Good Decisions, Feeling Good!

I have been working this summer to make more decisions that are good for me in any way I can. I’m working on better study and research habits. But today, I focused on myself.

I’ve been trying to be more conscious about my fluids intake today. I’m not consistently good about drinking enough for my body. It’s amazing what a difference a glass of water can make. So far I’m up to around 12oz of iced green tea that I cold brewed overnight, and I’m about halfway through my third 12 oz glass of water. For the day! I’ve been allowing myself to snack according to little ideas rather than get a glass of water and then see if I’m still hungry. Not a great habit for me. It’s really helping today. No snacks yet. I may have a small salad later, but maybe not.

Yesterday I decided to pull down a “cookbook” my cousins-in-law gave me years ago, How to Cook Without a Book. While it does contain recipes, they’re more variations on the theme of the chapter. The idea of the book is to gain skills and techniques so you can cook up meals without needing to reach for a recipe. Since I tend to cook without recipes, this works really well for me. Both last night and tonight, I used her pasta and veggie technique. So delicious and simple and light and refreshing.

But, before I get into details, I made a decision before that so I could make my delicious dinner. I needed to get a few groceries and realized that I’d be just heading around the corner to Kroger for everything. As I headed out the front door, I reached for my car key. And I paused. I wanted to take a walk or jog today. I feel like I’ve been too sedentary lately. I put my key back and decided to walk up and back. It was so worth it. It was nice to get up and move. It was relaxing. It was nice to get away from the TV for a bit. And it saved me gas and frustrations of driving when it’s not far at all. Unless I am getting something that needs to get home asap, I’m just going to walk up when I need it. There’s no point in driving. At least while the weather is nice.

Hopefully I’m getting started on some better habits for myself. Now to get back to the academic stuff!

Hooked on a new tea

So, as you all know, I love my Adagio teas. But, while I was in NYC, I was introduced to Celestial Seasonings’ Red Zinger tea. I was hooked at the first cup. There was something about the combination of ingredients in this herbal tea that created such an intriguing taste. It’s bold, deep, rich, and I can’t get enough!

When I got back home, I started checking the shelves for it so I could make it at home. Despite being a signature tea of the brand, no one around me carried it. I was so frustrated. So when I was in Columbus on Friday, I decided to search on their site to see where it was sold there. Thankfully Whole Foods, Fresh Thyme Farmers Market, and Raisin Rack all carry it. After I was done with my grocery shopping, I made a beeline for the nearest Whole Foods and got two boxes – it was on sale – allowing me to keep one box at home and take one to work.

Best decision ever! I haven’t wanted to have any of the raspberry tea I had been habitually drinking before the trip. It’s getting me to drink more fluids that have no sugar in them. And I’m pretty sure the ingredients are agreeing with my body because I’m feeling so good! I’m on my second cup at work today. It’s so easy to make and drink. I think I found another habit I can keep going and not give up on!

Loving my B.O.G.s!

Like I said earlier, I am working on changing habits of mine for the better. One thing I realized was how out of whack my eating habits were for my body. I’ve been more conscious about my portions, and I’ve been feeling so much better! I’ve been eating less but not feeling hungry. And if I am, I listen to it and try to figure out the best way to satisfy that hunger. I’m also not beating myself up over any time I overeat. It doesn’t help anything. Like, last week I picked up a box of chocolate-filled Pączki. I had never seen chocolate Pączki before! I had two of them that day. I really shouldn’t have, but I did. So what!

One other thing that I knew I needed to change was to get more greens in my diet again. At first, I just picked up a package of salad from the store. It worked, but, as usual, I was having to pick out the good pieces and throw out the ones that were going bad each time I wanted a salad. I am getting so tired of it. So I decided to make a change.

On Friday, I was down in Columbus to pick up my comics and I decided to do some grocery shopping. I took advantage of the wonderful variety of fresh greens available to me to build a salad mixture that doesn’t get stuffed into a plastic container. I bought green leaf lettuce, kale, and a container of baby arugula. I also picked up some avocados and fresh limes and lemons. Up until now, I had relied on the little plastic limes and lemons to squeeze that juice on my salads. But I decided to try fresh lemon and I was in love. It’s so much sweeter and is just so delicious. I’m not going back to those plastic limes and lemons anymore!

Once I got home, I got out my salad spinner, and put in about half the pack of arugula and saved the rest for next week. I chopped up the lettuce and added most of it in. Then I chopped up about half of the kale and finalized my mix. It is delicious! So much better than anything I could have bought. That is the basis of my B.O.G.s.

B.O.G. is my acronym for Bowl Of Greens. I’ll take two handfuls of my mix, squeeze 1/4 of a lemon over it, and drizzle some EVOO on top. That’s it. I used to think I needed more, especially cheese, on top, but I don’t!

Sometimes I do mix it up to make a meal out of it. I’ll take one handful of the mix, drizzle on a little EVOO, add a chopped up avocado – yes, an entire avocado – squeeze half a lime on top, and add a little pink salt. It’s delicious! That gives me a great balance and enough food to keep me full until dinner. And, it travels really well! I made one today, the first day back for the semester, and I am good. I haven’t had any cravings for a snack, but I know I’ll be ready for some dinner before class tonight. And, it’s bringing a whole new set of nutrients into my regular diet. I’ve only been enjoying my B.O.G.s for about a week, but I’m already feeling so much better. I think this is a habit I can keep going! I definitely won’t give up!

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.

More Matcha!

For over a year now, I have had a tin of matcha from Adagio teas. I haven’t used it because I’m scared I’ll screw it up, and I know how not cheap a tin is. I recently ordered a pack of their Sticks, one tube can easily be dumped into a 12oz bottle and shaken up resulting in matcha.

That got me wondering. Is there something different about that tea from the tins? I finally remembered to Google it today. Guess what? There’s not! I found The Many Joys of Coldbrew Matcha which says I just need to do what the stick box says: put about 1 tsp into 16oz of water, shake, and enjoy! So I’m going to keep the sticks at work, and use my tin here at home. It’ll be nice to finally use the tin, as well as have nice cold matcha here at home as well as at school. I’m looking forward to having money to get some of Adagio’s different flavors and give them a go.

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!

Now I remember!

I remember why all those times I cut out sugar it didn’t stick. Today reminded me.

I have been slightly foggy lately. I’ve been unmotivated and unfocused. I haven’t felt like constantly making myself a cup of caffeinated tea to stay focused. I’ve been avoiding sugar, but I allowed myself a break on Sunday. Even then it wasn’t completely sugar, just a delicious carrot cake torte. But I can’t shake this fog.

I got going this morning just fine. A travel mug of tea on my drive in and I was great to teach. But I got back to my office and I was very hungry. So I microwaved my lunch. I was still hungry. And quite unfocused and foggy. I accidentally bought a bag of gummies yesterday out of habit and left them in my bag. I tore into them in the hopes that they would at least take the edge off. They didn’t.

This is why I always end up slowly eating too much sugar again and again. My body adjusts to the lack of sugar, but my habits don’t. But this time I’m aware of it. I’m conscious of it.

I’m at the PCA Conference in Indianapolis for the week. I packed food to eat in the room for two reasons. First, to cut back on paying for fast food. Despite getting a pizza tonight. Second, to keep these good habits up. I even stopped by the nearby Wal-Mart for some yogurts for breakfast, raspberry tea for the evenings, and milk for my hot tea. I packed my utiliTEA, three tins of tea, sugar crystals, mug, teabags, and measuring spoons so I can make tea whenever. I even brought my Starbucks travel mug for a cup made here in the morning and refills throughout the day.

Granted, getting enough sleep would help, too.

Stepping back

For whatever reason, I was in a funk recently. During that funk, I was eating horribly. I was eating too much candy and fast food and not enough actual food. Thankfully I realized I was in a funk and decided to start making some changes.

First step, reducing my sugar intake. Right now, that means cutting out pop/soda, candy, and other mostly processed sugar items. I’m still allowing myself things like green tea from Wendy’s, my bottled raspberry tea, sugar crystals in my tea at home – which I’m trying to get back into the habit of drinking instead of the raspberry – and foods with naturally occurring sugars, like fruit. I don’t want to cut out all sugar, but I figure consuming stuff that is basically just sugar isn’t the greatest idea on many levels. I’ve been mostly successful, with only one intentional indulgence because I couldn’t get the thing off my mind.

The next step is going to be a reduction in fried foods. I’ve actually been kind of working on it, but it’s been more out of a desire to spend less money than intentionally not eating them. It also helps that Wendy’s grilled chicken has improved, or I’ve gotten used to it. Either way, I’m back to preferring that when I stop by. I had really developed a taste for Homestyle, which is not the best thing in the world to be eating more than once a week. I’m hoping that by easing myself into this, I’ll be able to build some lasting habits that will help me fight the funk.

Getting things taken care of around here will help too. But I have to remember to stay focused so I can get my school work and unpacking done. Hopefully eating better will help with that. It sure can’t hurt.

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.

20170526_135831.jpg
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!