Life Hack: Food & making more time.

This winter life felt like one big ‘ol to do list. No matter what the line items were, even the good things, they felt like moments I had to get through just so I could move on to the next. It sounds so depressing when I say that, but in a way it really was. Week nights felt bogged down and packed full and the weekends were just as bad. The worst part was I didn’t know how to fix it and there wasn’t an end in sight.

Plus, when you add on goals and intentions for the year it became really easy to get overwhelmed. One of the areas that seemed to take up a lot of space was meals – what we were buying, prepping and eating throughout the week. Making sure most of the food that made its way into our mouths was healthy became a huge task and one that just didn’t feel like it could be tamed. I started dreading our weekly trip to the super market on Sundays and knew that my afternoon would be shot trying to get everything ready for the week ahead. This may sound a touch dramatic, but I promise it was how I felt. And, if you could have seen me thawing, washing, chopping, mixing, roasting and organizing I’m pretty sure you would have joined in with your own enthusiastic sigh.

By the start of May, Christian and I had committed to doing the 24 Day Challenge through Advocare (see note below) and the rules of eating got a little stricter than usual around our house, but in some ways it got easier. We had meal shakes every morning and leftovers at lunch. At least breakfast was taken care of, right? This is when I read a tip from Nicole over at a Life Less BS about her formula for healthy eating…

[I know this is a really long-winded way to get to the hack, but I think how we got there is what makes it so great]

Each day you aim to have one smoothie and one salad (the kitchen sink of meals, as she says, because just about anything can go in them). This may sound rudimentary, but just having the decision making taken out of two meals a day gives me an immense sense of relief. SERIOUSLY. I felt so much relief that I implemented it the next week.

But, it gets better. Instead of packing leftovers for lunch, we ate them for dinner either the next night or later in the week. I was now getting 2-3 meals out of each dinner I actually cooked. It was amazing.

Here’s what a typical meal plan looks like at our house right now:

Weekly Meal Plan

On Sundays, I’ll usually grill or roast a bunch of chicken for salads and chop up a couple of cucumbers & peppers to toss in salads as the week goes on. Other than that, there’s not much that goes into it.

So, for us, the hack is this: 

Smoothie for breakfast
+ Salad for lunch
+ Make dinner stretch for 2-3 meals during the week
———————————————————————-
= More hours in your day & a mostly healthy diet

It may not be rocket science, but it makes such a huge difference in how I feel about planning, prepping, making and eating. Give it a whirl, I promise you’ll love it just as much as we do. Unless, you’re one of those people who doesn’t eat leftovers… then, you’re on your own.

 

*Disclaimer: Since I’m all about being 100% real, after falling in love with Advocare’s 24 day challenge (amongst a plethora of other products) we’ve decided to become Advocare distributors. From here on out, links to Advocare will take you directly to our microsite. If you have any questions please feel free to shoot me an email. Thanks! 

Let’s Chat.

I love all the tea time, coffee break and catch-up posts floating around… and I’m a big-time lover of lists, so merge the two and I’ve got myself a perfect blog post! Bam! So, instead of a Finally Friday post, let’s catch up…

Getting In Some Baby Snuggles

 

[Getting in some after work baby snuggles last night]

My Sisters Baby: 

My sister had her sweet baby boy on April 24 and I can’t get enough of him… his wrinkly little hands, sweet little face and snugly little body. There’s something about him being my sisters baby that makes me just *that* much more comfortable. With other people’s children (even my other nieces and nephew) there’s always been this worry that they don’t trust me not to break their kid (or even soothe them when they’re upset). With Sarah, I’m just a lot less worried that she doesn’t trust me. Plus, I can beg to hold him, feed him, change him… (no shame)… and she won’t judge me too much.

On remodeling our house:

We’re living in complete chaos right now… while we do have counter tops and a sink (after 1.5 weeks without), all of our dishes and appliances are either jammed in the pantry, residing in the office or covering our kitchen table. There isn’t an end in sight, either. We’ve got another week ahead of us in the world of cabinet painting and then we’re painting the first floor and redoing all the flooring. It makes me tired just thinking about it. Having a house that feels like home (and like us) will be worth it in the end, but it’s keeping us on our toes for now!

Eating Well:

As you probably know by now, one of my goals for the year was to start feeling better. Along  with that goal was to get stronger, eat better and hopefully lose some weight. I didn’t want to conquer the weight thing head on because at this phase in my life I’m a lot more focused on being healthy rather than being a size 2. Ahem. Also, wine + cookies are a few ingredients in the recipe for my happiness.

I have however embarked on two 24-day Challenges through Advocare and have been really limiting the dairy, wheat (most grains) and sugar in my life. Last Friday marked the end of the second challenge and while I was so excited to eat a freakin’ slice of pizza, I can also say that I’ve been feeling SO much better on the whole (and as a bonus sleeping better too).

TV:

I’m sick of our TV. Or, more precisely, all three of them. They seem like this time suck attached to all the major rooms in our home and I find myself gravitating towards them when I’m either avoiding or lacking something to do. Netflix this or DVR that takes over most nights after we’ve eaten and cleaned up dinner. I would quit (get ready for the lamest excuse you’ve ever heard), but I’ve invested X amount of months into some shows (I’m looking at you Elementary, Big Bang Theory and Nashville) and want to see how the seasons wrap up without waiting until September. So, while I work on a solution for a more healthy TV relationship, know that I’m giving our TV the side eye each time I turn it on.

Warmer Weather: 

I’m almost overwhelmed by the joy I feel when I wake up and see the sun peeking in through my blinds. As I get older I’m finding more and more patterns with the way I feel (in all aspects) with one of the major changes in my attitude/outlook on life hinging on the seasons plus the amount of warm temperatures/sunshine. Spring and summer (and even fall) hold such hope, I’m drinking it all in and trying not to get too addicted. Also, is it weird that I’m already dreading November when it shifts back to dreary-ville?

Getting Up Early:

I’ve started several posts that talk about how I’ve been a little crazed and over scheduled – it seemed like there just weren’t enough hours in the day to enjoy (and/or do) life. I was just checking things off my list (even the good things) and not allowing myself the time to really enjoy the moment. Plus, there are some remedial life tasks that just weren’t happening which added to the stress load. All of this to say that I’ve been working on my morning routine, specifically getting up early. Out of the last 8 work days, I was up at least 30 minutes earlier than usual and some days over an hour earlier than usual. I love the extra time I have to get ready without scrambling, take the dogs for a walk or just do the dishes. It’s making such a difference… hoping that I can make it a forever habit.


That’s where I am today. I’m also thankful it’s Friday! Finally.

Denver Restaurant Week.

DenverRestaurantWeek2013LogoWeb*304

One of my favorite times of the year is here! With all the excitement I’m even rhyming. It’s Denver Restaurant week! We have 4 different reservations already made and I just can’t wait – especially after 6 weeks of sustained good eating behavior. Here goes my 20% bad eating for the entire month of march — all in the course of about 10 days.

This year Christian and I are going all out and will be visiting:

Fogo De Chao –  I’ll be frequenting the salad bar, scarfing down mashed potatoes and begging for more salt rubbed sirloin.

Melting Pot – Must I even say more? Cheese fondue, salad, meat fondue (and green goddess sauce on potatoes) and chocolate fondue. Fondue lourve.

Del Friscos – Fresh bread, more potatoes and steak. Are we sensing a theme with the potatoes?

Rioja – I’ve never been before, but we’re heading here before going to a Nuggets game with friends. I’m game!

In between all these ridiculously decadent meals I’ll be eating lots of greens in order to make up for every delicious bite. Yum!

Where I should be.

Not five minutes ago, I was in bed slowly drifting off to sleep. Thinking about how maybe I shouldn’t have eaten so many mashed potatoes for dinner, but also knowing it was totally worth it. Then it hits me. It’s 11:10 pm and I haven’t written a blog post. Nope, no post. I drag myself out of bed and pull the laptop out. I’m now standing in the middle of the living room typing with my lap top propped up on an ironing board, running on 9 minutes left of batter. I’m too lazy to find the cord. Glamorous, no?

What I planned on writing about today was the Nuggets vs. Lakers game and how they won 118-112 and ruined the Lakers 7-0 winning streak… but alas I have no motivation since the game didn’t get over until after 11, I didn’t actually get to bed until almost one, and it is now 11:15 the following night. I’m tired. So, if by chance there are any good pictures from the game or details my foggy brain has forgotten I’ll post them tomorrow. For now, au revoir!

And, no, I did not proof this.

Sweet Tooth.

I would never describe myself as having a sweet tooth. I’m usually a salt person and would pick a plate of hot steaming french fries over a chocolate chip cookie any day. Lately, though, I’ve been having intense sugar cravings — maybe because I’m trying to cut back, part of getting healthy kick?

I’ve craved everything from soda to pumpkin bars to cupcakes to ice cream, and everything in between… but the main and insatiable craving comes everyday in the form of Milk Duds. I love them both because of and in spite of the fact that they are a caramel, chocolate candy  that semi-resembles deer droppings. They are just so amazing.

Milk Duds on top of being spectacular are one of the foods that will forever remind me of my dad. There are several foods that do that: Fritos, Milk Duds, Grape Popsicles, Cornbread… and I love them all just a little more because we used to eat them together.

Growing up, my Dad spent a good portion of time working in Aspen. He published a local magazine and actually had BE THERE to get things done – go figure. Every once in a while my mom would give the “ok” for my sister and I to skip school for a few days to go to Aspen with my Dad. We’d take ski lessons on Buttermilk mountain while he worked and go get brownies afterwards at a little café downtown. After our time was up we’d stop at the gas station in Basalt, CO and load up on goodies. Milk Duds and Fritos. We’d spend the next four hours together eating, listening to Pasty Kline or no music at all. I loved those days. And I still love Milk Duds.

*Milk Dud Image by Pillie Bee

A trip down memory lane.

On Saturday we took a little trip – Christian, Kaitlyn, Griffin, Drew, Becky and I – to Fort Collins. I live in Fort Collins for 5 years, went to school there and built a mountain of memories that I’ll always hold dear. We made a first stop at La Luz for a potato burrito, and it was just as good as remembered. If not better. Yum.

Oh, how I miss Fort Collins

My one true love

After a delicious burrito lunch and a stroll through Old Town we made our way over to New Belgium for a tour. If you’ve never taken the New Belgium tour it is something you MUST add to your to do list. I’ll give you a mini-sneak peak of the awesomeness:

You start your tour by the big red arrow and the girl in the yellow shirt that looks a little creepy:

They give you tons of beer samples — I had to pass mine off after a while:

Mmm New Belgium

Then tons of cool things all over the place, like the rings hanging from ceiling in brew house 2, a twisty slide, postcards you can send for free, and all kinds of wall art and sayings just to make you feel inspired:

Brewing some beerAt New Belgiumat New BelgiumAt New Belgium

We got a “private” tasting at the end:

At New Belgium

Before heading over to the bar for our final sample:

Beer Tasting

It was great… and makes me miss Fort Collins even more! Try it out, I promise you won’t be disappointed!

 

I don’t have a problem.

Choking down celery.

I love food. Almost all of my posts make some reference to food, my love for it, going to get it, not being able to move because I ate so much my pants won’t zip and I have to be in a horizontal position so I can suffer less than if I were standing.

Sometimes I spend time thinking about Anorexia — and how there is no way in hell, even if the only thing available for eating was mushrooms, would I be able to not eat. Maybe for about an hour and then my hunger would take over and I’d devour the mushrooms, gagging them down the whole way. Barf, makes me want to barf thinking about it. Mushrooms… and raw tomatoes happen to be two of the things I don’t want in my mouth. Ever.

Back to eating. I think about it. I remember being in high school, in Hawaii on vacation, and right after eating breakfast I wanted to know where we were eating lunch and dinner. Why you ask? Oh, because I wanted something to look forward to. As if HAWAII wasn’t enough.

I get to work in the morning and begin planning out my snacking schedule in my head — right up there with my to do list and checking all my emails.

9:17 – WALNUTS AND A TOOTSIE POP!

10:46 – APPLE WITH PEANUT BUTTER AND HONEY!

12:32 – LUNCH, It’s time for LUNCH!!

2:13 – COOKIE TIME!!

I really am that excited, but only in my head. So, when it comes time to diet or eat “healthy”, my whole being suffers. It’s hard for me to dream about celery or fantasize about dried peas. So instead I dwell on everything I can’t eat, like that cinnamon roll with the cream cheese frosting or a good ‘ol box of mac ‘n cheese.

Knowing all of this, I have to tell you that I’ve gain a bit of weight. I haven’t gained 50 lbs. or anything, but I’ve gained more than I would have liked. Damn all that delicious pizza and birthday cake I consumed over the month of August.

I weighed the most I’ve ever weighed mid-way through my senior year in college. I spent the next 5-6 months working out, eating little and building some unhealthy habits. But, I lost about 20 lbs and kept most of it off until this summer when I threw caution into the wind and ate like crazy. I’m blaming part of it on having a roommate and a boyfriend that throughly enjoy delicious food. Cheesecake anyone? The answer is almost always a resounding yes.

So, I’m trying to get healthy, again. Trying  get back down to where I was and then some, but do it in a healthier way. I’m nervous. Losing weight sucks because not eating french fries sucks. But, that’s not why I’m nervous.  I’m nervous because I’m telling you, and you, and you. And now I have to be accountable. I have a fear of failure… so be nice. K?

*Photo Credit: B Tal

Pools, Food and Mickey.

A lot of days I get caught up in the little things about life. The errands I have to run, the clothes I have to wash, the barf I stepped in barefoot that I have to clean up (thanks Charles). So today, in an effort to keep looking forward and remember all the great things coming up, here are a few things I’m looking forward to!

1.) Making something delicious for dinner.

Summer swimming pool!

2.) Going to the pool this weekend.
3.) Going to the beach in a couple of weeks.
4.) Disneyland.

I love a good BBQ!

5.) More summer BBQ’s.
6.) The leaves changing.
Annual library book sale!
7.) The annual library book sale this fall. In which I get hundreds of books for next to nothing.

And just for fun a few things I’m not looking forward to:

1.) Buying Charles some dog surgery.
3,) The end of summer.
4.) Stepping in more barf. Or poop. Or other dog business.

What are you looking forward to?

*Photo Credits: Let Ideas Compete, Martin Cathrae, Visual Panic

A little something I learned this weekend.

It’s June. The middle of June, but it seems that mother nature has failed to get this memo. So, in order to move things on I have written a brief letter on behalf of myself and all of those in Colorado:

Dear Mother Nature,

Get with the freaking picture and work on summer and summer like temperatures.

Thankyouverymuch,

Megan and the rest of the state of Colorado

Why I cannot live in the rain.

And back to our regularly scheduled programming: For as long as I can remember I have loved rain. I love the smell, the sound, the laziness, the everything that is rain. I always thought I was meant for the pacific northwest. I knew I needed to live in Seattle or Portland or somewhere else where rain was the primary weather. I thought if only it rained every single day that I would be infinitely happy. Well, that entire thought process, that was years in the making, changed drastically this weekend.

The weather this past weekend, well really the past 4-5 days has included rain/constant drizzle, fog, gray skies, temperatures in the 40’s and overall gloomy weather. This is not how it is supposed to be in Colorado, in June. For the freaking record.

I have since devised the top 10 reasons that I cannot live in a constantly rainy climate, all learned this weekend:

1.) Productivity will be 0. My mind will be completely and utterly occupied with thoughts of hot chocolate, fireplaces and good books. Day dreaming would hit an entirely new level.

2.) Weekends, what weekends? I will spend the entire weekend wanting to nap or snuggle. Because, after all the rain is perfect for napping and snuggling and doing absolutely nothing.

3.) I will go broke. Why you ask? Because movies are also perfect for rainy weather and I will spend my non-existent fortune on going to movies and buying cheesy chick flicks to watch from my bed. While drinking hot chocolate. Note: Starbucks bill will also increase due to hot chocolate consumption.

4.) I will get fat. See #1 and #3 for my activity levels and hot chocolate consumption which will be considerable contributors to my weight gain. But the major issue will be all the comfort food (mac n’ cheese, cake, potato soup) that I will make “because it’s rainy and I deserve it”. Who said curves and flub aren’t sexy.

5.) I will have to shave my head. My hair, here in CO, lives in a state of straight. I blow dry it straight and it more or less obediently behaves the rest of the day. However, with even the slightest hint of moisture, rain or humidity the waves break themselves out of their straightened ways and create a hodge  podge of trailer mess on top of my head. So I’d have to shave my head to accommodate.

6.) I’ll never look fashionable. Sweat pants are required on rainy days, which have their merits. Attractiveness is not one of them. Also, trying on clothes when it’s cold and rainy? Not going to happen. Just get used to the sweatpants, there isn’t any other option.

7.) I will become a hermit. If traffic in Seattle/Portland/Other rainy cities is anything like Denver in the rain I wouldn’t handle it very well. There would be tears and shaken fists. After a few months I would most likely decide that traveling about isn’t worth my effort and hole up to watch movies in bed wearing sweat pants. Never leaving.

8.) I would become a drunk. Turns out that rain can make a girl like me feel a little down. Maybe it’s all that time to really sit and think and dwell and wonder. And then realize that life is full of all sort of complexities and that those complexities would be easier understood with a glass or two or three of red wine. Everyday. In the rain.

9.) My insurance would drop me. I’m a klutz and I fall, trip, slip and run into things on quite the regular basis. Now add slippery, wet conditions to my life and I’d become a regular resident of the local hospital. But, casts/stitches/bruising is really not all that appealing given my fear of needles and other pointy, stabby, broken things. After the incessant medical bills my insurance company would provide a tidy break-up letter.

10.) I’m out of ideas. So #10 is dedicated to my sad realization that I am not meant for rain. I’m also not meant for tiny swim suits. What?!? They are both water related.

So that’s what I learned. I have high hopes for the sunshine and high temperatures that are “predicted” for the coming week. Come on Mother Nature, I can only handle so many of your weather shenanigans.

The case of the broken heart.

Living through heartbreak.

I’m a happy person… and sometimes I can even be comical. My life is one constant happening after another and I can promise you it’s one fairly entertaining ride. But, I’ve put off a lot of subjects that I’ve wanted to write about because I wasn’t sure I could make them witty, I was scared I’d be sharing too much of myself, I was scared who would read it, I was scared of being stupid… With that said, I’m throwing caution to the wind and having a go at it.

Heartbreak. I have so many friends that couldn’t tell you what heartbreak feels like or what it’s like to feel as if world is collapsing around you. They could tell you what its like to make a drunken mistake, to have a random Sunday adventure, to not have a guy call after a few dates, but not many of them could legitimately tell you what it is like to have their heart broken — shattered.  And I’m envious. I feel like I can write about this now, I can write about what it was like and how it affects you because it happened to me. It happened to me several years ago, so it’s no longer unbearably raw – I can write about it with a sane perspective. Well, as sane as I’m ever going to get.

We all know the story, it’s nothing new — nothing that hasn’t happened before. My story was unique to me, it happened to me, but means, most likely, absolutely nothing to you. It went a little something like this…

Girl meets boy. Girl and Boy get together. Girl and Boy fall in love. Girl and Boy are together for 3 years. Boy leaves Girl.

For me, heart break was for the movies, something dramatic and broken that wouldn’t and couldn’t happen to me. It was for everyone else. Having someone you’ve grown to love, someone you call your best friend look you in the eyes and say they don’t love you anymore and walk away is a feeling I’m not sure I’ll ever forget. I have and will continue, of course, to have that feeling numbed with time… but having someone deem me not worth loving anymore, of not wanting or needing me in their life, not worth their effort, has forever torn a little piece of me away. A piece I know I can’t get back.

As my heart broke I knew I had become the broken record to a lot of my, never been through it, happy friends and even family. I knew every time I seemed down, tear-stained or couldn’t quite pull together the fake smile they were all thinking “Why can’t she get over it?”,  “What’s the big deal?”, “This has gone on way too long…”,  “If I have to hear about how happy they used to be I’m going to kill myself”.

I’m assuming its true for most everyone. All of those people in your life don’t understand and most of them, to this day, can’t say they do. I always felt bad for inflicting my pain on them, I felt bad for making them listen… worried I might be using up their sympathy and wondered if they’d be there again if I needed them. And that weighed on me even more.

There are days, now, when I replay it all in my head. I watch it all happen and it hurts, to this day, but it’s bearable. I learned and will forever be grateful for the lessons I may have otherwise surpassed. But that doesn’t mean I’m grateful for the suffering and self-doubt. I wouldn’t wish that on my worst enemy. You torture yourself, it’s all in the cycle of events.

A lot of self blame…

What did I do? Maybe if I lost a few pounds? Am I not worth keeping in your life? What’s wrong with me?

A lot of anger…

Why did I let this happen. What if I had done this instead? Why can’t I get anything right?

A lot of lonely nights…

Choking back tears. I miss him. I’m alone — alone.  It’s gone, and it’s not coming back.

But in the end you grow up, you put on your big girl panties and get on with life. And day by day it all gets a little easier.

Over the past few months I’ve watched friends suffer and it hurts me to watch them. I want to grab them, hug them and tell them that all the doubts and fears they are trying to push away are unfounded. Tell them they are worthy, that they deserve it all, that I’ll give them a cookie and it will be ok. But I can’t. I can listen. I can offer what little advice I have. I can be there, and that’s all.

I know from here on out we’ll share something that not everyone can. We’ll know what it was like, we’ll share the experience and we’ll be that much closer because of it. We won’t be free of heartbreak or suffering because life is full of it. I may watch them hurt and they’ll watch me suffer. And it’s going to be hard. Maybe harder each time? I don’t know.

But I do know it won’t be glossy. Heartbreak isn’t majestic and it isn’t glamorous. It’s painful. It’s full of mascara and tear-stained pillows, swollen cheeks, swaying between loss of appetite and emotional eating, sad songs, replaying of every painful  moment… over and over, trying desperately to cling to a shred of unrealistic hope, purging and trying to hold on all at the same time. It’s lonely.

*”After a journey” photo by eflon.