Penny Wise, Me Poor

Why is it the first thing we always think about is the cost of things?  If I had a dollar for every time I said, “I can’t afford that”, I’d be rich.  Want to take up yoga but it’s way too expensive to go to a studio?  Decide to eat only organic only to balk at the increased cost of organic foods.  Along this journey, I too have faced these same perceived roadblocks.   But, can you really put a price on our health?   Why in this society is it more expensive to live a healthy lifestyle?  Why are the unhealthy foods so much less expensive?  These questions bring to mind the saying, “penny wise, dollar poor.”  In seeking to save money, you could actually be costing your health to suffer.

As part of our journey, we need to reevaluate our thinking around the cost of things.  At the most basic level, how much are we spending on health care and drugs to maintain our current lifestyle?  Do we need daily prescription drugs to offset the damage done to our bodies?   Do we make frequent trips to doctors because we consistently feel sick?  For me, the answer was yes.

The next area to consider is our daily spending.   For example, when I was first approached about drinking Shakeology, I said no thanks.  It’s way too expensive.  Of course I thought about it and looked into it further.  My wise friend pointed out that I was spending about $5.00 a day on a cup of Starbucks coffee.  The cost of the shake, with my discount, would be about $4.00 a day.  One purchase was full of extra sugar in the form of flavored creamer and one was full of vitamins and nutrients.   Why then was I so quick to say no due to perceived costs?  This realization caused me to really spend time thinking about the money I was spending.

Small changes, big results is my theme, so why did I not think to apply this to my spending.  I can lead a healthy life and not stress over every dollar I spend. I just needed to think outside the box.

First area I evaluated was my monthly gym memberships.  I was spending $75 a month for my yoga membership and $40 a month on a gym membership.  Additionally, I went to a personal trainer at least twice a week for $50.  That’s $165 a month. In thinking about my daily exercise schedule, I found myself rising at 4:00 AM daily.  Heading to either the gym or yoga studio for 6:00 AM.  Showering at gym then rushing to work.  Talk about stress.  If I did yoga, I had to then drive to the gym to shower as the studio doesn’t have showers.  I decided to cancel the gym membership as I have a full range of gym equipment in my basement, including an elliptical and treadmill for cardio.  The yoga is in a heated room and I don’t get the same levels of workout at home, so that I kept.  Savings $90 a month, plus I gained an hour of sleep and much less stress in the morning.  I can even work out in my pajamas if I want and I have!  To offset the trainer and gym class loss, I purchased some workout programs for at home use and joined accountability groups, so no lack of motivation here.

Next, I looked at our weekly food bills. We, like many, were shopping at Costco.  Buying in bulk was supposed to save us money, right?  Wrong!  What it really did was cause us to overspend and buy processed foods.  It even caused us to eat more as the food here was plentiful.  I decided to go back to my Queens roots and only purchase what we would eat and only buy fresh.  No more freezing of food!  Remember the days of walking up the avenue to get fresh meat and produce?  Those days are back and guess what it’s more cost effective after all.  Think about it .   No more over buying or impulse purchases in Costco.   Did you really need that blender, or 40 can box of tuna?

Last, I looked at my daily lunch spending.  Because I was running off to the gym with the roosters, I rarely had time to pack food.  Lunch meals, while healthy, were costing me about 8-10 dollars a day.   Elimating this would save me another $40 a week, or $160 a month!

This week, your job is to pay attention to your daily spending.   Where is your money going after all?   Once you evaluate that, I am sure, like me you can begin to see room  for change.  And, best of all the savings can be redistributed over to purchases you thought you just couldn’t afford.  Write down every penny you spend for one week.  Also, list your monthly ongoing expenses.  I think you’ll be pretty surprised as I was.

I’m hoping you have already made some small changes and are seeing some results.  Please share with me. I’d love to hear! For information on at home workouts, or discounted Shakeology, leave me a comment, or email me.

I’ll be starting an online accountability group in April. No purchase, or fee required to join.  Details will be shared in my next post. Have a great week.

Coffee, Wine or Me

We’ve been talking a lot about making small changes to reclaim our health.  We talked about taking inventory of where we are on this journey.  Part of this inventory must include everything that enters our bodies, including liquids.  What we are, or aren’t drinking matters a lot.

This week we will focus on journaling every drink that enters our mouths.  Write it down for a week and let’s talk about the patterns you notice.  For me, I noticed I was drinking on any given day, one cup of coffee with flavored creamer in the morning.  During the day, I drank two to three cups of green tea with Splenda.  At night, with dinner, I usually drank two glasses of red wine. One while cooking, because let’s face it cooking and wine go together and one with my meal.  In looking at this, I immediately noticed three things.  One, I was drinking a lot of sugar! Two, I was not drinking any water.  Three, I was using an artificial sweetener which research now shows is tied to wreaking havoc on our autoimmune systems. Clearly this was another problem area that I hadn’t even thought about.

I am not a fan of water, never was, but research shows it’s essential for our health. It also helps your skin, so ladies the best wrinkle reducer is proper hydration.  One way to make it easier to drink for me included, getting a subscription to home delivery of spring water.  This only cost me 30 per month and is well worth it.  Tap water has far to many chemicals and additives that I don’t want in my body and it just tastes better.  I also put one in my office.   Please, whatever you do, don’t buy cases of bottled water  in plastic containers.  Don’t ever freeze, or leave these in your car.  There is tons of research that links these bottles with cancer.

How much water you need to drink is super easy to figure out.  You need to drink half your body weight in ounces.  So, if you weigh 160 lbs you need to drink approximately 80 oz of water per day.  You can easily make fruit water at home by cutting up fresh lemon and cucumber and adding to a pitcher of water.  You can add any fruit you want.  I personally just like it plain.   In order to meet my daily intake, I keep a refillable glass bottle on my night table. I always wake up thirsty and can start sipping when I wake.  The bottle is 16 oz and I’ve got half down before I hit the ground.   I take my vitamins with the other half before breakfast.  I refill the bottle and sip and finish following my morning workout. So, I’ve already got 32 oz of water down before I even leave the house for work.  Carrying the bottle at all time encourages me to sip the day away. I’m not going to say it’s easy at first, but making those simple changes gets you on the path.  When you notice the change in your skin you’ll be motivated to keep sipping.

As for the coffee,  I still have one cup a day.  It’s not negotiable.  I still use flavored creamer too. Hey, it’s all about keeping it real and balanced.  Just keep it at one and you’ll be OK, unless of course you have a health issue.  Then listen to your doctor.  One thing I do to address any coffee fix I’m craving outside this one cup is to drink a coffee protein shake.  This is the healthiest latte ever!

If you have Splenda, or any other artificial sweetener in your house throw it out immediately.  That includes the blue, yellow and pink packaged version.   Read the research!  Google it.  I use only Stevia natural sweetener or agave.  I’ve also learned to like the taste of food without the sweetener, but that takes time.  I didn’t go cold turkey, believe me.  You can buy both of these items at any store.  I don’t buy Truvia.  I buy Stevia in the raw at Trader Joes and agave at Costco.  I rarely use the agave anymore though.

Finally, my beloved red wine.  Darn this was the hardest one for me. I love it and it was a part of my routine.  It’s unrealistic to think you will never have a glass of wine again.  Like coffee, this was not negotiable.  I could however, certainly cut down on the amount I was drinking.  First step was to  buy smaller bottles.  The ones that are not cost effective and only contain three to four small glasses.  Buy this on the weekend and that’s your treat for the week.  No more open bottle to tempt me during the week.  The second change I made was to buy organic flavored seltzer (in glass bottle only) at Costco.  Taking out the cutting board to cook had long been synonymous with pouring a glass of wine.  This was a time of great want for me.  Now, I take out my beautiful wine glass and fill it with the seltzer.  It works like a charm.  I’m sipping, satisfying my craving and not adding all that red wine sugar to my body. Win-win-win

I buy a certain type of shake for my coffee and sweet fix.  Feel free to contact me through Facebook, or email and I’ll share that information with you.

A great book for green shake recipes is

 

This week’s small change is to log your liquid intake for the week   Notice any patterns   in your consumption, particularly sugar intake.  Figure out your daily water requirements also.  Enjoy the week and be sure to let me know how it’s going for you!

 

 

You Can’t Out Exercise a Bad Diet

We need to talk about the elephant in the room, our eating habits.  Believe me, I’ve tried to exercise my way thin.  That alone won’t fix the problem!  After I took inventory of my eating habits and looked hard at my health, I came to realize how I got myself in this predicament.  Years of poor eating had taken its toll and I was going to fix it.   Problem is I hated vegetables.  Yes, as discussed last week I was slipping some into a breakfast shake, but that alone was not going to be enough.

After running, going to they gym, walking, biking and not losing a ton of weight, I decided to work with a nutritionist.  I walked into the first one and was shocked to see a less than healthy looking woman.  She sold me a bunch of Isotonic and handed me a piece of paper with a menu.  The Isotonix was OK, the menu was helpful in that at least I had a guide for the “What’s for dinner question” I faced every night.  I questioned some of the food choices on the menu as eating chips and chocolate cake, while appealing, was not really what I wanted.  My biggest learning in the month I spent with her was the concept of portion control.  In weighing my food to match the serving size indicated, I learned that I was eating way too much at my meals.

My second nutritionist was a beautiful, fit, healthy Doctor.  I was feeling better already when I walked in.  This lady practiced what she preached and her outer self reflected that.  She sold me a bunch of Paleo bars, shakes and supplements.  I wondered, does everyone want me to get my nutrition through powders and pills.  What happened to the food?  In my month with her my biggest learning was that people’s bodies interact with different food in different ways.  I was introduced to moving away from our dairy industries hormone laced milk and cheese.  I learned about goat milk and cheese products and how to make my own ricotta.

My third nutritionist was a beautiful yogi I met at my studio.  She is amazingly fit and knowledgeable about food and the body.  She actually did a lab test on me and found that my body doesn’t interact well with sugar.  I told her I don’t eat or use sugar.  I learned to better understand what was really in food.  What a surprise to see that sugar is in everything.  I learned how to read labels and understand what they meant.  She did sell me a bunch of enzymes and shakes and powders.  My biggest learning was I was going to have to be more selective about my food choices.  I also learned that the red wine I so loved was full of sugar and likely a cause of some of my issues.

My final nutritionist, yes I’ve been to many, took the approach I appreciated the most.  Fit and healthy and well versed, she didn’t sell me a single thing other than the fact that, “you can’t exercise away a bad diet.”  I learned the fallacies of carb free, gluten free and other fad diets, unless of course you have gluten sensitivities.   We did a complete work up of my lifestyle, health and food habits.  She taught me about different food groups and how many servings of each my body would need each day.  She told me I wasn’t eating enough!  Imagine that!  She also taught me it’s best to get your nutrients through food, not pills and powders. Finally something I can agree with.

I’m at the point now that I no longer need a nutritionist to tell me what I need to do.  I wish I could say I do it right all the time,but the reality is it’s a life struggle.

Our small step this week is to think about our portion size.  I used to think if I ate “one plate” with no seconds I was dieting.  When I weighed my food on a scale, I realized even though it was one plate, it was way too much food.  Use the idea of a typical frozen weight watchers or Jenny Craig dinner to visualize the size.  Typical serving size of meat is 4-6 oz for me.  One piece of filet mignon can feed both my daughter and I.  Typical pasta portion for me was 9 oz.  That’s not a lot, but using elbows made me feel like it was.  Typical fruit serving for me is once per day, one small Apple, 1/2 banana, 4 oz grapes, berries.  No, you don’t get to eat a whole huge bowl of fruit.  Healthy, but sugar level is high, albeit natural sugar.  Use the serving size recommended on the package label if you aren’t sure of portions.  Another small change I made was to eat on a smaller plate.  It truly made me feel like I ate more.  I was not hungry, so don’t worry. We will talk next week about eating throughout the day to balance our hunger.

Make one change this week, smaller plates and using a food scale.  These small changes will have big impacts on your journey.  Remember to journal it and share.  I’d love to hear from you.  Enjoy the week.

Here’s a great scale to use:

Information on serving sizes:

http://www.fns.usda.gov/sites/default/files/fgp_sizes.pdf

Starting Over

This is the excerpt for your very first post.

Those who know me know I’ve been on a hard fought journey to reclaim my health. I’ve had some medical issues that made it hard for me to exercise. After my ankle tendon surgery, I had trouble walking properly for a year! After a lot of physical therapy and hard work, I’m on a good path now. I have a very high stress job and in the past would make terrible food choices to soothe myself when coming home.  During the day I’d grab anything that was available, including candy.  I worked with several different nutritionists and have learned to make healthier food choices, well most of the time. Lol. Anyway, I’m putting myself out here and sharing my photos in the hopes it helps someone else who is fighting the fight. I’ll be sharing my struggles, successes and the changes I’m making with you all.  If you care to join me on this journey, reach out and email me.  I’d love to hear from you. Looking forward to continued health. Hope you join me and get moving.