Eats

Worlds Collide: Healthy Eating on the Road

Hello friends! Long time! I have been craaaaaazy busy with so many things, including lots of travel, a busy work schedule, and a busy social life! I was away for a week in Puerto Rico for pleasure, and in Denver for a long weekend for work before that. October basically flew by before I even knew what was happening, and now somehow we are almost half way through  November. I digress.

Yesterday at my day job, I gave a presentation on Healthy Eating on the Road. You may remember I did another presentation on Healthy Lunch Options a while ago, and it was kind of crazy to be at my day job talking about healthy living stuff, since those two worlds rarely cross paths. But yesterday, they did again.

I opened up the presentation with asking about what is challenging about being healthy when traveling. Everyone was in agreement that it’s definitely difficult and people were pouring out their ideas for why. Here are the challenges we identified:

  1. Lack of healthy options and not being as familiar with the options as you are at home.
  2. Wanting to enjoy new food as part of the travel experience.
  3. Time constraints/stress lead to limited time for exercise/making healthy choices.
  4. Social influences/drinking more than when at home.
  5. Lack of control over the menu/not knowing what is in the food that you’re eating (catered meals/restaurants)
  6. Kids.
  7. Portion control when eating out.
  8. Food being around all the time.
  9. Vacation mentality. (Feeling like you deserve to eat everything).
  10. Being out of your routine.
  11. Budget (healthy options cost more)
  12. Cultural Challenges (ie. not being able to turn down a 10 course meal)
  13. No scale to check in on your weight.

Originally I wanted to go through the challenges one by one and identify the tips and tricks that might work for each, but in the interest of time, we only got to a few. Here are the tips that we came up with:

  1. Do some research before you go so you can identify some accessible spots to eat and locate a grocery/convenience store not far from where you’re staying.
  2. Bring a water bottle, healthy non-perishable snacks, and workout clothes with you no matter what.
  3. Ask the staff/server at a restaurant or hotel what’s in the food and/or how it is prepared if you don’t know.
  4. Ask the hotel to put a refrigerator in your room before you get there so you can stock up on some healthy staples.
  5. Focus on eating a lot of the local fruit and veggies as part of the experience.
  6. Pay attention to portion control when you’re having heavier dishes and have less control over what you’re eating.
  7. In general, simpler foods where you can identify what is in it tend to be better for you than dishes where you can’t.
  8. 10 minutes of exercise can be enough. If you don’t have time for a full workout, just do some pushups, sit-ups, and/or jumping jacks. You can get a great workout and it doesn’t require any equipment and not much time, either.
  9. Carry healthy snacks with you so that you don’t let yourself get ravenous. Being ravenous is the worst way to be if you want to make healthy choices.
  10. Realize that just because you’re eating out for every meal does NOT mean every meal is a celebration. Sometimes it’s just lunch.
  11. Choose one between bread, dessert, and booze when dining out.
  12. Take a look at all the options before you choose what you put on your plate. That way you can make room for what you really want.
  13. Ask for half your meal to be wrapped up before they even bring it out to the table.
  14. Order two appetizers instead of a full meal for your entrée.
  15. Physically put yourself away from the food if it’s out all day. If it’s within arm’s reach, you’ll tend to eat a lot more than if you have to get up to reach it.
  16. Choose your splurges wisely. Ask yourself, “is this really the best cookie/brownie/etc I can get? Is it worth it to eat it just because it’s there?”
  17. Treat yourself with things other than food. Maybe go see a museum, exhibit, or show in the town you’re traveling as a treat instead.
  18. Plan a splurge meal for towards the end of your trip so help keep you on track leading up to the splurge.
  19. Stay within your routine as much as possible, even though you are in a different location.
  20. Take extra whole fruit from the breakfast buffet for later.
  21. A lot of hotel gyms are equipped with a scale, but use your clothes as a gauge instead if you can’t find one.

Lots of good stuff!

Do you struggle with being healthy when traveling? What’s your biggest tip for staying on track?

Part Two: The Evolution of My Relationship with Food

In case you missed part one, you can find it here.

Once I got to my goal weight with Weight Watchers, I had a little more flexibility with the system and how much of the “bad” foods I could eat. I was able to play the game a bit, but still cycled between that all or nothing mentality and was either being really, really good, or really, really bad when it came to eating. I learned to identify my trigger foods and make sure I never had them in my house – like peanut butter. I literally could not keep a jar in my kitchen because inevitably I would eat it by the spoonful until it was gone. And though peanut butter isn’t bad for you (like pizza would probably be considered by most), it was definitely one of those foods I did not allow myself to have when I was being “good” because it was too calorically dense, and I didn’t trust myself around it.

When you’re used to behaving one way or eating one way for most of your life, it’s a very, very hard cycle to break. I remember reading stories of people who had completely changed their lives and their bodies and preached the “everything in moderation” thing, and secretly hating them. How could there possibly be a way for someone who once struggled so much with their weight like I have all my life, come to a place where they trusted themselves around food? I didn’t buy it.

But after maintaining my weight loss give or take for about a year and a half, I realized that though I had gotten myself to a healthy weight, I still had an extremely unhealthy relationship with food. It still held a power over me and caused extreme preoccupation and anxiety, and it just came to a point where I couldn’t take it anymore.

One of the big first steps in breaking out of this cycle was changing my goal weight. I think I was putting so much pressure on myself to maintain a certain number on the scale, that it was getting in the way of me living my life and really giving food more control over me than was necessary, or healthy. When I upped my goal weight from 164 to 177, I felt a tremendous amount of pressure lifted. It gave me much more wiggle room to figure out where my body would land naturally and took away some of the power the scale held over me.

The other big thing that led to breaking out of this cycle was actually not something that I did directly – it was getting into a relationship with someone who had a lot less healthy eating habits than I did (which has since ended, but that’s a different conversation for a different day). I didn’t realize quite realize it while it was happening, but spending a lot of time around a lot of the food that used to cause me tremendous anxiety exposed me to these foods more than I’d ever been before. You know how they say if you are scared of heights, you need to gradually expose yourself to heights and let yourself feel the anxiety, and then once you realize nothing bad will happen to you, it helps relieve the anxiety and get you over your fear? (For a better explanation that actually makes sense, you can go here.)

I think for me, being around foods that used to have power over me and cause extreme anxiety over and over (and over) conditioned me to feel less anxious and preoccupied around them. It was a slow evolution and the first few weeks/months definitely still caused a physical reaction and made me ask myself a lot of questions. And, it was scary and uncomfortable being OK with being in that situation repeatedly. But, it also really helped me realize a few things.

First, I was not going to gain back all the weight by being near a pizza.

Second, I could have pizza every day if I wanted to, so there was no need to eat an entire pizza and make myself sick, because I could just have a few pieces and then if I wanted it again the next day, I could have it again (because it was probably going to be around).

Third, by letting myself have what I was actually craving and not eating what I thought I should be eating, I was able to eat less to feel satisfied.

Fourth, my preoccupation and anxiety around “bad foods” slowly lifted over time, and they stopped pulling my attention in every time I was exposed to them.

And finally, by letting myself have what I felt like eating, I actually started craving healthy foods and eating them because I wanted to, not because I felt like I had to.

As I said, this was a sloooow process and took a lot of courage to learn to trust myself around the foods that I hadn’t trusted myself around… ever. And it’s been a pretty eye opening process that has taught me a lot about myself. I don’t think I’m ever going to be “cured” of my issues with food and will always keep Weight Watchers as my backup for when the scale does start moving in the wrong direction. I know it works, but I don’t want to have to count everything I eat everyday for the rest of my life. And I’m not willing to.

Part One: The Evolution of My Relationship with Food

All my life, I was heavy. And I hated it. I went through this perpetual cycle of hating my body, hating myself, and hating that I let food have this power over me. I’d start off every day with the best of intentions for being healthy and losing weight, and while I knew what foods were healthy, I really had no concept of how much I should be eating of what. I would go for things with good gimmicks on the labels like “low fat” and “fat free” and “good for your heart”, thinking I was making the right choices. And I would eat just a little bit of it. And then, I would be hungry. And I would try to convince myself that I wasn’t, and do everything in my power not to eat more so I could lose weight.

And then I would binge.

I’d eat everything and anything I could get my hands on that was off limits for me during the times I was being “good”. I’d use being sad, happy, drunk, busy, anxious or bored as an excuse, and I would eat myself sick. Never to the point where I threw up, but to the point where I would feel sick to my stomach, uncomfortably full and would likely have to lay down. This would usually get it out of my system temporarily, and then I’d wake up the next day and hate myself even more. And then I’d start the cycle again.

There were periods of my life where I cared less about weight than other times, like during the first few years of college where I had my first serious boyfriend. At those times, I was just eating a lot of what I knew were bad-for-me foods pretty much all the time. And it’s no surprise that I gained a lot of weight. And then at the end of college, I decided to give Atkins a go because I knew it was something I could try that would allow me to eat excessive amounts of food and still lose weight. I was used to the “allowed” and “not allowed” labels on things, so it really worked for me. I lost 40 pounds, felt pretty good, and kept it off for a year.

But you know what? I like bread. And pizza. And fruit. And milk. There was no way I was going to be able to stick with that forever, and when I went off Atkins and back into my unhealthy restrict/overdo cycle of eating, it’s no surprise that I gained back all the weight and then some.

And then I (re)discovered Weight Watchers in 2009. I loved having the system that I could track my food (I’m a numbers person) and that nothing was off limits technically. I also loved that I was losing weight and learning to eat right, and being in a room of people where I could tell them that I ate an entire batch of cookies and they would get it and not judge me. It was very liberating. I think Weight Watchers was a very essential part of my journey because it really was what helped me develop a lot of healthy habits and lose a large amount of weight. At the time, I really needed a way out of the cycle I was in and the accountability and easy-to-follow program were right for me at the time.

But in many ways, Weight Watchers encouraged that restrict and then overdo it cycle that I was accustomed to, though a little bit less severe than it was before. I would always eat my minimum points per day, but for anyone who has ever done WW, you know that it’s really not that much. It’s enough, but there’s no way I could eat just 26 pointsplus per day every day for the rest of my life. My approach was that I would eat the daily target Monday to Friday, and then use all the extra points on the weekends or for a special event, which is when I’d way overdo it. A lot of times I wouldn’t count the points on those days where I was going above and beyond, and that freedom helped me feel less trapped by the counting of the program. But I would still have those same guilty feelings after eating excessively, and then return to the minimum points per day until I felt ok about myself again. It worked in helping me get down to a healthy weight, but it didn’t help break that cycle of being good or bad, and seeing everything as black or white.

And though with WW nothing is technically off limits, for me, it was. I didn’t trust myself to have one piece of pizza – so I would either eat no pizza on those days where I was sticking to my daily target, or eat most of a large pizza on a day when I was not. I still kept that off limits mentality with “bad” foods when I was trying to stay on track, and though this wasn’t Weight Watchers fault per se, the program allowed me to embrace these old unhealthy habits as I found my way to a healthy weight. They said everything in moderation, but for someone with as messed up a relationship as I had with food, I didn’t trust myself with the whole moderation thing.

The other side of it, besides seeing foods as good or bad, was that the bad foods caused me extreme anxiety. If I would attend a social event or be at a work party where there was pizza, my heart would literally race as I fought with myself against whether I was going to have some or not. Sometimes my willpower and resolve would be high, and I’d place myself away from the food knowing that I was not going to touch it. Other times, though, I couldn’t even pay attention to what was going on around me because I was too focused on the food and was being consumed by it. (Ironic, eh?) This was particularly sad when I was spending time with friends and could barely pay attention to the conversation because I was so distracted by the food in front of me, until it was either taken away or completely eaten. I don’t think anyone around me could grasp how preoccupied by the food I was because I put on a good act, but it’s pretty disturbing how much control I let it have over me.

To be continued…

Distraction Free Meals

One of my favorite parts of Weight Watchers 360 is the routines that we focus on each month. The one for May is particularly relevant for me – “Eat all your meals distraction free.”

This is something I majorly struggle with. I tend to eat my breakfast and lunch at my desk at work, and I’m almost always doing a million things in addition to eating, mostly checking or reading email. It’s been known to happen where I’ll make something for breakfast and while I’m focusing on anything but actually eating, I’ll go to reach for another bite and look down and my breakfast is GONE. I have to do a self check to remember that I did actually eat it, but just wasn’t paying any attention so can barely recall.

This is problematic for a number of reasons, but I think the biggest thing for me is that it takes so much away from the satisfaction I should be getting. Besides just filling my stomach and keeping away low blood sugar (and the inevitable crankiness that follows…) I also really do enjoy eating and try to fill my menu with things I actually like. So, if I am so distracted while I’m eating that I can barely remember that I actually ate, obviously I’m not enjoying what I’m eating or getting the satisfaction that comes from that.

I am a lot better about eating dinner distraction free (most of the time) because I’m eating at home and usually put a little more time or thought into preparing the food, so I tend to force myself to enjoy it a little more. So for me, I really want to focus on meals that I’m eating at my desk at work.

Eating any meal distraction free can be a real challenge if you work a busy job (or have kids at home, or fill in the blank…) so I think it’s really important to set realistic expectations. There is no way I can sit down at the table to eat those meals with no TV, computer, or phone, but what I can do is make a diligent effort to pay more attention when I am eating. I think the solution for me is to implement little ways that I can slow down my eating since I am a speed eater by nature, so even if I am slightly distracted while I’m eating, I’m doing it slow enough that hopefully at some point I’ll actually be in tune with what I’m doing.

Some ideas that I’ve come up with are:

  • Cut food up into smaller bites
  • Use smaller utensils (like condiment spoons or cocktail forks)
  • Make a habit of sipping water between each bite
  • Pick something to do while I’m eating that is less distracting than looking at my computer (any ideas?)
  • Bring in a placemat from home to use during meals, so the visual cue brings me back

In addition to the new routines with WW 360, there’s also an activity each week to pick one small thing you can focus on to change. It doesn’t necessarily have to be related to the routine, but I love breaking big changes down into little ones because it feels so much more doable. So my little change for this week is that I am going to work on cutting my food up into smaller bites for breakfast. I’ve been having an english muffin with peanut butter and a banana most mornings lately (because it’s easy and quick!), so instead of just having the halves of the english muffin, I’m going to cut them each up into quarters and see how that helps me be more in tune with the meal. We’ll see how it goes!

How are you with eating your meals distraction free? Which ones do you struggle with the most? Do you have any tips for minimizing distractions or slowing down while eating?

Highlights from Easter Weekend in DC

I had such a great visit with my parents this weekend, which ended up being a culinary experience all over the city, wrapping up in my apartment with the first holiday I’ve ever hosted (though my mom helped a ton, obv).

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Major victory getting my mom to smile in a photo. Score!

Highlights of the weekend included:

1.) Union Market

On Saturday late morning, we ventured to the newly (ish) opened Union Market in DC. I thought it would be a fun activity to do since my parents are as into food as I am, and we also wanted to pick up ingredients for Easter brunch the next day.

photo 1

It was really cool to walk around and there were tons of different local vendors selling everything from tea to meat to wine to vegetables. We ended up getting the lamb there and I also got some chicken to make for this week, but the veggies were really expensive and nothing else really caught our eye from the vendors. There were several places selling food to eat, but I had my eye on something specific…

2.) Lambs and Clams from Rappanannock Oyster Bar

This dish made the list of 40 dishes every Washingtonian must try in 2013 according to the Washington Post, and it did not disappoint. The place itself was really cute, with communal seating in the middle of the market as well as up along the bar, and the kitchen right there for everyone to see.

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I couldn’t picture what it would be like from the description, and was pleasantly surprised when it came out.

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Totally genuine pre-food coma bliss.

The dish was basically a stew that had ground lamb and whole clams in the shell, and it came with two huge pieces of crusty bread that were doused in butter, which makes everything better. It was super flavorful, delicious, and complex. Highly recommend.

I also had a pineapple soda from Buffalo Bergen, which also made the top 40 list, but I was less impressed with that. It was good, but not worth the $5.50 it cost in my opinion.

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I clearly didn’t hate it though.

3.) Medium Rare

Saturday night, we headed to Medium Rare for dinner, which is a place I’d heard a lot about but didn’t have a chance to try until now. The concept is simple – it’s a price fixed menu with bread, salad, and steak frites with “secret sauce” (sketch) that is $19.50 a person. All you have to do is tell them how you want your steak cooked, and they bring it out in two portions so that it’s perfectly cooked the entire time you’re eating it. I like that the menu is pre decided because I always gush over big menus and have so much trouble figuring out what to get, and almost always end up with meal envy. Obviously you want to be in the mood for steak to go here, but if you are, I’d highly recommend it. The secret sauce was also really good, though no one, not even the waiters, know exactly what is in it, which makes me cringe a little.

4.) Easter Brunch

This was definitely one of the top parts of the weekend! My mom and I cooked everything and it all came together pretty quickly and without too much stress, which is a big win for my family. We even had a little time for a goofy photo shoot.

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I think we all got different messages about what face to make for that one.

First up, we set the table and made it a bit festive.

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It was fun getting it set up, which is something I have literally not done since living in my apartment for a year a half.

First course was a delicious salad.

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Mixed butter lettuce with toasted walnuts, dried cranberries, and goat cheese, tossed with a homemade honey balsamic vinaigrette (by yours truly).

The main event was rack of lamb, roasted purple potatoes, steamed asparagus, and creamed baby spinach.

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I tackled the potatoes, the asparagus, and the plating, while my mom handled the lamb and the creamed spinach. Everything turned out perfect and was delicious, but also not super heavy, which was nice since we had to save room.

Dessert was definitely in competition for my favorite part of the weekend.

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French macarons from Macaron Bee! These were incredible, melt-in-your-mouth, sweet-but-not-too-sweet macarons. The meringue was so light and slightly crunchy and the ratio of creamy filling made for a perfect balance. We ended up getting four flavors – salted caramel (OMG), green tea (eh), Pistachio (good), and Toasted Almond (amazing). In case you couldn’t gather from my commentary, the salted caramel was my favorite with the toasted almond a close second. I could have eaten the whole box but stopped at 4, so I’m going to consider that a win as well. What a fun weekend!

Do you ever host holidays, or mostly go to other family members/friends for them?

PS: My first DietBet game ended yesterday, but I’m hosting a second DietBet game that starts this Wednesday, April 3, and runs through the whole month! Last game ended up having 405 participants for a total of a $10,125 pot and 2065 POUNDS LOST (as of this morning)!!! Holy crap!! You can read about the way it works in this post.

March Menu Plan #1

Why not get started plugging away at March goals straight away, right? I know when I put a weekly meal plan in place, it helps me tremendously to stay on track and to spend less money eating out. I actually went grocery shopping on Saturday this past weekend since my fridge was so bare after my Philly trip, and then spent a little time on Sunday preparing some things for the week. Breaking these tasks up definitely made it feel less daunting and only took a little time out of each day of the weekend.

Prep on Sunday involved making Pulled Salsa Chicken in the crockpot:

Salsa Chicken

1 medium chopped onion, 1.5 lbs boneless skinless chicken thighs, and 1 cup of salsa on high for 3 hours. After 3 hours is up, take the chicken out, shred it with two forks, and then throw it back into the crockpot with the lid off for 30 minutes or so until the liquid dissolves. This made 5 servings that were just under a cup each for 4 PP per serving. I ate one serving on Sunday and then 4 left to use throughout the week. I made this at least every month, sometimes more.

I also sautéed up some fajita veggies:

fajita veggies

1 red onion, 1 yellow pepper, and 1 orange pepper.

And then I made a batch of plain steel cut oatmeal for the week. I use the heat and eat method, where you put the oats with a 1:4 ratio oats:water, bring them to a boil for 2 minutes, and then remove the pot from the heat, cover it, and leave it on the stove overnight. In the morning just mix it up and all the water will be dissolved and the oats are ready to heat and eat. I do that almost every single Sunday and it’s a lifesaver. And now I’ve managed to make myself unable to cook steel cut oats any other way because I always burn them to the bottom of the pan otherwise!

That little bit of prep went a long way for this week’s menu plan since the only active thing was the fajita veggies, and those took about 20 minutes.

Breakfast Lunch Dinner Snacks
Monday savory oatmeal w/spinach + cheese Fajita Salad w/Salsa Chicken, fajita veggies, corn, w/salsa + greek yogurt dressing Soft boiled eggs w/english muffin + smashed avocado red peppers + cottage cheese
Tuesday oatmeal w/banana + peanut butter Chicken soft tacos w/fajita veggies Big salad w/black beans, corn, avocado, cilantro, tortilla strips vanilla greek yogurt w/frozen cherries
Wednesday savory oatmeal w/spinach + cheese Fajita Salad w/Salsa Chicken, fajita veggies, corn, w/salsa + greek yogurt dressing Dinner out at Thai Xing (!!) string cheese + grapes
Thursday Egg sandwich w/cheese + avocado Chicken burrito w/fajita veggies, black beans, corn, and guac Roasted Chickpeas and sweet potato fries green smoothie
Friday Egg white omelet w/veggies + cheese Leftover Roasted Chickpeas and sweet potatoes over greens Takeout with my sister! cottage cheese w/frozen mango

Can we just talk about last night’s dinner for a second? I tend to hate cooking extravagant meals during weeknights (read: anything that takes over 20 minutes to prepare), so eggs are one of my go-to weeknight dinners when it’s just me. This one was so simple, but SO delicious and satisfying.

Eggs   Avocado

2 soft boiled eggs (using this method), a toasted english muffin, and 30 grams of avocado mashed with a little sea salt for 8 PP total. The eggs were peeeeerfectly runny.

Runny Egg

Yum. And the second best part was I threw together my breakfast and lunch for today while the eggs were cooking and the english muffin toasting, which took no time at all since everything was prepped! Two birds.

Are you a fan of eggs? Do you like the yolks runny or cooked through?

Also, random throwback, here’s what I was doing one year ago today!

Taking the Guess Work Out

I never was a planner. Before I really committed myself to Weight Watchers, I always just kind of flew by the seat of my pants when it came to eating. I’d wait until I was extremely hungry and go out and buy something for breakfast, lunch, and dinner almost every single day. That hunger led to less than stellar decision making when it came to eating, and just perpetuated the cycle of extreme hunger, followed by extreme fullness.

People always ask me what the biggest change for me has been since really changing my life around, and I would hands down say that it’s putting more thought into planning my meals. I never had snacks on hand, and certainly never planned ahead enough to bring breakfast and lunch to work every day like I do now. When I have a plan in place, I go to the grocery store to pick up what I need, and it takes the question out of what to eat. Besides that, I feel a little guilty when I don’t eat the food that I’ve purchased, so that helps me stick with my plan even more.

The same thing goes for exercise. Not that I approached exercise without a plan before because in reality I just didn’t approach exercise at all, but I’ve found that when I have a plan in place and actually schedule it in, it makes it so much easier to stick with. This is a large part of why I continually sign up for races – having them on my calendar sort of forces me to stick with my plan so that I am not in bad shape come race day.

So for me, I think the bottom line is that planning really helps take the guess work out of being healthy and helps me keep it together during the week.

Without further ado, here is what’s in store for my week food wise:

Breakfast Lunch Dinner Snacks
Monday english muffin w/cottage cheese fajita chicken with peppers and onions whole wheat egg noodles w/goat cheese, pistachios, & craisins (YUM!) Greek yogurt, frozen grapes, chocolate chip cookie
Tuesday oatmeal w/pumpkin + cottage Cheese Out for Peruvian Lunch tofu w/soba noodles + veggies greek yogurt + banana
Wednesday Savory Oats w/spinach + cheese tofu w/soba noodles + veggies + ginger sauce Fajita Chicken Salad cottage cheese w/frozen cherries
Thursday Egg sandwich w/avocado + cheese tofu w/soba noodles + veggies + ginger sauce farro salad w/chickpeas, roasted red peppers, feta apple w/string cheese
Friday Egg white veggie omelet w/toast farro salad w/chickpeas, roasted red peppers, feta soft boiled eggs w/english muffin cottage cheese w/grapefruit

 

To help make this easier, I grilled chicken breasts and cooked the fajita veggies on Sunday, and then Monday went grocery shopping and made a batch of plain oatmeal to carry me through some breakfasts this week. I also pressed the tofu yesterday (with this thing which I LOVE) so that tonight’s dinner (and the next two lunches) are easy peasy. Spreading out the work over the weekend also helps it not feel that overwhelming.

Exercise-wise, here’s what my plan is for the week:

    • Sunday: Rest (not hard)
    • Monday: 4 miles + weights (afternoon)
    • Tuesday: Rest
    • Wednesday: 45 min tempo run (before work)
    • Thursday: 3 mile run + weights (before work)
    • Friday: rest
    • Saturday: 10 miles

Are you good about planning ahead? Do you find it easier to plan meals or exercise?

Trends in my Menu Plan

As you may or may not know, with my current job, I am able to work from home on Thursdays and Fridays. It’s pretty glorious because I love being in the office a couple days and then home for two – it really is a great balance. This also means that Thursdays and Fridays I don’t have to pack breakfast/lunch/snacks, and can actually cook my meals at home. Because of this, I’ve been having eggs in some form almost every Thursday and Friday for breakfast, and then sticking with oats for most of the days that I’m eating at work since those are easier to transport.

This weekend, I made a big batch of tempeh fajitas with green peppers, red onion, corn, and lots of spices. It was enough for one big serving on Sunday with two servings for the week to use for fajita salads. I made dressing for the salads is greek yogurt mixed with salsa – which tastes wayyyy better than it looks in pictures.

Tempeh Fajita Mix

I also made a big batch of oats to carry me through the first couple days of the week, and then this meal plan was born:

Breakfast Lunch Dinner Snacks
Monday Pumpkin Cottage cheese Oats Tempeh Taco Salad 2 TJ’s Smoked Chardonnay Chicken Apple Sausages w/veggies Greek yogurt w/Very Cherry Blend
Tuesday Savory Oats w/spinach Chicken Apple Sausage w/veggies over greens Breakfast Burrito w/eggs, refried beans, avocado Cottage cheese w/pineapple
Wednesday Pumpkin cottage cheese oats Tempeh Taco Salad Chicken Apple Sausage w/Eggs Apple w/string cheese
Thursday Soft boiled eggs w/english muffin + fruit Chicken Apple Sausage w/veggies over greens Zaytinya for Restaurant Week!! Green smoothie
Friday Egg and Cheese Sandwich, fruit Sweet potato with black beans and salsa TBD Greek yogurt w/very cherry blend

 

In looking through my menu for the week, there are a couple trends that I notice:

    • I eat a lot of eggs. Pretty much every day because I even put an egg white in my oats.
    • I tend to have meat once a day at the most.
    • I don’t mind repeating things a few times a week, but not within the same day.
    • My snacks are always protein (cottage cheese, greek yogurt, cheese, milk, etc) paired with fruit. And boring. But that’s OK.
    • I go through phases with food, and a toasted English muffin with smashed avocado and a touch of sea salt has been high on my list lately. Even though you see it on this menu plan only once, that’s because I had about 5 of them over the weekend. Yum. Before this newest phase, it was refried beans and cheese. I could not get enough!
    • I like easy things during the week nights. Aka, cooks in less than 15 minutes. Those chicken apple sausages come in a pack of 4 and sometimes if I’m feeling super lazy, I just microwave them in a paper towel for one minute and they’re still so good.
    • I probably need to eat more veggies. I am really good about eating a ton of fruit, but I should focus on having veggies as part of my snacks.

Do you go through food phases? Anything that you’ve been loving lately?

Wednesday Weekly Check In

I didn’t weigh in at my meeting yesterday but decided to do a video update anyways and give a little more insight into my tough week last week that I talked about a bit in yesterday’s post.

Really hot still shot, I know.

A little ramble-y up in there, so maybe it’s better to just read the summary here.. haha.

Some of the comments and emails I got when I did my 2013 Intentions post were that you want me to be more… me. That often times I come on here and talk about how good I’m doing and how many times I’ve worked out, and not what went wrong. I didn’t even really realize that until someone else said it, but I do think for me, blogging and healthy living go hand in hand. When I am slipping and not doing well with weight loss/healthy living, I tend to steer very clear of the blog and have a really hard time coming up with topics to write about.

When I’m doing well, on the other hand, I normally have no trouble coming up with things to write about, but I am starting to realize that might give you all the wrong impression about me and my life. I am not perfect. I still struggle. Last weekend was really bad in terms of eating and drinking, and it was SO HARD to snap myself out of it on Monday.

It honestly surprises me that I’m four years into my journey, since 2009 was the year I decided to “get healthy”, and it is still so easy for one bad decision to lead to another in my life. I think it just goes to show that the journey really never is over, and for the rest of my life, I have to take it one day at a time, just like I did at the beginning.

Anyways, when I share random thoughts like this they come out so easy, and I realize maybe I’ve been putting a bit of a façade up on the blog by not coming here when I’m doing poorly or can’t think of something to say. I’m going to try to write more frequently about random things going on in my life and show you the real me, even if it isn’t all ponies and rainbows.

Turns out down here is a little ramble-y too, so I’ll stop now. Smile

Do you struggle with one bad choice spiraling into a day or a weekend or a full week? How do you snap out of it?

4 Ingredient Tempeh Taco Filling

Since moving to DC almost 11 (!!) years ago, I have become a TOTAL weakling when it comes to cold weather. When it’s below 40 degrees outside, all I want to do is put on my flannel PJs, curl up under the covers, and have someone bring me something warm and delicious to eat. Let’s pretend that has more to do with being in DC and less to do with the fact that no matter what I do, I keep getting further and further from 22…

Anyway, since I don’t have someone to actually bring me food in bed, the next best thing is throwing together a super simple and delicious meal that requires minimal effort and is ready in 20 minutes (or less). And last night’s dinner did just that. Though I can’t promise I didn’t write this from under the covers in my PJs…

Tempeh Taco Filling

  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Prep Time: 5 minutes
  • Cook Time: 20 minutes
  • Entire recipe yields 3 servings.
  • Each serving is a generous cup

Ingredients:

Ingredients

    • 1 onion
    • 1 package Organic 3 Grain Tempeh (8 oz.)
    • 1 package frozen mixed pepper strips
    • 1 packet reduced sodium fajita seasoning mix

Directions:

First, chop up the onion and crumble up the tempeh.

Chop Onion and Crumble Tempeh

I crumbled the tempeh by chopping it into small cubes and then crumbling it with my hands.

Next up, heat a pan over medium heat and cook the onion until translucent, about 5 minutes.

Cook Onion

Once the onion is starting to look clear, add in the crumbled tempeh and mix it together with a spoon.

Add Tempeh

Cook for another 5 minutes until tempeh is starting to brown.

Last, add in your frozen bell peppers and fajita seasoning, and stir it until combined.

Add Peppers and Seasoning

Because I used frozen peppers, I didn’t need to add any water to the dish since they give off enough on their own.  If you use fresh peppers you’ll want to add a little water so it doesn’t get too dry. Cook for a total of 10 more minutes until the peppers are heated through.

Finished

Do ANYTHING you can think of with this filling. My dinner of choice last night was to have it stuffed in a pita with light shredded mozzarella, and it was deliiiiiicious.

Indulgent

It seriously felt so indulgent to be eating that, almost like a cheesesteak! As pictured, that was 9 PointsPlus (6 for the filling, 2 for the pita, 1 for the cheese) and it was sooo satisfying.

For lunch today, I’m eating it as a taco salad over spinach with cheese and salsa. Can’t wait!

What’s your favorite meal to make in 20 minutes or less?

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