Battling Pandemic Weight Gain – The Covid 15

Battling pandemic weight gain. If it sounds like a war that's because it is. It's hard to lose weight and get in shape in the best of times. It's even harder when you're a lady of a certain age during a pandemic. But it's a war I need to win.

You see, this time, losing weight and changing my diet is about more than how I look or how my clothes feel or whether I feel cute. It's about my health. My mom had her first heart attack when she was three years younger than me. Luckily, she survived it and lived another 16 years before her last one took her out. But that first attack changed her life dramatically and cut short her dreams. It did so much damage that she couldn't work anymore as a nurse and had to take disability.

When I saw this, I vowed not to follow in her footsteps so I quit smoking, tried to eat better, and started working out. At one point, I even lost 60 pounds. But once I stopped having to shop in the plus size stores, I stopped working out regularly. fell back into my old eating habits, and stress and long work hours did the rest. I gained back all the weight and then some.

Right before the pandemic, I was the heaviest I'd ever been and over the past year, I put on the typical Covid 15 on top of that. Since I worked from home and rarely left the house, I became even more sedentary, On top of that, I ordered in from restaurants, cooked up a storm, and ate way too many meals in front of the television while avidly watching CNN and MSNBC. To make matters worse, I avoided visiting the doctor and, at one point, allowed my blood pressure medication to lapse. Now, I'm working on getting that back under control as well. More on how I'm doing that in my next post.

I'm writing this post the day after Mother's Day. I guess that's why my mother is so much on my mind. I miss her and wish she had more years with us. Call me greedy, but I'd like to live another 40 or so years and have a good quality of life while I do, To that end, I've made some changes.

At the end of last year, I decided to go vegan full time – not just for three weeks every year. I used to be a carnivore all year except for a three week period in the summer when I did Kris Carr's Crazy Sexy You program. I did it because I wanted to lose weight and improve my health.

I joined a friend's 6 week guided plan. It worked. In the first month, I lost 13 pounds, my brain fog cleared, and I no longer felt like I wanted to take a nap after a meal. After those 6 weeks, however, I got tired of cooking everything from scratch and started order in again. I also started buying what my friend calls vegan junk food and eating too much calorie dense foods. I also started using oil again to cook. Needless to say, I stopped losing weight and started to gain again.

I was watching Youtube looking for inspiration when I discovered High Carb Hannah and Plantiful Kiki, They both lost a ton a weight following Dr. McDougall's high carb low fat diet. Intrigued, I read Dr, McDougall's book “The McDougall Plan for Maximum Weight Loss,” (affiliate link) and began cooking their recipes. I've stopped gaining and have started to lose again. You can get the audiobook for free if you sign up for an Audible free trial.

*Some of the links in this post are affiliate links. If you click on them and buy something on Amazon or Audible, I will get a small commission at no additional cost to you.

So, what's my plan to battle pandemic weight gain? To follow Dr. McDougall's protocol – a high carb low fat vegan diet – while also working to get my blood pressure numbers down. More on how I'm doing that in my next post.

I'm taking you with me along the way. It's bound to be an interesting ride.



Vaccinated and Re-entering The World

I am now fully vaccinated. Although I got my second shot on April 6th and thus was fully protected by April 26th, I didn't step outside without a mask or step foot into a restaurant until last night.

Over the past year, I basically took a hiatus from life. I worked from home, got my groceries delivered, and rarely left the house. I didn't see any friends or members of my family for over a year. I missed birthdays, dance recitals, holiday dinners, and everything else. I didn't drive my car for months and had the nerve to be surprised when it didn't start. No one told me that you had to drive a car a couple of times a week to avoid a dead battery.

Truth be told, I was already kind of hermit before the pandemic, so locking myself down to avoid getting COVID-19 didn't drive me as crazy as it would someone more social. But, after all this time, even I miss traveling, attending conferences and other events, and hanging out with family and friends.

Yesterday was my niece's birthday and she had her heart set on celebrating it with a family dinner at Yard House. My baby sister and her progeny are a lot less afraid to socialize during the pandemic than I am. That may be because they're younger and, as a nurse, my sister's an essential worker who can't work from home.

As last night approached, I realized how nervous I was about taking off my mask to eat in a restaurant. Even though I'm fully vaccinated and as protected as I could possibly be, I was still ambivalent about stepping out into the real world again. I felt unprepared on so many levels. Like many others, I've gained weight during my self-imposed hibernation and didn't get my hair or nails done for fear of getting infected by the virus. So, I have gray roots and no manicure or pedicure to show off.

Working from home, I haven't had to dress up below the waist in ages and didn't relish going through the trouble, but I knew I had to make an effort. My baby sister recently lost some weight and I knew that she and my niece would be dressed to kill. So, I threw on a wig, wore all black, painted my nails a glittery pink, and put on some makeup.

I expected to be tense, nervous and paranoid even though I looked forward to seeing my family. But somewhere along the way to the restaurant, I relaxed. In fact, I left my face mask in the car and didn't even realize it until I got to the outside hostess desk and saw her wearing one.

It was weird because I'm one of those folks who double mask even though I've been vaccinated. It's an ingrained habit at this point. In fact, I left my condo double masked (surgical mask with a cloth mask on top) and didn't take them off until I got into my car. Nonetheless, I leaped out of my car and walked to the restaurant without them. Needless to say, I went back to get them as soon as I realized and put them back on before entering the restaurant even though the restaurant didn't require it. I live in Florida and all mask restrictions have been lifted except that businesses have the option to require their guests to wear them.

I enjoyed celebrating my niece's birthday and hanging out my family immensely. We sat at a back booth and it felt right. It didn't feel dangerous or reckless or tense any of the things that I expected to feel. Instead, it felt freeing. I just had to get over the mental hurdle my self-imposed isolation and fear mounted.

Don't get me wrong. You're not going to see me hanging out at nightclubs, going to concerts, or shopping indoors without a mask. But I might get my hair and nails done and I won't miss any more holiday dinners or dance recitals – especially since my sister's been vaccinated and my brother-in-law, nieces, and nephews are getting theirs soon.

I'm sharing my experience to let you know that if you feel nervous about venturing out after getting vaccinated, it's okay. You're not alone. A lot of us are going to have to figure out how to re-enter the world.


Day 11 Crazy Sexy You – Caprese Avo Toasts

Caprese Avo Toasts

Hey there. I hope you had a great Fourth of July holiday. I spent mine with my best friend on South Beach. She has a great place with four balconies and a wonderful view of the fireworks from various parts of South Florida. We counted nine different fireworks displays in total.

Unfortunately, the holiday celebration was a disaster for my Crazy Sexy You journey. It was a meat fast. There's no other way to put it. She had fried chicken, ribs and shredded barbecue pork. In addition, she had these wonderful berry mojito drinks, a big ol' fantastic bottle of French red wine, these adorable mini-cupcakes, and these to- die-for chocolate fudge filled cookies. How was I supposed to resist that? All I can say is that I need to start over today.

Kris Carr teaches us that one bad day should not make a bad week. Up until dinnertime yesterday, I'd been a good girl. For example, on Tuesday, the scheduled  breakfast was Caprese Avo Toasts. Basically, it's mashed avocado with salt and pepper and sliced tomatoes on top with a drizzle of balsamic vinegar on two pieces of gluten-free toast.

As a child, I ate tons of avocado. My father is from Panama, so it was a cultural thing. I ate so much avocado that, as an adult, I was sick of it. I was tempted to substitute the avocado toast for another approved beakfast recipe (I did that on the last round of the Crazy Sexy You program), but this time, I decided to give it a try.

I fully expected not to enjoy the recipe but I actually enjoyed it very much. For some reason, the salt, the fresh tomato, and the balsamic vinegar made the avocado somehow less pungent. It was a great melding of flavors and textures. I guess the moral of the story is: “don't knock anything until you try it.” It's a cliché, I know, but it's true. I plan to put Caprese Avo Toasts into my regular breakfast rotation.

Today, I got to eat one of my favorite breakfast recipes in this program – Almond Butter Banana Toast. Yum!

I'm going to work out today to make up for last night and drink lots of fluids to wash out the alcohol and meat toxins I put into my body.  Then we'll see what we shall see.



Crazy Sexy You Day 9: Carrot Ginger Aid

Carrot Ginger Aid

As I sip the Carrot Ginger Aid juice designated for Day 9 of the Crazy Sexy You Program – a concoction made of carrots, cucumbers, romaine lettuce, a green apple, and ginger – I can't help but reflect on the many health benefits of ginger.  I'm actually kind of mournful about it since I rushed through reading the recipe ingredients and forgot to put the darn ginger in the juice.

Ginger has many health benefits including aiding in digestion, staving off nausea, aiding in cold and flu relief, reducing inflammation, reducing post-workout muscle pain, reducing menstrual cramps, and possibly reducing blood clotting and cholesterol,  and helping to maintain healthy blood sugar levels.  On that note, I think I'll juice that piece of ginger I missed later and put in this afternoon's juice snack to make up. It's going to be spicy.

The past few days of the CSY diet have been interesting to say the least.  I didn't go to the networking reception I had planned to attend on Thursday night – partially because I didn't want to be tempted to drink wine and partially because it was too soon after leaving my employment with the City.  I wasn't ready to field the barrage of questions and deal with people shaking their heads and telling me how risky it is to be out on my own.

I fell off the CSY vegan wagon hard on Saturday when I met with a fellow coach, author, and friend for dinner on Saturday night to discuss collaborating on a few projects. She's on a Paleo diet so she served me champagne and a healthy chicken and veggie meal from the meals she has delivered by a service every week.  Needless to say, chicken is not vegan.  The worst part is that I was still hungry when I left her later that night (the meal portion was tiny) and completely unprepared (no bottled water and CSY trail mix to save me), so I ended up driving through a fast food joint on the way home.

The wierd thing is that I didn't enjoy the fast food nearly as much as I have in the past.  Although I enjoyed the familiar mouth feel of the food, it tasted very salty to me.  All I could think about was the amount of sodium and toxins I was consuming.

Yesterday, I had to bring my car in for repair and rent a car to use in the meantime.  My appointment was at 8:00a.m. I had a smoothie for breakfast but no green tea and I forgot to bring my midmornng snack with me. The process took forever and by 10:30a.m. I was starving and irritable, so I drove through Dunkin Donuts (bad move I know) and got coffee and a breakfast sandwich.  You would have thought I had learned my lesson on Saturday night.  What can I say? I'm an Aries.  We tend to be hard-headed.

The coffee was heavenly (I've missed it as it's not on the CSY protocol), but I did not enjoy the breakfast sandwich at all. I'm kind of glad I fell off the wagon because it made me realize that I don't really want fast food or meat for that matter. I'd of been much happier with a vegan burrito made with a gluten free wrap like Amy's Gluten Free/Dairy Free Burrito.*

Note to self: Always keep CSY Trail Mix in my purse. Carrying around single serve portions of CSY trail mix and bottled water saved me from making unwise choices while on the road a couple of times last week. I think I'll make a habit of that.

Other than those two lapses, I've stuck to the CSY meal plan and I'm happy to announce that I'm firmly back on the CSY bandwagon.  I even got in a couple of workouts in the past few days – specifically the first two workouts on Leslie Sansone's Walk of Fat Fast* (affiliate link).

I love Leslie Sansone's workout videos because they're moderate workouts that burn fat without overworking you or leaving you completely exhausted. You don't have to kill yourself to shed pounds and tone up.  You just have to move briskly several times a week. I once lost 60 pounds by being on WeightWatchers and doing Leslie Sansone workouts in my living room 3-5 times a week. Then I stopped working out, started driving through again, and gained it all back.  Ugh.

Anyway, I've got to get to work on my novel, so I'll leave you with a challenge: Find a way to incoporate ginger into your meals and drinks today.  Make yourself a stir fry and start off with some ginger and garlic, put some ginger into your juice or smoothie, or make yourself a cup of ginger tea. Let me know how it goes.



*The links in this post are affiliate links. If you click on them and buy something, I will get a commission at no additional cost to you. You should know that I only recommend products that I use myself and love.

The Joys of Juicing – Day 4 Crazy Sexy You Program

The Joys of Juicing

It's day 4 of the Crazy Sexy You (“CSY”) program.  I had meant to chronicle each and every day , but life got a bit crazy and I had to adjust.  You see, on Day 1 of the program, I left my job at a government agency and struck out on my own again to be a full time entrepreneur.

It was an abrupt move. I had already planned to leave at the end of the year, but the politics of the situation left me with what I saw as no choice.  Naturally, I needed a couple of days to adjust.

I am proud to tell you that, despite the emotional roller coaster I've been on in the past couple of days, I did not resort to emotional eating, much.  Despite the fact that being out on my own again is both exhilarating and teriffying at the same time, I resisted the urge to say to hell with the Crazy Sexy You diet, guzzle a bottle of wine, and pick up or order in the greasiest food I could find. I did, however, eat two 100 calorie packs of popcorn on my last day at work which are not on the diet menu.

Not having to go into work freed me up to cook the meals I didn't cook over the weekend and to reacquaint myself with my Omega juicer.* (affiliate link) Or maybe I should say “acquaint myself” instead.  You see, I hadn't used the juicer since since the last round of the Crazy Sexy You program last year.  Juicing is not something I'm in the habit of doing.

Most of my memories of my former attempts at juicing were not pleasant. I vaguely recalled rushing in the mornings before work to make the juice, struggling with putting the juicer together, struggling with figuring out how to use it, not producing nearly as much juice as the materials said I should, and generally being afraid that what I was allowed to have for breakfast would not sustain me.

I did have some pleasant memories about juicing. I recalled being pleasantly surprised at how good the juice I was finally able to produce tasted and discovered that the scheduled breakfast was, in fact, enough to hold me until my midmorning snack.

On Tuesday, the first day after my newfound freedom from the office, I hunted down all the parts of my Omega juicer, cleaned them out, watched a YouTube video on how to assemble it, and put it together in under a minute.  I should have watched that YouTube video last year.

Remembering how I struggled to make the juice last year, I was careful to cut my fruits and veggies into sizes that would fit easily down the juicer chute.  I then made CSY's recipe for Mellow Green Juice – a concoction made of pears, cucumbers and kale.

I took my time to make the juice and, because I had properly prepped my ingredients this time, it took me less than five minutes.  It turned out to be quite delicious and I got the 16 ounces of juice the recipe called for.  It was so good, I gulped down both servings that morning instead of saving one 8 oz. serving as part of my afternoon snack. I swear that I felt healthier immediately. It was probably just my imagination, but I did have more energy on Tuesday than I normally do.

The Omega juicer* was easy to clean. I realized then that I could make juice every morning if I wanted to – even if I had to race to an office, a mediation conference, or a meeting.  If I prep my fruits and veggies the night before, it would take all of five minutes to prepare.

I'm going to do a separate article at some point taking a deep dive into the health benefits of juicing and the merits of Omega v. Breville juicers.  Being the maniac that I am. I actually purchased two juicers last year.  The Breville is still in the box in a closet somewhere.  In the meantime, below is the Omega juicer that I'm actually using.  I got it from Amazon. It works great. The picture below is an affiliate banner.

This morning I made CSY's “Green & Sassy” juice – a concoction made of Granny apples, cucumbers, half a lemon (peeled) and and inch of ginger root.  It was amazing.  I can't wait to have another cup as part of my afternoon snack.

I have to attend a networking event for lawyers this afternoon and I'm nervous.  There's going to be alcohol, roving hors d'oeuvres, and dinner.  I always drink wine at these events to calm my nerves (I always feel a little desperate trolling for business) and I'm not supposed to on the CSY diet.  Ah well.  I'll let you know how it goes.



*The links and banners in this post are affiliate links.  If you click on them and buy something, I will get a small commission at no additional costs to you.  You should know that I only recommend products that I use myself and love.

Crazy Sexy You Times Two – Day 1

Crazy Sexy You (second time around)

That's right. I'm going vegan, gluten free, and coffee free for three weeks starting today. It's my second round in Kris Carr's Crazy Sexy You program.

If you recall, I did this program last year. I learned a ton about food and health, lost 13 pounds in three weeks, and had several adventures in my attempt to stick with the program while traveling to New York for a week long writers conference. This year, I plan to do a more thorough job of chronicling the process.

The Crazy Sexy You program is designed to give your body a rest and a reset from all of,the toxic things we tend to put into it. I gained back those 13 pounds I lost over the last year and more because I failed to make healthy eating a lifestyle rather than an experiment.

This year, I'm trying something different. Although I probably won't remain vegan or gluten or coffee free after the program, I can incorporate some of the very tasty vegan meals, workouts, and meditations into my regular rotation. I can be more conscious of what I'm eating and where I get my meals from and refrain from driving through Burger King every morning for the largest breakfast burrito they have then topping that off with sugary coffee and wondering why I'm busting out of my clothes.

I can get into the habit of prepping my food over the weekend and bringing healthy leftovers and snacks to the office for lunch instead of ordering in and driving through at night because it's quick.

I can learn some tips,and tricks from the Crazy Sexy You materials and its Facebook community for speeding up meal prep and eating healthy on the go.

And I'm going to take you with me every step of the way. Buckle up – it's going to be one heck of a ride.



Treating Your Body Like an Olympic Athlete

Hi there:

So I was watching a replay of a presentation made by Alex Charfen at Funnelhacking Live 2016 on The Entrepreneur's Mind.  He was talking about the importance of removing stress and noise from our lives to free up creativity.  One of the examples he gave was stress and noise on our bodies.  Specifically, he said, in so many words, that we should treat our bodies the way an olympic athlete treats theirs.

Now, I figure he probably didn't mean that we should treat our bodies exactly like an olympic athlete does.  I mean, who has time to train 8 hours a day? When would we have time to do anything else? But it got me wondering how does an olympic athlete treat their body and what we can learn from that? So I did some research (okay just some Google searches) and this is what I found out.

What olympic athletes eat.

Gone are the crazy carbo loading diets adopted by athletes like Michael Phelps.  He shocked us all when he revealed the three fried egg sandwiches “loaded with cheese, lettuce, tomatoes, fried onions and mayonnaise,” according to the Wall Street Journal and the five-egg omelet, grits, and heaping piles of greasy French toast and chocolate chip pancakes. For lunch and dinner, he used to eat nearly two pounds of pasta, plus sandwiches and pizza.

Nowadays, according to Vox, olympic athletes eat much healthier and consume a lot less carbs, with lunch usually consisting of grilled chicken and asparagus, smoothies, stir fries, chicken noodle soup, and fresh squeezed juice.

Training for olympic athletes

According to the Kinsa Health Blog, olympic athletes stay healthy by adopting individualized training routines and getting 8-10 hours sleep a night.  Michael Phelps is reported to sleep in a special altitude chamber.

Post workout recovery

Olympic athletes are big on staying hydrated (they can lose 2-3% of their body weight from dehydration which can affect their aerobic performance). If you're going to drink five bottles a day, make one bottle a drink to replace electolytes (Powerade, Gatorade or one of Propel's unflavored waters for less sugar) and make the other four bottles water.

You want to hydrate within 20 minutes after a workout and have a balanced 200 calorie or less protein filled snack (like greek yogurt and fruit or a Kind nut and spices bar) or a balanced meal with healthy carbs and protein within 60 minutes after a workout,

Olympic athletes are also big on getting the right type of rest for sore muscles. According to Shape Magazine, some hop into cryothereapy chambers to cool off after grueling workouts.  You can get similar effects from taking cold showers, jumping into a cold lake, or taking an ice bath.  

Some athletes avoid delayed onset muscle soreness by compression through massages and compression sleeves. A relatively inexpensive way to achieve this is by taping sore muscles and joints with kinesiology tape ($13 a roll).

Let's see.  I had a Chocolate Blueberry Mango smoothie this morning and I feel inspired to get in a workout today, but I draw the line at cold showers or cryotherapy chambers. Baby steps, people, baby steps.

Until next time.




My Vegan Experiment Day 11 – Smoky Vegan Beet Burger

Hi there:

Thursday started out in a rush as I had volunteered to be the timekeeper at an 8:00a.m seminar. What was I thinking? It was my vacation.  I'm not a morning person and I don't even get to work that early.  But I digress.

I started out the day on the right foot.  Probably because I was still paying the price of last night's binge on cheese pizza.  I had my warm lemon water, my green tea, and oatmeal with almond butter. Then I was off.

After the morning seminar, I returned to my room, had a blueberry, strawberry banana smoothie, and got some work done.  Around 2:00p.m., I had the black bean and corn salad I had picked up from the market earlier in the week and some of the green salad.  Feeling virtuous and back on the wagon again, I headed out to the afternoon writing seminars.

That evening, I decided to head back to the Urbanspace Vanderbilt food court in search of dinner.  I stopped at the Two Tablespoons stand and picked up a vegan beet burger for dinner.  I was a bit apprehensive about ordering a vegan beet burger since  I tolerate but don't particularly love beets.  I decided to order the vegan beet burger anyway since it has received rave reviews on Yelp and elsewhere.

OMG, to refer to that dish as just a beet burger is to do it a disservice.  The Smoky Beet & Black Bean Burger at Two Tablespoons, which is served on a whole wheat bun and topped with homemade bbq sauce, corn & cabbage salad, baby arugula and pickles, is a creation from the gods.  It has to be in the top ten of any burger I've ever had, with or without meat.  It had the taste and texture of a real burger and was just as satisfying.  I'd ordered a side of roasted potatoes to go with the burger, but I didn't need them at all.  I will definitely have to get this again the next time I return to New York.

With the exception of the whole wheat bun, Day 11 was a great day for My Vegan Experiment.

Stay tuned for the revolt that happened on Day 12.



My Vegan Experiment Day 10 – Korean Vegan Food

Hi there:

I've been eating my way through New York for the past few days enjoying all the different permutations of vegan food (including Korean vegan food) while I continue on the Crazy Sexy You program.

On Wednesday, I got to enjoy some superb Korean vegan food at a very nice restaurant called Hangawi at 12 East 32nd Street, New York, N.Y. 10016.

I started out my day with warm lemon water, green tea, and Abound Maple & Brown Sugar instant oatmeal made with hot water and a splash of unsweetened Silk Almond milk.  I don't usually go for flavored instant oatmeal because it tends to have a ton of sugar and little fiber, but the Abound brand is made from whole grain rolled oats and other ingredients I could pronounce. It has 5 grams of fiber, only 6 grams of sugar, and 10 grams of protein (from soy protein isolates). I figured it would keep hunger at bay while I volunteered as a timekeeper at the morning workshops. It did.

I met my Dad, my baby brother, and my step-aunt at for lunch at Hangawi, a very zen-like gourmet Korean vegan food restaurant typically frequented by businessmen, tourists and locals alike.  As we entered, we were instructed to remove our shoes and leave them along a wall near the door.  We were then led to a table where we had to climb down into the seats.  Being a big girl wearing tight jeans, it took some effort to get down there (and even more to get out), but it was worth it.  We ordered the prixe fixe lunch option and enjoyed some amazing food.  For appetizers, we enjoyed a vegetable porridge, organic wheat free kale pancakes made of rice flour, and vegetable dumplings.  The pancakes and the dumplings were paired with amazing sauces that made the dishes. The porridge, which had a bright green color, was sweet, smooth and delicious.

Dad and I enjoyed carrot juices made from scratch, while Baby Bro and auntie enjoyed homemade fruit juices. The main course was a vegetarian stone bowl rice that came with a spicy sauce. Dessert was chocolate soy ice cream.  Lunch was absolutely delicious – a zen yet vivid sensory experience of tastes, textures, sights and smells. This was my first taste of Korean vegan food, but it will not be my last. I would recommend Hangawi to anyone.

After somehow climbing out of my seat at Hangawi, I grabbed a cab back to the hotel to volunteer at the afternoon seminar sessions.  I ran back to the room and made a strawberry, banana, and blueberry smoothie before heading back out to the opening cocktail party. I avoided the cocktails and stuck with tonic water and lime.

For dinner, I ordered in from a vegan joint called The Squeeze and had cashew “Mac and Cheese,” black bean chili, and a dark chocolate raw almond butter cup.  The mac and cheese and the chili were to die for, hitting all the right spots.  I didn't expect the cashew mac to be so creamy and satisfying, but it was.  I could have done without the “candy” which was not so sweet and nothing like a Reese's peanut butter cup.

Overall, Day 10 was a great day in my vegan experiment.  I had some great culinary experiences and kept it vegan. Stay tuned to find out whether Day 11 was half as successful.



My Vegan Experiment Day 9 – Cheating With New York Pizza

Hi there:

I have a confession to make.  It's even worse than you think although you've probably already guessed that my confession involves New York pizza. Let me go back to the beginning.

I started out Tuesday on a great note.  I took a walk around the neighborhood and discovered several vegan and vegetarian eateries including Eatsa, a really cool fully automated place where you order fresh vegan quinoa bowls on an Ipad and your meal arrives in an automated box identified by number.

I discovered a nail shop and got a manicure, then kept strolling around the neighborhood until I discovered gold.  It came in the form of a food hall called Urbanspace Vanderbilt.  Located on the corner of East 45th Street and Vanderbilt Avenue, Urbanspace Vanderbilt houses more than 20 eateries, including Two Tablespoons, a vegetarian pop-up restaurant that serves delicious vegan food such as macro bowls, noodle bowls made with organic soba noodles, summer rolls, and its signature beet and black bean burger.  The hall also houses Liquiteria, a fantastic juice and smoothie spot with a menu of healthy libations so large and amazing, I didn't know where to start.

Since it was still breakfast time, I got oatmeal with hemp seeds, cinnamon and raisins, and a lemon and cucumber water from Two Tablespoons.  It was delicious and enough to hold me for hours.  I also picked up a “Mean Green” juice to take back with me from Liquiteria made with kale, spinach, mango, bananas, golden pineapple and fresh pineapple juice. Also delicious.

Tuesday was my day off  from the conference, so I got some work done in my room. Around 2:30 or so, I headed down to the Grand Central Terminal in search of lunch and a few things to stock in my tiny refrigerator from the Grand Terminal Market.  I found a soup spot called Hale & Hearty which had a vegan three bean chili I could eat for lunch 7 days a week and never get bored.  It was that good.

I picked up some staples from the Grand Terminal Market next, including fruit and spinach for smoothies, lentil, black bean, chickpea and quinoa salads for lunches, crudite and hummus. I finished up my shopping by stopping by a CVS to get bottled water, oatmeal and almond milk.

I wasn't hungry for dinner until after 8:00p.m., but then I did something naughty.  I confess that I'd planned to do this even before I'd arrived in New York: I cheated on my vegan diet by ordering two slices of New York pizza.  I can hear the collective groans, but hear me out.

Who in their right minds comes to New York and doesn't order pizza, bagels and Chinese food? There are New York transplants all over the world wishing they could come back here just to have those things one last time.  I am not alone.

I had to get the urge out of my system and check it off my list, so I ordered the pizza and enjoyed the heck out of it last night.  Unfortunately, after going gluten and dairy free for the past week, the pizza didn't like me half as much as I liked it.  I definitely felt the difference in how the food affected me and was bloated and gassy for a while.

Stay tuned tuned to find out whether I, like so many before me,  fell into a slippery slope of cheating, or if I got back on the wagon in Day 10 of my vegan adventures.