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!

Back to Aldi!

Since around 3rd or 4th grade, my Mom did all the grocery shopping for the family (of four) at Aldi. It’s part of why I love reusable bags and self-checkout lanes. She would actually get most of the groceries put in the crate and bags as they got rung up so we barely had to pack anything before heading out. But that was back when they rang everything up by hand. They’re too fast for that now.

The Aldi logo

Anyway. I had been trying to incorporate Aldi in our grocery routine, but things just kept not happening. They don’t have everything that we need – for one reason or another – so we would end up at other stores, and slowly Aldi would fall out of rotation. Or we would head out to go grocery shopping after they closed for the day and we couldn’t go.

Now, I’m working Aldi back into my grocery habit. Which is taking a little bit of work. We have a pretty nice Kroger across the way, which is really convenient. Well, convenient for time, not for my wallet. Also, now that my hubby is at work later and I’m actually home every day, I get to eat whatever I want for dinner four days a week! I get to have broccoli or green beans or almost any other green vegetable that you can cook! I can have chicken as much as I want! I can eat what I want when I’m hungry for it!

But I still have the same grocery budget and the same space in fridge, freezer, and pantry for my food. Just this week, I’ve made two trips to Aldi to pick up a few things to help me get through the week and I’ve spent less than $15 total. I’ve bought a whole chicken, a dozen eggs – in a paper carton, not Styrofoam!!!! – a carton of organic milk, a pack of three zucchini, pasta sauce, and a box of rotini. If I had gone anywhere else, I would have definitely spent over $15 for all of that. Even better, some of that will be carried over into next week, reducing my cost!

If you’re married to specific brands, you’re not going to be able to get everything at Aldi. But, it is a great place to get your staples taken care of, and possibly some other things, reducing your overall grocery cost. Also, Aldi has been working to have more and more organic and healthy options at their lower costs, making it even easier to stay on budget!

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!

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.

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!

Look Around List

“Look around! Look around at how lucky we are to be alive right now!”

“America the Beautiful

Listening to these amazing ladies sing, while getting to see it beautifully signed? Where are the tissues?

Cooking. I got back to my apartment tonight and did dishes. It’s hard to cook if you don’t have clean dishes. I cooked up a very tasty dinner, and that always feels good.

Groceries on sale. I’m on a bit of a budget right now. So when I got to the store to discover that I could get over 3 lbs of boneless chicken thighs for about $1.50 a pound, as well as peppers and mushrooms for $1 each? I was so happy! I was able to get everything I needed as well as a few wants and got change!

Media apps. I do not have cable. It seems so silly for me to have it since I bought a Roku last year and have had Netflix and Hulu the whole time. But, networks are pulling their stuff from Hulu, which is frustrating. So today I made a couple of changes. First, I finally got CBS All Access. It’s the only place they are going to be showing Star Trek: Discovery, and hubby and I have been discussing getting it for that reason. Luckily, most of the TV I watch is on CBS. So it’s a double bonus for me. Second, I figured if I’m going to get CBS without commercials, I should upgrade my Hulu so I don’t have to deal with commercials, too. That will actually be useful when teaching because I only have 50 minutes to show something. Take out the commercials? It fits!

Technology. All of my love for the fact that I don’t need cable is such a privileged thing. The fact that I can afford to have a Roku stick with all these apps on them and a television and to be able to pay the monthly fees to keep using some of them is privilege. But I’m still grateful for that privilege.

Teaching. As I’ve mentioned many times lately, I am grateful for the opportunity teaching gives me to make a difference in the world. I know that might sound cliche, but it’s true.

Pure Leaf Raspberry Iced Tea. Sometimes it’s the little things. Being able to go to the store down the road to get this instead of giving in to pop…something I am very grateful for.

My hubby. I am always aware of how lucky I am to have him in my life. But this weekend he went above and beyond. He not only set up our haircut appointments, but he sprung for me to get my hair back to red. My hair is now not only shorter, but a lovely shade of red. I love it! Of course, that’s not the only reason, but right now it’s a big one.

Stop. Listen.

View this post on Instagram

Dinner tonight!

A post shared by Pirogoeth (@pirogoeth05) on

I’m one of those people who likes to use their Instagram to post food. I try to only post when it’s something I’m really proud of, either what I’ve made or how I’ve plated it. Tonight is kind of both.

My diet has not been the greatest lately. Friday I put in an order to the local, amazing, pizza place for a pizza and some breadsticks. I just finished off the breadsticks yesterday. It’s been a stressful weekend, one complicated by not listening to my body about my diet. It culminated yesterday with a complete “blerg” feeling.

I got home from campus and decided to have the last two breadsticks. They’re nice and chewy and big. But I continued another bad habit I’d been encouraging over the week, I had a can of root beer with the breadsticks. The combination of bread and sugar was something my stomach did not appreciate.

I hit a point in the night where my brain was going “It’s late. You should eat.” while my stomach was going “Don’t. You. Dare.” I munched on some cottage cheese. It didn’t help. I went to the store and bought some cantaloupe. It didn’t help. Finally I decided to make myself a glass of green tea. Just green tea, no honey, no sweeteners. Just green tea.

It helped.

It helped so much that I made another mug. I started to feel a whole lot better. That’s when I realized how bad my diet had been lately. I decided to have no bread and as little sugar as possible today.

I had some baked catfish and a salad for lunch. I got a slice of banana bread and Earl Grey from Starbucks during the break in class. I had the plate of mozzarella, salami, and red pear, shown above, with a bottle of kombucha for dinner. I feel so much better.

Just because you have it in the house, doesn’t mean that you have to eat it. Listen to what your body is telling you. It knows what it needs.

Blocked

I am blocked. I’ve been trying to do more work with the books I have, but I just…blocked. There’s no other word for it. I think part of it is that I have seven books waiting for me at the library, but I couldn’t get them today. Two or three are about The X-Men, which I have been looking for more information on.

That is the biggest challenge with this thesis. I am looking at a comic book that has been around for over 50 years. There are a lot of comics that I could look at. I know I need to look at more, but I don’t know which ones to look at. I’m hoping some of these books will give me some guidance.

At least I have peanut butter and apple slices!

Pleasant discovery

I made a wonderfully, deliciously pleasant discovery this morning. I bought a box of Cream of Wheat a month or so ago. It’s fun and different. Today is the first time I tried making it with something other than whole milk. Since I’m not home a lot, I don’t keep almond milk around. I discovered back in the fall that chocolate almond milk and spiced chai concentrate make an awesome combination. Seeing as I am going to be home for a few weeks, I bought both.

Today, I was going to just wash up the raspberries I bought yesterday and have them for breakfast/lunch/food. Then, I had the idea to make some Cream of Wheat with my chocolate almond milk. OMG. Brilliant! It adds the right amount of sweet and chocolate. Every spoonful got two fresh raspberries. It was like having dessert for breakfast. Delicious.

Just be careful when you’re making the Cream of Wheat. Follow the directions and you won’t get the dreaded lumps! *grin* But seriously, this is an amazing combination. I imagine any almond milk would work for this. Probably any alt milk, but my preference is almond milk, so I don’t know. Go out and try!!

It’s complicated

Graduate school is both harder than and just as hard as I thought it would be. The work for class is about as hard as I thought it would be. In fact, I’m enjoying being in class more than I thought I would.

It’s the time outside of class work that is harder than I thought it would be. Granted, I have made some amazing friends that are making it easier, but they can only do so much. I can’t think of another way to put this, so I’ll put it bluntly: I am an introvert who has lived with the same person for the past 10 years. That is not an easy thing to live with.

As an introvert, I need a place where I can recharge. A place where I can get away from everything and recharge. I don’t really have that right now. During the week I spend most of my days on campus, either at class or in my office. I’ve got all of my tea in the office, along with all the supplies I own to make said tea. Once I either get exhausted or hungry or notice the time, or any combination of the above, I head back to the apartment and go to bed. There’s not much else I do there. It’s a place for me to store stuff that doesn’t fit in the office.

The weekends are usually spent going somewhere. Usually back home to the hubby. That’s when I get a chance to recharge. But I can’t completely relax and kick back because there are things that need to be done on the weekends. I need to get my stuff put away so it’s not taking over the living room while I’m not there. We have to get groceries to at least get through the weekend so we’re not living on fast food. I’ve spent the whole week away, we want to spend time together. And then there’s any work I need to get done before Monday.

And none of this is anyone’s fault. I had to scramble to find somewhere to live, and I got lucky with the roommates I ended up with. I am very grateful for them. But, at the same time, I am really looking forward to having a place of my own next year. A place where it’s all my space. A place where I can close the door to the apartment, change into pyjamas and TARDIS robe and K-9 slippers, brew up a pot of tea, and relax on the couch if I need to. Somewhere that has enough space for me to have a desk with a chair that will allow me to get work done without having to worry about my legs going to sleep. Somewhere where I have a kitchen all to myself!

I think that’s probably another thing that’s really messing with me. Again, after 10 years of having a kitchen of my own, having to share is really weird. Also, since I have a kitchen already, I can’t go out and buy a whole bunch of new supplies. But, with a kitchen of my own, I’ll feel better about bringing stuff from home to use in it so I can cook instead of relying on fast food. I know this fast food dominated diet is not helping things. But, again, it’s not anyone’s fault.

I guess I’m just looking forward to the next school year. I’m going to have an apartment all to myself. I’m going to have a different desk with plenty of shelf space for my numerous books (anyone surprised I have more books than space for them?). Then again, it’s going to be stressful since I’ll be working on my thesis in earnest and teaching and taking classes. But, who knows, maybe having the apartment will help. Maybe having somewhere that can be a sanctuary away from the chaos of the world will help me to deal with everything better.

I guess we’ll find out.

If you’ve made it this far, thank you. I know that was a long post, but I just needed to get that out. And, to those who are a part of my day-to-day life, thanks for putting up with this stressed, introverted, graduate student.