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!

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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.

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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!

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.

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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.

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!