Category Archives: health

My New Nutrition Plan

I recently decided that I need to take a new approach to what I eat on a daily basis. After looking closely at the meals I eat each day, I realized that there was way too much refined sugar in my diet. I was feeling crappy and looking crappy. It really hit home when I received my half marathon photos. I didn’t realize just how much weight I was putting on.

I thought I was doing things right, but what I didn’t realize all these months is that I’m just not eating enough protein. Being a vegetarian, it often takes careful planning to get sufficient protein in the meals that I eat. I realized that I was eating way too many carbs – pasta, rice, candy, almond milk (the kind with loads of added sugar), etc. I was hungry all of the time, which makes sense since carbs are quicker to digest than protein. I knew I needed to make a change.

I decided that for six days a week (I allow myself one cheat day), I will only eat sugar that comes from fruit and veggies. All other sugar is off limits. I am a lot more conscious of my protein intake, as well. I make sure that I’m eating some kind of protein in each meal (including snacks).

I replaced my sugar-filled breakfast smoothie with plain oatmeal, a large spoonful of all natural peanut butter, and blueberries. It’s so satisfying, and I feel full a lot longer.

For lunch and dinner, I’ve been rotating tofu with roasted summer squash (zucchini and yellow squash) and black bean veggie burger salad.

Another big change I made is my liquid calories. I was drinking smoothies once or twice a day. These consisted of high sugar chocolate almond milk, one banana, and two tablespoons of peanut butter. Much too much. I tried unsweetened almond milk, but just couldn’t stomach the taste, even after sweetening it with fruit and vanilla extract. Almond milk is also on the pricey side, and I decided it was just costing to0 much, both financially and to my health.

I switched out the smoothies with water and lemon, or just plain water. Since I don’t drink soda or juice, this switch wasn’t too difficult. Many people can’t stand the taste of plain water, but I love it. At lunch or dinner, I add the juice of one lemon to my water. It is so refreshing and adds extra vitamin C to my diet. I also plan on experimenting with different fruits this summer.

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For snacks, I try to each fruit with nuts or just a spoonful of peanut butter. I love, love, love peanut butter! I could eat it morning, noon, and night if I wasn’t worried about my waistline.

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I also have been much more disciplined with taking vitamin supplements each day. The last time I visited the doctor and had blood work done, I had a severe vitamin D deficiency and I had to take a prescription supplement. I also need to make sure I get an adequate amount of calcium to keep my bones strong. I was getting enough calcium by drinking the almond milk, but since I cut that out I needed to make sure I was taking my vitamins consistently. I used to take huge horse pill supplements that I had a hard time stomaching. They would make me really nauseous. Mark found great calcium/vitamin D fruit flavored gummies that have no gelatin (important for vegetarians). I also found a great chewable multivitamin at Trader Joe’s that I take daily.

I have to admit the changes have been tough, but definitely worth it. I was at my heaviest weight of 158 pounds in April. Today, I’m down to 144 pounds. I still have some work to do; I’m 5’2 and my doctor said my healthy weight should be in the range of 110-120 pounds. I’m in no rush to lose the extra weight. I want to do this as healthy as possible. This is about a lifestyle change and not just a quick fix. My goal is to be an my ideal weight, but more importantly feel great, by my 35th birthday next February. I’m headed in the right direction.

Disclaimer: I am not a medical doctor or dietitian. My food choices are based on my personal nutritional needs. Please consult your doctor for nutrition choices that are best for your personal needs.

 

 

Thankful for the Body I Have

I have battled with my weight since I was a kid. I was never the pretty girl, the popular girl, or the sport star. I was the girl that had intriguing thoughts constantly running through her head, but always too shy to express them. One of the reasons for the shyness was my weight. I was afraid of being judged. I didn’t want any more eyes on me than required. School presentations sent me into panic attacks.

Much of my stress was due to my own negative self perceptions. I was shy and fat. Who would want to be friends with me? High school was tough and I felt very alone. I remember sitting at lunch many days hiding in my heavy coat or my baggy sweatshirt. During a Friday night football game, an older girl thought it would be fun to humiliate me in front of all her friends. I remember walking back up the stadium stairs with my head down in shame as dozens of kids and adults erupted in laughter. No one deserves that, young or old.

Fast forward many years later, and those self-loathing thoughts have diminished. While I still experience moments of looking in the mirror and feeling displeased with what I see, I’ve come to realize that the stretch marks and the flabby tummy that I see reflected back at me are battle scars. They show history. They remind me of where I’ve been and where I want to go.

I’m still working on myself and that’s okay. I’ve come to realize that I’m thankful for the body I have. It allows me to wake up every morning. It allows me to feel the warmth of the sun shining on my face. It allows me to feel the breeze in my hair. It allows me to laugh. It allows me cry. It allows me to love. It allows me to run 13.1 miles.

My body is strong. My body is beautiful.

Six Ways to Stay Healthy at Your Desk Job

When I go to work every morning, I sit in my office and work at my desk for eight plus hours a day. I know many of you are in the same boat. When I switch to “work mode”, I like to go, go, go and focus on what needs to get done. Often times that means I forget to focus on myself.

I don’t know about you, but the combination of sitting all day and daily stressors that naturally come from the office environment (the copy machine breaks down, dealing with difficult clients over the phone, mounting deadlines) can really take a toll on my body.

I realized that I need to take a few moments each day to focus on my health and well being at work. Here are seven simple ways that I came up to get the job done and stay healthy (and sane) at the same time.

1. Decorate your office or cubicle with something that is calming and inspirational.

I recently moved from a cubicle to an office, and I spent many hours looking at drab white walls and empty bookshelves. I had nothing to remind me of home or what inspires me, which often left me in a funky mood. I decided to give my office a makeover with things I already owned.

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This pretty candy dish anchored by tulips and a photograph of the beach is all I needed to add a little pep in my step at the office. It’s amazing how a splash of color can instantly lift your mood.

2. Step away from your desk.

I have a hard time with this one, but I’m really trying to make an effort to get up out of my chair and go for a short walk a couple times a day. Luckily, the office building that I work in sits on a large campus, so I can easily get a good mile walk in during the day.

It would even be great to find a local park that has a walking path. Find a place where you can stretch your legs and burn some calories before embarking on the afternoon schedule.

3. Make lists to stay organized.

Work days can get hectic. On a day like today that follows a three day weekend, my mind is still in vacation land. I find that making a list in the morning (or even the day before) of the things that I need to accomplish helps me remain focused and stay on track for the day.

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4. Skip the elevator and take the stairs.

My company started an initiative that encourages employees to take the stairs rather than the elevator. It’s amazing how a few flights of stairs can get the heart pumping. I walked in this morning and was tempted to press the elevator button, but opted for the stairs instead. It definitely helped me wake up and stretch my muscles.

5. Pack and bring your lunch.

It’s so tempting to swing by the cafeteria and grab a slice of pizza, or head to the restaurant down the street. But packing my lunch in the morning allows me to make healthy choices for what I’m going to eat during the day, and eliminates the guilt of any last minute food choices that may not be the most figure friendly.

6. Remember to breathe.

This is probably the most important one of all. There are days when I want to bang my head against my desk or burst into tears after endless things go wrong. All of that stress can really bring me down. When I have a tough moment, I remind myself to take a step back (hands off the keyboard) and take a few minutes to close my eyes and breathe. It usually works.

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A coworker gave me this great gift. She told me that if I ever feel I’m about to “lose all my marbles,” to look at this and remember I still have one left.

 

Pin It Party

I’m participating in my first Pin It Party hosted by Lindsay at The Lean Green Bean today!

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Here are five posts that I would love to see on Pinterest. Each photo below links to Pinterest, so it’s super easy to pin, pin, pin! To see all of my pins, follow me on Pinterest.

If you want to join in the fun, check out all the partygoers and their pins at The Lean Green Bean.

Know Your Numbers: Keep a Blood Pressure Journal

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May is National High Blood Pressure Awareness Month. It’s so important to know your blood pressure history and how it relates to your health. Check out my post on tracking your blood pressure by creating a blood pressure journal.

 

25 “Must Try” Vegetarian Quinoa Recipes

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Looking for a new quinoa recipe? Check out my roundup of some of the best vegetarian recipes I found, including mini pizzas, tacos, peanut butter balls, and granola - all made with quinoa! Yum!

 

Ten Helpful Tips for Running Your First Half Marathon

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I ran my first half marathon a couple weeks ago and it was definitely a learning experience! Here are ten helpful tips that I think every runner participating in his or her first half marathon should know!

 

Recycled Dresser Drawer Garden

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I created this great vegetable and herb garden with my mom last summer. The best part is that it is made from recycled dresser drawers that we were no longer using. The result is a great garden in our backyard that is both beautiful and earth friendly!

 

Getting on the Kidney Transplant List: The Screening Process Unveiled

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My fiancé, Mark, is waiting for a kidney transplant. Last October, we traveled to Baltimore, Maryland for his screening appointment to determine if he was a candidate for a transplant. Here is my recap with helpful information that everyone should know about kidney donation and transplantation. Want to know more? Read about our journey to find Mark a new kidney.

 

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Twitter: @DelightFULLDash

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Know Your Numbers: Keep a Blood Pressure Journal

Hypertension, or high blood pressure, is known as the silent killer. This is because high blood pressure usually presents no symptoms until a person gets really sick. High blood pressure can cause a stroke, kidney damage, and heart failure. According to the National Institutes of Health, “High blood pressure affects about 50 million–or one in four–American adults. Of those with hypertension, about 68 percent are aware of their condition–but only 27 percent have it under control.”

Monitoring your blood pressure is easy, but it’s something you need to do consistently. May is National High Blood Pressure Awareness Month and American Stroke Month. These two initiatives bring awareness and education to high blood pressure and stroke risk.

It’s important to know your blood pressure numbers. The top number, called the systolic number, measures the pressure in your arteries when your heart beats, or contracts. The bottom number, called the diastolic number, measures the pressure in your arteries when your heart is resting between beats. High blood pressure is present at readings of 140/90 and above.

If you have high blood pressure, there are ways you can lower your numbers. Exercise, a healthy diet with foods lower in sodium, stress management techniques, not smoking, and lowering your alcohol intake can help. It’s important to talk with your doctor and communicate openly and honestly about your habits and what you can do to control your blood pressure.

After Mark got sick, I realized that I needed to monitor my blood pressure more closely. I decided to start keeping a blood pressure journal that I can record my blood pressure and heart rate a few times each week. It’s small enough that I can carry it with me. I take it to doctor appointments because I get white coat syndrome and my blood pressure is higher in the doctor office. I give my journal to my doctor so she can see my blood pressure history.

I use an at home blood pressure monitoring kit, but you can also take a blood pressure reading at most grocery stores and drug stores.

Once I take my blood pressure, I record the blood pressure reading and heart rate in my journal. I write the date next to each reading so that I can easily view the readings at a later date.

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A few minutes a day can make a huge difference in your health. Be proactive and take control of your health. You only have one life – make it count.

Disclaimer: I’m not a medical doctor. I’m speaking from my own personal experiences. Please consult your doctor for medical advice pertaining to your health.

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Easy Vegetarian and Vegan Make Ahead Meals

I’m usually pretty bad when it comes to food prep. I buy a bunch of food, let it sit on the counter/fridge/freezer until I’m ready to use it, and sometimes toss some of it because it goes bad before I have a chance to use it. When I get home from work, I’m usually way too tired to spend an hour or more trying to whip something together. I realized that I’m wasting time and money eating this way.

Since Sundays are usually pretty calm, especially now that I won’t have The Walking Dead to look forward to until October (boo!), I decided to give food prep a whirl. Something as simple as chopping and slicing ingredients, putting them in storage bags, and tossing in the fridge can save so much time. All I need to do is grab the ready-to-cook ingredients, toss in a pan, and voila! Dinner is done in minutes.

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1. Cilantro lime quinoa salad – This has turned out to be one of my favorite meals that I created, but it takes a good hour to make. I made a huge batch this weekend that I can enjoy throughout the week. I rinsed and cooked the quinoa, and let it cool in the fridge while I chopped grape tomatoes, scallions, cucumber, Kalamata olives, and fresh cilantro. Toss everything with the quinoa and season with garlic pepper, fresh lime juice, and lemon juice. A tasty, refreshing salad that is super healthy. Also great with avocado!

2. Sliced red bell peppers and onions – One of the most time consuming (and sometimes painful) tasks in the kitchen is chopping vegetables. I usually buy mushrooms already sliced, but don’t have the same luxury with bell peppers and onions. I can find these already prepped with other veggies (often part of an Asian stir-fry mix), but usually have to pick out the veggies I’m not a fan of. Carrots, baby corn, and water chestnuts, in case you’re wondering. It’s true, I’m not a carrot loving girl. So that I can enjoy the veggies that I do like, I decided to buy a couple bell peppers and a large yellow onion and slice both. That way all I have to do is grab the amount I need when I’m ready. I always have the option of throwing what I don’t use in the freezer for later use.

3. Diced tofu with minced garlic and lemon pepper – I pressed the tofu (took about an hour) and diced into small pieces (I don’t like huge pieces of tofu). I minced four garlic cloves and put the tofu and garlic in a storage bag, along with freshly ground lemon pepper (a great Trader Joe’s find). I’m storing it in the fridge until I’m ready to use. Just toss into a pan with some olive oil and the peppers and onions.

4. Sunflower seed pesto – This dairy free pesto is made with sunflower seeds (a great substitute for pine nuts), fresh basil, a few garlic cloves, and fresh lemon juice. Great for serving with tofu or over whole wheat pasta with tomatoes and Kalamata olives.

5. Freezer ready strawberries – I scored an awesome deal on a 2 pound container of strawberries last week – $3.99! I’ve been munching on them, but realized their shelf life wasn’t going to last much longer before I would be able to finish all the berries. So, I sliced the berries and stored in the freezer until I’m ready to use them. Great for smoothies, oatmeal, and maybe paired with a piece of dark chocolate?

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My Half Marathon Training Plan

Exactly 116 days from today, I will be a half marathon finisher. Confidence is key, right? I must admit that I’m a bit nervous, actually very  nervous about not feeling prepared. I realized that I need to get in gear and focus on dedicating a good chunk of time to training.

I’ve been doing some light running, as well as a few fitness challenge groups on Facebook. This has been a good way to ease my body into working some of the muscles I haven’t touched in a while. One of my biggest accomplishments was holding a plank for over a minute. This is coming from a girl with NO upper body strength at all.

On Monday, I started a new 30 day challenge group. We are focusing on push ups (upper body strength builder, check) and lunges. I’ve had problems with knee pain in the past, so I’m being extra cautious to make sure I’m using proper form.

We’re still in the easy phase (Day 3), but I know that in a week or two it’s going to start getting tough.

30 day pushups lunges

One of my main goals with this challenge is to be able to do a regular pushup. I still have to use my knees, but I’m hoping as the days progress it will get easier. Fingers crossed!

I’ve also been scouring Pinterest to find additional workouts. Here are a few of my favorite finds:

Hunger Games Tribute Workout via Neila Rey

I’m still waiting to see Catching Fire, but I loved the first movie. Definitely going to add this to my training plan.

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Commercial Break Workout via Kiwi Fit Blog

This will come in very handy when the Olympics start. I will be glued to the TV!

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The Complete Walking Dead Workout via Just 2 Birds

I’ve been on pins and needles waiting for the Season 4 mid-season premiere to get here. The month long wait is going to be torturous! I plan on using this workout plan to distract myself from hiding under the covers. Judging from the preview alone, things are about to get real tough for the prison survivors.

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The strength training will come in handy as I dive into my half marathon training schedule. After looking at multiple training plans that are out there, I decided that the Hal Higdon Half Marathon Novice 1 training plan will meet my needs best.

half training plan

One of his main selling points for me is that the plan emphasizes flexibility. The schedule is not rigid, so if I need to shift workouts to different days, it’s fine. My goal with this race is to finish. One day I may be concerned with time, but this time around I just want to make it across the finish line in the allotted 3 hours and 30 minutes.

I’ve been looking around to find a good 8k or 10k that will allow me to test out the waters a few weeks before the big race. The last time I ran an 8k was the Rockville Twilight 8k last year, so I’m a bit rusty. There is a local 10k that I’ve been eyeing the past couple years as a must-do race. This year, the race falls exactly a week before the half. Based on the training plan, I should be fitting in 10 miles the week before the big day, so I’m guessing this is okay? I heard that you should really taper your distance the week or two beforehand, so I might need to do some more research before committing.

Since we’re in the middle of the ‘polar vortex,’ I’m going to start out my workouts on the treadmill and fit in outdoor runs when the temperature is above freezing. We’re set for a fifty degree day this weekend, so I may venture out then. I don’t know about you, but my body is having a hard time shifting from single digit temps to springtime temps in a two day time span.

So, that’s the plan. If you have any words of wisdom or advice, I’d love to hear it! Anything to ease my nerves!

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3 Feel Good Health Apps for 2014

After countless hours, days, and weeks attempting to create striped candy combos and trying to clear stubborn jelly, licorice, and annoying chocolate, I felt it was time for a break. Yes, I’m talking Candy Crush. While it’s a great game and can actually teach you some important healthy life lessons, I decided that I needed to explore some other great apps that are out there. Here are three that I found that are great for the mind and body.

1. Momentum Challenge

I’ve talked about my struggle with weight, including the time when I was a kid. Childhood obesity is a huge problem, and the folks at HealthCorps are taking on the challenge of trying to create a new generation of healthy young people. The movement is headed by Dr. Mehmet Oz and his wife, Lisa. Their mission is to implement an innovative in-school model that inspires teens to make healthier choices for themselves and their families.

About HealthCorps

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Last November, they launched their new Momentum Challenge app at Woodrow Wilson High School in Washington, D.C. One of their team members reached out to me recently to see if I could review the app, and I happily agreed. 

Momentum Challenge was “created to help engage youth to make sustainable and healthy lifestyle choices, by prompting them to accept daily health challenges to improve their physical, nutritional and mental health.”

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The free app is available for iOS devices (will soon be available for Android), and I was easily able to download it from iTunes.

When you open Momentum for the first time, you are prompted to engage in a short user tutorial and to create a user profile. This allows you to connect with friends on Facebook, Google+, and Twitter to support and encourage one another. There is also an option to register your school’s code so that you can engage in healthy competition with peers from participating schools.

The challenges that Momentum encourages you to complete focus on physical activity, nutrition, and mental resilience. Each challenge is worth points, ranging from 5 points to 20 points. You can pick and choose your challenges and add them to “My Daily 5″ list.

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The more challenges you complete, the more points you rack up, which increases your momentum reading. You can also earn badges for completing challenges.

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I really like how each challenge is a simple task that promotes healthy behavior. What’s more impressive is the built in social component. I think this is really important for this age group. The fact that teens can engage and share their progress with their friends and peers allows them to build social support, which is key in sticking with a healthy behavior. It would be great if the developers could include support for more social media tools, like Instagram. If participants could document their progress with photographs or even video, that would be a great way to hold one another accountable.

I think that Momentum Challenge is a great tool to help kids and teens start building and maintaining health behaviors. I think it also has great potential to be used in the classroom. I can see endless possibilities for teachers to use this as a tool in their curriculum.

2. React Mobile

React Mobile is a safety app that you can use if you ever find yourself in an unsafe situation. Robb Monkman, React Mobile Co-Founder, was inspired to create the mobile safety application after being held at gunpoint during a home invasion while in college.

You can alert your contacts with an SOS message in situations where you feel unsafe or alert 911 with the touch of a button.

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This app is free and you can download it for iOS and Android.

Once you set up your contact list, they will be sent an email letting them know that you chose them as a contact. If you ever find yourself feeling unsafe, like being followed by a stranger, you can alert them that you are concerned for your safety. This can be broadcast by SMS, email, Facebook, and/or Twitter.

You can also request that your contacts follow you in real time. Situations like walking to your car alone at night come to mind. To use the follow me feature in real time, you must activate the geolocation on your phone. I’ve taken advantage of this a few times while running alone, which definitely provides a sense of comfort. But I don’t keep the geolocation feature activated on my phone all the time, also for safety concerns. So if you know that you’re going to be out and about alone, like running or walking alone at night, I would recommend turning it on so that the app can be used.

I do know that it works because when I was testing it out, I accidentally pressed the alert button and I got a flood of calls from my contacts that were panicked that something was wrong. I suggest watching this tutorial so that you know which features to use when.

3. Fetched Good News

Fetched Good News is an ap
p that I learned about on Facebook. The brother of a girl that I went to high school with developed this app, and I happened to see the link on her profile a few weeks ago. I decided to check it out, and I must admit that it is a breath of fresh air.

I haven’t been able to stomach the television news lately. It’s hard to hear the countless negative stories that are thrown at you in a thirty minute time span. It can be really depressing. I often read about the news online, where I can pick and choose the stories that I want to read about.

The concept of Fetched Good News is that it only “fetches” good news and feel good stories. When you open the app, you see a news feed of the latest feel good stories, and the feed is continuously updated. I’ve been using the app for over a month, and I haven’t seen one negative story. It’s all been positive as promised.

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When you click a news item, you see a preview of the story. You then have the option to read the story in its entirety (you will be directed to the original web site where the story is published).

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If you find a story that you really like and want to save to read again later, you can save it to your favorites list.

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You also have the built-in option to share the stories through email, text message, and Twitter.

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Since the app is new, there is also an option to report bugs and offer suggestions for improvement.

Fetched Good News is available for iOS and Android. The cost to download is 99 cents, which I think is an excellent exchange for a good laugh, a heartfelt smile, and warm fuzzies that you will feel inside.

I was asked to review the Momentum Challenge app and React Mobile app. I was not paid for my participation. All opinions are my own.

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Eating Clean in 2014: Vegetarian Pantry Essentials for Under $50

Happy New Year!

Like most of you, I have a set of goals for the new year. Along with finishing my first half-marathon, I want to make the effort to start eating more clean. By eating clean I mean incorporating more meals into my diet made with whole foods. I’m generally good with my diet. Since I’m a vegetarian, I don’t eat a lot of saturated fat that comes along with eating meat, and I eat plenty of fruits and veggies. My one downfall is sugar, especially in the form of sweets like chocolate. The holidays? Ha! I’m surprised I didn’t turn into a Christmas cookie. My mom makes the best peanut butter cookies topped with Hershey kisses. To die for!

Many people think that eating healthy has to be expensive, but it doesn’t have to be. Another goal of mine for the new year is to try to be smarter with my finances. I’m in the process of trying to pay down debt, so having a few extra dollars in my pocket that I saved at the grocery store is a great thing!

You might know that I’m a big fan of Trader Joe’s. They have great products for low prices. They’re not paying me to say this. I just LOVE this store. If you don’t have a TJ’s in your area, that’s okay. You can still do this. Scope out the sale ads at your local grocery store and take advantage of club cards, coupons, and BOGO deals.

My plan of attack was to purchase foods that I can make multiple meals with. This includes snacks. Here’s what I came away with:

Vegetarian Pantry Items

Produce

  • bananas (10 at $0.19 each = $1.90)
  • 1 lb bag of limes ($1.49)
  • 1 Hass avocados bag 4 count ($2.99)
  • 1 organic sweet onions bag 5 count ($2.49)
  • sweet potatoes 3 count ($0.49 each = $1.47)
  • 1 pack of mini pearl tomatoes ($2.49)
  • 2 lb bag of clementine oranges ($2.99)
  • 1 bag of frozen sweet white corn ($1.29)
  • 1 bag of frozen broccoli florets ($1.49)

Total: $18.60

Protein

  • 1 bag of organic gluten-free brown rice and quinoa fusilli pasta ($2.99)
  • 1 bag of organic gluten-free red quinoa ($4.99)
  • 1 block of super firm high protein organic tofu ($2.49)
  • 2 cans of black beans ($0.89 each x 2 = $1.78)

Total: $12.25

Jarred, canned, and boxed goods

  • 2 cans of organic diced no salt tomatoes ($1.49 each x 2 = $2.98)
  • 2 cans of organic tomato sauce ($1.79 each x 2 = $3.58)
  • 2 boxes of vegetable broth ($2.29 each x 2 = $4.58)
  • 1 jar of tomato basil pasta sauce ($1.79)
  • 1 jar of pitted jumbo Kalamata olives ($2.99)
  • 1 container roasted garlic hummus ($1.99)

Total: $17.91

Grand total = $48.76

I was really proud of myself for spending just under $50 for all of this food! This will last me a couple weeks, and the variety of meals that I can make is endless. I plan on writing another post with some of the combos that I’ve come up with so far.

For another $10, I HIGHLY recommend buying herbs and spices at TJ’s. They have a pretty decent selection of spices that are super inexpensive. A 2.12 oz jar of lemon pepper seasoning blend WITH a grinder is only $1.99! In fact, most of their spices are around this price. I recommend getting all the basics, like garlic powder, basil, oregano, cinnamon, etc. They also have great deals on live herb plants, depending on the time of year. I’m already thinking ahead to spring and planting another cute herb garden, similar to my recycled dresser drawer garden.

Any other must-have vegetarian staples I’m missing? Let me know so I can be sure to pick them up on my next shopping trip!

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30 Day Squat/Plank Challenge

I’ve taken some time lately to really think about my fitness goals. What is it that I really want to accomplish? I’ve said that I want to lose weight and run X race that is X distance, but there’s more to it than that. I want to feel strong. I want to BE strong.

Stress has had a major effect on my attitude and behaviors. A lot of crazy things have happened in the past few years, and I let it get the best of me. I’m reminded of that when I look in the mirror and am horrified by the gray hair and dark circles under my eyes. Coming home from work and heading straight to the couch night after night hasn’t helped to improve my mood either. My exhaustion level has been killer. I realized that I needed to start making changes, otherwise I was going to continue to feel miserable.

My first step was to get my attitude in check. I’m only able to control so much that happens to me. I should worry about the things that I can control, and not obsess over the things that I can’t. Plain and simple. This new attitude of mine is still a new acquaitance, but day by day, it’s becoming stronger.

My second step was to get my thyroid issues under control. I put it on the back burner to deal with later, which I don’t recommend to anyone (about any health issue). But the exhaustion just got to be too much. While I had to make a case for it, my doctor agreed to treat me for hypothyroidism. I was told that I have subclinical hypothyroidism, but with a TSH level of 5.9, my research has convinced me that treatment was in order. Apparently doctors highly disagree what is considered “normal.” After six weeks of treatment, my level is now in the normal range. I’m also being treated for an extremely low vitamin D level. If you are in the same boat, my advice is to find a doctor who will listen to you.

My third step was get back into a fitness routine. The timing was on point about two weeks ago when I found out that a friend on Facebook was organizing a 30 day squat/plank challenge group. I decided to try it and it’s been a great motivator. Each day, I have to do a certain number of squats and hold a plank for a certain amount of time.

Squat Plank Challenge

We’re already on Day 17 and I’ve accomplished things I never thought I could. I never dreamed that I could hold a 2 minute plank. While it’s tough, I’ve been successful. It’s daunting knowing that on Day 30 I will have to hold a 5 minute plank (yikes!), but I’m learning attitude is everything. If I believe that I can do it, I will be able to do it. The other great thing is that I feel accountable. I have to post each day that I completed the exercises, which limits my excuses because I see that everyone else in the group also is working toward the same goal of getting these exercises done!

A week ago, I started Couch-to-5k again. I want to complete that half marathon that I’ve been talking about for over a year now. It’s time to stop making excuses and just do it. So I am. I’ve been looking at races next year and sticking with this training plan. This is something I have control over. No one else is going to get me there but me. I have to do it for myself.

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