Self Love 2014: Being a Vegan, Setting Goals, and Loving Myself

So, here is a crazy wild fact about me: I’m a RAW VEGAN! Yikes! Don’t stop reading yet. Just hear me out. I promise that I am not trying to push this lifestyle choice on you. Many people have heard of the American documentary film, Fat Sick and Nearly Dead that follows the journey of Joe Cross, an Australian, across America for 60 days while he follows a juice fast. I can relate to that man! I was a 246 pound 5’ 8.5” female. I’d gone to nutritionists, tried prescription weight-loss medications, tried exercising, counted calories, and still just could not get my weight under control. It kept climbing, my back, knees, and feet killed me. My feet themselves were so swollen that they looked like softballs wearing shoes! I had every symptom of low thyroid on the planet except that my thyroid levels were borderline normal so insurance would not cover the $400 medication. I was on several medications to treat depression, anxiety, back pain, sleeping problems, and I was getting close to needing a medication for high blood pressure. I was a wreck! Oh, and one more little detail – I was in the hospital! Besides my health, my relationship was suffering. Yup, I’ll say it – I hated having sex or being intimate in any way! I felt ugly, fat, and embarrassed constantly. It was bad, and I knew that I had to figure out something.

Sick, Fat, and Nearly Dead

On March 2, 2012 I decided the time was now. I woke up and made some juice for breakfast…and a snack, and lunch, and a snack, and dinner. The next day, I woke up and did it all over again. I did this for 4 days. I lost 10 pounds, and my eyes looked so white and so bright. I had a ton of energy! After 4 days, I woke up and drink nothing but water all day. I did this for 3 days. My energy was through the roof and I had lost another 5 pounds for a grand total of 15 pounds that first week. Slowly I eased back into eating, but it wasn’t the same kind of eating that I was used to. Instead, I ate as a RAW VEGAN! These are the sorts of things I ate:

Dried Pineapple

Hummis stuffed peppers and strawberries

What is a raw vegan? Simple! A raw vegan eats nothing but fruits, vegetables, seeds, nuts, and sprouts. The catch is that you don’t cook anything by conventional methods. You heard me right – everything I ate was raw! Now, when I tell you that I don’t cook anything by conventional methods, I mean that I don’t use my oven because it heats food to a temperature that begins to destroy the nutrients within the food. Occasionally I use my dehydrator to “cook” food though. Providing I don’t heat my food above 105 (there are a few different conventions on this temperature ranging from 105 to 118,) all those nutrients stay in tact and provide me with all kinds of good stuff to keep my body healthy and full of energy. So that’s the gist of it. Trust me though, there is so much more, and I DO NOT advise anyone to try this type of extreme lifestyle without doing the research. I will provide you with links to some of my favorite sources at the end of this post.

So, back to my story. I was loosing weight. I was feeling great. Life was awesome, and I was even able to start going to the gym where I entered & won a contest for loosing the most inches during one month. I was on top of the world. Of course life throws a wrench at you whenever you feel like you are on top of the world, and drags you back down the mountain kicking and screaming. On July 14, 2012, I left for Afghanistan. I had 2 ½ weeks to prepare for this trip, and I was not thrilled. My biggest concern was my new lifestyle. I had lost 50 pounds and I was feeling amazing. The last thing I wanted to do was deploy to a war-stricken place where the food offered was anything but raw. Without much choice I did it though.

For the next year I attempted to do what I could to maintain a healthy lifestyle. I learned to eat bell peppers because that was one of the few fresh vegetables that I could count on. I learned to avoid most of the fruit available because it was either not ripe or so ripe that it had mold beginning to grow on it. I drank 8 bottles of water everyday. I ordered as much RAW food powders, canned black beans, and canned peaches & pears as I could from Amazon, but by the end of my time there, I was eating eggs, bread, rice and other processed food because it was about all I could count on. My weight was up and down the whole time between 170 and 200. (The first time I hit 180 was a huge celebration for me!) I just could not find a balance. It was so frustrating to me that the Army would rather give their soldiers 5 different kinds of pie to choose from and 3 different kinds of ice cream to choose from along with the fried EVERYTHING than give them healthy options that would boost their energy and keep them fit for battle. What a horrible mess!

Before and After loosing 66 pounds!

Moving on to July 3, 2013: I came home, and this time it was for good (I had been home in February for a month and a half.) At that point, I was mostly eating as a raw vegan again, but something in my brain had clicked during that year away and I found it to be nearly impossible to eat 100% fully raw. My weight remained at about 185, and I still felt pretty good. I wanted that willpower back though. This was one of the hardest times for me though when it came to being stressed out. I had less than two months to plan my wedding. Yup! I was engaged in May of 2012 and had out down the deposit on all of our wedding vendors before I found out I was deploying. To top it off, I was doing everything by hand! I had less than two months to letterpress our invitations suite, make a flower girl dress, make programs, make welcome bags, make this, make that…basically do it all. My fiancé was in Afghanistan [from May 2012-November 2013 with a month home for the wedding], so he was no help, and my family all lived on the other side of the country so they couldn’t exactly help very much either until they flew out the week before the wedding. Luckily I had a neighbor friend that was able to help me a few times!

wedding pictures

Needless to say, a raw vegan lifestyle was not a top priority for me at that time. After the wedding, came the honeymoon. Our honeymoon was so magical and it took place in Walt Disney World! How could I possibly go to Walt Disney World on my Honeymoon and not eat whatever I wanted to eat? Despite walking around everyday all day long, I still managed to gain 20 pounds on my honeymoon! You heard that right! 20 pounds! That’s just insane. The sad part is that once we returned, I still could not find the willpower I needed to return to a raw vegan lifestyle, and the weight stayed put. Finally in November my husband came home from Afghanistan for good. I was pretty excited to have him home and thought that maybe having him around would give me the encouragement I needed to get back on track, but of course it did not. Instead, the holidays came and went while I gained another 10 pounds! I couldn’t say no to chocolate covered strawberries-you can find the best ones at Shari’s Berries

Chocolate Covered Strawberries

That brings me to the here and now. It is the end of January, I’ve been diagnosed with a cardiac condition called Posteral Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome (POTS), I weight 210 pounds, and I just can’t get that weight off. I am so ready to get back on track though, so I’m starting over.  Next week I am going to begin again. This time I really have to be careful about juice fasting. It is supposedly not a wise thing to undergo with a diagnosis of POTS or while taking a Beta-blocker, so I won’t be able to juice fast, but I will incorporate juicing into my daily regiment. I’m going to make this happen!

Not only am I going to return to a highly raw vegan lifestyle, but I am also going to incorporate some other Self Love habits into my life. I feel that some of the best ways to incorporate Self Love into our days is to take care of our bodies and our minds. This includes all of our organs (skin included) and all the aspects of our minds from our thinking brains, to our spiritual wellbeing and even our relationships with others. Here is my Morning Self-Love routine:

**When I wake up in the mornings I have a Self Love routine. The routine gets me on track for a positive day. I begin by oil pulling. Oil pulling is a practice of slowly swishing your mouth with oil for 10-20 minutes on an empty stomach at least once a day. There is quite a bit of scientific controversy surrounding it, but I find it helpful. I’ve personally noticed an increase in the level of oral health. If nothing else, my teeth are whiter and feel way smoother. Supposedly it also helps to pull toxins from your body.

**Next, I drink lemon water. Lemon water can be very alkalizing. It is important for our bodies to be in an alkalized state of PH balance in order for them to be healthier and fight disease. By drinking lemon water, I not only get the benefit of starting my day out in an alkalizing way, but I also get to check off two boxes on my water log (see my Etsy shop for planners and goal workbooks). My goal is to drink half my body weight in ounces of water per day. By keeping a water log I can easily keep track of how much I have drank and how much more I still need to drink.

**Next, I go for a walk. My husband and the dogs go with, so this ends up working on personal relationships by spending some quiet time with my family. We walk for about a half hour – sometimes more and sometimes less. Even when I really don’t want to do this, I always feel better after some fresh air and some time with my man.

**After our walk, something I will begin implementing next week is exercise. Due to my diagnosis of POTS I have found it very difficult to exercise regularly. I often get sick, dizzy, and nauseous. As with any new exercise program, it is important to start off slow, so that is exactly what I will be doing. Starting slow is better than not starting at all!

**The last step of my morning routine will be my consumption routine. This is the part where I consume some yummy fresh juice, some delicious fruit such as a couple bananas or oranges, and my daily vitamins. Again, there is controversy amongst the raw vegan community as to whether you should or should not add vitamins to your daily regiment. As for me, I have found that it is best for me to take them. I take a raw brand that I love called Garden of Life. Many of the vitamins are vegan, but some of them only hold up to vegetarian standards. I’m ok with that. Do what works for you! It might not be traditional to take them, but I think everyone should do what works best for them. Isn’t that what health is all about? I take their Vitamin E, B-Complex, Vitamin D3, and Zinc. Within these vitamins, I also get my Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Vitamin E, Vitamin K, Selenium, Folate, Biotin, and Probiotic & Enzyme blends. Again, this is what I do, but it may not be what is right for you. I suggest consulting with a doctor or a specialist to determine what works for you.

My favorite tennis shoes for walking and running

How is all that for self-love? I am telling you that this year is the year for self-love. I’ve been striving for it in all areas of my life. I am taking better care of my health, I am starting to MOVE my butt, I am cutting out things that don’t make me happy –there will be lots more on this subject as soon as telling you will not get me into trouble, I am learning new things, I’m starting things that bring me happiness and contentment such as my new business, Pretty Much, & lastly I am working on my relationships. This is going to be a fantastic year! I am so excited!

The Best Day Ever

I opened my business, Pretty Much, to decorate weddings and events. I want to be the reason that other people are happy!

2014 Monthly Calendar

You can find help with planning out your goals at my Etsy Shop. This shows a page from the 2014 Monthly calendar

Goal Planning Workbook on Etsy

You can get your year-long goal planning workbook at my Etsy Shop too! It will give you all the tools you need to set some self-love goals for yourself

So, about those links that I promised:

You can check out my Raw Vegan Pinterest board which also has recipes for non-vegan and non-raw foods

Links to general healthy lifestyle websites:

Mind Body Green

Live Strong

New Nostalgia

Links to Vegetarian websites:

Vegetarian times

Links to Vegan Websites:

Vegan Cuts

Oh, She Glows

Kris Carr

Links to RAW Vegan websites:

This Rawsome Vegan Life

Choosing Raw

Fully Raw

Raw Kristina’s YouTube page

I really hope that some of this information inspires you, makes you think, or at a minimum helps you to get to know me a little bit better! If you have questions, please email me! Hello (at) PrettyMuchonline (dot) com.

What kinds of things are you implementing into your life this year to show yourself some Self-Love in 2014? Leave me a comment!

I would also like to disclose that I am not a doctor and I am in no way trained in the medical field. This post contains information about what I feel works in my life. Please consult with your doctor before beginning any type of new lifestyle or diet.

One Little Word for 2014: MOVE

Let him that would move the world, first move himself. -Socrates

I told you about my tendency to lay claim to multiple words each year for my One Little Word (OLW) project in this blog post. I also told you about how I was suddenly hit with the notion that I only needed one word for my OLW project this year. This year my OLW is MOVE! So why move? Oh, I am so excited that you asked because that’s exactly what I wanted to talk about in today’s blog post!

First things come first so I better start with the “official” definition of MOVE. According to the big bad search engine, Google, there are quite a few explanations of the word. I’ll only share with you the definitions that really apply to my goals of movement this year. Here you go:

-go in a specified direction or manner; change position.
-change the place or position of.
-change one’s place of residence or work.
-change or cause to change from one state, opinion, sphere, or activity to another.
-influence or prompt (someone) to do something.
-take action.
-make progress; develop in a particular manner or direction.
-(with reference to merchandise) sell or be sold.
-an action that initiates or advances a process or plan.
-a player’s turn to make a change of position.

Alright, so now you are wondering how these definitions of the word Move will apply to my life. Oh wow! Move will apply to my life in so many fantastic ways. This year will be full of changes and movements.

First, I will be moving my butt and getting back in shape. In order to do this, I will be returning to a diet (read: lifestyle, not fad) that works for me. It gives me energy, keeps me feeling positive, and even makes me feel centered and balanced in this crazy world. With that energy I will hopefully be able to physically move my body. I am working on walking every day – I would love to do two walks, but we have to start slow. I also want to start doing more strength training.

A second way in which I will be moving deals with changing my career position. I have opened my own business, Pretty Much, and I want to grow it and grow it like a beautiful garden that blossoms with flowers and gives life to amazing healthy foods that nourish me. This business of mine will nourish my soul and my mind by giving me a way to use my creative energies each day, making others’ dreams come true, and giving me a positive way to support my family. There will be a lot more on this subject later this year. Promise! You can help me with this by helping me “move some product” over at my Etsy shop!

Thirdly, I will be moving my mind. I have been going to school for so long. Every time I physically move locations across the United States, I loose credits in my schooling. It can be so frustrating! This year, I am back at it though with an online school that can travel with me. It will be my second full semester at the Academy of Art University. I’m looking forward to the ways my mind will stretch and the things I will fill my brain with. I absolutely love to learn!

In all of this, the basic plan is to move forward in my life, to make good choices, to be happier, healthier, and more content with what I am doing. I am choosing to make mindful choices and always keep the idea of progress in the forefront of my mind. It’s my turn to move my chess piece. It’s my turn to become something better. It’s my turn to influence myself and start moving in the direction I want to end up in.

What is your One Little Word (OLW) this year? Leave me a comment!

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New Beginnings, Starting a Business, and Setting Goals

A blank screen and a blinking cursor – Yikes! I started my business back in December, but I’ve put off the obligatory first post for the blog simply because it overwhelmed me. Starting a business is easy, but blogging your thoughts is really scary! I fought with myself over what exactly the perfect content was for an initial post. I have so much to share with the world that I just could not decide where to start. I want to introduce myself, explain the roller-coaster year that ultimately led to me becoming a small business owner, and of course talk about all my goals of last year while listing my excuses for not completing more than few of them! The cursor kept blinking and the blank page stared back at me!

Forward to this morning. I woke up, showered, decided there was no time like the present to begin a new practice of oil pulling, threw on some clean pajamas, and sat down at my computer. All current projects could wait; I just had to write that first blog post. I had to begin today or I would continue to put it off everyday until the point of having a blog was completely lost and my enthusiasm for new beginnings went out the door with it! I sat down, took a deep breath, and then took several more. My mind was blank. I took another deep breath and placed my fingers on the keyboard. Nothing came to me. I decided that eating a cookie (a home-baked snickerdoodle of course!) was the missing piece to the puzzle that once complete would picture me, a complete success, jumping up and down as glitter fell around me. The outcome wasn’t quite that dramatic, but while eating that hard-as-a-rock-because-I-got-distracted-and-left-it-in-the-oven-for-a-half-hour cookie, it occurred to me in the most cliche fashion that perfection was over rated, and if the story of my morning was good enough to make me chuckle, it was good enough for my first blog post.

So what can you expect when reading the Pretty Much blog? Oh…pretty much anything! There will be posts about new beginnings, starting a business, and setting goals. There will be posts with pretty pictures, some creative ideas, and lots of glitter could be involved as well! Pretty Much is a design studio based in Utah, and I, Renay, am the Art Director. I create small business branding packages with logos, color schemes, stationary, etc. I create gorgeous party decorations, event themes, and wedding packages. Lastly, I am the creator of the Pretty Much Pretty Busy calendars, planners, and organization tools. You can find me on my personal Pinterest page, the Pretty Much website, the Pretty Much facebook page, the Pretty Much Pinterest page, the Pretty Much Etsy shop, and the Pretty Much Twitter page @HelloPrettyMuch.

Please do stop in to say hi! Comment as much as you can or want. I do my best to respond to all of my followers. Let’s have fun! Come back often for new blog posts. I’ll be starting a blog schedule soon to include featured posts. You will not want to miss all the great things in store for 2014. Oh, and don’t worry, glitter will be involved!

New Year’s Resolutions Are For Bullies

Each January, the majority of the country sets up some sort of New Year’s Resolution to strive for throughout the upcoming year. The tradition strikes me as strange seeing that a good amount of these resulotions end up being forgotten by mid-February. If they aren’t forgotten, then they become a burden hounting their creator from some small spot in the back of their brain. Every year it’s the same thing: devise the greatest resolution, swear that this year will be different, begin to fail a few weeks later, tell ourselves continuously that next week we really are going to make it happen, and then come to the end of the year disappointed in our lack of resolve. But why do we do that to ourselves? Do we honestly believe that we are such terribly awful people that the only way to feel better about ourselves is to make a completely drastic change in hopes of becoming a completely awesome person? Probably not! I think it’s more along the lines of a tradition set forth by generations that came before us and intended as a mockery, but through the years, the joke has been placed on us as they stare down from the heavens and laugh at the fact that despite our history of “failing,” we continue to beat ourselves up over such a silly thing as a resolution year after year!
Although I don’t typically participate in the tradition of beating myself up over my inability to become a perfect person every year, I do recognize that January is a new beginning and, with that, it is an opportunity for positive change. This kind of change isn’t the kind where I give up cookies for the whole year (honestly, who could ever do that?) but cave in on Valentine’s day by eating 30 to make up for lost time. No! This kind of change is the kind in which I continue to move in some direction – any direction – knowing that as long as I maintain even the smallest, nearly unseen, amount of movement, it is movement none-the-less, and that counts as positive progress. Instead of the foreboding resolution, I have opted for setting goals, choosing more self-love, committing to a positive attitude, and keeping one little word in the back of my brain as a reminder of what hopes, dreams, and expectations I have for myself throughout the next 365 days.
One Little Word? You may have heard of this growing trend. Initially it was begun by Ali Edwards, but it has blown up huge! The basic concept is that you choose One Little Word to be your guiding light through the next year. It becomes something you strive for or you contemplate or reflect on. Really, it becomes anything you want it to.  There are so many possibilities! Crazy, I know! In past years I have had a very hard time picking one word, and of course that it the case this year. I have even had years that I choose multiple words simply because I love the way they sound and the beauty of their definitions. I was completely prepared to do that this year…until I wrote the second paragraph of this post. It was then that I realize that more than anything I needed for my word to be MOVE. This word sums up all the ideas I had about the other words I was contemplating. It works perfectly for me and will certainly be a constant reminder of everything I hope this year will become!
With the decision to use MOVE as my one little word having been suddenly and abruptly made just moments ago, I am now having to modify my entire plan for this post. I had intended to discuss the different words I would be using this year, as well as their significance. Well, so much for that idea! Instead I can tell you about a few vague goals I have set while I reserve the right to discuss them in detail at a later time, in a future post as originally planned. Ok, here goes:
*Grow Pretty Much
*Nurture my Marriage
*Love Myself
*Study Well
What do you think? Are those vague enough for you? Don’t worry though, I promise to go more in depth very soon! In the meantime, do you have any goals for the New Year? What is your One Little Word? How do you intend to bring something positive into your life in 2014? Leave me a comment!

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