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