I’m a slacker.

I can’t believe I went the entire month of March without a single blog entry. Ugh. March was just not a good month. I lost my beautiful Baby about three weeks ago to oral cancer. It’s a horrible, empty feeling losing a pet you’ve had for the majority of your life. I miss him terribly but I’m thankful that he lived a long, healthy life and passed peacefully and is no longer suffering.

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My birthday was Thursday, and as a birthday gift to myself, I got a tattoo of Baby’s paw print. (And lyrics to one of my favorite songs, “Swim” by Jack’s Mannequin in Andrew McMahon’s handwriting.) I’m so in love with both of them.

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I’ll admit that I have fallen off the bandwagon slightly. I’m now working 30 miles away instead of 5 miles down the road, so I’m losing roughly 80-90 minutes of my day. I haven’t been keeping up with my calorie counting and my workouts have not been as long, intense or frequent as they used to be. I broke my 4-month-long exercise streak last week because I was just not feeling it. At this point, my motivation is minimal. However, the gym I wanted to join is now running a special for the month of April, so I think I’m going to bite the bullet and join. I’m almost done reading The New Rules of Lifting for Women so I’d love to start the program ASAP. I just need the equipment, so I’m hoping that my motivation will come back once I join Health Links and have some kind of workout plan.

I’m also hoping I can keep up with entries a little better from now on!

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Hummus & Gym Membership

For some reason, I was craving hummus a few days ago. I’m not a fan of store bought hummus so I decided to make my own for the first time. I used this recipe from Inspired Taste, went off to the store and gathered the ingredients but discovered that a 16 ounce jar of Tahini was 9-effing-dollars at Hannaford. No thank you. I googled a substitute and found that peanut butter would work, which was perfect because I always have a jar of natural no sugar added peanut butter on hand. I followed their recipe to a T, except I replaced the 1/4 cup of Tahini for 2-3 tablespoons of that wonderful natural no sugar added peanut butter, and I didn’t add more olive oil for serving. Ugh, the hummus was so good and so easy. Better than any store bought hummus. TRY IT. I also made Quinoa Stuffed Peppers the same day, but I’ll post that recipe tomorrow.

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Now for random thoughts: I’m debating on a gym membership. I’ve never wanted a gym membership because they’re costly and I’ve never had the extra money for one, and I’ve always preferred exercising at home. I’m three weeks into my new full-time job, and I’m struggling to keep up with my exercise regimen. I tried getting up earlier to exercise but I hated it, and I wasn’t giving it 100% because I was so sluggish. I’m doing my best to exercise a lot on my days off and do less on my work days, but all I’ve been doing on my work days is 15-20 minutes of Yoga or Pilates. Yes, it’s at least something, but to me it is definitely not enough. My plan is to get a membership at HealthLinks, and while it’s expensive, I think it would be worth the money. I would go after work on my way home. I need to do more strength training, and the 10-pound dumbbells aren’t cutting it anymore. I don’t want to keep buying a new, heavier set every month. So, I think a gym membership will be worth it. Also, I heard great things about The New Rules of Lifting for Women. I bought the book the other day on amazon.com, and I’ll follow that program.

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And now, since it’s my day off, I better get my ass moving. Today’s workout: Jillian Michaels’ “Banish Fat, Boost Metabolism” followed by strength training and body weight exercises. Maybe Pilates a little later if I’m feeling up to it.

Day two: A HEALTHY DIET IS NOT EXPENSIVE.

Happy Valentine’s Day! Yesterday my boyfriend sent me flowers. Aren’t they pretty?

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It wasn’t the best Valentine’s Day. We received bad news about my poor kitty at his vet appointment today. His cancer has worsened, and it’s not looking good for him. So upset. This is Baby’s favorite sleeping spot for the night: in his new box with his pink camouflage blankie. I love him.

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Today, I did my best to keep track of how much everything I ate was costing me. Dinner was tough to give an estimate – homemade vegan chili I pulled out of the freezer. Didn’t feel like cooking. But a can of tomatoes, beans and rice, some of the main ingredients, are cheap. So I’m just saying it’s around 99 cents for what I ate (about 1/3 of the batch I made). Good enough.

Cost of breakfast: $0.60
16 ounces of coffee (~2 tablespoons Maxwell House grounds): 30.6 ounces for $6.99 = 6 cents
2 tablespoons of Hannaford half and half: 32 ounces for $1.59 = 6 cents
1 Thomas’ Bagel Thin: 8 for $2.99 = 37 cents
1 tablespoons of Hannaford Natural PB: 16 ounces for $2.99 = 11 cents

Cost of lunch: $2.05
1 Zone bar: 6 for $4.34 = 72 cents (Normally I don’t eat these, but I didn’t have time to make lunch today, so it’s better than nothing.)
1 banana: (~5 oz.) 57 cents per pound: 18 cents
3 ounces Hannaford baby carrots: $1.70 per pound = 32 cents
1/2 red bell pepper: 2 lbs for $5 (~3 peppers) = 83 cents

Cost of snack: 23 cents
2 ounces of Hannaford mozzarella cheese: 16 ounce block for $3.68 = 23 cents

Cost of dinner: 99 cents
Leftover homemade vegan chili that I pulled out of the freezer: 99 cents, give or take.

Total for the day: $3.87. And you say eating healthy is expensive? Maybe if you buy out-of-season organic produce. That can definitely get pricey. I don’t eat a perfect diet, but I would say that 90% of the time, I eat pretty damn healthy, and, AS YOU CAN SEE, it doesn’t cost a lot. Be smart about what you buy – buy what’s in season, what’s on sale, make what you can from scratch, buy in bulk (sometimes it isn’t always cheaper, at least at the grocery stores around here). I promise you, you’ll spend a lot less money when you’re not buying junk food or drive-thru meals!

A HEALTHY DIET IS NOT EXPENSIVE. PERIOD.

It irritates the living hell out of me when someone says, “I can’t afford to eat healthy.” My head explodes when they add on, “…and that’s why I still hit the drive-thru.” WHAT? ARE YOU KIDDING ME? To ANYONE who thinks this, PAY ATTENTION. If you REALLY think that you save money on lunch or dinner by going to McDonald’s, Wendy’s, Burger King, WHATEVER it is, think of it this way: you are loading your body with simple carbohydrates, saturated fats, trans fats (I just scanned through the nutrition information of McDonald’s menu and found that more than half of their food contains trans fats, known to increase “bad” cholesterol and decrease “good” cholesterol and a contribute to heart disease. Take a look: http://nutrition.mcdonalds.com/getnutrition/nutritionfacts.pdf and read more about trans fats here.), and MINIMAL fiber. Hardly anything you eat from a fast food restaurant is likely to keep you satisfied for long. (If you’ve seen “Supersize Me,” remember how Morgan was hungry again soon after his meal at McDonald’s?) Anyway, you’re loading your body with not-so-good stuff that can contribute to a number of health problems: heart disease, diabetes, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, cancer, just to name a few. Think of how much money you’d have to spend on visits to the doctor and medications, and it would be even worse if you don’t have insurance. So what would you rather do: eat healthy, take care of your body and reduce the risk of health problems or eat to death?

I would say I’m moderately frugal when it comes to grocery shopping. I shop for what’s on sale and in season, I buy almost everything generic, I make what I can from scratch (not only cheaper in most cases, but also healthier), I don’t eat out often and my family gardens so that we have lots of fresh veggies in the summer and fall. I’ve kept my receipts from the last week or so to calculate how much each meal is costing me. I’ll do the same thing tomorrow (hopefully with pictures). Here is today’s breakdown:

Cost of Breakfast: $0.90
16 ounces of coffee (~2 tablespoons Maxwell House grounds): 30.6 ounces for $6.99 = 6 cents
2 tablespoons of Hannaford half and half: 32 ounces for $1.59 = 6 cents
1 Eggland’s Best large egg: one dozen for $2.49 = 21 cents
3 Great Value (liquid) egg whites: $3.88 for 32 ounces = 58 cents

Cost of Lunch: $0.59
2 bananas (~10 oz. total): 57 cents per pound = 36 cents
2 tablespoons of Hannaford Natural PB: 16 ounces for $2.99 = 21 cents
1 teaspoon of Price Chopper cocoa powder: 8 ounces for $2.99 = 2 cents

Cost of Snack #1: $0.72
1.5 ounces of Hannaford mozzarella cheese: 16 ounce block for $3.68 = 35 cents
1 Thomas’ Bagel Thin: 8 for $2.99 = 37 cents

Cost of Snack #2: $1.60
6 oz. container of plain Chobani = 99 cents
1 cup of Great Value frozen fruit: 64 ounces for $7.98 = 61 cents

Cost of Dinner: $3.62
4 ounces Price Chopper whole wheat pasta: 15 ounces for $1 = 27 cents
2 tablespoons Filippo Berio olive oil: 25 ounces for $6.99 = 28 cents
5 ounces of shrimp: $7.99 per pound = $2.50
1 tablespoon of Price Chopper parmesan cheese: 8 ounces for $2.99 = 7 cents
4 ounces of asparagus: $1.99 per pound = 50 cents

Total for the day: $7.43. On a normal day, I wouldn’t have shrimp, but Mama was cooking and I wanted some. I’ll do this again tomorrow, and I’ll have pictures!

New before & after photo added

I’m working hard to improve my figure and reduce my body fat percentage. I can no longer measure my progress using the scale (which is fine by me). Reducing body fat and gaining muscle only means weight gain because muscle is more dense than fat. (Muscle does not weigh more than fat. One pound is one pound. Muscle does not take up as much room as fat. Two people may be the same weight, but the person with 15% body fat will look leaner, fitter and smaller than a person with 25% body fat.) I do have a lot to learn about this process. But I know it’s long and difficult, especially for women. So even though the number on the scale will go up, my body fat percentage will slowly, but surely, decrease. Taking new photos and putting together an updated side-by-side comparison helps keep me motivated, so I thought I’d add it to my before & after photos!