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.

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

In the seventh grade, we did a stock market simulation exercise in Mrs. Migliaccio’s math class.  I picked Coca-Cola as my stock and I had the best returns in my group.  I picked Coke because I loved the brand.  I still do, even though I never actually drink Coke.  I do, however love me some Dr. Pepper, root beer, Cactus Cooler, Cherry Coke, orange soda, grape soda, cream soda…you get the picture.

My husband also used to love soda, a little too much.  He told me that as a kid, he had thoughts of swimming in a pool of Coca-Cola.  My dad used to pack a can of coke in his lunch bag every day for probably 25 years.  At our house, it was Always Coca-Cola!  My brother and I used to freeze ours overnight so that it would be cold and slushy when we took it out of our lunch boxes at school.  Moms was thrilled when we’d forget and then it would explode.  My first business was even soda based.  My dad bought me vending machines in high school and I was responsible for stocking and maintaining them.  I used to drink a cherry coke or a Dr. Pepper on my way to school everyday.  Did I mention that was in college?  Oh and grad school too.  It’s a wonder I’m not obese with rotten teeth.  This stuff is just so prevalent in my life.

I don’t know if it’s fantastic marketing or the addictive qualities of sugar and caffeine, but soda has done a number on me.  I have a sweet tooth as it is and soda is like liquid candy.  There’s really nothing natural about soda.  It’s really like drinking chemicals.  And yet I could use a fountain Dr. Pepper, extra ice right about now (mostly because I’m tired and frustrated today.  I’m an emotional eater).  How can I hate a product that was represented by such incredible ads such as these:

I think that last one is my favorite.  I remember that campaign from my childhood – truly outrageous!

Define the Problem

From what I can tell, sodas really have no redeeming health qualities other than they can provide calories if you were dying of starvation.  They are often delicious, though.  More than anything, sodas are bad because of the high refined sugar content.  It is highly acidic, which oxidizes everything it comes into contact with, and soda also leaches calcium due to the high phospherous content.  This is especially fantastic for me, the daughter and granddaughter of women with osteoporosis.  Yay.  It dissolves your tooth enamel (talk to my hubby about this one.  His teeth were super sensitive til he quit the coke habit), and there is a ridiculously high correlation between obesity and soda consumption.  It makes you fat.  I once saw a mother pour coca-cola into her baby’s bottle and hand it to him.  Shocking!  I was disgusted yet I don’t hesitate to put this in my own body.  Let’s do the math:

12 oz of Dr. Pepper = 150 calories (by the way, on the Dr. Pepper website, they provide the nutritional content for 8 oz.  But of course they usually sell cans in 12 oz quantities.  Sigh, so disappointingly sneaky).  Start again:

A 12 oz can of Dr. Pepper = 150 calories

If I consume one can per day, I will consume 54,750 calories in a year.

3500 calories taken in roughly equate to 1 pound of weight gained, so in a year’s time if I make no other changes to my diet, I will put on more than 15.6 pounds in soda alone!!!

Turn that to the positive side and if I stopped a daily soda habit and not make any other changes and not work out, I could lose 15 pounds in a year’s time.

Current Status

Luckily I no longer have a daily soda habit.  I probably drink no more than 3 per week.  But really, that’s 3 too many.   Like all the other bad foods I am drawn to, I tend to want soda when I’m stressed, tired, bored or upset.  I also don’t usually need a lot to satisfy me.  I could probably be satisfied with 6 oz or so at a time.  It’s usually so sugary that it leaves a gross taste in my mouth.

The Goal

The goal is to break the soda habit and only enjoy them occasionally.  Ok let’s get specific.  I’d like to limit my soda intake to one soda a month.  This can be a glass at a restaurant, a can, or a small size from a convenience store.  I like soda from a fountain with lots of ice, so I think that’s how it’ll be.

I do think I need to define what a soda is because knowing me, I’ll find loopholes.  My definition here should include anything that comes from a soda fountain, including Hi-C punches, lemonades, and brisk teas.  I also will include sweet teas from places like McDonalds and Chik-fil-e.  Teas that are brewed separately are ok.  Sprite used in a cocktail should count too, although I don’t want it to because I like getting flavored vodkas and Sprites.  However, club soda or tonic is not considered a soda by my definition.

How I’m going to get there

I think I can kick this pretty quickly, without too much pain.  The last time I had a soda was September 17th so tomorrow it will be a week already.  For me, it’s just a slippery slope.  If I have one today, then it’s ok to have one tomorrow.  I think I’ll put myself on the same schedule as the fast food…one soda per week through October.  In November, every other week, and in December and beyond, once a month.

Geez.  I guess I’ll just by saying Water is It!  Have a water and a smile!  I’m a water, you’re a water, wouldn’t you like to be a water too?  I’m part of the water generation.  Sigh.  It’s just not the same.  But it’s better for me.


September 25 – No soda this week!  Success!

October 2 – Had a Dr. Pepper this week.  It was delicious.  And refreshing.  But I had just one, so I still stuck with the plan.

October 9 – Had a Dr. Pepper this week.  It really hit the spot but I didn’t drink the whole thing.