The Road to Fitness

North Austin YMCA, 1000 W. Rundberg

North Austin YMCA, 1000 W. Rundberg

Working out doesn’t come naturally to me. When I was a kid, instead of running around playing sports, I preferred to stay in my room and draw or read. Sometimes my mom and I would walk around Town Lake or the St. Ed’s track, which I enjoyed, but exercising on a regular basis never stuck. Even in college, when I had access to two on-campus gyms, I rarely went.

I thought working out was for “athletic type” people. In my head I distanced myself from people who prioritized physical fitness. I associated it with people who had positive self-esteem, which I’ve struggled with. All those years of thinking fitness was not for me really set me back. Now I’m trying to play catch up and experience the benefits.

In short, working out is great. It’s necessary! I thank Miranda for introducing that mindset to me. The idea that we should work out regularly, and stop making excuses for not working out. The idea that it’s a way of life, just as important as every other daily activity. I’m late to this revelation, but I’m glad to start the workout habit now, so that when I’m 50, or 70, that I don’t sit back and think, why didn’t I try harder when I was younger?

Let’s face it: I don’t like being fat. My goals are weight-loss and improving my health so that I live longer. Studies show that working out reduces your risk of getting heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and even cancer. And it’s an effective stress reliever. You might think, I’m not at risk for these things because I’m vegan. The truth is, just because you’re vegan doesn’t mean you’re healthy. What I consider healthy is a diet consisting of mostly veggies, fruits, whole grains, proteins like beans and greens, water, and limited salt, sugar and oil. The biggest challenge is reducing my booze intake to only a few times a week (and only a few drinks max). It’s tough. I love beer and wine and celebrating! I think every day is a celebration and nothing hits the spot like a local IPA. But not only is booze unnecessary, it’s costly and plays with your emotions. It’s bad for your liver and increases the risk for breast cancer. Realizing what things do to your body is the first step in knowing what you need and what you don’t need.

So, as often as possible, I work out for 30-45 minutes on an elliptical at the North Austin YMCA. I sweat a little. My heart rate goes way up. I take in the late afternoon sun. I stare at the cars moving by down below. I overhear some people moan while they work out and it makes me laugh inside. I watch the minutes and seconds pass by on the screen. I clear my mind of work stress and life stress and tune out to home renovations on HGTV or get tired of it and switch to CNN so I get another dose of the world’s problems. I think how 45 minutes goes by so slow compared to same amount of time at work that flies by. I think about how I’ll feel when those extra pounds drop and I can feel better about my appearance. One day. Some day. Soon, please.

Working out. I’m starting to get the hang of it. It’s taking a while to see the change (i.e. lose 3 pant sizes) but it will be worth it to gain a healthier lifestyle.


Weekend Vegan Holiday: Food is for friends!

Counter Culture soul food burrito

Counter Culture soul food burrito

We spent most of the weekend eating and showing off our city to some sweet vegan friends in town from Berkeley, who coincidently happened to be in Austin the same weekend of Texas VegFest. We kicked off our weekend eating a delicious dinner out on the patio at Counter Culture, Austin’s all-vegan comfort food restaurant, and my second home. I’ll write an entire post about how much I love Counter Culture soon.

After our scrumptious meal, we went to ATX Vegan Drinks Texas VegFest Edition at Cheer Up Charlies, where the theme of the night was vegan trivia. Trivia is not really my thing but we were intrigued by the idea of “vegan trivia” and then we were nudged by our friend Lazy Smurf, who named our team “the after smurf.” Most of the questions seemed to be about vegan celebrities, including actors and cook book writers. As a team we did okay, but I give Smurf most of the credit. She is an encyclopedia of vegan culture. We left before the final round to save up energy for the following day at Texas VegFest.

Good Karma Kitchen Spicy Asian Tacos

Good Karma Kitchen Spicy Asian Tacos

We spent most of our Saturday at Texas VegFest eating over and over and over again. The weather was perfect for spending the day outdoors, walking around vendor tents and running into friends. We normally don’t eat 5 times in a day (thankfully!) but the festival was an excuse to try out different foods and support Texas businesses that serve vegans. We had: 1) black bean tamales and chips and vegan queso from Vegeria, San Antonio’s only gluten-free and vegan restaurant; 2) sweet potato salad from Counter Culture; 3) double chocolate chip cookie from Houston’s Sinfull Bakery; 4) Spicy Asian tacos from Good Karma Kitchen in Houston; and finally, 5) a taste of vegan lasagna and canoli from Unity Vegan Kitchen. Needless to say, we were stuffed! But we were happy to try lots of things out. We also were happy to see the talented and downright sweethearts of Herbivore Clothing Company. We heard they designed the logo for the Texas VegFest t-shirts, which were rather adorable. Miranda and I purchased a few unisexual t-shirts from Herbivore. My shirt has a badass koala on the back which I plan to sport at least once a week.

Technicolor Hearts

Technicolor Hearts

We stayed at the festival till the very end, catching our friends in Technicolor Hearts perform mythical, dream-like songs that felt like popsicles floating through the pavilion, probably from too much sugar and food on my brain.

You would think we had enough food, but we took our Berkeley friends to The Vegan Nom for tasty tacos followed by Sweet Ritual for ice cream dessert later that night. It was awesome to show our out-of-town friends a delightful representation of vegan eating in Austin. We can’t wait to visit them in Berkeley!

sunday brunchWe wanted to end off our weekend with a bang, so today we invited our friend Sloan over for brunch at our home. Miranda made scrambled tofu tacos with refried beans and avocado. And mimosas. Several of them. It’s great to share food with our friends. I recently read a quote from Cesar Chavez that was posted by Food For Lovers:  “If you really want to make a friend, go to someone’s house and eat with him… the people who give you their food give you their heart.” Food is for friends!