How to Eat Better; the Affordable Way.

With so little time on our hands these days, it’s hard to be the exact epitome of health. With so much going on, and so little downtime, we’re often overtired, overstressed, and just plain overwhelmed to even consider the thought of carefully selecting healthier options by reading labels more carefully. No instead, we’re usually just waiting for the microwave or oven timer to beep to deliver a prepackaged meal or waiting in the drive thru frantically checking the time. I wouldn’t be surprised if on most days you spend learning (and struggling) with the new common core curriculum that’s eased its way into schools around the country. Or you probably just have to rush right out the door as soon as your child gets home from school, have them complete their homework later, and try to make it to sports practice or dance rehearsals or maybe even just a school function.

Long gone are the days of having cookies and milk after school was considered the only processed food you might have had, which in that case, wasn’t so bad. But even as we’re forced to acknowledge the ever growing rate of obesity in this nation, more and more meals are rolling out of the microwave and into our mouths.

People think they can’t afford “healthy” and why shouldn’t they?  They feel overwhelmed when they walk into a grocery store and are quickly discouraged when the have filled up their grocery carts with what looks to be enough for only a couple meals, but for an entire family, only to find out the total comes to well over their budget. Then they realize that they actually have less for the same budget they had before they made the choice to “eat healthy”, which results in people doing what they can afford; eating less calories, skipping meals, or just not doing it at all. Ever notice that it’s easier to find a coupon for a processed dinner such as “Weight Watchers” or “Healthy Choice”, rather than any other staple that would be more than likely a far better choice.  People do want to lose weight, they do want to look better, feel better, live better, but they’re stuck not with lack of information but with limited resources to make that change.

So I’m going to dispel a few of what I consider “myths” and just society being, well, self-absorbed and what is often said, “Keeping up with the Jones”.

You may have heard all the hype circling in health and fitness communities about Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods, but that’s what it is; Hype. Don’t walk away from getting fit and healthy because you can’t even afford to just lurk around at those grocery stores without feeling like you need a guest pass.

A membership to BJ’s or other wholesale club is extremely helpful. Or if you don’t have one close to you, Wal-Mart is just as good as any to find healthy, inexpensive food. BJ’s even offers coupons for healthier options. I have a membership at BJ’s and I have literally knocked $400-$500 off of my grocery bill each month. They normally offer coupons for top brands such as Eggland’s Best Egg Whites, Greek Yogurt, Chicken, Fish etc.

Healthy doesn’t only equate to organic foods. No, it’s doing the best you can, with what you know and more importantly, what you can afford. It also doesn’t equate to bland and boring meals either. I’m not going to claim I’m Martha Stewart in the kitchen or that I deserve my own cooking show, no, that’ll go to my husband, but I know there’s a lot of you who know how to work the kitchen. In fact, you may even discover or rediscover the passion of cooking and creating meals. You never know.

But for me, I don’t enjoy cooking. I just want to eat. I love to eat. So, spices are my friend. And you can find spices at the Dollar Store. And at BJ’s or Wal-mart.Okay so look I know that fresh vegetables and fruit are what some consider to be the best choices, but buying them are expensive enough, so to buy them, bring them home and have them spoil too soon can be frustrating. Makes me want to scream actually… Especially if you’re struggling to pay bills and eat healthy, the last thing you want to do is see your hard earned money go in the garbage.  I know various nutritional sources will inform you that frozen and canned may lack the same nutritional value, but there are also some that will tell you the opposite, so I go with what I can afford for my entire family. (Besides, according to those same sources, if you purchase fresh vegetables and boil as opposed to steam them, you lose the nutrients anyway.)

As for fruit, I do buy fresh bananas, but only what I know will be consumed. I usually purchase frozen fruit such as blueberries and other kinds of berries. (They just last longer that way.)  And if you’re wondering what to do with frozen fruit? Try heating them up and putting them in your oatmeal or cereal, or you can even add the frozen fruit to plain Greek yogurt, freeze it, and enjoy as a frozen dessert!

For water and the environment, I take advantage of Primo, the water cooler system. I buy the 5 gallon water jug and once it runs out, I just recycle and get a new one! I have a couple of those shaker bottles as well as flip-top water bottles to carry around with me. Believe me, drinking bottled water can become very expensive!

Now, I’m not going to pretend that I’m the World’s Healthiest Mom and that I deserve an award for feeding my kids all organic, all natural foods. Please! I still buy my kids snacks, but I try to choose snacks that are only minimally processed, and don’t have 10 different ingredients that sound more like a science experiment gone bad. I do try to stick to just buying chicken, fish in bulk, but for the kids, I will keep pizza rolls, hot dogs, and frozen pierogies in the freezer to have once in awhile. It is okay, to still live after all.

Besides, I’m not going to preach to you about restriction, I’m going to tell you that if you want to reach a goal, or just feel better; improve your health, you can do it. There are plenty of fad diets most are willing to follow for a pretty hefty price, mostly because there is so much misinformation about what you have to do to look and feel better.

Choose you. All day, every day; for a life time. Always.

Images Speak Louder Than Words…

Has anyone read this father’s letter to his daughter written by, Dr. Kelly Flanagan, a clinical psychologist?

First, I would like to point out that I thoroughly enjoy his writing (his letters to his daughter). His letters provide insight to a world that he has already discovered, and he wishes to protect and warn his daughter about all of the deep dark secrets of the world that we now live in before she becomes tainted.

I do admire his intention of trying to make his daughter learn that “it’s on the inside that counts”. In fact, I applaud him for giving a damn. I understand the message behind it and I congratulate him on instilling a solid foundation of self worth and self respect within his little girl.

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Author: Samantha Towle

 Book: Trouble

In a recent article circling the Internet, Dr. Kelly Flanagan, writes about the powerful impact that the words and phrases that grace the cover of magazines have on how women define their worth. “Words have power…” he states. It’s a good read with some great points, however, aside from the obvious fact that these are just target words that marketers use to persuade the consumer to buy the magazine. From my experience, actions and images have a much more powerful meaning than words can ever have.

In fact, I’m even more than willing to state that images alone have the most powerful impact when it comes down to how a woman makes her choices or how a woman begins to desire and strive for a certain degree of success in career, health, fitness, family, and in LIFE.

What motivates women to become successful is not the words on the cover of a magazine, but the images. Those words have to be far less abstract than what he has listed to garner any “power”.  Yes, sure does it make us hurl insults off of our tongue or curse in our minds because that woman is probably a whore or a slut when she puts on makeup, offers beauty tips, flaunts a body that she has worked hard for, all on the cover of a magazine. Those are not abstract words. Those have power. Imagine those magazines that he has taken a photo of and replace the phrases with words like, “whore, slut, etc”  How would a woman react then? Simply the same way as if they were to have the word, “fat, fake, or ugly” on them. It would sting. Now, that, would be powerful. 

And he is right, women are intelligent, beautiful creatures inside and out, thus it takes more than just abstract words/phrases for women to buy into the so -called power printed on the cover of a magazine in some bold sans serif or serif typeface. Images are promoted front and center, whether they are age that has been altered; airbrushed and painted over; they are what screams out at you, and makes you pay attention. At least that’s the first thing I see.

It’s stimulation of our senses that are provoked when an image is flashed in front of our eyes.  It is an attraction, admiration, envy that connects me to a magazine. It is not abstract words/phrases, it is not ONE thing that can be controlled, or that we can be immune to, or forewarned; it is our environment, our society that has long before print media defined its ideal standard of “beauty” that lives in us; breathes for us. Through social media, the internet, inside and outside of our home; around the clock.

We strive for independence, confidence, a career, family, friends, but we want to look good doing it. We all want to be the woman that someone looks at and is inspired or motivated by.  Most people cannot be reached verbally, especially through abstractions.  Actions, images, carry a far more profound effect than any abstract phrase being displayed on a supermarket shelf.

Self worth and self respect comes from within. None of us are truly weak; we are strong, so strong in fact, that we go so far as to mutilate ourselves just to find perfection. But that mutilation, that sad little girl existing in a powerful, somewhat tragic world, is reaching out for help; there’s something inside of her that hurts and I can guarantee the pain is not from a magazine.

We are all capable of strong; it’s what you have to be strong for that matters.  

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What are your thoughts on this letter?

Taking the Mask off Confidence

I remember when I used to go out a lot. I used to love to drink; get drunk and smoke cigarettes (also known as a social smoker). I used to love going out all the time and spending the next day in bed with a major hangover. I used to be in love with what I felt gave me confidence at the time. I never once thought about my health. Nothing really mattered. I was living my life, but I wasn’t really living it.

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Left and Right Picture: 2/4/2014  

Middle Picture: 7/2006

And while some of the greatest memories stem from those days, I look back at this picture and see someone who may have seemed confident or not so awkward. I just didn’t have time to dwell on anything; I didn’t want to. Besides, that’s just what confidence was for me; that’s what I understood it to mean.

Now, I’m not saying that there’s anything wrong with having a drink with friends or family, going out to dinner etc, but this is just my story; my version.

While I have grown up, (and the bathing suits might have gotten a tad smaller), I am still searching for confidence; I am still searching everyday for the true meaning of what it means to walk with pride, and trying to process what it truly entails. And even when I think I truly understand it, I am left to try to come to terms with it. You know, face it without the alcohol and horrible hangovers? It’s hard to push past boundaries and leave your comfort zone behind, but the only way I know how is to just face it.

Maybe you can relate. Or maybe you have a different version of what confidence means to you, and how it has changed throughout different parts of your life. If so, I’d like to hear it.

One Rep At a Time

 

Everyone has pain.

You just have to choose which pain you want to feel.

I don’t think I’ll ever win this fight.

But I don’t think I’ll lose either.

Instead, I’m going to live each day remembering I have choices;

I can go to the gym, or I can surrender to this mental bullshit labeled as anxiety and panic disorder that’s trying to attack my mind; my spirit.

I might not ever win this fight, but I’ll stay focused;

I will strive to overcome each moment; each day;

One rep at a time.

That’s my choice.

That’s my pain.