Wednesday 27 February 2013

30 Days of Fitness: Day 10 - I Climbed A Tree

Back at the gym again. Liking the routine of it. Still struggling with the ab curls though, which I could practise at home but then I'm like "nah". But I can already feel my cardio is improving and the weights do seem easier. I have my PT session tomorrow so hopefully he'll say I have as well!

It's there! Second finger!
I've also suffered my first casualty during my fitness. Big blister on my hand - clearly not a man who's used to such labour. Hopefully it's the first and the last.

In the afternoon I headed to the Trees Adventure Park in Belgrave. Basically it's a number of tree top obstacle courses that also includes flying foxes. It's a lot of fun but physically quite demanding and a little daunting initially when you see how high up you are.

The long black course (or Oh LaLa as its known at the park) is by far the hardest. It's physically so demanding my legs and arms were shaking so much. There were moments I just wanted to give up but I was in the middle of an obstacle and to give up would be quite embarrassing. To make maters worse it started raining too so the wood was a bit slippery too.

By the end of the two hours I was covered in so much sweat and rainwater, I didn't know which was which. My legs and arms are killing me. Had to use a lot of upper body strength throughout.

A lot of fun but it's not easy/relaxing fun. Think tomorrow is going to be a killer.

Trees Adventure Park = Exhausting Fun

Tuesday 26 February 2013

30 Days of Fitness: Day 9 - Back to the Gym

Headed back to the gym this evening. Despite the pain and stuff, I am secretly looking forward to these gym times. Apart from getting fit, when I am at the gym, I am so focused on getting it done that everything else I am thinking about just goes away; which for me is a welcome relief! Just in case you missed it a few days ago, this is the circuit I am doing:

HATE these with a passion
Warm Up
Treadmill 10 mins
Rower 5 mins = 1km

Lats Pulldown 3x15 at 20kg
Chest Press 3x15 at 20kg
Squats 3x20
Hammy Curls 3x14 at 40kg
Shoulder Press 3x15 at 20kg
Seated Row 3x15 at 25kg

Core Excercies
Ab Curls 2x20
Russian Twists 2x40 with 2kg ball
Alt. Arm/Leg Raises 2x10

Cool Down

                                                                                  Cross Fit 10 mins

I'm already feeling my endurance is getting better. I can run faster for longer on the treadmill and can row a km in 4:13 seconds (another 9 seconds of my time two days ago). Less than a week ago, I struggled to make it in 5:02. Even the weights, they are still hard for me but easier at the same time. Although the ab curls just kill me. Each and every single one of them.

I've had quite a few friends comment recently and laugh about the fact that I am going to the gym now. "I can't picture you at the gym', 'what do you wear?' and similar comments are made. And even though I may laugh about it and make jokes about it myself, it's comments like this I think people need to be careful about making because to the wrong person it might be enough to turn them off out of fear or intimidation. Fortunately for the next 21 days I have no choice and hopefully by then, I just won't care!

Monday 25 February 2013

30 Days of Fitness: Day 8 - Pump, pump it up!

My first pump class today. Was feeling pretty fresh for it, especially as I went to sleep at 9:30 last night and had 8 hours sleep! Haven't had that in such a long time! Pump has had to have been the most difficult form of exercise I have undertaken in the eight days I have been doing this. It was like the instructor said, it's not about lifting weights and being strong, it's about endurance. And I didn't have it. I kept going for about 3/4 of it, or maybe a little bit more. But at a few points, especially towards the end, I felt so weak! Even doing a lunge and my back leg was shaking like crazy! But I did feel good after it and I had no nausea or feeling bloated so maybe that was just my body getting used to it.

All day I was really sore and was grunting like crazy at work when I sat down or stood up - I remember reading an interview with Raquel Welch where they asked her how do you stay so young? She replied that she never makes a noise when sitting down or standing up. If that's the case, I am screwed!

After work I headed to my outdoor yoga class. Was really difficult as my arms and legs were still really tense and sore but I managed to do it. Although that damn dog pose kills me every time. I have really bad flexibility in my legs so I need to work on that. Loved having it outdoors today though as there was a beautiful summery breeze coming in.

Had intended to go to the gym in the evening but I did not feel that it would be at all beneficial to me tonight. I doubt I would be able to do even 10 squats - let alone 120. And chest presses? Forget about it. So instead I chose to rest up and to head over tomorrow. I think I did quite a bit today anyway.

It's been hard so far. The early mornings have been the biggest struggle. Being up at 5:30am. Body clock has a lot to get used to, as well as my body. And the encouragement I am getting from people has been really good and positive so that makes me keep going. Not to mention the fact that I would then have to state on this blog that I failed the challenge. Can't have that!

Sunday 24 February 2013

30 Days of Fitness: Day 7 - Zoom-zoom...zumba!

Due to White Night I had 5.5 hours sleep last night. I swear, if I wasn't writing this blog I would not be going to these classes! But to them I must, so I headed to my first Zumba class at my gym. I had all these nerves again; would I be the only guy? Would I be completely uncoordinated? Would I manage it...the answers were yes, no and yes. I was the only guy but AGAIN no one cares who else is in the class and what their ability is as everyone is so focused on themselves. However, I did have a scan of the room every now and again and I must say, I definitely wasn't the most uncoordinated one and for the most part I do think I kept up pretty well. But man, do I sweat a lot when I get going!

Would live it if my instructor
wore that to class!
As soon as the class was over, I got straight into my gym routine. I thought I would struggle a lot more having just done zumba but I feel like I went a lot better. With my warm up, i spent 2 minutes longer running at 10kmp/h and I smashed my rowing time by 33 seconds and hitting 1km in 4:12sec! 

My circuit felt a lot quicker and I was more efficient in getting through the sets, don't feel like I struggled as much to get through them. By the time the core exercises came, I was struggling a bit and started feeling a little nauseous as I had not eaten for about three hours at this point - for breakfast I had oats with blueberries and a banana. 

I am feeling quite tense in my arms, legs and back but I am feeling a big sense of accomplishment whenever I leave the gym. I am a week into my challenge and I know I'm still in the pain phase but I do feel like the rewards will be great and am hoping a maximum of another week of pain and soreness before ti becomes a bit more natural - but I guess if that happens, it means I need to add more weights! 

Saturday 23 February 2013

30 Days of Fitness: Day 6 - En Guarde!!!

Went to my first fencing class today. And well, it was AWESOME. That's right, I've even caps locked it because it was that great. Again, it was a small group of four, and one late comer. But everyone's on the same page and stuff. Doing it with Spatha Fencing. The two instructors we had were pretty good and were able to teach us the very basics quite quickly.

We ended up having a bit of a round robin tournament and I won all four of my games. Being left handed is an advantage to fencing but also coz I have such long arms, it is much easier for me to lunge my Foil at. Foil being the easiest of the three swords you can use.

The fencing mask was really claustrophobic initially and it's crazy the amount of sweat that builds up in there but definitely going to continue with this one I think. The groups seems pretty nice too. Was only supposed to be an hour long lesson but ended up running 40 minutes over. By the end of it, my arms were pretty sore but I felt good.

In the afternoon I headed back to the Gym and began my circuit which is as follows:

Warm Up
Treadmill 10 mins
Rower 5 mins = 1km

Lats Pulldown 3x15 at 20kg
Chest Press 3x15 at 20kg
Squats 3x20
Hammy Curls 3x14 at 40kg
Shoulder Press 3x15 at 20kg
Seated Row 3x15 at 25kg

Core Excercies
Ab Curls 2x20
Russian Twists 2x40 with 2kg ball
Alt. Arm/Leg Raises 2x10

Cool Down
Cross Fit 10 mins

I managed to do all of this - didn't feel as fatigued as the first day so I think that banana made a massive world of difference.

I was a bit nervous walking in and doing my circuit alone without my PT - gyms ARE intimidating - and even though the majority of it was filled with pretty fit guys, once I got into it, I didn't worry about that at all.

From little things, big things...
So every time I go to the gym and do this circuit I will update how I went and if I have been able to increase my weights...some of it was actually easy - the hammy curls and lats pulldown but I might wait a few more days before I think of expanding or adding more weights. Still very weak with the chest presses find them incredibly hard for some reason.

I also purchased some whey protein powder. And had one straight after my session and I really did feel a whole lot better. Although, since being back from the gym, which has been about two hours now, I have done nothing but lie on my bed. haha...

Friday 22 February 2013

30 Days of Fitness: Day 5 - Damn I'm Sore

I had intended on going to the gym this morning, even set the alarm for 5:40pm. However, I woke up and my whole body was so stiff and sore so I compromised and did an hour of yoga instead.
There were quite a few poses that I struggled to keep because my arms and legs are so sore. But by the end of it I did better having stretched them out and used them in a "gentle" way.
I'm booked to see Nathan again on Thursday so I'm hoping to be able to get to the gym four times a week and do the circuit he's planned for me. I will admit I am feeling a little self conscious about going to the gym on my own and working out but I guess this is an insecurity I'll just have to face!
The sleep thing is still difficult. I went to sleep at just after 11 last night and that's been the earliest I have done in a very long time. I'm sure once I get into a routine it will become easier, I hope, coz not sure how much longer I can go on 5-6 hours sleep!
Finished work and I am a bit sore in the legs and arms but am functioning quite well so far. Hopefully these aren't famous last words!

Thursday 21 February 2013

30 Days of Fitness: Day 4 - But I don't wanna get up!

5:15am wake up call. So glad the gym is a ten minute walk from home. Had my first proper PT session today.

Nathan wanted me to get there a bit earlier to warm up on the treadmill, cross fit and rowing machine before we met. Did all that for 15 minutes and I either went way too hard for a warm up or I'm really unfit. I want to go with the former.

don't get too excited. I'ts not me but
this machine almost killed
So we did a circuit of shoulder presses, chest presses, back work, leg work and squats. 3 repositions of 15-20 sets of each. I started off well but just over halfway I started to feel a bit fatigued and weak - especially in the arms. We finished on the chest presses and even from our first meet up I knew they'd be my weakest. Had to stop the third set and lessen the weights by 5kg to 25kg and even then had to pause at my tenth and really force myself through the last time. Having said that, I found the squats and leg exercises still challenging but by far my easiest to accomplish.

We finished with some core exercises and by now I could barely roll myself over the mat but somehow managed to get them all done. Followed by a five minute warm down on the treadmill and I was done.

Utterly exhausted and sweaty - and feeling a bit nauseous - but I finished!!!!
I'm not sure if I should be going to the gym on an empty stomach or eating beforehand or snacking? I had water with me and finished almost the bottle by the end of the session but is that the right thing to be doing? Or is it just a temporary side effect from never having had exercise before?

Wednesday 20 February 2013

30 Days of Fitness: Day 3 - Look Ma! No Hands!

Woke up this morning with very sore right leg. Just near the inner thigh...was a little painful to walk on but nothing too major (I don't think).

Today was going to be an easy one, as was going indoor rock-climbing at Hardrock in the city. Had the safety demonstration and away we went. Was actually not that hard, granted I stayed on levels 8-11. And they go up to about 25, but perhaps something to work towards.

Finished it like a cheesecake!!!!

There were a few moments of where do I go from here, and at one point, I may have cheated and stepped on a green ledge when I was on the orange path - the scandal. There was a group of people there just climbing the wall without even looking at the colour and I just didn't get that; how are you challenging yourself if you're just climbing a wall.

Again though, it did make me realise how unfit I actually am. Even though I did power through most of the walls, my arms were killing me and I almost let go at one point because I was so weak. Really required much more upper body strength than lower, which was a good thing as I was still recovering from yesterday's spin class.

So by the end of the day, my arms are still a bit jelly-like and my legs are feeling better. My PT has since texted and wants to meet at 5:45am tomorrow. He obviously doesn't know what I am like at hat time...especially as it's now 11pm and I am just getting ready for bed....sigh....

Tuesday 19 February 2013

30 Days of Fitness: Day 2 - I joined a Gym

Well that's a lie. I joined a gym last week but my membership began today. Went to my local Goodlife Health Clubs. Fortunately it is only a ten minute walk from home so very convenient and hoping that when I do get to my 5:15am wake up calls, it won't be too hard. Fortunately today's start was at 8am so up at 7:30am.

Met up with my PT, Nathan, who I quite liked as he looks as exercise analysis and programming and nutrition as well as having a holistic approach to it all. We did a walk through of all the equipment an had me using some of it and assessing where I am at. Wasn't a strenuous thing, first used a few cardio equipment; treadmill, cross-fits and the rowing machines. And then went to the more strenuous stuff - working on backs, chests, arms and legs. I was quite shocked at how easily I became weakened by it and I did struggle to do a cycle of 15 on some of those. Guess I'm not as fit as I thought I was!

I was most certainly not smiling in my class
Had a half hour break and then jumped into a 45 minute spin class. And wow...did that feel like death! I managed to keep my RPM at an average of 79 but my resistance wasn't really set on high, my legs felt like jelly at the end and almost lost my balance when I got off. However, I did manage to keep cycling the whole time, even if I didn't reach the levels the trainer was asking us to meet but it's more about achieving a personal best and working towards that. I was quite happy with my results today and at least now I can start working on a clearer goal.

In the evening I headed off to my first Funk dance class at the Dance Factory in Richmond, and I was a bit nervous about this, especially after watching this BEGINNERS video:

The class was pretty small, only four others. Didn't really have a good connection to it and the instructor just jumped right into it. lots of thrusting and jumping and fast moves, it was definitely not as easy as I thought it would be. It was pretty hard to keep up but I think I did quite well. Be interesting to see how much of I remember. Hopefully get to do a bit of pop and locking at some point!
One thing i have noticed is, that if you are focused on what you are doing, you don't even think about how uncoordinated or stupid you might look to others. The old saying that no one is even looking or noticing you is true - and if they are, it means they're simply not focused on themselves. So that makes me feel better.  

Monday 18 February 2013

30 Days of Fitness: Day 1 - Yoga in the park

One challenge done and a new one began today! This time 30 Days of Fitness. There is a number of reasons why I have chosen to have this one as my next one.

The main one is that I have a terrible self-image problem. I think I am very skinny and even though I am not unfit (or at least I don't think I am) I know there are miles to go. I'm hoping with the combination of all the varied activities I do, my fitness challenge will be more of a social thing than a chore. The last thing I want to be is one of those people who goes to the gym every day. To each his own, but that is not the person I want to be. Ideally, I would like to put on a bit of weight or muscle or whatever you want to call it but I do have a fast metabolism so not sure how that will work!

The second reason I have chosen this is to sort of continue off from my initial no meat challenge which has inadvertently become a healthy eating challenge. So what better way to support this habit but by furthering my healthy body!

the Happy Pigeon - hate the bird, hate the pose
So today being Day 1, I thought I would ease into it by having an outdoor yoga lesson with Activate Fitness. However, when it is still 35 degrees at 6:00pm and I have walked from Southbank to Carlton, it was the last thing I wanted to do. I thought I would be fine as I used to do regular Hatha Yoga a few years back but that was not the case. This yoga was more dynamic and energetic so it was almost like a 50 minute exercise routine. I managed to survive most of it, my flexibility in my legs is really weak and is prolonged upper body strength but I am happy with how I managed to keep up for the most of it. Fortunately it's only a class of about 6-7 people so that's quite good.

Walking down the stairs at the train station was a bit of a bother afterwards and I feel like I have gone a bit red in the face from sunburn - better not peel!

Anyway, I will mark off today as a success. 29 to go!!!

Friday 15 February 2013

30 Days of Vegetarian: Day 30 - And Scene

So here it is...30 days of not eating meat! Whoop. To be honest, I knew that I would never really struggle with this one. I'm educated enough to know that not every meal must have meat in it and for people who think that, you really need to broaden your horizons. Not saying become vegetarian but just not relying on having meat for every meal. Even once a week would be a great start.

So what have I learnt? I have become aware that the way animals are treated and killed for their meat is absolutely disgusting and barbaric. I have watched enough documentaries and seen enough visuals to really upset me and question the real reasons why I eat meat. And really, the only reason I could come up with would be because I love the taste. Nothing like a medium rare steak covered in garlic and some hot chips. Or a Coles BBQ Chicken. Or a BBQd sausage in bread with sauce. Even as I type this, I do not drool or yearn for the day I can have one. I go to restaurants and I skim past the meat options not even giving them a second glance. Why? Because I now know where that meat comes from and how it is processed. I remember hearing someone say 'if we had to kill our meat, almost everyone would be vegetarian'.

Since going on this challenge I have been eating healthier - still not as healthy as I would like as I find I am skipping meals and so forth but my junk food intake has decreased dramatically, in fact, in the last 30 days I have had Grill'd twice (vegie option) and chips from McDonalds once - and even that was a matter of starvation. I know there are health benefits from red meat and so forth but I am fairly certain I am getting these from all the other foods I have started eating these last 30 days.

The vegetarian challenge was supposed to be for 30 days. Today was day 31 that I did not have meat. I will continue to not eat meat but I may treat myself to a nice piece of chicken every blue moon but I will ensure that it is free range and not a battery chicken which is caged up in a cage the size of an ipad. Even though it is not the same thing as not having it at all, at least the chicken was not - for want of a better word - tortured all its life. But yeah, so I have said I may give in to chicken every now and again but we will see how long I can go without it...maybe I will never have it, who knows...but this challenge has certainly opened up my mind and eyes a bit more and given me the first step to leading a healthy mind/body and soul once more.

We'll see if the next one does the same thing!

PS> I didn't want to alter my original posting but when I went to add some pics I saw this horrible picture of a chicken and it just disturbed me so much I couldn't even look at it. Having just seen this I think it would now be near impossible for me to eat chicken. If you find it disturbing too and look away, I guess you need to ask yourself why? And what can you do to help stop it?

Wednesday 13 February 2013

30 Days of Vegetarian: Day 29 - The Calm Before...

The penultimate day...not much to report, had a busy day preparing things for the next challenge, which starts on MONDAY! But more about that later.

Tonight's dinner was ricotta and spinach tortellini with spinach and garlic - starting to develop a bit of a love affair with the spinach I must say. Broccoli still retains the title of being my favourite vegetable though.

That's about it for tonight...short and sweet...looking forward to tomorrow, not so i can eat meat again but because I will have completed my first of 12 "30 Day Challenges". Whoop!

30 Days of Vegetarian: Day 28 - Junk food!!!

It's amazing how your diet and food intake can be so much affected by what's going on in your life. When I'm nervous, anxious or stressed I don't eat. And that's what happened today. I won't delve into what or anything as that's not what this blog is about. It's about my experiences of not eating meat. So after a really long day, I was really exhausted and lethargic I decided to get a vegorama pizza from Domino's - yes, I hear you groan, Domino's. Not exactly the world's best food but it's close, cheap and convenient. Was actually pretty good but does not even come close to comparing to the pizza I made in the beginning of the month.

As I near to the end of my challenge, I felt it necessary to remind myself of the vast array of reasons why I should continue to be vegetarian. Especially as I seem to have fallen into that trap of  cooking the same foods and the laziness I have in preparing food - hence the pizza tonight.

I found this documentary online, Myth and Truth about Vegetarianism - For Earth, for Animals, for Yourself which its description states it 'systematically analyzes the scientific basis of claims thart vegetariansim is unnatural for humans and thart we require meat". Just a reminder as to the benefits of being a vegetarian.

Ironically, those who say we need meat in order to stay healthy, I came across this news article today; A spokesman for the Heart Attack Grill - a burger place with burgers names such as "the triple bypass' died of a hear attack. Whilst sad, it is also ironic. What's even more frightening is that they offer "diet plan eating" to customers with items such as the Double Bypass Burger, Flatliner Fries and Full Sugar Coke - although I am genuinely hoping they are having a laugh. Anyway, I may have digressed a bit from the vegetarian thing but it's just a reminder to me that eating meat is not always the best thing for a person.

Tuesday 12 February 2013

30 Days of Vegetarian: Day 27 - Tivall

Mock schnitzel
Coming in to the home stretch. For dinner, I have sampled another mock-meat company; Tivall - founded in 1985, is the world's leader in ready-made vegetarian food products. In their website it states: 

"Tivall products are specifically designed to be a complete source of protein and to provide all the amino acids necessary for a healthy meat-free diet. They contain natural sources of egg protein, soya protein and wheat protein."

Having learnt to be a little sceptical of the healthiness of vegetarian meals, I have done some research and from what I can see egg and wheat protein are good for you as the support each other in storing and using protein. I know about soy but again, it's not like I am having massive amounts of it. So I think this might be a good one, but again, in moderation.

Also got a response from Grill'd regarding my Vitamin C question. What do people think? Is this all above board or are they just talking it up to make it seem like it's that great? How much vitamin C can you actually get from a few slices of tomato and tomato relish?

Sunday 10 February 2013

30 Days of Vegetarian: Day 26 - Vitamin C burgers?

Today was a much better eating day than yesterday. Started off with a great breakfast of home made pancakes; Haven't had them in so long and I was secretly not looking forward to them but I think it's because having tasted these, I realise my mum was just really bad at making pancakes!

Headed to St Kilda Festival for the day. I knew there would have to be a vegetarian stand somewhere but I was getting pretty hungry so decided that I would go for some Grill'd again. This time I got the Garden Goodness, a premium quality veggie pattie beetroot, tasty cheese, avocado, salad, relish and herbed mayo. Was pretty good, as far as burgers go. The thing that got me interested was the tag that came with the burger, that said the following:

I am not quite sure where exactly the vitamin C comes from in a burger so I have tweeted/facebooked Grill'd with this question and hopefully they will answer it.

Then I managed to score myself some vegan ice cream from a Zebra Dream stand. Not that I can't have normal ice-cream but I had heard of these guys through some vegetarian forums and so I thought I would check it out. I went for the Super Berry Yum Boost (coconut cream, agave nectar, acai berry, blueberry and raspberry) and I was not disappointed. Clearly, there was a difference in taste but not to the point I wouldn't have it again.

30 Days of Vegetarian: Day 25 - Bad Day for Eating

Breakfast, lunch and dinner?
Stayed away from meats, so no fretting there, but it was a terrible day for eating. I was extremely lazy and up until 8:00pm, all I had to eat was a banana and some nuts, which are considered to be healthy for you but when that's all you have...not so good. Just an extremely lazy day. Dinner was quorn and pasta again, so not an exciting food day.

However, in my day of laziness I did find a website called 100 thoughts and facts on vegetarianism. It contains facts about animal welfare, sustainability, environment and health reasons as to why being a vegetarian can be good for your health.

With five days to go, I am pretty certain I will not go back to red meat or fish. Chicken, I am still torn over. If I do go back to chicken though it will only be free range which is a step better than eating for battery hens and so forth. Unless anyone out there knows of where I can get some mock chicken products!

Saturday 9 February 2013

30 Days of Vegetarian: Day 24 - Quorn and Micoprotein

I had quorn mince and pasta for dinner tonight. Was pretty much like mince, the taste wasn't the same - that I can remember - but it was still very nice. Mixed in some garlic and onion tomato sauce and filled up my stomach.

I did look into quorn and what it actually is. I just assumed it was something like tofu that was made to be mince. Then I found out this bit of information; Quorn is a micoprotein and quorn is just the brand name like kleenex for tissues. So then of course I had to go looking into what micoprotein is and this is where I get confused.

Micoprotein is produced by a fungus called Fusarium which is provided with nutrients and then produces the protein rich Micoprotein. This micoprotein is extracted and flavoured to taste like meat, as micoprotein does not taste of anything.

Another site stated that mycoprotein (don't even know which is the right way to spell it!) is an ingredient common to all Quorn products. It's a health, meat-free form of high quality protein and is also a good source of dietary fibre.

So, this makes me believe that Quorn is healthy to eat. Unlike tofu. Until someone proves me wrong with quorn too. Then I'l be all confused again.

Friday 8 February 2013

30 Days of Vegetarian: Day 23 - An old favourite

Spent the day at the Werribee Open Range Zoo today - was so much fun and great to hear how the zoo was helping these animals survive. I can't remember the exact name of the horses they had there, but they mentioned at one point there was only 20 of them in the world and they have helped to prevent them fro, becoming extinct. Lunch was a boring cous cous salad that was bland bland bland! YUCK!

And my friend finger flirting
Dinner tonight was back at Madame K's Vegetarian Cafe. I actually had the same meal as last time because I found it that great. It was pretty much the same except the miso soup this time was pretty bad, almost as if they had left out the miso paste. I still finished mine but my mate couldn't deal with it. Luckily he loved his main, which was the Massaman curry; a slow cooked mushroom made lamb curry topped with cashew nuts and mashed sweet potato. Despite the poor miso, this is still my favourite establishment I have been to in the last 23 days!

A twitter friend linked me to this photo as well with the following, it hasn't come from what a reputable source, was just posted on someone's Facebook but we've all heard enough horror stories of what's really in a chicken nugget or a sausage for me to believe that this may actually be real. And that's enough to turn me off my beloved McDonald's chicken nuggets forever!

Can you guess what McDonald's food item this is????? Say hello to mechanically separated chicken. It's what all fast-food chicken items are made of. It's chicken nuggets, patties, and the meat in fajitas... In addition the processed frozen chicken in stores is made from this.. Basically the entire chicken is smashed and pressed through a sieve... bones, eyes, feet, guts and all. It comes out looking like this... There is more, because it's crawling with bacteria, it will be washed with ammonia, and soaked in it.. Then because it taste gross it is re-flavored artificially. Finally since it is weirdly coloured like 'Pepto Bismol' pink, it is dyed with artificial colour.. This is what people eat and feed to their children... Enjoy !!!

Wednesday 6 February 2013

30 Days of Vegetarian: Day 22 - Hare Hare!!!

Lunch at Crossways
So today I went to a Hare Krishna vegetarian cafe in the city, Crossways. Was all you can eat for $5-7 and even though there's only one item on the menu, it changes daily. Today was chickpea clinch curry and basmati rice with date and orange halava with custard for dessert. Really nice place, very relaxed and thankfully you don't have to put up with their annoying music. Haha...

Veggie burger BBQ
For dinner I was invited to a vegetarian friend's house for an impromptu BBQ. I just assumed everyone would be vegetarian but no. So there was still free flowing meat, (kangaroo sausages!) and my ultimate temptation, BBQ chicken - drool to the power of two.

But again, once we sat down, didn't notice the smell and was more than happy with my beet root and lentil burger. Genuinely. And lots of salads.

30 Days of Vegetarian: Day 21 - Maximum Tolerated Dose

Day 21 was a very confrontational day mainly because of two things I watched.

Firstly, courtesy of the Humane Research Australia, I had the privilege of seeing a documentary that looks at animal testing/experimentation. The difference with this one is that it interviews people who have previously worked in animal labs and their experiences with that type of work as well as looking at a few animals' stories and where they ended up.

Shot from Maximum Tolerated Dose
The documentary is called Maximum Tolerate Dose and although the website is not that great to look at, the film is pretty intense. Fortunately, it does not get too graphic, aka Earthlings, but then I guess that is open to interpretation.

I was discussing it with a mate, and his reply was 'but that doesn't' happen in Australia" WRONG! We are the FOURTH country that kills the most animals each year for scientific experimentation. Every year, 6,000,000 million animals are killed for scientific research. And of that, only 10% are considered successful? Furthermore, when you consider how small Australia is compared to the top two countries of USA and China...well...that's even more disturbing.

I am not aware of when any future screenings being held are, but I've got one of the three trailers linked so have a look at it as an idea of what to expect.

My second viewing was a YouTube video by Animals Australia called "Make It Possible" which is a short video that looks at the horrors of factory farming. Pigs constantly impregnated and unable to move  and the pain and torture they go through just for our desire for meat. There is also a Make It Possible campaign to raise awareness for this issue and you can raise support by making a pledge of the following:

A) Refuse to eat factory-farmed animal
B) Eat fewer animal products
C) Go meat free
D) Donate

Needless to say I have chosen C. But to choose any of these would help in making these animals' lives that little bit better.

Both these things have pushed my belief that animal cruelty is a far too common occurrence and something people need to be aware. I've never felt more passionate about something than I have for this cause, and that's saying something.

Tuesday 5 February 2013

30 Days of Vegetarian: Day 20 - Not Eating Meat Is Easy...

The not eating meat part of being a vegetarian is so easy. In 20 days, perhaps I have been tempted three times. All were fleeting moments and it's not like I was face-up to a piece of steak, salivating and inhaling it's scent. However, and I think I have touched on this before, I am finding it incredibly hard to maintain a healthy diet. Ironically, since I became vegetarian I have halved my junk food (choklit, candy, crisps) intake too. I guess when you start making a conscience decision about what food you can/cant' eat, it easily rubs off to others too.

Based on a "readers comments" I have looked at some health sites about the best foods and stuff I should be eating. It is quite overwhelming and am struggling of a way to slowly make the switch. So beans and legumes - and that word alone is weird - are two of the best foods I cna be eating. Yet, I am clueless as to how to use them, what beans are the best and what to make with them. It seems, that everyone and everything disputes everyone and everything. Black beans or red beans? Lentils or peas? They all do different things so how do I pick the best?

I know broccoli and garlic are great foods, and i try to incorporate them a lot. A friend of mine would cover a clove of garlic in honey and eat that every night. Is minced garlic still got health benefits? If I make a broccoli pizza in the oven, is it still healthy? All this makes me head hurt!

However, despite all this, I have found I am eating more, almost at three meals a day! :) And filling ones too. Lunch was a gnocchi with greek salad from a food-court in Southbank. It was actually really good, and might even surpass my falafel salad from the same food court. Dinner again was the tofu/tomato/mushroom sauce with pasta and even though tofu isn't even healthy for you, it must have some health benefits to eating it. Especially if I eat it twice a week. I guess it's just not the super food I thought it was.

Is it weird that I am thinking about all this 20 days in? I am two thirds of the way in to the challenge and only now starting to think about the food I eat and what it's actually doing to my body. Although, I guess this is something I should have been thinking about for 30 years. Like I said in the beginning of this post, it is easy to cut meat out of your diet. It is hard to maintain a healthy diet without it.

Sunday 3 February 2013

30 Days of Vegetarian: Day 19 - Tofu is healthy right?

tofu, pesto, feta, tomato and mushrooms
So today I cooked tofu for the very first time. I've had it before but never cooked it. I got a recipe for a tofu with mushroom sauce however I did tweak it a little and put in some vegetable pasta sauce and some spaghetti. Was actually really nice and filling. And again, easy to make.

I thought all was going well when a twitter friend told me:

"Ooh, hun, you might want to do some careful reading about tofu before you label it healthy… Fermented soya can be ok, but… :/ "

which has totally got me all confused because I thought tofu was like a super-food! So back to the internet I went to research and discovered the following...

From one website:

"Of course, tofu comes from a bean and doesn't contain antibiotics, added hormones and animal producst, but it's still - all together now - a processed food."

But then I found the following article, Is Soy/Tofu Good or Bad for you? and it seemed to dispel any negative comments on tofu, which I tend to agree with. Especially after having lived in Japan for two years and having seen tofu consumed quite regularly there. I guess like all things, in moderation - but I don't think I will start seeing tofu as bad for me. I think its good qualities far outweigh the bad.

30 Days of Vegetarian: Day 18 - The Great Aussie BBQ?

I was supposed to go to a Save The Pigs Rally but I - for want of a better word, chickened out. With the research I have done, I am becoming anti-meat but I still don't think I feel that strongly enough where i can go to such an event. And without giving out any negative vibes, I don't want to be surrounded by people who are such strong activists about animal rights and think they are holier than thou that they end up turning me off a cause I am trying to ease myself in. Because those people do exist and I have come across them already and I did not appreciate it.

However, what I did do was research more into the problem and how pigs are raised and it was an interesting/disturbing read. Yet again, it saddens me that we can treat animals so cruelly and without a shred of compassion. Even if you are going to continue eating meat, I think it's still important to know where your food is coming from and making an informed decision from that. I don't believe there is a right or wrong choice here as long as you're choosing to remain ignorant.

In the evening I went to a mate's BBQ which was filled with meat...and sausages. And nothing beats a sausage in bread with sauce. Am I right!?!? Fortunately, I had my vegetarian garlic sausages with me which I "wacked on the barbie". I personal wasn't really fussed if they touched the meat ones but when I did see them resting on the cooked ones there was a part of me that felt a little bit dirty. Like, somehow I had cheated and had a morsel of meat that had rubbed off onto my veggie snags.

They were actually quite nice, and really, there wasn't a world of difference between them I must say. Fortunately there was a lot of salads too so that filled me up.

But guess this is another example where a vegetarian can be seen as an "inconvenience" to big parties and so forth. I wonder what would have happened had I been a strict no meat contact vegetarian...

Friday 1 February 2013

30 Days of Vegetarian: Day 17 - Bad Food Day

Firstly, I have not had meat today but I have had a horrible day of food and eating loads of crap. Breakfast was two pieces of toast with honey. Lunch was back to the falafel salad which again, nice and filling.

I had all these grand plans of coming home from work and cooking tofu for the first time ever. Did a grocery shop and everything. And then when i came home, I ended up eating three packets of life savers, packet of liquorice and a packet of crisps. I have not moved from my bed in three hours! Bah, so many good intentions! I need a chef!

Whilst I was walking past the butchers, I did look at all that meat and think of all the animals that had been killed for it and the conditions in which they would have been killed. Just kept walking past it and got myself my mock schnitzel instead!

I have however  bought quinoa, nuts and flaxseed and B12 vitamins so it feels like I will be keeping this thing going just a little bit longer than 30 days!

Also watched this clip of Ellen talking about being vegan and although I'm not that extreme I stand by exactly what she say...

30 Days of Vegetarian: Day 16 - Spoiled for Choice

So today I had my first chicken burger at Lord of the Fries and I must say, I was not overly impressed with it. Filling wise, appearance and taste - just didn't do anything for me. To be honest, I have never been a fan of LotF but being vegan and me vegetarian, I thought I would give it another go. And just not taken in by it. I might keep it as my equivalent to a drunken kebab after a night out though.

Dinner was at Yong's Green Food in Fitzroy. Big selection of vegetarian and vegan food with various Asian influences (and Italian and Mexican). My friend suggested the rawsagna, but being Melbourne and suddenly getting cold, I opted for the Pho Soup with mock-beef. My friend got the same but with tofu. It was a very big portion but again, lacked a strong taste for me. Just felt like a bunch of veg thrown into water, I don't know if it's because it was vegetarian but I doubt it as even my friend was not happy with hers. However, she did rave on about the rawsagna so next time, I will have to try that. Oh, and the liquid I am drinking, is a blueberry and banana smoothie - also, subpar :(

For dessert, we decided to go back to Madame K's Vegetarian Cafe so I could try their Banana Roti with ice cream and berry syrup, which I had craved last time I was there but had no room in my stomach. Glad we did, because it was absolutely divine. Just perfect, felt sorry for my friend who is gluten free and couldn't have any. The ambience was much nicer here and overall, I would recommend it over Yong's - based in first impressions of both.

 So three meals, three places with three very different verdicts! (and the picture above is the way that Madame K's present their bill! How awesome is that! Another reason to return!)