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Archive for the ‘healthy eating’ Category

Clean Eating Challenge Day 15

Ground Turkey with broccoli and pasta

Ground Turkey with broccoli and pasta

I haven’t posted a lot about what’s going on in my Clean Eating Challenge. The good news is there’s not a whole lot to mention. Other than aside from the first few days of running around like a crazy person trying to find specific items for my meals, it’s not been all that different than the spells I have where we skip eating out and I make all of our family meals. I have taken my measurements, and within the first week I lost an inch and a half around my waistline. I have some “before” pictures to share, but I want to wait to post them with the “after” pictures.

I found a resource called “The Daniel Plan” and I am really liking it (thanks Karen D.). It’s easy to follow and involves your whole lifestyle, including elements of faith, friendship, focus (brain training), food and fitness. The Daniel Plan (www.danielplan.com) was developed in part by Rick Warren, who you may be familiar with as the author of The Purpose Driven Life. The dietary part was developed by Dr. Daniel Amen and Dr. Mark Hyman. It focuses on clean eating, and it had a 40-day element to it, so I thought it was a perfect fit for this challenge. You eat a lot of whole foods, including nuts and seeds, beef, chicken and fish and plenty of vegetables.

The best part is, other than feeling a bit overwhelmed the first couple of days with all the slicing and dicing, I’ve tried to keep it simple. I quickly figured out that making the meals from scratch took me a little longer to cook than just heating up something pre-packaged. I like having leftovers for lunch the next day or even another dinner if it’s just me. There’s nothing worse for me than when I’m hungry and there’s nothing quick for a meal if we’re on the go. I try to grab a handful of almonds if I’m really hungry. It takes the edge off the hunger enough I’m able to think straight and figure out what to cook. Planning ahead seems to be the key for me to stay on track eating healthy.

As far as expense goes, I’m going to be honest and tell you that yes, it’s more expensive to eat this way. However, I look at it this way: if I’m healthier for eating right, it costs less money down the road in health expenses. I read the labels to find the closest things I can to what the recipes call for. If the organic version costs a lot more, I skip it. Maybe someday that will become a factor, but right now I feel that I’ve improved on poking more vegetables down. It is more expensive to eat at a restaurant when you’re trying to be conscientious, depending on the restaurant. Fast food is generally not an option if you’re trying to eat whole foods, and nicer restaurants usually mean meat/fish and veggie or a salad minus all the goodies.

That being said, my biggest stumbling block is the weekend, when everybody’s running around and we can all be on different schedules. I’m glad there’s a “cheat” day built in. I know that technically it’s Sundays that don’t count as part of Lent, but I used Saturday instead this past weekend. I ran a St. Patrick’s Day 7K with my friend Amy and my daughter, Erin, in the morning, and we hung around after the race for the parade. The food options for me were not ideal—I ended up having “lunch” around 9:30 am—a ribeye sandwich where I only ate part of the bun. I skipped the chips, but I did have beer after the race, which I had not had since starting this Challenge.
So overall, I’ve felt pretty good about my adherence to the Clean Eating. I’m probably clean eating around 90% of the time, especially now since the first ten days of “detox” are over (no gluten, no dairy during the first ten days).
The pictures  above is what we had for dinner last night. It was ground turkey and broccoli pasta. Fairly quick to make (under half an hour) and very good. It only had ground turkey, onions, broccoli, tomatoes, soy sauce, mustard, salt and pepper in it, so it wasn’t one of those recipes where you have a ton of ingredients. The pasta was whole wheat—you can use gluten free, but neither Darrell nor I seem to have a problem with gluten, so I just opted for the whole wheat. Yum!

clean living plate 3-14


Clean Eating Challenge Day 6

I’ve learned quite a bit in the last six days about eating clean:

  1.  Tempeh, though not easy to find, tastes pretty good in stir fry.
  2. Eating clean, including all the vegetables, takes dedication and planning.
  3. Leftovers are manna from heaven.
  4. I can go to Applebees and not feel deprived. (steak and broccoli)
  5. When you are really hungry, it is harder to stay on the plan when presented with pizza.
  6. Homemade concoctions of healthy stuff are time-consuming and hard to enter into My Fitness Pal—I still think I like pen and paper, even if it’s not as thorough of a tracking calorie-wise.
  7. I love the Dr. Hyman’s Whole Food Protein Shake.  It’s made with a bunch of nuts and seeds, blueberries and a banana.  It really is filling.

I’m pretty pleased with how it’s been going.  I really only craved sweets this afternoon.  I was standing at the kitchen sink, and out of nowhere the thought of something sweet just jumped into my head and I really had to work to shake it.  I was tired today, and was getting ready for lunch, but it did pass.  I have felt good and not hungry, which I was afraid of when beginning this detox part of the plan.

Now I have to be honest, tonight I was “off plan”.  The girls and their moms from Erin’s basketball team went to Pizza Street.  I rarely show self-control at buffets, but I did better tonight.  First, I made a really big salad and, knowing it wasn’t on the plan (crust and cheese!), put one slice of veggie pizza on my plate.  I was still hungry, so I had a second piece and then a third.  (They weren’t very big pieces.)  I’m just really glad they didn’t have the chocolate desserts out, or it would have been all over!

I only feel a little bit guilty about tonight, because I have been totally on the plan the rest of the time, and I did eat a ton of vegetables today.  If I feel bad tomorrow, I will think otherwise!  I didn’t eat mindlessly, and I savored each bite.  Also, no soda.  And in contrast to how I usually eat, I wasn’t so bad!

Does the proceeding sound like justification?  (I’m good at justifying my bad behavior!) So yes, I caved, but it’s done and I need to just go forward.  Tomorrow is another day.

Day 1 of The Challenge

So yesterday I started my challenge.  It was the craziest day I’d had in a long time…not because of the eating thing, but because of the schedule thing!  I had work, dentist appointment and a long-awaited Girls Night Out.  Oh, and I spent over an hour and a half in the grocery store looking for things like tempeh and tahini paste (ground up sesame seeds).

But overall I think I did pretty good.  I probably actually didn’t eat enough because I was on the run the whole day, and I probably should have skipped the red wine at the Wine and Canvas event.  (It was SO good!)

Emily and Erin were disappointed when they helped me carry in the groceries yesterday.  “No ice cream?”  I think they think they’re going to starve.  I believe I truly glimpsed a little panic in their faces when they saw all the vegetables in the refrigerator.  I can see them being a challenge in this challenge, but they also are good at being supportive.  As long as I don’t make them eat TOO many vegetables.

Today I’m going to try to hunt down the obscure ingredients I couldn’t find yesterday.  I don’t want to spend a whole lot of time on that, but I also feel like I’m one of those people that want to make every recipe EXACTLY as it is given or I’ll mess it up.  I think if I were a better cook I’d be able to just improvise, so maybe as time goes on I’ll get better at it.

Right now I’m following The Daniel Plan 10 day detox diet.  I know, I said I wouldn’t use the word diet, but a friend told me about it and I like the concept of it.  I needed something that said WHAT to eat exactly, at least for now.  An idiot-proof plan.  And this one incorporates faith, friends and brain health into it as well.  The detox plan calls for no sugar or grains (even whole grains.) The point is to eliminate all dairy and gluten in the beginning to gauge how your system does without them.

Since I barely had time to put the groceries away last night, this morning I got up and made Artichoke Hummus (actually quite good!) and chopped up the day’s vegetables.  I know I’m in the honeymoon phase of this Challenge, all revved up with good intentions, but I’m happy I at least have that attitude for now.  It’s time for Day 2!

Getting Ready for the Challenge

In preparation for the 40-days of Clean Eating, I’m getting some prep work done in advance.  Specifically, I’m planning. Yes, I’m actually thinking about what to make for dinner more than 20 minutes beforehand.  That is one of the toughest parts about eating healthy for me.  At this point in my life, I know what to cook and what to avoid, but I just never seem to plan out how to make healthy meals happen.  I like the Spark People cookbook because it has good, everyday recipes that don’t have obscure ingredients.

I think that the reason why celebrities like Oprah are able to shed huge amounts of weight when they get motivated is because they have personal chefs that come in and make food for them.  I don’t fault them for this…if my paycheck depended on my ability to look fantastic on camera I would be working out every day and eating whatever I needed to keep the money rolling in.  However, in my job as an Administrative Assistant the only fitness prowess I need to exhibit is in my fingertips, typing reports.  And my co-workers like when I bring food in-especially the unhealthy stuff.

Another way I’m preparing for this challenge is to try to go through my pantry/freezer and get rid of temptations.  I cannot bear to just throw out perfectly good food, but if it’s been in there for a while and no one’s eaten it, it’s getting trashed.  I will not throw out the Valentine’s chocolates Darrell gave me.  I will just nibble one on Sundays during Lent (Sundays are exempt during the Lenten season).  I promise not to eat the whole box, either!  This step will be hard for me, because I’m kind of a food hoarder.  My pantry could probably feed my entire neighborhood if we had some kind of Zombie Apocalypse.  (So could my freezer, but we’d have to have power during the hypothetical Apocalypse, so I’m not going to count that.)

I am also going to take my measurements and before pictures.  As I’ve said, I’m not going for any set weight loss goal.  I am more interested in improving my fitness and energy levels by eating healthier.  But any journey needs a starting point, and quantifiable, photographic evidence is a good place to start.

Finally, I’m going to be forced to be accountable going through the process.  Putting it out there on The Lighthearted Dragonfly is definitely out of my comfort zone.  But I know myself…if I have someone to be accountable to, even if it’s posting online, helps me stay focused. I am a big fan of a food diary and have found those to be a great way to see what’s going in. (Don’t worry, I won’t post each morsel.) I’ve never used an app for that before—I’m a pen and paper kind of girl—but I am going to try the My Fitness Pal app.  I always log my running/training on Runtastic, so it’s nice that the two work together.

So that’s the plan for today.  We had another ice storm in our latest winter blast, so being housebound I’ll be able to get everything ready for putting the plan in motion for Wednesday, including the pantry cleaning I’ve been putting off.  And maybe get rid of a chocolate or two that’s hiding there.

Eating Clean in 2014 Lenten Challenge

I hate the word “diet” because I am not very good at following one. Yet, I get freaked out when I think of trying to eat a certain way forever and ever and ever. I like the idea of taking something that’s difficult and breaking it into doable pieces, similar to my mindset for running longer distances. One mile at a time.

And, as much as I hate diets, I adore my father-in-law, Mike, whose recent heart health scare has caused some serious discussion between my husband Darrell and I about how we eat. Like many people, Mike has been advised by his doctor to change how he eats and get more active. So, in an effort to show some support, as well as to be a little more proactive in our health, Darrell and I are going to start a Healthy Eating 40 Day Challenge, beginning next week on Ash Wednesday. The Lenten season seemed like a great time to make a few soul searching changes.
I have been trying to decide what diet to follow for this. At first I thought I’d try Paleo again. I tried to do Paleo a few years back and only lasted about a month. In Paleo, there’s no dairy, no legumes and no grains. Your carbohydrates come from your vegetables, and the focus is on lean meat and vegetables. I did great with the meat part, but found I was mostly eating meat and filling in with vegetables instead of the other way around. It was very restrictive for me and I found myself thinking of food constantly.

I also considered going gluten/sugar free for the 40 days, but I want to do something in this challenge that I feel I could realistically maintain when it was over. My hope is that if I do something drastic-yet-doable, I will be able to feel the difference and therefore want to keep it up. I don’t mean drastic like all celery or grapefruit for the next month and a half, just really concentrating on getting in the most “good stuff” like fruits and veggies that I can.

So, after listening to what Mike has been told to avoid (white flour, potatoes, pasta, grains, etc) I think we’re going to go with a “Clean Living” approach, with as little of processed foods as possible, focusing on veggies and fruit, lean meat and no fast food (my big downfall). I’m in training for my half marathon, so I’m not looking to shave calories or even really to lose weight, although I’d love it if I did.

For a lot of people, a “Challenge” like this may seem like not much of one so here’s where I hang my dirty laundry: our family eats pretty bad right now, something I’m a little embarrassed by. We eat “on the run” a lot, grabbing a quick bite on the way to the next activity. So part of this challenge for us isn’t the “what” we are eating, but “how” we are living–dashing from place to place, grabbing a handful of Oreos on the way out the door. Not good, I know.

So we’re gearing up and getting ready for “Eating Clean in 2014” at our home. Want to join us? Post your comments and let’s see what progress we can make together.

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