Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Turning over a New Leaf (as in Green Leafy Vegetables) for 2015

Progress Check-In for 2014 and Healthy Eating Goals for 2015

So, ├╝ber-determined health resolutions near the time of the new year seem suspect and temporary! I must admit, ramping up health goals has coincided with the new year, however, we have been doing ok during 2014, health-wise. I started this healthy eating and living blog almost a year ago today exactly. However, Jeff and I have been slow-and-steady in our progress towards transitioning to real food. When we met, about three years ago, we tended to have the following eating habits: pizza, take-out food, dining out at "casual dining" types of places. 

Several factors made us want to eat healthier...

1. We couldn't fit in our respective clothes any longer. This is self-explanatory as a motivation to change!

2. We were wasting money on restaurants. We both have student loans and mortgages to pay down.

3. "Discovering" tasty healthy recipes on the internet that we could try on our own.

4. Jeff got a personal trainer and started using the myfitnesspal app as well as getting health tips ("low-sodium") from his personal trainer. 

5. We started researching the calories in the desserts we were eating. There were almost 1,000 calories in some! 

6. We watched Forks Over Knives and other like-minded movies and decided to turn-around our health. These movies were inspiring and interesting.

7. The aging process--turning 40 means my metabolism slowed down in major ways, all of a sudden! Even maintaining weight became "work".

8. Over time, a Sprouts store and a Whole Food opened up within 2 miles of us in our new city of Bedford. We also live directly across the street from the Bedford Farmer's Market which is open seven days a week. 

The Bedford Farmer's Market is helping us eat healthier
Giving up Coffee for Calmness and Cost-Savings. 

I have recently truly given up coffee as  I wrote in a previous blog. It is Dav Five and I am doing great! I feared going through so-called "withdrawals" as I had been consuming about 2 cups of coffee a day for more than a decade or longer. 

Health Goals for 2015

1. Continue walking 1-2x daily. We walk about 2-3 miles a day, but I would like to increase this to 4-6 miles a day!

2. Lose 10 pounds!

3 .Continue to minimize caffeine and seek alternate sources of natural energy. So far, green tea is doing the trick. 

4. Explore new plant-based recipes on Forks Over Knives website and other online resources. There is a wealth of knowledge on the internet. I also like the book Vegetable Literacy by Deborah Madison. I love learning about what I am eating along with great recipes.

A great read! It's heavy so I recommend the Kindle version. 

What are your health resolutions for 2015? 

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Getting Off Coffee-Alternatives to Too Much Caffeine

What is "too much" caffeine? Is addiction real? I think addiction to caffeine is real. I have lately been tired of always dreaming of my next cup of coffee all day long. The aroma of it prepping in the Keurig, the anticipation of the rush of caffeine, and worst of all, that 2-3 cups was not enough became the breaking point and ultimate reason to abruptly quit drinking coffee. Addiction is addiction. When it became a necessity is when it's time to end the constant cravings and intruding thoughts of coffee! 

However, quitting coffee cold turkey is generally not advised due to the possible side effects and "withdrawal symptoms". I have since switched to (organic!) green tea which has many health benefits. It's been 48 hours since I have had my last cup of coffee. Tapering down by switching drinks is good because it saves money from drive-through coffee towards much cheaper options. 

Another yummy alternative to coffee while still taking in a bit of caffeine, is (dark) hot chocolate. Can I convince myself it's a "health food"? Probably  nut due to the higher saturated fat content, however, various sources suggest that chococlate lowers blood pressure and boosts good feelings. As Aristotle suggests, moderation is key, so I am adding dark hot chocolate several times a week to maintain a certain level of caffeine while convincing myself it's not as bad as my (former!) drive-though addiction(s). 

I am not quitting caffeine "cold turkey" by simply stopping all caffeinated drinks. Though many of the online blogs advise to beware of caffeine withdrawal, moving from 2-3 cups of coffee (half-caff) a day to three cups of green tea (moderately steeped) hasn't resulted in much more than a bit of fatigue and an every so mild back of the neck pain. 

I do recommend green tea for it's health benefits! 

    Dark hot chocolate (71% cacao) and green tea with honey are good!

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Financial Health and Frugal Living

Saving Money, Feeling Better, and Saving the Planet, too. 

It's hard to think about staying healthier without thinking about money, spending habits, green living, and eating habits. We have the ongoing goal of being healthy, but we also want to be financially healthier. This blog post is about the dual goal of eating even better, living sustainably and saving money all at the same time. 

Confession: we have been only semi-conscious consumers with pretty bad habits like drinking way too much bottled water, using too many paper towels, and generally consuming and spending on convenience. We have made a few recent changes. Over 2014 Jeff and I have done much better with eating in more, cooking lots of greens, and using almost no paper products. We have gone paperless, printed next to nothing, and we bought much of our new furniture at estate sales and garage sales. These habits have made us feel better physically. We have also been walking several times a day, getting fresh air and spending time with Dexter the Westie.

Here are a few recent habits we are working on. Besides getting healthy and having fun working on goals, we both really really really want to pay off our own respective mortgages (Jeff's condo in Dallas, which is currently rental property, and my own condo in Austin which is also rental property) as fast as possible. The target for Austin condo payoff is 7 year payoff but it's possible to pay it in five or six years with extra payments towards the principal through some disciplined savings and frugality. We are motivated. 

1. I am switching from coffee to inexpensive tea. Pods are expensive and depending on one's "habit" these can add up. They also possibly clog landfills so switching to tea is beneficial finanically and for "green living." As someone diagnosed with acute tachycardia (which I believe is situational and influenced by the mind/body connection), less caffene or lower doses is always helpful. I used to get drive-through coffee at Starbucks twice a day! No more! I only go 1-2 X a week currently. This saves loads of money that adds up over time.

2. Keeping the maximum heat in the townhome set to 68-70 degrees. Heating and cooling 1,700 square feet of indoor space isn't cheap in the winter. This will save money and use less electricity. We have plenty of warm socks, hats, blankets, throws, and sweaters! Money saved goes to more mortgage payments! 

3. Eating more greens. I know that pre-packaged bagged salads cost more, but we are not fully getting away from convenience. This is all a transition and like I said, we had previously been dining out daily, white flour products, dessert, and all. 

Jeff loves to cook! 

4. No more paper towels! We used way too many paper towels. These things are expensive! What a waste of money! We'll be using these hand towels much more often, especially in the kitchen. 

5. Getting back to low-cost legumes and freezing leftovers. We both used to cook things like lentils and other types of dried beans/legumes in our college days. It's great to get back to this type of cooking because it fits the budget. 

Other money-saving goals: scaling back and eliminating bottled water through water filters, light bulb replacements, weather stripping on doors (as needed), less shopping at retail stores, use the public library resources (books, digital resources). 

We are learning more about healthy living and being financially healthy! Stay tuned for more blog posts. Feel free to leave comments or tips for us! 

Friday, January 17, 2014

Continuing Healthy Eating...

So there are some knowledge gaps in my mind of what it means to be physically "healthy" and how to get there. For the longest time, I have spent most of my energies on intellectual and mental development. I am open to learning and hope to read books, articles, etc. on better eating. The focus right now is on physical health, but there are other aspects that could use a bit of attending to: spiritual, financial, and mental (e.g. focusing on relaxing more!). However, the physical is the most concrete and it shows visible and measurable benefits so I'm starting there.

In my teens, I spent a great deal of time reading classic nutrition books. My favorite was Dick Gregory's Natural Diet for Folks Who Eat: Cookin' With Mother Nature! I read this book about five times in high school. I loved his writing style and his advice about eating natural food. It's basically a raw food diet but he goes into why it's important and how nutrition even affects your inner peace which can affect eventually world peace. I love that this book was written in the mid-70's as that era and the ideas of that era resonate with me. 


I need to lose about 10 body fat percentage points. You can't tell by looking at me that my body fat percent is somewhere, somehow, in the ballpark of 30%. A fat-burning diet and exercise regime is needed! I met with a physical trainer at the gym today to talk about setting some goals and a timeline for doing so. She said 4-8 months would be reasonable to reach the 20% body fat goal.


Tonight for dinner, we are making Jamaican Beans and Rice! 
I didn't get real ginger but visited the spice aisle instead, but the other ingredients look yummy!

I also want to experiment with more beans and rice recipes that have spice and flavor. There are so many creative recipes online! Also, we're having broccoli slaw with carrots and snap peas plus vinaigrette.

So, at least we know we are eating real food, nearly all of the time since we started this healthy-living regime on January 5. I also have only been to corporate-coffee-chain four times since January 5. That so much better than my 1-2 daily visits previously! There has also been no typical dessert fare other than fruit smoothies.

Tomorrow, we will try to make a low-fat salmon dip and eat it with whole wheat bread and a bunch of veggies. 

I got a new haircut today and I really like the symmetry.

Layered bob haircut

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Making Progress

So our physical self-improvement is very slow but very steady. We have been to the gym at least 5-7 times (depending on if you count Jeff only or Jeff and I together).

We primarily work out at L.A. Fitness, which is a stone's throw from the runway of Love Field. On our way home, I could see the entire underbelly of a Southwest Airlines jet on final approach, wheels down, the whole deal. [I LOVE being next to an airport. It reminds me of my youth in rural and urban Alaska.]

Our workouts have been about 30-45 minutes long and mostly cardio. A goal is to start up yoga again, but stiffness is ironically keeping me from doing so. Fitness goals include more flexibility, more stamina, lower resting pulse, and previous goals stated.

Dieting at a slow pace is good. It's truly a challenge to find completely sugar-free foods at the grocery store, but this Kroger on Cedar Springs Road (Oak Lawn, Dallas, TX) has quite a bit of organic selections and some sugar-free options.

Last night I made Jeff dinner and it was ready when he got home.
Broccoli slaw-Top
Whole Wheat Pasta with sugar-free sauce; later added black beans to the mix!

Building on the salad theme, we branched out from our usual Spinach salad and tried broccoli slaw with vinaigrette.  Dessert was a blueberry and cherry smoothie with non-fat coconut milk and Greek yogurt! DELICIOUS! Eliminating sugar is hard. Our six-week goal is to go out and pig out on the yummiest dessert in the entire DFW Metroplex

Tomorrow, I'm getting a much-needed haircut--probably something like a bob and maybe with retro elements or mod. Thinking, too, of going blonde (highlights). It's time for a real transformation, both inner and outer.

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Exploring Healthy Living...Day 1

Jeff and I are on a quest towards healthier living-body and mind! We both live in the Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex and spend a great deal of time on our respective jobs and other indoor activities.

Our goal this year is to clean up our act with intentionally living healthier in terms of our food, exercise routines, and by making other healthy choices! We will post a diary of our food choices, tips for getting started, and links to resources like recipes.

We will also post our progress and goal attainment here! Please post comments!

Jeff's goals: Lose weight, feel fit, improve overall fitness, eat healthier!

Peggy's goals: Lose 10 pounds, feel fit, improve overall fitness, improve energy levels, boost the "good" cholesterol in my system, improve muscle mass while decreasing body fat percentage, and improve flexibility while decreasing muscle pain.

We are also doing the 100 Days of Real Food Challenge starting today, January 5, 2014!

Today's diet so far:

natural oats cereal
Sprouts 9-grain bread (toast) with butter and apricot spread (organic)
fresh cut pineapple


cruciferous greens salad (Kale, Spinach, other greens) w/vinaigrette and sliced apples (no sugar)
smoothie (Blueberries, cherries, Greek yogurt, vanilla almond milk, a few drops of real vanilla)
Sprouts 9-grain bread with sun-dried tomato hummus

We will have whole-grain pasta with sugar-free tomato sauce w/added garlic and spinach
broccoli with fresh-squeezed lemon and a whole sliced avocado

 We joined a gym and start our first workout this evening. It's been a while to work out! Peggy