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Weight Loss and Money

April 30th, 2006

Hello. My name is Dominique and I'm 16. I want to be a vegetarian because now my weight is 183 pounds. Yes its hard but i would like to know what to eat. I have five sisters and my family really likes soul food alot. It's hard for me everyday. I just would like to know what can i eat. Starting on the basic foods for now. My mommy money is low so she can only supply a little at a time. Sometimes I get mad and cry because it's hard to do things like this but I try. I'm on the volleyball team for Helen Cox High School in New Orleans and I mad the most athlete in this sport. Thats another thing I'm working on to loose weight. But I'm asking you ca can you please help
me.


Hello Dominique,

Thank you for your question. I hope you have a great volleyball season!

There are some things you can do to reduce bodyweight through your nutrition program. Some of the important issues are processed foods vs. raw foods, total caloric intake, meal frequency, and food variety. There are also things you can through exercise and general lifestyle to reduce bodyweight. When it comes to the cost of food, there are also options to make good food very cost effective.

Another thing that is very helpful in any transition program is to find some sort of support group. This could be an environmental club at school, or an online forum for other vegetarians or vegans, or some other group with people who share the same lifestyle and have achieved goals you are working toward, or those who are in the process of attaining the same goals. At the end of my response I will list some basic foods for you to incorporate into your nutrition program, and give you a list of online vegan communities that may be helpful to you.

Reducing bodyweight should be done with a combination of Nutrition, Exercise and Lifestyle. I tend to think nutrition is most important, followed by exercise, followed by lifestyle, which includes stress, amount of sleep, and general activity.

Nutrition

A great way to drop bodyweight is to reduce your total caloric intake. To know how many calories you are consuming, check the labels of the foods you are eating as a guide. You can also look at food charts online or in books that will give an approximate amount of calories for foods like fruits and vegetables that don’t have labels. You should add up your calorie intake each day for at least a week to get an average, since each day changes based on schedule, activities, and other factors. If the total is around 2,500 calories a day for example, try cutting down to 2000-2200 calories a day. Make some sort of decrease in your food intake but don’t sacrifice the high quality foods. Eliminate some of the processed or “junk” foods and keep the fruits, veggies and healthy foods in your diet.

Another way to help drop some body weight and fat is to increase your meal frequency. Rather than eating large amounts in one sitting, consume smaller meals throughout the day. Focus on raw foods from nature such as fruits, vegetables, nuts, grains, seeds, and try to cut down on processed foods, such as chips, fries, breads, pastas, and things that have long lists of ingredients and artificial colors, flavorings, and additives. Eating smaller meals of healthy food will help increase your metabolism, your body’s ability to burn fat. Eating smaller meals frequently will also keep your body feeling nourished rather than feeling extremely full or very hungry, as it could eating large meals spread out with long periods of time between them.

Consuming a variety of foods is a key factor too. I remember when I used to just eat bagels, bread rolls, apples and a few other fruits all day long when I first became vegan 10 years ago. I didn’t have any variety so it wasn’t very enjoyable and my stomach was often upset from eating the heavily processed breads and refined foods. Eating foods such as green vegetables, fruits, sea vegetables, nuts, grains, and seeds will provide your body with vitamins, minerals, amino acids, protein, and all the essential nutrients you need to be healthy, without all the denatured ingredients found in processed foods.

You can easily get your recommended daily protein intake when you are eating a variety of foods and taking in adequate calories each day. Some protein-rich foods include; tofu, soy foods, tempeh, seitian, beans, nuts, seeds, green vegetables, legumes, and protein bars or powders from hemp, pea, soy, or rice. Protein is found in small or large amounts in nearly all foods. Fruits contain very little but most other vegetarian/vegan foods have descent amounts of protein in them.

Exercise

When following a sound nutrition program, a good exercise program should go along with it. One or the other will help, but both will be more effective. The same goes for someone who is heavily involved in exercise and sports. If they don’t follow a good nutrition program, they will not experience the results they could if they maximized their potential consuming healthy foods for fuel and energy.

In general, exercising 3-5 days a week with moderate intensity for 30-90 minutes will help burn off fat and make your heart, lungs, and body healthier. It can be tough to start an exercise program if it is not something you are used to, but since you play volleyball, you probably have practices and games up to 5 days a week. That should really help burn calories and increase your overall level of fitness.

Some of the forms of exercise I find most enjoyable are running/walking with a dog, or with a friend, or on my own, cycling or mountain biking, hiking, and playing sports such as basketball or soccer. We all have different sports interests. Whatever they are for you, try to incorporate them into your lifestyle. Sports we play are typically enjoyable for us. We play them because they are fun, often times called games. We don’t think of them as exercise or training, or trying to increase our physical fitness. We just enjoy the game, the unity of being part of a team, the hard work and dedication, and the aspect of “winning” is a feeling that often keeps us doing what we like to do.

A tip for general exercise is to do some sort of a warm-up before training. This will bring blood into the muscles and cells that are going to be used during exercise and prepare your body for an elevated level of exertion it is about to experience. Another tip is to take the stairs rather than an elevator or escalator whenever possible, and to add variety to your training, just like you do with your nutrition program. Stretch to increase flexibility and cool-down by jogging, walking or cycling after exercise to bring your heart rate back down slowly.


Lifestyle

Lifestyle encompasses everything including what you eat, how you exercise, your stress levels, the amount of sleep you get, your relationships with others, your emotions, and your daily activities that make your life unique. Lifestyle can include habits, good and bad, such as what we do in our spare time, how we interact with others, and how we respond to certain situations.

You probably hear all the time that sleep is important. I know that first hand. Sometimes I overwork myself and I’m unable to perform as well athletically and I’m lacking in energy. When I treat my body to adequate sleep I am much more alert, energetic, productive, and perform better in academics and sports. Sleep is important for all of us, so try to keep it as one of your priorities for overall health. Eight hours of sound sleep each night is recommended.

Stress is something that affects all of us. How we handle it can make a big difference. There are many methods involved in dealing with stress and I can’t say one is better than another. A few options for typical stress relief methods include: Yoga, Nia, Tai Chi, massage therapy, sitting, writing, thinking, reflecting, discussing, sharing, acting, playing, competing, resting, napping, sleeping, interacting with pets or animals, being in nature, fresh air, walking, and being a place you feel most alive and comfortable.

A quote that comes to mind is one from an anonymous source that says, “Let yourself be silently drawn by the strong pull of what you love.” I use this to reflect upon my own lifestyle and I try to make the most of the things I enjoy in life.

Life can be expensive, and one of my good friends, Professional Vegan Dancer Tonya Kay, said a quote describing her thoughts on nutrition and health in a movie we both recently starred in, that stated, “This is not a discount body. What better thing do I have to spend money on than my own personal well-being. There is not an article of clothing, an ounce of gasoline or anything else that is more important. I would rather scrimp on other things.” Food can be expensive but some of the healthiest foods in the world can also be the cheapest. Fruits, vegetables, and grains are typically all fairly inexpensive and they can be purchased in bulk quantities in most places. Some vegan/vegetarian foods may be more expensive than others, especially if they are made from organic ingredients, but in general, the healthiest foods for you are going to be fruits, vegetables, nuts, grains, seeds, beans, legumes, etc. and nearly all of those types of foods are very affordable.

Dominique, I wish the very best and hope that you achieve the goals you have for yourself. If you need any support, have any questions, or wish for further information about anything I listed please feel free to contact me. Go Helen Cox High School Volleyball!!!

As promised, here are some foods you may want to include in your vegetarian/vegan diet, and a list of online resources for you.

Online resources for information and group forums:

www.veganbodybuilding.com/phpBB2
www.care2.com
www.goveg.com
www.thevegetariansite.com
www.living-foods.com
www.rawfood.com
www.vrg.org
www.realfood.org.uk
www.peta.com
www.peta2.com

Foods to eat on a vegetarian/vegan diet:

Acorn Squash Adzuki Beans Alfalfa Sprouts Almonds Almond Milk Apples Apricots Artichokes Asparagus Avacados Bagels Bamboo Shoots Bananas Banana Squash Barley Beans Beets Bell Peppers Black Beans Blackberries Black-eyed Peas Blueberries Bok Choy Bran Brazil Nuts Bread Broccoli Brown Rice Brussels Sprouts Buckwheat Cabbage Canola Oil Cantaloupe Carrots Cashews Cauliflour Celery Cereal Cherries Chestnuts Chick-Peas Chiles Chives Chocolate Coconuts Corn Corn Oil Corn Tortilla Cranberries Cucumbers Currants Dates Dried Beans Dried Fruit Eggplant Fava Beans Figs Filberts Fruit Juice Garlic Grains Granola Grapefruit Grapes Green Beans Green Lettuce Grits Guava Hazelnuts Honeydew Hot Peppers Hummus Iceberg Lettuce Jalepeno Peppers Juan Canary Melons Kale Kidney Beans Kiwi Fruit Kumquat Leeks Legumes Lemons Lentils Lima Beans Limes Macadamias Mangoes Melons Miso Mushrooms Navel Oranges Navy Beans Nectarines Nuts and Seeds Oat Bran Oat Flour Oats Olive Oil Onions Oranges Papayas Parsley Passion Fruit Pasta Peaches Peanut Butter Peanuts Pears Peas Pecans Peppers Persian Melons Pineapple Pine Nuts Pinto Beans Pistachios Pita Bread Plums Popcorn Portabello Mushrooms Potatoes Potato Flour Prunes Pumpkin Pumpkin Seeds Radishes Raisins Raspberries Red Beans Red Bell Peppers Red Cabbage Red Pepper Rhubarb Rice Rice Bran Rice Noodles Rice Milk Romaine Lettuce Roots Rutabegas Rye Rye Bread Rye Flour Safflower Oil Salad Greens Salsa Salt Savoy Cabbage Scallions Seaweed Seeds Serrano Peppers Sesame Seed Oil Sesame Seeds Shiitake Mushrooms Snow Peas Soybean Oil Soybeans Soy Milk Spaghetti Spanish Onions Spinach Split Peas Sprouts Squash Strawberries Sugar (Raw) Sun-Dried Tomatoes Sweet Peppers Sweet Potatoes Swiss Chard Tangerines Tempeh Tofu Tomatoes Tomato Sauce Tortillas Turnip Greens Turnips Vegetable Oils Vegetables Walnuts Water Water Chestnuts Watermelon Wheat Wheat Flour Wheat Noodles Whole Wheat Wild Mushrooms Wild Rice Yams Zucchini

Nutrition Guide to common foods

High-Protein Foods

Soybeans
Chick peas
Kidney beans
Adzuki beans
Other beans
Tofu
Lentils
Almonds

Other nuts and seeds
Kamut and spelt
Other whole grains


High-Calcium Foods

Black beans
Chick peas
Soybeans
Pinto beans
Tofu
Cashews
Almonds
Sesame seeds
Molasses
Dark leafy green vegetables
Brazil nuts
Hazelnuts (filberts)
Sunflower seeds
Globe artichokes

High-Magnesium Foods

Pumpkin and squash seeds
Bran
Almonds
Sesame seeds
Other nuts and seeds
Peanuts
Millet
Whole grains
Dried figs
Molasses
Black-eyed peas

High-Iron Foods

Dried fruit
Molasses
Chick peas
Black-eyed peas
Pinto beans
Whole grains
Sesame seeds
Other seeds
Prune juice
Dark leafy green vegetables
Jerusalem artichokes

High-Zinc Foods

Brazil nuts
Bran
Almonds
Walnuts
Lentils
Lima beans
Black-eyed peas
Other dried peas
Chick peas
Cashews
Pecans
Whole wheat flour
Corn and cornmeal
Spinach
Asparagus

High-Iodine Foods

Seaweeds
Sea Kelp
Iodized sea salt
Dark leafy green vegetables

High-Mineral and Enzyme Foods

Miso
Vegetable juices
Barley green
Wheat grass
Papayas
Seaweeds
Citrus fruit
Tomato juice

High B-12 Foods

Wheat grass
Barley green
Spirulina
Cholorella
Blue-green algae
B-12 fortified foods like texturized vegetable protein (TVP)
Vitamin supplements

Vitamin D

Alfalfa
Chlorella
Blue-green algae
Fenugreek
Sunflower seeds
Coconut
Papaya
Rosehips

Essential Oils

Flax seed/flax seed oil
Olives
Olive oil
Other natural oils
Nuts and seeds
Vegetables
Avocados
Whole grains

Herbs

Parsley
Herb seasonings
Herb teas
Garlic
Onions

Online resources for information and group forums:

http://www.veganbodybuilding.com/phpBB2
http://www.care2.com
http://www.goveg.com
http://www.thevegetariansite.com
http://www.living-foods.com
http://www.rawfood.com
http://www.vrg.org
http://www.realfood.org.uk
http://www.peta.com
http://www.peta2.com