Getting Ready for Battle – Journaling

Next year is our wedding. We both want to make a stronger committment to healthy eating and exercise – and ultimately, losing weight. Since our engagement we’ve been busier than ever, and any free time we do have has not been spent sweating it out at the gym. Life has been fun but exhausting, to say the least. With darkness falling about 5 minutes after we get off work, we haven’t been spending much active times on our bikes or with the pup, like we used to.

The fiance is ready to dive head first come January. I am so happy he’s joining in on this endeavor. For me, I’m trying to at least get started in some kind of way now, so I don’t get overwhelmed once the new year rolls around.

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I am journaling my food intake this week. I’m not putting measurements or amounts thus far, just writing down what I had for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks. There’s no positive or negative notes – everything is just neutral. Just a simple documentation of what I’m consuming to gain a little more awareness of what I’m putting into my body.

If you want to see it, you can find it here. I’ve also done a little blog maintenance and updated the pages at the top of my blog, so if you want to explore those, feel free!

Journaling is a small step, but it is one in the right direction. Here’s reasons why I feel like it’s a good idea for me:

1. I’ll get a reality check about what I’m consuming

2. Boost my self-control

3. See my habits changing and inspire me to do better

4. Know when I can afford to treat myself

Do you journal? Does it help you to keep track of what you’re eating?

November Recap

Hello all! It is December already. Yay! It is also the first night of Hanukkah tonight, so to all my fellow Tribe members out there reading, Happy Hanukkah! I’m planning on cooking some traditional potato pancakes tonight and having a quiet evening at home with The Fiance. I’ll be lighting the Menorah and we’ll eat at the dining room table (not the usual tv-tray-in-front-of-the-big-screen).

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November Goals Recap

1. Blog 5x a week at least

Verdict: Went strong the first two weeks, and then got sidelined a bit. Thanksgiving turned out to be a lot bigger of a project than I anticipated and then some nightmare billing problems with my cable provider sucked up my lunch time for several days since I was on the phone the whole time trying to get it all straightened out. It still isn’t by the way. (Want some advice? Never ever sign up for automatic bill pay or let an institution have access to your money. Ever.)

2. Budget $50 for healthy groceries

Verdict: Success! I just checked my spending report and I spent $198 dollars this month on groceries which works out to about $50 a week. However, those numbers are a little deceiving because I don’t feel like we were adequately stocked with healthy, wholesome foods this month. So, spending is in check, now we need to work on the details of what it is being bought.

3. Plan Thanksgiving

Verdict: Done and done. It wound up being WAY more of a production than I anticipated. I ran a race that morning and then barely had time to shower and eat breakfast before I was in hostess mood for the next 9 hours – prepping the meal, refilling drinks, reorganizing everything in my kitchen 15 times so everything could get done in the small space, whew. I felt miserable, to be honest. My aunt came through for me in a huge way and I couldn’t have done it without her help. Next time there will be a much larger gap between the race and the Thanksgiving start time if I am to host again.

4. Save up and get new running shoes (and run two awesome races)

Verdict: I picked out a fabulous new pair of kicks and have been enjoying breaking them in. It feels good to be in a proper pair of shoes…for the first time in my life! As an early holiday present, The Fiance offered to split the cost of the shoes with me, so I ended up being able to buy them earlier than anticipated. I only ran one race (the Turkey Trot – recap coming soon!) since the other race I was planning on was too expensive for me at the time.

Did you have a strong month? Are you ready to finish up the year in a big way?

Happy Monday

Hello all! I hope everyone had a wonderful weekend. We had a nice time in Bradley’s home town for the wedding.

[Personal photo]

[Personal photo]

[Best Man's photo]

[Best Man's Photo]

All in all it was a great time. There were lots of friends there to hang out with and the reception venue was super swanky. Nicely done, you two!

Then Bradley’s mom and I chatted weddings endlessly all weekend. I started to do a little research about some sort of wedding planning binder book. But everything I came across pointed to just making one yourself, as opposed to spending $50+ on a published planner. So, that is my next project I’ll be working on. I want to find some kind of cute vintage-y binder and have a unique place for all my inspiration, receipts, and info.

In keeping with November’s Goals, I’m headed to the grocery store tonight to stock up on goodies for the week. Actually, The Fiance is going to drop me off at the gym and I’m sending him with a list to the store to shop while I get my sweat on (hopefully!). We might as well get two things done at once, since we drive to work together anyway. Three cheers for carpooling!

What cheap/easy/healthy meals are you sporting in your belly lately? I need some new ideas!

Filling the Void

A while back I wrote about the differences between self-esteem and self-worth. My struggles stem from a lack of self-worth, which doesn’t ebb and flow like self-esteem does. It is either there or it isn’t.

The best way to describe that feeling is that there is a void. And it wasn’t until very recently that I realized that there are many ways I attempt to fill this void, one of those being with food. And this is the case especially when I am feeling intense emotions, or charting new territory (like being engaged). A lot of my identity has been surrounded by food whether it be as an overeater in high school and college, as a Weight Watcher who loses 40 lbs, or a fitness enthusiast who needs to fuel her workouts with wholesome foods. Either way, it always seems to be in my radar in some form or another.

But the thing about food is it is temporary, and never fills me emotionally or spiritually. It is a distraction, many times, from dealing with the fact that I’m not feeling grounded or sure of myself.

I found a new blog today, called Bitchcakes. Ever read it? Well she made an incredible point on her last post:

At goal weight, something pretty significant dawned on me – I realized that, for the first time ever, I no longer had my weight to hide behind. In fact, by shedding the weight, and suddenly being at goal – being the smallest I’ve ever been – I felt much more vulnerable – because I was suddenly so exposed. By getting to goal weight, I no longer had that excuse – the excuse of my weight. And I was left to face everything I spent years suppressing, avoiding or distracting myself from when I was abusing food.

Because when the weight comes off, all of those things we were hiding from or avoiding are *still* there. All of those things we tried to hide from or shield ourselves from, all of the things we were afraid of, all of the things we protected ourselves from, all of those things we suppressed with food for however long – they are all still there and now, suddenly, they need to be dealt with.

I couldn’t believe what I was reading. It’s really funny how we often feel so alone and unique in our feelings, and then we come across someone who’s not only dealing with the EXACT same thing you are (or were), but finally explains it in a way you never could.

For some reason, in the midst of my weight loss I was absolutely sure that ALL of my problems would go away as soon as I lost the weight. Like they were somehow tied to every calorie I burned and every Weight Watcher point that I counted. My life was “perfect” otherwise. It was just the weight that had to go. I still clung to this notion and said it out loud very recently (we’re talking in the last few months).

The wake-up call that not only would my problems NOT go away when I lost weight, but that my issues would feel more exposed and intense, was shocking. And extremely upsetting.

But the point of all this is to recognize that I may always struggle with self-worth, but there are meaningful things in my life that I can engage in (or get engaged to :) ) that will make myself full emotionally, spiritually, and physically. Without binge eating.

Writing, exercising, doing yoga, planning my wedding to the man of my dreams, hosting parties, and spending time with my sweet puppy all make me feel fuller than any bowl of cereal or burrito ever could.

Do you ever struggle with feelings of emptiness? How do you fill the void?

Upside Down

I feel like this:

But today is a new day! I’m trying out a new (for me) class at my gym tonight, Body Flow, which is a combination yoga/pilates/tai chi class. I can not wait! I didn’t realize how much exercise fills a part of me and makes me feel so excellent. It really keeps me level and sane. This break has been…weird. I haven’t felt like myself.

And then I’m cooking a nice wholesome delicious healthy meal for my household.

Let’s get back to the basics, here. It is time!

P.S. Want to see our Halloween costumes?

He LOVED his Dino costume. I assumed he would try to chew on it and take it off ASAP, but he ended up sleeping in it until the next day!

Yay! Thank you Goodwill, American Apparel, the craft store and scissors!

Costume Construction

Making the costumes was pretty easy.

My blue shorts were from American Apparel and were the most expensive part of the outfits ($16). My shirt is from Goodwill, and the black shirt and the leg warmers I already owned. I picked up the tights (and some fake eyelashes for $4) from a local dance store for $12. I wanted thick ones that kept me warm. I could have gone with cheaper ones, to save money, but I’m glad I didn’t, since they also turned out to be the shaping kind, that made my legs look better than they would have otherwise.  

Bradley’s leopard print vest was actually originally a bath robe that I found at Goodwill for $4. His other vest is also a Goodwill find for around $5.

His shorts and hat were from Academy Sports and Outdoors and were around $15 total. (I originally picked up some orange ladies jeans from Goodwill, but they were too small for him – so $5 was wasted. Hopefully I can use them for another project)

Toddler t-shirt for Roland was another $3 at Wal-Mart.

I picked up some black felt and some fabric glue from the craft store for around $10. I cut out triangles from the felt and glued them on randomly to our outfits. I did one or two peices per night, so I wouldn’t get burnt out.

Colored hair spray, bone necklace, club, and the bone in my hair were all from a Halloween store. Less than $20 for all of that.

So for about $80 total (but we split it, so we each only spent around $40ish) Cheaper than buying costumes at the store, but still kind of expensive.

Did you dress up this year for Halloween? Did you make your own costume?

A Few Confessions

Confession #1: I haven’t done a real, bonafide workout in the entire month of October.

Confession #2: I only own one pair of jeans that fit me right now.

Confession #3: I attended a race but didn’t race.

Okay, so there’s what’s going on. Am I sitting around wallowing in self-pity? NO. There’s no time for that. Life is good. And so what, I’ve missed a few workouts this month. I’ve spent the last 3.5 years working out without any breaks this long. I think that is impressive. I also am in desparate need for some new running shoes. The ones I have hurt just to walk in, and money is a wee bit tight right now. But I do plan on making the investment in a new pair soon.

I went to Race for the Cure last weekend on my own and wound up assuming I had more time than I actually did. When I arrived it was a mob scene and I couldn’t even get to the start line. I could have waited until it cleared and gotten to the start line eventually, but I didn’t. Instead I spent some time with a good friend of mine who’s mom just went into remission for the second time. I felt my time was better spent there.

I still have three more races to finish up my goal of 10 races in 2010!

And the gym is still right around the corner, waiting for me to get there whenever I get there. Truthfully, I have been busier/more exhausted than usual, so that I’m sure has something to do with it.

The non-fitting jeans is a mild issue though, since I like to have a little more variety with my wardrobe than that. So, I’ve been making my portions smaller and working more fruits and veggies back into my diet. Slow and steady wins the race.

Dear old jeans:

I will be back for you soon!

Love,

Rachel

A Simple Recipe for You

I’ll just start by saying this. The best cooks didn’t start out perfect, I assume. There was lots of trial and error as they experimented and created.

Last night I decided I wanted to make Angela’s Favorite Fries. These look pretty tasty right?

Here’s her recipe:

Ingredients:
  • 3 medium parsnips (or 2 medium sweet potatoes), peeled and cut into thin fry-like strips
  • 1 Tbsp almond butter
  • 2 Tbsp chunky peanut butter
  • 1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp fine grain sea salt
Directions: Preheat oven to 400F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper for easy clean-up. Peel and cut parsnips into fry-like strips. In a medium size bowl, mix together the nut butters, olive oil, and salt. Take parsnips and toss in bowl with your hands until fully coated. Line up on baking pan and cook at 400F for 30-50 minutes until crisp.

Seems pretty easy and straight-forward, right?

However, I bought the parsnip at the grocery store and didn’t check the recipe before I left. It called for 2-3 parsnips and I only bought one, and I was missing almost all of the ingredients (no crunchy peanut butter, no almond butter). However, I improvised and made my own version. Fair warning, there are 13 steps you must do to re-create my recipe perfectly, so pay close attention! ;)

Rachel’s Nut Butter Parsnip Fries (makes two servings)

1 parsnip, skin and core removed, cut into fry shapes
1 tablespoon of peanut butter
1 tablespoon oven-roasted crushed peanuts (I poured some peanuts that I had on hand into a food processor and ground them down)
1/2 tablespoon of olive oil
1/2 tablespoon of sea salt

1. Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees
2. Put sliced parsnips in a bowl with rest of ingredients
3. Use hands and toss to coat
4. Pour onto cookie sheet lined with parchment paper and place into oven
5. Realize you are using the parchment paper that can’t go in the oven when your kitchen begins to fill with smoke
6. Turn off oven
7. Pull out parsnips, transfer to dish, remove parchment paper from baking sheet, spray baking sheet with Pam, replace parsnips onto sheet and back into oven
8. Leave and think the parsnips are back to cooking
9. Realize 20 minutes later you forgot to turn the oven back on
10. Turn oven on
11. Smell something burning for the 2nd time in this recipe
12. Burn half of the parsnips to a crisp while oven is re-heating
13. Eat salvageable half that never got the opportunity to cook correctly in the oven, so they are mushy (but still resemble a faint delicious flavor of what these could have been)
14. Keep temper tantrum to yourself

Good luck! :)

Free Therapy and a Recipe

Well, September came and went, huh? I don’t mind it. Last night, I made a deeeelicious spin on an old favorite, the biscuit casserole.

But first, we took a lovely trip to the Plano dog park and it was PACKED. The weather yesterday was a complete 180 turn from how it has felt around these parts lately. It was cool, crisp, and breezy. Needless to say, human and pet alike wanted to get out and enjoy it. The doggy park was busier than I had ever seen it! At least 50+ dogs there, probably more. I was feeling sort of mopey and depressed yesterday evening after a tough day at work, but being surrounded by all those cayoooot (cute) puppies made all of my problems melt away. Dogs really are like free therapy.

The notable pups from the night was a fluffy white dog that resembled the flying dog from the Never Ending Story,

a whole bunch of brown boxers for Roland to play with, and a baby bull-dog. I died at the cuteness.

Roland is in cheetah mode here. Can you seem him zooming by?

After the park we were famished. So I whipped up this little beast.

Biscuit Casserole (adapted from Caitlin’s recipe)

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees

2. Pour the following into a bowl:

1 bag frozen mixed veggies (corn, green beans, carrots, peas)
1/2 cup hummus
1/4 cup of feta cheese
1/2 can condensed cream of mushroom soup
1 and 1/2 cups of cooked brown rice
salt and peppah to taste

3. Stir

4. Place into a greased casserole dish of your choosing

5. Rinse out mixing bowl and combine ingredients to make biscuit batter (ingredients will depend on your brand, but I needed 2 cups mix, 3/4 cup milk, 2 TBSP vegetable oil)

6. Form biscuit batter into 8 balls, place on top of casserole, and press down slightly

7. Cover with foil and bake for 30 minutes

8. Plate and consume.

AND guess what? That recipe came out so incredibly tasty that my camera ate the pictures! Arg. Next time I’ll tell the camera to eat a snack before getting close to my food.

EDIT: They have been resurrected. Yay!

About to go heat up leftovers for lunch! Happy Tuesday.

What was your favorite childhood movie (besides the Never Ending Story, of course!)?

What always perks you up out of a bad mood?

Eating Healthy on a Budget

When I started to get really passionate about healthy eating, my grocery bills could easily skyrocket. There are just so many opportunities to overspend at the grocery store. New recipes that call for 20 ingredients you’ve never used before, plus staple pantry items, and a huge amount of produce and your bill has suddenly ballooned into a really high number. 

But how do you eat healthy and not break the bank? 

A good thing to remember is that a lot of times the processed food option may seem cheap (10 microwavable macaroni and cheese dinners for $10), but they are also cheap on nutritional content. Spending a little extra now on wholesome foods will potentially save you thousands of dollars in the future as you continue to stay healthy. Obesity related illnesses (diabetes, high blood pressure, cancer) are tremendously expensive, not to mention taxing, miserable, and painful. 

Here are some tips on how to keep your healthy grocery bills reigned in, but still eat healthy. 

1. Make a list before you go and stick to it. 

The making a list part isn’t very challenging. But once you are there, there always seems to be 10-15 things you forgot to put on the list but are convinced you need. I make a very specific conservative list, and then allow a max of 5 additional items into my cart that was not on the list. Sometimes you do genuinely forget something you absolutely need (like toilet paper), and it is okay to add. But give yourself a specified limit. 

2. Use your groceries

This may sound silly, but if you know you have a social event on an evening, plan your meals accordingly. Don’t buy 5 nights worth of meal ingredients for the week if you know you will definitely be eating out for 2 of them. Also, it is easy to go overboard in the produce section (I know I do), but if the stuff spoils before you use it, that is just money down the drain. Buying panty items in bulk is a good idea, but will you eat 30 bananas before they spoil? Probably not. Be realistic in what you will be able to eat before it goes bad. Don’t forget, you can also freeze items before they spoil if you realize you won’t be able to eat them in time.

3. Buy what is on sale 

Check the weekly specials from your store online, or pick up a copy of their weekly sale flier when you arrive at the store. This encourages you to try things you may not have before. It is also easy to just look once you get to the store to see which apple happens to be on sale that week. Keep your eyes peeled for what is on sale around the store.

 4.  Purchase items that are quick, easy, and versatile 

It is great to experiment with a new vegetable you’ve never tried, or a new cooking method. But if you’ve got a tight budget, you’ll want to spend the bulk of your money on good wholesome staples. Canned beans and lentils make great bases for soups or side dishes. Whole wheat pasta with olive oil, spinach, and fresh parmesan cheese is a super simple healthy go-to meal. If you keep your meat frozen, pull meat (if you eat it) out of the freezer and make sure it is defrosted for the week. Combine it with your fresh produce and whole grains. 

5. Never fear leftovers

When cooking a meal, make extra to freeze or use as lunch for the next day. If you have enough ingredients on hand to make double the recipe, do so. This also applies to eating out on the occasions that you’ll need to (friend’s birthday dinner, family gathering, etc.). If you are going to splurge on a meal at a restaurant, why not stretch it into two or even three meals? Then you really get your money’s worth. 

I hope these tips gave you some new ideas on how to eat healthy but not break the bank.

What do you do to save money at the grocery store?

Getting Back to my Roots

In college, after I would get off work or out of class at 5 PM I would head straight for the gym. I’d hop on the elliptical and watch my favorite 5 PM program.

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30 Minute Meals with Rachael Ray! I just love her show. The stuff she makes is so beautiful, healthful (in moderation), easy, and quick! One year during the holidays I requested only Rachael Ray cookbooks and ended up with about 5 of them. I need to break them out and try some recipes from them. I don’t think I’ve cooked more than a few things out of all of those cookbooks.

Last night I headed up to the gym for an hour on the elliptical and got to watch 30 Minute Meals! Then I tuned in to some old episodes of America’s Next Top Model. Oh man. I was in heaven! I forget that since I’ve been living with a boy for the last year, I generally don’t get to engage in this type of TV watching. We usually try to find something we both and enjoy…cooking shows and modeling competitions are not what my boyfriend thinks of as quality entertainment. Silly boy! It was blissful. I also got a GREAT workout on the elliptical with the intensity turned up. I was sweating bullets.

Hope everyone is pumped for the long weekend! But who wouldn’t be? Maybe people who work in retail. I always hated that part of working in retail. While everyone is off enjoying a holiday, YOU have to be at work. Yuck!

Anyway, happy friday!

P.S. Quick shout out to Tina at Faith, Fitness, Fun! She is doing a month-long series called “30 Days of Self Love”. Go check it out! The posts are really excellent.

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