Don’t give up

I have always had trouble forming habits that help me out. I have created study schedules and rarely follow them. I buy healthy foods and end up eating highly processed flour and sugar. But I don’t give up. I do look at what didn’t work the last time and try something different – so it’s not insanity. But I don’t give up.

Last week I was in NYC for BroadwayCon. I was presenting my autoethnography about being a Hamilton fan. The con was Friday-Sunday. I stayed until Tuesday so I could do some exploration around NYC. That’s not the point of this post, though.

While I was there, I stayed with family. Family who welcomed me into their home, but didn’t fuss over me. They continued to live their lives around me and I tried to be as unobtrusive as possible. It was wonderful! They also have habits that I have been striving toward having for a while now.

For example: I did not see a single paper towel in their entire place. It was all cloth. It made me realize that it is really easy to live without paper towels. I’ve always been worried about staining towels and washcloths. I’ve been worried that using them will ruin them. I don’t know why. But spending almost a week without a roll of paper towels hanging around helped me to realize that it’s okay to use cloth towels, to let the washcloths get stained. That’s why they’re there! So, on my way home Thursday night, I decided to stop at Big Lots! and get some more. We have kitchen towels, but not many, and some of them aren’t great at actually getting things dry. I made sure the towels I picked up are 100% cotton so they’ll actually absorb things. I even picked up more washcloths to make sure we’d have plenty. I don’t think I’ve reached for a paper towel since then. Considering I was using them to dry my hands at every turn, this is a good thing. I’m not giving up.

Another habit I picked up while I was there was eating better. The way I am built, I know that I am never going to be considered “skinny.” And I’m fine with that. I just want to be happy with the person I see in the mirror. My hubby loves me no matter what I look like, which is wonderful. But I want to loose weight. I want to be slimmer and healthier in my own opinion. I know I have a family history of diabetes linked to weight. I want to avoid that. While I was in NYC, I was definitely walking more than usual, but I was also eating in ways that made me feel better. It’s not that I had banned myself from eating certain things. I had banana bread multiple times from Starbucks, along with various teas. I had Snickerdoodles and chocolate chip cookies at their place. It was more about portions than contents. I was eating enough to satisfy my hunger, not eating until I couldn’t eat anymore. Or eating so there wouldn’t be leftovers.

I noticed it during the trip, but it’s come into sharper relief when I got home. So many things are not meant for only two people to eat. And I’m not the greatest about eating leftovers. Also, when the two people prefer different portion sizes, it leads to leftovers. I’m still working on how to deal with that. But when it comes to my lunches, when I’m the only one eating, I’m working on it. I’m not giving up.

One of the most important things I learned while I was gone is that I have not been drinking enough, especially water. I’ve been drinking Gold Peak raspberry tea cut 1:1 with their unsweetened tea for a bit now. Usually, I have been drinking it to get that bit of sweet and keep me from drinking Pepsi. But, while I was gone, I didn’t have it with me. And I didn’t miss it. I was drinking water or Red Zinger or tea from Starbucks. It made me realize that I don’t need it. I don’t need that source of sugar – and it is sugar, not HFCS. It helped me remember to make use of the many, many teas I have at home for those times when I don’t want just a glass of water. I even took a travel mug in to the office so I would drink more tea there. I’m not giving up.

It looks like I’ve found my mantra for this year: “Don’t give up.” I’m not. Even the smallest changes build up to the big ones. Be patient. Something will work, even if it’s not the whole thing.

Veritable Vitamin Variety

I am continuing my efforts to improve my diet, and thus my health. Honestly, listening to RuPaul:What’s the Tee? w/ Michelle Visage has been a source of inspiration. Both Ru and Michelle enjoy talking about eating healthier. Michelle has been openly sharing her battle with autoimmune problems. I have no idea if I have any autoimmune problems, but eating better isn’t bad for anyone.

So, I’m coming to that point in my “no sugar cycle” where I really try to step up my game with eating less processed food and less fast food. Granted, this past weekend wasn’t great for that. But I was away at a conference, stressed, and PMSing. Not a great combination mentally. As I’m driving home from campus today, the podcast reaches the episode where they were talking with Suzanne Somers (Episode 68 – yes, I am way behind). They talk quite a bit about healthy lifestyles, including diet, as I’m eating my Southwestern (Grilled) Chicken sandwich, fries, and drinking my large green tea from Wendy’s. While it wasn’t the most unhealthy thing on the menu – by a long shot – it’s not great. For my waistline or my wallet.

As I’m driving, I decide that I need to stop and get some fresh food before going home. I needed to stop and get one thing anyway, so why not pick up some veggies. When I walked in, I made a beeline for the lettuce. Then I picked up some green onions. They also had some good looking pears. Which reminded me I wanted strawberries. But on the way to the strawberries, I found the grape tomatoes and avocados. Before I knew it, my basket was full and heavy with fresh fruits and veggies. A veritable variety of vivacious vitamins in their original packaging. I think that was a sign that I wanted fresh.

Now I just need to keep inspired and eat it all up before it turns into a pile of mush in the fridge. I’ve got a good start. I’ve eaten about half of the strawberries already. Hopefully the momentum will keep going this time and I’ll be able to continue making permanent changes to my diet for the better!

Trying to make changes

Lately I’ve been listening to RuPaul: What’s the Tee? w/Michelle Visage as I drive to and from campus (mostly because I would have to use my phone to over-listen to The Hamilton Polka). I am way behind. I’m not sure if I’ve even hit episode 10. But in one of those episodes, Michelle talks about how turmeric has anti-inflammatory properties. It seemed like something worth looking up.

Turns out that turmeric has compounds called curcuminoids, and they… well I’ll just quote the article I’m getting this from:

“Curcumin is the main active ingredient in turmeric. It has powerful anti-inflammatory effects and is a very strong antioxidant. However, the curcumin content of turmeric is not that high… it’s around 3%, by weight.” (“10 Proven Health Benefits of Turmeric and Curcumin“)

They go on to say that there are supplements that are mostly, if not all, curcuminoids, and that is the most effective way to get it in high doses. Also, in order for the curcumin to be more easily absorbed into your bloodstream, you should take it with black pepper. The piperine in black pepper boosts absorption.

Thankfully the Lucky’s Market I love to go to in Columbus has a turmeric supplement that is 95% curcuminoids and 5% piperine. The article says that most studies have people taking 1 gram per day. These supplements have 450 mg per capsule, so I’d have to take 2 a day to get 1 gram. Considering I’m just starting out – and the bottle is $25 for 60 – I’ve only taken one per day.

In recent years I’ve noticed that I’ve been itching more in places where my skin is sensitive. I was diagnosed with having eczema on my hands back in 8th grade. I have been attributing the itching to that spreading to vulnerable areas. I know that things like stress and eating crappy cause flare-ups. But I noticed that when I’d take my allergy meds (OTC of course), the flare-ups would go down. So I started associating allergies with flare-ups. Probably not the smartest thing in retrospect, but oh well.

After hearing about the way it’s been helping Michelle with her autoimmune problems – she includes turmeric in her green juice – I decided to give it a shot. I really shouldn’t be taking the allergy meds if I’m trying to control something else. Sunday was the first day. I didn’t notice much either way. My palms were itchy all day before I took it and it went away soon after I took it. But I wasn’t sure that it was psychosomatic. Yesterday, my right eye was driving me nuts – something that would have had me running for the allergy meds before. So I took the turmeric, noted the time, and tried to ignore my eye. It didn’t stop itching quickly, but it did eventually. It might have done that anyway for all that I know.

Until about midnight, that is.

My eye started itching like it had before. It had been a little over 12 hours since I took turmeric. It seems that it’s worn off and it’s working! It makes me feel better that I can manage smaller things with the supplement and save the meds for when I’m actually dealing with allergies.

Now if I can just cut back on the sugar consumption and actually stick to it. That would really help with the whole inflammation problem. But that’s for another day.

Hella Healthy Habits

Since going from living on my own during the week and only being home with the hubby on weekends, I have had some struggles with my eating habits. When I was on my own, I was doing really well. Mostly because I only had enough food in the apartment to get me through the week. I didn’t keep much in the way of snacks around. I also was living on tea, with my utiliTEA right on my desk. It made making tea so much more convenient.

Moving back home changed things. There’s more food in the apartment because I’m not the only one buying food. I’m also making dinner for the two of us, not just me anymore. Which means I need to take his tastes into account. **I am not complaining at all. I love my hubby. It’s just going from living single to living together again.** There were plenty of times during the past school year when I would make chicken thighs for myself every night and not get tired of them. Not only does he prefer white meat, but he wants more variety in his main dishes, which is fine. I was also drinking less tea because it isn’t right in my face all the time anymore.

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Because my tea is all on it’s own table now! And as I type this I realize how much this has changed since I took the picture…

Basically, I had developed a set of habits while I was at school, but hadn’t brought them home with me. I was snacking out of boredom. I was drinking Pepsi (made with real sugar, delicious!) instead of tea or water. I was creating mounds of food on my plate for dinner and eating all of it, despite being full. I was eating a small meal when I got home from work so I wasn’t starving while waiting for hubby to get up for the day (he works third shift). I was eating candy and fast food at work.

But, over the semester I’ve noticed these problems and worked to change them. And I’m noticing the effects. I’ve been making a point of having at least one travel mug of tea for work each day. The caffeine wakes me up and helps me stay focused. Having something healthy to drink keeps me away from the pop in the break room. I’ve been working on snacking less at work. It’s better for my waistline and my wallet. I’ve also been making an effort to drink more tea at home as well. Both from my vast stores of tea and pre-made cold tea from the cooler at the grocery store. Yes, it’s not as healthy as drinking tea I’ve brewed, but it’s still better than drinking Pepsi.

I’ve also been changing up my eating habits. If I stop by a drive-thru for food, I am making healthier choices. I order only the amount of food I actually need – usually a sandwich and a drink, no fries – and it’s not a double cheeseburger with bacon every time. But, more importantly, I’ve been changing my eating habits at home. I’m keeping lots of healthy snack choices/meal components around to keep me from overdoing it. Like the bag of LÄRABAR Bites. That way when I want just a little chocolate – like last evening – I can have one or two, instead of going for the Snickers. I’ve got fruit cups and cheese crackers and cheese sticks. That way I can have one or two things to tide me over until dinner without being full once dinner’s ready.

I also noticed that I don’t necessarily need to go gluten free, but I need to be careful about how much bread I’m eating. I feel better overall when I’m not eating a ton of basic breads. Breads like pumpernickel and rye and sourdough are friendly breads. Multi-grain bread too. I’m also putting more thought into dinner. I’m trying to make things from scratch more often. I’m also allowing myself to be okay with leftovers. I put as much food as I want on my plate. I can always go back for a little more if I want, which is better than forcing myself to clean my plate.

Since being more mindful of what I am eating, how much I am eating, how I feel about what I am eating, I feel so much better! My clothing is fitting much better. My skin is clearer – both from acne and eczema. And, most importantly, I don’t feel like I’m starving myself or denying myself anything. I’m letting my body tell me what to eat and it is really appreciating it. Listen to your body. It knows what it needs. Eventually it’ll get through to your brain and you’ll feel so good!

Coffee?

Last Friday, I met a friend, and fellow tea fiend, at the local coffee shop so she could guide me in trying out coffee.

Yes, I drink coffee now. Which is a really, really weird statement to make, still.

But, before anyone panics, I am still madly in love with tea. They just have different functions for me. The reason why I tried out and now have a cup of coffee in front of me is the same reason why my friend drinks it, caffeine. I probably have ADHD. I’ve never been diagnosed because when I was young, I would have been put on Ritalin and my parents did not want that. Something I am personally grateful for, because I prefer to take as little medication as I need. This is a personal choice; I’m not saying medicine is useless. I just have personal preferences about it.

Anyway. I probably have ADHD. It’s hard for me to focus on things I’m not heavily interested in and I just get bored easily. My friend said that coffee helps her with that. I had heard that caffeine can help people with ADD/ADHD because it is a stimulant, which helps the brain to focus. I don’t know the exact science, but I do know that it is helping me. I know that sometimes stuff like this can be psychosomatic, so I went in skeptical. Also we were just hanging out in the coffee shop, so I wasn’t really trying to get anything done. But it does help.

It feels like my thinking’s a little bit clearer and I can really focus on what I need to do. Granted doing things like listening to specific music or podcasts still prove to be distracting, but that’s more of the content than my brain. I feel like the fuzzy edges are gone. It’s hard to describe, but it works.

I’m sure some people are thinking “Why not just drink a Pepsi?” Well, while I do enjoy Pepsi, especially made with real sugar, there really is a lot in that can other than the caffeine. I order my coffee black and add a little dairy to cut the bitterness. That’s it. I don’t add any sugar. I don’t get drinks that have coffee in there somewhere. I get coffee. I’m actually trying to figure out where I can tuck my little coffee maker on my desk so I can just make it at the office instead of having to buy it.

It does make me wonder how many people unknowingly “self-medicate” their ADD/ADHD with coffee.

Prep work

This weekend I was trying to figure out how to stock up on food for the week. I’m mostly going to be writing papers, until my students take their final and then I’ll be grading that. Basically I’ll be spending most of my time in my office. I wanted to stock up on foods that I can either just reheat or be eaten cold.

When I went to the grocery store today, that’s pretty much what I kept myself focused on. I managed to really hit it this time! I decided that instead of focusing on foods that I just need to eat, I went with stuff that needed just a little prep work and it’s ready to go. It also helped that I already have stuff at home that fits that. Between getting mostly non-processed, non-prepared foods, and using what I already had bought, my grocery bill was so nice and low.

Lesson: unprepared foods cost less than prepared foods!

Anyway, tonight I’ve been prepping things. I’ve just got a few more things to prep and I’ll be ready for a week of writing and grading armed with healthy options! I’ve got:

  • Chicken tenders
  • Pico de Gallo (pre-prepped by Lucky’s. It is so good!)
  • Avocados
  • Tortilla chips
  • Farmer’s cheese cut into strips
  • Black and Kalamata olives
  • Everything flatbread crackers
  • Mangoes
  • Chicken Sausage
  • Roasted butternut squash
  • Roasted sweet potatoes
  • Romaine lettuce
  • Cesar dressing
  • Croutons
  • Grape tomatoes
  • Calimari

It may seem like a lot, but it’s for at least 6 days. And I figure I’ll be going for more of a lot of small meals rather than three large ones. I just hope it works.

I almost forgot one important thing: tea. Lots and lots of tea.

Made at home: Fruit in Gel

For a while now, the hubby and I have been buying cups of fruit in gel. But the options are kind of limited. I love the mandarin oranges in orange gel. Sometimes I’ll get the pineapple in lime gel. But other than that, there’s really no fruit/gel combination that I like.

Then a few weeks ago I got new storage for my tea, which left me with a bunch of small Mason jars. A few days later I realized that the jars are about the same size as the cups. Which meant I could get whatever Jell-O and whatever fruit and make my own cups.

I finally did that tonight!

What you need (what I used in parenthesis):
Mason Jars (6 4oz and 3 8oz) with lids and bands
Jell-O flavor of your choice (pineapple, 2 small packs)
Can of fruit (20 oz pineapple tidbits)

Evenly divide your fruit among the jars. I aimed for about 2/3 of the way full on the small jars and just divided the rest among the larger ones.

Make your Jell-O according to the directions on the package. Since I was making 2 packages, I used the juice and then added enough cold water to equal 2 cups to add after the hot water.

Pour your Jell-O over your fruit. Add as little as you like, but remember you have to be able to put the lid on. I had an additional 8oz of Jell-O left and poured it into another jar.

Put on the lids. Screw on the bands. Put them in the fridge. That’s it! As they cool off, the lids will seal themselves.

It’s a great way to have a sweet treat without the excess packaging! That was really one of my biggest problems with buying them, aside from the lack of options. I was tired of having to throw out the plastic sealing it in and washing the cups out to recycle. Now I just have to throw the jars into the dishwasher and they’re clean! And I can make whatever combination works for me! Yay!

Steeped Dreams are Made of Teas

Sorry for the punny title, but I thought of it and just had to use it!

It feels like I go through cycles with my love of tea. I haven’t really been drinking it for a while now, but a friend of mine keeps a stash and electric kettle in her office, which is right next to where I have class in the mornings. She’s reawakened the tea lover in me and I need my tea!

But there’s a problem. My teas, mug, stirrers, ingenuiTEA, and electric kettle are in Columbus. I’m only in Columbus on the weekends. Right now I’m relying on her generosity and Starbucks. Starbucks has some amazing hot teas and it’s less than $3 for the biggest (venti, right?).

I rarely go to Starbucks since I’m not a coffee drinker. But they’ve made a new customer in me. I just have to make sure the tea doesn’t steep too long. They have one setting for their hot water and all teas are not made the same! I learned the hard way last week when I got some Earl Grey and it was a little over-steeped, but still amazing! Today I had an amazing cup of Emperor’s Cloud and Mist green tea. It was one of the more earthy green teas. It was amazing!

Recently I decided that I needed better storage for my teas and ordered two sizes of tins from Amazon. This way I can store a bunch of tea in my desk drawer and not have to worry about it at all! I just need to get my equipment from home this weekend and figure out where on my desk all of this is going. It’s amazing how limited the desk space is around here! I am looking forward to just needing to “borrow” some hot water in the mornings before class. Also being able to have a nice hot cup of tea in my Wednesday afternoon class while the rest of the class enjoys their coffee will be wonderful!

I love -cycling!

I’m sure you’re wondering what I mean by “-cycling”. Well, I can’t simply say recycling because I’m TerraCycling too. So I figured “-cycling” is the best way go to.

Last week I finally picked up a new recycling bin. My hubby had threatened to throw out the old one if I didn’t stay on top of the recycling. Well, one down side to being a Lyft driver was I couldn’t just let the recycling sit in the car during the week until I went to church and could drop it off at the recycling dumpster. That meant that after no longer being a driver, I was still not taking care of it. So he went through with his threat. Considering it had been sitting there full for months, I really could only be so upset. I think I was more upset over the waste of a perfectly good trash can.

Last week I couldn’t take it anymore and decided to pick up a new recycling can. It’s a little one that takes 8 gallon bags. My thought process was that it would fill up quicker and thus force me to take care of it faster. It’s working. My hubby’s putting recycling in it as well. The first load is in the back of my car right now and we’re well into the second. It feels so good to rinse out, and sometimes slightly wash, items and put them in the recycling. I figure if I’m going to be recycling, I should go the whole way. I’m washing out my yogurt cartons and the butter tub. Everything possible is going into that can and I love it! It’s that much less going into the dumpster and landfill, and it reduces how often the trash has to go out!

I’m loving TerraCycle. Recently I’ve discovered the wonderfulness that is GoGo Squeez. Various applesauces in a squeezy pouch! But I did hate throwing out the pouches. Now, thanks to TerraCycle, I’m not. I just need to send them a shipment every couple of months to keep myself in the brigade. I’m also in a couple of brigades that take personal care containers. Just knowing that I don’t have to throw away those containers makes me feel so good!

I love making sure less and less is going into landfills and more and more is becoming new things that will get recycled again. I am so proud to be part of this amazing cycle!