Wednesday, July 15

Now that I have an AC, being stuck at home for most of my days is starting to feel quite more enjoyable! However, I think things will perk up even more next week, when I start my new job at Starbucks. I am so excited to meet new people and become a barista, and I’m even excited to get up early for my shifts! I definitely feel more productive and generally better about myself when I get up early.

I’m not sure if I’ve already mentioned this, but lately I’ve been trying to focus on making more positive lifestyle changes. For example, I’ve been trying to keep dibs on how much water I drink daily, and my current goal is to drink at least 60ml per day. I’ve also been working out a lot more, which was strenuous at first, but now it’s getting easier. I know it’s such a cliche when people say this, but I genuinely do feel great after a good workout! I feel energized and strong, and physically, my body feels amazing. 

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Peep my beautiful salad.

So those two things have been making me feel a lot better lately, and I’m really happy to be taking steps towards improving my wellness. Once I move in with Nathaniel some day, we’ll be able to motivate each other to stay healthy as well. He enjoys exercising as well, so I’m sure we’ll be hitting the gym together after it is safe to do so. 


Friday, July 17

I accidentally slept too much today, and as a result, my brain is feeling foggy. Does that ever happen to you? 

Anyway, it’s mid-afternoon now, I’m trying to combat my drowsiness by drinking lots of water and keeping my brain occupied. I’m looking for a new Netflix show to devour, so if you guys have any suggestions, let me know!

Anyway, I’m starting work on Monday, and I’m super excited to get out of the house and have something new to do. I’ve wanted to work at Starbucks for months now, and even though it may not sound like the most exciting goal to have, I genuinely am really looking forward to it. I think it sounds like an amazing opportunity to meet new people and keep my mind busy, as well as a much-needed income. 


Saturday, July 18

Hi everyone, I hope you’re all doing well. I’m doing pretty well, but I did have another rough night of sleep and I’m hoping this doesn’t become habitual for me. I’m also dealing with a bit of brain fogginess/dissociation, but unlike past experiences, I’m trying not to panic or overthink. I’m just doing my best to take care of myself and upkeep some sort of routine to comfort myself, so today’s agenda included laundry, mopping, vacuuming, and running errands. I was able to squeeze in a little baby nap after that (which I don’t normally do,) and now I’m burning my favorite candle in the living room and getting some writing done. There’s a chance I might see Buck at some point over the couple of days, so that would really brighten me up a lot. I’m planning a tie-dye/pizza date night for us, so I’ll be sure to let you guys know if that ends up happening! Stay safe, and continue to take care of yourselves.

 

Admittedly, my collection of clean makeup is not as large as my collection of “regular” makeup, so I’m hoping that writing this article will boost my inspiration to explore even more new brands. Be sure to drop your suggestions for me down below as well!


Bite Beauty

Bite Beauty Lip Crayons Go Viral After Fans Discover They Have a ...
Source: Allure

Bite Beauty is a cosmetic company founded in 2011 by Susanne Langmuir. I received a small Bite Beauty lipstick as a birthday gift from Sephora, which makes sense because Bite is exclusively sold at Sephora. Their products are a little bit on the pricier side, but it’s surprisingly outrageous (usually unheard of for Sephora.) My mom tried the lipstick as well, and she was so impressed by the color payoff and the creaminess, she decided to go buy some of their makeup for herself! Bite Beauty more or less specializes in lip products, so if you’re looking for a new shade to rock on your pout, I highly suggest checking out Bite Beauty. You can also order from their website, if you’re not near a Sephora (and really, who needs to go to the mall in a pandemic?)


Lawless

Lawless Beauty Launch | POPSUGAR Beauty
Source: Popsugar

Lawless is another brand I came across while browsing Sephora a few months ago, so apparently, Sephora is a new hot spot for clean beauty brands! According to the website, Lawless beauty products are always free from potential carcinogens (cancer-causing bad stuff,) health-damaging ingredients, and their products are always cruelty free and vegan! I own one of their soft matte liquid lipsticks, and it’s genuinely one of my favorite liquid lipsticks I’ve ever used. It’s soft and luscious, and it smells amazing, like fresh berries and juice. That being said, their selection is not just limited to lip products: you can shop bronzers, blushes, eyeshadows and more! Their products are a little pricier than Bite Beauty, but it makes sense, considering you’re buying such a high-quality product. 


Drunk Elephant

Drunk Elephant Has Been Purchased by Shiseido for $845 Million ...
Source: Allure

According to their website, Drunk Elephant prides itself on creating “biocompatible” products. Basically, their hair care and skincare products are natural, fragrance-free, and avoid all toxins commonly found in other makeup brands. I own a small pot of their Protini™ Polypeptide Cream, which promises to strengthen and moisturize your skin. It’s a five-star product to both me and the general public, and I would highly recommend it if you’re okay with dropping a lot of money on skincare. One full-sized pot costs $68 (gasp), which is way, WAY out of my budget. I must have gotten this little pot as another free gift from Sephora or the like, because I know for a fact I wouldn’t spend $68 on a singular makeup item. Nonetheless, it’s a totally gorgeous moisturizer, and it works wonders for my skin.


Love Beauty and Planet

New personal care brand, packaging fit Unilever's sustainable ...
Source: PlasticsToday

Definitely the most inexpensive of the bunch, I’ve been really loving Love Beauty and Planet lately. This company creates cruelty-free hair care and skin care products, and you can find them in grocery stores and drug stores everywhere! All of their products are naturally derived, making them a safe and healthy alternative for your hair. Particularly since my hair is color-treated, I rely on their shampoo to keep my locks looking as fresh and vibrant as possible. I use the coconut-scented shampoo, and it smells absolutely amazing once I scrub it into my hair. Not only are the products cruelty-free and vegan, they are also great for the planet, hence the name! All of the products are packed in recycled bottles, and their fragrances are ethically sourced.


I hope you guys found this article helpful and informative! Let me know if you’ve tried these brands before and what you think about them, too. You can also leave me recommendations for other clean beauty brands you think I’d love to try! Stay safe and healthy out there.

Considering that we’re living in such strange times, it probably comes as no surprise that the contents of my bag have changed as well. I also relocated to a new city about a month and a half ago, so that has also really influenced the contents of my bag.

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Let’s start with the bag itself. This lovely over-the-shoulder bag was actually a gift from my mother, as I didn’t previously own a bag that zipped and she was worried about me losing my wallet or having something stolen. It was a very lovely gesture, so thank you, mom! I love the soft, pastel color, and I also really like the material. It feels strong and durable, unlike the canvas tote I was using before this bag. You can’t see it in this picture, but I have a silver key chain on my bag handle that is actually a panic button. If I am ever in an emergency or if I feel unsafe, I just have to press it a couple of times and 911 will immediately be called. It also would send a text notification to my mom, my roommates, and Nathaniel. I thankfully haven’t had to use it yet, but when you live in a city and you’re a girl, you can never be too careful. 

The two smaller bags, the blue and pink zip ones, are actually sets of bamboo utensils and reusable straws. You never know when you’ll be in a situation that requires a set of utensils, so I like to keep two sets on hand: one for me, and one for Nathaniel. Now that I’m writing this, I’m realizing I should probably wash those. Nathaniel’s two year-old cousin took quite a liking to them the last time I visited, and I’m pretty sure he was gnawing on the fork at one point. 

I have two sets of headphones in my bag, but one of them is enclosed in a container so they don’t get tangled up. My headphones ALWAYS get tangled in my lanyard, by the way. I haven’t been able to figure out a good way to stop that from happening yet. Speaking of my lanyard, it’s nothing fancy. Now that I have finally graduated from Lasell University, I can safely publicly reveal that yes, that is where I went to school! I don’t have a car yet, so the only keys on my Lasell lanyard are my apartment keys and my mailbox key.

I have my pandemic supplies on hand as well: two cloth masks, just to be safe, a pack of tissues, and two mini bottles of hand sanitizer. I try not to go too overboard with everything, but since I do take public transit quite a bit, I feel like you can never have enough hand sanitizer. Actually, you can. Remember that guy who bought 18,000 bottles of it? Don’t be like that guy. 

I’ve had the same wallet for years, hence why it’s looking pretty beat-up and dirty. I don’t have anything fancy in my wallet- certainly no money at the moment! However, it does have my driver’s permit and my state ID, which are two very important things I need right now. Interestingly, I don’t carry any change in my purse because loose coins actually gross me out. My friends and family think I’m crazy, but I would literally rather refuse change than have to hold it and put it in my purse. I think it has to do with the dirty smell and the notion that change itself is very dirty that bothers me the most.

Don’t be fooled by the Dolce & Gabbana sunglasses case- it’s just dollar tree sunglasses in there. I’ve never really been a huge fan of sunglasses, probably because I wore glasses for so long, but these ones are actually very cute and functional.

The rest of the stuff is mostly miscellaneous. I have Advil and allergy medicine, because the pollen this time of year is horrid, and it’s definitely something I need to be prepared for at all times. I have a couple of pens in my bag as well, because I seem to always need them, and a small bottle of lotion from Bath and Body Works called “Cactus Blossom.” Lastly, and probably most randomly, I have a contact case from Dollar Tree that I exclusively use for holding false eyelashes. I mean, it makes sense to me; if your lashes are bothering you and you need a place to take them off and put them, a contact case is the perfect place. It keeps them nice and clean, and you can just pop them back on whenever you want!

Anyway, those are the very random and chaotic contents of my bag. I actually feel like I have a very “normal” set of things in my bag, minus the contact case hack and the copious bamboo utensils. What do you guys think- do we carry any of the same things? Let me know in the comments!

Given the chaotic nature of the world right now, I think we could all use something a little uplifting to read. Lo and behold, my spring Fab Fit Fun box at the perfect time for me to post a review! I can say right off the bat that I enjoyed almost everything I received, and I’m really looking forward to incorporating these items into my routine moving forward. Let’s get into it!


donni-ribbed-sweater-coat-sp20-1_1580762616.5472

Ribbed Sweater Coat | DONNI | Retail Price: $99

At $99 for the retail price, it probably goes without saying that this sweater was the real star of the box. I’m a huge fan of neutral staples, and this cardigan is a great transitional piece for the warmer months. I have to say, as much as I love it and have been wearing it every single day, I can’t understand why the original price is a hundred bucks! Like I said, I really love it, but it doesn’t feel like anything particularly special; it’s a simple, cotton sweater. Nonetheless, I’m really loving throwing it on every morning, and I think it’s definitely a piece that will stick with me for years. 


tarte-option-2

PRO glow highlight & contour palette | tarte | Retail Price: $21

Y’all know that I love my beauty products, especially from cruelty-free, vegan brands such as tarte. I’ve been really into glowy, blushy, e-girl makeup lately, so I think this palette is really going to come in handy with my future makeup looks. Just from playing around with the palette a couple times already, I can already say I’m very impressed by the pigmentation and the smoothness of the highlights. I’m not too big on contouring because I’m terrible at it, but maybe I can find another use for the cream shades. Eyebrow pomade, maybe?


Amber-sceats-double-coin-necklace-sp20-1_1580765878.4759

Double Coin Necklace | Amber Sceats | Retail Price: $50

This double coin necklace perfectly fits my aesthetic: warm toned and minimalist. It’s also surprisingly heavy, which makes it feel so expensive and luxurious! However, I decided to re-gift this necklace to my mother because I’m already looking at another everyday-wear necklace to purchase for my birthday. That being said, I do think this necklace is absolutely gorgeous, and I know it’s going to look stunning on my mom. I’ll be sure to let you know her thoughts on the necklace after she starts wearing it.  


ag-hair-fast-food-leave-on-conditioner-sp20-1_1580766741.6934

Fast Food Leave On Conditioner | AG Hair | Retail Price: $24

Fab Fit Fun has been sending me a lot of hair products, and you know what? I’m not complaining. I absolutely loved the last two hair products they sent me- the AVEDA hair repair treatment and the Prep Rally spray by Drybar. This product comes in a generously large tube, and it smells absolutely amazing, like fruity sorbet. And most importantly, of course, it makes my hair feel super-smooth and soft. Especially since I bleach my hair so frequently, it’s really crucial for me to keep my hair healthy and moisturized. I’m looking forward to using this product when my hair needs a little pick-me-up!


jaboneria-marianella-imperial-jade-body-oil-sp20-2_1580766517.4643

Imperial Jade Body Oil | Jabonería Marianella | Retail Price: $68

On the trend of luxurious hair and skincare, I was very excited to try out this gorgeous body oil. It doesn’t glide on as smoothly or easily as I would have expected it to, but maybe all body oils are just like that. Nonetheless, I’ve been really enjoying using it on my hands, especially since the weather is still a bit chilly and I’m trying to keep dry skin at bay. The smell is also absolutely invigorating, like fresh lemons, so I think it will be a lovely product to use first thing in the morning as a wake-up-call.


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Deep Sleep Body Cocoon | This Works | Retail Price: $40

Out of everything I received in my spring box, this is definitely one of my ultimate favorites. I wish this bottle was twice as big as it is! Not only does it smell amazing and cozy, it’s also so thick, creamy, and glides smoothly onto the skin. I’ve been really loving putting it on before bed, especially following a warm bath or shower. It’s one of my new favorite components of my bedtime routine, so when this tube runs out, it will be a very sad day. If you’re looking for a new bedtime lotion, I highly recommend this one. It works. 


Chic-and-tonic-silicone-straws-sp20-5_1580768015.259

Set of 4 Silicone Straws + Brush Cleaner & Case | Chic & Tonic | Retail Price: $15

Per usual, Fab Fit Fun has come in clutch with a useful, low-waste product that I’m sure I will use for years to come. Last season, they sent me a reusable makeup-removing cloth, so I haven’t had to use disposable wipes since! I don’t use straws very much in general, but hopefully these silicone straws will reduce my plastic straw usage altogether. I’ve already used these straws with my smoothies, and I’m very impressed by how easy they are to clean and reuse! And, of course, the cleaning brush and the case are a nice touch. 


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Watermelon Energizing 2 Minute Peel & Polish | Purlisse | Retail Price: $7

This is the final item I received in my box, and even though I liked everything, this would be my least favorite item if I had to pick one. There’s nothing inherently wrong with it; I just wasn’t particularly wowed and don’t feel like it’s doing too much for my skin. I’m also not exactly sure what it’s supposed to be used for: A face wash? A mask? I don’t have a clue. Anyway, despite that, I will admit that it smells delicious and energizing, and I’m definitely going to keep using it (despite not knowing what exactly it’s doing.) 


Anyway, that’s going to be it for today! I hope you guys found this article helpful, and maybe, it has inspired you to sign up for the box as well. I’m not in any way affiliated with/sponsored by Fab Fit Fun, but I do recommend this box to anybody who loves beauty products and home decor. What was your favorite item from this box? Let me know below in the comments!

items organized on shelves
Photo by Mehrad Vosoughi on Pexels.com

Even though I consider myself fairly healthy and conscious of what I put in my body, there are still positive steps I can continue to make in my life, diet-wise. One particular aspect that I’ve been thinking about often is “brain fogginess,” and the lack of having a sharp focus. In a nutshell, some foods just really mess up our memory and our mentality.

Obviously I’m not a doctor, and I’m also not saying nobody should ever eat these foods, but these are the things that I (and many others) have discovered cause brain fogginess when consumed too frequently. There is a scientific reason for why this can happen, so I’m going to go into that in more detail as well. 


Soda & Sugary Drinks

Now, I’m not saying I think people should never enjoy these foods (in fact, I definitely eat at least half of them,) but they have given me something to think about in regards to my own health and how I can cut back in moderation. Unsurprisingly, soda, fruit juices, and other sugary drinks are linked to dementia and the reduction of brain function, even with people without diabetes. I’ve personally never been a huge soda drinker myself, but I would agree that I tend to feel sluggish after consuming too much sugar (particularly in sports drinks and fruit juices.) One way I like to incorporate fruity tastes into my drinks is to make my own low-sugar smoothies, or, even easier, just add raw fruit to your water. Strawberry water is one of my all-time favorites, and it’s a great health alternative to artificial fruit drinks. 


Refined Carbs

Again unsurprisingly, refined carbs are yet another culprit of brain fogginess and sluggishness. Similarly to sugary drinks, refined carbs (such as white flour) can spike your blood sugar and cause you to crash shortly after consuming them. Conducted studies have shown that refined carbs can indeed have a poor effect on your memory, and long-term, it can even increase your chances of developing dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. That doesn’t mean I intend on cutting pizza out of my diet any time soon (nor would I expect anyone else too,) but it is inspiring me to think more critically about the alterations I can make. Vegetables, fruits, legumes, and whole grains are all healthier alternatives to refined carbs, and honestly, I think whole grain bread tastes pretty damn good. 


Artificial Trans Fat

You’re probably noticing a trend here; foods that are highly processed or full of sugar and carbs are probably not the most brain-healthy foods. This includes all the typical junk foods; chips, instant noodles, microwave popcorn, etc. Even ready-made meals that market themselves as being natural and full of wholesome ingredients can be highly processed and full of trans fat, so just keep that in mind when grocery shopping. I still enjoy a Lean Cuisine from time to time, especially since they’re cheap and easy to prepare, but I still try to remain mindful of how eating these foods will mess with my focus in the days that follow.


Aspartame

Aspartame is an artificial sweetener, often found in food and beverages under the brand names “NutraSweet” and “Equal.” Even though the market likes to push artificial sweeteners as a weight loss aid, this particular sweetener is actually extremely controversial. Consumption of aspartame has been linked to behavioral and cognitive problems, although there’s no conclusive research on this product. Nonetheless, unless you have a pressing medical treatment such as diabetes (which forces one to utilize artificial sweeteners,) consider opting for natural, raw sugar instead. 


Dairy

Unfortunately, but probably unsurprisingly, dairy is one of the most notorious foods to cause brain fogginess, tiredness, and inattentiveness. While many of us are not allergic to us, there’s a fairly good chance you may be sensitive to it. I definitely think I am sensitive to dairy products, especially cheese, since I completely cut it out of my diet for a full year and then suddenly resumed eating it again. While I still love cheese and plan on continuing to eat it, it’s a good idea to remember that there are healthy alternatives, too. Little switches, such as drinking almond milk instead of cow’s milk, can make a huge difference in how you feel and how you sustain your energy.


What can I do about brain fog?

Even though you’re bound to experience brain fogginess from time to time, there are still steps you can take to keep yourself sharp and happy. One important thing I like to utilize is my intake of vitamin B12. Because it’s predominantly found in meats and eggs, us vegetarians have to ensure that we are still maintaining a healthy B12 intake to sustain or energy and focus levels. Another way to keep your mind feeling sharp is to eat dark, leafy greens, such as spinach and kale. And, of course, make sure you’re getting enough sleep and keeping your brain stimulated!

Sources: https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/worst-foods-for-your-brain

close up photography of pills
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Most of you know by now that I’m a pretty open book about my medication and supplement intake. I think it’s great, from a mental health activist’s perspective, to be transparent about what works for you and what doesn’t work for you. Maybe a reader will be able to find relatability through me, or maybe I’ll inspire someone to get in touch with their own doctor about their own options for medications and supplements.

With that being said, I want to put out a disclaimer and say I am not trying to inform anybody about making medical decisions or sway anyone to act a certain way. I’m not a doctor – this is just what has worked for me personally, so that I can feel my very best and put my best foot forward. You should do what feels best for you as well, regardless of what other people say. Don’t let me sway you into changing your entire health regime! With that out of the way, let’s get into it.


Calcium, Magnesium, and Zinc | CVS | Bone & Immune Health

Out of everything on this list, I’ve definitely been taking this supplement for the longest. I started taking it because I was waking up in the middle of the night with terrible muscle spasms, also known as a “Charley horse,” and my mom recommended I take this to stop them from happening. Needless to say, it worked, and I’ve been taking it ever since! The reason this combination works is because the calcium helps your body to bind proteins, meaning you’ll endure less spasms and cramps. It’s certainly working well for me, and I also haven’t broken a bone yet, so I’m feeling good about my calcium intake.


Unisom | CVS | Sleep Aid

I started taking Unisom after I developed severe insomnia this past November. As I’ve said in past articles, Unisom and melatonin have both been extremely crucial in my recovery from the insomnia spell I endured. About an hour after I take this pill, I am immediately hit with a wave of sleepiness. It’s also the good kind of sleepiness- not the kind you feel when you’re lethargic and fatigued. Does “good sleepiness” make sense to any of you or is this just a me thing? Nonetheless, it’s helped me tremendously, and I take this every night with my usual supplements.


Melatonin | Natrol | Sleep Aid

Melatonin is another sleep aid I take on the nightly to ensure I am able to get enough rest. I like this particular brand because the melatonin actually melts in your mouth, so you don’t have to swallow a giant pill or take it with any water. It also tastes like strawberries, which is an added bonus. An important thing to add about melatonin is that it takes time to get into your cycle and could take several days to start working. Once you’ve established the system in your body, however, it starts to work wonders. Now that I’ve established melatonin in my cycle, I average about 8 hours of sleep per night.


Multi For Her (with Omega 3) | Nature Made | Energy Conversion

Because I am a vegetarian, I try to make up for as many vitamins and minerals as possible through the form of supplements. These dietary gummies have loads of healthy benefits, including 60mg of Omega-3. Omega 3 is important for managing heart health, muscles, and maintaining a healthy brain. Additionally, this type of Omega 3 is suitable for plant eaters like me, because the nutrient is derived from nuts and seeds instead of fish. Also, they’re sugar-coated and they taste delicious, so I look forward to taking my multi gummies every night!


THC Oil | Rev Clinics | Sleep Aid & Anxiety Relief

Last but certainly not least, I take .50 ML of THC oil under my tongue every night to help me improve my sleep and anxiety. I’ve never smoked marijuana because it’s just not my thing, but I’ve come around to THC and CBD oil products to help me manage both my physical and mental health. Similarly to melatonin, you may need to build up THC in your system and make it a routine part of your life for it to work, but once it does, it works beautifully. This type of oil doesn’t get you high, but it does help promote relaxation and well-being in your body. Just make sure you’re purchasing it in a legal, safe way, depending on where you live!


Anyway, that’s everything I take for supplements on a nightly basis. I also take escitalopram and birth control, but I didn’t include those in the article since they’re not really nutritional supplements. I always joke that I feel a little bit like Melman from Madagascar with all his different vials and medications. We’re also both hypochondriacs, so it’s a fitting analogy. Like I said before, I don’t want to inform anybody of what medical decisions they should make- this is just what I personally do. Nonetheless, I hope you enjoyed this article and found it informative!

With the end of the year coming to a close, I decided it was time to revisit the resolutions I set for myself at the end of 2018. Here is a quick report of how I did:


-Write a book about my life. ✘ I actually started, but I never ended up finishing it. Maybe next year… 

-Have fifty followers on WordPress. ✔ I was genuinely shocked at how quickly I surpassed fifty. It was a goal for the entire year, but the number went over fifty within the first month of writing this. In total, I currently have 208 followers.

-Have 100 followers on my Diplomat’s Digest Instagram page. ✔ I reached 100 in November!

-Dye my hair a new color; maybe teal again!  ✔ I did that! I got my hair dyed teal in mid March, and I absolutely love it. Right now, it’s blonde. 

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-Get my driver’s license. ✘ Nope, not this year, but definitely the next!

-Host a collaboration on my blog. ✔ Check! Got that done in January, actually. As of right now, I have completed two collaborations for the entire year.

-Host a giveaway on my blog (!) ✘ Not quite yet, but hopefully soon!

-Figure out how to properly use wet-set foam rollers. ✘ I kind of cut off all my hair…

-Buy an authentic 1940s dress. ✘ Nope, I saved my money. See my last resolution 😉 

-Learn how to knit something besides a scarf. ✔ Does a dish cloth count?

-Go to bed and wake up a little bit earlier every day. This could be tricky, as I am a notorious night owl… ✔ I surprisingly did this. I usually get into bed between 8pm-9pm, and I’m asleep before 10 if I take a unisom and a melatonin pill. 

-Learn how to manage my money better. I struggle with this big time. Do you guys have any tips for managing money? ✔ I saved $1,000 over the summer, so I’d consider that successful finance management! 


Looking back, I’m pretty happy with the progress I made on my resolutions this year! 7/12 certainly isn’t bad. I noticed while looking back at my list that many of these goals were materialistic based, and I’d like to change that going forward. For 2020, I’d like to focus more on personal milestones, such as maintaining my happiness and continuing to spread gratitude. My 2020 resolutions will be published on January 1, so keep your eyes out for that!

 

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Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

As I’ve mentioned before so many times, eating vegan (or even just vegetarian) on a college campus can be extremely difficult. Cross contamination tends to be a huge issue, and because it’s usually unavoidable, I tend to be pretty lax and forgiving with myself if I eat something that may have a bit of dairy in it. Last week, I challenged one of my friends to eat completely vegan for as long as she could, and I have to say, she really took this seriously! Thank you, Allison, for helping me put together this social experiment. Allison was pretty open about the fact that this was super hard for her, and there were a couple instances in which she did eat a few dairy items (mostly due to going to The Cheesecake Factory with her friends on the second night). Here’s how Allison’s week as a vegan went down:


October 7

Location: Dining hall

[Dinner] Butternut squash soup, white rice, crackers, fries, and Kix cereal


October 8

Location: Dining hall, The Cheesecake Factory

[Breakfast] Cantaloupe, bagel w/ jelly, potatoes & onions

[Lunch] Potatoes w/ peppers and onions, vegetarian lo mein, green beans, roasted corn, tortilla

[Dinner] (Cheesecake Factory): Caesar salad, bread & butter, peanut butter cheesecake


October 9

Location: Dining hall

[Breakfast] Leftover cheesecake

[Lunch] Sweet potato

[Dinner] Cheez-its and raisins 


October 10

Location: Dining hall

[Lunch] Brown rice and potatoes, Cape Cod chips, one uncrustable sandwich

[Dinner] Egg roll, dinner roll, sweet potato tots, potatoes


October 11

Location: Dining hall

[Lunch] Pizza


Lastly, I asked Allison what the entire experience was like, and if she found trying to eat vegan 100% of the time difficult. “It was very hard,” she said. “It was all potatoes and pasta. It also made me sad to go to the dining hall because there wasn’t a lot of food that was satisfying and vegan.”

I think Allison did a really great job expressing the lack of protein available for vegans and vegetarians. As you can see, potatoes and rice primarily took up a large part of her diet, because they’re high in starches and generally very filling. Unfortunately, slipping into a routine that lacks protein and iron can be seriously damaging to your health, as I have experienced myself at college. This is exactly why I wanted to do this experiment- to show how difficult it can be to eat an adequate, healthy diet, and still feel full.

When I came back home from college in May after eating vegan for a full year, I was exhausted, sick, and dangerously close to being anemic. I napped at every chance I got, because I was so tired all the time, and my immune system was compromised from not getting the nutrients I needed. I’ve now started expanding my diet to include animal-derived products, such as eggs, but I know that I will never stop being a vegetarian. That being said, veganism simply just doesn’t work for me while I live on campus. It’s important to not feel guilty for making these decisions- I myself was struggling with a lot of guilt for eating eggs again. However, at the end of the day, YOUR HEALTH is the most important. Maybe someday in the future I will safely be able to eat vegan again, but for now, I’m not being too hard on myself.

Once again, thank you Allison for helping me with this data and for being a lovely recipient!


Coming up next: How I Save Money in College

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The debate for later start times at school is not a new subject, but it’s something I find completely fascinating. Especially since this is something I experienced firsthand during my time at public school, I consider myself a fairly reliable participant.

I can’t remember off the top of my head what my elementary school start time was, but I believe it was 8:30 (or close to that). The older I got, the earlier I was forced to wake up for school. By the time I hit high school, I was getting up between 5:30-6:30 for my school day, five days a week. Being a natural night owl with a super busy ADHD mind, going to bed at midnight and getting up before sunrise did not fly well. 

I would say it’s pretty objective that most teenagers are not getting enough sleep. And sadly, the societal consensus for why this is the case is usually tied back to teenagers being “lazy.” But research is starting to prove differently: having an inability to get out of bed in the morning is more so related to human biology, not attitude.

There is a lot of in-depth scientific research pertaining to this, so I’ll be sure to source those links at the bottom of the page for you. However, the broad consensus of the research is the following: The adolescent body does not start to feel sleepy until around 10:45pm, and does not naturally wake up the following morning until about 8am. 

When I was in high school, choir and band were not considered part of the standard curriculum. If you wanted to learn an instrument or join the chorus, you had to show up at 7:24am for music class, and regular class hours began at 8am. Even worse, if you were in the select acapella class (which included myself), you would have to be at the school AT 7am for practice. My teacher was not very forgiving for this time- even if you made it at 7:05am, you were more or less ridiculed for not taking the class seriously. This is not an exaggeration. 

I was exhausted every. Single. Day. Until about ten in the morning on an average day, I couldn’t even focus on what my teachers were saying to me. My main focus was basically just keeping my eyes open and staring at the wall so I wouldn’t collapse in class. Sometimes, I would go hide in the spare band room to catch a few more winks, if I could.

It doesn’t matter what time I go to bed- if I get up at 6am, I’ll stay awake until after midnight the following night. If I wake up at 10am, I’ll stay awake until after midnight. If I stay awake ALL NIGHT, I’ll STAY UP UNTIL AFTER MIDNIGHT. It seriously does not matter what time I wake up- I always go to bed ridiculously late.

Being tired all the time certainly did not help my concentration, and it really shows now that my life is so different. Being in college, most of my classes don’t start until 11am, and I can sleep in relatively late because I live on campus. Waking up feeling refreshed and energized makes such a huge difference to my ability to focus, and I’m having a much better time being at college. When I’m here, I’m actually excited to wake up and learn for the day, while in high school, I dreaded everything about it. This was partially due to a number of different reasons, including high school just sucking in general, but my tiredness did play a pretty substantial role. 

As you can see from the source links I provided below, I’m not the only person trying to advocate for later school starting times. What do you think about young students getting up between 6-7am for classes? Do you think it’s an unhealthy practice, desperate for an update? I’d love to see high school start times get pushed later ahead within my lifetime.


Sources:

https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/child-sleep-zzzs/201712/debate-continues-about-early-elementary-school-start-times

http://theconversation.com/why-teen-brains-need-a-later-school-start-time-65308

https://www.sleepfoundation.org/articles/teens-and-sleep

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Apples | Fiber & Antioxidants

Fact: It’s not fall without apple-themed activities. I haven’t been able to go apple picking in a hot minute because I’m always away at school and don’t have many opportunities to do so. Let me tell you, I am going to make a valiant effort this year. Not only are apples delicious and versatile in cooking- they’re also extremely good for you! A diet high in fiber prevents spikes in low blood sugar, meaning you won’t get hungry again soon after. Eating a lot of fiber also reduces your chances of developing colon cancer, because it keeps your intestines healthy by cleaning out bacteria. It’s noteworthy to add that although many fruits contain fiber, fruit juice does not, so you can’t get in your fiber by downing tons of apple juice. Sorry about that. 


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Grapes | Vitamins C & K

Grapes are one of those foods I can eat mindlessly, and before I know it, half of the cluster is gone. I could have worse eating habits- after all, grapes are a fantastic source of vitamins C and K, and can even help prevent certain chronic diseases. Vitamin C can help protect you from immune system deficiencies, prenatal health problems, and even reduce the appearance of wrinkles on your skin. In a nutshell, a heavy dose of vitamin C will just help you live longer. The vitamin K in grapes can help to improve your bone health, heart, and can even aid wound healing. I’m not too familiar with any ways to cook with grapes, and I’m not a raisin person, so my favorite way to eat them is fresh off the bunch, or tossed into a fruit salad. I heard somewhere that grapes in chicken salad is actually really yummy, so I’ll have to try a vegetarian version and put that to the test!


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Green beans | Folate & Cell Growth

Green beans are adorable- try to change my mind. They’re also a perfect vegetable side dish, cooked or not, and come with a variety of health benefits. Green vegetables in general are recommended for decreasing your chance of heart disease and obesity, and some studies have shown that green veggies can even brighten up your skin! I personally enjoy eating them raw, because canned green beans can contain a lot of sodium unless you rinse and drain them properly. In regards to other health benefits, green beans can promote cell growth, a healthy metabolism, and even fertility. This has to do with the high iron content in green beans, which is yet another nutrient essential to the vegetarian/vegan diet. 


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Corn | Eye Health & Digestion

Have you ever met a person who didn’t like sweet corn? Seriously, I want to know. There’s nothing quite like the smell of pulling apart some fresh farmstand corn and shucking off the ears, especially on a crisp fall evening. Maize is one of the most widely used staple foods in the world, and sweet corn in particular is one of the most popular types. The high fiber content of corn makes it excellent for digestion, and also contains carotenoids that benefit eye health. It’s an extremely versatile food to work with, and one of my favorite recipes with corn is Beth Moncel’s loaded enchilada pasta. I can’t find a copy of it online, but it’s featured in Budget Bytes, a cookbook I previously mentioned on my blog. I also enjoy buying bags of frozen corn, and will heat some up when I’m in need of a sweet snack.


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Carrots | Weight loss Friendly

Similarly to grapes, carrots are one of my favorite things to snack on. My dog loves them too, and when I’m home we like to munch on them in bed together. Messy, but adorable! Carrots are a great snack for your dog and can keep his teeth healthy, but be sure to cut the carrots into small pieces (or give your pet baby carrots). It’s a little known fact that carrots can help to prevent vision loss, but they can also protect you from different kinds of cancer and cardiovascular disease. The great thing about carrots is that you can use them in a variety of dishes- savory, sweet, juiced, pureed, whatever you’re feeling. I’m going to include a link to a vegan carrot cake at the bottom (WITH vegan frosting), so let me know if you try it!


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Zucchini | Anti-inflammatory Nutrients

Squash in general is in season this month, so be sure to pick some up at your local farmer’s market. I love zucchini because it’s nearly impossible to fuck up- even my college dining hall serves some pretty delicious baked zucchini. Zucchini is an extremely nutrient-dense fruit (yes, a fruit), packing fiber, potassium, and manganese. It also contains no fat and has an extremely high water content, making it a great snack if you’re trying to lose weight. To get those anti-inflammatory boosts from the vitamins C and A, you should eat the skin of the zucchini together with the flesh (that’s where large amounts of these nutrients are found). Once I eventually have my own garden, I’d like to grow zucchini myself to make sure I always have access to these health benefits. But first, I need to learn how to keep my basil sprout alive. 


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Cauliflower | Learning & Memory

I’ve definitely written about cauliflower in another produce guide, but for those of you who aren’t up to speed, cauliflower is a delectable and healthy snack, renowned by vegans for their invention of “buffalo cauliflower bites.” I’ve said I’m going to make those for months now, but I promise I’ll get around to it. The choline in cauliflower is what helps with improving learning and memory, and the antioxidants can even protect against cancer. There are so many unique ways to cook with cauliflower, including soup, pizza crust, and mixed in with fried rice. It’s always been a go-to vegetable for me, because the taste is mild and responds well to other flavors. I’ll link the buffalo cauliflower bites I’m interested in making below, so let me know if you end up trying them as well! It’s very easy to sub in dairy-free options with this recipe.


There were a few other fruits and veggies in season, but I’ve written about many of them before and don’t want to sound like a broken record. If you’re interested in reading my other produce guides, you can find them all under my Vegetarian Journal tab. 

Vegan Carrot Cake: https://www.loveandlemons.com/vegan-carrot-cake-macadamia-frosting/

Buffalo Cauliflower bites: https://theforkedspoon.com/easy-buffalo-cauliflower/ 

Sources: Healthline.com

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