November Update

We worked on a lot of things in the month of November.  Some went well, some…not so well.  Let’s do a monthly round-up!

#1: Throw away less, recycle more

This month I made a concerted effort to be good about recycling whenever possible.  I found myself checking the bottom of plastic containers more than ever before.  I also walked things over to the recycling bins upstairs and downstairs to make sure we were recycling instead of tossing.  I found more recyclable items than I thought I would.  Hooray!  It seemed that our recycling bin was overflowing almost every week.  I’d love to take credit for that but honestly, a lot of the recycling was boxes from stuff we purchased.  I’ll still take it as a win!  We get a smiley!

# 2 – Reduce the number of one-time plastic bags we use

The goal with this one for November was to get less than 15 plastic bags.  I thought FOR SURE we’d be a winner on this one.  And would have been, had I not forgotten my reusable produce bags when I went to the market two weeks ago.  DOH!  Of course, this was the market where I buy all my produce and I was buying groceries because we were having company over.  Darn it!  Other than that one big loser trip, I only picked up four bags – one from Albertsons (I had bags with me but even then, these folks insist on putting only one item in a bag and putting it in my cart!), one from the tools at Radio Shack, a produce bag for some ground turkey, and a taco bell bag.  Sucks but we didn’t make it this time.  I used 17 bags.

#3 – Stop using SLS/SLES shampoos

I started using shampoo again but with no Sodium Laurel Sulfate or Sodium Laureth Sulfate.  So I get a smiley.  I’m working on finishing up the bottles of soap and other items I have with SLS in it and then we’re going all natural when possible!  I bought a natural face wash from Alba that I’m looking forward to trying.  Just need to get through some of what I have already.


#5 – Eat Homemade meals at least four times a week

We aren’t the kind of people who sit around at home.  Between travel, family and friends, we stay pretty busy.  Also, hurting my back threw a wrench in our eating at home plans.  In general, though, I’m pretty pleased with how this is going.  I find that we opt to eat out waaaay less frequently than we used to.  In November especially, I ate lunch at home almost every weekday.  I’m not running out to go get food anymore.  I think my habits are changing.  I’m also finding that rather than saying “hey, can you pick something up on your way home from work,” I’m taking a quick look in the cupboard and the refrigerator to see what we can do that’s quick and filling.  With this goal, my intent was to change my habits and I feel that’s taking place.  So I’m kind of torn on this.  Technically, I think we met the goal only 2-3 times out of the four weeks but on the other, I do think we’re changing habits.  I’ll give it a straight face.

#10 – Limit Fast Food to Once a Month

The goal for November was to get my fast food eating down to two times or once every other week.  I only intentionally got fast food once.  So that was good.  A few days later, though, my husband asked me if I wanted anything from McDonald’s for breakfast and without even thinking about it, I said sure.  So we had McDonald’s for breakfast and it didn’t even occur to me that I had had fast food until the next day.  Sneaky sneaky.  So I refrained from getting fast food the rest of the month.  Technically I didn’t have it every other week, I had it twice in one week, but I still met the goal of having it twice in one month.  Yay!

#11 – Limit Soda to Once a Month

Starting on November 1st, hubby and I decided to give up refined sugar with the intent to start kicking our sugar habit.  In my mind, I’d go cold turkey for at least 21 days (supposedly it takes 21 days to form a habit) and then I would allow myself sweet stuff every so often.  Again, the intent here was to break a bad habit and change my behaviors.  We were successful until Thanksgiving, when I had pecan pie, pumpkin holes,a cookie and a sliver of pumpkin pie, all over the long weekend.  Oh ya and I also got a Dr. Pepper, and shared a couple iced teas with hubby.  Sigh.  BUT the good news is that I think I kicked my soda habit!  Only one soda this month even though according to my plan, I could have had two!

All in all, I think we’re headed in the right direction.  Might be time to pursue some more items on the the list!

Update Sunday – October 23, 2011

Messing up my back at the end of the week did a real number on my goals this week, unfortunately.  Here’s a rundown:

Meal Plan

I’m not 100% sure but I think I only cooked twice this week.  I made the Spicy Sausage Broccoli Rabe Parmesan.  Hubby thought it was ok but I really liked it.  Then when I ate some left overs the next day I loved it.  THEN when I polished off the left overs on the third day, I wished we had more.  I liked the slight bite of the broccoli rabe along with the hint of spiciness.  I think I’ll add this to the list of meals we’ll have “every once in a while” since my husband thought it was just ok.  On Tuesday (I think it was Tuesday), I made the Spanikopita with a side of some couscous (Ya!  I used some of the couscous at long last!).  Again, I liked these better than my husband did.  We both agreed that these would be better as appetizers than dinner.  Maybe Spanikopita is never meant to be a meal.  I dunno.  I can’t for the life of me remember what we had on Wednesday.  I know my husband picked up dinner on Thursday because that’s when I pulled the muscle.  We picked up some dinner and took it to a friend’s house to see their new baby (oh, how I love newborns) on Friday and went to another friend’s home for a dinner party on Saturday.  Not great.

#10 on the LIST: Limit Fast Food
Not good this week.  REALLY not good.  Had fast food THREE times this week, twice for lunch and once for a snack that I probably didn’t really need.  And it was all pretty bad stuff – Taco Bell, Chick-Fil-e and McDonalds.  And of course along with it, I blew my goals for…

#11 on the LIST: Limit Soda to once a month

Ya, every time we got fast food, I had a soda.  Sigh.  One sweet tea and two Dr. Peppers.  Damn it.

So clearly, I get a sad face for performance against my goals this week.  Wop wop wop.

But really, I feel like this guy, sad and embarrassed:

Update Sunday – October 16, 2011

We did a pretty good job sticking to the menu this week.  Made Pad Thai with a salad on the side for dinner on Monday after eating out on Sunday.  The salad is a tried and true, so no surprises there.  The pad thai, on the other hand, threw me for a loop.  I went to the market at like 3:00 on Monday, with no real plan on what we’d eat and a really skimpy grocery list. I half thought we’d just eat out but I came across some pad thai noodles and some pad thai simmer sauce.  Eh, why not?  So I threw together the noodles, some crushed peanuts, tofu, green onions, and scrambled an egg in the pan.  Mixed in the sauce and voila – dinner. I thought it sucked but my husband liked it!  Only thing was I think there was too many noodles for the amount of sauce, so next time I’ll cut back on the noodles.  Tuesday we had enchiladas, no big deal there.  Was in a rush so didn’t make guacamole.  Mixed around the days a bit and made shells and cheese with an avocado, tomato, broccoli, and cucumber salad on the side on Wednesday.  Husband picked up dinner on Thursday and we tried the pesto grilled cheese sandwiches along with soup on Friday.  They were ok but we used store bought pesto, which wasn’t great.  Saturday I made black bean burgers for the first time.  I started with this basic recipe but made some modifications.  I bought slider buns and made the mix into eight small sliders instead of four burgers.  Panko breadcrumbs were more accessible to me so I used those instead of normal breadcrumbs.  Also made a chipotle mayo and added it, along with a slice of tomato and a 1/4 of a slice of provolone to the burger.  Baked some fries in the toaster oven and called it a meal.  The mayo was a bit overwhelming and the burgers were a bit dry because of the panko but otherwise these were ok.

Didn’t get around to making the sweet potato, lentils or quinoa for baby but she did have everything else as well as peas.  She also had khichadi again this week.  I think it’s good for her – lentils provide protein and we throw in peas and spinach to up the nutritional value.  Ya!  That means we ate dinner at home FIVE days this week – we can check off #5 on the LIST – Eat homemade meals eat least 4 days a week.

I was sick this week, which is another bring-er on-er of bad eating habits.  My goal for October is to only have fast food once a week and soda once a week.  I craved bad food and soda all week.  But I made it. I had Arby’s on Monday for lunch, which included a Dr. Pepper (naturally) so I blew my cheats all in one bad girl meal at the beginning of the week.  I will say though, this was the first week that I really thought was tough with the soda challenge.  I didn’t need the fast food because I had plenty of foods prepared for lunch and had a plan for dinner.  So yay me.  I still want a Dr. Pepper today but haven’t had one yet.  We get a smiley face for this week because we can also check off meeting the goals for #10 on the LIST – Limit fast food and #11 – Limit soda.

Update Sunday…er, Monday – October 10, 2011

Updated status on the following:

Meal Plan Monday – Week of October 2, 2011

#10 on the LIST – Fast Food

#11 on the LIST – Limit soda to once a month

Here’s a quick run-down:  #10 on the LIST – No fast food this week!  My husband was kind enough to bring me lunch three times this week but no fast food runs.  Yay!   #11 on the LIST – I did have a Dr. Pepper this week.  And in the spirit of full disclosure, it WAS from McDonald’s at the mall but I’m not counting that in my fast food run.  I think that’s fair, don’t you?  🙂  I debated last week whether or not Hawaiian Punch is soda.  I’ve never seen it from a fountain, there’s no caffeine or carbonation.  However, they do sell it in a can and it IS full of high fructose corn syrup, so I decided it was off limits.  Wop wop wop on me.  I’m finding that I’m also drinking more green iced tea than I probably should be – it is also a very sugary drink.  I think I had three or four this week – eeks.  For now, I’m going to be ok with it.  I’ll need to phase that down too at some point.

We didn’t exactly stick to the meal plan this week but all in all, did pretty good.  Like I said earlier, no fast food but I did eat out more than I had planned.  On Sunday, my husband had a late lunch and said he wasn’t hungry enough for dinner so I ate some food my mom had brought over for me.  On Monday, we made the quiche – it’s a tried and true recipe at our house so it was pretty good; good enough that DH had leftovers for breakfast the next day – awww…that makes me feel good.  Tuesday’s stuffed shells were ok.  I hadn’t made these in a while and the consensus was that the sauce and cheese on the outside were tasty but the stuffed part of the shell was just kinda meh.  But we did finish the pan off, between dinner and lunch leftovers.  The bad news is that I have probably another two pans’ worth in the freezer.  We’ll see if we eat or toss those.  Wednesday I tried a garam masala simmer sauce with some tofu and veggies over rice.  We didn’t care for this.  Ended up throwing a lot out, unfortunately.  Argh.  I don’t know why I take shortcuts.  I have all the ingredients for making an authentic curry.  I should perfect that skill instead of buying store bought crapola.  Ended up switching Thursday’s plan with Friday’s; went out on Thursday and on Friday we had the vegetarian shepherd’s pie.  It was surprisingly better than we were expecting.  We ended up eating the entire thing, between dinner that night and lunches/snacks the following days.  Yay!  Saturday we had mediterranean food for lunch; actually kabobs so we decided not to have that again for dinner and instead cleared out some left overs.  Still have that stinkin’ couscous.  Will see what we can do with it this week.

Made yams and khichadi for baby, along with pumpkin, sweet potatoes, avocado, apples, cereal, oatmeal, and quinoa.  Actually went through and used up a lot of the homemade baby food I had frozen for her.  So this week I’ll need to make some more and build up our supply.

I’d say we get a smiley face for this week.

#10 on the LIST – Fast Food

Time to get serious about making some changes and address some of the items on the LIST.  Let’s talk about #10 – Limit fast food to once a month.

I am drawn to bad-for-you food.  I love all things breaded and fried, I could eat chips, soda, and ice cream all day long and really, I find nothing offensive about a heaping pile of nachos.  Especially the runny cheese kind.  I once went on a cruise and realized I had some sort of nachos every day for 7 days.  Only regret was that at the end I actually suffered some heartburn, but I attribute that more to getting old.  My beloved nachos would never betray me.

But I digress.  Having been raised in the 70’s and 80s, I believe my generation is one of the worst nutritioned in history.  Attribute it to the deterioration of the nuclear family, the easy access to food, the technological “advances” in the food industry, or the globalization of food transport, my generation has been eating like crap.  And as such, I, along with my fellow Americans, have developed the taste for salt, refined sugars, and trans-fats.  Fast food quickly delivers all of those to me for a cheap 99 cents- so encouraging to shovel this stuff down my gullet.  You see the results in our nation’s obesity epidemic.  According to the Center for Disease Control’s website, approximately ONE THIRD of all American adults are obese.  And this trend is on the rise.

I’m not saying that fast food is the only culprit of this trend, nor am I saying that we’re all victims of the the evil industry’s ploys to fatten us up.  But I am saying that eating fast food regularly is bad for my health and it’s bad for yours too.  Why?  When your diet lacks fresh fruit and vegetables, you get close to no nutrients from your food, you get very little fiber and subsequently your blood pressure rises, your bad cholesterol rises, your metabolic rate slows, your immune system weakens, and your blood sugar levels are destabilized.  Fat storage increases, along with the risk of strokes, type II diabetes, heart attacks, cancer of the colon (due to a dampened ability to process waste properly), and increase in inflammation in the body.  Doom and destruction!  Raping and pillaging!  Ok, I’m not trying to be overly dramatic but let’s admit – this whole fast food thing, not good.

Define the problem

I crave this stuff like you wouldn’t believe.  But I want to shake the habit.  In thinking about this, I realize that I eat fast food primarily due to two reasons:  first, emotional stress.  If I feel crummy or I’m tired or I’m feeling down or pressured, I tend to look for crappy food as solace.  In the moment I feel better.  Soon after, I feel worse.  Secondly, lack of planning.  I drive through the fast food when I can’t think of what to eat or if I don’t have lunch or dinner planned or if I’m late for something and need to just eat something.  I find that I gain weight, feel tired, and hear my stomach gurgling when I eat fast food.  Don’t want to do it anymore because I feel like there’s a lack of control associated with it.  It’s bad for me.  I don’t want to be fat, I don’t want to set this example for my child, I don’t want to punish my body.  Yet here I am eating this way all the time.

Current Status

When I was working, I probably ate fast food 4-5 times a week, sometimes more when I didn’t have time to make dinner and I went out for lunch.  Now that I’m home, I’m finding that I go out at least a couple times a week still.  As of mid-September, I’d say I eat fast food three times a week, on average.

The Goal

I want to limit my fast food to only once a month by the end of 2011.  I’ve gotten close to this before and I want to return. Right now it’s September, so I don’t have a lot of time.   I will define fast food as anything with a drive-thru.  The biggest hurdles are places like McDonalds, Taco Bell, KFC, Chik-Fil-e – they’re everywhere and a couple of them carry sweet tea, which I love.  Let’s start with these and maybe in 2012 I’ll kick a few more fast food habits.

How I’m going to get there

Some say – well, why don’t you just make healthier choices at fast food joints?  I’ve tried that.  Gravity pulls me back to french fries, Dr. Pepper, burritos and chicken strips.  For me, the best option is avoidance.  I think there are a few things in my favor to make this work.  I’m home during the day, which affords me the opportunity to cook and plan more.  #5 on the LIST is to cook more often so this will help too.  So my plan is to start weaning myself by eating fast food no more than once a week for the remainder of September and October, once every other week in November and just once a month in December and then maintain that moving forward.  I’ll only be able to do this by making sure there is quick, healthy food available for me at home and on the go.  Also, my husband wants to get healthy too.  We’ve been soothing ourselves with food and I think we’re both kind of fed up with ourselves.  We don’t want to enable one another.  This is a behavior change for me.  Not easy but I think I can do it.  Wish me luck.  I’ll post weekly updates.


September 25: No fast food this week!  Success!  We did eat out a few times but no fast food.  I think it helped that I pretty much ate lunch at home all week.

October 2: Got my Taco Bell fix on Monday.  Wanted to cheat this week but fought it off.  Also didn’t eat all the food I got from Taco Bell…that’s gotta count for something, right?

October 9: No fast food this week!  I did get a soda from McDonald’s though.  But that counts for the  soda goal, not this one.  Yippee!