Wednesday, November 29, 2017

My Addictions (Part 2)





As I stated in my last blogpost, my other big addiction is social media. Yes, it's a real thing.  Because of my addiction to social media I have started asking myself a few questions:

1. What have my priorities been? i.e. What am I spending the majority of my time on?

2. What do I WANT to be doing (not just right now, but in a year, 3 years, 5 years, etc) ?

3. What can I do today to get me to my goals as stated in 2?

Question one allows me to look objectively at what I currently spend my time on.  What we choose to spend our time on are those things we have prioritized.  I realized that too much of my time has been taken up with social media.  It's a vacuum.  I may decide to check Facebook Marketplace for an item I'm looking to buy, next thing I know two hours have gone by while I've been watching cute puppy videos. And, while Twitter and Instagram are slightly less a time-suck for me, I still find myself getting caught up reading tweets and responses, following links to videos, trying to find a way to narrow down what I want to say to a few words etc, etc, etc.

Question two gives me the opportunity to think about long-term goals. What do I want to be doing in 3-5 years? 10 years? I revisit this list every few weeks because it helps me to focus on where I want to go.

Question three helps me to focus on accomplishing my goals. For example, one of my goals is to pay off all our debt.  I ask myself what I can do today to help get us out of debt. One thing I can do is to be conscious of every bit of money I spend, so I ask myself, "Would I rather buy this item or would I rather put the money this item costs toward a credit card payment?"  It's actually been a very helpful process.

I first went through these questions a month ago and managed to stay on track for a bit, but a month later I revisited the questions and realized I had slipped back into my habit of allowing social media to suck my time away.  For now, I am going to have to revisit these questions every week.  Hopefully, with time,  I will not have to remind myself so often in order to stay on track.

In the meantime, I will start a timer every time I log into one of my social medial accounts. This way time will not get away from me while I surf and I will prioritize what needs to be prioritized.

What are your goals? What have you been prioritizing? What will you prioritize in the future?  Please respond with your comments and questions.

Til next time.














Wednesday, October 25, 2017

My Addictions


The saying goes that the first step to overcoming a problem is to admit you have a problem. I have recently come to realize that I am an addict.

There. I said it. I am an addict. I'm addicted to sugar. Go ahead, scoff if you'd like. But I know from my experience that sugar is addicting. Once I am off it I am fine. I can walk past the cookie aisle without any temptation. I cruise by the ice cream case without stopping to look. However, one taste and I find myself waking up a week later with empty ice cream cartons on the counter and powdered sugar on my lips. I find myself craving donuts and ice cream and brownies . . . mmmmm . . .  brownies.

See how easily I get distracted?

From January 1, 2017 through August 19, 2017 I had lost over 72 pounds. However, on August 26 of this year Harvey hit Houston and I was stuck in my house for several days. We couldn't drive anywhere, so pretty much all I did was watch the horrific news on TV and eat. And eat. Once I started, it was as if I could not stop. I ate my way into gaining nearly 14 of those pounds back in just 2 months. Something had to be done. Something drastic.

On Sunday, October 22, my husband and I decided to not eat for three days. We allowed ourselves coffee, tea, water, and bone broth (Kettle and Fire is my favorite. I have found it at Sprouts or HEB so you may be able to find it at your local grocer and save having to wait for it to be shipped). It was a way to reset ourselves. Reset our stomachs. Reset our attitudes.

There is something about doing this that made me feel strong. Not physically strong, but psychologically and emotionally strong. It also made me feel like I had more clarity of thought, more focus.

It wasn't easy, though. My stomach fussed and growled for three days. I spent a LOT of time in the restroom. Every commercial on TV seemed to be about food.  My family still had to eat so there was the smell of food in the house. The last day of these three I was substituting at an elementary school where some of the staff had brought sweets for the teacher's lounge.  Oh my. Peanut butter cake with peanut butter frosting just about undid me. I turned my back to it so I didn't have to look at it, but I could still hear it calling my name.  It was not easy, but I didn't give in. I made it from Saturday night to Tuesday night with nothing but liquids.

I ate my first meal last night: sprouted bread toast with avocado and eggs. It tasted sooo good! Anyway, I did not find myself snacking through the rest of the evening as I had been doing and I packed my lunch last night so I will have a healthy lunch to eat today.  So far so good.  Hopefully, this hard reboot will do the trick and get me back on track.  I'll let you know how it's going.

The title of this post is "My Addictions." This indicates there is more than one. There is.  My other big addiction is social media.  I'll talk about that next time.

Love to all!
Teresa

Monday, May 22, 2017

Guilty, As Charged (or am I?)

Yep, I'm a slacker. I admit it! It has been nearly 2 months since I wrote anything here. I feel bad about that, but not so bad I am going to beat myself up over it.  You see, since I last wrote one of my dear friends passed suddenly and quite unexpectedly.  My friend, Ben, loved hockey and beer and November Project. He loved life and lived with passion and gusto.  Ben's sudden death has made me realize that life is too short to allow guilt to creep in over little things like a blog post.

In honor of my friend, Ben,  I am sharing a list of things I will NOT feel guilty about:
  1. Spending time with my family.  This includes the off-days, like today, when I am off work on a Monday and the power goes out at the grandson's daycare. Yes, I had a list of things I had planned on doing today. No, I will not get them all done. No, I will not feel guilty about spending the day playing and sharing with my grandson.
  2. Spending time with my friends. My husband and I are taking a trip in a few weeks to spend time with dear friends in Boston. Can we afford it? Not really. Are we going anyway? Yes! Will I feel guilty about it? No way!!
  3. Doing things for myself. At the beginning of 2017 I promised myself I would do more to take care of myself. I am keeping that promise to myself! So far, I have lost over 50 pounds, participated in two 5K races, and joined a yoga class. I do NOT feel guilty about taking time for myself and my health.  In the end, if I do not take care of myself I will not be around as long to enjoy my precious family and friends.
  4. Having adventures. It is the dream of my husband and I to travel, to do things together. We will not postpone having adventures together, but will embrace each trip and each new experience with the idea that we have to stretch our comfort zone in order for it to grow! Getting out of our comfort zone is good for us and I will not allow guilt to take that joy away.
My husband and I have taken to trying new experiences with the hashtag: #alwaysgo. It is a good motto that I would encourage you to adopt as well.

Peace, Love, and Adventure!
Teresa

Friday, March 31, 2017

There's an App for That!

Today is Thursday, March 30, 2017.  Since January 1 of this year I have lost 35 pounds. Wow!! 35 pounds. Thirty. Five. Pounds.  I am having a bit of trouble processing this. It has only been three months, and when I stepped on the scale on January 1 I truly thought it would take at least 6 months to get where I am right now.  People have asked me what I am doing. Really, there is no secret.  It's the same thing everybody already knows. Eat fewer calories, exercise more. While it is simple, it is certainly not easy.

How, specifically, have I done it? There is a combination of a few things, which I am happy to share with you:
1. I keep track of every calorie I consume.  While this sounds tedious, it really isn't, especially after you have been doing so for a while.  I use MyFitnessPal to track both calories consumed and calories expended. This is VERY easy to use, and once you have entered a few meals it gets easier because the app will list your recent food entries. For example, below is the listing that comes up when I click on add food for lunch:

As the top tabs indicate, this list can be sorted by frequently used foods or recent foods. I prefer to sort using frequently used foods because I tend to use a lot of the same ingredients on a regular basis.Once you get used to using MyFitnessPal you'll see how easy it is to use and will wonder how anybody ever lost weight prior to smartphones! Also, there is a place to keep track of they type and amount of exercise you have done and MyFitnessPal converts it to calories burned.  


I have found that when I use this app routinely I am much more conscious about the food I consume. It's okay to miss a meal or two or even a day or two, but when I get out of the habit of keeping track of my food I get complacent and start gaining weight.

2. I started running/walking again. An app I use frequently for this is 5K Runner. This app is a couch to 5k running app. There are several good free ones available, but the reason I chose this particular app is because for the purchase price I also received the 10k and 21k apps, along with a 5k and 10k pacer app which will help me boost my speed when I am ready for it. Also, there is a sit-ups and a push-ups app with the 5K Runner.  If you don't want to run, there are plenty of other apps available to help you get active.  Just don't sit around planning on being active. Do something. Anything! Even if it is for just 5 minutes.  That will be 5 more minutes of movement than you did yesterday, right?

3. While I am running I also like using an app that keeps track of my mileage and pace.  There are several apps available that will do this, however, the one I currently use is Nike+Run Club. I like Nike+Run Club because it maps my running route, keeps track of my pace throughout my run, offers ongoing encouragement throughout my run, and is lockable so I don't accidentally pause or stop my run (yes, this is a real issue I had with a different app).

4. I have a support system. My husband and children eat basically the same things I eat (and all are losing weight/getting healthier) and are very supportive/forgiving of my many food experiments. Besides my family, I have an extended support group in November Project. While there is no tribe in my current location, I keep in touch with my many NP friends via Facebook and Twitter. They are quick to offer encouragement and support and I always look for ways to get to a tribe if I am close enough.  If you happen to live in or near one of the 30ish (I've lost count) cities that currently has a NP tribe you really should go.  Don't worry about being in good enough shape or that you run too slow or you don't run at all. Don't wonder if you'll fit in. Just show up. You'll be accepted the way you are. You'll meet lots of interesting and fun people and you will get hugs from strangers (don't let that one scare you).

I would love to hear what YOU are doing to improve yourself, whether it is a physical improvement or mental, spiritual, or whatever.  Please comment and let me know how it's going!  

Peace.

Monday, March 20, 2017

Beans N Things

                                          Salvadore Dali: Persistence of Memory

Oh. My. Goodness. Has it really been two weeks since my last blog? TWO WEEKS??? Where have I been? What have I been doing? ACK!

Actually, I have been working at my full-time job and hanging out with family some over spring break.  I hate that I've let y'all slide for two whole weeks, though.  It won't happen again. Okay?

It is very easy to let time slip away from us, and before we realize it two weeks, or two months, or even two years have gone by, leaving us wondering what we have been doing during that time.  The same thing happens to me frequently with my menu planning. I plan on making a menu plan on my day off, and before I realize it my day off has disappeared and I have done nothing toward planning my menus or grocery shopping for the week.

For these situations, when it is Monday morning and I am suddenly wondering what I am going to have ready for dinner, I find it helpful to turn to my pantry staples.  With a few staples and very little planning, I am able to assure my family that they will not be missing dinner tonight!

My pantry, including the refrigerator, (almost) always contains:
dry beans
canned beans
pasta
rice
canned tomatoes
canned corn
jarred marinara
peanut butter*
soy sauce
maple syrup
onions
potatoes (white and/or sweet)
eggs
milk
cheeses (feta, cheddar, goat, mozzarella, parmesan, whatever floats our boat)
salsa
and I usually have some kind of meat in the freezer.

Knowing I have a well-stocked pantry gives me the freedom to skip a trip to the grocery store, secure in the knowledge that I have plenty of options for dinner.  Today, I am going with a southern tradition I grew up on: beans and rice. Actually, I grew up on beans and cornbread, but I prefer serving beans with brown rice for the good whole grain.

Slow Cooker Pinto Beans 
2 pounds dry pinto beans
4-5 quarts of water or stock
1 Tablespoon salt
1 onion, quartered
1-2 cloves garlic, minced

Sort beans to remove any pieces of gravel. Wash beans thoroughly - I usually put my beans in a large bowl and swish them with water, drain, and repeat until the water runs clear (2-3 times). Once my beans are clean I put them in my slow cooker. I add the onion, salt, and garlic (and if I have it, I also add a fresh jalapeño in halves) then fill my 6-quart slow cooker almost to the top with my liquid. Cook on low for about 8 hours. If you want, throw some smoked sausage in a few minutes prior to serving. Also, don't forget to taste the beans to add more salt as needed prior to serving. My family enjoys sprinkling our bowl of beans with Tony Chachere's seasoning blend.

Brown Rice
1 cup brown rice
2 cups water
1 teaspoon salt

Put all ingredients in a pot, bring to a boil. Stir, cover pot, turn heat to simmer, and let rice steam for 40-45 minutes. Do not take the lid off until the rice has finished cooking! Also, rice is a simple 1:2 ratio with water, so it is easy to make more or less as needed for your family size.

One cup of beans served with a half cup of rice is only 352 calories and costs a measly .64 per serving.

*I buy either Smucker's Natural Peanut Butter or Laura Scudder's Natural Peanut Butter because the ingredient list is peanuts and salt. No sugar, corn syrup, or other such nonsense.

What is your favorite go-to meal? Add yours to the comments.

Blessings




Monday, March 6, 2017

The Myth of Saving

There is a phrase people use that always makes me shake my head. We have all heard it.  We have probably all said it.

"Look how much money I saved at the store today!"

Isn't it a good thing to save money? Teresa, why don't you like this phrase?

I'm so glad you asked. Yes! Of course, it is a very good thing to save money. And the reason I don't like the phrase, "I saved money at the store today," is because it is a false statement.  A more accurate way to share your enthusiasm regarding the amount of money spent at the store would be,

"Look how much less money I spent at the store today!"

Let me explain. Until the money is actually placed into a savings account of some kind, it is NOT money saved! For example, if you have a $100 per week food budget, and this week you find a lot of really great bargains so you only spend $85 on food for the week. What happens to the extra $15? If it gets moved to another spending account (household, entertainment, whatever) or if you just nickel and dime it away, you did not save $15, but you did spend $15 less on your groceries.  On the other hand, if you take the $15 difference and place it in a savings account, retirement account, under you mattress, etc, you have indeed saved $15.

See? Money saved versus less money spent.

Speaking of spending less money on groceries, here is a recipe for Southwest Pasta that cost me only $0.95 per serving! And, while it is inexpensive to make, it is really big on flavor and my family loves it!


Southwest Pasta
8 oz. whole wheat penne
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 cup chopped onion
1-2 cloves minced garlic
1 can black beans, drained
1 can whole kernel corn, drained
1 can fire-roasted tomatoes
salt to taste
1-3 tablespoons of adobo sauce*
1 avocado
cilantro for garnish

Heat a pot of salted water to boiling and add pasta. While pasta cooks, heat oil in skillet then add onion to sauté until translucent. Add garlic and cook for 1 minute more. Add tomatoes, beans, and corn to skillet and cook until heated through. (5-10 minutes).

Garnish with avocado and cilantro. You can shred a bit of cheese on top or even add a bit of salsa or hot sauce. Also, feel free to use whatever style of pasta you like. As you can see in the above picture, I do not always use penne, myself.

This makes 4 large servings at 455 calories per serving.

*The adobo sauce could be left out, but it adds a wonderful smoky heat. Use as little or as much as you like and feel free to chop up a chipotle or two in this as well!





Friday, March 3, 2017

Getting Started

Pad Thai


Oh! Ack! I started this blog a week ago. Why am I just now getting to the point of publishing it??Sorry for the delay, but here we go with another blog and a new recipe (finally).

Many of you have stated that you would like easy, quick, and healthy meal ideas, but before I get into my first meal idea I would like to recommend you to approach your meal-planning with an open mind. Try new ingredients and cook with different spices. It is so easy to get stuck in a rut, believe me when I tell you I fight this all the time.  New ingredients and different spices are a great way to shake things up a bit.
This first recipe, for Pad Thai, is actually what my family is having for dinner tonight. Since I don't get off work until after 9:00 tonight I am putting most of it together ahead of time and leaving instructions for the kids to finish the rest of it this evening.
 If you have never had Pad Thai, please don't let the sound of something foreign to you keep you from trying it. My family really likes it, and they love this recipe. And one nice thing about it is you aren't confined to specific ingredients - use whatever vegetables and protein you and your family love. For good measure, try throwing in a little bit of a vegetable you have never tried before.
 When you make this, please let me know how it turned out and if your family liked it!

Ingredients

1-2 Tbs canola or olive oil

lb lean protein of your choice, cut into bite-size pieces (chicken, shrimp, tofu, etc)

1/2 large onion, thinly sliced

3-4 garlic cloves, minced

2 large carrots, sliced in 1/4" slices (or there about)

2 cups cubed butternut squash

6 large white mushrooms, cleaned and sliced fairly thickly
 
1/2 head broccoli, small florets only

1 box of rice noodles


Sauce Ingredients*
1/3 cup chicken or vegetable stock (or water would even work in a pinch)
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 tablespoon fish sauce (I use 2 Tbs soy sauce, as I have a vegetarian in the house)
3 tablespoons brown sugar
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lime juice
1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar (if you don't have this use white vinegar or 2 tablespoons lime juice and omit rice wine vinegar)
1 teaspoon to 1 tablespoon Sriracha or Thai chili sauce (depending on your spice tolerance...if you know you're not into spicy, go with only 1 teaspoon)
1 teaspoon minced or grated fresh ginger (you can omit or use 1/2 teaspoon of ground ginger if you don't have this)
1 teaspoon minced garlic

*The sauce for this recipe makes all the difference, and this is not my recipe! This is a recipe I found on Jen Eddings blog, Peanut Butter Runner, and it is far and away what makes this recipe so delicious. 

Mix the sauce ingredients together and set aside. Cook rice noodles according to package instructions. Heat oil in non-stick skillet. Add the protein and cook until browned then set aside.  Add onions, sauteé until transparent, then add garlic, carrots, and squash. Cook until carrots and squash are crisp-tender then add mushrooms and broccoli. Cook until broccoli is bright green then add sauce and cook 5-8 minutes until sauce has thickened and broccoli is tender, but not mushy. 

This makes 4 servings at 533 calories per serving(if using chicken breast), and with all those vegetables make these very large servings!



Monday, February 20, 2017

Why Even Try?





The above question, tweeted by Ramit Sethi,  requires more than a simple answer of "willpower" or "eat less and move more." While having willpower and eating less while moving more are helpful, these things alone cannot make the weight permanently disappear.

While I have no idea why Oprah has been unable to lose weight and keep it off (though I suspect it relates to losing focus on why she is doing it), I do know exactly what I need to do to lose weight and get healthy. I am not an expert in weight-loss for the masses, but I am an expert on what works for me:

1. I track everything I eat with the app myfitnesspal. Some of you may feel tracking calories is too burdensome, but it is the same concept as when you decide to get your finances under control - you have to name every dollar.  In the case of weight-loss, I have to name every calorie.

2. I also use myfitnesspal to track my daily(ish) exercise. This app has been very instrumental to getting me on track and keeping me there.  It tracks the number of calories consumed and the number of calories burned.

3. In December I registered for a 5K race for the first Saturday of March. This gives me a goal to work toward and a reason to get out and run. I know I will have to walk part of this 5K, but I am working toward the goal and will be registering for another 5K for April or May.

4. In my seeking to make better and healthier food choices, I find I am actually spending less money on food than I was previously! This is due to the fact that we are eating out less frequently, we are eating less meat and we are eating much smaller (read "normal") portions.

5. I have nearly completely removed sugar from my diet. Since both of my parents were diabetic, I felt this to be a prudent decision. Also, for me, sugar is like a drug - once I allow myself a small bite I end up craving more and more of it.  That being the case, it is just easier for me to forego sugar all together.

6. I constantly remind myself of the long-term goal: living a full and active life. When I am tempted by a piece of German Chocolate cake I ask myself, "will this piece of cake bring you happiness? Will it help you lead a full and active life?" Sometimes, if I just cannot say no, I will eat only the last bite. That way, even if I want more, there is no more for me to eat.

7. Implementing these changes in my life has also led to my husband and me getting our finances in order by giving, saving, and paying off debt. This could (and may be in the future) be a whole other blog posting.

Have you tried to lose weight in the past? Were you successful? What have you found that works for you? Leave a message in the comments and/or email me at teresa@teresastabletalk.com.  Thanks for dropping by!

Friday, February 17, 2017

Pantry Poker




Would you want to have to make a meal right now made solely out of what you currently have stocked in your pantry and refrigerator? Could you?

The above picture is of the lunch I made today for my husband and myself, made entirely out of what I already had on hand. It consists of pasta, black beans, corn, onion, garlic, tomatoes, and chipotles and cost approximately $2.26. That actually is kind of on the expensive side of things, but the pasta is a specialty pasta from the local farmer's market and was far and away the most expensive part of lunch. I could have just as easily used a box of pasta purchased from my local grocery store at 1/4 the cost, but I do try to support local merchants when I can.

While I do not always cook lunch for myself (and/or my husband), I do try to keep a well-stocked pantry which will allow me to throw something together when I need to.

Are you interested in learning how to supply your pantry? Would you like to be able to "throw together" a meal with ingredients you already have on hand? Are you interested in gaining control over your food budget? Would you like to lose weight?

If you answered "yes" to any of the above questions, please email me at: teresameccles@gmail.com for more information.