Happy Herbivore Blog

Finding Work-Life Balance

Posted by: Lindsay S. Nixon |

Category: Minimalist

Last Friday (in my first lifestyle post!) I discussed the difference between Eating to Live and Living to Eat---something I've come to understand (and appreciate) while living here in St. Maarten.

To summarize the post in one sentence: The French have taught me to eat to live, and live my eating (aka slow the hell down and enjoy every bite of my sandwich--and eat with purpose). 

I loved all of the responses that came in---and quickly noticed a trend among them. So many people commented on America's fast-passed and stressful lifestyle and how it leaves little time for general enjoyment, such as savoring ones sandwich.

This made me think back to a conversation I seem to have over and over again with my friends back in America--- a need for work/life balance (and their current lack of it). This is partially due to the fact that my friends and I are in our late 20s/early 30s---a busy time in anyone's career, but even my slightly older friends--those in their late 30s and 40s, seem to have the same complaint. 

Americans, as a whole, are on the low end for vacation time and the high end for hours spent on the job... Basically, the simple Eat to Live vs. Live to Eat difference is playing out in our professional lives, too. 

For example, most Europeans, including those here on the island, have well over a month's worth of paid vacation each year---quite different from the two-week standard in America. The business day also ends here around 4pm and you'll be hard pressed to find anyone who works 40 hours a week, let alone more than 40 hours. ever.

I remember when I was working at a law firm back in America--I didn't take a real lunch if I had a lot of work that day (I was a certified dashboard and desktop diner) and I didn't go home until all my work for the day was completed (this meant I often stayed late). Compare that to my French plumber. He showed up at 8. Left at exactly 12 noon (it was his lunch time), returned at 1 and retired at 4. As he was leaving he told me "the work day is over. be back tomorrow." It didn't matter that my shower still wasn't working properly. He was going home. Because the work day was over.

Though, perhaps what I find most fascinating is that people here are generally content with their work, and their work-life balance. 

No one is one frazzled nerve away from a breakdown or seeking instant joy or gratification in the form of retail therapy, a gourmet dinner or personal pampering.

They also don't seem to have that same money-hunger that Americans do. They, in effect, work to live...they don't live to work

Just think about how different your life might be if instead of striving for more, your focus was on less.. What if you only worked so that you can pay for what you need--but little else? Well, then you'd be French.

Why our (American) professional lives (and work-life balance) is so different, I think, goes back to that BIG mentality--perhaps if Americans didn't want big cars, big houses and big proportions, they also wouldn't live to work, just as they might live to eat less?

I really don't know---but I do find it curious...and I wonder if slowing down--slowing down in all aspects of our life--might be exactly what the doctor ordered. for all of us.

Thoughts?

10 Warming Soups

Posted by: Lindsay S. Nixon |

Category: Holiday

Inspirational Interview: Beth

Posted by: Lindsay S. Nixon |

Category: Herbies

The Inspirational Interviews series is back this week with a sassy business woman who (get ready for it!) used happy herbivore recipes to meet her health, weight and fitness goals!

Six weeks ago Beth emailed me saying she wanted to lose a little bit of weight and she was only going to eat recipes from happyherbivore.com to do it!

I was so flattered and honored I didn't know what to say other than "hey! if it works, you, like, need to let me interview you!"

HH: So Beth, what spawned this idea of yours--to lose weight with happy herbivore recipes?

Beth: I reached a point where I physically was not matching how I felt mentally or spiritually. I found myself eating the same boring things or skipping meals entirely because I had lost interest in food as fuel, and nutrition as a vehicle for feeling optimally.

HH: Before your... happy herbivore diet (shall we say) what was your diet like?

Beth: I was a convenience food vegan. I ate a lot of vegan pre-packed foods from the local co-op (which were sneaky vegan calorie bombs smothered in rich sauces or infused with a hefty amount of oil to keep it from drying out when reheated). I also skipped meals a lot. 

HH: You've been eating a la happy herbivore for six weeks now. Mind us asking how much weight you've lost?

Beth: I have currently lost 34 pounds eating happy herbivore recipes in conjunction with yoga and an intense weight training routine at the gym.

HH: Like many of us, you've attempted weight loss before--was this time (with happy herbivore recipes) easier, harder about the same?

Beth: I've attempted weight loss many times before but my focus on the dietary aspect changed this time around as did my need to become more intense and diverse in my workouts since I passed the age-30 barrier. A vegan diet alone isn't a guarantee of weight-loss, as one look down the dairy-free "ice cream" aisle can attest, but with a common sense method of the carb-protein-fat combination as well as a reasonable portion size, I have been able to create a workweek meal plan that is easy to follow, satisfying and nutritionally complete using only happy herbivore recipes. Even my non-vegan trainer can't complain! 

HH: In addition to weight loss, have you noticed any other benefits from eating happy herbivore recipes (and thus, adopting a low fat plant-based diet)?

Beth: In making these happy herbivore recipes I have found that I am sustained for longer periods of time without the need to binge or eat something that is empty on the go (like potato chips). Even though the recipes seem to be more nutrient dense, they have not left me feeling heavy or bloated as some other recipes I've made do (primarily due to the heavy "cream" or sauce base). 

HH: A lot of people don't think they have the time to prepare fresh meals from scratch everyday--but even as a busy career woman (Beth owns her own business!), you've made the time... care to tell us about that?

Beth: Unlike so many others, happy herbivore recipes are simple and satisfying enough to incorporate into anyone's busiest work week, which can be a major hurdle or reluctance. In fact it is easy to initially doubt that the simplicity of the recipes could actually be fulfilling enough to tame a voracious vegan eater like my husband, but they do! I have been able to vastly increase my physical workload, maintain my career and home obligations, and become more mentally present while losing these unneeded (unwanted) pounds and integrating a majority of happy herbivore recipes into my daily dietary repertoire.

HH: All this food talk is making me hungry! What are some of your favorite and go-to happy herbivore recipes?

Chickpea Noodle Soup, Celery Root Soup, Oatmeal Cookie Smoothie and Kale Chips are some of my favorites. My husband also makes the Chickpea Tacos at least twice a week! He is a glutton for them!

HH: Thanks so much for sharing you story with us Beth--and I'm so glad happy herbivore recipes have helped you become your healthiest self yet! Keep up the great work! You've certainly inspired me with your amazing "can do" attitude!