Be Well Challenge: The End is Near

This month has been crazy, and has been such a good experience.  I loved being able to ramp up healthy habits and things that help to reduce my negative effect on the planet.  When I originally started this challenge, it was the most intensive way I could think of to gain footing in making things stick.  Although I did not do everything perfectly, I am content with the progress I have made over the last month.

Let’s start with food.  I don’t think I have ever eaten as well and as consciously as I have for the last month.  Being mindful of what I am putting in my body made me eat healthier on the whole.  And although there was the occasional misstep, I did a lot better than I thought I would.  I bought more fruits and veggies, and ate more clean.  Adding in the Farmers Market component to this challenge was extremely beneficial.  I tried some new things, and taught me to go outside my comfort zone.  Before this, I would have never tried dandelion greens or even the green plums.

Now…on to workouts.  I was almost perfect with my workouts.  Forcing myself to be consistent makes it a part of my life.  Some people really dread physical exercise.  But the truth is is that I get to workout.  After surviving cancer, it is nice to be able to do anything.  Working out is no exception.

When it comes to waste, I would say that this is where I was my weakest.  I realized quickly that there are many places that do not subscribe to the less is more philosophy with waste.  Personally, I frequently forgot my reusable cups and eating take out made this more difficult than expected.  However, I most definitely was more conscious of the waste I was producing.  And although I wasn’t able to eliminate my waste, I’m definitely moving in the right direction.

All in all, this was a very cool experience.  I learned about what motivates me and what I really enjoy doing.  And I really enjoy being healthy.  Exercising, taking care of the planet, and eating right just makes me a happier person.

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Yay or Nay: Dandelion Greens

In my quest to try something new every week at the Farmers Market, I decided to try dandelion greens.  Dandelion Greens are extremely high in good nutrients and from what I’ve read, is way more of a super green than kale.  As far as greens go, he more bitter the better they are for you (or so I’ve read).  How could I not want to give these a chance?

My conversation with the farmer went like this:

*Me:  What are those?

*Farmer:  Dandelion Greens

*Me:  Sold!  I’ll google how to cook them.  This will be interesting.

*Farmer:  Usually people eat them with a little lemon.  They taste terrible.

In my head, I thought, oh great..can’t wait.  I don’t think I was even out of the stall before I had put “how to cook dandelion greens” in my Pinterest search box.  It seemed like, overwhelmingly, the preferred method to cook dandelion greens was with olive oil, garlic, salt and pepper (I linked the recipe at the end).  The basics of cooking dandelion greens is to wash them, cut them into pieces (about 3 inches) and sauté in olive oil, garlic, salt and pepper.  Now, I put waaayyyy too much salt, like, an obscene amount.  Also of note, these cook down much like spinach.  So, you get 1/3 of what you actually put in the pan.  Cooking them took about 8 minutes.  After they were all wilted and tender, time to taste.  First bite, oh these aren’t bad.  A little bitter, but I could get used to the bitterness.  Second bite, wow, these are really bitter, the guy was right.  Third bite, how many bites until I’m done?

I know what you are thinking, how bitter could they POSSIBLY be.  If you have never had dandelion greens, I urge you to try them.  Judging by how many stalls have them at the Farmers Market, I imagine that more people than I think like them.  If I had to describe the bitterness, they are about 10 times more bitter than arugula.  With that being said, I am not ruling them completely out.  I also found a recipe for pesto using dandelion greens.  Maybe when the trauma has worn off, I’ll try that.  But for now, its a no go for me.

Dandelion Greens from: Givens Farm (Yes, they are organic!)

Recipe used:  http://www.italianfoodforever.com/2008/05/sauted-dandelion-greens/

Be Well Challege: 2 Weeks In! 

My original intention with this challenge was to update everyday about my progress. However, life happens. I was sick (I’ll talk about that), and was super busy. So, now, I’m looking at a 10 day gap in updates. So, here is a general update on the first half of this challenge.

Food:
What I have been eating has been pretty much the same every day. Instead of a detailed per day update on food, I’ve included a general guideline I use when planning my food for the day.

      *Breakfast: Usually, I try to eat   something that will get me through the morning, and not make me a crazy person. This usually consists of oatmeal and fruit. On the weekends, I usually eat eggs with toast.

     *Lunch: For work, I usually bring a sandwich, a veggie, and a fruit. Summer at the Farmer’s Market is so great. I fully take advantage of fresh strawberries and stone fruit. On the weekends, I try to get it as healthy as possible. There is no method to the madness on the weekends, but I just try to stay within the healthy set of foods.

     *Dinner: My biggest range of variety comes with dinner. Same as lunches on the weekend, I just try to keep it as healthy as possible. I will usually indulge in pasta with sauce and some kind of veggie. 

Farmers Market: The last 2 weeks have been so great at the Farmers Market. I also committed to trying something new every week. The first week was dandelion greens (I will update what I did with these in a separate post). The second week, I tried some green plums. I’m a creature of habit, and picking a green plum is not in my lane. It was delicious. They were slightly less sweet than a purple plum and worked so awesome mixed with the yellow nectarines I bought. 

Waste: The past few days have been rough on the waste front. I started housesitting for my parents in the middle of the week. And they are also having their kitchen worked on, so I’ve had to buy food every day. This has contributed to my overall waste. Also, a major waste fail over the last few days is with Starbucks. It makes me so sad about this, as reducing my waste is one of the key parts of this challenge. 

Workouts: This is one of the biggest wins over the last 10 days. Aside from the 2 days I was sick, I completed all scheduled workouts. Overall, I can tell the difference in my mood. Exercise just makes you feel better. Even if it’s just a quick walk, or stretching. 

I mentioned in the beginning that I was sick. Even prior to this challenge, I have been trying to eat as healthy as possible. My favorite food is quite possibly donuts, followed by anything else fried. I have largely abstained from eating those, as it never is good for you. But, as stated before, life happens. And sometimes, life can derail you from being consistent. This past weekend, I went on a bit of a binge. Saturday, I had 4 donuts, 4! This was followed by tacos that were fried in oil. Then, on Sunday, I had a generous portion of fried chicken and mashed potatoes. Are you starting to see a theme? Well, this all resulted in me being sick for 2 days from the bad eating. Lesson learned. When you eat healthy, then eat A LOT of bad food in a quick time frame, it will affect you negatively. You could escape unscathed, but usually, it doesn’t end well. 

All in all, this challenge has been pretty great. It has taught me a lot already about how I buy things, what my default is, and things that are hard to keep up (like this blog). I’ve also learned that even though you get thrown off course, you can just right the ship and keep going. Quitting is not necessary, and its ok if it doesn’t go exactly as planned.

Be Well Challenge: Days 3-4

Being healthy.  Its something we all strive for.  Not one person says to themselves, “I don’t want to be healthy”.  Its all a matter of how bad one wants to be healthy.  Perhaps they have always applied themselves, and making healthy choices comes easy.  Or perhaps, they have always made horribly unhealthy decisions, and being healthy takes a conscious effort.  I would definitely fall into this category.  This challenge is most definitely helping me make better choices.  When I am more mindful of making the right choice, it becomes easier.  Here is my recap of Days 3 and 4.

Day 3

Workout:  My Monday night yoga class is one of my favorites.  It is with one of my favorite teachers, and its a nice way to start off the work week.  It is also not as challenging as my Sunday class.  It forces me not push as hard as I would like to and listen to what I need at that time.

Food:  When I don’t have to work, I tend to either graze all day or eat horribly.  I tried to be mindful of everything I ate, and it seemed to pay off.  It wasn’t perfect, but hey, at least I didn’t order pizza.

  • Breakfast:  Coffee w/ soy creamer & Cottage Cheese w/ Peaches
  • Lunch:  Grilled Cheese Sandwich
  • Snack:  Banana
  • Dinner:  Tofu w/ Fried Rice & Frozen Yogurt for dessert

Waste:  As I go through this challenge, I’m realizing more and more the little things that one doesn’t think about when trying to eliminate waste.  The trash I created was limited to 2 wrappers from the cheese slices and empty bag from the fried rice.

Day 4

Workout:  Due to the holiday, my regular gym class was cancelled.  Luckily, there was one available to go to in the morning.  I met my friend at the gym, and we had a great morning workout.  It felt good to be able to get our regular workout in and also to start the day off with a little sweat (or a lot of sweat in my case).

Food:  Oh, the Fourth of July.  A day with BBQs, Fireworks, and lots of other unhealthy food to be eaten.  Other than Christmas or Thanksgiving, this is one of the hardest days to stick to a healthy eating plan.  I tried to not give myself too hard of a time, since I gave in to the temptation.

  • Breakfast:  Coffee w/ Soy Creamer, Eggs w/ Toast
  • Lunch:  Pasta w/ Ground Turkey & Sauce, Salad w/ Tomatoes & Cucumbers
  • Dinner:  Turkey Burger, Hot Dog (no bun), BBQ chips
  • Snack:  Iced Vanilla Latte, Banana

Waste:  I forgot my reusable cup to get a latte after my workout.  In total, the waste produced was the cup from my latte, and a paper plate from the BBQ.  Not the best, but not terrible either.

So far, after 4 days, this IS getting a little easier.

 

Be Well Challenge: Day 1 & 2

When I woke up on Saturday morning, I thought about the plans I had laid out for the next 31 days.  It was a strict plan, but by no means impossible.  I also thought about how I’m tired of being overweight and tired of feeling like I didn’t apply myself to lessening my impact on the planet.  With those thoughts upon awakening, I started my day.  Here is my recap of Day 1.

*Workouts:  I may have gone a tad overboard with this one on Saturday.  I went to my morning circuit TRX class in the morning, then ran 3.34 miles.  I also decided to get in 1 more workout and went to another circuit TRX class in the afternoon.  Normally, I don’t do this much a day.  But I think my enthusiasm for this challenge may have made me do it.

*Food:  An unspoken thing about this challenge is that its not just about not eating fast food.  It about eating healthy in general.

  • Breakfast:  Cottage Cheese w/ fruit
  • Lunch:  Grilled Cheese Sandwich w/ tomatoes
  • Dinner:  Sushi (my friend took me to dinner for a belated birthday dinner)
  • Snack:  Energy bar before my run

All in all, my food intake wasn’t terrible, so I can’t be too mad about it.

*Waste:  Rest assured, I didn’t let any sushi I ordered go to waste.  In all seriousness, I would say that this would be my biggest victory for Day 1.  The only trash I produced was the wrapper from the energy bar and the disposable chopsticks (w/ accompanying wrapper) from dinner.

I would say that Day 1 was a successful day.  I felt good about the day when I was going to sleep, and was looking forward to Day 2.

Day 2 started like every Sunday starts; with Yoga!  Yoga was something that stumbled onto in an effort to get over an ex-boyfriend.  And for whatever reason, I was hooked from the beginning.  I love it, and it has become a part of my life.  It is for sure a workout, but its also something that you can always improve at.  You learn about yourself along the way, and that is sometimes the better benefit.  Here is my recap of Day 2.

*Workouts:  As previously stated, I went to my normal yoga class.  My Sunday class is usually challenging.  Although I may not always be able to do everything, I try to do what is right for me at the time.  Coming off a day in which I overtaxed myself in the workout department, my body just didn’t want to do what I wanted it to.  But rest is ok.

*Food:  Sundays are usually the day in which I am a bit freer in my eating.  But I still try to stick to some kind of boundary.

  • Breakfast:  Banana (pre yoga), Latte & Bagel Bites (post yoga)
  • Lunch:  Prosciutto wrapped shishito peppers
  • Dinner:  Spaghetti w/ sauce and cheese, bread w/ butter
  • Snack:  frozen yogurt after dinner

*Waste:  The only waste created was the wrapper from the bagel bites (which I’m going throw in the recycling bin), the wrapper from the prosciutto, and some paper towels from prepping the produce from the farmers market.

*Farmer’s Market:  I love the Farmer’s Market.  Like, if I could get EVERYTHING there, I would.  But like the rest of America, I also have to be budget conscious.  Summer makes it a lot easier to shop at the Farmer’s Market.  Let’s face it, summer produce is just more appealing.  I got tomatoes, strawberries, lettuce, peaches, and dandelion greens (my new item for the week).  Now, I just want to say that NOTHING compares to good tomatoes.  To be dramatic, I feel like I have been living in tomato purgatory for the last 2 seasons.  I appreciate the fact that stores carry organic tomatoes.  But they are just not the same.  My favorite farm, Ellwood Canyon Farms, has the best tomatoes.  This is also my strawberry supplier.  I eat more strawberries and tomatoes than any other produce in the summer.  Enough about that, the important thing is that I used all my reusable bags and refused the plastic bags.  On to the new item, dandelion greens.  I’ve never eaten them, nor do I know how to cook them.  As I was putting them in my bag, I said, I’ll have to google how to cook/eat them.  The farmer then said, good luck, they taste terrible.  I googled how to cook them, and let’s just say ummm…just wish me luck.  I shall update on this in a future post!

And there it is…Day 1 and Day 2 of the Be Well Challenge.  All in all, I would say that the last 2 days were a great start to the month.  I can’t wait for the rest of the month!

30 Day Be Well Challenge

As mentioned in some of my previous posts, I have tried to live a more sustainable lifestyle.  As I have learned, this can be more difficult than I originally thought.  2 years after I set out on this journey, I find myself regressing into a wasteful and not so sustainable way of living.  So, what is missing?  I need accountability and consistency.

And thus, the 30 Day Be Well Challenge was born.  For the month of July, I will be adhering to the below “rules”.  My goal at the end of the month is to reduce my waste and to be healthier.

Here are the “rules”:

  • No extraneous packaging
    • My goal with this one is to reduce my use of plastic, and to refuse styrofoam.
  • Use reusable cups only if going to Starbucks
    • I normally go to Starbucks for an iced tea during the day at work.  5 cups a week for 4 weeks adds up to a total of 20 cups not going into a landfill.
  • No fast food or soda
  • Buy most produce at the Farmers Market every week
    • Supporting local, organic farms is something that I have always felt very strong about.  Relying on large-scale factory farms is not good for the environment, and supporting local farms helps the local economy.
  • Buy only humanely raised animal products
    • Ideally, I would be vegan.  I like the cleanness of a vegan diet, but I can never get the nutrition right when I try to eat a vegan diet.  Every day, I try to eat a little less meat and more plant based products.  Someday, I will get there.
  • Bring my own lunch and coffee to work every day.
    • Bringing your own lunch and coffee helps to save money, and helps you eat healthier.  Frozen dinners are off limits!
  • Complete all scheduled workouts
    • This is a tough one.  I consider myself to be an active person, but I can be incredibly lazy when it comes to working out.  Regular physical activity can only help.

I’m so looking forward to this journey.  Sticking with something starts with being consistent.  In addition to me doing this, I am doing this challenge along with a couple friends.  We all have the same basic rules, and we have all added bonus rules we have added according to other life needs we may have.  Let the fun begin!