Thursday, June 25, 2015

Eating Healthy on a Budget – A Long Post About Meal Planning


This is long, sorry about that.  

This may not work for you, so share what works for you!!

These are just my tips, it is all about finding a way that works for you!


One of the hardest things for me when it comes to a diet is planning healthy meals the family loves, while also not going over the budget.  I think we can agree, that sometimes eating healthy can come at a price!  But over the last 6 months I am learning that this doesn’t necessarily have to be the case.  I have managed to find ways to incorporate a healthy diet for me and for my family, while sticking to our budget.

Now I do have to say, many meals we eat separate things.  My husband works crazy hours so we may not always have dinner with him.  And my son is, lets say, a particular eater.  He does eat healthy, but the list of foods he likes is somewhat limited.  And then there is me who wants to eat healthy and try new alternatives.

I know some are thinking…SO DO YOU MAKE THREE MEALS?!

Uh, not exactly.

But I do prepare meals a little differently.  If my husband will be home for dinner then I make a meal we will all like and share.  If he is not, he eats what he wants (usually leftovers or frozen meals because that is his choice!) and then I make something easy for Henry (mac & cheese with broccoli, canned fruit, carrot sticks, chicken nuggets for example) and then I may make myself something easy like an omelet or salad.  These are easy meals to make for dinner, but also keep all of us healthy and happy!

Tip: Have a list of quick, easy and healthy meals to fit in your regular week.

We also budget to eat out maybe once a week.  We like to eat out.  Plain and simple. 

So, with all that said, I have learned how to eat healthy while staying on a budget.  The major key, for me, to eating healthy is meal planning.  I have been meal planning for over year for our budget, but the last 6 months have found ways to incorporate my healthy eating into our meal plan!

Monday, June 22, 2015

Incorporating a Diet on Vacation and Getting Back on Track When the Vacation is Over!

(I feel this sums up me and my progress and how I am learning as I lose weight)

So this last weekend I was home for the week and of course I "had" to eat at all my favorite food places that I only eat at once a year.

How can I pass up pizza at this amazing pizza shop that uses lots of fresh and local (Amish grown) ingredients?!

Or Chinese at my favorite Chinese restaurant....that just so happens to be a buffet.

After standing outside for 6 hours at the Fiesta tent sale, wings and a drink seemed like a must.

No trip home is complete without cream chicken sandwiches and fried mushrooms served with a tall and crisp homemade rootbeer at the Rootbeer Stand!

And can you really go to the Drive-In movie and not snack on nachos with cheese, popcorn and junior mints?!  Ok, you probably can but it isn't as fun.

And what is breakfast without an amazing creme stick from a local bakery!

So I think you are getting my point.  My trip home revolved around two things.  My family and food.

And when you are on a diet, it can be frustrating when you feel you cannot indulge in your favorite things.

But I made a choice.  I was going to let myself eat my favorite things, but take it easy.

See, when I restrict myself, that is when I hurt myself the most because one of two things happens:

1. I either binge eat, or
2. I get very angry (hangry) that I don't get to eat the things I love.

Yep, I am a bit of an extreme person, but I DO get angry when I want to eat something and don't get it. I wasn't going to go the entire trip and not eat some of the foods that make me happy.  It is vacation and I wanted to enjoy myself.  But I also did not want to avoid the foods and then go crazy and binge one day.


That is the thing I am learning and this is something I am going to have to work on for the rest of my life.  Ask any binge eater....this can be tough.

So when we ate pizza, I had a salad to go with my dinner.

A heavy Chinese buffet at lunch and a lighter dinner can balance out nicely.

Eat a smaller amount or half of the foods you like so you get a taste without overindulging.  So you only need half that small strawberry milkshake, not the whole thing.

If you do splurge on, lets say a creme stick, don't do it every day.  One day is enough.

Drink lots of water!!  Especially if you want to have beverages (like alcohol) in the evening....keep it simple during the day and are not drinking your calories.

Make sure you still have healthy snacks and don't skip meals as you still need that fuel for your body and it will help from overeating later.

And remove the guilt!!!  If you are eating within the parameters you set up, then do it without the guilt.  Enjoy as you shouldn't have those negative feelings associated with food...not healthy.

These are things I tried to do last week.

Was I perfect? Uh hell no.  Who is?  But I tried to be mindful of my diet without only focusing on what I ate.

I don't want my love for food to make me unhappy.  I don't want to be so focused on what I eat that I get angry.  I want to enjoy, but enjoy in moderation.  I want to focus on how I feel when I eat.  ENJOY every bite, even if there are only a few bites.  I don't need everything and all at once...a little bit here and there can make me just as happy.  I want to focus on when I feel full and stop instead of feeling I need to power through that entire bag of popcorn.

Since I started this leg of my diet, I have been trying to be more mindful of how food makes me feel.  How I feel towards food.  My food triggers and knowing how to stop myself.

Vacation was no different.  I wasn't going to throw everything I have learned the past 6 months out the window and eat everything in site, but I also wasn't going to not enjoy those foods I love.  This is part of the learning process.

I think overall I did well on vacation.

And the weird thing is I am excited to get back to my healthier eating.


Yep.  I went to the store and bought my salad stuff and have been prepping my healthier foods for the week.  Even though I am off work today, I picked right where I left off before vacation. 1650 calories a day.  I had coffee and an egg and english muffin for breakfast.  A delicious salad for lunch.  And will have a nice dinner, all within my calories.

I think when you start eliminating some of those foods and get in the habit of eating a certain way, it makes it easier to come back after you indulge.  I treated myself last week and now back to my new lifestyle.  Plain and simple.  I have to make it that I have no other choice, this is just the way it is.

THIS is my new lifestyle.

And for the first time, I am OK with that.

I don't know if I have too many tips for getting back on track after a vacation other than just do it.

Go to the store when you get home and get your healthy foods.

Don't bring excess food from your vacation splurged there but at home you are back on track.  i.e. we don't need to bring back creme sticks from the bakery back home!!

Plan healthy meals full of flavor that first week back or your favorite healthy meals to get you excited to eat!

Make up your mind that this is just how it is.  And the next vacation/special occasion you can splurge again, you just need to be healthier now.


 So tell me, how do you handle eating on vacation?!?!  How about getting back on track when vacation is over?!

Tuesday, June 09, 2015

Am I Hurting My Weight Loss by Eating TOO FEW Calories?!?!

So, I have mentioned the last couple months my weight loss has sorta plateaued.  I would aim to eat 1300-1400 calories during the week and 1400-1500.  On the weekends my calorie count really fluctuated higher and more like 1700-2000…because, honestly I was HUNGRY.

During the week I was tired and had no energy.  Many nights I would go to bed when Henry did because I was so tired.

I lost 24 pounds pretty quick, but as my weight loss stopped, I would get mad and eat even fewer calories and then it seemed like one day a week I would eat close to 2000.  This is still less than what I used to eat, especially when I had a binge.  But still, to eat 1250 calories for 3 days and then 2000 the next seemed to be causing issues and confusing my body more than actually helping it.

I started talking to friends and reading as much as I could about eating TOO FEW calories and the effects.

Everything I read stated things like this…

“When you diet aggressively and make drastic cuts in your daily calorie intake, your body panics, signaling starvation mode; this actually slows metabolism. The best way to diet effectively is to cut 100 calories from what you normally would eat.”

“The truth is that cutting calories below 1,050-1,200 per day is counterproductive, because you need strong muscles to be able to exercise effectively.”

"When you eat too few calories, you lose fat but also precious muscle, which is the worst thing you could do because it slows your metabolism and makes it more difficult to increase exercise intensity or duration,"

“It's one of the most frustrating realities of dieting—if you cut out too many calories, your metabolism thinks times are lean and puts the breaks on fat-burning to conserve energy…”

Well Damn.

Frustrating is right.

You eat too few calories and you don’t lose weight. Eat too many calories and gain weight.  Eat the wrong calories and you don’t lose weight.


No wonder celebrities pay for personal chefs.

But it explains a lot.  It explains why I was SO tired.  Why I always felt hungry.  Why on the weekends I would eat more, because my body is telling me I need to eat more.

And I am sure the back and forth of low low calories and then higher calories was not helping and confusing my body more.

So last week I decided to follow the calorie count that EVERY calorie calculator (even when I manual determine my calories based on good old fashioned math) told me.  For my height 5’11” and weight (a lot!) and being 35 it was NO WHERE CLOSE to 1300 calories.  Infact, that 1300 was closer to someone looking to lose 2 lbs a week who weighs 160 pounds….you know, my GOAL weight.


For me to lose approximately 2lbs a week (maybe a bit more), not working out, I am looking at 1600-1700.

So this is where I am now, 1650 calories.  Not even counting ANY exercise, which I will need to adjust accordingly. 

It hasn’t been quite a week, but I already FEEL better.  I have more energy.  I haven’t lost anything yet, but the fact I am not tired and not thinking about food all the time is a good start. 

I am going to try keeping my calories around here for a month and see what happens.  If I am still not losing weight it is off to a nutritionist to see what they suggest.

Some other tips I have found that I will be using this month:

Eat lots of vegetables to help you feel full.
Drink plenty of COLD water. (cold water kickstarts your metabolism)
Stay busy -- you don't want to eat just because you're bored.
Eat only from a plate, while seated at a table. No grazing in front of the 'fridge. (Guilty!)
Don't skip meals.
Eat every 3-4 hours.
Eat a healthy breakfast within an hour of waking up.

My schedule will look something like this: (approximately*)

7-8 a.m.: Breakfast 250 [calories]
10 a.m.: Snack 200
1 p.m.: Lunch 350
3-4 p.m.: Snack 200
6-7 p.m.: Dinner 650
Avoid eating after 8:30

I am trying to incorporate at least 20-30 minutes of exercise into my schedule.  It has been hard…

Trying to workout...about 15 minutes into it.

…but I will keep trying!

I still like sweets, I like love bread, and chips with any sorta dip cannot be in the house at all. But I still want to eat those things I love and have no plans to give them up…. just eating them in moderation.  I have a near 4 year old I have to cook for who is semi-picky and a husband who prefers hardy foods so I am trying to find ways to make sure we all eat healthy without breaking the bank and cooking separate meetings for all three of us. 

I have learned a few tricks the past 6 months on my diet like buy things like healthy Life bread (35 calories a slice), air popcorn or skinny pop for snacks, and if we eat a higher calorie dinner like pasta or pizza I always include a very large salad.

So I am trying this all again.  Just like my first post on this journey where I said I feel motivated and refreshed…that is me now.  Again. 

"If I quit now, I will soon be back to where I started.  And when I started, I was desperately wishing to be where I am now."  

I have come way too far in my weight loss, my binge eating, the way I look at food to let this little bump in my journey stop me.  I am really hoping by increasing my calories to a more realistic calorie count, working out, and eating every few hours my body will get the kick it needs to start losing weight again!!!  So this may take me a little longer than I wanted, but what is important is that I get to where I want to be…right?!?!

*As I have mentioned before, I adjust depending on what I am eating for dinner.  I plan meals out at least weekly, but normally bi-weekly or a month at a time.