Vegan, Vegetarian, Fish or No Fish?! Who Am I These Days?

wp-1480011837054.pngI’ve had a lot of thoughts about this issue for quite some time. Am I a vegan these days, or a vegetarian who eats fish? At times it feels like you “need to know” and be strict about it, because if you’re not there’s always that chance for those moments when the “meat eaters” go after you and smirk at you that why are you eating this and this and I thought that you only eat some tofu stuff.

There’s this weird mentality that if you “only” eat veggies and want to be a vegan or a vegetarian, without bothering anyone with it, it still does. It somehow gives the idea to people that it’s their place to judge the choices I’ve made. What is it that that is worth the ridicule and why it doesn’t go the other way around? Is it that veggies are more tolerant or accepting of other peoples choices? Why don’t we feel the need to make a point of what the other one is eating every time?

I’ve had my own journey with food. I’ve had my own struggles with food and how it affects my mental health. I’ve had my own journey with almost toxic relationship with food and how I use it to either comfort or the exact opposite. I still see my body completely different than what it really is, because few times in my life I’ve gained a lot of weight and still have that mindset that I’m fat.

But on that journey has also been the joys food can bring, I’m very fortunate to grown up in an environment where I was offered the choices of many different foods. I was a “I eat everything” kind of person for majority of my life, I went to culinary school to become a chef. I’ve been that one who says things like “vegetarians are the difficult ones” and that’s saying it very nicely. I used to love a good steak. I was all about junk food and still have and probably will always have my deep rooted love for chips/crisps.

And I’ve been a very strict vegan, wrote about it and how it has benefited me and my mental health. I’ve fallen off that wagon really hard and now I am climbing back up.

This whole blog started partly because I watched a documentary called “Hungry for Change”. It opened my eyes with how much the food we eat affects our body and especially our mind. I still remember this one man in it, who spoke about his diet choices and how they affected his depression and I just had tears streaming my face, because it was like he was talking about me. That made me want to change my ways, I wanted to see if I could really feel that much better with so little as what I ate. And it really did. It made a massive change for the best with me. So why have I stopped and jumped on and off so many times in such a short amount of time, as few last years?

For me, I tend to still be a people pleaser and in a way respect what they’ve cooked and eat that, even if it’s not what I would eat if I would’ve been the one cooking. I’ve noticed a lot that it eases the minds of those people if you still eat fish, it’s like you’re not that weird yet or haven’t jumped on the dark side fully. But lately, with Christmas looming and me going deeper and deeper back to my vegan ways I’m finding myself questioning how I will deal this coming Christmas and all the food. What should I cook for myself when others eat the traditional Christmas foods, for example all the fish dishes that used to be the best part for me. And how can I sit in that table with my Christmas tofu or whatever I’ll figure without someone pointing it out like it always happens. It’s starting to get a little tiring for me that it’s the joke or the issue that it’s okay to make a joke about. And to be clear, I haven’t been a strict vegan for quite some time so in a way “it’s starting to get a little tiring” can sound funny to some who know me close enough, but it still does because it’s just stupid to make those remarks. But I also have to point out that when you have people in your life who respect or just purely don’t care what you eat, it does make this whole thing a lot easier. Still those remarks are nonsense and better to left unsaid.

Also, just like my journey with my own mental health and how food affected it, my mind has broadened over the years about how much what we choose to eat effects the world we live in. I started my food journey purely on selfish reasons, but the more you read and research, the more you come across with environment and animal welfare, it would be impossible to not see, read, hear those while doing your research. And it would also be stupid to close your eyes from all of it only because it’s unpleasant.

The last 3 something years I’ve started to appreciate the natural world more and more, it’s for the first time for me, became this sanctuary like place. It’s where I found my love for trail running. It’s where I’ve found myself after breakups or loosing loved ones. The more I spend time in it, the more I want to do something to keep it as it is. I find myself wanting to read books, watching documentaries and doing research on the internet about this all. And the more I know, the more I ponder about it all, the more I lean towards wholehearted environmentalist attitude, I guess that could be what this feeling would be.

So it’s not only the choice of foods, it’s where I choose to buy my clothes, my cleaning products, my everything. I want to make conscious decisions on not affecting negatively on this world.

Back to the diet choices. Since I moved to my own home start of July, my diet has been basically vegan with few instants of vegetarianism. I don’t even think about it myself, but I notice it every time I for example go to my parents where I tend to eat fish or cheese or stuff like that. And the last time I was there I was just thinking why am I eating this fish if I really don’t feel it to be right, for me? I think it’s the easiness of it all. It’s there so you just eat it. It’s the fact that they’ve gotten the fish because they respect you not eating meat. But the last time I ate fish there, I just noticed that this feels wrong. And since then I’ve thought about this and especially this coming Christmas a lot. I’ve only been a vegan for one Christmas before and back then I was a funny, not knowing enough vegan, so this time I would like to make an effort in what I would eat.

It’s funny how Christmas makes this all feel so current, but it’s about eating in most homes, it’s about gathering around that table and eating, a lot. Being together obviously too, but food is a massive part of it.

But so, what am I these days? A vegan? A vegetarian? Fish or no fish?

I would say that majority of my time I’m fully vegan, and going more and more back to that direction. Purely because I’ve felt the benefits of it in my body and like before, especially in my mind. But I also feel like I’m okay to make an exception if something is vegetarian and not vegan. I still don’t eat eggs, I did during the summer, but then it started to feel wrong again, it’s like this is still a baby chicken, no matter how I look at it. Now that I haven’t eaten cheese regularly anymore, I don’t crave it, and it was the hardest for me to leave behind in the beginning on this journey. And damn now I just realized that there’s going to be so many delish cheeses at Christmas! πŸ˜€ And that fish is in the past too, it just doesn’t feel right. There’s nothing different in eating a factory farmed fish than any other animal.

Few good reasons why I chose to decide that I want to give veganism a good go again and to refresh my mind of what I already knew, was documentaries like Cowspiracy, Food Choices, Before the Flood, books like Eating Animals by Jonathan Safran Foer which really opened my foggy and forgetful mind wide awake. There’s loads of great sources to get some knowledge about this and other issues that are all linked together. And that’s what it is for me, the stuff we eat affects the planet earth and we’re already cruising here like it’s going to last forever and not stopping and thinking that will our kids or their kids be able to play in the snow or see any animals in the actual nature where they are suppose to live.

What I really loved about the book, Eating Animals, was that the writer didn’t sugar coat anything, but that he also wanted to offer the opinion of all the sides in the arguments, so you were able to think them through yourself too with that help. It didn’t give a one dimensional look on what eating animals, fish too, does to our planet.

I think for me the most important thing about this is, that you should do your every decision with the fact in mind that it will affect someone somewhere, whether you like it or not. And on the bigger scale those decisions are hurting all of us, if we do them on a whim or with no thought. That does not mean that your life is supposed to be extra hard. For me it means that I have done my research and that I buy stuff with that in mind. I use products that at least try to make a difference. Because every little change is a change for the better.

And like I was happy to notice the first time I went vegan, this time I’m noticing it too. I’m calmer, my skin is way better, so is my hair, I don’t have stomach issues anymore, no more gassy bloated feeling after almost everything, more energy, my depression is a lot more balanced, I feel a lot more tuned with myself, I recover from workouts faster, I don’t have those sugar spikes as I did before, the food that I eat actually does me good. And that is enough for me to choose this path, once again, hopefully this time braver than before, not caring so much what others feel about it.

I respect your choices, so let’s respect each other in every way, okay :).

PMA ❀

 

Review : Tailwind Nutrition Endurance Fuel

Photo from Tailwind

Photo from Tailwind

This review is long overdue, but better late than never!

For a long time, when I started training more and long distances, I had trouble with my stomach. I felt that I don’t really know what to use for fuel on my runs when nothing felt too good. My first Ultra went a bit under, as my stomach just did not want to cooperate. So after that I wanted to find a solution to this all.

I had heard a lot of good things about Tailwind Nutrition, started by a long distance runner who had had a lot of stomach issues. So with that in mind, I decided that I really wanted to try it out.

I contacted their HQ in USA and got a tip that I should contact their Scandinavian/European person, Alex. Which I did and he was so nice that he sent me a lot of them to try out! Huge thank you for that! πŸ™‚

One of the reasons I wanted to try Tailwind was that on my long runs, I tend to drink too little and through that feel a bit funny in the end. So if the fuel and calories would be in my water then I would get all that I need, because if I wouldn’t drink I wouldn’t get my calories. Also on long runs or races, eating becomes a bit yucky after certain period of time.

One thing that I was really interested about was how the powder that Tailwind is, will dissolve to the water and not feel too much while you drink it, you know that feeling of thick sports drinks, that’s the one I mean. But it actually dissolved so great that it’s just water, tastes something if you choose to use the ones with a flavor.

First I tried the drink only as a normal glass of water, just to see how it tastes and how my belly takes it, all good. So the next step was a long run but still a shorter, all good and then for a long run with only Tailwind to fuel me, still all more than good. I felt pretty confident that I can use only Tailwind on my next Ultra with no extra trouble.

And my June Ultra in Island of Samsoe in Denmark, went so great! It was my strongest race ever, won the women’s race in my distance 57,8km. No belly issues whatsoever, only fuelled with Tailwind. After that I am more than sure that I won’t be using anything else to fuel myself.Β F65E9EBB-D0BC-460C-B182-57A2ABB63143

My favorite thing about Tailwind is that it keeps you fuelled and hydrated in balanced way and all the time, there’s no dips like with gels and similar stuff. Which makes running a strong race very easy. Basically the best thing you could wish from a race fuel, right!

I also have to add and admit that I’ve used Tailwind as a fuel when I’ve been working long days, get those calories in when been busy, and also in a very bad hangover… Believe me, it works like magic! πŸ˜€

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Photo from Tailwind

I used mostly the Lemon flavor and absolutely loved it! I tried all the flavors and have to be honest, none of them are bad, which is pretty rare. They all taste pretty “clear”, not too artificial. They also have a unflavored one which is great if you’re not into any extra flavoring, or need a change on your long races. You can get Tailwind in either small one time packs that are super easy to bring with you, or in a bigger bag that gives you 30 servings.I can only recommend Tailwind and will definitely keep using it myself in the future! They have various flavors and also a caffeinated version.

Check them out hereΒ if you live in USA and here if you’re in Scandinavia/Europe.

Thank you Alex from Tailwind Sweden for being so kind and letting me try out the products! My order will be coming in soon :).IMG_2161

 

Arctic Warriors : True Northern Energy

IMG_5249Couple of weeks ago I found this amazing brand from Finland, Arctic Warriors.

And last Sunday I got the chance to meet the people behind it, and got some samples to try out.

So, what is Arctic Warriors?

It’s a company from the Finnish Lapland, specific from Narkaus. They make three different plant based nutritional supplements, in the form of gel and honey shots. All ingredients are from Lapland, old power plants that are almost forgotten.

The three power shots are:

Warrior of Endurance (Taistelija)IMG_5279A sharp kick of stress killer! Made from roseroot which is also called the ginseng of the North, and nettle. It tastes real, strong like almost gingery sharp and instantly kicks a bit of energy in to you. Roseroot is said to balance your body, before and after a rough day or a workout. It also calms so that you can take it before going to bed, if you have sleeping problems.

Ingredients : vegetable glycerol, nettle, roseroot. 4g package.

Warrior of Defence (Puolustaja)IMG_5280This one kicks the butt of flu feelings or when in need of a bit of help with your immunity. Made from angelica and nettle. Angelica is one of the strongest plants in Lapland. It has been used to heal scurvy and plague, so it’s pretty kick ass plant! Taste in this one is strong too, maybe it’s the nettle, but it tastes like something real and no processed taste whatsoever.

Ingredients: vegetable glycerol, nettle, angelica, northern sweetgrass. 4g package.

Warrior of Energy (Energia)IMG_5278

My personal favorite! Made from honey, nettle and roseroot. Possible the best energy gel that I’ve ever tasted or used, so good! Honey gives the energy you would need during your endurance training or just during the day. You can also make this delicious sports drink from this one.

The first time I tried this one, I really didn’t expect it to work that well :). I took it last Sunday after working at the Fair the whole day, I felt tired and sluggish and a bit like I have flu coming. I mixed it with hot water and fresh ginger, and wow! I got woken up completely and felt so much better than before. So I can really say that it works!

Ingredients: Finnish honey, nettle, roseroot, vegetable glycerol. 10g package.

All of them are really easy on your stomach and I could think of using them even when running for a long long runs, while your stomach can go a bit of woozy at times. I love that they are clean and natural, no nonsense. All ingredients are locally grown in Lapland, so they use the best that there is.

One thing that I really love, is that all the knowledge behind these are from old folklore healer traditions. One of the three behind the brand, is actually from old healer family.

At the moment they are only being sold in Finland, but when the products are this amazing, I am sure that soon they will spread their amazingness around the world!

http://www.arcticwarriors.fi/en/

 

Life Around Here

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Hard at work, representing Pihasali Yogastudio at Iloveme Fair in Helsinki.

Life around my new everything is looking good!

I started my new job at Pihasali Yogastudio yesterday, dived in straight away in the form of a beauty fair. I could have freaked a bit, as it’s basically at least two years since my last job. But I felt strong and confident, which helped a lot.

It felt super nice to realize that I still got it! And it was so nice to be able to help people and talk with so many different people. I remembered what I love to do, making new contacts and help people. It also gave a kick with what I want to do with my blog. New ideas, new posts!IMG_5169I feel really good about my training towards my goals. I’ve found the right ways of doing things and it’s really working. Good balance between rest and training.

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New amazing brand from Finnish Lapland, Arctic Warriors. All natural, delicious shots of goodness!

Running is going well, no injuries whatsoever. Body is feeling stronger and stronger. I have good plan that involves running, gym, yoga, foam rolling/stretching class and going to get some massages. Nutrition is on point. Plant based foods are giving me the best kind of energy and my body is just purring like a cat from happiness. I’m recovering super fast from harder workouts.And my life in general is looking really nice. I might be alone at times, as half of my family is in another country, but I have the love with me. I have insanely amazing friends around me here and all over the world. I’ve never felt this loved in my life. Thank you!

I can’t wait to keep going strong and hopefully be able to inspire, help and motivate others! PMA! πŸ™‚IMG_5209

 

http://pihasali.fi/

http://www.arcticwarriors.fi/en/

Why Have I Chosen To Go Plant Based

IMG_4752Why have I chosen to go plant based?

I had to actually take some time and really think how this all began. It wasn’t one day and boom.

For few years I gradually started giving up meat, as it just didn’t suit well with my body, I felt ill after I ate it. Then about two years ago when I saw the documentary “Hungry For Change”, I started slowly but surely cleaning my diet from processed foods and drinks. Then I gave up chicken, and about 6 months ago fish. Cheese has been the hardest for me. I have gone without it for long periods of time but then all of sudden come back to it, only to realize that it really doesn’t make me feel good and that it doesn’t even taste that good. I have always been almost known to eat a lot of cheese, so this was and at times still is a thing for me.

For the past month I have been really getting serious about trying eating only plant based food. I felt that why can’t I just go full on, why am I dipping my toes but not have the guts to really dive in?

The main reason for me to even start this change two years ago was the fact that if I clean my nutrition, my depression and other health problems should get better or easier. What has happened really has surprised myself on the best kind of positive way.

My depression and imbalance in my mind got a lot better quite fast after cleaning my nutrition. These days I have ups and downs but I have never been this balanced. I felt more energized and I was noticeable happier. Those are huge things to someone who didn’t want to wake up anymore because they were so tired of feeling that nothing is good or that everything is just dark.IMG_4996When I started running, obviously I got interested in learning more and more about running and people who run. One of the first I got really into was Scott Jurek, I quickly got his book “Eat and Run”. That really boosted my want and interest in becoming more plant based. His journey from meat eating to plant based was really similar to mine, so it was easy to digest the info. Of course the fact that there are good recipes in his book helps too. And also good answer to that age old question, “how do you get enough protein?”.

The more I studied about the benefits of plant based nutrition has on endurance athletes, the more I was convinced that this is a thing I want to try and see if it works for me.

Breaking old patterns isn’t easy. Β And eating habits aren’t from the easiest end of changing things. In the beginning your body might feel sick just from the fact that the new clean stuff you are putting in your mouth is cleaning your body. Basically, the more sick you are the better you are cleaning your insides. Once you start noticing the benefits, it’s easier to keep going.

One of the reasons for me was also, that I’ve had migraines since I was really young, and when I was around 18 I was diagnosed with Epilepsy. The medication for Epilepsy in so awful toxic poop that I really wanted to get it out of my system. Obviously I didn’t stop taking them while I was suffering from attacks, but I had talked for couple of years with my doctor about quitting them.

But I did quit them and started using vitamin E to support that part of my brain, and for me that has worked without any complications. For me, not for everyone, so don’t go and do something without talking first to your doctor.IMG_4786These days I don’t really have any migraines, only after really long period of stress, that’s how my body sometimes releases it. But not those at worse one a week things anymore. Also this cloudiness that I had before, has gone away. That might be a thing that only people with headaches and migraines know :).

After I dropped milk products this weird and consistent joint pain disappeared from my knees, and I’ve had that for so long, since I injured my knees as a teenager.

I think one of the biggest moments with this nutrition has been on this Monday. On Sunday I went for a long run, didn’t know the route and it ended up being 23,3km of steep hills after another. Usually after longer runs my body is sore and my knees especially. This time, I felt amazing! I was dreading how my knees would feel after all those hills, but nothing really. That showed me that okay, this works the best for me and that I really want to keep going.

I’ve also given up using painkillers and such, I wanted to really get to know my body and if it really hurt or how much was in my head. I haven’t missed them. These days I use ginger for this purpose, and I am happy with that, not turning back!IMG_5177It’s not too easy to be a vegan or plant based or how ever you want to call yourself. There are places where it’s really easy to get food and then places where eating out for example can be a pain in the butt… But I think you can always figure something out, if you want to. I’ve decided to try to be positive and ask if there’s not anything on the menu straight away. It’s not too bad.

So, the benefits in my case:

– getting rid of my medication and having less problems with migraines

– getting my depression in a more balanced state, my anxiety is calmer, I don’t have to go from one extreme to another anymore as fast because my mood is more balanced

– having a lot more energy

– recovering from training faster and giving my body the best kind of fuel

– no more crazy dark circles under my eyes

– I sweat a lot less and it doesn’t really smell

– easier period pains

– skin is better and clearer

– no bloating

– digestion is no problems, no hemorrhoids

– no heartburn anymore

– clearer thinking, more patience, no sugar level jumps

– no addictive feeling, to sugar or some other processed foods or drinks

– natural weight loss

– hair and nails are in better shape and shinier

– breath is better

If I have to put something that someone would take as a “bad” thing…

– nails and hairs, yes all the hairs, grow crazy fast.

– graving of kale…

I think those are all I can think, so basically nothing! πŸ™‚

This change in me might started from selfish reasons, but these days it’s partly because I want to be able to live in a World with less pollution and don’t want to cause pain to innocent animals. The more you study and do research the more you open your eyes to what’s going on, and what the World will be if I have kids someday. It makes you think.

Also, once you start thinking how much you have choices in eating plant based, you don’t think it as a chore anymore. You can eat so many things that it’s insane, it’s not what I have to give up, it’s oh my I am gaining so much! πŸ™‚IMG_4275