Wednesday, February 29, 2012

CFC: Day 3

Wow!  Today was another great day.  I can't believe the first three days have felt so good.  I'm wondering if that means the end of the challenge will be difficult.  I even went out to dinner with my family and another family and was able to stick to the challenge...oh, and we went to a pizza place!  I had no problem eating my huge, fresh salad while they all ate pizza and wings, but I do have to admit that it was tough to watch our friends enjoy their delicious beers.  I really wanted a glass of wine.  Earlier in the afternoon, I went to our local pub (it's actually modeled after a traditional pub) with my boss and two of my co-workers to celebrate the end of a stressful reaccreditation visit (oh the joys of higher education).  I drank water while they all enjoyed wine and mixed drinks.  It was pretty difficult.  I'm surprised that alcohol has been my weak spot this time around.  I mean, I do love wine, but I don't drink it every day (I usually drink it on the weekends).  So, I didn't expect to notice it missing from my life this week, but I do.

Here are my eats for the day:

Breakfast:  Surprise!  Overnight oats again.  I really just love this.  Today I changed it up a bit and topped the oats with blueberries instead of raspberries

Lunch:  Huge salad with tons of fresh veggies and chick peas

Dinner:  Another huge salad

Snacks: raisins and almonds, banana, brown rice cake with hummus (I allow myself to eat rice cakes because they are only puffed rice and salt, but some consider them processed and don't allow them), dried cherries, cashews, Lara balls

I'm not usually a banana eater, but I really enjoyed the one I ate today.

I'm pretty happy with my meals for the day, but I feel like I needed more with my dinner.  We were originally supposed to go to UNO because they were donating 20% of each meal purchase to help fund a local children's museum that is in the process of being established.  I had already looked at the menu online and selected the chopped power salad (minus the chicken and feta) and the farro salad. I knew that would be enough to satisfy me.  But, the wait time was 45 minutes because of the size of our party, and we knew that the five kids with us, which included a one year old and a two year old, would never hold it together that long.  So, we decided to go somewhere else.  Since we went to a pizza place, my choices were limited.  Most of the salads had meat and cheese on them, so I ordered a large garden salad.  It was delicious and full of tons of different veggies, but it didn't have much staying power.

So, I'm almost halfway through the challenge and I'm feeling pretty good.  I'm hoping the second of the challenge goes just as well.  I'm wondering if it will be difficult to stick to it while I'm on my girl's weekend in Boston.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

CFC: Day 2

What a great day!  Having done this challenge before, I know that there are good days and bad days.  There are days that I embrace the challenge and feel healthy and strong.  Then, there are days that I feel grumpy and frustrated.  Well, today was one of the good days.  I felt great eating my healthy food throughout the day and got excited about all of my yummy treats and meals.  I had a fabulous lunchtime run (4 miles) and felt energized the rest of the day.  It's days like today that make me realize how important it is to eat healthy as much as possible.  Trust me, I firmly believe there is room in every eating plan for some of these (my kryptonite):

But, I also realize each time I do one of these clean food challenges that I just feel better when I eat healthy, whole foods.  I know that some of my fellow CFCers are having similar revelations today.  For their experiences, check out Emilie's blog.

I do have to admit that I had one rough moment this afternoon.  At about 2pm today, after a chaotic and stressful morning at work, my colleague offered me some M & M's.  Any other week I would have scarfed them up, but this time I politely refused. I felt good about it, but I did find myself longing for those little nuggets of chocolaty goodness.

So, here's a rundown of what I ate today:

Breakfast - The same oats as yesterday (no picture necessary)

Lunch - A huge salad and a sweet potato (no picture because I was so hungry that I ate it and then remembered that I wanted to take a picture)

Dinner:  Mama Pea's Spanish Quinoa and cut up veggies.  I can't post a link to the recipe because she doesn't have it on her website.  But she does have it in her wonderful cookbook.  I highly recommend you buy it.

(Wow...look how scratched my dining room table is!)

Snacks - Angela's Endurance Crackers, fresh mango, almonds, cashews, raisins, carrot sticks, cucumbers, snap peas, Lara balls (real recipe with instructions coming soon)

So, it was a day of great food and good vibes.  I'm feeling so good this time around.  I'm wondering if the whole challenge will feel good, or if I'll have one of those dreaded bad days eventually.

Monday, February 27, 2012

CFC: Day 1

WOO HOO!  One day down, six to go.  Today was a great first day of the challenge.  I had a bunch of healthy, whole food to keep me satisfied throughout the day and I'm sitting here at 9:45 pm feeling very full and satisfied.  OK, I would be lying if I didn't admit that there were some moments throughout today that I was really tempted by some of the foods that aren't "allowed," but I was able to get through the weak moments pretty easily.  My worst point was tonight at dinner.  We had yummy homemade lentil soup, and Paul and the kids were eating bread and/or grilled cheese sandwiches on the side.  I LOVE eating a hunk of bread with soup, and I also love grilled cheese.

It was tough staring at this

While I was eating this

My eats for the day included:

Breakfast - Overnight oats with almond milk, maple syrup and raspberries

Lunch - A huge salad with tons of fresh veggies (no picture because I had to eat it quickly between meetings)

Dinner - Lentil soup

Snacks - almonds and raisins, fresh mango, homemade Lara balls (walnuts, dates and cocoa powder blended together in the food processor and rolled into balls), carrot sticks and cucumbers

Water - approximately 90 ounces (not quite enough but I plan to do better tomorrow)

Tonight I made Angela's Endurance Crackers to eat throughout the week.  I tasted a few after they came out of the oven and I think they'll be a great snack to help me get through the week.

I remember from the last time that day 2 and 3 tend to be the most difficult, so I'm hoping tomorrow isn't too bad.  I have some delicious food packed to eat at work tomorrow and I have a great dinner planned, so I should be fine.  I just have to remember that handfuls of chocolate chips aren't good to eat every day...or are they?

Sunday, February 26, 2012

I'm Ready to Get Clean!

OK, so tomorrow is the day I start the Clean Food Challenge.  This will be my third time doing it, but only my second time doing it as part of an organized group.  The first time I participated was in June, which is also when I started this blog.  I love this challenge, and I might have nagged Emilie a little bit to organize another one.  After weeks (OK, really months) of not eating as healthy as I should - I guess this is where I should admit that my attempt to go sugar-free was a complete flop - I am in desperate need of a clean food challenge.  I feel bloated, sluggish and just generally yucky.  My pants are snug, my skin is a mess, and I am on edge most of the time.  Sure, some of it is because of work stress and general life stuff, but a lot of it is because I have been overdoing it with handfuls of chocolate chips at night (what, you don't eat handfuls of chocolate chips at night as a snack?) and the random snacking on chips and cheese sticks and my kids cheddar bunnies.  As someone who prides myself on my healthy diet, this isn't really a great way to function. Honestly, how can I be a healthy living blogger if I'm not practicing what I preach.  Just to clarify, I totally believe in living a healthy, balanced life which includes the occasional indulgences.  I'm not an extremist when it comes to what I eat.  I have no problem eating the occasional bag of Doritos or Taco Bell bean and cheese burrito.  After all, I subscribe to the 80/20 rule.  Unfortunately, in the past few months, this has been more like the 50/50 rule, which I'm not comfortable with.

So, in an attempt to get myself back on track, I'm committing to the Clean Food Challenge for one week.  What does this mean?  It means that I can't consume dairy, sugar, gluten, processed foods or alcohol.  I will only eat clean foods (i.e. whole foods), and I will drink 120 ounces of water each day.  Some people cut out coffee, but that's not an option for me.  I fear for my husband and children if I don't have coffee in my system.  After all, cutting out wine is hard enough.

This challenge is going to be especially challenging because I am going to Boston with my friend next weekend (Friday - Sunday).  It's going to be just the two of us, which means two days of me time.  No kids, no work, no responsibilities.  I love Boston and all it has to offer (especially the food), and I really think it's going to be fun to experience it while I'm participating in the clean food challenge.  I will have to try to find healthy food places to visit that will allow me to stick to the challenge while still enjoying yummy food.  We're planning to visit Whole Foods and Trader Joe's (sadly, my town doesn't have either) while we're there, so I'm sure I'll be fine.

So, tomorrow will be day one of the challenge.  I will blog about my experience each day with recaps of what I'm eating and how I feel.  I'm excited for tomorrow, but today I enjoyed these.  

Don't let the fruit deceive you.  There was a lot of chocolate frozen yogurt underneath it.

I know I can have them again in a week, but it was still a nice way to end my phase of gluttony and get ready to clean up my act.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Date Night

As I mentioned before, the past few weeks have been pretty chaotic.  Paul and I have both been busy with work and other obligations and the kids have had a lot of activities and birthday parties to attend lately.   As parents, Paul and I really strive to make sure that our kids have the opportunity to participate in a lot of fun activities without over scheduling them and negatively impacting our quality family time.  We do the same with our own activities and outside obligations.  In addition to our full-time jobs, we are both part-time graduate students, adjunct college instructors and runners.  So, it can sometimes be difficult to manage it all and make sure that we strike the right balance.  The past couple of weeks have been particularly busy, and our whole family was feeling the strain.  So, tonight we made time for each other.  We ignored the meal plan and the household budget, gathered up some pads and pens, and made our way to our favorite Mexican restaurant for a family date night.

Ben took this picture and it came out really dark, but it's still pretty good for a 2.5 year old

Even though we had to rein the kids in a few times, it was completely worth it.  It was just what our family needed.  Plus, I got to have sangria, which is just what I needed before I start the Clean Food Challenge on Monday.

So, when life gets crazy and overwhelming, make sure you find the time to reconnect with your family.  It doesn't have to be at a restaurant or cost any money.  It just has to be somewhere that your family can spend quality time together (like your living room).

On a totally separate note, these pictures make me realize how much I need a real camera.  My iPhone just isn't cutting it any more.  I guess I better start shopping!

Saturday, February 18, 2012

What a Week!

Whew!  I can't believe the week is over.  It's been chaotic and overwhelming and productive, and it's finally done.  I'm not done with my thesis, and I still have a lot to do at work, but a lot of the pressure has been removed with the completion of some major projects.  So, I feel like I can handle everything else that I have coming up in the next few weeks.  Unfortunately, because this week was so crazy, I haven't done much picture-taking (with my phone, since I still have no camera), so this post will be picture less.  I also haven't done much exercising, so I don't have much to write about on that end.

But, things are looking up...

I was able to get to the gym today for a quick jaunt on the elliptical, and I have a 6 - 7 mile run on the schedule for tomorrow.

I updated my work calendar for next week and blocked out time most days for a lunch hour run.  So, I'm feeling positive about my ability to stay on track in the coming weeks.

Emilie is planning another Clean Food Challenge and I am already signed up to participate.  We'll be starting on February 27th.

Oh, and I'm finally ready to take this blog to the next level.  Last week, I purchased a domain (unfortunately, My Own Trail was already registered to someone else) and in the next few weeks I will be unveiling my new and improved blog.  It will have a different name, but this blog will link directly to it.  I'm so excited to take my blogging to the next level.  Now, I just have to learn everything I need to know about blogging before I move forward...I'm sure I'll find time for that somewhere in my day.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Quick Break

I'm in the midst of editing and finishing my thesis (on top of working full time, teaching part time and being a mom).  This week is nuts, so I'm not going to be around much.  Regular posting will resume next week.  I have some great topics planned!

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

I jumped on the bandwagon...

If you read healthy living blogs (which you obviously do), you know that a common breakfast among bloggers is overnight oats, which is oats that are soaked in milk (nut or animal) overnight instead of cooked on the stovetop.  Overnight oats are eaten cold and they are absolutely delicious.  In fact, I prefer overnight oats to cooked oats.  I tend to eat them at least once a week.  My standard combination is oats soaked in almond milk, yogurt, and a drizzle of maple syrup and topped with frozen blueberries or raspberries.  In the morning, the oats have absorbed all of the liquid and the fruit has thawed.  It's so good that I didn't think it could get any better...but it did.  Many bloggers take their overnight oats one step further and put them in a nut butter jar that they just finished.  The jar still has the last remnants of the nut butter along the sides and bottom of the jar, and when you eat the oats, you get little bits of creamy nut butter mixed in.  I keep seeing these oats on other blogs, but I never made them myself...until last night. 

I can't believe it took me so long.  The addition of nut butter takes the oats to a new level!  Seriously, this stuff is so good.  So, the next time you take that last scoop of nut butter out of the jar, consider making oats in it instead of washing it out.  Trust me, you won't be disappointed.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Sugar Free Me: Moderation is Key

Well, after a week of trying to reduce my sugar intake, I'm happy to report that I have been very successful.  Does that mean that I completely eliminated sugar from my diet?  Nope!  Instead, I spent the majority of the week avoiding sugar-laden treats, but I did let myself indulge two times when I really wanted to.  One night, Paul and I took the kids out for frozen yogurt, which is one of my favorite treats.  It was a fun family outing, and I didn't want to miss out, so I had a cup with some fruit on top and I enjoyed every bite.  Tonight, we had a potluck get together at a friend's house and there were some delicious desserts there.  I knew I could say no and not eat them, but I decided that it was a worthy indulgence.  I enjoyed every bite.  So, during the week, I ate sugar three times (counting the first day).  Do I consider that a failure?  Not at all!  I drastically reduced the amount of sugar I normally eat.  I was able to get through most days without grabbing a sweet snack or mindlessly snacking on mini candy bars.  I didn't go to bed each night having consumed countless handfuls of chocolate chips.  Overall, it was a great week.  What I found was that I do best when I allow myself some leeway.  If I deny myself completely and think that I'm never going to be able to eat a sweet snack again, I just want it more.  But, by being mindful of the amount of sugar I consume and intentionally choosing to eat it only when I really want it, I was able to reduce my intake significantly.  Once again, I have learned that moderation is key.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Better than nothing

To say that work is crazy and chaotic right now is an understatement.  I work at a community college, which means my life operates in semesters, and a new one just started last week.  There are new and returning students to help, reports to write, and programs to develop.  On top of that, I'm in the middle of a couple of major projects that require a lot of my time.  It seems like my day is filled with non-stop meetings and student obligations.  Since I use my lunch hour to get in extra workout/running time during the week, this means that my exercise time has suffered.  At first, I just chose to not do anything because I didn't have time for a full workout, but over the past week I have had to adopt a new attitude.  If I don't go over to the gym for a little while, I won't get any exercise time in.  So, now I go over on my lunch "hour" even if I only have 20 or 30 minutes to exercise.   I'm able to maintain some level of fitness throughout the week and it helps me stay focused at work during stressful moments.  So, even though I can't always get a full workout in, I have to remind myself that's it's still important to do something physical.  After all, it's better than nothing.