Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Walk Away or Walk It Off

Several weeks ago I read a small article tucked in the back of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette about the cost of food.  The article was not talking about dollars and cents, but rather time and sweat.  How many miles will I need to run to burn off that burger?  How many sit-ups will that cupcake cost me? 

This article put food in a different perspective for me.  Are the 15 seconds it will take for me to inhale a handful of chips or a candy bar be worth the 30 minutes it will take me to burn off the calories?  Probably not.  When faced with the decision of a large piece of cake versus a small piece of cake, I would always take the bigger piece not giving a second thought to the fact that I knew I would feel sick after eating it.  But now when I look at the pieces of cake from the perspective of how much exercise it will take to burn off those calories, I'm more inclined to take the smaller piece. 

Asking myself a simple question before making a decision about what foods I eat has helped me to make healthier choices . . . Do I walk away now or walk it off later?

Sunday, August 18, 2013

35 Meals in 30 Minutes

Time and Money.  Two things that cause me great stress. 

Most Saturday mornings I spend a good chunk of time planning out my family's meals for the week ahead.  I enjoy searching the Internet for new recipes and lingering over my cookbooks looking for recipes that my family likes but that I haven't made for awhile.  I find that the weeks I take the time to do this run smoother because I know what I am making for dinner the second I walk in the door from work.  These weeks also cost less because my grocery shopping is organized and I am less likely to fallback on pizza.  This plan greatly lowers my stress because I am ultimately saving time and money.

However,  the weeks that I don't have time to plan out our meals don't go as well.  I'm often flying aimlessly through the grocery store late on a Sunday night throwing random items in my cart.  When I get home from work I stand and stare in the freezer and cupboard hoping a brilliant idea will pop out at me.  I return to the grocery store one or two more times during the week to pick up forgotten items.  A pizza box (or two!) and bags from fast food restaurants can be found in our garbage.  My stress level is high and my debit card is on fire. 

Looking at the weeks ahead, I know that our weekends are going to be busy.  Sitting down on Saturday mornings with a cup of hot coffee surrounded by my cookbooks is not going to be happening.  But today I had plenty of time.  It dawned on me - why not plan an entire month's worth of meals at one time.  I expected it to take quite awhile, but it surprisingly only took me 30 minutes! 

Here's what I did:

1) Made a list of 30 meals that I make for my family.  I listed whatever came to mind from simple suppers such as grilled cheese with tomato soup to more complicated meals like lasagna to classic family favorites such as pancakes.

2) Divided the list into chicken, beef, breakfast, sandwiches, pasta and difficult dinners.  This made it easy to make sure I spread the meals out and hadn't planned things like three chicken dishes one week and none the next. 

3) Looked up five new recipes that looked good to try (one new recipe a week!).

4) Used five sheets of paper to list Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, etc. to represent each week.

5) Divided my list of 35 meals between the five weeks.  I took things into consideration such as simple meals on my Zumba nights.  Crockpot meals on Fridays because I am always exhausted.  More complicated meals on Sundays because I often have more times on Sundays. 

Bam!  I'm done!  Five weeks of meals planned and ready to go. I couldn't believe how easy it was.  In fact my meal plan came together so fast that I had time to write up five shopping lists.

I know that this sounds like such a simple idea, but I am so excited about it!  Obviously, I will need to have flexibility depending on exactly what is going on each week (If you've read my earlier posts you know I struggle with that!).  And I am giving myself three Pizza Coupons to use during the five weeks (I LOVE pizza!). 

35 Meals in 30 Minutes.  I'm expecting this meal plan to greatly reduce my stress and help keep my budget on target (which also reduces my stress level!).  I can't wait to get cookin'!

Monday, August 12, 2013

Day Twelve is My Day One

One of the latest trends on Facebook is the 30-Day Challenge.  For example, I’ve seen the ab challenge, the arm challenge and the squat challenge.  These challenges scream my name – structured time frame, small time commitment, concise direction on exactly what to do.  I can print out the calendar and make a big X on each day as I complete it.  Is this perfect for me or what?!?!  Love it! 

For the past several months I’ve been ready to jump on the 30-Day Challenge Bandwagon with the Ab Challenge.  Crunches, planks and leg lifts - I’m in!  My calendar is printed out.  My marker is ready to start crossing off those days.  I’m ready to go!  Then, the next thing I know it’s the third of the month. 

“Oooops.  Missed that start date.  I’ll start next month,”  I tell myself. 

The next month it’s the same thing.  I’m in!  My calendar is printed out.  My marker is ready to start crossing off those days.  I’m ready to go!  Then, all of a sudden it’s the fifth of the month. 

“Oooops.  Missed that start date.  I’ll start next month,”  I tell myself. 

Here I am today – August 12, 2013.  I can physically feel my pudgy belly rolling over the waistband of my pants and am mentally feeling extremely frustrated with myself. 

A lesson that I learned after a conversation I had with my mom a couple years ago when I was ready to quit the Couch to 5K training program pops into my head (as recorded in My Story Part 3):

Lesson #3 - Make your exercise schedule work for you.

At one point in my training I became very frustrated because I was always too busy and tired on Tuesdays and kept skipping the workout.  I was ready to give up.  Talking to my mom about it, she asked me "Who is telling you that you have to run on Tuesdays?"  That question made me stop and think.  "The schedule on the paper," I quietly answered.  "The paper?  Do they have a day to rest on the paper?" she asked.  "Yes, on Sundays." I replied.  "Why don't you rest on Tuesdays and run on Sundays?  Don't give up.  Just make a simple change to make the schedule work for you."  I always knew my mom was a wise woman!  Making that switch was a huge mental turning point for me.  I had been trying to fit myself into the training schedule, when what I really needed to do was fit the training schedule into my life.  It worked - I didn't quit!

It dawned on me . . . Just because the idea is to start day one on the first of the month, is there some crazy law out there that says that that's when I have to start?  If I start today - on the 12th - is the 30-Day Challenge Police going to show up at my door ready to cart me away?  I don't think so.

So today, August 12, 2013, I am starting Day One of the 30-Day Ab Challenge because it works for me!  (If you are on Day Twelve and dying - don't tell me!).