Getting Back To Menu Planning

I used to be so good at menu planning but with all of these big changes going on and the fact that we were living in an apartment with nothing to cook on and now I am at my parents it has been a huge challenge to consistently menu plan.  That being said I have noticed that my meals are not as put together or as healthy as they usually are, so needless to say I am ready to get back to menu planning.

I haven’t discussed it yet on the blog but you may have seen on twitter and instagram that I have been using the #StartClean2013.  This is a FREE program that was put together by Katie Heddleston to help get you started on the right and healthy foot for the new year.  The best part is that there is a facebook page where participants can share things and also receive support from others.  Anyways each day there is a new task and for this weekend it is meal planning, which couldn’t have come at a better time.

This week my meal planning is once again a little all over the place because Wednesday I (finally) move to Oregon and I am not sure what we will have in our fridge and pantry when I arrive so I will have to wait until I arrive to really plan any meals.  I am loosely planning my meals for the next few days though and will be getting back to regular meal planning starting next weekend.

I start my week on Sunday because I usually do our grocery shopping on Saturday or Sunday.

Do you meal plan? Do you find that it helps you eat healthier and save money?

Becoming My Own Client: Checking In

So it’s been just over a month since I wrote about Becoming My Own Client so I figure it’s about time that I finally check in with how everything is going.  So lets check in on all of my goals.


Goal #1: Lose Weight. Well honestly I have no idea if I have lost weight because I haven’t weighed myself since November but I can tell you that physically I am noticing that my clothes are fitting a little better.  I am honestly not hung up on this one and I know that it will take time since I am nursing and that is my first priority.

Goal #2: Increase my Energy.  I am on my way to increasing my energy but to be honest the last 2.5 weeks have been the craziest that I have ever experienced.  I am hoping to be able to share why early next week. So I am feeling pretty worn down but I am hoping that after next Saturday I’ll be able to sit back, relax and enjoy the holidays.

Goal #3: Break my sugar craving.  This I have really made huge improvements especially considering this being the peak of the sweets season.  I enjoy a nice small piece of dark chocolate most days and about once per week I’ll have a cookie or share a cupcake with Neil.  I have to say that is a huge improvement over the 3-6 cookies that I could eat in one sitting right after Edith was born.

Goal #4 Sleep More. I have been doing much better about getting more rest.  Edith and I will lay down once or twice per day and nurse and nap/rest together in bed.  At night I have been going to bed by 10pm (most nights) and am up once or twice with Edith before finally getting up between 5-7am.

Goal #5: Eat less gluten.  I honestly kind of forgot about this goal but as I sit here racking my brain to review what I have eaten lately I have to say that I have reduced my gluten a good amount and the more I think about it the better my stomach has been feeling.


Goal #6: Increase the Intensity of my workouts.  I haven’t done as well with this one as I had planned.  I actually was right on track until about 2.5 weeks ago when…well I’ll tell you more about that later. I am have been getting light workouts in which right now is better than nothing.  After this week I am hoping to get back on track with this goal and start a new running plan; maybe I’ll do the Couch to 5k again to get back at it.

Goal #7: Eat more fresh fruits, vegetables and raw meals.  This is a work in progress but I have definitely increased my fresh fruits and veggies.  I now just need to work on eating more raw meals.  One of my favorite high raw meals lately is kale salad- kale, Tuscan olive oil, lemon juice, salt, pepper and nutritional yeast – so good!


How are you doing with your health goals? What is one health goal you have right now? How are you staying healthy this holiday season?

Goal #6 is to increase the intensity of my workouts

Goal #6 is one that I am finding to be the most challenging.

When I was making my plans for postpartum fitness (back before I actually had a baby) I had these grand plans of run/walking the half marathon that I had signed up for (before I knew I was pregnant).  I thought that around 4-6 weeks I would doing low intensity workouts and even start run/walking.  By eight weeks I would be back to consistent running and attending a weekly postpartum yoga class and of course getting out for daily 2-3 mile walks with Edith.  Here we are at almost 20 weeks postpartum and I have been on five runs and the only yoga classes I have attended are baby yoga and I don’t think taking three deep breaths and sounding ‘om’ once counts as yoga practice.

The only workout I was consistently doing were walks with Edith which occur 4-6 times per week and are usually 1-1.5 miles; so not exactly what I had hoped but it’s something. Then about four weeks ago I started Tina’s Best Body Bootcamp and although I feel like it has helped me to get back into a better routine I know that I haven’t been doing the workouts to the fullest.  I know I have a million excuses but it is really challenging to fit workouts in with a demanding 4.5 month old and a husband who works long hours.  At this point I am able to 10-20 minutes at a time and some days that’s all I can fit in.

Goal #6 is going to take some time and dedication to accomplish.  It is also going to involve working out a better plan with my husband so that both of us have adequate time to workout 4-6 times per week.  Right now my fitness intensity is around a 2 and I’d really like it to be at more of a 6 while I am still breastfeeding.

Speaking of breastfeeding that is also a factor that is making fitness a challenge.  I have been having issues with my supply (that’s for another post over on Naturally Family) and so I have to be mindful of the intensity of my workouts as well as making sure I am eating adequate calories and staying hydrated.  As you can see this goal faces a number of obstacles, however these are all obstacles that I know I can work through to get myself to the fitness level that I once was, and who knows maybe even increase that level.

So now is the time when I talk about the action steps that I am going to take to actually accomplish Goal #6

  • Make time. I know that I could make more time to workout.  This means I need to sit down and compare schedules with Neil so that we both have time carved out for our own fitness activities.  I know that I could do earlier morning workouts or even late night but I don’t.  It’s so easy to sink into the couch after putting E to bed, especially after a particularly long day and/or night. On the other hand if I do my workout instead of sinking in I know that I will be able to help myself to have more energy to make it through those tough days, so as much as I dread an early or late workout it’s either that or some mediocre workout that I try to fit in between playing, feeding, and changing diapers.
  • Try out 24 Hour Fitness. Down the road from us is a 24 Hour Fitness gym and often you can get free trial memberships.  I think it’s time for me to try it out and see if I can make it work because getting out of the house, away from the baby, the computer and household chores may be just what I need to get back to my fit self. Why haven’t I done it yet? Well honestly it kind of frightens me.  It’s in a strip mall, I would have to go early in the morning or late at night and who knows who is at the gym at that time and I really hate going to the gym alone but I have no one to go with me (I know suck it up and do it).
  • TBD. More steps to be determined as I go along.

Do you struggle with balancing life and workouts? Do you have any suggestions?

Goal #5 eat less gluten.

Goal #5 eat less gluten.

I have done elimination diets a number of times in the past and I have come to the conclusion that a small amount of gluten doesn’t bother me however large amounts cause me to fell bloated, have a hard time losing weight and am often exhausted.  As you can see from that list those are all things I DON’T want.  That being said it’s time to make a change and reduce my gluten intake.

What I will be doing: Eating more gluten-free foods

  • Potatoes
  • Whole Grains (buckwheat, gluten-free oats, corn, rice, quinoa, amaranth, teff or millet)
  • Beans
  • Nuts and nut butters
  • Fresh fruit
  • Fresh vegetables
  • Herbs and spices

I will be replacing pasta with a gluten-free version, enjoying brown rice wraps instead of bread and enjoying more whole grains, vegetables and fruit.

What I won’t be doing:

  • Giving up gluten all together, especially things like Neil and I’s monthly homemade flatbreads and beer.

Do you have a gluten intolerance?

Have you eliminated or reduced your gluten intake? How has your mind and body changed?

Goal #4: Sleep More.

As I said in my original post about Becoming My Own Client this is a challenge with a four month old. I imagine that it doesn’t get much better until she moves out, so what am I going to do for the next 18 or so years?

So why is sleep important?

  • When you are tired or stressed, your body will crave energy. These cravings are often a result of being sleep-deprived, going to bed late, waking up early, for months and years on end. So getting more sleep would help with goal #3.
  •  Sleep helps to improve memory, prevent weight gain, improve your mood, strengthen your immune system, and cardiovascular system.

Action Steps:

First off I need to go to bed when I am tired. Most nights I push myself to stay up later so that I can finish up freelance or coaching work, spend time with Neil, workout or just relax. Instead of pushing myself to stay up I need to go to bed when I am tired, even if that’s 8:30pm.

The second thing I can do is nap during the day when possible. E is getting to be a better napper which means that instead of running around doing 500 things while she sleeps I need to take a moment and sleep if I am tired.  It really is true you do need to sleep when the baby sleeps.

Are you getting enough sleep? Challenge yourself to go to bed 10 minutes earlier tonight and every night this week.

 

Goal #3: Break my sugar craving.

So on Monday we took a deeper look into Goal #2 to increase my energy now lets move on to Goal #3: Break my sugar craving.

Sugar is addictive for 2 reasons. 1: eating a small amount makes you want more. 2. Suddenly quitting causes withdrawal symptoms like headaches, mood swings, cravings and fatigue.

I honestly was never a huge fan of sweets until my pregnancy and then something changed. I read somewhere that when you are pregnant with a girl you crave more sweets and for me this ended up being true.  I wanted everything sweet especially fruits, coconut milk ice cream and chocolate.  Unfortunately this craving has stuck with me postpartum. Now my goal is to kick the sugar habit.

I have already been making strides to improve this by not making Oh She Glows amazing chocolate chip cookies once a week, or should I say have Neil make them for me. It was awful at one point we were making them at least once per week.  I am glad to say it’s been about five weeks since we made our last batch -win!

Although it has been five weeks since I enjoyed those yummy chocolate chip cookies it hasn’t stopped me from making a number of other baked goods, enjoying coconut ice cream and chocolate. I have been using natural sugars as much as possible and my cravings have been reduced but I am still craving a piece or two of dark chocolate most nights.

Action Steps.

  • Eat Balanced Meals.  Make sure to create meals focus on vegetables and then have ¼ of your meal be a whole grain (brown rice, quinoa, barley, millet, bulgar, etc) ¼ should be high quality protein such as beans, tempeh, or tofu. Additionally, add 1-2 tbsp of a healthy fat (avocado, olive oil, coconut oil, nut butters, nuts, etc); this will help to feel satisfied and curb your cravings.
  • Replace processed snacks (anything with a long ingredient list or filled with sodium, sugar and HFCS) with whole foods such as fruits, nuts, veggies, etc.
  • Think before eating. When a craving comes on rather than give into it try to deconstruct the craving to figure out the actual cause.

What do your crave? Why do you crave it?

Goal #2: Increase my Energy.

Now that I’ve laid out my goals in my Becoming My Own Client posts it’s time to put things into action. I am purposely going to skip over, Goal #1: Lose Weight. I’d like to be back to my pre-pregnancy weight by October 2013, because my action step to make this happen is to focus on working on goals 2-7. As you will come to see that all of my goals overlap with one or more other goals, to be successful I must find balance in all aspects of my life.

Increase energy by eating more greens

Goal #2: Increase my Energy.

en·er·gy/ˈenərjē/

Noun:
  1. The strength and vitality required for sustained physical or mental activity.
  2. A feeling of possessing such strength and vitality.
Synonyms:
power – vigour – vigor – vim – zip – strength – pep

Action steps to increase my energy:

  1. Reduce or eliminate caffeine. Caffeine can cause dehydration and the rise and fall of blood sugar which can cause mood swings and cravings.  I don’t have a lot of caffeine, most days just one cup of coffee but more and more I am finding myself having a second cup of coffee to “make it through the day”.  That being said my goal is to replace that second cup of coffee with a glass of water or herbal tea.
  2. Drink water. If there is one thing that most people don’t do enough of it’s drink enough water. Most Americans are in a constant state of dehydration which can have a number of negative effects including cravings.
  3. Eat dark leafy green vegetables. Greens a filled with vitamins and nutrients that make you feel refreshed and energetic. They help improve circulation, purify the blood and strengthen the immune system. I love greens but for some reason I don’t eat enough.  My goal is to eat dark leafy greens, such as broccoli, collards, bok choy, kale, mustard greens, broccoli rabe, arugula and dandelion greens, 5 days per week.
  4. Use gentle sweets. I am going to avoid processed sugars and use natural sweeteners like maple syrup, agave nectar, dates, and coconut sugar. Also I am going to increase the number of  sweet vegetables such as yams, carrots and beets, that I eat to help reduce cravings for sweets.
  5. Get physical activity. Simple activities, like walking or yoga, can help increase energy by doing as little as 10 minutes per day.  I have increased the frequency of my workouts but now I want to do more yoga and increase intensity.
  6. Get more sleep and rest and relaxation. A tired and stressed body craves energy and often we turn to food for energy instead of what we really need- a nap. Lately I have been staying up later at night once E goes to sleep but really I need to go to bed earlier so I get more rest.
  7. Take time for myself. Finding activities that restore your energy, such as a walk, a bath, a museum, or a movie helps to increase energy.  I haven’t been taking nearly enough time for me so my goal is to take 30 minutes per day to do something just for me.

How do you increase your energy?