Fat, Sick, and Nearly Dead.

A happy Monday morning to you all! I can’t lie…I’m smiling pretty hard right now. I’m on a long weekend holiday from school, my fiance is all smiles thanks to the Pats’ miracle win last night, and my stomach is still overfull with delicious spinach and artichoke dip.

On Friday night, I finished practice, hopped on the elliptical for a killer 30 minute interval workout, and then headed to one of Rich and I’s favorite restaurants around his apartment. I had one of those “I need a big veggie burger and fries (and wine…), STAT” cravings. I love when a restaurant does a good, real food veggie burger; this one is constantly changing, so this time, the burger was made of chickpea and white beans with pesto. I ate half (and all the fries, duh), but we sat there for so long talking over drinks that I ended up eating the second half while we were still at the restaurant (out of the to-go container, because that’s super classy).

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On Sunday morning, I woke up early, sat up, and immediately thought, “OATMEAL.” This was 1/3 cup oats, 1/3 cup milk, 1 tsp chia seeds, topped with a tablespoon of PB, shredded cocount (from magic cookie bars I made for the Superbowl party we attended), and half of a sliced banana. I can’t get into banana whipped into the oatmeal itself…I’m not looking for that much sweetness.

Rich and I hit the road early for a frigid 30 min run on the trails at Valley Forge National Park. Our quads KILLED because we kept having to tense up to avoid falling on the ice and snow packs. We had intended to run 3.5 mi, but had to turn off the path onto a road to avoid the rest of the icy path, and ended up back at the car after 3.3 mi. Close enough!

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I’ve been desperately craving a soup and sandwich from Panera but always feel so yucky after eating there (must be the sodium?), so we recreated the experience for ourselves with a big romaine salad with shredded carrots; Amy’s Tomato Bisque soup; and grilled cheeses made with Ezekial sprouted grain bread. This lunch, plus our run, post-run green smoothie packed with kale, and oatmeal yesterday morning certainly balanced out the beers and dips last night, obviously. 😉

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I almost NEVER buy romaine (kale/spinach/spring mixes just pack in so much more nutrition). However, ever since the grilled romaine caesar salad we ordered at the restaurant in Worcester on NYE right before we got engaged, I’ve been lusting after a big leafy romaine salad. It’ll be awesome grilling up romaine and other veggies this summer (it’s February…I can hope for spring, right?).

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Starting off a lazy day off with a thick slice of my mom’s homemade banana bread, coffee, and sliced banana. Her banana bread is EXTRA good because she uses almond extract instead of vanilla.

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On to a little discussion, since I have time (and so that the banana bread digests before I hit the gym)…

If you are in any way, shape, or form struggling with your weight, body image, chronic pain, or disease of any sort: go watch “Fat, Sick, and Nearly Dead,” and then come back to me. I’m going to wax on a bit here, because this documentary really struck a cord with me.

Now, I’ve been working hard in my scholarly life to be less “susceptible” to being suckered in by a strong argument in an article. I try to maintain this same level of mild skepticism– a “critical eye,” if you will– in my everyday life as well: not taking news articles or statistics (anything with “statistics show”) seriously without considering the information from all angles; not believing a “new study” on “The Effects of Caffeine on the Brain” or “How We Ought to Cut Eggs from Our Diets Altogether,” etc. until I’ve read up on the topic and can make an informed decision. However, when I tell you that I really saw something in this documentary and that it moved me to understanding, I really mean it.

If you haven’t seen Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead, here’s a basic summary (taken from the documentary’s imdb):

100 pounds overweight, loaded up on steroids and suffering from a debilitating autoimmune disease, Joe Cross is at the end of his rope and the end of his hope. In the mirror he saw a 310lb man whose gut was bigger than a beach ball and a path laid out before him that wouldn’t end well- with one foot already in the grave, the other wasn’t far behind. FAT, SICK & NEARLY DEAD is an inspiring film that chronicles Joe’s personal mission to regain his health. With doctors and conventional medicines unable to help long-term, Joe turns to the only option left, the body’s ability to heal itself. He trades in the junk food and hits the road with juicer and generator in tow, vowing only to drink fresh fruit and vegetable juice for the next 60 days. Across 3,000 miles Joe has one goal in mind: To get off his pills and achieve a balanced lifestyle.

[Spoiler alert: he accomplishes this goal, and inspires countless others to embrace a life full of moderation, along with a hell of a lot of colorful fruits and veggies.]

And here’s what I wrote about my own (much milder) condition in a post a few weeks back, in which I discussed my decision to become and stay vegetarian:

I can live without meat because I no longer wake up in the middle of the night with a severely displeased stomach, or have toI can live without meat because now, when I do indulge in a slice or two of greasy pizza, or some ice cream– and I’m still trying to figure out exactly why– I don’t feel even remotely as badly as I once would have. I think that has something to do with having enough fiber in my system, but either way, I’m not complaining.

I’ve also (and this is important) found that the better I become at including a wide variety of plant-based foods in my diet– the more colors on my plate, so to speak– the more energy I have, the better I run, and the more “clear” my head tends to feel. Excluding meat from my diet might not have directly caused all of this (although due to the inflammatory nature of meat and its effect on my system, it might have a larger impact than I give it credit for)…but going vegetarian steered me to this place. I am fully aware of my body as a temple which runs– literally– on good, clean fuel.”

I knew that going vegetarian helped me to live a fuller, happier life (which involves far fewer emergency trips to the bathroom and stomachaches), but what I didn’t fully realize that I hadn’t just mitigated the “symptoms” of IBS: I had almost entirely rid myself of it. I only had IBS because I was eating too many foods which irritated my system. I don’t eat perfectly (see: this weekend), but I choose foods which deliver my cells the fuel they need to do their jobs properly. Our bodies are rebelling against us because processed food delivers nutrients (or a lack thereof) in a way which our bodies don’t understand; our cells thus become weaker, and aren’t able to fight disease nearly as well (see this post from Joe Cross’ website to learn more).

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I’m not necessarily promoting a juice fast– I tend to prefer the fiber preserved in smoothies (remember, I’m not an RD…I have a degree in Latin and Greek :))– but I AM a huge proponent of the ability of fruits and veggies to change someone from the inside-out, and this documentary really encapsulated that belief. If you want to watch it for free (if you don’t have Netflix), check out this website. It might spark you to either continue along your path, or, like so many around the world, might help you to see your diet (again, WHAT you eat, not fad diets) and your lifestyle in a new light.

Happy Monday! Although I could crawl into bed thanks to this icky weather, it’s time to lace up the sneaks.

Have you ever seen Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead? Did you find it convincing? Have you ever done a juice fast?

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