The Diminishing Vegan

Veganism and Weight Loss

Category: Personal

My Approach to Social Media

This post comes off the back of a mammoth post about veganism, and specifically the damage caused by red meat to both humans and the environment, made by my husband on Facebook recently which sparked a lot of debate (and outrage from some).

My husband’s general way of using Social Media is very brash, he has no care for offending anyone, deeming offence solely with the reader. I do agree with this, however, my approach to social media is the opposite to his. Instead of not caring at all about others I worry too much that I may offend them! This is on my personal page, on my diminishing vegan page I post anything as my thoughts are that people have to go there to follow it therefore are fine with what I say.

I noticed pre any vegan related posts I used to get a lot of likes on things. Now please believe me when I say that I couldn’t care less whether lots of people “liked” what I have said. But I have noticed a sharp decline since I went vegan. My assumption is that people who I’m not that close to have unfollowed me. Of course that is people’s right to, the truth is hard to take especially from someone you went to school with in the mid 90’s and have never seen in person since. It’s easier to hide than read and think.

This correlation though between veganism and likes made me think about whether I was offending people, was I doing wrong by sharing things about veganism? I never shared any graphic content, more interesting articles and information I thought people may not know, often not even saying anything of my own.

My worry about this led to this website, my Facebook and Twitter accounts. I occasionally shared something on facebook, usually about visiting a vegan festival or the like, but I pretty much stopped sharing information. That was until I witnessed the blow up on my husband’s status. A lot of people on his status said that this was not the right way about getting your point across, but having done it the other way for a year a half I can say he got more reaction than I ever have!

So I have started sharing on my personal facebook again, I ensure as far as I can what I share is from a legitimate source, try to find academic backup, and I even give a commentary on it.

So far I’ve had one bacon joke, original eh? I’m going to keep posting. It is too important not to. Climate change has been in the news so much recently and many people don’t even know the impact their diet has on the planet. If they don’t care about animals, surely they will care about what happens to their children/grandchildren. I need to take a page out of my husbands book and just get on with it, and stop worrying about things I have no control over, it is not on me to think about the offence of every single person on my Facebook!

How much do you share on Facebook? Do you think about what others think about you?

Remember you can find me on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, My Fitness Pal and Fitbit. Add me on any or all, I love new friends on all social media for support ūüôā

Apologies for my absence…| New Job

Hello to anyone reading! I can only apologise for my absence, things have been very hectic in my life in the last few weeks.

Two weeks ago I started my first graduate job. This is something I’d been trying to get since the start of the year so I’m lucky and grateful it didn’t take me that long to get, and I’m in a place with great people, where I’m going to learn a lot of new skills, doing things slightly different from my degree but familiar enough to be comfortable with. My background is with computers, computer programming, totally different from this blog. For a long time I seriously doubted my skills in this area, ridiculous considering I got very good results at University at Undergraduate and Postgraduate, I think I suffer with imposter syndrome, which is very common according to the internet.

Getting this job has been a massive step forward for me,¬†even attending interviews and attempting to speak about my skills was a huge hurdle. I think the hardest bit was getting my head around the fact that I could actually manage a professional job, I just didn’t believe it for a long time. It has also led to a shift in my whole lifestyle. I’m no longer available to pick the kids up from school, I’m not at home during the day, I’m adjusting to having less free time.

There is another side to this too though, I’m actually beginning to believe in myself. I am gradually realising that I’m perfectly fine at what I’m doing, yes, I am needing to learn a lot of new skills but surely this can only be a good thing in the long term. It is expanding my knowledge, that in the future can be used, and I actually love learning. I’m interacting with new people daily, and I love meeting new people. And the obvious benefit to working, having more money.

I know, I consider myself a minimalist (of some version), and I will not be rushing out to start going mad with consumerism. But there are some things in life that require money, for example a car that actually works, or holidays. These are things that I’ve just not been in a position to think about, but now I will be, and I believe our family life while being different is going to improve.

So again, I apologise for my quietness, things are changing in my life, it is on a different trajectory, but that doesn’t change that I’m still me, a vegan trying to lose weight. I will be trying to post more regularly from now, so hang with me please!

Remember you can find me on facebook, twitter, instagram, my fitness pal and fitbit, feel free to follow and interact with me on any or all.

 

Why I get up at 5 am | Early Rising

5 am

If anyone had suggested to me when I was younger that not too far in the future I would firmly believe 5 am is the best time to start your day, I would have laughed my head off. I was always an early riser, but 5 am was still the day before in my mind. 7 was acceptable, 6 was early, 5…madness.

But every day, my alarm is set for 5:02 am, that includes weekends (mostly). Why I hear you ask? There are a few reasons for me but I suppose if I was breaking it into three distinct areas, they would be as follows, peace and quiet, self reflection, routine.

Peace and Quiet

The world can be a busy, loud place. I live on a main road, it’s got cars on it at all times, a lot of cars. All day long I hear them in the background going past. When you get up at 5 am, you can hear the birds. There are cars too, but a lot less than during the later hours of the morning. In addition to being quieter externally, it is¬†also quiet in my house. When I get up it’s just me and my cat and dog. I feed them, give them some attention, they wander around after me, happy to see someone else up. The kids and my husband are asleep. I love this time for that reason. I grew up an only child and really cherish alone time. Getting up at 5 am allows me to have this.

Self Reflection

What I do at 5 am differs depending on what day it is, but there is always an element of self reflection, and self improvement. Every day I meditate for at least 5 minutes, more if I have time.¬†At the moment I’m using the free app insight timer, this has many different types of meditation, to music, nature, my favourite though at this time are guided, I find hearing the voice lead me keeps me on track. Currently I am meditating to forgiveness based meditations, but I have followed anxiety, self esteem and many other types. Starting my day with meditation is a beautiful and calming start to the day. Next up my day branches depending on later plans although I will usually have coffee at this point. I may include journalling, I try to do this daily, although sometimes if I can’t fit it in during the morning I do this at night. I also have a book of ideas to write about, to aid creativity, I find this a fun addition to my days, and do it at least 5 out of 7. I also write blog posts in the morning, scheduling them for later publishing. I may also do some yoga, especially when it’s a nice clear morning and the sun is rising.

Again, depending on the day, I leave to go to the gym around 5:45 am for a 6 am opening. On days I don’t go to the gym I take my dog out for a walk around 6 am. It is important for me to get exercise in early, it means that I can get on with the day and know I have done some activity.

Routine

Routine for me is really the underlying reason and motivation for getting up early. I have suffered with depression on and off for many years, and if I have a good, healthy routine, diet, and exercise included, this generally keeps it at bay. Getting up early gives me the chance to combine work on me, and peace and quiet, so it’s a win win. Getting up early allows for me to think about my day, and what I would like it to be about, setting an intention for myself, which I find very helpful.

One thing that does suffer as a result of getting up so early is my ability to stay up late at night, although I was never a night owl, now I like to be in bed for around 10, and I have a marvellous knack of being able to fall asleep in seconds. I usually get around 6.5 to 7.5 hours sleep, this may seem a little low but over the years I seem to have settled on this being sufficient, if I’m any under 6.5 I begin to feel a little tired, but anywhere in my 6.5 to 7.5 window and I’m great, no tiredness throughout the day. Sleep is so important, there is no point getting up at 5 am if you aren’t going to sleep until midnight. For me, those morning hours are more important and useful than the night time ones, where I would generally be sitting about watching TV, or eating!

There is a podcast I listen to that is really big advocate of early rising, plus he is also vegan, so definitely worth a listen, the 5 am miracle by Jeff Sanders, he is one of the most positive people I have listened to, his energy is really inspiring, so if you are looking for some motivation to get up early, or some productivity tips in general, I definitely recommend checking him out. What time do you get up? Do you have any other routines you would like to share? Feel free to comment on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram!

Minimalism in 2017 | Simplify for 2017

In the spirit of my word of the year, simplify, this post lays out what I am doing regarding minimalism in 2017. As I’ve previously covered, my desire to move towards a minimalist life is driven by a few desires, one of these is using less time to clean, organise and generally think about my house, plus to cut down on the stress associated with it.

My scenario a few months ago, I was tired, swimming uphill, my house was always messy, not the end of the world messy, but messy enough for me to look about daily and inwardly say “Why is it like this? How do I spend so long tidying and it never gets any better?” The door would knock, my heart would pound, I have fairly bad anxiety attached to the house and other people, and the door knocking would send me into an inward frenzy. Don’t get me wrong, it was never awful, but the untidiness added to my anxiety meant it was bad enough for me to know I had to do something about it. I had implemented many cleaning routine, a timer, flylady, the app unfuck your habitat, breaking every task into a time limit and doing one hour a day, every day, massive weekend cleans, roping in the kids, I had tried pretty much everything, nothing worked. My house was still messy.

Why did nothing work? Because even with my good intentions, I had too much stuff. It is impossible to keep your house tidy and clean with too much stuff (unless you are willing to spend many hours doing this, which I wasn’t, and even then I think it’s impossible really). I would spend all my time moving things back to their “place” and when I got there the place was usually full, so the offending item would pile on top of other offending items. Cleaning? The surface cleaning happened with regularity, but when you have so much stuff, deep cleaning is once in a blue moon.

Having toyed with minimalism previously, and having got rid of a lot of stuff before I still hadn’t made much headway, it always seemed to creep back in somehow.

So last year I took part in the minsgame, I got rid of over 1500 items. To the normal house this may leave you in an oasis of calm and emptiness. Not to my house! It’s still full, granted a lot less full than it was previously. I actually managed to get through Christmas and New Year without household chaos, and keep the place reasonably clean and tidy. We also bought the kids a lot less this year, my son an xbox and daughter a starter laptop, but not loads of small, space consuming presents. My husband, not full on board, said on Christmas Eve, there is no big things, we should have got big things. He felt uncomfortable with the amount there was there, I felt joy. Glad I had made it to Christmas without caving. The kids were over the moon with what they got. Everything has been used, nothing discarded in the living room.

So overall it was a good Christmas season, I am evaluating every single object that comes into our house, and I’m back on the getting rid train.

For 2017 I have joined a facebook group of lovely supportive people called 2017 in 2017. The aim, as the name suggests is to get rid of 2017 items in 2017. I’m pretty sure I can manage considering I got rid of 1500 in November 2016, however this 2017 is going to be considerably harder! I have tied it into a new round of the minsgame for January, giving me a fairly slow start. Some people in the group have already got rid of hundreds of things, myself I have got rid of 10 (1 + 2 + 3 + 4). I will keep going though with my quest to minimalism. It’s worth it. My cleaning time is already far lower than it was and I’ve implemented a new cleaning routine I’ve now followed for a month, and my house (and head) is thanking me for it. We even had a friend over the other day and all it took was a 15 minute going over.

That’s minimalism in 2017 for me, a simple goal, rid myself of 2017 items. Continue to clean my house. Be happy and spend more time on the important stuff. If you think you’d like to join in, please join the facebook group and use the hashtag #2017in2017out on social media.

New Years Resolutions

New Years Resolutions | Word for 2017

New Years Resolutions and my Word of 2017

The Christmas season is drawing to an end, and for me this year it has been a good one. I missed my mum and dad a lot this year, my mother in law couldn’t make it over due to illness so it was just myself, husband and kids, which made not having my mum and dad a little more raw I think, but despite that we still had a great time, completely overindulged and enjoyed the period. For New Years Eve we stayed overnight at friends, they have a little girl, so we took our kids and dog too. Said friend made a delicious meal, some of which was especially vegan, which was much appreciated!

While we had a lovely time, I’m glad for some normality to return. I do usually make some¬†New Years Resolutions, but its 50/50 whether I manage to finish them, although I believe in the past I have made them a little open ended, which doesn’t help with completion. Really, you must aim for a finish point to be able to say you succeeded. (Last year my daughters was to go through an automatic car wash for example, very random but we completed it in the Summer).

For 2017 I have decided to use a word I would like to motivate my year, and additionally i have two completable new years resolutions which tie together a lot of other areas I would like to focus on.

My word for 2017 is Simplify.

Simplifying for me means making changes in my life to cut out unecessary thinking, decisions and time. I feel I spend too much time thinking, and doing tasks and jobs that with a little work could be cut significantly, leaving time and thought process for more important areas of my life, that I would like to succeed in.

Simplifying my diet is my number one simplifcation. I’m moving to a more plant based whole foods vegan approach. Less processed food, less oil, less bread, less sugar, more whole plants, fruits, legumes, wholegrains. I love big portions and food in general, but big portions only work when food is low in calories, big portions of processed, sugary, salty food makes me (and I’d imagine others) gain weight. I love vegetables, I feel food when I eat them, so that’s what I’m going to do. I doubt I’ll be perfect, but losing weight is a massive priority for me, and I think moving to whole foods will be an amazing step in the right direction.

Simplifying exercise comes in next but is also tied to diet. One of my new years resolutions is to run a 10k race. This is a resolution that can be gained with work, it has an end point. Simplifying my exercise for me means a focus on walking and running, and not overthinking it too much, just to get out and do it. Even if it’s a walk/jog. I have my gym membership but I’ve not used it enough, so fitting in the gym and treadmill are on my list of priorities.

Simplifying my house¬†and household routines¬†via minimalism is very important to me. I took a huge step last year getting rid of over 1500 things¬†in November that I didn’t need or use, but I still have a long way to go until I reach a level I am happy with. My cleaning routine is faster now than it ever has been, and additionally, my house looks cleaner than it ever has. Funny how those things tie together. There is still a way to go though. For January I am back on the minsgame challenge, but for the year as a whole I have joined a facebook group to help me reach New Years Resolution number two, get rid of 2017 things in 2017. I don’t expect this to be too hard, and I would like to have it done well before the end of next year, but I think 2017 will be the year where I start to really put my money where my mouth is, and take minimalism seriously. We had successes at Christmas, our kids still got many Christmas presents, but less than previous years, and they were over the moon with what they go. They have used what they got, there isn’t endless piles of pointless stuff still lying around the living room. I know stuff is not the answer.

Additionally, and I guess tying in to the last simplify, I would like to simplify my waste. I can’t see me reaching the dizzying heights of zero waste any time soon, but waste is bad for the planet. I’m already doing a good job on the planetary front with veganism, but another area in my life I am interested in targeting is waste reduction. I recycle already, but could recycle more. I am looking for shops in the area where you can buy with less packaging, and if eating whole foods there will be less anyway. Additionally, I am looking into composting leftovers indoors, I don’t have a garden sadly, but that shouldn’t stop me.

There are many other things I am looking to continue throughout the year, bullet journalling, blogging, meditation and yoga, these all help me keep a healthy mind. I also have big changes on the horizon, I am in the early stages of setting up a new education business, this will require much concentration and work, and a large part of simplifying other areas of my life is so that I can give my business the focussed time it needs without many other distractions. I know the new business is massively important, but I need to clear space in my head (and home) to give it the time it deserves. Simplification does this.

So there are my aims for the year, run a 10k, get rid of 2017 things and simplify. What are your aims for the year? I’d love to hear on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram!

Happy Birthday Mum | Grief

I’m not really sure what category to put this post under, but I would like to say Happy Birthday Mum. She would have been 73 years old today, sadly, she died on the 14th September 2013, when we were in the process of planning for her 70th birthday.

My mum was a truly wonderful person, she had her issues in life, but generally, she was a great mum and she was my true best friend. When I was a child we were very close, when I hit my teenage years we struggled. She was just trying to guide me, but in a way that made me feel like a child and often caused me to rebel. Thankfully, as I grew up and especially when I had my son, our relationship healed, and we became closer than ever.

I could talk to my mum about anything, and I did, frequently. Her number was on speed dial, we often did that thing of calling each other at exactly the same time and one of us being able to hear the other dialling. We talked ten times a day sometimes, I bounced nearly every decision off of her, valued her input, learned from her, we laughed, we cried, she was the best mum I could have wished for.

Around the start of 2013 she started suffering a shortness of breath, especially when doing anything that caused exertion. She didn’t like exercise, she didn’t even enjoy walking, and now this caused her to get out of breath even over small distances. She went for numerous tests, heart, lungs, all was found to be normal. Still the shallowness of breath continued. The doctors even insinuated that she was imagining it, she did have a habit of focusing on illness, and what was wrong with her, occasionally taking to bed for a day or two at a time. I used to joke with her, come on mum, it’s in your head! I remember the day me, my children, my mother in law and her went to view me and my husbands potential wedding venue, the walk to it was awful for her, she had to stop continually. I was worried, but the doctors had told us there was nothing wrong with her.

I suggested to her that perhaps she had asthma, I had it as a child and the symptoms seemed similar enough to suggest it. She visited the nurse, and their verdict? Not asthma, but COPD. (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disorder). A very mild case, completely treatable with medication. She had smoked for much of her adult life, but had stopped around 20 years previous.

She was given a little inhaler and started treatment. Then she got a cold, which progressed to a chest infection. She took to bed, ill, unable to move much in part down to the shortness of breath. Eventually, after a couple of days, my otherwise completely healthy mother had to be hospitalised.

She was sent to a local hospital, but eventually they were so worried about her she was moved from the island she lived on to a larger hospital, closer to where I lived. I visited her with my children after school on Friday 13th of September, she was in bed, with an oxygen mask on, awake though and speaking to the kids. I remember she had a look of mild panic in her eyes, she hated being ill and was scared being in the hospital. I sat with her for about an hour, told her I was going to stay with my dad, he was 83 at that point, with parkinsons disease and other health problems. We would be over the next morning. I hugged her, kissed her, stroked her hand, told her not to worry. The kids jumped up on the bed and spoke to her. The last thing I told her was I would see her tomorrow and I loved her very much.

I went to my dad’s house and we settled in for a normalish evening, other than the undertones of worry, but telling ourselves she was in the best place.

Around 10.30 that night, the phone rang. It was a doctor, speaking to my dad he asked “Why was your wife not being treated for low oxygen?” What? We didn’t know she should have been. This sounded ominous. Around half an hour later the phone rang again, the doctor again, this time asking for a full run down of her symptoms, he had her notes but he wanted us to describe it. My dad did.

We had a cup of tea in the kitchen, and spoke about how worrying and unusual this felt. I decided to try to go to bed, my logic being the sooner I got to sleep the sooner it was the next morning. I was sleeping with my daughter, in my mums bed, surrounded by all of her belongings, her smell, everything except her.

I was woken, at around 2.00 in the morning, no light on in the room but with my dad standing over the end of the bed, a silhouette only, saying “Fiona, you need to get up, the police are here, your mum is dead”. It felt as if my head exploded and heart broke simultaneously. I started screaming from the millisecond what he had said registered. I stumbled out of bed, walked into the living room, catching a glimpse of myself in a mirror in the hall. I will never forget the look I had on my face. Horror, shock, like my world had just fallen apart. My son was awake in the living room, I glanced at him, but kept walking, into the kitchen, to find my dad sitting at the same table we had sat at a few hours previously, with two police people, a man and a woman I think.

I was still screaming. What happened? How? This can’t be happening. I need to get there. This is not happening. Shriller and shriller, the tears were flowing, time stood still.

It transpired that the doctor had phoned my dad back not long before 2, and told him¬†she had died. She had a panic attack and they had given her some tranquilliser to calm her down, it didn’t work, they thought her heart had stopped but would need to do an autopsy. There was nothing they could have done and they were very sorry. My dad, in a daze, hadn’t hung the phone up correctly, and they heard him hysterical in the background. They called the police and asked them to go to the house. My dad had known for at least ten minutes before the police came to the door. That breaks my heart, that he hadn’t told me and suffered alone. What he must have been going through.

I phoned my husband, he was stuck on the mainland, the boats to the island went off overnight. I was barely understandable, still screaming and crying. I felt as if I would never stop. He phoned his mum, she lived nearby, she came to the house and was just there. I will always appreciate that. I don’t know how I would have made it through that first hour without her. I wandered out into the street. It was the middle of the night. I was praying to be knocked over, or murdered, so the pain would go away. The pain of loss was overwhelming, every second felt like an hour, as my brain attempted to reprogram itself into the “Accept your mum is dead and you will never see her again” mindset. Safe to say that didn’t work for about a year.

I’m not a religious person, I don’t believe I will see her again. I’m happy for people who believe they will, but for me that is the easy choice, the path of least resistance. I wonder, for the people who believe they will see them again, does it make their suffering any easier? Either way, for me, she is gone. Her beautiful, supportive, loving light was out. And I was going to need to live my life without her. It was 8 days before my 31st birthday. Not a baby, but I assumed I would have her for many more years. My dad was the older parent, the sicker parent, and now the reality that my mum was dead was also bringing with it the reality that in the not too distant future I would be an adult orphan. 621 days to be exact.

The whole first year was a bit of a daze. I had my birthday a few days later, myself and some very close friends went to a local pub for drinks. Inside, I was dying, but I was grateful to be surrounded by the people closest to me. My mother in law watched the kids a lot in the first few days, I was unstable, prone to episodes of hysterical crying, my face was red raw from all the crying. I had to go and buy eye drops to moisturise my eyes. I stayed at my dad’s house for nearly two weeks, we had to wait that long for the autopsy and funeral. The funeral took place on the 30th September. I spoke at it, I felt I needed to. Everyone already knew, but I wanted to make sure everyone knew what a great person she was. Everyone said I did well. I barely remember it.

I continued going to uni somehow, it was my 3rd year, the hardest year. I made it through with one re-sit. I’m not sure how, but I did, and went on to fourth year. It was around about 6 months after my dad got diagnosed with a brain tumour. He died 2 weeks after I finished my fourth year of university. I will do a separate post about my dad at some point.

I was lucky to get the parents I had. I loved them, cherished them, respected them, and for some reason never really considered life without them. I’m now over 3 years down the line from my mum dying, and a year and a half from my dad. Life does have a way of keeping you going. Things will never be the same, but good does come out of the pain. I am able now to think about them and smile, laugh, remember the good times without having an emotional breakdown (although it still happens occasionally). But every day I think of them, what I would give for a single conversation. I’m sad my children will grow up without fully experiencing their love, but I speak about them regularly and keep the memory of them alive. I look at pictures of them, sometimes I cry, sometimes I smile.

Do I have any final words? Cherish your parents and anyone you live while you still have them, she shock of my mum dying taught me that death can come out of nowhere, a long time before you think you’re ready, so make the most of the important people every single day. Something else I’m working on, which is easier said that one, live a life you won’t regret. Time marches on quickly, and I don’t want to look back in my elderly years (if I even make it that far) and regret how I lived my youth.

Happy Birthday Mum.

Happy Birthday Mum

 

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