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I’ve Started Designing Vegan-Themed Merch!

Hey guys!

Long time, no see. I’ve been working on a bunch of recipes to start posting here (currently tweaking and refining), so hopefully you’ll be seeing more of me.

In the meantime, I’ve been working on something else too. I realized I’ve had a problem: good vegan merch is hard to come by. It always takes a lot of digging to find decent vegan T shirts and workout tanks, and they’re usually really overpriced. So I decided I’d try to help fix the problem myself by making my own!

As of yesterday I’ve been uploading my own designs (mostly vegan themed) to Redbubble, where people can buy them as shirts, stickers, mugs, totes, pillows, phone and laptop cases, pretty much everything. The prices still aren’t as low as I’d like them (and they vary wildly by shirt style), even though I lowered the default markup (aka I lowered the percent of money I get), but it’s better than most stuff I’ve seen. I’m planning to upload a ton more, and I’m sure I’ll learn as I go, so stay tuned!

So, if you’re interested in vegan swag and want to help support a poor vegan grad student, check out my brand new shop! (Also linked in the menu bar above)

And if you have any suggestions, let me know–I’d love to take custom requests ūüôā

Click here for the shirt above

Click here for the bag above

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Thanks for 1000 Followers!

My Instagram

Thanks so much for helping me hit 1000 followers, everyone! When I first started this blog (formerly called the Skinnyfat Chef) I wasn’t sure if anyone would be interested in my food/fitness journey, let alone a thousand¬†people. And throughout this journey I’ve completely changed: I used to try to do as much cardio as possible while eating as little as possible (and counting each and every calorie), whereas¬†now I lift weights, run for the joy of running and not calorie burn, and eat in abundance with no restriction or calorie counting. And the cherry on top is that I’ve gotten much closer to my ideal body this way.¬†I’m so grateful for your support–you’ve really inspired me to stick to my goals which have done wonders for my health and fitness.

Most importantly, I hope my experiences can be helpful to you in some way or another… even if it’s just learning from the mistakes I’ve made along the way. ¬† ūüėõ

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Pre-Christmas Goal: Back to High Carb Intuitive Eating!

Update 12/05

After 10 days I realized that MWL isn’t the best idea for getting back to high carb intuitive eating right now, because it’s a bit too restrictive given my current tastes and makes the “intuitive” part tricky. I definitely want to try it in the near future though, so stay tuned!

For now, I’m going to try to generally eat starch solution/high carb (70-85%) and get more vegetables: I’ll still be striving for the MWL guidelines, but not following them religiously.

Original post:

Original title: Pre-Christmas Diet Experiment: McDougall Maximum Weight Loss (MWL)!

Hello again! I hope you all had a great Thanksgiving ¬†ūüôā

I haven’t done a diet experiment¬†since Spring, so I thought I’d do another one for you: this time, McDougall’s Maximum Weight Loss plan (a silly name for what is really just a healthier version of the Starch Solution). I like to do these experiments so people can see the details of what it’s like, get meal inspiration, see what kind of results one can get, and maybe even decide to do it themselves and spread the high carb vegan movement a little bit.

Since my Spring experiment, I’ve been doing intuitive eating (naturally around 20% fat) and was feeling pretty phenomenal until recently. I maintained the weight loss from that last experiment and lost even more: I went off the pill and lost from 116 to 112lbs without trying simply because I felt less hungry, so it seems like all those fake hormones were causing a lot of my big appetite/craving problems.

Me at 112lbs–sorry for the silly photos, I didn’t take any real progress photos so these are just photoshoot outfit tests I had to send to the photographer ūüėõ

Things were going wonderfully in October, then I ended my relationship of 6 years and had another unfortunate incident right at the beginning of November… and cue the emotional eating. Then a week later I went to San Diego (aka home) for a conference, where I ate at restaurants a lot and the unhealthy eating just snowballed. I felt like it totally threw off my hunger signals, and gave me all sorts of weird cravings. I’m still eating intuitively, but this new intuition is all messed up–I keep craving sugar/fat combos like cinnamon rolls and coconut parathas, and that takes a lot of time to satisfy since I make it all from scratch!

So I feel like now is a perfect time to press the reset button with something a little more serious than my normal eating patterns: McDougall’s Maximum Weight Loss plan, which is pretty much just Starch Solution with less fat and no processed foods. As much as I love bread and whatnot, I feel like flour messes with my hunger signals when I’m not in my usual intuitive eating groove.

I won’t be counting calories or macros this time around, because it drives me crazy, and I’m trying to use this as a platform to transition back into my good intuitive eating patterns rather than over-police my diet. I’ll try to record¬†pretty precise¬†amounts so you can calculate the calories if you’re curious, though!

MWL Guidelines

  • Eat when hungry, stop when full–no restriction
  • Vegan, low fat, starch based diet
  • Eat lots of unrefined starches: avoid flours, processed foods
  • Eat lots of non-starchy vegetables (1/3-1/2 of meal), the more raw veggies the better
  • Avoid overt fats (oil, peanut butter, nuts, etc.)
  • Less salt and sugar
  • Less variety; eat the same meals
  • My changes: I’m still having (low fat!) soymilk because I can’t live without it, and it¬†contains all my B12 and vitamin D that I don’t get from my multivitamin.

My goals (Starting weight: 117lbs)

  • Get back into my¬†usual form of intuitive eating where I actually crave healthy foods
  • Spend less money & time on food (satisfying sugar/fat cravings is quite expensive!)
  • Lean out so I can get closer to abs!

I’m planning on doing this until winter break (~December 12th) at the very least, but depending on how it goes I might continue doing it longer.

Morning after Thanksgiving, at 117bs

Check out my Instagram for daily food posts! ¬†‚̧

Thanks for reading!


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Higher Carb Starch Solution: Results and What’s Happened Since!

Update 2019: if you want to know what my diet and progress have been like since this post, see my current Diet and Progress page for what I’m up to now! Also, check out my Youtube playlist for in depth videos on my different diets, weight loss, and before & after photos.¬†

It’s time for a post that has been in my drafts for months: the final results and thoughts about my higher carb starch solution experiment! (If you don’t know about the starch solution, check out the book)

The fact that it’s taken months for me to post this means I can also talk about the long term effects (and if the weight stays off) and what I’ve been doing since then.

Photo Apr 28, 2 06 34 PM

Results and thoughts about the 4 week experiment: (see original post)

  • I lost 3 pounds–from 121.5 to 118.5lbs, which is a big loss for me as I’ve been hovering¬†at 120-122¬†for years–most of which happened in the first week. I think I ate too little in the first week, which made me crave a lot of fat in the following weeks–I have a lifetime habit of craving fat and pastries whenever I’m in too steep a calorie deficit!
  • Counting calories (which I did for the purpose of sharing my intake with you guys, not for restricting them) stressed me out and got in the way of intuitive eating. For future food diaries, I think I would leave out the calories/macros. For example, when I had a smaller breakfast because I wasn’t hungry, I would compensate by eating more for lunch simply because I thought¬†I “needed” more calories–but then I would overeat til uncomfortably full just to meet some arbitrary calorie requirement!
  • I think that my happy zone–aka eating whatever I want without thinking about macros–is around 77% carbs, 12% protein, and 11% fat. Before this challenge it was more like 75/10/15, so I guess it¬†has moved my tastes towards a slightly lower fat diet! (These may seem like tiny changes, but 4% is a big change when the total is only 11%!)

Overall, it seems that this challenge showed me how it’s almost too easy to lose weight while eating to satiation on high carb, and if you have rebound binge eating like I do, you have to make sure to hit a sweet spot with your calorie deficit if you want to be able to stick to it! It’s also helped reinforce my intuitive eating by reminding me that calorie counting is not only not particularly useful, but actually gets in the way of eating what my body needs.

Since then & Goals:

  • Since May, I’ve lost 2.5lbs more and am down to 116lbs, just doing intuitive eating (still high carb), and running, and occasional lifting! I got a dog¬†right after the end of the experiment, and I think all the walking helped some too ūüôā Progress photo below is at 117 a few weeks ago, featuring little miss Maia! (she’s always improving my photos)
  • My current main goal is to replace my pooch with¬†some semblance of abs by September. The weight isn’t particularly important, but is easier to measure progress with than the mirror.

Photo Jul 03, 2 18 14 PM

Thanks for reading!


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Thanks to WordPress’ Support Team, I’m back!

As some of you may have noticed, I stopped posting abruptly on May 14th: the day I went home to San Diego. This is because for some reason, WordPress hasn’t been working on my macbook¬†OR my PC desktop, even when I try with my laptop in cafes! It wouldn’t let me load anything, not even my own site. This also happened last December and January when I was home for winter break.

My problem was especially mysterious and had both me and the WordPress support team completely stumped since January, but this morning we finally solved it: I use a Berkeley library proxy server in order to access scientific papers (which I talk about in my science videos), and it seems that the proxy server address¬†somehow got messed up so the only time WordPress would work was when it was on UC Berkeley wifi… which is the only network that doesn’t turn on the proxy server.

Moral of the story: 1) if you’re mysteriously unable to load WordPress, your proxy settings might be the culprit and 2) I’m back and so excited to be able to blog again at long last!


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A month of Starch Solution, Round 2! (This time, with even more carbs!)

Photo Mar 27, 1 55 14 PM

Hey guys! Long time, no text posts. Sorry about that–I’ve just been really into making videos lately, and unfortunately I only have so much time between my¬†honors thesis and finishing up my last semester at Berkeley. But I am so, so appreciative of you guys’¬†support on my fledgling little Youtube channel! ‚̧

Now back to the blog: I’ve noticed that my Starch Solution experiment from September 2015 is still getting quite a bit of attention, and because the point of this blog is to help people discover the joys of veganism (and the weight loss/health benefits of high carb, low fat veganism), I thought I’d do another little month-long experiment for you guys!

Photo Mar 14, 2 03 17 PM

During that initial Starch Solution round, I was transitioning into full-on HCLF (high carb low fat), so I ate quite a bit of fat compared to a lot of high carbers out there–around 30¬†grams, or 15-20% of my calories. This time, I’m thinking of doing a hybrid of Starch Solution and Maximum Weight Loss (aka MWL, Starch Solution in “hardcore mode”), where I’ll try to do around 75-80% carbs, 15% protein, and 5-10% fat if my body is okay with it. The higher protein is because I lift weights and I feel like a little extra could help with strength/muscle building, although society’s obsession with protein is totally overblown. I haven’t been counting my calories or macros since the last round so I don’t know how much fat I’ve been eating lately, but it’s probably around 10% these days and I still eat along the lines of¬†the¬†Starch Solution. But I will starting counting my macros again for you guys, because I feel like it’s much more informative that way!

The reason I’m calling it a hybrid of Starch Solution and MWL is because I’m planning on eating lots of¬†vegetables and not eating many overt fats (MWL), but I will still be eating as much flour and sugar and fruit (normal Starch Solution) as I please. Oh, and I will be getting fat-filled vegan cinnamon rolls and/or gourmet “meaty”¬†sandwiches once or twice during this¬†because it’s my last month in Berkeley and therefore my last month of having access to Cinnaholic and The Butcher’s Son (AMAZING vegan places), and I’d like to enjoy them while I can. Hooray for moderation!

Photo Apr 08, 4 40 24 PM
Say hello to Cinnaholic’s¬†chocolate caramel pie gourmet vegan cinnamon roll. I only got their rolls once a year while living here but now my time is running out!

Now the short summary version for those of you who prefer not to read walls of text! ūüėČ

  • I’m doing another month of posts like I did in September,¬†but this time I’m an old pro at eating a high carb low fat diet because I¬†absolutely love¬†it. I’ll be sharing what I eat in a day on the Starch Solution, plus results¬†and¬†weight loss.
  • The differences from last time: more carbs, less fat, with a general goal of 75-80% carbs, 15% protein, 5-10% fat. But once again, no calorie restriction! (You could also say I’m following the 80/10/10 diet. So many similar diets!)
  • I’m sort of combining Starch Solution with McDougall’s Maximum Weight Loss (Starch Solution extreme) because I’ll be eating lots of vegetables and very few overt fats, but still eating all the bread/sugar/fruit that I feel like.
  • I’m moving out on May 12th, so I’m planning on doing this¬†til May 11th or so depending on how hectic things get. (Because I may have to subsist of Clif bars and takeout once I’ve packed up my kitchen…)

And of course, because I’m sure a lot of people are interested in this for weight loss on the Starch Solution, my starting weight is 121.5lbs today.¬†I could stand to lose some fat because I’d like to have more muscle definition (I’ve gained 13lbs of muscle this past year! ūüėÄ ), but my body is not especially interested in getting lighter–so if I do lose anything on the scale, it’d be pretty amazing progress for me!

Photo Apr 09, 6 49 23 PM
The lighting in my room is rather awful which makes the photo grainy, but here’s what I look like at the moment!

Thanks for reading!


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23 Days of Starch Solution!

2019 Update: See my Instagram for daily posts on my weight loss & body progress, food & recipes, and diet updates. See my Youtube channel for more detailed starch solution/diet updates and before & after photos!

See my¬†Round Two of Starch Solution–a second month of daily food diaries!

Guidelines for my version of the Starch Solution:

  • Center my meals on starch: potatoes, rice, beans, lentils, squash, bulgur, oats, corn, etc.
  • Keep macros around 65-70% carbs, 15-20% protein, and 10-15% fat. (this generally requires protein powder and/or bars for me)
  • Focus on whole foods: avoid flours; no oils
  • Eat more vegetables (currently having small salads with lunch 3-4 days a week and a serving at dinner, but I‚Äôd like to get more)
  • No limit on fresh fruits¬†(starch solution guidelines say 4 or fewer servings, but I’m not a fan of that!)

Photo Sep 11, 6 20 47 PM
My lifelong love affair with starch continues! This is a channa masala I made a few days ago

Starting today, 9/15, I’m planning on posting my food diaries of¬†the next 23 days!

Back when I started this blog I would post¬†them everyday, but because I don’t have nearly as much time as I used to,¬†I thought I could instead give¬†you guys snapshots of what I eat every once in awhile. I’ll either do food diary posts that have¬†a day or two each, or do a weekly post with what I ate each day that week.

I’ve been an ethical vegan for a long time now: vegetarian for the last 9 years,¬†95% vegan for 3 years, and 100% vegan for the last year. Since February, I’ve been dabbling in HCLF (high carb, low fat)¬†veganism on and off, and have been doing pretty well with it since I got back to school three weeks ago. However, I have been eating a bit too much¬†processed¬†food, especially homemade chocolate chip cookies because of¬†too many bakesales and potlucks! Thanks to that and the heaps of stress I’ve been under–applying to grad school while working in 2 labs, doing an honors thesis, and taking a full courseload–my skin hasn’t been too thrilled with me, and my gym performance seems to be suffering.

They're just way too addictive
Dastardly little cookies…

I’ll be visiting my boyfriend in three weeks, so until then, I’m going to try following Dr. McDougall’s Starch Solution principles more closely than I have been. Not only do I already love starches, but his premises¬†make sense to me–and I’m a very cynical/scientific person, so it takes a persuasive argument¬†to get me on board with something like that. I won’t be super¬†strict as I’ll still be including protein bars, Beyond Meat chick’n strips, avocados, and flax seed here and there, but I’m interested to see if I feel and look better eating his way…¬†and I wouldn’t mind losing a pound or two either!

I’m also hoping I can simplify my diet and meal planning, because I’m currently a bit addicted to variety. However, on the weekends I’ll probably bend the guidelines and have¬†some flours in pancakes and whatnot, and experiment with new recipes.

Also, I won’t be counting calories during the day–I’m going to be eating intuitively–but I will write down what I eat so I can put it in Myfitnesspal at the end of the day and maybe post it here! I love data, but I hate planning my day around calories, so this compromise has been working for me.

Thanks for reading!

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Hip injuries: The killer of leg day (and dreams)

At the beginning of April, I got too ambitious. Something about my spring break filled me with renewed motivation and a desire to not only be a lifter, but… a runner!

I’ve been doing some occasional HIIT on the treadmill for months, but decided that in April, I wanted to get some endurance. So I started C25K, wrote an enthusiastic blog post about it, and was having a grand old time. I was lifting 2-3x a week and running 2-3x a week, and loving every minute of it.

That is, until my hip decided that it was having none of it.

Ironically, the day I got injured is the day I wrote that post about: the first day I’ve tried running outside since December. I didn’t realize it at the time, but I suppose running downhill for awhile messed me up in a way that didn’t present until the next day. I was still in pain but tried running again 2 days later, this time on a treadmill, thinking I just had a tight muscle and it would go away.

Nope! Massively intensified pain.

Since then, I’ve been limping pretty badly, and haven’t been able to run at all. It’s hard to get dressed in the morning or even stand up. But apparently I’m stubborn, because I’ve still been walking ~5 miles a day (although still lower than¬†my usual 6-7), and doing my lifting: including squats and romanian deadlifts and whatnot. I finally went to the doctor after 3 weeks,¬†upon realizing it hadn’t improved in the least bit. She didn’t say anything conclusive at all except that I need to wear my running shoes everywhere instead of my usual converse, stop doing leg work (goodbye, squats and deadlifts), and see a physical therapist.

It’s a good thing my running shoes are neutral colored and match with everything. (Not.)

I had my physical therapy appointment last Thursday, and he seemed a bit mystified by my injury. He wasn’t sure what it was either, but his best guess was some kind of hip flexor strain… even though those usually clear up in 1-3 weeks. (?!)¬†I can’t see him again any time soon because I’m leaving town, but he said that he’d like to see me in the fall if it’s still bothering me. If it’s still bothering me in 3 months I’ll probably have a meltdown.

The best/most hilarious part is that I learned that I’ve been standing and walking wrong all these years. Apparently my core¬†and glute muscles HATE activating so I walk and stand in the laziest way possible, putting all my strain on my hip flexors. I’m quite sure this is from years of having literally no muscle beyond what was absolutely necessary to survive. My body is apparently incredibly adept at avoiding using or building muscle whenever possible ūüėõ

So it’s been exactly a month, and now every lifting day is arm day. I’ve been doing the core work that he assigned me and standing/walking with better posture, but things haven’t improved since physical therapy. I’ve had to give up my goal of being able to run a mile without stopping by summer. (Since my summer starts in a few days…)

And boy do I miss leg day. ūüė¶ But I’m holding out hope that I’ll be better soon!