Journey To Vegan


So it's 2018 and I find myself on a new health journey. 

It started back in November 2017 when all of a sudden I just had a thought, "I should go meatless for 30 days." I honestly don't know what I was thinking, but it seemed like a good idea at the time. In retrospect, I still don't regret it, but it did offer up a little fun come Thanksgiving. 

November 2017 was a pretty hard month for me. On Bub's birthday, we lost Gin in a terrible accident which rocked my world. Then, on the day that we were going to celebrate Bub for being a veteran, was the same day that we had Gin's viewing and cremation. Then a few weeks later, we lost Alucard, one of Liona's kittens, due to a respiratory infection.

That same week, I was going to visit Bub at his house after I had gotten out of class. On my way there, I came across a dog who had been ran over. By the time I had gotten there, it was already too late. She had already passed but I just couldn't let myself leave her there in the middle of the street, her body continuously getting trampled and flattened by cars and people who just didn't give a damn. (I've been known to make full U-turns to make sure that items that are in the middle of the street are either animals or random debris that happened to fall). I pulled over.

Luckily, I happened to have some towels in my trunk because I keep an emergency kit in there. I moved her still warm body over to the sidewalk and tried calling LA's animal services. Little did I know that a dog that had already passed is actually handled by sanitation. As all bureaucracies go, it was an endless loop trying to get someone on the phone. In the meantime, I decided that I would try and flag down a passing cop if the opportunity presented itself, which it did. Unfortunately for my little heart who had already been through so much pet death, they told me that they would have to call the same number for sanitation and that what they usually end up telling them is to put them in a nearby trash can. 

A trash can? 

I was dumbfounded. 

This was a life. How do you reduce it down to just putting it in the trash can? It deserves so much better than that. 

I started crying. This might have been someone's pet. Someone's companion. This little black ball of fur could have been someone's saving grace, the way Gin had been for both him and I, and they said to put it in the trash can. I had an empty box in my trunk for some reason and I felt so bad because that was the best thing that I could do for her at the time. So I said a prayer as I was putting her in the box saying that I'm sorry that this happened to her, that she deserved better, and that I hoped she had a good life. 

I feel like that was the last straw. 

I guess the death's of beloved pets made me start thinking about other animals, but prior to November I was starting to feel guilty about eating meat. I couldn't enjoy it as much as I used to, which is why I guess it was so easy to give up when I did it. 

About 3 weeks after giving up, just meat alone, I felt way less bloated than I used to. 

Then I started reading. About the dairy industry, specifically. Then I was like, "Alright, no more cow's milk for me!" so it's been coconut, almond, soy, and cashew milk. 

Next came eggs. I'm working on cheese right now, but I've picked up some soy-based cheeses and vegan cheese and I'm giving those a go. 

Mind you, I'm not fully there. 

I know it's a process but it's one that I'm working on. I've started to read labels. I'm still not sure about "scientific" names to look for on labels, but if it does say anything about eggs or dairy I've been putting it back and looking for alternatives. I'm on the cusp of vegetarian and vegan. 

For me, the health aspect of going vegan wasn't my motivating factor. For me, it was the animals. The compassion and feeling that those animals deserve to be treated better than they currently are, and for me that makes all the difference. Giving those animals the respect that the natural world feels they deserve, which does not include solely being bred for our consumption. 

It hurts my heart to walk into a grocery store and think that about half of that meat is going to get throw out simply because it passed a "sell by" date. Think about all those different parts of that animal. How many animals had to be raised and killed to literally be thrown out because nobody bought it in time? It's a waste of life, and that's not something that I can support. 

Amanda ❤

Courage Over Comfort

3b6b61e5927b5e580afe2706b76e46c1I grew up with a few saying that my mom drilled into my head. 

  1. "It doesn't hurt to ask." 
  2. "They can only say 'Yes' or 'No'" 

So as I continue on this environment-friendly journey by taking my own glass containers to food and drink places, I'm reminded of this. Do you know how much courage it takes to ask someone at a restaurant or other place if they'd be willing to put your food or drink in your own container? Most people just go with the convenience of using whatever disposable container the establishment uses. I mean, I understand. It's easy, you don't have to carry around your own containers and worry about cleaning them after, but honestly, is the convenience of single-use plastics better than a clean ocean? For me it isn't, so I do what I do. 

I'm finding that most places are willing to accommodate me. I'm usually met with, "Yeah, sure!" or an "I don't see why not." which is awesome to say the least. The road to using less plastic is long because it's so ubiquitous, but we can make small changes to our lifestyles. By trying to reduce my plastic usage I'm practicing what I preach. Why should I be embarrassed to ask for the things that I want? Why should I be embarrassed to do my part in helping the environment? I shouldn't be, and neither should anybody else. 

Amanda ❤

How My Panic Attacks Led to Being an Environmentalist


    I would say that my first encounter with Anxiety was immediately after High School when I found out that my then-boyfriend was cheating on me. But no, don’t feel sorry for me. Even now, I refuse to let people pity me. But I didn’t know what it was or that it was even a thing. I just knew that I couldn’t sleep at night and that I needed some sense of physical movement. So I would escape from my bedroom window and wander around my city at night for a couple of hours.

    Fast forward to a couple of years ago when I was going through one of my roughest lows. What most people think depression is, is feeling sad. No. The reality of depression is that you feel worthless. Numb. Invisible. You try your best to get on with your day. People know something is wrong with you, and they ask how your day is going or if you’re alright, and your default answers are “I’m fine” or “I’m just tired”.  But nobody really knows that you have to mentally prepare yourself for your day. How many people I’m  going to have to interact with, whether I’m going to be someplace loud. Nobody knows about the shouting match going on in your head, and my panic attacks were constantly being triggered.

    There was the magazine section of Barnes & Noble. The tunnel vision and subsequent black out at work. There was the time I was walking home from work and a car of guys happened to drive by while laughing, that made me run home to avoid panicking out in public. Because when a panic attack happens I just want to be in a quiet corner where nobody can see me. There’s something about hiding in a corner, trying to escape what my mind has perceived as threatening, that’s comforting.

There is no such thing as quiet corners in public spaces.

    You know how in movies and TV scenes where someone gets shot and they’re taking their last breaths, gulping in as much air as possible? That’s what my hyperventilations feel like. Gasping in only so much air before there’s no other option than to exhale, but then I go back to hyperventilating.

So how does this lead to me being an environmentalist?

    Well, it was during that rough low that I decided that I was going to learn how to swim. It was something that I had always wanted to learn to do, but apparently, I was even anxious as a child because I didn’t trust anybody to teach me. Dad, sister, grandparents included.

    But here I was in the pool at LA Trade Tech determined to learn to swim, come hell or high water. I learned that ‘high water’ when it comes to learning how to swim at a school is really only about 3 feet. I didn’t realize that I just had to stand up to keep myself from drowning. My swim coach would do these exercises where he’d flip us around to disorient us, drilling into our heads, “Look for the light” which would soon turn into a metaphor for me.  Soon, I got the hang of it, and there was no stopping me. I loved it. I loved that in this sport I didn’t need to do anything but keep putting one hand in front of the other. That I could check out mentally on everything else and just focus on getting to that wall. Focus on breathing.

“Do I breathe every two strokes, or every three?”

“Two seems too much. Try three.”

“I can get used to three. Yeah, three is comfortable.”

“I wonder if I can go four. I’mma try it.”

“Nope. Not four. Don’t have the lung capacity for four.”

“Three is good. Stick to three.”

“Is my arm going too high? Reach, not windmill.”

“Follow that arm. Is my catch alright?”

“Catch, puuuulll. Catch, puuuulll. Catch, puuuulll.”

    The sound of the water flooding my ears. The distant, garbled yelling in the background. I had to deal with my thoughts in a way that wouldn’t allow the negative ones to come in. This was literally about survival. If I wasn’t paying attention to what I was doing, I would soon be panicking in a 14ft. deep pool. You don’t want to panic in a 14ft deep pool. Believe me, it happened once. Thank God for DeAndre the lifeguard, that’s all I have to say about that.

    I like to consider myself a punctual person and usually aim to get to appointments, meetings, or classes at least 15 minutes early. I would arrive to class, change, then just lay around and float in the pool waiting for the others to come in. Soon a new ritual formed. I’d float around, my swim coach would yell at me, “Crystal, you better not be dead.” I’d reply in some way, usually with an, “I’m not” and then continue on, eyes closed, floating all over the pool.

Okay, Amanda nice story and all, but again, how does this lead to you being an environmentalist?

    You see the water that I was once so afraid of, was the same thing that saved me; Forced me to think about other things than how my brain was telling me that I was a failure. That I wasn’t good enough, pretty enough, that nobody liked me, nobody loved me, nobody would ever love me. What was once one of my biggest anxieties turned into one of my biggest triumphs. It gave me the courage to face some of my other anxieties. And if the water saved me, surely there was a way that I could somehow repay that debt. And there was, by becoming an advocate for the water. By helping other people realize how much we’re destroying the ocean that provides 2 out of every 3 breaths. By teaching people that the amount of plastic and trash that makes its way into the ocean can be prevented by just making a few small lifestyle changes. By changing my own lifestyle, no matter how fast or slow it took me to adapt.

    And that dear readers, is how my panic attacks led me to being an environmentalist. It’s long-winded but comes back around just like everything else.

Amanda ❤

31 Days of Instagram: Beachbody Edition

I know as a coach that sometimes I get stuck in a rut posting the same kind of images about Beachbody on Instagram, so I whipped up this quick 31 day guide to help give others an idea of what else to post. Personally, I know that it never occurs to me to post an image of my workout outfit or my grocery haul. So if it didn't occur to me, I figured, it might not occur to other people.  


Amanda ❤