New Beginnings

January – A Healthy Me
Days…yep, I lost track.

Mind:  
This week has been rough on me.  I am preparing to move out of my downtown apartment that I have come to love despite its many annoyances.  I’ve lived through a leaking bedroom ceiling that ruined a ton of my books, loud construction that interrupted my sleep, and radiators that heat the place to a stifling 80 degrees during the winter.  Yet somehow, as I pack up my belongings, I can’t help but feel like I’m leaving something truly wonderful behind.

I like to think that I am open to change, but in reality, I really struggle with it.  It’s hard to leave something you know and love behind, only to dive into the unknown.  From past experiences, I know that new beginnings can be rough, but I have also come to realize that once I break through my fears, doubts, and “what-ifs,” I discover something wonderful – about myself, about the world, about people.

This new chapter in my life will be no different.  Yes, I will miss my independence.  I will miss the view outside my kitchen window and the sun that comes streaming in through the living room each morning.  I’ll miss being in a downtown setting and the atmosphere I’ve created with all of my art and furniture.  Hey, I may even miss the creaking of the floor above me when my neighbor is bustling around. I’ll miss what I know.  But I also have so much to look forward to.  First and foremost, my friendship with Hannah (my new roomie) will inevitably deepen.  We’ve already planned on movie marathons, intense workout sessions, and DIY craft nights.  Though there are a million unknown factors that will surface in the coming months, I must have faith in the beauty of the unknown and the power of change.  After all, when looking back, the wonderful things that exist in my life are the results of changes that occurred in the past.

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Body:
When we think about working out, we usually envision running, lifting weights, or being athletic in some way.  As a society that primarily sits all day, we often have to create time devoted solely to exercise.  But working out doesn’t have to be separated from our other obligations.  For instance, this week I had to focus on packing to prepare for my upcoming move.  Though it may not be as intense as running, it certainly offers your body more benefit than if you were sitting on the couch watching television.  Saturday is moving day – I will be carrying boxes, tables, my couch and bed down two flights of stairs and into a trailer.  I will definitely be counting that as my workout for the day.  🙂

Soul:
Here’s several pictures of meals I’ve created this past week.  I’m continually impressed with the quality of these recipes.

Raw Pad Thai

Raw Pad Thai

Skillet Salad with Sausage

Skillet Salad with Sausage

Broiled Salmon with Ginger-Garlic Pilaf

Broiled Salmon with Ginger-Garlic Pilaf

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Taco Tuesday – the Healthy Way

January – A Healthy Me
Day 13

Daily Action:

Conquer those cravings.  It’s Taco Tuesday!  There are various taco deals around the region today, including $1 tacos at the Locker Room and $1.50 tacos at Oliver’s, both of which I have indulged in with my volleyball team in the past.  Tonight, I will not be consuming any sub-par tacos, as I already satisfied my taco craving at lunch.  I must say, these tacos were absolutely delicious.  I will be making them again.

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Ingredients:
corn tortillas
barbecue sauce
brown rice
black beans
tempeh – This was a new one for me. I tend to shy away from meat substitutes like tofu and soy, but this was pretty good!
arugula
red onions
salsa

DELICIOUS.

A Forgotten Anniversary

January – A Healthy Me
Days 9, 10, 11, & 12

Nick and I finally celebrated our 2 year anniversary on Friday, though our actual anniversary is on December 9th. We meant to celebrate on the day of our anniversary, but the day came and went, and it completely slipped our minds.  Five days later, we were lying in bed and reflecting on the last year together when I realized we totally blew it. Hey, at least we both forgot!

Anyway, we went to Biaggis, our favorite special occasion spot – though when they nixed the stuffed pork from the menu it dropped a few points – and for the first time ever, I left without feeling like I had consumed an entire elephant.  I managed to control my impulse to inhale the entire bread basket – I only had one piece – and I ordered the soup and spinach salad – which was actually what I was craving.  We ended with one serving of the bread pudding, which is a must-have at Biaggis.  It’s all about moderation, people.  🙂

Daily Actions

Do something active on a date. After dinner, Nick and I went bowling, an activity we had never done together.  As a former football player and an avid weightlifter, I figured he would knock bowling out of the park.  He didn’t.  He was just as terrible as me.  In fact, we tied the first game 52 – 52.  PATHETIC.

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Try something new.  My friend/co-worker Katy set up a rock climbing lesson for Saturday at Upper Limits in Bloomington, and when I found out, I decided to tag along!  I had heard of people going, but for some reason it never occurred to me that I should try it out.  We didn’t do much rock climbing the first time, as we were learning all the basics, but I plan on going back within the next 2 weeks to test my memory.  (By the way, the place is located in an old grain silo; the silos are 65 feet tall. What a BRILLIANT re-use of that space!)

Relax.  Somedays we just need time to veg.  Sundays are usually those days for me.  Though I kept up with my eating and yoga, I took time – a lot of time – to just relax on the couch with my boyfriend.  It was lovely.  🙂

Prepare.  Eating right is all about proper preparation.  Though the extra time and effort it takes to prepare breakfast and lunch for the next day the night before has been a bit annoying, it has started to feel a little bit more automatic this week.  It can be so hard to start new habits and break old ones, but it can also be so rewarding.

Reflections

January – A Healthy Me
Days 7 and 8

Hooray!  I am officially one week into my new lifestyle, and I feel great!  I feel less tired during the day and more focused when I’m at work – it’s like I was living in a hazy fog and it finally lifted.   It’s amazing how fast you can feel and even see change in just one week.

I’ve been relatively health conscious since college – Macalester is the only school I know of where people develop healthy eating habits rather than put on the “freshman 15” – but to be honest, I have never fully committed to any one eating program.  Up until last week, my typical day would look like this:

Breakfast – a bowl of Kashi cereal with almond milk; a cup of tea when I get to work
Snack – Lara Bar
Lunch – Turkey, lettuce, and cheese sandwich with hummus and an apple
Dinner (if I decided to go shopping that week) – A  recipe found on pinterest like this southwestern chopped chicken salad (Nick’s fave by the way).

I also go out to eat relatively often and consume a few too many alcoholic beverages on the weekends, both of which do not bode well for a healthy lifestyle.  Oh, and I drink way too little water on a daily basis.  In fact, I don’t drink much of anything.

I always thought I was doing pretty well with my diet, especially in comparison to most, but when I compare that diet to the diet I consumed this past week, I understand my biggest problem.  I’m probably not consuming enough calories!  A bowl of cereal and a sandwich?  Really??  No wonder I’m always feeling tired and sluggish.  And when I do consume enough calories by going out to eat and drinking 3 – okay, 4 – vodka cranberries, I’m not filling my body with the nutrients it needs to function properly.  Last week my typical day looked like this:

Breakfast:  Smoothie- 2 cups of frozen fruit, 1/2 cup of almond milk, 1 cup plain greek yogurt, 2 cups of spinach, a tablespoon of nut butter, and a tablespoon of honey
Snack:  hummus and veggies, greek yogurt with flax seed and berries, or a Lara bar
Lunch:  BLT salad – salad greens, tomato, avocado, and turkey bacon with homemade creamy garlic dressing (made with cashews!)
Dinner:  Skillet salad (my fave so far) – quinoa mixed with sausage, spinach, cashews, garlic, cranberries, cherry tomatoes, and balsamic vinegar (Side note:  I never knew that was how balsamic was spelled.  I thought it was balsalmic.  Thanks spellcheck!)

I also have been drinking an enormous amount of H2O.

And sometimes dessert – One night I made Sadie’s Mexican Chocolate Macaroons. They were TO DIE FOR.

Obviously with this plan I’m consuming a lot more calories than I was before, especially during breakfast.  I don’t currently own a scale, or I’d fill you in on whether or not extra calories has translated into extra pounds- though I highly doubt it.  Eating more means my metabolism is up and running and being a calorie-burning machine!

I am truly looking forward to continuing on with the remaining 14 days of this plan.

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Daily Actions:

Pay Attention:  According to a paper out of Stanford University entitled “Awe Expands the Perception of Time,” when triggered with something inspirational, people’s perception of time actually slows down.  In another study, subjects were triggered by fear – each person was asked to estimate the amount of time they were in free fall during a specific amusement ride, and they almost always overestimated the time by about 36 percent.  What does this mean?  According to Sadie Nardini (my inspiration this month), it means that the more present you are to what’s happening, the more your life will expand.  I LOVE THAT.

Today, I decided to try it out.  I paid attention to my surroundings all day – Where am I? Why am I hear, and how did I get here? How does this space feel to me? Am I happy?  I also paid close attention while I was eating – to the tastes, textures, and smell of my meals (it actually took me a good 30 minutes to eat a salad.)  It was a great exercise in staying present and feeling grateful.

Organize your work day:  My job requires a lot of juggling of projects and tasks, both big and small.  A lot of days, I find myself jumping from one project or task to another, unable to actually complete any of them.  A few months ago, I discovered this great site called Trello, which allows you to mega-organize all of your tasks.  Though I’ve been using it on a regular basis, I haven’t been using it well.  Today I created several lists to try to use the site to its potential:

1. Tasks to complete
2. Tasks to complete TODAY
3. Tasks that have been accomplished

At the beginning of the day, I looked over my to-do list, dragged several over to the To-do today list, and focused ONLY on those for the entire day…even when I was distracted with emails relating to other projects.  I found that it worked quite well.  I stayed on track and focused.  Also, it feels super great when you are able to drag a task into the accomplished list.  I highly recommend it!  🙂

Pamper and Indulge!

January – A Healthy Me
Days 5 and 6

Daily Actions:

Pamper yourself.  Remember how I said my feet and toes were looking a little less than desirable?  Well, I decided to give myself a pedicure.  Any other day, I would have simply removed the old polish and slapped on the new, but my goal was to pamper myself – so I gave myself a full-on spa-like experience.  See below (Warning:  If you don’t like feet, don’t scroll down any further!):

Step 1- Find random pedicure packet in closet

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Step 2: Soak feet for 5 minutes in a foaming sea soak

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*It kind of looks like the tops of my feet are hairy in this picture.  I assure you, they are not.

Step 3:  Exfoliate with sea salts

Step 4: Wrap feet in conditioning marine masque

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Step 5:  Paint those toes and…VOILA!

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Daily Actions:

Mindful Indulgence.  The idea of eating healthy often translates into restricting ourselves from some of the things we love.  But depriving ourselves and feeling miserable does not make for a very healthy body, mind, or soul.  As long as we fill ourselves with nutritional, whole foods the majority of the time, indulging in something not as great every so often is A-Okay!  Tonight I decided to drink a vanilla latte with a friend (yes, I could have probably indulged a little more with say, a donut, but the latte was calling my name).

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And, because I thought it looked so great- my lunch from today:

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: )

Lessons in Self-Discipline and Adaptation

January – A Healthy Me
Days 2, 3, and 4

Food:

This weekend was all about self-discipline.  During the week, it’s easy to stay away from unhealthy foods (as long as you don’t have Oreos and Cheetos hiding in your pantry), but the weekend brings so many challenges.  Every time I turned around there was something tempting me.  On Friday, it was the buttered popcorn and wild cherry pepsi at the movie theater that was being consumed RIGHT next to me.  On Saturday,  it was the invite to Red Robin for gourmet burgers and fries, and the cheese and sausage pizza that my boyfriend and friend had delivered to the house.

I’m not going to lie, I did have a few bites of the popcorn and several sips of the wild cherry pepsi, but what kept me from mindlessly eating half the bucket was an inspiring story about my developmentally disabled cousin.  Recently, she started the weight watchers program to lose some of the extra pounds she had gained due to a medicinal side-effect.  She has stuck to the program and has exhibited AMAZING self-control (she’s already lost 15 lbs!).  Over Christmas break, she went to the movies with the family, and was expecting to get popcorn like usual.  Because there was dessert awaiting everyone at home, she was asked to choose – popcorn now, or chocolate pie later.  She chose the pie (good choice if you ask me!).  The rest of the family ordered popcorn, and despite the temptation sitting right next to her, she never once complained or even asked for a bite.  Now THAT is control.  Despite her developmental challenges, I sometimes wonder if she may be more brilliant than all of us.

photo (6)Left to Right: Ande (the inspiration), Madeline, Brie, and ME!

Yoga:

I haven’t practiced yoga regularly in a very long time.  I’ve forgotten how wonderful it feels!  After 4 days I already feel more open, strong, and at ease with life.  I’ve also realized that my toes are in desperate need of a pedicure…you stare at your bare feet quite often during your practice.  🙂

Today, a winter storm is making its way through Central Illinois, and I am therefore stranded at Nick’s house in Metamora. Unfortunately, I didn’t bring any of my yoga gear, so I had to adapt!  As it turns out, you don’t have to wear super cute lululemon yoga pants to have a successful yoga practice.  Today I wore my new christmas tree pajama pants and I think I had my best practice to date!

Daily Actions:

Friday:  The 5-minute revolution – Sometimes, we feel a bit overwhelmed by making major life changes, but it doesn’t have to be daunting.  Even doing 5-minutes of something productive can make you feel great!  I decided on 5-minutes of meditation – paying attention and being with the present moment.  I actually did this while washing dishes, and it made the task quite pleasant.  Other ideas – write in your journal or do a mini-workout.

Saturday: Make a healthy snack to share – I prepared guacamole to eat while watching the play-offs with Nick.  Unfortunately, I was a bit heavy handed with the red onion, and did not end up sharing.  Maybe next time?

Sunday:  Clean one room of the house – I don’t know about you, but I HATE it when my living space is a mess.  It somehow makes me feel like I don’t have my life together.  Since I was stranded at Nick’s house, he got a clean kitchen out of the deal!

The Journey Begins

January – A Healthy Me
Day 1

Wow.  I seriously don’t remember the last time I did that many dishes in one day.  When you live by yourself, you only have one pan and one mixing bowl and one measuring cup (okay, that’s a bit of an exaggeration, but still).  Nevertheless, I’m happy to say that I have accomplished day 1 of eating healthier foods that give me LIFE POWER!

Let me back up.  As I explained yesterday, I have created 12 intentions, one for each month of the year.  January is “A Healthy Me,’ because who doesn’t want to start the year with an intention to better the mind, body, and soul?  For the first 21 days of my journey, I will be following the quirky and fun Sadie Nardini on her 21-Day Yoga Body plan.  She has created a full meal plan, a unique yoga sequence, and daily actions to follow each day for the next 3 weeks.  To top it off she says things like “anyone who has vowed never to eat french fries ever again and then hungry hippoed an entire plate of the ones that his or her unsuspecting date ordered knows this to be true.”  HA, she had me giggling with that one.

Sadie believes in the 80/20 rule.  80% of the time, we should be invested in living, loving, eating, moving, thinking, and taking actions that nourish us and brings us more into balance.  The other 20% of the time, you might have a french fry or two, and that’s OKAY! Today, I strayed away from the french fries, and ate a peanut-butter, banana, and peach smoothie, greek yogurt with berries and flax seed, a quinoa veggie dish, and grilled mahimahi with apple-mango chutney.  Yeah, it was delish.

The yoga sequence of the day was all about balance, which really hit home for me.  When you start out on a new endeavor, it can seem so overwhelming, which is why so many of us quit before our program of choice has come to an end.  We, I, have to push past that feeling, because it isn’t until we are a little uncomfortable that true transformation occurs. There were so many times tonight after work where I wanted to just chill.  But I spent the last year of my life just chilling, and it really isn’t all that great.

I did something totally uncharacteristic of me, and I made up my own daily action rather than following Sadie’s.  My action: to complete a nagging task.  Those nagging tasks keep us from being productive and happy, which doesn’t lead to a very healthy life.  My nagging task:  un-decorate the Christmas Tree.  Not going to lie, it wasn’t fun.  At all.  The needles were extra prickly and painful.  But now it’s done, and I can do better things with my time tomorrow. 🙂

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