I took the last of my lavash bread and created a plant based pizza.

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I spread some hummus on the bread as my “sauce” and threw spinach, tomatoes and some nutritional yeast on top. Again, I threw this in my toaster oven until it crisped up and voila! Another plant based dinner ready in minutes. Who said this lifestyle was hard?