Tag Archives: healthy eating

Brrr!

1 Feb

Hello, winter. snow

I took this from the relative warmth of my office. It’s freezing out there! It snowed a bunch overnight, and there is ice everywhere. Do. Not. Like. What is it with winter not showing up until well after Christmas? I want snow in December!

I had planned to try out a new treadmill workout this morning to share with you all, but I just didn’t feel like trudging to the gym in the dark in the snow. Sorry! I think I’ll try to get a quick run in before Crossfit tonight. Maybe not the best idea, but I’ve got to log those miles! Speaking of logging miles, I’m ready to unveil my fun new mileage counter graphic that I made:

600 miles in 2013 January

In order to complete 600 miles in 2013, I will need to run at least 50 miles each month. I run just a touch over in January. February is a short month, so I’m definitely going to need to get those miles in. My hope is that I’ll be logging more miles when the nice weather appears, slow down a bit in the dog days of summer, and then pick it back up again in Fall. Running outdoors in spring and fall is probably my favorite thing ever, so hopefully I can cover a few extra to carry me through the dreaded treadmill weather (like today!).

I realized that while I made some New Year’s resolutions early last month, I didn’t really cover monthly goals. That’s something I’d like to talk about today. I think making smaller, more attainable goals helps you achieve your long term goals. So let’s get to my February Goals, shall we?

Run 50 miles. Pretty predictable, huh?

Attend Crossfit 2x/week. My original NY resolution mentioned strength training 3x a week. Crossfit fits into the strength training genre, so this will work out nicely for me. I’ve definitely noticed some new muscle definition that I didn’t have before I did the Jamie Eason LiveFit Trainer, and I’m glad that my strength training is evolving. I’d like to keep that going.

Stick with counting Weight Watchers points for the full month of February. This is going fairly well. However, I have noticed that some of my regular eats haven’t been fitting into my alotted Weight Watchers points very well, so I’ve needed to find some substitutions. For example, the microwave english muffin came into play again this morning:

breakfast

…and that’s not to say that a regular english muffin wouldn’t fit into my daily points, but I didn’t have any, and this has less points than two slices of whole wheat bread, and more protein, so it’s a better fit for me right now. This one turned out better than my last one, and it’s so easy to make.

Complete 4 books this month. My goal is to read 50 books this year. Last month, I finished 6, so I guess my goal is to read over 50 books this year! Last year I was able to finish 36, and I read so many great books that I wanted to surpass that this year.

Do a little cleaning each day throughout the week. This one is huge. I’ve gotten into the habit of leaving housecleaning until the weekend. While that’s a good plan in theory, because I’m not at work, in practice it’s kind of a bummer that I have so much to do on the weekends. If I would just keep up with the small bits of cleaning, I could just focus on the big things, like cleaning the floors, scrubbing the bathroom and dusting on the weekends.

Write 5 blog posts a week. Preferably Monday – Friday. I’ve been pretty good about this so far, so I’m sure I can reach this goal.

…I think that’s enough to focus on for this short month!

Question of the day:
Do you set monthly goals for yourself? 

Advertisements

WIAW: Healthy Snack Edition

5 Dec

Another rest day. Sigh.

I was actually glad that I had a planned rest day today because Zach and I stayed up late (11:30, haha) last night to watch the season finale of Sons of Anarchy (I spend most of my time “watching” that show with my hand over my eyes — I’m a wuss), so I figured I could sleep in today. I even canceled my usual 5:25 AM alarm and set a new alarm for 7, so of course my eyes flew open at 5:13 AM and I was wide awake.

Oh well, at least I got some cleaning done, including the dreaded task of scooping out the cat boxes — yuck!

Today, I’m focusing on not eating everything in sight. I have been a little out-of-control snacky lately, and it’s sabotaging my efforts to lose those pounds I put on while training for the half. So, I’ve decided to participate in my first  What I Ate Wednesday — sort of.  When bloggers who are good at photographing their food and planning their daily blogs do this, they usually pick a day other than the Wednesday they are posting it so that they can show you a whole day’s worth of food. Since I’m a bad planner, I’m putting up my post  a little later than usual and giving you What-I-Ate-Wednesday-Up-Until-My-Afternoon-Snack: WIAWUUMAS. Yeah, not quite as catchy, but anyway, here we go:

WIAWbutton

In case you don’t know, WIAW is a phenomenon that pops up in Healthy Living Blogs all over and was started by Jenn at Peas and Crayons. If you are new to it, please click here to read more about what WIAW is all about.

I started out my morning with a two-ingredient panacake and some coffee. Of course, as usual I ate half of the pancake at home, and then saved half for when I got to work. I paired my second half with an apple and a big glass of water:

breakfast

Someday I’ll set up pretty food shots like other bloggers, but until then enjoy my plastic containers and desk calendar!

For my post-breakfast snack, I had a piece of Hershey’s dark chocolate with almonds. In case you haven’t gotten the memo, dark chocolate is healthy. So are almonds. So it counts! 😉

Usually for lunch, Zach picks me up and we go home. Since he is at a meeting out of town today, I stuck around the office for lunch. I wrapped a sweet potato in some foil this morning and I popped it into the oven at work around 10:30 so it would be nice and baked by noon. Then I headed out in search for some soup and/or a salad:

lunch and dinner

So much food!

My plan was to get a side-salad and a CUP of soup from Shlotzsky’s to go with my sweet potato, but they have this “Pick 2” promotion, and it ends up being cheaper to get a bowl of soup and a half salad ($5.99), when a cup of soup is $2.49 and a side salad is $3.99 — how crazy is that!? This ended up being a great deal, because the soup and potato was more than enough food for me. I took the croutons off the salad and saved it for dinner. Win! The sweet potato was so good! I put it in the oven around 10:30 at a low temperature, and just let it cook until I got back with my soup and salad — it was perfectly soft and yummy. I poured hot sauce all over it and just ate it like that. I like my lunch time meal to be my largest meal of the day. I tend to get the late-afternoon munchies, so I like to hold that off as long as possible.

As much as I love having lunch at home with Zach, sometimes it’s ok to stay at the library. I grab a magazine from the Reference Department to flip through while I eat, and then I usually have enough time to take a 10-20 minute walk.

The #Elf4Health Challenge for today was to pack a healthy snack, and pack one for a friend. I have a co-worker who always talks to me about making healthy food choices, so I packed myself and her an afternoon snack:

Carrot sticks and almonds! Yum!

Carrot sticks and almonds! Yum!

I was so excited to give it to her, but of course she worked the late shift and didn’t come into work until almost noon today. I took it down to her after lunch and she was very happy! She said on her late day, she doesn’t usually have time to eat so it was perfect timing. Doing good deeds makes me 🙂

So: What constitutes a healthy snack? In my opinion, it’s something tasty that will satiate you for a couple hours until your next meal. I personally like to pair something crunchy and fibrous (a piece of crunchy fruit or some carrot sticks) with a little protein (peanut butter, almonds, cheese) — so yes, my chocolate from this morning counts! Sometimes, I’ll just make myself half of a PB&J and pair it with a piece of fruit. Yum! Snacks are important to me because if I get over-hungry, I will not make healthy food choices. I know I shouldn’t be inhaling three pieces of pizza, but I’m starving, so get out of my way.

…and that’s where we are going to wrap up my first WIAW post! Hopefully next time I can plan ahead a little and give you a full day of eats.

A quick note in the interest of full-disclosure: I have decided that I really hate counting calories, so instead, I’m back on the Weight Watchers train. In case you don’t know, I lost the majority of my weight on Weight Watchers — I’m a huge fan. I can’t afford the weekly fee, so I just use my old knowledge of the program and calculators to count points rather than calories. For some reason it’s easier to wrap my brain around the points system than calories. 

Question of the Day:
What is the one thing that easily sabotages your efforts to make healthy food choices? Which meal of the day is usually your largest? 

Thankful Every Day.

23 Nov

I hope your Thanksgiving went well! Mine sure did, everything went really well.  I took Wednesday off of work to prep for the big day, and I sure am glad that I did! Thursday was pretty relaxing, up until right before the meal. After I put the turkey (15 lbs) in the oven at 11:00 AM (anticipating a 4-4 1/2 hour cook time), Zach and I just relaxed and watched Sons of Anarchy repeats. My beast of an oven managed to cook my entire turkey in 3 hours, however, so I panicked a little! The internet told me to wrap the turkey in several layers of aluminum foil and a towel to keep the warmth in, so that’s what I did. It worked out pretty well.

The rest of the meal was great. I actually didn’t eat very much, I had a bit of a nervous stomach. I did get to have two desserts though:

I wish I had more photos of the meal itself, but between running around to get everything on the table and cooking, I didn’t stop to snap many photos, so here is a collage of some of my photos from yesterday:

 

I read a lot of posts yesterday listing what everyone was thankful for, and they were great! It’s inspiring to hear all the positive things in people’s lives. I have a few things I’d like to mention that I’m thankful for, even though it’s a day late 🙂

My family. I have the best family there is, and I don’t get to see them nearly often enough, but they are the best, most supportive family a girl could have

Zach. I never knew what it truly meant to be “in love with your best friend” until he came along. I couldn’t be happier that I get to spend the rest of my life with him.

My kitties, even the fat, grumpy one !


My health. Sometimes I’m down on my body for various reasons, but it’s good to remember that I have my strength, and that’s all that is important.

My friends! I have the best friends around, truly! I got so many supportive texts, tweets and Facebook messages yesterday, because everyone knew how nervous I was to cook my first full Thanksgiving meal. I appreciate it so much!

I’m thankful for a billion more things, but I think I’ll stop there for now.

________________________________________________________________________________________________________

In other news, I’m still going strong on the Jamie Eason LiveFit Trainer, and I’m happy to report I’ve dropped a few pounds. I’m a cardio junkie, it’s true, and I’ve always heard that if you keep the cardio to a minimum, you can actually lose more weight (if you do it right). I think the fact that I’m lifting heavy and not focusing on the cardio (although I did do some light cardio here and there) is really showing me that I don’t have to do cardio every single day to see results. This is really helpful for being able to stick with the plan!

I signed up for Lindsey and Ella’s Elf for Health, which sounds SO fun! Basically, they are hosting a six-week challenge that starts the Monday after Thanksgiving. I really love blog challenges, but I don’t always stick with them (ahem, the October Yoga Challenge — although I did do WAY more yoga that month, and Carrots n Cake’s plank challenge), I’m really going to try to stick with this! It may be easier because the coolest part of this challenge is that you get a buddy to pair up with for each round! If you think you might be interested in participating (you don’t have to have a blog to participate!), click on the button below:

 

 

Question of the Day:
How was your Thanksgiving?

What do you do to stay on track with your health and fitness over the Holiday season? 

Operation: Zip the Wedding Dress.

13 Nov

I got my wedding dress in the mail last week! It’s beautiful. I wish I could share it on this blog, but it’s a secret until the big day. However, there is a slight problem. It fits perfectly everywhere, except right around my rib cage, it won’t zip! I really don’t want to return it for the bigger size, considering that might require a lot of alterations because the rest of the dress fits so well. Also, if I’m being honest with myself, I’ve gained a few pounds that I can stand to lose anyway.

So, Operation Zip the Wedding Dress starts today.

Considering my wedding is still 10 months away, I have plenty of time. So here is my plan:

1. Start Jamie Eason’s Live Fit Trainer

I started this today! Luckily, you do no cardio for the first 4 weeks of the program. This is good, because walking the one block to the gym brought me pain in my knee and Achilles tendon. I think no running or jumping for 4 weeks is just the rest my poor right leg needs. Luckily, today and tomorrow’s workout is upper body. Here’s what I did today:

Wide push-ups — 3 sets of 12
Dumbbell bench press — 3 sets of 12; 12 lb dumbbells
Flat bench cable flyes — 3 sets of 12; 20 lbs
Narrow push-ups — 1 set of 7; 1 set of 6; 1 set of 7 — narrow push-ups are my nemesis
Standing dumbbell extension — 3 sets of 12; 8 lb dumbbells
Triceps pushdowns — 1 set of 12; 60 lbs; 2 sets of 12 40 lbs

It felt weird to just go to the gym, knock out that workout (in 30 minutes) and then leave. I don’t know if I’ve ever done that! But, I definitely feel it. My arms are still jello!

2. Log food with My Fitness Pal; Eat Clean

hate logging my food, but there is no doubt that it works. I actually solidly logged my food for probably 2-3 years, and about a year ago I just got so sick of it and stopped. The Jamie Eason Trainer has an eating plan as well, but I’m not sure I will follow it exactly. I know I need to eat clean to see results, so my main goals are to eat clean at every meal, eat about 6 times a day, drink plenty of water, and log all my food, even if I slip up.

One thing Jamie says to do is to eat your first meal within an hour of waking up. Usually, I just have coffee before the gym and then eat breakfast once I get to work. That means I’m not eating until about 3 hours after I wake up! Probably not good. So this morning, I made some sauteed kale with 3 eggs, toasted a piece of whole wheat bread and cut half an avocado. I put half of the breakfast on a plate and the other half in a Tupperware container to take to work.

I ate this right after getting back from the gym, just about 1 hour after I had woken up. I mashed the avocado onto the toast. It was delicious. I also had a cup of coffee with almond milk and stevia. Yum.

Then, I had the other half of that breakfast when I got to work. I’m nice and satisfied, and will hopefully stay that way until lunch.

…and that’s it! Yep, just exercise regularly and eat right. That’s all it takes to lose weight!

Weight loss can be a touchy subject, so I just want to be clear that I’m not just losing weight to fit into my dress, although it is the motivating factor at this moment. Since I got back from vacation at the end of August, I’ve been feeling like I’ve been off track. Not only have I seen some higher numbers on the scale (not always the most accurate tell of weight gain, by the way), I’ve also noticed that some of  my clothes are a little more snug than they usually are, and I’m getting that icky feeling when I see certain photos of myself (my finish line photos from the half were NOT flattering — and not just because I was clearly in intense pain). I am not an advocate of constantly trying to fit a certain ideal, but I am an advocate of feeling good about yourself. When I don’t feel great about myself, it’s important to me to adjust accordingly.

Question of the Day:
How do you adjust accordingly when you aren’t feeling happy with your body? 

Healthy Steps Portion Control Utensils Upgrade

8 Sep

I subscribe to Bulu Box, which is a monthly box service for health and fitness supplements. Well, I also follow them on Twitter and last week they had a contest to win a Utensils Upgrade, with the prize of a set of Healthy Steps portion control utensils, and I won!

 

The box arrived today and it was like Christmas! Kelsey at Bulu Box wrote me a very nice personalized card and I got six awesome utensils. Of course, the kitties were thrilled with the box full of tissue paper. Who needs toys when you have garbage? The first thing I busted open was the Portion Control Dressing Cruet:

This thing rules. Not only does it have  a portion control lid, but it also has marked measurements on the side with ingredients so you can make your own dressings. The emulsifier in the bottle is also really great. I like making my own dressings, so this will come in handy.

The next exciting utensil was the perfect portion Pasta Basket:

I’m really excited to use this one, too. The handle has a hole that measures out a serving of long pasta and you can measure out small pasta directly in the basket. You can even cook the pasta directly in the basket! I’ll be buying one more of these so I can perfectly cook two servings of pasta every time for myself and Zach.

The third utensil I broke out was the Herb Multi-Tool. This is more of a healthy living tool than a portion tool, but it’s also super cool. It has a lock on the blade you can store it closed. The blade has circular cut outs for stripping herbs from their stems, and if you open the circular part at the top, there is also a rotary blade. Pretty cool.

 

 

I also got these other three tools:

 

On the top left, that is the Chicken Rotisserie tool, which claims to skin and debone a chicken or turkey perfectly. On the bottom left is a cereal portion scoop and on the left is the Tea Infuser.

You can purchase all of these products in the Healthy Living category of my Amazon Store. I’m in love with these products. There are tons of other tools that Healthy Steps offer. I love the starch server, the protein server and the ladle. They would be perfect for families wanting to watch their portions. The other tools they offer that I’d love to try are the cookie pro (makes uniform cookies for portion control), the nut bowl (perfect for portioning nuts for work snacks), and the cheese grater bowl.

Thanks so much to Bulu Box and Healthy Steps for the opportunity to try out these great products!

Question of the Day:
How do you watch your portions? 

 

 

 

Making do with what I have…

16 Aug

Recently I finally made it to the new local food market in my town: The Wild Ramp.

I wish I had taken photos, but here is how it works. The Wild Ramp is a locally owned, non-profit market. All the produce is local (it seems that the farthest anything had travelled was Athens, OH), and most of the people who work there are volunteers. The produce is grouped by farm, so there may be, for example, tomatoes on several different tables. When you pick out produce, you also have to take a bar code sticker to the register so they will know which farm you are buying from. The best part: $0.90/$1.00 goes directly to the farmer, as opposed to buying local produce at the grocery store, where maybe $0.20-$0.30/$1.00 goes to the farmer.

Click on this image (from the wild ramp blog) to be directed to their blog.

The most surprising thing that I found was that it wasn’t all produce. There was locally made tofu, veggie burgers, local eggs (they have a place in the front where you can donate your used egg cartons), even local meat! I bought some local tofu, I can’t wait to try it!

I also bought some tomatoes and peppers, and a few other things I can’t mention because they went to my Foodie Pen Pal this month.

For $50 and 1 volunteer hour per month, you can become a “Friend of the Market”, which I absolutely plan on doing. The perk (although, I think the real perk is helping to support a sustainable local resource for healthy food) is that you can call ahead and have your food ready to pick up when you stop by. You also get a subscription to their newsletter. I can’t tell you how excited I am to have this resource so close by! Huntington, WV is really moving up in the healthy food game. I wish Jamie Oliver could see us now!

___________________________________________________________________________________________________________

In other news, my training this week is going well. I’ve had two really good runs in a row, so I  think I’m bouncing back from whatever was holding me back last week. Also, I had a really good night sleep last night, although I don’t know if the reason I slept well is particularly healthy:

After work, Zach and I went grocery shopping. Once I got home and got my run out of the way, we had some dinner and rather than clean the kitchen, I asked Zach if he wanted to go out for a drink. We decided to head over to a nearby bar which has a really nice patio and a couple of our friends were already there. Once we sat down, more and more friends kept showing up! It was a really nice evening, but I stayed up too late and had a few too many drinks. So I think maybe the sleeping well had more to do with being a little tipsy than actual, quality sleep. But it felt great, so that’s that.

Last night made me really look forward to my upcoming beach trip. Everyone who was at the bar last night will be at the beach except for one person, and it made me think about how much I’m going to enjoy sitting on the patio of our beach house, listening to the ocean and talking with my good friends. Just 7 more work days to go!

This morning, because I still don’t have a coffee pot, I made instant coffee from a sample that I got from Taster’s Choice, and it’s not bad! How’s that for making do with what I have?

Question of the day:
What’s your local source for fresh produce? 

Financial Fitness #3: Groceries on a budget

31 Jul

Good morning! Did you see Missy Franklin win the gold in the 100 backstroke yesterday!? Wow!

I just love her.

As I said yesterday, the AC wasn’t working and it was miserable, but I refused to let it get me down. I think I was rewarded for my positive attitude, because we ended up closing at noon and I got a half day off! It was much appreciated, as I got a lot done. The AC still isn’t fully functioning, but I’m going to keep up with the positive attitude and hopefully good things will come to me.

Let’s talk about saving money at the grocery store. Other than living expenses, most people spend the largest chunk of their income on food (or at least I do!) So it stands to reason that you want to try to save as much money as possible. Healthy living on a budget, however, can be tricky. If you watch ‘Extreme Couponing’, you know that most of the people on that show aren’t buying produce and whole grains. Which is why I’m going to make kind of a bold statement: Coupons don’t work. 

I hope you are still with me. I know it’s an unpopular sentiment, but I’ve been working toward saving money on my grocery bill and I’ve tried clipping coupons for some time. I’ll tell you that, at least the way I shop, most coupons are completely worthless. Now, this isn’t a hard and fast rule — I’ll get to the exceptions in a few minutes — but generally, this is how it goes: Recently, I had a coupon for $1 off 2 Ortega products. We have tacos at least once a week at my house so I found this coupon to be quite a good find. I brought it to the store every single time, but I realized I never used it. Why? Because buying the store-brand version of salsa and whole wheat tortillas was cheaper than buying the equivalent of the Ortega products and using the coupon. Here’s the thing: Coupons are a marketing technique, not a money-saving tool. Ortega is counting on me not realizing that buying a cheaper brand is more cost-efficient than using their coupon.

Editors note: I actually just had a Twitter conversation with a friend about this, and I think as far as couponing goes, it matters where you live. None of my local grocery stores double coupons, and store brands are relatively cheap, so take my coupon disdain with a grain of salt. 

Now, exceptions. I’m not sure if all grocery stores do this, but my grocery store chain (Kroger) has a loyalty card program (as most everywhere does now), and occasionally they will send me coupons on the items that I most often purchase. These coupons are invaluable. Usually I’ll get a coupon for a free pint of cherry tomatoes, or a free frozen vegetable as well, so that’s always exciting.

So, if coupons don’t work, how do we save money at the grocery store? Well, here, with photos are my favorite ways to save money on food:

1. Store brand items are usually the cheapest
Ok, this is isn’t the most surprising thing I’ll say, I’m sure. Usually, even if I have a coupon, it’s cheaper for me to buy the “Kroger” brand items. However, sometimes, you feel very strongly about a particular brand, but if you save money where you can, you don’t have to worry about spending a little more on the name-brand items. I love Frank’s Red Hot, but I’m obsessed with Sriracha, so I settle for the $1.49 Kroger brand hot sauce and splurge on Sriracha. It evens out.

Confession: These hot dog buns totally have high-fructose corn syrup, but we don’t eat hot dogs all that often. Oh well.

2. Sometimes buying in bulk isn’t the cheapest way to do things
Yesterday, I was at the store and I knew we were out of ketchup. Zach loves ketchup, and won’t let me buy the store brand — it’s Heinz or nothing. I noticed that the 40 oz. ketchup was $2.18, and the double pack of 50 oz ketchup was $6.98. So, basically, I’m paying $0.05/oz for the smaller size, and $0.07/oz for the larger size. Right, it’s only 2 cents, but think about it. For that particular trip, I saved $2.62 by buying 2 40 oz bottles of ketchup instead of that double “value” pack. 10 oz of ketchup just isn’t worth the immediate extra expense. Sometimes, it’s ok to save your money now, rather than ‘stocking up’. As with anything, there are exceptions  to the rule, but a good idea is to bring a calculator with you to the grocery store. If you calculate the cost per unit of things, you can usually figure out if you’re getting a good deal or not. I just use my cell phone’s calculator.

Really, how much ketchup do you need?

3. Pre-packaged greens are not worth it.
Unless you just really enjoy throwing money away, try to avoid buying pre-bagged, pre-washed produce. Especially Kale! I can’t imagine why anyone would buy pre-chopped Kale — it’s the easiest thing to wash and chop in the world, and a huge bunch that will last me a week is less than a dollar. The pre-bagged stuff is almost $4! Absurd. Exception: Manager’s Special. Sometimes, at my local grocery store, produce will get marked down significantly when it is close to expiring. As someone who eats their weight in produce weekly, it’s no problem for me to consume this reduced produce before it goes bad.

My $1 Kale and pre-packaged, pre-washed green leaf lettuce for $1.88 on special

4. Consider going to more than one store
I know. This is not what you wanted to hear. Trust me, I fought it for quite some time. But, I realized that shopping at more than one store really increases my savings (increasing savings sounds awkward, no?). Usually I’ll go to the local discount store for produce, dairy and spices and then head to Kroger for the rest of my shopping trip. It’s important for me to go to the discount store first, because the produce, dairy and spices are cheaper, but also because they don’t always have everything I need. The discount store I go to is Aldi, and they really have great deals on produce. Between Aldi, discount produce at Kroger and the Farmer’s Market, I can keep my produce costs pretty low.

I got apples, bananas, peppers, tomatoes, a few spices, cottage cheese, string cheese and a few other items at Aldi for $15.

5. Meal plan and make a list
Maybe I saved the best for last, but this is the single most important thing you can do, besides always eating before you go to the store. Plan your meals out for the week, make a list and stick with it. Also, try not to run back to the store. If you are missing an ingredient, unless it’s crucial (if you plan, you won’t be missing crucial ingredients), make do with what you have.

If you follow these five simple rules, you will see a vast improvement in your grocery bill.

Question of the Day:
What are your best money-saving tricks for the grocery store?