The Return of Sober Workdays

Waaaay back, many moons ago, I embarked on a self-imposed healthy eating challenge with a set of rules that I made up myself. The ultimate goal was simply to break bad habits, build better ones, and just be healthier overall.

While those rules have long since flown out the window, it’s time to bring back one in particular: no drinking on work nights. For a long time, I was VERY good about this, and only broke the rule sporadically for things like date nights and other special events. Unfortunately, however, weeknight drinking has slowly crept in and become the rule rather than the exception. Now, I’m not saying I’m getting drunk, or even tipsy, every night, but it has become habit to have a drink or two after work each night, with a few extras thrown in on the weekends.

A large part of this is due to the change in our living situation; Ben’s folks like to unwind each night with a drink or two, and it was just very easy to fall into the habit with them. I don’t think there’s anything at all wrong with an after work cocktail, but as someone who is hoping to get pregnant within the next few months, it’s a habit that I’ve got to break.

While (hopefully) impending pregnancy is my number one motivator, I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t also hoping to lose a few pounds. It seems like each passing year brings a few extra pounds and suddenly I’m the heaviest I’ve ever been, which SUCKS. I had a “secret” goal to get back to my pre-Vermont weight before we started trying to get pregnant, and I’m further away from that than I was when I made the goal back in December. So some things have gotta change, and this is an easy place to start.

I actually already started this a couple of weeks ago, but clearly fell off the wagon during my San Francisco trip. The good news is, I started fresh this week, and I’m ready to fully commit. I’m also toying with the idea of a “no treats during the week” rule as well, because I’ve had the same insidious creep with desserts that I have with alcohol, but maybe one thing at a time?

Are you a fan of the after work drink to unwind?

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Pseudo-Whole Life Challenge Check-In

I realized today that it’s been almost two weeks since I decided to try following a modified Whole Life Challenge diet. As I predicted, it’s been difficult. And even though I’m not following the prescribed compliant/non-compliant food list to a T, I still haven’t been “perfect” by any means. In fact, I went completely off the wagon at my parents’ this weekend. And then again at my mother in law’s birthday dinner on Monday. And that’s A-OK by me. Here’s a little bit of what this week or so has been like.

Pros:

  • I lost a pound!
  • I’m eating lots more fruit and veg than I normally do
  • I’ve realized I have a lot more will power than I thought, and I have the power to say “no”

Cons:

  • The cravings for carbs and sugar didn’t really go away, even though I was VERY disciplined the first week. I just want to bury my face in a vat of mac and cheese every moment of every day
  • It’s hard to stick to a “diet” when you’re a) away from home, b) want to have a social life, and c) neglect your grocery shopping
  • My will power is not limitless. When faced with a full turkey dinner cooked by my dad, all bets are off

Even though I went off the rails this weekend, I don’t think I’m giving up. I will continue to avoid sugar, limit alcohol intake, and try very, very hard not to eat bread, pasta, or processed foods for the rest of the month. But I’m also not going to beat myself up if I can’t stick to it. Realistically, eliminating entire food groups is not the way I want to live my life. More than anything, I’m looking at this as an exercise in will power. If I can say no to cupcakes at the office one day, I can say no to them other days. And as long as I say no more often than I say yes, I should maintain a relatively balanced lifestyle, which is ultimately what I’m going for.

What’s your number one, all-bets-are-off, can’t-say-no-to treat or food?

Back on Track

Now that Legally Blonde is over and I have a few weeks to myself before Chess rehearsals start, it’s time to re-establish a fitness routine. Towards the end of Legally Blonde rehearsals, I made the tough (but ultimately smart) decision to stop running for a while, because the strain on my shins was too much with all of the jumping rope I had to do for the show. Also as you may remember, I was too exhausted to do much but go through the motions outside of rehearsals and performances for the last week or so. I took two full days off of pretty much any physical activity, and now I’m ready to get back to it.

With the re-establishing of the fitness routine also needs to come better eating. Things have been so insane lately that convenience has become the most important thing, and my diet has consequently suffered. Too many processed carbs, too much sugar, and not enough produce or protein. That’s got to change.

I also need to come up with some more structured strength training to get ready for the Spartan Race on September 20. I’m hoping to be able to start taking Body Pump at least once a week (ideally twice per week), and I’m considering biting the bullet and paying for some personal training sessions to really come up with a plan.

I’d be lying if I said my ultimate goal with all of the above wasn’t to FINALLY lose these extra 10 or so pounds that have crept up on me over the last year or so. It will be better for my running, better for the Spartan Race, and better for my self-esteem. I think investing in a personal trainer is a smart move at this point, because obviously, what I’m doing on my own isn’t working. They say that if you do what you’ve always done, you’ll get what you’ve always gotten. I’m tired of doing the same old workouts and beating my head against a wall, wondering why I’m not getting stronger and leaner. It’s time to call in the big guns. It’s time to get professional help.

Unless and until I finally pull the trigger on personal training, and until Chess rehearsals start, here is what my schedule will probably look like.

  • Monday:  Short run at lunch; Body Pump in the evening
  • Tuesday:  Walk at lunch; stretch and roll
  • Wednesday:  Short run at lunch; Body Pump in the evening
  • Thursday:  Walk at lunch; CXWORX in the evening
  • Friday:  Short run at lunch; Body Flow?
  • Saturday:  Longer run or race
  • Sunday:  Rest

I’d still love to incorporate yoga once a week, but I’ve finally accepted that while we’re living with Ben’s parents out in the boonies, it just doesn’t make sense to drive into town on Sunday morning for a yoga class. I’d end up spending more time in the car than in yoga. There’s a 5:15 Body Flow class at my gym on Fridays, but as you can see by the question mark above, I don’t know how reasonable it is that I’d want to go to a yoga type class on Friday evening. My gut says I’d skip it more often than not, especially as the weather gets warmer and more activities start happening on Friday nights. I guess we’ll see.

I’ve also got a few races coming up–a 5 miler on May 2, a 5k on May 9 (visit my fundraising page here), and a 5k on May 14, so I’ve got plenty to keep me busy training-wise.

What’s your number one tip for getting back on track after time off?

Have you ever worked with a personal trainer?

Minimalist Meal Planning

Unless you’re new around here (in which case, HI!! Thanks for stopping by!), you know that I’ve been super busy lately. On Monday, Wednesday and Friday evenings and Sunday afternoons, I have rehearsal for anywhere from 3 to 4 hours. And the timing is such that I don’t have enough time to go home between work and rehearsal during the week. I usually end up going to the gym instead.

This means that most of my meals are eaten away from home, which is generally a recipe for unhealthy eating and/or paying out the wazoo for convenience foods. And being so busy leaves me very little time for traditional meal planning and prep–I don’t have 5 hours on Sunday afternoon to peel, chop, cook etc. I have pared down my weekly meal prep to the bare minimum, and so far it’s working for me. In case you’re curious or looking to develop a system of your own, here’s what I do.

Shopping List:

  • Unsweetened Vanilla Almond Milk
  • 2 lbs green beans
  • 1 lb carrots
  • Bananas
  • 4 or 5 medium sweet potatoes
  • Boneless, skinless chicken breasts or tender fillets
  • Quick oats
  • All natural nut butter (my favorite is sunflower seed butter)
  • Plain Greek yogurt
  • Granola or some variation of Kashi cereal
  • Nuts (usually cashews or almonds)
  • Sometimes I buy Lara bars or Kind bars for portable snacks, but only if they’re on sale

On Sunday evening when I get home from rehearsal, I dump the chicken in my crockpot with some salsa and a bit of water. No, I don’t measure anything. I cook the chicken on high for about 4 hours, or until it’s done.

While the chicken is doing its thing, I’ll peel and chop the sweet potatoes, season them with olive oil, salt, pepper, garlic powder, and paprika, and roast them at 350 for about an hour, or until they’re cooked through. I’ll also peel and chop carrots and put them in a container filled with water to keep them fresh. This way I can just grab a handful and put them in a baggie or container for easy, healthy snacking.

Next, I sautee the green beans in olive oil with garlic, salt and pepper. I like my beans crispy, so I don’t cook them very long. Once the chicken, sweet taters, and beans are all done, I divide them up into 5 equal portions for lunches during the week. Friday’s portion usually ends up being dinner because I have a standing lunch date with a friend. For dinners on Monday or Wednesday nights, I’ll try to snag leftovers from dinners at home, or hit up the Shaw’s salad bar.

Every night, I’ll prep a batch of overnight oats in a mason jar to bring to work for breakfast in the morning. 1/2 cup quick oats + 3/4 cup almond milk + a ripe banana + 2 tbsp of nut butter = creamy, sweet breakfast with no added sugar. Just microwave for 60 seconds before serving. Yum!

Snacks at work are usually Greek yogurt with granola or cereal in the morning, and nuts in the afternoon. I’ll occasionally have a Lara bar or Kind bar before an evening workout, just for a bit of extra energy and to keep Hangry Rae at bay.

So there you have it. My bare bones weekly meal prep. Once I have more time again, I’d like to be more thorough and try to cover all of my meals during the week, but for now, it’s good enough.

Do you do a weekly meal plan/prep session?

Sweet potatoes, love ’em or hate ’em? I obviously love them.

Here I Go Again (Not) On My Own

Weight is a subject that I’ve touched on several times over the last few months.  To sum up, I’ve gained some weight and some inches over the last year or so, and I’m not happy about it.  Summer of 2013, I was fit, confident and happy.  I was running moderate distances 2-3 times per week, and hitting up 1-2 strength/bootcamp type classes per week.  I was eating generally well, keeping the booze consumption under control, and feeling pretty good about myself.

Fall of 2013, Ben and I tore up our Massachusetts roots and headed back to our home state of Vermont.  The transition went well in most ways, except in the diet and exercise department.  I fell off the wagon, hard, and have been running behind and trying unsuccessfully to climb back on ever since.  Now, we’re entering a time of year that is pretty much synonymous with excess–pies, cakes, cookies, eggnog and more, all trotted out on a daily basis, begging to be eaten.  Coworkers will bring in their leftover treats from home, there will be parties galore, and lots of seasonal delicacies that only emerge between mid-November and January.  I usually end up overindulging and feeling crappy about myself, and of course there’s the oft-made (and oft-broken) New Year’s Resolution to “lose weight!” or “get in shape!” that never actually happens and leaves me feeling like a failure, until the next year when I do it all over again.

This year I’m saying “no.”  Not again.  No more.  No more eating to the point of illness.  No more, “But it’s Thanksgiving/Christmas/New Years, don’t hold back!”  No more packing on the pounds and feeling sorry for myself.  And I know I (and many others) say this every year, but this time is different.  This time, I’ve got help–my accountabilibuddies (Kim, Lisa, Kellie and Nicole) are back on the case, and we’re going to stop being enablers and get tough on each other.  We check in daily, we encourage each other to be active, and say things like “Back away from the donut box.”

This will likely be even more challenging due to my current non-running status, but I know for a fact that diet is 90% of the problem for me anyway.  This means it’s more important than ever to really focus on eating nutritious foods, cutting back on the sugar and booze, and getting a handle on portion sizes.

I probably won’t be doing regular check-ins on this, but I’ll be sure to do a wrap up after the holidays.

How do you combat holiday weight gain?

True Citrus Giveaway Winners!

Just popping in quickly on this beautiful, sunny Saturday to announce my True Citrus giveaway winners!

  1. Comment #2:  Lauren from Run Salt Run
  2. Comment #1:  Erin from Wicked Vegan
  3. Comment #7:  Amy from Let’s Go Running
  4. Comment #5:  Jordan Dunne (@j_mosh on Twitter)

Products to be given away are TrueLime, TrueLemon, True Lemonade, and True Black Cherry Limeade.

Please email me at darlinrae[at]gmail[dot]com and tell me which product is your first, second, third and fourth choice, and send along your mailing address so I can get your delicious water kicker-uppers out to you!

Winners were chosen using a random number generator.  The first winner will get his/her choice of product, and so on down the line.

Happy Saturday!

#Chewsday Challenge Wrap-Up

A few weeks ago, I recommitted myself to the #Chewsday Challenge.  As discussed, my original plan was perhaps a little too ambitious, so this time around I decided to add in one challenge at a time, with the goal of slowly and realistically building toward overall healthier eating.  The challenge for Week 1 was no booze on work nights.  Week 2, I added in fruits and/or veggies with every meal.  Week 3, I started only one serving of treat per day.  And last week, I added in protein with every meal.  I’ve now been at this for a solid month (more, if you count my first, half-hearted attempt), and I’m ready to let go of #Chewsday (and I’m sure you’re all tired of hearing about my eating challenges).  So, I’ve done one final assessment of what worked, what didn’t, and how I plan to move forward.

How did it go?

  • No booze on work nights has become pretty much habit.  I may have a beer here or a glass of wine there, but on the whole, I’m not really drinking on week nights anymore, and that’s probably the way it will stay.  I don’t need the extra calories and I don’t need any more trouble sleeping than I already have.
  • Fruits or veggies with every meal will likely always be a challenge for me.  I’m worlds better than I used to be, but I still struggle.  I have a few more tricks in my arsenal, and I am eating some veggies that I used to despise, so I’ll take that as a win.  I will do my best to continue to incorporate more fruits and veg, but I’m not going to beat myself up if I have a veggie-less meal.
  • One serving of treat per day is easier some days than others.  I really like having my bag of chocolate covered sunflower seeds in my desk.  They’re a satisfying treat on multiple levels, and I feel like I don’t eat as many of them as I would other sweet options.  On the whole, I think I’m more mindful about reaching for treats than I used to be, but this will definitely also always be a struggle.
  • Protein with every meal is not as easy as I’d hoped.  It requires planning ahead (is the chicken thawed? are the beans soaking?), which Ben and I are not always great at.  However, on the days I followed through with this, I noticed that I ate less overall and definitely did less snacking, so I plan to at least attempt to keep up with this.

So that’s it for the #Chewsday Challenge, at least for me.  I won’t be posting any more weekly updates or issuing any more challenges.  But I will DEFINITELY continue to work on these four points above, because they are working for me.  And of course, I’ll be doing periodic check-ins with my accountabilibuddies, cause they’re hilarious and awesome.

What’s your number one healthy eating tip/trick?