Five months ago I started regularly working out and eating a plant based diet (vegan) with more intention, effort and confidence. Over the last two years I cut down on meat & dairy significantly and where I was 5 months ago in the picture (on the left) wasn’t my worst, it wasn’t my best either. Before I never imagined I would ever have the courage to take a picture of my body, but after taking care of myself better, I have found I like me better … and appreciate and love my body for the first time in a long time.
I can’t pin down the day I started cutting out meat, dairy and processed and packaged food, but I do remember how frustrating it was that there was nothing in grocery stores I wanted to eat anymore. I had to start researching how to make my own healthier meals and ended up finding a joy and love with food that has led me to here, my last day ever consuming an animal product.
I can say with certainty that I will not miss it or be ashamed of my lifestyle anymore. I know what makes me feel good and what makes me feel sick, it is that simple. I am ready to live more honestly. I am ready to look and feel better than I ever have. I am strong and I am beautiful and I can do anything I set my mind to, that’s the best part.
I took a yoga class in high school (5 years ago) and I loved it. I felt more energized, happy, and connected to my body. But exercising daily was never apart of my routine, or really anyone in my family or circle of friends. It was easy to let go and not think of it after, or to make excuses like, “I’m lazy,” “I don’t have time,” “It’s too hard,” “I have no where to go,” and “Its too expensive to take classes and go to a gym.”
Four months ago I started changing that habit and I never had to leave my home or spend any money (besides a mat and some weights). Thanks to youtube and free classes online, I found Lesley Fightmaster, an incredible yoga teacher who offers so much of her time and love. Including a free 90 day yoga program that I’m nearly complete (on day 86 today!) and I can see why some people do the 90 days twice… it’s just not long enough once you get into it.
What really helped me stay focused was making a schedule and keeping track of everything. Every week I pair strength training and HITT (high intensity interval training) followed by yoga to finish. This is what my weekly looks like:
Sunday – Core and Lower Back
Monday – Biceps and Upper Back
Tuesday – HITT
Wednesday – Legs and Chest
Thursday – HITT
Friday – Shoulders and Triceps
Saturday – HITT
Every day is about an hour of working out. Half hour of either strength training or HITT, followed by a half hour yoga session. I’m on week 15 of keeping up with this personalized program and the results both in mind and body are enough to keep me going. Of course I have rest days, sometimes once a week, sometimes once every two weeks. It all depends but my body usually lets me know when its time for a break.
For anyone interested in creating a new healthy habit of Yoga, I recommend you look up Lesley Fightmaster on youtube. It is worth it 100%.
This project started in late winter (feb/march 2016) when my partner and I came across Windowfarms started by Britta Riley in Brooklyn, New York (2010). Like Britta, we had the desire to grow our own food but living in an apartment without a yard makes that difficult.
Hydroponics are a way of growing plants in water (or clay, gravel, sand, coco coir, ect.) with added nutrients, instead of using soil, which makes it ideal for indoor growing. Our system is the same idea as Britta’s but tweaked to fit our available supplies and location. For more information on how it works and any general questions, go to the our.windowfarms.org website or ask myself.
All the plants in our window farm we started from seed (April 2016) and have learned a lot since, with mistakes and success along the way. Currently the two plants (second left column) that have taken over that window are the Cucamelons. They grow in a ivy-like vine, bloom yellow flowers then grow grape sized looking watermelons that taste like cucumber and lime. We haven’t tried them yet, but the plant itself looks beautiful and we should be tasting our first ones within the month.
Since April we’ve expanded our hydroponic gardening beyond the windowfarm method and its been exciting to learn and grow my first garden. I’ll talk more about that later, for now here’s just an introduction.
This is an old black and white photograph of my grandfather in the foreground and some people kissing and a baby I don’t know. Photographs say a lot, but leave more questions than answers.
I’m currently working on a painting of this photo and its the starting point of over a year of not wanting to paint. For over a year I’ve been telling people “I am a painter,” and every time I’ve said it I’ve started to believe it less. When I dropped out art school last year, my peers and teachers were surprised but understood the need to get away. My adviser told me, “It happens. Sometimes it can be months, days, even years of making shitty work, or making nothing at all. Its okay, just keep going.”
Stepping away from painting felt like abandoning a child I loved but not being capable of taking care of it. As cliche as it is, taking care of myself had to come first. I am still working on that, but getting better. I’ve learned a lot this year without a brush in my hand and that’s whats important. I am here starting again.
Now the hardest part is over.