Saturday, March 7, 2009

1 year

In all the stress and craziness that has been my life over the last several weeks, I let my one year Veganniversary and the 1st year anniversary of this blog go right on by. It doesn't seem like it's been that long at all! So what's changed over the last year in terms of my health? I don't have exact numbers but:

Weight: I started out at 236lbs, increased to nearly 245, dropped to 219 over the summer (26 lbs!), and since the holidays and all the stress, I've been hovering between 225 and 230lbs. So over the whole year I've lost a total of about 6 lbs. Not great, but at least it's a drop!

Cholesterol: Starting out this year I had an overall cholesterol of 201, with LDL at 122 and HDL at 43, which is just over the high side of normal. I don't have the exact numbers to share, but my last blood test in January came back with "normal cholesterol levels", and the doctor didn't mention anything about it, so I'm going to assume that I have dropped my overall and LDL numbers and raised my HDL levels to within healthy limits.

Blood Sugar: It's still kind of in the air if I'm pre-diabetic or not. One doctor keeps saying yes, while two others have done blood tests and said 'no'. I've tested my fasting blood sugars a couple of times with David's monitor and have generally been between 75-85, which David tells me is good.

Triglycerides: I started with triglycerides at 181 (a good number is 150), and again don't have actual numbers, but the last blood test came back in the normal range and the doctor didn't say anything about me being high.

So it seems to me that switching to an entirely vegan diet has really been great for my health! In addition to the numbers, I haven't truly been sick since going vegan (besides from the sniffles for a day or two here and there). Before, if I came down with a cold I would be incapacitated for nearly a week; having to miss school and work and often ending up with the early stages of pneumonia and a deep rattling, hacking cough that would last for months. I've also found that generally my "cycles" have been less painful (sorry guys). Before going vegan and definitely before going on birth control, I would have to miss school because the cramps were so horrible. And let's not forget that my face has cleared up and I've had much more energy throughout the day!

And how was it, switching to a vegan diet? Looking back, not that hard! For the first couple of months, I craved cheese and cheese is still my biggest temptation. There was a day when I just craved a cheese burger so bad that I went to Carl's Jr. and got a Western Bacon Cheeseburger. I have to admit, I devoured that thing and it seemed like the best thing I'd ever tasted. But I paid for it for the next week or so with an upset stomach. There has been a couple of times when I have been tired of not finding anything at a restaurant and it has just been easier to eat something with cheese or milk in it. I'll admit it hasn't been a perfect vegan year. But after eating animal products, even in small amounts, I've found myself feeling icky, sluggish, and just in general not as great as I do when I'm eating vegan.

This blog has really helped me through the last year. Although it doesn't seem like I have a lot of readers (if you're out there and haven't said 'hi' yet, please do!), I have had people stop by from nearly every U.S. State and from other countries like Canada, Russia, Spain, Finland, and the UK. Wow! Hopefully y'all found something helpful or interesting on your way through.

Over the next year I want to continue to focus on eating more raw fruits and veggies, whole grains, and in general eat with "could I eat this straight out of a garden" in mind. Now that I have access to a dehydrator and some canning skills, I want to spend my summer preserving local fruits and veggies to enjoy all year round. I've also been toying with the idea of doing a juice feast, but I'm not sure about that yet. I'll just see how things go and try to listen to my body.

I hope everyone continues to stop by over the next year. And this wouldn't be a post about anniversaries and yearly milestones without saying:

HAPPY BIRTHDAY AUNT JUDY AND AUNT TAMI!!!!!!!! I hope both of you have lovely days enjoying your friends and family!

Sunday, March 1, 2009

At the grindstone

Just in case you thought I fell overboard on one of my research cruises, was suffocated by the ever growing mound of homework and scientific literature, or got lost in the library never to find my way out again, I'm here for just a moment to say "I'm OK". Very busy, but OK.

Here's some of the fun things I've been up to (all taken from my friend Amanda's camera):

From Left: Me, Jason, Lerin, Matt, Amanda, and Monica during a research outing on the R/V Coral Sea. We were using a CTD (conductivity, temperature and depth (really pressure)) sensor package to create a heat budget of Humboldt Bay.
My picture of the CTD from a previous cruise. Isn't she pretty?

Discovering I've completely forgotten how to roller skate at Paula's 30th birthday party. I'm the blurry feet at the top of the picture because I was desperately trying to just stay on my feet. From Top to the right: Me, Lerin, Amanda, and Jason.

Chillin' with the Oceanography Society. I haven't been able to make all the meetings this semester, but I try. Top row: Pono, Rich, Jason. Middle Row: Me, Jeremiah. Bottom Row: Erin, Monica, Amanda. There's a lot more of us, but that's all that could make it to the last meeting of last semester.

Cleaning up trash at the Bay Street Beach in Eureka. We spent at least a half hour trying to get all this rope cut off and untangled. From Left clockwise: Lerin, Justin, Me.

After two hours, we collected six bags of trash, the lining of a truck bed, and two large rusted pieces of metal from a car. This is a much better idea of how many people are in the club, although many people couldn't make it that morning.

Amanda, Monica, Jeremiah, Lerin and I all went out to dinner Thursday night to detox after a four and a half hour class. The food was decent, fairly cheap, and we stayed for two hours and had a great time. This year has really been the first that I've had classes with other oceanography majors, and I've been really surprised with myself at how fast I'm making friends. Normally it can take me years to become friends with someone, and most of the people in the photos (with the exception of Justin), I've only met last fall. But I guess when you have the same class schedule with the same group of people that you see every day, all day you make friends pretty fast.

But don't start thinking that it's been all fun and games. I'm at school/work twice a week from 8am to 8pm, and from 8am to 5pm the other three days. I'm also driving up to Trinidad once a week to take water samples, and have had tests and papers due almost every week (in fact, I have two big papers due in the next couple of weeks, and will get a physics test back on Monday). I've also been looking for an internship in my spare time (haha!), and trying to meet with a career counselor (who thinks I'm a lazy and non-serious student because I didn't start looking for an internship when I was 13 and am just partying all my time away and not paying attention in class because I have a 3.3 GPA) to work on my resume so I can finally contact the people that another contact mentioned might have a position for me. Oh, and of course taxes, FAFSA, and scholarship applications.

The good news is that I needed to go to the doctor a couple weeks ago, and even with all the stress in my life right now (read: horrible junk food eating that's been happening), I've only gained about 12 pounds since Thanksgiving, my cholesterol's in the healthy range, and my blood pressure is excellent. I also haven't been sick at all, although I have been battling off a small cold the last week or so. Although my weight is pretty much the same since I went vegan a year ago last month, there's been a huge difference in my blood work results, my blood pressure, the amount of energy I have to do everything, and I haven't been really sick since I went vegan, just the sniffles here and there. Let's see if I can't keep it up!

Alright, I must go now and continue to write at least 10 pages of a review paper of harmful algal blooms (HABs) on the California coast, and the link with various physical conditions. It's actually pretty interesting, and is a continuation of my last semester's biological oceanography project, and a stepping stone in my senior thesis project. Hopefully I'll learn something through this project that will help me link what I find in my weekly water samples to larger environmental conditions that may help predict when a HAB will occur here in Humboldt County. I'm so glad that I am studying oceanography. It truly is something that I've always been interested in, and the more I learn, the more excited I get to learn more. I couldn't be happier, even if the course load is insane.