Eat Your Water, Don’t Drink It

According to Guardian, “Leading water scientists have issued one of the sternest warnings yet about global food supplies, saying that the world’s population may have to switch almost completely to a vegetarian diet over the next 40 years to avoid catastrophic shortages.”

Currently omnivores are getting about 20% of protein from animals (i.e.chicken, duck, pork and beef, etc.) and animal byproducts (dairy milk, dairy cheese, etc). We will need to drop down to 5% in order to feed an extra 2 billion people expected to habitate the planet in 2050 according to the Stockholm International Water Institute.

Americans have an expectation and fear that they’re not getting enough protein in their diets. However studies show that Americans consume too much protein following the Standard American Diet. Heavy meat and dairy-laden diets require a lot of digestion on the part of the body. Water helps the digestive process in the human body which is why Americans are instructed by the FDA to drink at least 6 to 8 glasses of water per day.

Following a plant strong, vegetarian diet, you will be consuming much more vegetables and fruits, nuts, seeds, and grains which naturally contain a lot of water already in the plant. The closest you can consume the plant in its natural state, the more water you will find it contains. In other words, raw foods contain the highest amount of digestive enzymes and water. After that would come cooked plants and vegetables.

For an interesting experiment, find a friend with a juicer and watch them juice a cucumber or watermelon. You’d be amazed at the amount of water and juice that the fruit or vegetable is made up of.

Start small with cooked vegetable meals like stir-fries. Plants have a lot of protein. If you are looking for something to replace meat like chicken with try tofu. Tofu is very porous and can be dressed up with a marinade or spices and goes great in a vegetable stir-fry. If you put the stir-fry over some whole grain rice or whole grain noodles then you’ve got a fantastic meal complete with proteins and carbohydrates.

If we start now making simple changes like substituting tofu for chicken and eating more vegetables so we don’t need to drink as much water for digestion, perhaps by 2050 we could change the statistics and not need to heed such a strong warning.

We can get our water from a plant strong diet which comes directly from a (wishfully) unprocessed environment leaving more water for our own food crops. This would mean less need for bottled water to drink to aid in digestion which would mean less plastic left to decompose in landfills and would leave less of a carbon footprint contributing to global warming. Global warming is why we have droughts which affects our animals and crops. If we didn’t have to feed so many crops to animals to keep them alive so we could consume them and profit from them, then there would be more crops for us to eat and more water in those crops for digestion in our bodies. It’s a circle that could start and never stop if only we could break the cycle.

The circle of change will start with you making a commitment to chose a vegetarian lifestyle. Take a step in the right direction and you won’t have to drink 8 glasses of water a day. You just have to eat it!

Sara Sawochka

The Broken Clavicle Bone Vegan Project is Fixed and Still Going Strong!

No pictures tonight…sorry!

However I’m pleased to report Pete is home from surgery and resting comfortably.

The vegan project is going well. Pete had a peanut butter and jelly sandwich on Ezekiel bread for lunch. For dinner Pete had Japanese Pan Noodles with tofu from Noodles and Company (yum) which is vegan!

I’m going grocery shopping for us tomorrow. I would bet you have no idea where I’m going but if you guessed Whole Foods you wouldn’t be wrong!

Pete has requested Oreos from the store. He was rather upset that I didn’t bring him any home tonight after my workout.

Pete has also requested plant or nut milk from the store that tastes the closest to whole dairy milk. It’s been a while so if you have a suggestion let me know. I’m thinking of doing a vanilla almond milk, coconut or soy milk to get him started. Whole dairy milk is going to be hard to replace in flavor which is what Pete is looking for. I’m going to try hard to find it. He wants it to drink and also to put in a morning bowl of oatmeal.

Given that he has one arm to eat with this week, I’m thinking we’ll try a yummy sandwich this week Panera-style with sun-dried tomatoes, hummus, cucumber, an avocado and cucumber with some lettuce and tomato on Ezekiel bread. He will need something easy and not messy to eat.

My friend, Elizabeth, from church is going to be cooking us a vegan meal. She says she has a vegan cookbook. I have no idea what she is going to make but we are really looking forward to what she is going to make!

Have a fabulous Labor Day! And even though the clavicle is technically not broken anymore please keep reading the vegan journey now entitled: The Fixed Clavicle Bone Vegan Project!

Sara Sawochka

The Broken Clavicle Bone Vegan Project Surgery

Pete is heading in for surgery right now. He’s really nervous but if everything goes ok he should have a speedy recovery!

Here’s a bit of vegan stuff on our journey at the surgery center.

Pete wasn’t allowed to eat anything this morning but I thought it would be fun to post what Pete normally drinks for breakfast! It’s very vegan friendly with 4 bananas, 10 ice cubes, raspberries, strawberries, blueberries and blackberries! I top it off with chia seeds, cocoa powder and unsweetened almond milk. And yes, it totally looks like mud. Remember that looks aren’t everything!

20120831-065105.jpg

And what hospital trip would be complete without checking the vending machine for something vegan for fun! I found, sadly, only a few items that were vegan!

Here’s the vending machine! Can you spot the items?

20120831-065405.jpg

Ok that’s kind of like finding Waldo. Here’s my favorite option even though it’s not the healthiest one: Mini Oreos!

20120831-065527.jpg

I’m pretty sure the pretzels are vegan also and most likely the fruit and nut mixes are too. There are two other questionable items that I don’t know about: the Gardetto’s Original Recipe snack and the Austin Zoo Animal crackers. It just goes to show you that you can’t trust the product is vegan unless you either know that it is like the Oreos or if you can read the label. It is hard to read a label in a vending machine when all of the labels are turned away from you.

I will look up more information on the products I wasn’t sure about and send another post to let you know if they are vegan or not!

Sara Sawochka

A Hot Vegan Night in Noblesville

Ok not really hot, but it was all vegan!

I’m pleased to report that Mr. Sawochka made it vegan through the whole day!

He had some tortilla chips and hummus for an afternoon snack, Chinese food for dinner and Oreos for dessert! No it may not he healthy but not all vegans are healthy either.

I’m pleased to report that Pete is seriously sticking to this project. He made sure to tell his family about his project and that was insistent upon sticking with it for a week.

Lastly, before we get to the hot pictures, Pete has already been eating a lot of vegan meals with me as I’ve become a vegan over the last six months. When they weighed him at the doctor today he had lost weight and also has a normal blood pressure. Not too shabby for a 42 year old man!

Ok here are the pictures:

20120830-205715.jpg

20120830-205733.jpg

20120830-205753.jpg

20120830-205811.jpg

The Vegan Journey to Noblesville

We made the vegan trip to Noblesville! We started the morning with a smoothie.

Then we headed to Starbucks where Pete and I shared a vegan Grande Soy Latte.

And here is Pete with his vegan raw bar from Starbucks as a morning snack!

We have seen the doctor and he recommended surgery so we are scheduled for tomorrow morning at 9:00am. Here’s why the doctor rocked (besides the fact he was cute…sorry Pete): When I asked him if diet mattered in healing and if Pete needed more calcium the doctor said that it is debatable whether we need as much calcium as recommended by the FDA. The doctor also said that you don’t need to drink dairy milk to get calcium. He said that there are lots of plant sources like kale, spinach and plant milks that have plenty of calcium! The hot doctor (sorry again Pete) rocks!

20120830-183047.jpg

20120830-183142.jpg

20120830-183244.jpg

20120830-183315.jpg

20120830-183343.jpg

The Broken Clavicle Bone Vegan Project

So as most of you saw on Facebook, Pete broke his clavicle bone. This morning, when he was pretty happy on Vicodin, I asked him if he’d be up to going vegan for one week starting today!

If you’re injured and can’t make your own food and have a vegan nurse-maid, what better time to try going vegan, right? I mean he’s almost there anywyays!

The best part is that he agreed!

So today for breakfast Pete had his smoothie (10 ice cubes, 4 bananas, and lots of raspberries, strawberries, blueberries and blackberries wtih unsweetened almond milk, cocoa powder and chia seeds) like he always does. For lunch he is having peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. For dinner I will be making a simple spaghetti and sauce. The spaghetti will just have oil on it instead of butter and he won’t have any cheese. Pete is of the belief, like me, that vegan cheese is creepy.

So stay tuned for the The Broken Claivcle Bone Vegan Project. Who knows! Maybe SH Smile has encouraged someone else to vegan by association. And if she hasn’t convinced you yet, she’s coming for you!

Sara Sawochka

Free Giveaway! Where’s the Value?

I woke up at 3:30am yesterday and couldn’t fall back to sleep. I accomplished more in that three hours before I get ready for work than I do on weekends where I have 48 hours all to myself.

Here’s one accomplishment I made in the wee hours of the morning (amongst other greatness, of course!):

I have an internship at Mercy For Animals which starts on September 4, 2012. I’m not allowed to carry any type of purse/briefcase, etc. or wear any kind of boots, belts, clothing made from animal products (such as leather) on the premises. I’m trying to extend this practice into my life outside of the internship as well by eliminating animal-based products that wouldn’t necessarily go with me to the office.

As of yesterday I had one Guess purse and matching wallet, three Coach purses and two Coach wallets in my closet.

Here’s the approximate monetary value of each purse:

1. Small pink Coach wallet: $50.00
2. Large Coach wallet: $150.00
3. Carly Coach purse: $300.00
4. Black Coach Medicine Bag-style Purse : $450.00
5. Black and Silver Coach purse: $290.00
6. Guess purse: $99.00
7. Guess wallet: $40.00
8. Franco Sarto boots (2 pairs): approximately $75.00 per pair I believe.

I felt it would be hypocritical of me to continue carrying these items in the future. I feel conflicted when I tell people that I’m a vegan and am trying to get into the animal rights activism movement and am standing there with my black Coach purse with leather on it. I’m not practicing what I’m preaching and that’s not cool.

For a fun(ny) side note, the calf-length Franco Sarto boots were never worn. I have really muscular calves. Bless the lady’s heart that was able to zip me up into those boots. It’s the only time I’ve ever had to be zipped into something and it will be my last. The value here is just sheer laughter and stupidity on my part for purchasing boots that I wouldn’t be able to zip myself into! I learned my lesson.

I’ve been reading VegNews magazine and have been noticing an ad in each issue for Vegan purses made by Susan Nichole. The ads showcase very cute, both casual and professional, purses which are very stylish.

At around 4:00am, I was on her website purchasing purses. Susan Nichole had a back-to-school SALE! I bought one purse and got a different purse of equal value free. (And the best part is that I didn’t have to be going back to school to take advantage of the sale)! I got one shoulder purse and one cross-body purse. They are so cute!

After I bought the purses I pondered what to do with the multiple purses and wallets and also boots I had setting in my closet. I wondered what would happen if I posted that I was giving my Coach andGuess purses and 2 pairs of Franco Sarto boots away for free on Facebook. I made a post at 6:30am that read “Does anyone have any interest in 3 Coach purses….?” Ask a stupid question…There was immediate interest. By noon I was pleased to report on Facebook that the purses and boots had new owners.

I couldn’t sell the purses because, to me, that would be selling a product that has leather on it and profiting from the death of an animal. However, I couldn’t justify throwing the purses away either. Reduce, reuse and recycle of course, right? I wanted my items to go to good homes.

My friend Robin had a great suggestion for me. She said that she’d take 2 purses and would make a donation to a charity for me in return. I selected Lakeshore Paws as my charity. I thought what a fabulous idea! I never made the donation a requirement. I wonder if the items I was offering would’ve gone that fast if I’d made the donation a requirement or had set a minimum donation amount. I won’t ever know. I found people willing to donate even though they knew they didn’t have to. I love that!

By giving away my stuff everyone was happy! The new owners of the designer purses and boots are happy with their slightly used items. My closet is happy…if a closet can be happy. An animal at Lakeshore Paws will feel safe and that makes most people feel happy. The value isn’t a monetary value. The value is the feeling of happiness knowing we’ve helped an animal at risk.

Be happy. Be all kinds of happy! And help animals in need too!

Sara Sawochka

My Internship With Mercy For Animals

What is Mercy For Animals?

Mercy For Animals (MFA) is a company that fights for the rights of all animals but is particularly focused on domesticated farm animals such as cows, pigs, chickens, etc. MFA also promotes a vegan diet mainly to cut down on the number of animals farmed and slaughtered each year. While a vegan diet can and does promote good health it also has another benefit of cutting down on the amount of animals slaughtered each year. If everyone slowly, over a long period of time, switched their way of eating from carnivores to herbivores, there would be less cows, pigs and chickens for slaughter and also for byproducts use. Lastly, MFA fights for the humane treatment of animals that are on factory farms. What I love about this company and also companies like PETA is that they face the realization the people are still eating meat. Animals on factory farms are suffering while they are alive and it is unnecessary. Despite the fact they are being raised for food doesn’t mean that they couldn’t live a happier, better-treated life.

Why do an internship at 31 years old? Why not go back to school instead? What can an internship give you that college can not?

I don’t see “Animal Rights Activist” listed on any college degree lists. I’d like to do something for the animals right now to help. Experience through an internship will give me the chance to take action and get experience in what I want to be doing in the future. Rotting away in a classroom where experience is simply not taught is not what I want to do.

An internship is a way to commit without committing fully. This will be a safe way for me to get a lot of experience with MFA without having to commit fully to a full-time job and then finding out I may not like it. My plan during this internship is to keep my full-time job while working at MFA part-time for the minimum internship requirement of one month. At that point which will be in October I will decide and MFA will decide if animal rights activism is a good fit for me and also if I’m well suited to work for their company. If I’m enjoying the work in the field then I can always apply at another company such as PETA if MFA turns out to not be an option. If I discover I love animal rights activism, my ultimate goal is to quit my job at the law firm and work in animal rights full time.

I want to do something fulfilling with my life. Helping out animals and promoting a vegan diet is the best way I know how to live a compassionate and fulfilling life. I’d like to be able to call animal rights my career, meaning my life’s passion, instead of just a job, meaning a paycheck doing work that I don’t personally believe in but happen to be good at.

Have you thought about going back to school for a degree that supports the basics of what you want to in your chosen work field of animal rights activism?

Yes! I would particularly enjoy working in the blogging sector or the legal sector of animal rights. If there was a blog writing journalism major out there I’d like to think I’d sign up in a heartbeat. At the very least, I’m open to taking some classes to get more become a better blogger.

I mention the legal sector meaning legal assistant. I wouldn’t want to go back for school for that since I have some experience in the field. I truly believe you can learn what you need to know with experience instead of in the classroom. So many life lessons and job lessons/experience are taught on the job and not in the classroom. Job experience is one thing I was never taught in college.

At this point I do not know a lot about what I will be doing for my internship although blogging was brought up. I love writing/blogging and if going back to school or taking some sort of class would help me get better at it, then I’d be willing to get schooling in that field.

What does the MFA internship have to do with my Sarathlete blog?

My official start date for my internship is 9/4/2012. I will post once a week to my blog to let you know what I’m doing on my internship, how I’m liking it, and what I’m learning about.

You can read my story of my beginnings as an animal activist. I hope it inspires you to follow your own animal activist path to become a vegan, volunteer at a dog/cat rescue or to become an activist in whatever way you find applicable to your life.

I want to share my journey along this new and exciting path with you.

Enjoy!
Sara Sawochka

What is A Vegan?

This Saturday and Sunday I had the chance to interact with people who aren’t vegan and have no idea what a vegan is allowed to eat. What I was reminded of very forcefully is that most people stigmatize vegans as people who just eat vegetables.

Friday night, as I sat at Red Robin, my sister-in-law asked me, “So, can you have any treats?”. As I sat there with my plate of unexciting-looking hummus with roasted garlic and olive oil with veggies, I realized the food I was eating didn’t look that appealing and wasn’t helping my case.

Today, Sunday, after church, my friend Elizabeth asked me if I was allowed to eat dairy or eggs or even egg whites.

These two discussions helped me realize two things:

1. I am spoiled by my close circle of friends who are vegan or understand what a vegan can eat and that they don’t just eat vegetables.

2. Sometimes people hear the word “vegan” and have a perception of a militant person, don’t understand it’s a lifestyle choice, and, most importantly, don’t understand what we choose to and not to eat.

Not all vegans are militant people.

Not all vegans act or want to have that stigma of militancy associated with themselves. Some vegans choose to use the words “plant-strong” or “plant-based” to describe their lifestyles. Stating that you choose to eat a “plant-strong” diet doesn’t create the same picture in a person’s mind that the word “vegan” does. You will see this example of “plant-strong diet” used a lot in Rip Esselstyn’s book The Engine 2 Diet. He doesn’t use the word vegan a lot. I do believe putting the words “plant-strong” on the cover of his book has helped his book sell better because there’s no stigma attached to that phrase about trying to save animals or factory farming or other things that people tend to think of when they think of veganism. I don’t believe the book would sell as well if he put the word “vegan” on the cover.

Stating that you eat “plant-strong” gets you away from having to fight the stigma most vegans are faced with: the moral and ethical reasons for why we chose not to eat animals. It’s an easier and much softer approach to eat plant-strong but not have the moral stigma attached to you. If saying “plant-strong” gets you to eat plant-strong then I support that.

So there is a way to say choose a vegan lifestyle without ever stating you’re a vegan: say you eat plant-strong and you won’t get as many questions.

Why are you a vegan?

I get asked this question a lot. It’s almost like asking me, “Well, what’s the point of what you do?” I always answer that people are vegans for either dietary reasons, moral reasons or a combination of both. For me, being a vegan started with dietary reasons and the more I learned about veganism, the more I became a moral vegan concerned with animal rights. It’s been a journey that’s snowballed for me into an internship for Mercy For Animals, a non-profit organization that works to promote veganism and works towards humane treatment of animals on farms.

A dietary vegan will tell you they are vegan because they believe it helps their athletic training: perhaps they are looking for a lean body or perhaps they have some sort of condition like diabetes or high blood pressure and they’ve heard that eating plant-strong will help their condition. Whatever the reason, dietary vegans follow the lifestyle and may or may not stick with it. However, whatever their reasoning at the time, there are definite proven health benefits to being a vegan.

I started as a dietary vegan and my journey led me to become a moral vegan: I would rather be called vegan than plant-strong. I believe that it’s unhealthy for humans to consume animals and their byproducts (the dietary perspective). I also believe that it’s wrong to eat other animals and their byproducts because the animal is hurt in the process. I believe it’s morally wrong to treat an animal without any respect for its life and also wrong to eat it for food. I believe animals can feel pain. I believe that all animals, including domesticated animals, are created equally. I wouldn’t eat my dog and I won’t eat a cow, pig or chicken. Just like I won’t abuse my dogs, I don’t believe that cows, pigs or chickens should be abused on farms either.

What do you choose to eat and not to eat?

Whether you’re a plant-strong, dietary vegan or a vegan that follows the lifestyle for moral reasons, we all eat the same things: fabulous, plant-based food. Vegans choose not to eat animals or animal byproducts. We do eat a lot of vegetables, pastas, rice, nuts, seeds and fruits. There are a lot of things that can be veganized (made vegan) with substitutes and some things come very close to the original non-vegan creation (like desserts) and some things just never taste the same (like cheese). But believe me, if it’s out there someone has tried to make it vegan. There are even vegan marshmallows! How awesome is that?

Honestly, when my sister-in-law saw me sitting there with a plate of vegetables and hummus, it probably looked like I was on a diet and trying to watch my waistline. The truth is that since I started on a vegan diet I don’t count calories and fat like I used to. I never obsess about whether or not I’m getting enough protein. And I never have to think about cholesterol! It’s the best lifestyle ever! The best part of it for me is that I am not harming anyone by choosing to eat plant-strong and I get all of the health benefits from a plant-strong diet. I really get the best of both worlds.

There are a lot of fun vegan foods—part of the fun of being a vegan is the discovery! For instance, did you know Oreos and Twizzlers are vegan? I didn’t say they were healthy, but they are vegan. Do you know how fun it was to discover that? Why? Because it’s kind of a shocker to people. And if someone like my sister-in-law asks me if I can eat treats I will tell her, “Yes I can have Oreos and Twizzlers, just to name a few.”

Most people don’t know that most chocolate is vegan. Chocolate with no dairy milk or milk derivatives in it is vegan. Cocoa powder is vegan and goes great in smoothies! And yes, I have a chocolate smoothie with fresh fruit and chia seeds for breakfast every morning.

But you can’t have milk, eggs, or meat…

Who the heck cares? Well, you might, but I don’t. I tried a bite of Pete’s pizza that he had at Comic Con just to see if I missed real cheese and realized…I don’t miss real cheese. I couldn’t stand the flavor or taste in my mouth. A lot of vegans will tell you cheese is the hardest thing to give up, and when I first started, I agreed. There wasn’t—and honestly still isn’t—a really good vegan substitute for cheese (in my opinion). So instead of substituting, I choose to go without it.

So for all of you out there that say you could never give up cheese, eggs, bacon, milk, or whatever: Yes, you can if you’re ready too. I did. You simply aren’t at that point on your journey.

I highly encourage you, as I was encouraged, to watch movies on Netflix like Food Matters, Food Inc. and Forks Over Knives, just so you can get an idea of where your food comes from and what processes it goes through so you can make your own educated decision on the matter. Try not to say, “Oh I could never do that.” Why doubt yourself that much? Instead say, “I have no desire to do that right now.” At least be honest about it. Everyone can be plant-strong but not everyone wants to. I believe if more people were educated about where their food comes from that they might choose a plant-strong, dietary vegan lifestyle too. And from that point, if they were to stick with it, well…who knows! The possibilities are endless! It could even lead them to a new career choice, like me!

Sara Sawochka

In My Last Half-Hour

In my last half-hour of being 30 years old I wanted to celebrate my journey into my thirties with a quick blog post about what it was like being 30 and how it all came together for me at the end.

Turning 30 was a definite learning experience for me. Most of the lessons and experiences I had were quite humbling. I learned a lot.

Here’s a quick list:

1. I spent my 30th birthday (the actual day) mostly in tears and having a panic attack (no joke) at home. My parents left me a check inside a card on the counter and my father sent me a text message wishing me a happy birthday. I felt like the people that gave birth to me couldn’t even be bothered with me because of some stupid disagreement we’d had. Also on my birthday, people at work and I weren’t getting along so there was no celebration like the department does for everyone else: no food day, no flowers, no singing…just an obligatory card that meant “we have to do this as a minimum and that’s all you’re getting.”

2. Running a marathon and doing two Olympic triathlons and coming in near the very end (and in one case last) were humbling experiences. Marathons, I discovered, are not my thing. I discovered, however, that triathlons play on my ADHD personality very well. I did well at the sprint distances I covered. I’ve done two Olympic tris so far but wasn’t trained for them and did each one on a whim. Nevertheless, I did them and crossed the finish line each time.

3. I told my parents off at Christmas after one final confrontation when I couldn’t stand their bullshit anymore. It was the best and healthiest thing I’ve ever done for myself. It made me a stronger woman and not the little girl seeking mommie’s approval.

4. I finally made a good friend, Shawn, through running. She opened me up to marathon running and endurance events and joined me in my vegan project.

5. I became a vegan, which was one of the best experiences I’ve ever had. It made me more interested in food and nutrition and eventually lead to this deep compassion for animals and wanting to do more work to save them. I owe so much of this to my friend Sarah H.

6. I took a trip to Comic Con and was encouraged to not be so judgmental by my friend Tim Fealy. He taught me to look at Comic Con a different way and try it again. Sometimes the first experience can be a little rocky.

7. I’ve become so sick of my job and crap that we put up with there. I’m tired of foreclosing on peoples homes and not doing anything fulfilling as a career.

8. There’s strength in marriage. My relationship with Pete is much more settled and complete now that we are married even after having been together for 8 years. There aren’t words to describe how glad I am I married him. That’s right ladies…he’s off the market for good now.

So moving forward into my thirties at the age of 31 here’s where I am. And let me tell you things came together fast for a whole new set of journeys:

1. This year I’m not going to wait by the phone on my birthday for my Dad to text me happy birthday. I no longer have any expectations when it comes to those weirdos, other than expecting to be treated like dirt, which is why I avoid seeing them as much as possible.

2. This year at work my fellow employees and I seemed to have resolved some of our differences—people brought food in for a food day for my birthday, they sang to me, and I got beautiful flowers and a nice card. It felt like people cared this year which is such a nice thing. It made me feel very appreciative and full of graciousness on the inside. Even though I couldn’t eat most of the food, it is the thought that counts. (The pretzels and fruit and raw veggies were the only things that were vegan that I could eat.) But food day is about everyone enjoying the food, and I did steal Pete a chocolate-filled twinkie (and he ate it!). Pete says don’t eat chocolate-filled twinkies…they’re gross.

3. Before my birthday I found out that I had received the official opportunity to start working on my internship with Mercy For Animals in Chicago. I can’t wait! It’s going to work out awesome and I will learn so much. I’m on the right career path. It only took me 30 years to figure out what I wanted to do.

4. I’m doing something I swore I’d never do again: dancing. I took a pole dancing class tonight and I have to say I’m absolutely hooked. It was amazing even though I’m the worst one in the class. It’s nice to take class and be the student instead of the teacher.

5. I’ve got my goals set for my triathlons going forward: I’m going to compete in 5 Olympic distance triathlons next year and will definitely do the SheRox sprint triathlon. That was just so fun. And I will be training for my first 70.3 ironman! I’m looking for a flat and fast course so if you know of one please let me know.

Life will be good at 31. Moving into my 30s is going to be a good journey. Who would’ve thought I’d become a vegan working in the animal rights movement and even have friends at work! I’m so happy with the way things are going right now. I pray (in my own way) that the bubble doesn’t burst and send me spiraling back into a pit of depression again. I don’t think I could take that.

I only have 30 minutes left to enjoy being 30. But that’s okay—I think 31 will be a great year!

Sara Sawochka