6 Habit Reminders to Help Stay Charged

‘I’m not sure….what day is it again?’  That’s how most of my conversations (and thoughts) went this week.  More than just not being recovered from the holidays, I seem to have adapted to the work Monday, Tuesday, vacation, work friday, off again, holiday schedule — which doesn’t seem to be catching on as an on-going national trend, unfortunately.

We’re going strong, heading in to week 2 of The Whole Damn Thing, and while I’m clear through the sugar quitting phase, I was dragging.  I could tell you what day of the challenge I’m on, but ask me for a day of the week and I’ve got nothing.

On Tuesday, instead of going to the 7am MAD class, I slept in until 7:30.  I worked all day mostly in a fog, and with a considerable pace deficiency.  By 6:30 that night I was fading fast; low on energy, low on general capacity, and I continued with what was my constant assumption for the day — I’m just hungry.   I’m definitely guilty of getting lost in work for hours, and lunch between 11 or 3:30 can be pretty normal for me, so throw in The Whole Damn Thing, and the probability that I would not be eating regularly enough seemed like a definite possibility….only that wasn’t it.

fuel sweat grow: smoothie

It wasn’t until after I had dinner (and then another big post-dinner snack to make extra sure) that I realized that perhaps food wasn’t my issue.  I had eaten — all day really; I ate great meals, clean, balanced, and nourishing meals that are right in line with some of the best I could have managed (including a killer smoothie in the vitamix to power me through the mid-afternoon hour).  But what I didn’t think about, and what can often get buried behind the focus of fueling with food, is making sure I’ve gotten enough rest to even be able to function on good fuel.

I’ve been burning it at both ends.  Even though I took ‘off from work’ for the majority of the last two weeks, that was just off from my full-time job and didn’t really account for the fact that all of the ‘free’ time that comes with vacation was then immediately allotted to the other businesses, strategic planning, and the million little things that I haven’t been able to get to with all of my working and traveling full time.  While this is pretty normal for me and I actually function better on a tight timeline with lots of moving parts, I needed just a little extra recovery time.

With The Whole Damn thing, with MAD, and just life in general, it’s great to have focus and commitment, but forfeiting that recovery time amidst craziness was a major miss for me.  So, I’ve tried to adjust –  where I can.  Here are a few habits I’ve been trying to revive (or in some cases form) to help bring a little balance and rest into my life:

1)   Sit down to eat.  I’ve gotten into the habit of rushing meals, eating at my desk…standing… and taking zero time to just de-load.  Making this change is so critical in really creating a little quality time for my mind to slow down and my body to re-set.

2)  Drink Water.  Seriously, our brains are something like 70% water, right?  We need water, so the 6 hour IV of coffee that I was in the habit of living on had to be adjusted to stop the midday headaches, keep me fully functioning, and most of all have me hydrated enough to truly handle our intervals.

3) No phone in bed.  This is a big one, and something I’ve heard a number of our coaches talking about as well.  From causing a divide in relationships, having late-night chime/text/call wake ups, to even the risks the constant screen time plays on your eye balls and sleep habits, the phone has got to go.

4) Sleep. Seriously, sounds stupid, but I can’t tell you how much I’ve been benefitting from shutting EVERYTHING down before 10 and letting my body rest in full.  It’s too easy for me to keep burning the candle into the middle of the night, unproductively shifting between everything, unable to keep my wheels from turning when I’m trying to fall asleep.

5) 7th hour stretch.  I work predominantly from home — for all my jobs.  While I’m definitely luck that one of them includes owning fitness businesses with unlimited opportunities to sweat, I spend at LEAST 11 hours a day sitting working for my ‘real’ job and trying to crank out a few things each day for  the businesses.  It’s a thankless position, and even though I do try to stand for portions of the work day, there’s nothing quite as necessary as a little childs pose and ad-hoc office-floor stretching to mitigate some of the stress.  Maybe this should really be about breathing…so here you go…

6) Keep Breathing. Pretty self explanatory, and pretty important.  Just do it.

7) Take time for food prep.  Regardless of if you’re eating clean or not (though clean eating DOES help regulate hormones, sleep patterns…stress…) make sure you are taking time to prepare meals, and have good healthy food available when you need it.  There’s nothing worse than literally having nothing good to feed yourself, causing you either to cave and eat processed garbage, or to venture out into the world in a full out hunger-panic — which isn’t safe for anyone.

None of these things are life-altering discoveries, or new information at all…in fact, most of these I used to do as a habit in my younger years when things seemed less serious, but these days I sometimes just need the reminder.  All in all, this week has been laborious, but necessary in getting back on track and re-balancing life.  Today is day 8 for us on the challenge and I have to say, outside of the complete smash back into reality, it’s been a pretty smooth ride.

Talking Leafy Greens on Earth Day

You didn’t see a ton of [green] salads from me through the winter (though there were several created), but now that spring is here I’m all up in the leafy greens.  In the warmer weather, having the lighter option for meals is so appealing, and still allows for great variations, all while still abiding by the protein, carb, fat rule for meal pairings.

Here are some of my favorite salads from the last few weeks:

salad
romaine, walnuts, apples, avocado, blueberries
fuel sweat grow: salad
add chicken for the protein
romaine, avocado, red peppers,
romaine, avocado, red + yellow peppers, carrots, steak. topped with sunflower seeds
chopped salad:
chopped salad: romaine, avocado, sugar snap peas, walnuts, tomato [flank steak on the side]

Before I get into the food prep portion of this post, I think it’s more important to say that these salads are all amazing and delicious in their own right.  As I posted the pictures I started to crave salad in a serious way, which serves me right for writing this while I’m hungry – and also really speaks to the power of these salad combos to create positive taste bud memory.  Truly anything can go into a salad if you balance it with the other ingredients so they compliment each other, and is a great option when you’ve got a ton of leftovers or random orphan ingredients around your kitchen and no real apparent ‘meal’ components.

The hardest part of  meals creation isn’t actually putting them together – that’s the fun part. The hardest part of staying on plan and eating healthy is being prepared for each meal before you’re hungry and ready to eat anything in front of you.  While I’ve talked a bunch about pre-chopping vegetables and grilling extra meat every time the grill is on, there is also a ton of opportunity and advantage to pre-planning, making and packing salads.

When I make salad for a meal I always over plan so that there are plenty of leftovers, but complimentary to my love for ball jar organization, I really love salad jars for quick and easy planning and packing.  Dressing & any wet or chopped items on the bottom, lettuce and dry greens on the top to protect them from getting soggy.

salad jar

(source)

So, in honor of earth day, have a salad.  Love the earth.  Love your body and eat the food that was grown for it.  It will thank you, more than you can imagine.

Sunday Groceries + Organization

By far the hardest thing about eating clean (and staying fueled) is being organized and keeping lots of balanced meals ready to eat.  Whether we’re talking full blown meals, at home or on the go, or just the snacks that are vitally necessary to keep you going until the next meal, it takes some forward thinking and preparation.

The day before we began the challenge (and every sunday thereafter) the fridge got cleaned out and organized. Since week one required a far more extensive weeding out of ‘garbage food,’ it was a fairly big undertaking.

fridge garbage

Most of that food was way past it’s prime, so it shouldn’t have been so shocking when it filled up two huge bags.

Once we had gotten the fridge contents down to the essentials, the next steps were to re-fill the fridge with essential groceries, and organize the other pantry items that had been driving me insane in crinkly bags and complete disregard for my preferred symmetrical organization. So, after I went to Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s, this is what went down:

1. vegetable & snack food prep: with so many meals requiring cooking, it’s nice to have some the main add-ins chopped and ready to go.  Typically this includes squash (zucchini + yellow) mushrooms, grilling vegetables, and any strawberries or fruit that needs to be chopped or washed in advance. Hard boiled eggs are also a very easy snack to prepare and have on the go.

squash preparedness

hard boiled eggs

2. fridge re-stock + reorganization: (disregard the beer + brown rice pasta, they were discarded shortly after this photo was taken, and have been mourned heavily ever since).

fridge reorg

Since Dar’s weakness is snack items, she pre-packaged some snack combos of blueberries, blackberries, and either almonds or walnuts to take with her (usually with an avocado as well).

IMG_4911

3. organization: I can’t even begin to tell you hot therapeutic this was, but it may have changed my life.  I’m an enormous fan of Ball + Mason jars, and  basically hoard them as craft organizers and decorative accents, so the idea of converting them into ingredient receptacles nearly brought me to tears.  Joyous. tears.

The idea is simple – take everything that was in a bag or unnecessary packaging (that wasn’t thrown in the trash for being too delicious), and transfer it into a jar.  Label the bottom side of the lid with it’s contents (and a cooking time if it applied) and organize accordingly.

ground flax seed jar

jars

Needless to say, I had a fair few things to store.  From different typed of ground flours (of the gluten + grain free variety), to brown rice pastas and all sorts of nuts and seeds.  Everything got a home, and order was restored to the kitchen.  Plus, if you ask me, it add’s a little warmth and character to the kitchen when it’s visible and orderly.

kitchen organization

jar organization

Even though we haven’t been eating any grains or pastas lately, they still look awesome in the display, and are nicely tucked away on the bottom shelf, and not in the fridge or pantry, so they’re not staring me in the face when I try to plan big meals.

The Sunday prep tradition is one that makes the whole week possible, and even today on Easter was a vital component to the day.  In fact, in the spirit of the holiday I went well beyond the normal prep work to make extensive pre-planned meals in anticipation of a pretty busy week.  Those updates will be waiting until tomorrow though since this bunny is all tuckered out.

Hope you all had happy and delicious holidays, or just quiet Sunday afternoons! Let us know if there were any must-try foods that you had, healthy or not, and we’ll do our best to re-create them as clean as possible.

Quick and Clean Weekday Meal

Since the middle of the week brought temperatures (and snow) that kept winter alive and well, the menu took a warmer and more comforting turn to match it.

broccoli slaw

The broccoli slaw that had been looking to fulfill it’s dinner time destiny was finally put to use, and the remainder of the leftover spaghetti squash was turned into a stove top mix-turepiece.

meat + squash

The broccoli slaw was cooked with coconut oil, and seasoned with salt and pepper.  Pretty simple, and pretty darn good.  The spaghetti squash was added into a ground beef mixture with zucchini, yellow squash and the remainder of the mushrooms in the fridge, seasoned with everyday seasoning and a little extra sea salt.

The meal was lightened up just a little with a cucumber + avocado salad topped with salt, pepper, balsamic and olive oil.

fuel sweat grow - food blog

This meal was absurdly simple to make, and since the spaghetti squash was pre-roasted, start to finish time was about 20 minutes, max.

During weeks when things are undoubtedly going to be crazy and schedule times seem to be pretty obscure, I always like to spend time on Sunday or Monday prepping extra staple food items to keep in the fridge for easy grabbing and meal prep.  Recently I helped Dar pack 4 days worth of pre-planned meals for her trip to PA for her FMS certification, and the planning helped her get through days 3-7 of the challenge without being hungry.

Stay tuned for Sunday updates on meals, meal prep, menu planning, and kitchen organization.  It takes a village people.  And with that being said, I’ll leave you with a sweet pic of my sous chef, Bug, who could not be more exhausted by all of the kitchen time.

sleepy bug