• Speaking My Mind

    Plant-Based and Sugar-Free Living

    I’ve changed my diet a bit more since my last post, so I thought it was about time to update y’all! I have now excluded all sugar from my diet, including honey. I’ve also been eating plant-based as much as possible, with the goal of one plant-based meal per day. Usually, I eat some sort of animal protein for dinner.

    Cutting out sugar has been harder than reducing my meat intake. Sugar is addictive, so the difficulty can probably be attributed mostly to that, although I do love sweets in general. Now, when I crave chocolate (yes, I’ve even reduced my chocolate intake. When I do eat chocolate, I eat 85% cacao because there is less sugar), I opt for fruit. My go-to fruits lately have been apples and grapes. I like to pair my apples with grocery store-made almond butter. They make the almond butter there for you and it’s delicious!

    Overall, I enjoy eating a more plant-based diet. It feels better in my body and I get to support local farmers because I buy most of my produce from them! I’ve been using Sahara Rose’s new Ayurvedic cookbook to make plant-based meals, and they’ve been so tasty. I can talk about recipes I’ve been trying from her book another time, but I highly recommend you check out her book.

    One day, I would like to be vegetarian, but I’m hesitant to do so now because over the summer I lost a couple of pounds…which isn’t bad necessarily, my weight does fluctuate a little bit, but I’m afraid I’d lose more weight by becoming vegetarian. I’m also afraid of having vitamin deficiencies. Plus I don’t want to have such a prohibitive diet because cutting out dairy and sugar are difficult enough…to exclude animal protein would be even harder. So for now, I’m just doing the best that I can to eat lots of veggies and plant-protein while avoiding sugar and dairy.

    xx Vic

  • Speaking My Mind

    Why I’ve Broken Up with My Birth Control

    I’ve waited a couple of months to write about this, and I’ll probably write more about it as time goes on. But yeah…I stopped taking birth control.

    Before I explain why I stopped, I’ll briefly talk about my experience with birth control.

    I began taking a birth control pill at age 16 after experiencing a traumatic menstrual cycle. I remember my period as always being horrendous, which is typical of young cycles that are still regulating, but one day it was truly, without a doubt, a bad period.

    I was in high school and had bled through a tampon and a pad and onto my pants. Fortunately, I was wearing dark jean shorts so it wasn’t terribly noticeable, nevertheless, I went home early and went to the doctor to figure out what was happening. At that point, I was bleeding through super plus tampons and pads (worn at the same time) and through my pants in about an hour because I was having clots way larger than the size of a quarter.

    After bleeding all over the seat at the doctor’s office while getting blood work, my doctor recommended I take birth control. She also informed me that I have PCOS, but my OBGYN did not get those same results.

    Then I took birth control regularly until I was 19. My skin had cleared up a bit and I was pleased with having a regulated cycle. But one day, in a Gender Studies class, we were talking about birth control and I realized nearly everyone was on one form or another. This upset me because I thought it was fucked up (because it is but I didn’t realize why at the time), so I abruptly stopped.

    On my 20th birthday, my menstrual clots returned, although not as severely, but I decided I needed to get back on the pill.

    I did not bleed at all until the last few months before I finally quit. During the last few months, I was spotting for months because I couldn’t take my birth control at the same time every day. I felt oral birth control was such a hassle because of this, and I was suffering from breakouts which in my opinion, had gotten worse, too.

    Then, in early 2018, I broke up with my birth control again, but this time it’s for good. Unlike the last time though, I have been reading quite a bit about menstruation and doing my best to have a happy period. So far, I’ve been successful.

    How have I been successful?

    My Yoga journey introduced me to a book by Lara Biden called Period Repair Manual: Natural Treatment for Better Hormones and Better Periods. This book has been the ultimate guide for me toward having a healthy period, in addition to other articles I’ve read online.

    I haven’t finished the book yet, but I’m more than halfway through. What I’ve learned thus far is that your digestive system and your menstrual cycle are related. If you eat poorly, your period, which is a reflection of your diet from about three months prior, will be affected. Thus, diet is essential for having a healthy period!

    There are five inflammatory foods that will hurt your menstrual cycle, and they are: sugar, alcohol, wheat, dairy, and vegetable oil. 

    Even if you don’t have sensitivities to these ingredients, they are still inflammatory to your body. So, I decided to play around with reducing or avoiding some of these food groups entirely.

    I started by limiting, and then completely cutting out dairy. I thought it was going to be difficult to avoid dairy, but for me, it hasn’t been a challenge. The only time I’ve struggled is when people around me want to get pizza or if I’m at an Italian restaurant that has a limited menu of mostly cheesy items.

    Otherwise, I’ve easily swapped out regular milk for almond or rice milk, and I haven’t missed eating cheese because I can still eat cheese! It just can’t be from a cow. For example, I enjoy goat cheese spread on toast for breakfast and I can eat parmesan because it’s such a dry cheese that any dairy in it doesn’t affect my skin.

    My skin seemed to improve when I cut out dairy, and my menstrual cycle was relatively smooth with less PMS every month that passed, and shorter cramps. While I was satisfied with the changes I made in my diet, I had developed acne on my neck, which I never had before. It took me a couple of months to realize it wasn’t my hair or my hair products, but that it must be my diet again.

    Thus, I decided to try limiting my sugar intake. This has been the most difficult obstacle for me because I love sweets! I eat copious amounts of chocolate daily, I love cookies, dairy-free ice cream, sweetened beverages, cocktails (which have lots of sugar), etc. Once I switched from eating desserts to eating mostly fruit and chocolate when I want something sweet, the acne on my neck disappeared, as well as any lingering acne on my face that kept cropping up. I also use honey instead of white sugar because while they’re both considered added sugar, I think my body responds better to honey.

    While my skin and my menstrual cycle isn’t perfect yet, I have noticed how these dietary changes have changed my body. I’m still at the beginning of this journey but I’m pleased with the progress I have made so far.

    xx Vic

    For the record, I’m not recommending that you stop taking birth control and mess with your diet without consulting a doctor first. I am not a doctor and I am not offering medical advice. Please consult a doctor before stopping birth control. 

  • Yoga

    What I Eat in a Day: Yogi-in-Training

    While I usually eat pretty well, I’ve refined my diet more to benefit my skin, ovulation cycle, and my body! The meals I’ve been eating have been filling and delicious, so I wanted to share them. I only included breakfast and lunch because my lunch is usually leftovers from dinner.

    6:30am Breakfast:

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    Toast and Berries

    This isn’t just any toast- it’s toast with goat cheese! I don’t regularly eat goat cheese but since I’ve eliminated dairy from my diet to benefit my skit and ovulation, I’ve chosen not to consume cheese from cows. Thus, goat cheese has come into my life and it’s quite good! I purchased a small, spreadable one from the grocery store and it helps keep me satisfied until I finally eat lunch at noon.  Goat cheese and toast was a recommended breakfast in the book I’ve been reading, Period Repair Manual by Lara Briden, because goat cheese has some protein and the toast provides carbs. I eat some berries (and take some to go!) to make things a little more tasty.

    By the way: If you don’t already, you should follow me on Goodreads and I’ll follow you back!

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    Chai and Rose Syrup

    I also make some chai in the morning in lieu of coffee so I avoid the caffeine-jitters. The chai I make is from an Indian store and my girlfriend taught me how to make it. It is my absolute favorite morning beverage, aside from coffee, because it is spicy and flavorful. Lately I’ve been adding almond milk to it and a teaspoon of honey. Sometimes I add a teaspoon this rose syrup too, also from an Indian store. It has a flowery taste and it’s quite delicious! I find it important to note that any form of corn syrup is not an ingredient in this syrup, instead, the main ingredient is sugar.

    Lunch at Noon:

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    Lunch!

    Most of this stuff were leftovers from the dinner my mom had made the night before. Not all of my food is visible but inside this container is salmon, cod, fried eggplant, potatoes, arugala salad, green peppers, and tomatoes. It all can be eaten cold, which makes things more convenient.

    To ensure I get sufficient carbs in my diet, I also bring rice that I make.

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    Rice!

    This is the rice that I prepared the night before to bring for lunch. It is a recipe my girlfriend taught me and it is my favorite food. It’s soooo good because it’s so flavorful and satisfying! I didn’t have all the necessary ingredients to make it correctly so I had to improvise a bit, but it is still delicious and easy to make.

    For this version of my girlfriend’s recipe, I sauteed some chopped yellow onions and cumin powder in a pan of hot olive oil. Then I added the soaked and rinsed Basmati rice and water. After that, you just let the rice boil and the water evaporate!

    These meals are satisfying and delicious, which has been great since I’ve been expending a lot of physical energy during my training.

    What do y’all eat when you are working out or you spend a whole day adventuring/traveling?

    xx Vic

  • Speaking My Mind

    Bullet Journaling My Finances

    Last year when I went on a 5-month hiatus from my blog because I was struggling with grief and depression, one of my best friends from my hometown recommended I Bullet Journal to help me deal with my emotions.

    For those of you who don’t know what a Bullet Journal is, it’s a method of organization for a ton of different things such as daily to-do lists, mood tracking, gratitude lists, etc. There is an official journal you can buy, or you can use whatever journal you have, you can even create your own with scrap paper!

    I personally used a random notebook for my BuJo, and I used it quite a bit for several months until I finally returned to my online blog. It never became the cutesie journals that you will find online if you search “Bullet Journal ideas” in Google Images because I just used different colored pencils and pens to create lists. Regardless, it helped me get through a difficult time, thus I am picking it up again! This time, I’m going to use it to help me keep track of my finances. (I’m also not using it in lieu of blogging.)

    As I’ve mentioned previously, I have been a bit stressed out about money. Although I am making a small income, I somehow spend outrageously every month. The months leading up to graduation were particularly expensive due to many nights spent celebrating and…honestly I don’t know what else.

    Anyway…I was inspired to pick up my BuJo again because in my email inbox recently, there was a message about Bullet Journaling and Finances. Intrigued, I clicked on it and read a helpful article about how someone used the Bullet Journal to get out of a $240K debt! Thankfully, I don’t have such a large task to tackle; I want to save more money, spend less, and budget.

    After reading the article, I adopted two of the prompts that the writer of the article, Seth, used! Below is my version of what he had done.

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    What I buy

    The prompt above is to track my everyday purchases and my income. This will help me determine what I need to scale back on so I can save more money. Off the top of my head, I suspect that I spend a lot of money eating out and on alcohol. I also spend quite a bit doing spontaneous shopping on Amazon (books are my greatest weakness!!) and at the mall for yoga items (speaking of which, there will be another yoga haul soon!).

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    Habit tracker

    This second prompt I copied is a habit tracker for the month of June. All the days of June (except the 29th and 30th…I ran out of room) are included as well as the day of the week. The vertical column consists of habits that I want to break and make. For example, I want to read at least 20 pages of either one or of multiple books per day because I have a bunch of reading to do for the yoga training as well as a huge pile of half-read books I’m dying to finish. For some reason though, I always get caught up on YouTube or reading different lifestyle blogs, which is better than YouTube I suppose but I would prefer to finish a book.

    Other habits I want to create that would help me achieve my long-term goals include researching PhD programs, applying to at least two jobs/day, meditating with my mala, writing, studying (for yoga/GRE), doing yoga, 10 minute cardio, save $20, clean/organize 5 items in my room, not spend money, and research a car to get. Some habits I would like to break include not buying coffee, not buying alcohol, and not buying food (unless it’s from a grocery store).

    When I do a habit I want to create, I will put a smiley face on the date. When I don’t do a habit I want to create, or when I do a habit I want to break, I will put a frowny face.

    I have many habits in the vertical column, so I don’t expect them to do them daily; however, I hope this tracker will encourage me to practice these habits more frequently than I have been. Currently, I’ve been avoiding many of these tasks and I expect this tracker will help hold me accountable. This will ultimately help me achieve my long-term goals!

    At the end of June I will update y’all on my progress with this.

    Do any of y’all Bullet Journal? What prompts do you like to use for finances or in general?

    xx Vic

  • Yummy Recipes

    Trying New Breakfast Recipes: Golden Milk Smoothie

    My typical breakfast consists of a delicious bowl of Cheerios swimming in milk. I’ve since upgraded to various Cheerio flavors such as the Limited Edition Banana Nut Cheerios (RIP, I hope they revive it!!) and Peach Cheerios. I’ve also upgraded from skim milk to non-dairy options like rice or almond milk because I’ve learned that dairy contributes to many of my acne issues, among other things.

    Anyway…since I’ve moved back to my parents’ house, I haven’t had to cook or prepare meals for myself as much as I was doing in school. The only meal I have to prepare nowadays is breakfast, if I even wake up early enough for it. Well, I’ve finished the cereal at home and I haven’t bought more yet so on Monday I decided to check out my latest favorite recipe website, The Minimalist Baker! I made their golden milk smoothie and I wanted to share how I modified it and the results!

    First though, I just want to say that this is inspired from Golden Milk Tea, also known as “Haldi Doodh” in Hindi which translates to “turmeric milk.” I’ve made turmeric milk before because it is supposed to help with menstrual pain, which I’ve been having quite a bit of since quitting the pill in April. It is quite effective in my experience so if you want to try it yourself, the recipe is very similar, minus a few ingredients that the smoothie calls for.

    The smoothie calls for a frozen banana, coconut/almond milk, ground turmeric, fresh ginger, ground cinnamon, black pepper, and ground nutmeg. It’s optional to add ground clove and cardamom and fresh carrot juice, but I didn’t have any of those. You can also top the smoothie off with hemp seeds, but I didn’t have those either.

    This is what I did have! (Not pictured is the almond milk)

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    I used one banana, although it wasn’t frozen so I added three ice cubes to the blender. Then I eye-balled the rest of the ingredients based on how much I like them. For example, I added about one dash of nutmeg because nutmeg is very strong so I don’t want it to overpower the drink. Conversely, I added three dashes of cinnamon because I love cinnamon. I was also a bit generous with the fresh ginger and black pepper because I love those ingredients!

    The recipe didn’t call for chia seeds but that’s what I had so I blended it in too!

    I made the smoothie again on Tuesday but this time I added fresh mango because I have a lot of it left to eat and I was hoping it would make the smoothie more golden. I feel like I ended up with a grey-ish, green smoothie though…

    It was delicious regardless though! I enjoy this recipe because it can be as sweet or as spicy as you want it, plus it’s a great way to start the day…probably better than Cheerios.

    Please let me know if you try the smoothie or the tea and what you think!

    xx Vic

  • Speaking My Mind

    Creativity & Balance

    First- an update! I just registered my blog with Bloglovin, so you can follow my blog and other awesome blogs there! You can make an account for free with Facebook or you can create your own account. You can also search for blogs by topic or by name! Follow my blog with Bloglovin 😀

    Now, let the post as scheduled commence!

    ********

    I’m feeling good today! This is the best I’ve felt in awhile, actually.

    Part of my joy is because I submitted my thesis yesterday, which initially, wasn’t as satisfying as I was expecting it to be. When I submitted it, I mostly felt nervous and stressed because I’ve been working on it for a year and then suddenly, I was done working on it. I feel like my feelings are somewhat similar to a pregnant mother finally giving birth…just that idea of creating something and then one day, it is done growing. I definitely don’t regard my thesis as fondly as I would a child, however, this is the biggest project I’ve worked on thus far. It’s uncomfortable finally being done.

    Those weird feelings were yesterday though. Today I feel relieved and excited because I’m most likely going to be presenting at a state-wide Women’s and Gender Studies conference! (My thesis was in the Women’s and Gender Studies Department). It’ll be a great experience, especially considering that I’m interested in pursuing a doctorate degree.

    I’m unsure what field I would want to do but when I was talking to my aunt today about it (she has her PhD), she told me that I’ll figure out the field I am interested in at the right time. A couple of months ago, I would’ve scoffed at her genuine response, but this time, I agreed with her. I have more trust in the universe than I did before, and I’m excited about the journey I will be taking.

    Another thing I’m excited about is that because I’m done with my thesis, I can spend more time on my blog now! I have a bunch of ideas in a little notebook, so I’m looking forward to executing them. I’m also excited to use the camera my girlfriend bought too.  I’m trying to have one of my friends teach me some cool, photographic techniques.

    The last thing I’m enthusiastic about is yoga! I can’t wait for the yoga teacher training to begin, although it’s not starting until June. It’s an intensive, month-long program, and it’s going to be great! I feel like it’s going to be a summer yoga camp because it is in the summer and it’s an all-day program too. It’s going to be transformative, and I’m so ready for it!

    Anyway…those are all of the updates I have for now. I’m feeling good, both physically and mentally. Although I have some tweaking I want to do with my diet to help me feel even better physically…more on that later though. I’m still figuring out what I want to do exactly.

    How are y’all? Are you ready for April?

    xx Vic

  • Speaking My Mind

    Young Yogin

    I’ve made it my goal to practice yoga daily, and so far, I’ve maintained it! It’s been…over thirty-one consecutive days. I’m not sure how many more days than thirty-one…perhaps it’s only been thirty-one days…but regardless, I’ve been practicing it daily for the entirety of January, and possibly in the tail-end of December.

    Right now, I’m practicing it when I wake up, which isn’t always early. I try my hardest to get up at 7am but I end up reading the news on my phone, snoozing for a little longer, or I don’t know what I do, but I end up practicing around 8am, and sometimes later like at 11am. I’m trying to practice in the early morning though because according to Light on Yoga, a great book I’ve been reading and using to foster my practice, yoga must be practiced either in the early morning or in the late evening.

    Light on Yoga has been a great, informative book because it provides a background to the practice as well as pictures and step by step instructions for pretty much every asana I’ve encountered since I began my practice in late August. Additionally, it includes yoga practices for various ailments one may have and it has courses to develop the skills necessary to improve, strengthen, and deepen your practice. It’s an excellent book. I’ve taken some notes on the book so I will publish what I’ve learned at some point because I think it’s important to know. Some yoga practices have completely appropriated it, and I think it’s important to know the roots of it.

    Also, I am looking for other books about yoga that provide insight into the culture and history of the practice. If anyone has suggestions, please let me know!

    Anyway…yes so my practice has been great in the month of January! I had my girlfriend take some photos of me to see my improvement. I’m not going to post them here right now, but I will. I want to incorporate more photos into my blog.

    The cool thing about photos and about having her take them is that I didn’t realize until she told me, and showed me, that I was doing the “down dog” pose wrong. My back was super arched and my knees were bent so…I worked on it a bit and now I can do it properly.

    Initially, my yoga goals were to achieve crow pose and wheel pose, but my right wrist is quite weak from playing tennis for several years prior to college, so I am going to work on doing a split and wheel pose. This week I’ve been working on stretching my hamstrings, and there has been a significant improvement, but there is still a long way to go. I have barely attempted back flexibility because I have several fears surrounding it…but I am working on it. Just more slowly.

    The last thing I want to share is that I am considering either attending a Yoga Teacher Training or a Yoga Retreat! Since I will be graduating in a couple of months, I would like to take that opportunity to expand my practice. I’ll update y’all if this idea comes to fruition!

     

    xx Vic

  • Poetry

    Surgery

    Draw the blade over my quivering, pale flesh
    Redness emerges between the folds
    Increasing in volume as the seconds tick away
    Until the needle and thread poke through and crosses the divide
    Pulling tight,
    Patching me up,
    Fixing me of all that is wrong-
    And making it right

    © 2017 Vic Romero

    First poem of the year…More creative pieces coming soon. 

  • Yummy Recipes

    Becoming a Food Network Star

    This is the first self-care post!

    If you’ve read any of the three posts I’ve written since I returned from my hiatus, you would understand that I’ve been overwhelmed by heavy emotions and that I’ve been taking measures to improve my mood and well-being.  I’m currently on summer break and although I’m working two part-time jobs, they are jobs I can do from home and I have flexible hours so I have been able to ensure that I’m making self-care my priority!

    Methods that I’ve taken to improve my well-being include working out, writing, and cooking.

    I won’t be delving too much into my workout because I’m still trying to consistently go to the gym.  For two weeks I went twice a week and last week I went three times, so now I’m trying to go three times this week too.  I go for about 20-30 minutes…I want to eventually increase the sessions.  Otherwise, there’s nothing noteworthy about my workout (yet).

    I’m not going to explore the writing method because I share all my publishable writing on here; therefore, I will solely be exploring cooking in these posts!  If I start getting into another type of self-care habit, I will definitely share it with y’all but in the meantime…I’ll only be talking about food.

  • Speaking My Mind

    In Need of a Tow Truck

    “I’m not just taking trips down memory lane; I’m broken down on it.”

    -Pete Wentz, Gray

    Ever since I posted my most recent blog, I’ve been reflecting a ton on my past.  I read through nearly every post on here, which is around 400 posts, and I’ve been going through old photos…I usually wouldn’t think too much of it but all this reflecting has been keeping me up at night.  So…I just wanted to comment on what I’ve been thinking about.

    I’ve been thinking about coming out again which caused me to reflect on my journey that led up to it as well as what transpired after I came out the first time.  (Speaking of which, I wrote this interesting creative piece with an analysis about it for a class last fall.  I will share it here eventually).  I’ve been thinking about my previous relationship, friendships…and how my relationship with people that are still in my life, family included, have changed.  I’ve been thinking about my senior year in high school, how I want my senior year in undergrad to go, and about what I want to do after I graduate.

    None of these things are bad thoughts…but it’s a lot of thinking and it’s impacting my focus on the responsibilities that I have now and how I feel throughout the day.  I’m worried, anxious, I brood…I’ve had enough.  Especially because these thoughts keep me up until 3am and I can’t continue to have these sleepless nights.

    Anyway…I hope by tonight or tomorrow I will be able to resume my life in the present…no more trips down memory lane for me.

    Also, a good update: my stitches are out and the lab results are fine!  I have another doctor’s appointment tomorrow at a new place because the current office I’ve been going to has an awful environment.  I’ve only spoken to the people at the new place on the phone but they’re already significantly more pleasant!

    Which reminds me of a theme that is apparent in my writing that I’ve noticed since I’ve been rereading it all: don’t accept where you are if you are unhappy.  Right now, after this brutal semester, I feel pretty happy.  I’ve been productive, social, and working on myself.  I’m a little stressed about what’s to come, but I don’t want to focus too much on that anyway.  I want to focus more on the present…take it day by day.

    -Vic

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