Naturopathic Doctor, Acupuncturist and Hypnotherapist
Photo Credit: Dr. Natalie Cheng-Kai-On, ND
Dr. Natalie Cheng-Kai-On, ND has practiced naturopathic medicine and acupuncture for the last fifteen years and is available for Telemedicine (video conference or by phone) appointments in Ontario. She focuses on diet and exercise – the foundation of health, to help people reach their health goals. She became a Certified Coach with FASTer Way to Fat Loss®, to help people make lasting lifestyle changes with the program's signature six-week new client experience.
It may sound shocking, but fast food doesn't have to be expensive or unhealthy.
As a mother of two children and a naturopathic doctor, I understand that life is busier than ever and people often don't have time to take care of themselves. But that doesn't mean that it's hard to eat a balanced meal. Of course, you can sign up for some healthy meal guides or meal delivery kits, but they can get expensive. So what can you do? Whether you live alone or you are in charge of meal planning for a household, here are three simple tips to make healthy food fast.
When you eat balanced and healthy meals, you should notice better digestion, improved sleep, more energy, better skin, less pain and the list goes on. If you eat clean for a month, but don't notice any improvement in your health, then you should seek help from a health practitioner or naturopathic doctor. You may have underlying nutrient deficiencies, hormonal imbalance or other conditions that need medical supervision.
Divide your plate.
1/2 leafy veggies
1/4 starchy veggies or grains
1/4 protein rich legumes and beans
Top with nuts, seeds and cold pressed oil. Eat fruit in between meals. With this strategy, there's no need to weigh food or count calories. The proportion of food is what makes this a balanced meal.
Season your food.
Use herbs, spices, lemon and lime to season your food. You can also add coconut or soy aminos for extra flavour.
Eat a whole food diet and eat enough.
When you eat a colourful rainbow of food, you will get a variety of vitamins and minerals. These are called micronutrients. Usually, people crave sugary and fatty foods because they don't get enough nutrients or calories. I've seen so many people who claim to eat healthy during the day and then can't stop their cravings at night. When you fill up on nutrients, you will notice that you won't crave the extra junk.
Note from Monica Ng (website creator): Dr. Cheng-Kai-On, ND is my naturopathic doctor. I got a lot of helpful information from her during my consults, so I reached out to her to write an article for my site.
It's important to stay on top of your own health and find out the best ways to maintain your body and improve your health naturally. For myself, life is extremely busy and I spend a lot of time hiking and biking. I need lots of energy to keep going. Where possible, I use natural products and stay away from chemicals. I try to eat whole foods (i.e. food that is in its original form such as vegetables) vs. packaged/processed foods and avoid food containing ingredients that I can't pronounce. Take some time to read food labels – you might be surprised at how many additives there are.
Since I'm vegan and there is a massive movement towards eating a plant-based diet (perhaps for health, environmental reasons and ending animal cruelty), I asked Dr. Cheng-Kai-On, ND, to write this article keeping a plant-based diet in mind.
Maz Alinejad, is a co-owner of Anytime Fitness (Richmond Hill) at Yonge & Elgin Mills. Growing up, Maz was an athlete who loved football, baseball, bodybuilding and anything sports related. He also trained and coached martial arts for over twenty years. Even after obtaining his Bachelor degree in Aerospace Engineering and working in the field for over a decade, Maz’s appetite for health, fitness and learning about the complexities of the human body, led him to open his own fitness facility. He's committed to teaching and guiding others to achieve their fitness goals and living a healthy and active lifestyle.
Top 10 fitness tips
Written by Maz Alinejad
Set realistic goals.
While it's great to have a goal that motivates you, you also need to measure it against the level of sacrifice it takes to achieve that goal.
First figure out what you're trying to achieve – fat loss, leaner look, build a lot of muscle, improve your health, compete in a sport, just being more active, etc., then decide what you're willing to change from your normal routine to achieve the objective. Any change that you want to make in life will require your daily habits to align, so it's important to evaluate which habits you're willing to take on and what you're not willing to give up. Finally, adjust and reassess your goals based on the comforts you're willing to sacrifice and the amount of routine you're willing to change. Don't let this step scare you. The great news is that most health and fitness goals that don't involve high level competition, can be achieved in about 3-5 hours per week if you stay consistent.
Find an activity that you enjoy.
If you don't like running, try swimming or cycling. If you don't like exercising by yourself, try joining a group fitness class, running club or team sport. There are endless ways to keep active.
As the saying goes, you can't out-exercise a bad diet. Now this doesn't mean that you need to follow a strict diet at all times, but you should be following the basic concepts of nutrition to make sure you're getting the right amount of micro and macro nutrients needed to nourish your body and achieve your goal.
Your goal, nutrition and activity of choice should be compatible.
Going back to the first point, if your goal is to gain a bunch of muscle but you don't enjoy lifting weights and eating lots of protein, I have some bad news… you'll have to either learn to love those things or alter your goal. Similarly, if you dream of running a marathon but don't like the feeling of getting winded during a run, then either the dream has to change or you need to push past that dreaded feeling.
Make time for exercise.
We live in a modern world of comfort and many of us work in front of a computer. The pandemic has exasperated the problem even more. We don't move enough and delicious foods are both cheap and easy to purchase. Getting some level of exercise has become as much a necessity in modern life as brushing your teeth or showering. This is why finding an activity that you enjoy is so important. And if you can't find something that you like, then treat exercise like you would a visit to the dentist or doctor – not your favourite thing to do, but something that needs to get done.
Rest, recovery and stress management.
Whenever you start an exercise program, you must allow your body the appropriate time to recover and repair itself. The amount of rest required will vary depending on the intensity of your exercise and state of your health. While a daily walk may not require a tremendous amount of recovery time, a two hour boxing class or heavy leg workout probably would. And when it comes to stress management, it's a large enough topic that deserves its own top ten list, but many people find exercise to be beneficial towards helping them calm their nerves. On the flip side, a very stressful life can make it difficult to prioritize health, which causes a vicious cycle with lack of self-care, leading to poorer health which in turn increases stress levels and dissatisfaction even further. Balance your physical health with emotional needs.
Have a learning mindset and be curious.
Fitness and nutrition are still relatively new sciences and new discoveries are being made all the time. Be willing to learn, seek out coaches who study and keep up with the latest science. Don't be afraid to try out a new activity or an expert suggestion.
Importance of a social support system.
If you're lucky, you have family or friends who are into fitness and healthy living. But for many, this support system may come in the form of gym buddies, online training groups or a sports team. This doesn't mean that you're replacing your friends and family – instead you're finding a group with similar interests who can help you achieve your goals. We are social creatures that adhere to standards of the tribe. Find your fitness tribe!
Perfection is the enemy of progress.
Doing something is better than nothing. You don't have to be perfect. Becoming more fit is not an all or nothing contest. I would rather have a client be consistent 70% of the time over the course of two years, instead of a client who goes all out for eight weeks and gets burnt out taking too many changes at one time.
Track and review your progress.
One thing that I always emphasize to our coaches is the importance of objective measurables when assessing clients. This is especially important if your goal is to change something about your body. Objective measurements help you see your progress and can be very motivating to track over time. We look at ourselves every day in the mirror and get used to all the little changes that are happening. This is why people don't realize when they are getting out of shape until reality smacks them in the face in the form of an off-hand comment or a doctor's warning, or not fitting into any of their clothes. Most know more about the state of their cars and details of their home insurance than they do about their body. Our memories are fallible, so take advantage of all the information, apps and journals available to keep track of your health. Alternatively, you can join a gym or program that is focused on the success of their clients and keeps track of measurables for you.
Around this time of year, I often feel out of sorts (ugh, crappy) – sluggish, unmotivated and my clothes feel a bit on the tight side. I just finished my third Freshii 3-day juice cleanse and now ready to share my experience. I guess juice cleansing has become an annual thing for me. The juice for the 3 days cost me about $115.00 including the tax.
I wanted to infuse my body with additional vitamins and reset my brain to cut my junk food cravings – which effectively helps with weight loss. A bonus, is feeling a bit lighter at the end.
BTW – Freshii also has a 5-day cleanse, but that’s too much mental power for me!
Juice cleanse #1
The first time I did the cleanse, there were four juices and a salad for dinner. Honestly, it was nice to have a generous size salad with dressing to look forward to at the end of the day. I was suffering by day 2 and still thinking about food. Because I was drinking so much liquid, it made me feel like vomiting. I didn’t even want to drink anymore. I survived the 3 days and lost 3.5 lbs (most likely just water). It was a great experience to overcome the emotional and mental challenge of not really eating for 3 days.
Juice cleanse #2
The second time I did the cleanse, I decided to customize it. I drank three juices (breakfast, snack and lunch) but ate my regular dinner – although made a lighter dinner. At that time, Walmart sold Freshii juices, so I grabbed the juices that I needed. The second time around was much easier mentally than the first cleanse. Felt good after the 3 days.
Juice cleanse #3
Sadly, Freshii modified their 3-day cleanse since and cut out the dinner salad! Now it’s all juice and elixirs.
On their website they show 7 drinks and your day at a glance:
1 Green Genius (green apple, kale, spinach, celery, lemon and ginger) 2 Renew (carrot, orange, lemon and tumeric) 3 Immune Elixir (lemon, ginger and honey) 4 Charcoal Lemonade (juice is no longer available anymore from what I understand) 5 Green Genius (same as number 1) 6 Reset (apple, pineapple, cucumber and mint) 7 Recharge (carrot, apple, beet, lemon and ginger)
I was told that they don’t have Charcoal Lemonade anymore – but they have a new second elixir (a small bottle called Antioxidant Elixir). It’s not clear, but I guess that replaces the Charcoal Lemonade drink.
The usual disclaimers – Freshii recommends that you consult a doctor before beginning any type of cleanse and not to overexert yourself during the cleanse as you are taking in less calories (you might pass out). They also recommend that you drink 8-10 cups of water in addition to the juices.
The Immune Elixir contains honey, so as a vegan, I did not take that one and replaced it with the Antioxidant Elixir. So, I had a total of 6 juices instead of 7.
What you need to begin:
Go to your local Freshii restaurant and pick up all the juices that you need. Although the bottles are on the shelf, you may want to call ahead to make sure they have the full supply.
Freshii doesn’t provide an exact schedule for the timing, but suggests drinking a bottle every 1.5 -2 hours. Here’s how I broke down each of my days. You can modify according to your schedule.
8am: Squeeze the juice of one lemon and add 1 cup of hot water. Drink it. You’ll feel your stomach activating!
8:30am: Drink Green Genius. Nice boost from the greens. I might drink this one regularly.
10am: Drink Renew. This drink took me about an hour to drink because I don’t like it and then it was almost lunch.
12pm: Drink Green Genius.
2pm: Drink Antioxidant Elixir. A bitter little concoction with some Moringa powder!
3pm: Drink Reset. Absolutely my favourite juice. I buy this one occasionally just to get an energy boost.
6 – 6:30pm: Drink Recharge. Happy it’s the last drink of the day. That means one less day of the cleanse.
According to Freshii, if you’re hungry at any point, listen to your body. You can eat some raw vegetables.
So how do I feel now that it’s finished?
Good. More hydrated. Lighter (lost 3.5 lbs of liquid). Still lots of energy.
For myself, because I’m pretty active out on the trails and exercise regularly, I felt that I needed to supplement my cleanse with some salad (at dinnertime) on days 2 and 3. I even threw in 1/2 an avocado. So if you’re feeling too hungry, don’t worry about eating something healthy.
Do I recommend the 3-day cleanse?
Yes. As I mentioned, I did the cleanse partly to break my junk food cravings – and it totally works. I didn’t grab any chips for 3 days. The cleanse is very easy and convenient because you can buy the full 3-day supply at once and store in your fridge. Also, Freshii’s juices actually taste very good and texturally not too thick. I’m not big on juices generally, but I enjoyed all of them except the carrot one.
I lost 3.5 lbs and my clothes were definitely not as tight-fitting. Losing a bit of weight is always a great mental push if you are trying to lose weight.
Breaking an emotional tie to food, is NOT a ribbon-cutting event!
For anyone who is an ’emotional’ eater (or a closet eater) like myself – you will totally get this post. Think – munching down a whole bag of chips and/or box of cookies in just one sitting…all without much thought. For myself personally, I eat when I feel stressed or bored.
The guilt that follows is incredible. Yet, it’s a vicious cycle. You feel stressed, inhale the snacks, say you won’t do that again and guess what? YUP…it starts all over again. Not only is your mind affected – but your body as well. Most normal people gain weight when they eat over-processed junk food.
So, now the cycle becomes more complicated very quickly:
You eat junk.
You gain weight.
You feel like crap.
You eat some more because you feel like crap.
Well, breaking our emotional tie to food and re-programming our brain is REALLY hard. Probably one of the hardest things that we ever need to do. I know because I worked on it for almost two years. I was lucky that I managed to breakdown part of my insatiable need to stuff my face. Still working on it because it’s a life-long process for me.
How did the tie get so strong?
Long story short, if I psycho-analysis myself, it started when I was just a kid. I learned that if I wanted to eat something, I could eat unlimited quantities. My grandmother allowed me to eat steak after steak because I liked the taste. It didn’t help that we worked at my parents’ convenience store with tons of candy, chocolate, chips, popsicles, etc. at our fingertips. Anyway, needless to say, I had lots of cavities and gained too many pounds. As I was growing up, I was made fun of for being fat. The lack of confidence and stress continued the negative cycle of over-indulging.
Break it down!
My very first blog back in November 2018 was about my experience with the Freshii 3-day juice cleanse. I would say this was the ‘beginning’ test of my willpower. I chose the 3-day cleanse because I knew I could not survive for 5 days.
I highly recommend trying a juice cleanse. One of the guys at Freshii said he managed to quit smoking after a 5 day cleanse. It really helps to reset your brain. Mind over matter.
It was really, really hard. But I did it. My mental willpower could barely stand up to the overwhelming want to grab and eat everything. It was so hard sitting with people who were eating food while I was cleansing.
I know we all have our stories why we are “psychologically” dependent on food. But I do believe that occasionally, we just need a re-set. Something to test our strength and ability to control what we eat – and indirectly, take control of our lives. I say this because I believe an underlying issue for a lot of things in life (for me weight gain) is about not feeling like we are in control of our lives. Working at getting to the root of the problem is also recommended.
That was then, this is now
Recently, I decided my body needed a boost of nutrients and a rest from eating solid foods. I have followed a vegan diet for over 8 months now, so the extra attention to my meal planning and preparation has helped to fight off my food’s mental grip on me.
I decided to do the 3-day cleanse again, but slightly modified. Basically, I drink 3 juices (breakfast, snack and lunch) and eat a generous salad for dinner.
I am on day 1. This time around, I have absolutely no issues with drinking my juice in lieu of eating solids. It’s a breeze taking a juice instead of a meal. I don’t even need to think about what to eat! I am also enjoying the feeling of not over-eating – especially at dinner.
Tomorrow is another day
I envision myself getting a badge or token for job well done. But the reality is, it’s another day of resisting the urge to conquer the bag of Lay’s Original chips (my fav BTW).
In this thing called life, you have to treat yourself as a pet-project. Try different things until you find something that works for you. Good luck on your own quest to cut the ties…
This post is dedicated to lifelong journeys of finding balance.
Pictured above (top from left to right: me in September 2010; May 2018; August 2018 and September 2018).
It’s a bit embarrassing to post these photos of me – but I am trying to make a point here! The point is that we all have control over our bodies and can change our lives just by making some lifestyle/eating changes.
…with my weight since I was a young kid – probably by about grade 5 (I determined this based on looking at my old school photos). I was made fun of by relatives and people at school. People thought I enjoyed being squeezed on the cheeks – like chubby is cute? My own aunts would say that I am “soooo fat!” (of course the same aunts that normally say nothing to me); a cousin that I never met before until we visited China called me “fay fay” (fatso) when I was 11 years old. So traumatic!
First major change
When I was about 19 years old, I joined a weight-training course in CEGEP (basically college in Montreal between high school and university). I enjoyed the class a lot and felt good. My teacher at the time (a 70 year old former weight trainer) pulled me aside and told me that I was a nice looking person, but there was no room for ‘fat’ people in this world. I felt so ashamed after that incident, that I signed myself up for another session the following semester. I managed to lose a lot of weight at that time. University life found me “thinner”, but I still felt like I was overweight. Body image is so skewed…because that was my ‘normal’ weight back then (but I still felt ‘fat’).
Pregnancy and life
After I got married at age 25, I became pregnant and gained a bunch of weight. By the time my second was born a couple of years after, I gained even more weight. When my daughter was about 8, she asked me why I was so ‘big’. I had no explanation.
I joined martial arts with my daughter and successfully lost 10 lbs in about 3 months.
Then I was pregnant with my third. I was pretty heavy at the time, so by the time I reached full term, I had only gained 10 lbs. When my son was born, I actually lost about 15 lbs – feeling like my body almost returned to my ‘normal’.
Then more life happened. By June 2017, my weight had ballooned to the point of no return. I could feel that my skeleton could no longer bear the excess weight. When I went to Montreal to visit my grandma and met up with my sister’s friends for dinner, I was wearing a skirt and I felt incredibly uncomfortable -like I couldn’t sit anymore, and my legs were kinda tingly. When I returned home, I tried to play with my babe on the floor and could barely kneel down (due to discomfort). That’s when the gears in my brain started to churn. I needed to do something and QUICK!
In September, I was about to take a 360 turn in my life. It just happened that my brother-in-law was talking about his own diet (Paleo) over a birthday dinner. The next day, I decided to cut the carbs and focus on eating meat and veggies (breakfast, lunch and dinner). After a couple of days, I swore my stomach was flatter! After I lost my first 10 lbs, the usual ‘plateau’ where weight does not come off as quickly. I then tried the Bulletproof coffee recipe for my breakfast. Basically, it was black coffee plus a tablespoon of grassfed butter plus two tablespoons of MCT (medium chained triglycerides) oil (pure coconut oil). After taking that for a couple of weeks, I lost about 5 lbs more.
then…25 lbs lighter
By May 2019, I had lost about 25 lbs. I still wanted to go for another 10 lbs to get closer to my “ideal” weight (and cut body fat), but I knew I needed some help. I saw the 42-day challenge at Anytime Fitness gym (Richmond Hill location) on Facebook and requested to join. I got a text shortly after and scheduled an appointment for a consult. The following Monday, I started my program.
then…7 lbs lighter
At the end of my 6 week challenge, I lost 7 lbs plus about 2% body fat. I just cannot believe that I am almost there…
A great big thank you to Maz, Liam, Dan (who is no longer at the gym), Taylor and Leah at Anytime Fitness Richmond Hill, for pushing me to work my hardest and be my best self. The best part of the challenge was being held accountable for my goals. I had the gym staff to help keep me motivated and on track – plus the weekly weigh-ins were a bit of pressure.
What I have lost and gained during my 42 days
7 lbs about 2% body fat My grandma (she passed away the day after Mother’s Day)
Muscle Confidence New friends A new tattoo (in memory of my grandma) A huge inventory of new exercises that I can do at home on my own
This past year and a half
I have dropped 3 pant sizes (crazy eh?). I know how people love to see photos of before and after, so I will be bold and show them here. Pictured on the bottom left: 2 pant sizes, centre: 1 pant size and right: now. I didn’t even take a photo of 3 pant sizes because they ran out of that size!
It is not just about diet – exercise is critical to weight loss and sustainability of ones’ weight and health (both physical and mental). That being said, diet is a HUGE part of it! You cannot pig out on junk food and expect to lose any weight. Our “body is our temple” and we need to fuel it up with healthy food.
I have also been vegan for over six months’ now. Being vegan is not just for the environment and the animals, but makes one more conscious of what you feed your body.
I was really lucky that even at my maximum weight, I did not experience any health conditions like diabetes, high cholesterol, etc. For that, I am truly thankful. Both of my parents had strokes (my mom in her fifties and my dad in his mid-sixties); and my mother has diabetes and high cholesterol, so I am probably more susceptible to these conditions. Gotta stay healthy for me and my family.
Here’s me yesterday, after my home workout. Not the greatest pic, but whatever – I don’t give a damn!
In this thing called life, you have the power to change. No one can force you to change, so you have to change for yourself. No one can want it more than you.
This post is dedicated to the guy who needs to take control of his quality of sleep. No excuses!
MOST IMPORTANT: QUALITY ZZZs
Did you know that quality sleep is REALLY important for your overall health? If you feel sluggish all the time and complain of tiredness or inability to focus, you may want to take a look at your sleep patterns. I read somewhere that the body does its main ‘healing’ while you sleep, between 11 p.m. and 2 a.m. So, if you are awake between those hours – guess what? Yeah, your body is not given time to heal itself. I have a friend that sleeps at about 3 a.m. every night and gets up around 7:30 a.m. every day. Of course, she complains of tiredness every day. I wonder why?
According to Statistics Canada, “Insufficient sleep (short duration and poor quality) is associated with a range of adverse health outcomes, including obesity, type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, injuries, all-cause mortality, depression, irritability, and reduced well-being. ” and “For adults aged 18 to 64 and seniors aged 65 or older, 7 to 9 hours and 7 to 8 hours of sleep per night, respectively, are recommended.”
So, any time a couple complains about poor sleep, I ask:
1) do you sleep on the same bed?
2) do you cover the same blanket?
To date, I have had the same conversation with seven different ‘couples’ who complained of poor sleep and tiredness.
Guess what they all said: Yes, we sleep together and yes, we share the same blanket.
Come on guys! Break the social norms/ habits! It’s for you and your health (mental and physical).
Well, it may sound crazy – but I confess that I haven’t slept in the same bed as my hubby for the last 17 -18 years! It started this way while I was pregnant and had trouble to sleep; then after our first child was born, I started to sleep with the baby; then followed the second child about two years later – I started to sleep with her and our son slept with my hubby. The years in between are cloudy, but we realized that sleeping separately was better for us. Then ten years later, number three came along and I started to sleep with him. BTW – all three of my kids were crappy sleepers, so basically I didn’t sleep well for these past 17-18 years. I TOTALLY believe that you have to do whatever it takes to catch some quality ZZZs.
My hubby has sleep apnea, so does not sleep well. He often gets up multiple times a night and likes to turn on the lights and make instant noodles in the kitchen (think noise!). In addition, he has a ‘cold’ body, so needs two big blankets to sleep. Myself, I developed into a light sleeper over the years and have a ‘hot’ body, so just one blanket would suffice.
My parents had the same problem – same bed, same blanket. Finally, I convinced them to at least have two blankets – rather than always fighting for the blanket. They are loving it and get better sleep. To them, I am a genius!
Needless to say, it totally makes sense to sleep separately. It has absolutely nothing to do with separation from a relationship -so I wouldn’t feel guilty about it. The most recent person we talked to said that he understood why some ‘old people’ slept separately. That was such a funny comment, because you don’t have to be old to be practical and conscious of your need for sleep. [In my opinion -sleeping in one bed and sharing one blanket is way over-rated!] He said he had no trouble to fall asleep but woke frequently throughout the night and could not fall back asleep. I reminded him that his spouse might actually be knocking him without him knowing and thus wake him. Perhaps taking a video would be interesting…
Finally, so many studies have been done, linking better quality sleep with a completely dark room. If you have dinky blinds that let in light – just hang a set of black-out curtains in front of them. Something so simple can change the way you sleep. Get on it!
And if you do wake, try not to turn on the lights – or your body’s circadian rhythm will be interrupted.
In this thing called life – let’s all be practical and get some good quality sleep. Don’t feel that you are abandoning your spouse. Your body and brain will thank you and make you a happier person for your spouse. On that note, I ended this post by going to sleep. I love my sleep! But sadly had trouble to fall asleep. Could be because of the smell of the noodles and loud talking downstairs at 1:30 a.m.
I would love to hear from you: One bed or two? One blanket or two?
This blog is dedicated to daughter, Kelly, who always inspires me to be my best. As well, thanks to animal activists such as James Aspey (@jamesaspey on Instagram) and other vegans out there, for loving the amazing animals and being their voices. Also, thanks to Ryuji Chua (@peacebyvegan on Instagram) for his post explaining how detached we are from the animal and the end product (for example: the cow and the steak on our table). I believe most of us would stop eating meat if the animal was standing right next to us.
If you have read my other blogs, you would know that I am currently in a state of self-reflection and searching for a gateway to better health (mainly for disease prevention). Everyday, we hear news of people (including family and friends) diagnosed with cancer, dying from cancer, having strokes and heart attacks; sky-high rates of obesity, etc. The research shows that many health problems are linked directly to one’s diet. To me, this is a true wake-up call that something needs to be done.
As I get older, I am much more aware that many diseases are preventable (example: Type-2 diabetes) or that the progression of a disease such as dementia can be slowed down. Despite what popular culture might believe, it is not a must for us to develop Alzheimer’s and dementia in our old age.
As you may know already, as part of my personal ‘get healthier’ initiative (as well as my love for animals), I have not eaten meat from an animal since September of this year. However, I am currently still eating seafood, eggs and having milk in my coffee.
My continued self-reflection, love of animals and online research reminds me that I don’t want to eat animal meat and by-products, and do not wish to purchase leather or other animal products again. I believe the death and torture of animals for my personal consumption or use is on me. I might as well kill and torture them myself.
What does it really mean to be “vegetarian” and “vegan”?
It is natural for people to apply a label to everything and everyone. This is sadly how our society works. Based on my online research, in a nutshell, to be “vegetarian” means that you do not eat meat from an animal. And to be “vegan”, means that you do not eat any animals (including seafood) or their by-products (such as eggs, milk), and do not use any animal products (such as leather, fur, etc.).
To me, the irritating thing is – being vegetarian and vegan is viewed often as something negative, or prompts certain comments. For example, when people find out I am no longer eating animals, they say things like: “Oh, make sure you get enough nutrients, protein and iron.” When someone mentions they are “Vegan”, the first thought is probably that of an extreme animal rights activist lobbying near the slaughter houses. By why does this have to be? This is the real problem. Having obtained a Bachelor of Arts degree in Sociology, I can say that we have a systemic problem in our society. We are so programmed to think something is wrong with not eating animals and wearing fancy fur-lined coats. And why are we drinking the milk of animals anyway?
Meat, meat, everywhere
I cannot deny that meat and animal by-products and products are everywhere. It is definitely a challenge to find food items without any meat by-products, because even a small ingredient such as gelatin can be made with animal intestines.
Can just one person make a difference?
So you ask, how can one person not eating/”using” make a difference?
My daughter has inspired me with her ‘veganism’. But here is my struggle: what if I eat a plant-based diet and don’t buy animal products, but still feed meat to the rest of my family (because they want it)- does this make me a bad person? The only answer that I can come up with is “that it starts with my daughter and myself.” World change – just one person at a time.
Vegan, Vegan, Vegan
It is my personal goal to become what you know as a Vegan. Yes, I hate the stereotype associated with the label, but there is absolutely nothing wrong with not torturing and killing our beautiful animals, just so we can enjoy a 3 minute burger or wear a fancy fur-lined coat.
My year end goal
By the end of this year, I will follow a vegan diet and lifestyle. More posts will follow about this. There is always something to accomplish in “this thing called life.”
I know it will be difficult to completely eliminate animal products from my diet – and even as I write this, it sounds awfully weird that I will eliminate ANIMAL from my diet (I can’t believe I ate them!), but it is truly the least that I can do. I will figure out a way to make my fav desserts without eggs. And more importantly, I feel good about this.
What will I eat then?
Actually, the answer to this is much more simple that explaining to someone why I don’t eat meat…
It’s dark outside in the morning and almost wintertime again. I have been feeling a bit ‘ho-hum’ (a bit low energy and unmotivated). Nevermind, the lingering thoughts of the last stubborn 10 pounds that I want to lose. I reflect on the past year and a half, and I know that I have come a long way. BTW – my initial goal was to lose 25-30 pounds.
In June of 2017, I hit rock bottom with my weight. I realized this when I was sitting down for dinner with my sister and her friends. I was literally uncomfortable sitting and my legs and arms were getting numb and tingly; and I couldn’t sit comfortably. I knew that my body couldn’t support any more weight. I was never heavier my whole life. It was time for a change.
In September, 2017, I tried committed myself to a paleo diet (basically cutting sugary items and carbs like pasta and rice). After just two days of eating eggs/protein for breakfast or any other food other than carbs, my stomach was much flatter and I felt like a new person. In a few months I lost about 10 pounds.
Of course, as you are losing weight, there seems to be a ‘plateau’ – where nothing you do reduces your weight more. Then, my relative mentioned the Bulletproof Coffee (www.bulletproof.com). Bulletproof coffee is made with brewed coffee (you can use your own coffee beans if you don’t want to buy the Bulletproof brand name coffee), high concentration MCT pure coconut oil, and grass-fed butter). I tried this with reluctance at first, but the coffee actually tasted good. I drank 3/4 cup every morning instead of eating solids. In a couple of weeks, I lost about 5 pounds.
Fast forward a year and a half, I have lost about 20 pounds and managed to keep it off. I am lucky not to have any major health issues. I am working on prevention of diseases related to poor diet.
In September, 2018, I cut out my meat intake and ate a vegetarian diet (no meat, but vegetables, eggs and seafood).
Health is no. 1!
Losing weight for health reasons and eating healthier are my number one goals. After my father had a stroke five years ago and finding out my mother has Type 2 diabetes (suffering loss of vision) and high cholesterol, I think about my health every day. Good sleep, balanced diet and daily exercise are something to strive for.
Why try a 3-day cleanse?
Sometimes the mind and body just need to be ‘reset’. Our bodies work so hard to eliminate toxins and other junk, but we make them work so hard. I have checked out other companies offering juice cleanses, but they didn’t seem as practical because you have to pick up your juices daily, and you do not get a lovely salad for dinner. It’s easier to stick to a juice cleanse (and any diet) if it is convenient. I made up my mind to try Freshii’s 3-day cleanse. Check out: www.freshii.com
I just completed my 3rd day yesterday.
Pictured above: lovely dinner salad
What do you need for your cleanse?
You get a total of 12 bottles of juice (4 for each day) and three large salads (one for each day) for dinner.
What is the cost?
The 3-day cleanse cost me $85+HST.
It thought it would be a pain to go to Freshii each day to get the supplies for the cleanse, but they have mastered the cold-pressing technique to allow juices to stay fresh in a bottle for a couple of months. This makes sticking to a cleanse easy. I collected the supply for the 3 days and went home. FYI – Freshii offers a 5-day cleanse as well, but I definitely do not have the willpower to do that.
What is the plan?
1) first thing when you wake up in the morning, you drink one cup of warm lemon water; 2) drink “Green Genius” which contains green apple, spinach, kale, celery, lemon and ginger, maybe 15-20 minutes after the lemon water; 3) for your morning snack (say around 10am), drink the “Reset” which contains apple juice, pineapple, cucumber and mint; 4) for your lunch (say around 12pm), drink “Renew” which contains carrot, orange juice, lemon and turmeric; 5) for your midday snack (say around 3pm), drink “Recharge” which contains carrot, apple, beet, lemon and ginger; 6) then enjoy a huge delish salad for your dinner. There is even salad dressing! 7) Freshii’s FAQs says if you are really hungry still, you can eat some raw veggies/fruit. 8) it’s important to drink a lot of water throughout the day (Freshii recommends 8-10 cups of water each day). 9) don’t overdo it on the exercise. Mild to moderate exercise is recommended as you have cut your calories down a lot. You may experience dizziness if you overexert yourself. 10) try to be somewhere close to the washroom during your 3-day cleanse. You won’t regret this advice…
VERY IMPORTANT: before starting any juice cleanses you should consult your doctor. You should also read Freshii’s FAQs in their brochure about juice cleansing.
Actually, for someone that doesn’t like smoothies, thick juices or vegetable juice, the taste of the juices was surprisingly nice. But, because of the amount of liquid going into my body, I actually found that I felt like vomiting on the second day. I also lost my appetite just thinking that I had to drink another juice, and was unable to drink the midday drink at all. Drinking thick juice reminds me of being in a hospital.
Excited, but a bit worried about the duration of the cleanse. I love food so much, that eating often consumes my thoughts. I started Day 1 on a Sunday. By the time I had my third juice, I was starving and looking for something to eat. I later found out that I missed one juice – No wonder! I think the whole cleansing process is about re-focusing the mind and severing ones’ emotional tie to food. All I could think about was going to bed, so that I didn’t need to think about food. But I was doing this for me…
This was me on Day 2 at work. I wasn’t hungry at all on this day, because so much liquid made me feel like vomiting. By the time I drank one juice (it takes me a long time to finish one), it was time to drink another. So by the time it was time for the fourth drink, I couldn’t drink it. I had no appetite at all. I did look forward to my salad though. This is mentally the worst day. Seeing everyone eat delish food and cooking meals for my family was definitely tough. Also, at the end of the day, my stomach was kinda queezy. I ended the day with diarrhea (sorry, I had to write this!).
Finally – last day. Again, I could only get through the first 3 juices and did not feel hungry. I very much enjoyed my last salad.
At the end of the day – I am proud to say, I fended off a great temptation to grab a bunch of Harvey’s onion rings sitting next to me. That was the true test of mental strength and willpower for me.
Was it worth it?
Definitely. I feel more energetic and mentally refreshed. And on a bonus, I lost 3.5 lbs. Could be just water though? For me it was really mind over matter.
Cheers to empty bottles and your health!
2020 update: I have managed to keep off the 35lbs that I lost and now maintain my weight through lifestyle changes (diet, exercise and sleep) and am now vegan!
Quick note: some Walmarts sell the bottled juice at a fraction of the price – you can just pick up the number of bottles you need for the cleanse and just buy a salad from Freshii (they taste yummy!). I did that for my second cleanse.