Being Conscious in the New Year

Today is a typical January 5th. It’s a few days after the New Year and I’m still wonderin’ what the heck am I going to work on for the new year!? But as much I love being a goal setter or no matter how much of a list maker I am, I’ve always hated the pressure I would put on myself to do this resolution or that resolution.

Cause let’s be honest. I’d get fed up too quickly and by February first, I had already burned out. Where is the growth in that? That’s why I don’t make New Year resolutions. I make Life Resolutions. At least for me, it’s too hard to be specific on what needs to happen for this new year to be good.

Last year I tried to keep it simple. Read more. Run more. That’s it! And ya know what? The more I made the conscious decision to pull out a book before bed rather than flip on the TV the more it became a habit. I tried to not let two or three days go by before I ran. And not just run. Run outside. Now that was the truly hard part. But again. It became a habit!

Which is why this year I decided to pick up a new habit. And if you thought I couldn’t get it any simpler than last year then you would be wrong, my friend. This year I plan to make more conscious decisions. Vague? Let me explain.

I get comfortable easily. I don’t like change, really. So much so that it can get me too comfortable. I don’t think too hard into the little decisions I make throughout the day. And I really mean the little ones. What I listen to. What I watch or read. What I eat. Who I talk to. When I pray. How I work.  I don’t want to go through life blindly and not realize until it’s too late how these “little” decisions have affected me.  Now I know it’s not a good habit to become too scrupulous, but I want to be able to think just a little more about what I put into my body (and my soul). Whether it be the music, the food, the entertainment… It’s time to become more thoughtful in all aspects of my life.

So although it’s not a huge change in my life, I know it could be the best habit I adopt into my life. Who knows, maybe I’ll learn to like change a little more! Yeah, not likley but worth a shot, I guess! On that note, glad to be with you this year once again.

Happy [belated] New Year!

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The Quest to Eat Healthy

Who likes to eat healthy? I mean really? When you’re 100% honest with yourself? I’ll admit, there are times I just crave a nice grilled chicken salad or or some veggies. But generally? No. I do not enjoy eating healthy.

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This has been the hardest part about my quest to get in shape. Sure, going to the gym can be an inconvenience and all, but I usually don’t mind sweating cause afterwards, I just feel so accomplished. Eating healthy? Afterwards, I just feel hungry. Not the real kind of hungry, just the I-want-something-fried-and-covered-in-chocholate-and-powdered-sugar kinda hungry. I know we’ve all been there.

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I’ve had to become a pro at talking myself out of bad decisions like some gelato at the stand in downtown Detroit while I wait for David to get out work. Or an Asiago bagel slathered in cream cheese from Panera (also their shortbread cookies are like.whoa) when I’m running too late to make breakfast.

The irony is as I write this I’m getting hungrier and hungrier for a pastry from the bakery across the street. Shoot.

Push through, Annie. Push through.

Anyways! Through some serious trial and error, I’ve learned a few tips that have helped me curb the cravings and stick to eating healthy.

  • Add greens to dishes you already love. For me, I generally eat a really healthy breakfast and lunch and then for dinner, I do what I would normally do, which isn’t neceassarily unhealthy at all, I just don’t go AS out of my way. This may be frowned upon but the more I learn how important veggies are for me, the more I’ve tried to take much smaller portions of the foods I love and then fill in the space with veggies. LOTs. OF.Veggies. Pick the ones you like and try a few recipes with them. I love broccoli and asparagus but I’ve also added carrots and zucchini. And sweet potato is great veggie that is packed with positive stuff when you’re in a workout regimen. Plus sweet potato can be the perfect dessert with a little honey. Surprisingly that has curbed a few cravings for me.
  • Blend something. Sometimes, I’m just in a rush. If you know me, you know I HATE being late for things, but you also know I generally am always late for things. So a smoothie is somethimes the best way to get a quick breakfast and still get my nutrients I’ll need for my day. My usual consists of some protein powder, a little milk, a banana, peanut butter and some frozen fruit I like to keep on hand. This generally holds me over until my next meal and/or snack.
  • Don’t eat that and repeat. There is something about repetition that makes things really stick in our brain. I’m sure there is some brain chemical reason as to why when we do something a lot, our body begins to expect it. But I’m no doctor so I won’t pretent to know the reason. I just know the outcome. For instance, the first week I started eating healthy, I would get these cravings after dinner time-ish that said “chocolate! you need chocolate and all the chocolate you can get! now! GO!” Yikes. I hate that voice. So demanding. And hard to say no to. The first week it was the hardest. But no matter what, when the cravings kicked in, I’d try to do something to take my mind off of it. And after the first week, it got a little easier with each week, until I got to the point where I didn’t have those late night cravings (most of the time, I’m still human…). Here’s a bonus tip*** STAY OFF PINTEREST WHEN YOU’RE CRAVING SWEETS. Those will be the times that all you notice is the recipes for ooey-gooey this or sweet and salty that. Do yourself a favor and stay away.
  • Spice up your life. Yes I just quoted the Spice Girls and no I’m not ashamed. #90’skid….moving on… I know people always say this, but you don’t need to eat boring to eat healthy. The last thing you want is to get bored with eating healthy because you’ll steer away as quickly as you got there. There are so many clever ways these days to add some flavor to any meal. I’d suggest beefing up your spice cabinet AND picking up items that can “dress up” your meals. I like salads but I LOVE cheese. So I’m okay with sprinkling a little feta on my salad, but then I’ll also throw in some chick peas because they’re delicious along with some avacado. Boom. Done. If you do the same thing every day you’ll want to never eat a vegetable again. I like to bring grilled chicken for lunch, but I always like to have lots of veggies PLUS some avacado and/or sweet potato to go with it. And I enjoy changing how I season it.
  • Eat, eat, and then eat some more. That seems a bit contradictory when trying to get healthy, right? No. I promise you, no. When I started working out, I was finding myself more hungry more often than usual. Because I was just starting off, I didn’t put two and two together and realize the more calories I burn, I’m gonna have to take in calories to give myself energy to get through the day. I’m sure you’ve heard eat every few hours. But now more than ever I see how true it is. I don’t eat huge breakfasts in the first place, so I’ll eat my breakfast when I wake up, wait about 2-3 hours then eat a Greek yogurt. Wait another 2-3 hours and eat my lunch. Again 2-3 hours, then have a granola bar or some energy bites and I now have some carbs to burn when I workout. I go home and workout, then come back and eat dinner and/or drink a big protein shake.

Granted these things have not cured my love for junk food, pizza, and ice cream. I genuinly think it would take the force of a thousand suns to get rid of that all together. But they’ve at least put me in the right direction. Despite getting used to it, it’s still a daily task of making the right choices. You just have to have the confidence that you are absolutely can do it AND the follow through to push your self. I’ve got quite a ways to go but I’m enjoying the feeling of accomplishment each step of the way!

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Here are a few of my favorite things to make to help the process along!

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^^These I’ll make with ground turkey to make them a little healthier.

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^^ A typical breakfast for me. Piece of turkey or ham in a muffin tin with two eggs (or egg whites) cracked inside and seasoned. Baked on 375 for 20 minutes. 

My Health Hero

This post was written as a part of the American Recall Center’s “Who Keeps You Healthy” campaign. This was a great opportunity to give a shout out to my health hero. Thank you to Marco for reaching out to me. More bloggers posts can be read at their Community Center.

Yesterday, I almost became a quitter. And let me tell you, I’m not happy even thinking about it. Ever since I’ve started this new health initiative in my life, I’ve been really trying to stick to my guns with getting to the gym and eating healthy (the harder of the two for me), no matter how bad I don’t want to.

But I’ll admit… I’ve had some set backs. As you know (or at least you avid readers know), last week I ran a 5k. It was much harder than usual for me, but I proudly finished only three minutes slower than my goal time. But for the entire week after the run, I started having this awful pain in my right foot. I was limping when I woke up, limping at work, and limping even more in the evening. My foot was wrapped and I was poppin’ Advils like candy. I could barely get around. So for my foots sake, I had to stear clear of the gym for an entire week, which for me was pretty brutal.

So when David and I got home from work yesterday, my foot still sore but not limp-worthy, I declared, I don’t think I feel like going to the gym. Ooops. David then asked me if it was because of my foot or if I didn’t feel like it. Well, it wasn’t my foot.

And this is why David is my health hero. He then preceded to tell me that I can’t undo all the hardwork I’ve put in at the gym now, especially for a crappy reason. He could see it being valid when I had an actual injury, but not now. And he was right. I was starting to feel sorry for myself that I had fallen a little behind.

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This entire process, he has continued to tell me how proud he is of me for sticking with this. When I feel crummy or like napping instead, he tries to get me all pumped up to get back to it.

I’ve always been relativley active, going on the occasional run or a pit stop at the gym with some girlfriends. But I had never really been too dedicated. It wasn’t until the first summer David and I were dating that I felt even a tiny bit inspired. He was about to leave Michigan to go back home to Texas for the summer when he was showing me a work out program he was going to do that summer, Insanity. He said it was really tough, but if I wanted he’d get it for me too. So he did. I did it for the full two months, him giving me tips and pointers the whole time. I finished just in time to visit David 15 lbs lighter. He drove past me at the airport because he didn’t even recognize me.

But it was just the start of how he has continued to inspire me and make me realize that even if it’s crazy tough, I can do it. He is always encouraging me to stay healthy, but not in a demeaning or insinuating way. He does it because he wants me to be healthy. He wants our kids to have healthy role models and a healthy body to rest in for their 9 months of incubation. He wants me to enjoy working out, or at least enjoy the fruits of my hard work. His actions have helped me to become proud of the improvements I make, no matter how little.

And I am learning that ESPECIALLY when you take a week long break, it’s tough getting back into it. It’s tough when I’m crazy sore the next day. It’s tough when I’d rather have cake for dinner than anything else. But it helps that much more when I have someone, not just me, who is not only supporting me, but encouraging me!

Who is your health hero? Maybe it’s your kids. Maybe it’s your spouse. Or your co-worker. Or yourself! I hope there is someone encouraging you, even if it’s just you. Let me know! I’d love to encourage you too :)

A+ Chewy Granola Bars

Ever since I’ve been changing the way I eat and workout, I’ve been trying to take advantage of less processed foods and more whole foods. It’s definitly hard to make the transition, I won’t lie. But finding a few recipes that work for me is what has been really helpful!

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About a week ago I came across this recipe for homemade granola bars. I had everything in the hosue, except for dates, so I just ran to Trader Joe’s grabbed a box of dates and headed home to try it out. I would say it took me about…hmm… 10-15 minutes to make these? Not bad.

Here’s the recipe:

  • 1 cup packed dates, pitted (deglet nour or medjool; I used the medjool dates, nice and squishy)
  • 1/4 cup honey (or sub maple syrup or agave for vegan option)
  • 1/4 cup creamy unsalted natural peanut butter or almond butter (recipe org. calls for salted peanut butter I only had unsalted, still delicious anddd less sodium)
  • 1 cup roasted or raw unsalted almonds
  • 1 1/2 cups rolled oats (toasting your oats is also an option, but not necessary)

– Start by processing your dates in a food processor. I actually don’t have one but I do have one of these. A blender would work too!   Once the dates form a mooshy paste/dough, mix the dates with your almonds and oats in a bowl.

– Warm your honey and peanut butter in a saucepan on low. Once mixed all the way through, pour over your nut/oats mixture and combine all the ingredients, breaking up the dates along the way.

– Transfer the mixture into a 8×8 pan lined with saran wrap. Slide them into the freezer for about 20 minutes. Then take them out and slice them up. Transfer them to a sealed container and store in the fridge.

The recipe makes about 10-12 granola bars. You can also add other items to your bars. Next time I plan to add some mini dark chocolate chips and possibly some cranberries or dried cherries.

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They are crazy simple and taste great. I bring them almost every day to work and have one as my late afternoon snack when I normally would be craving chocolate or fried food. So it’s a win-win. David even really liked them and every now and then I found him eating  them straight from the tupperware. Another plus? It’s cheaper than buying a box of 5.99 granola bars that only come with 6 bars. The dates I bought alone cost 4.99 but that’s allll I had to get. Plus you can make 2-3 batches of these with one box of dates. So 24+ granola bars for 4.99?!?  Now that’s just unheard of.

A Huntin’ We Will Go…

It’s that time of year again! Hunting season :) Tomorrow my dad will continue the tradition of many before him and go and “harvest” off the land to get some tasty venison for us meat eaters back home. (Warning: If you are an animal activist, this post may not be for you)

In honor of the start of hunting season, the other night I made some Bambi-stuffed-peppas’ (aka Stuffed Peppers with Venison). Good eats.

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Here is what I got for you. It’s very easy, I prepped it in about 15-20 minutes and cooked it for an hour.

All you need:

  • 2 Servings of rice (I used the whole grain “rice in a bag”, only takes 10 minutes)
  • app. 2-3 cups of venison, ground beef, or really whatever meat you’d like to use
  • 1 onion
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • any other veggies you prefer
  • seasoning to taste (I used garlic powder, oregeno, basil, salt, pepper, red pepper flakes and a little paprika)
  • marinera sauce (homemade or store bought, don’t matter)
  • 2-4 Large peppers (I used red for no reason at all. They pretty much all taste the same to me)

First I cooked the rice as instructed. The rice-in-a-bag is great because it only takes 10 minutes and is already the perfect serving size.

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Once the rice was done, put the rice, uncooked meat, seasonings, onion, garlic and veggies in a bowl. That’s the best part. You just toss all the ingredients (except the sauce) in one bowl and start mixing with your hands until everything is nice and incorporated.

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From there, set that bowl aside and turn to your peppers. Cut out the stem and start coring out the seeds until your pepper is an empty little cave from the top.

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Start filling your peppers with your meat and rice mixture until there is a small amount coming out of the top hole. Place the peppers in a baking dish (casserole type). From there take the sauce and spread over the peppers, letting a generous amount spill into the pan (I spoon extra sauce into the pan anyways to pour over when they are done baking).

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Once the sauce is on, place in the oven lightly covered with aluminum foil and cook on 350 for an hour.

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I had some left over meat mixture so I placed it into small casserole dishes to use for leftovers later (it’s awesome mixed with eggs in the morning).

Go about your business for an hour, and then TA DAaAaAA!

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Super easy and healthy and tasty. My favorite combos. On that note…

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Learning to Juggle

Well boy, oh boy. I never thought I’d have a chance to pop a squat and write again. I mean, maybe I was wrong to think that my life would calm down after I got married? Yeah, okay I was very wrong. Everyone told me life would not really settle down, but alas, I chose to ignore.

So here I am juggling the many day to day tasks that I am realizing need to get done to live a semi-functional life. Mind you I said semi-functional…

Everything from daily cleaning/picking up around the apartment, paying bills, putting away boxes and boxes of crap (actually just stacking it all in our 2nd bedroom), laundry and of course the one thing I was worried about… cooking.

Despite figuring out how to juggle everything, I haven’t been too stressed which is always a positive. I have become quite the list maker (my mom would be so proud of me) and my most recent to-do list is actually a few projects I’ve got to get done. So that’s why I’m linking up with Mama Needs Coffee who is filling in for Moxie Wife for 5 Favorites to show my favorite projects I’m working on. Anyone wanna help?

  1. Clean Up the 2nd Bedroom We live in a cute little 2 bedroom apartment. However the 2nd bedroom has become the stock pile room. We have boxes upon boxes just chillin’ on the floor, David’s amps and guitar equipment sitting out, our desk and important papers flying around… So you can see it isn’t a pretty sight. My plans are to make one side of the room into the “desk area” and the otehr side will have all of David’s music stuff AKA a lot of guitars. We’ll throw a book case somewhere in there because we have too many books and our too stubborn to get rid of them.
  2. Workin’ On My Fitness While I was on the honeymoon (no photos yet, hubby is stilll editing sheesh), we ate anything and everything that was bad for you. I mean not everything we ate was terrible but we didn’t adhere to a diet or the unspoken “rule” that you can only eat ice cream once a day. So, being back from the honeymoon and starting to feel the wrath I did to my body, I’ve decided to start up a work out routine. First, for the next 10 weeks I will be particiapating in Focus t25. If you’ve hear of Insanity, this is like the shorter toning version of that. It’s only 25 minutes a day but so incredibly intense! I started Monday and already my butt has been kicked. After those 10 weeks are through, I’ll be doing a weight routine. I hate weights. So this’ll be interesting.T25
  3. Home Management Notebook So like I said, I like lists. I wish I didn’t but they help me get stuff done, especially because I have a terrible memory. So I’ve been working on a Home Management binder to keep all my important paper work, accounts, bill paying, phone numbers, etc. all organised and in one neat binder. I used a bunch of free printable I found ( I LOVE printables) on The Accidenatl Okie right HERE! Although I plan to come up with my own system for organnization, these type of things always help, plus I like reading how other people do it.binder-cover-www-accidentalokie-com
  4. To Hang or Not to Hang? I am trying to figure out what to hang above the big space above my couch. It’s quite a predicament. A picture of our wedding? A big painting? A bunch of smaller photos? I’m at a loss…
  5. Get my hosue ready for the fall/winter  I realize we are way far into fall but I have all these fall decorations I want to use. My goal is to have them up by this weekend. At least it’ll make the place look a little more homey. And don’t get me started on Christmas. I have two totes filled with Christmas stuff. Although I can wait for it to come, I’m still very excited :)

Well that’s my next few weeks in a nutshell! Hope I’m not the only one with loads of projects looming over our heads. But I hope everyone can take a few minutes out of their day to go enjoy the day. Me? I’m gonna jump in some leaves later. Yeah. That sounds good. Ta ta for now!