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Healthy Eating on a Budget Returns!

I’m bringing the grocery budgeting series back! It’s been over a year since I wrote a grocery haul/budget post and I have been wanting to return to it for a couple of reasons:

1) It keeps me in check with my current budget. It’s almost like a game to me when I am at the cash register and I ring up under or at budget. I get all giddy! The little things, people. After succeeding at meeting my budget, posting about it is just a little extra oomph and accountability. If I know I need to post about it, I will try my darndest to stay under/at budget!

2) I find it interesting what others buy at the grocery store, so maybe people will enjoy seeing my hauls and meals. That’s the the nosy little foodie inside of me. :) Let’s inspire each other to eat healthy and affordable!

See past Healthy Eating on a Budget posts here:

HEB: Introduction

HEB: Week 1

HEB: Week 2

HEB: Week 3

HEB: Week 4

I have a couple of hauls to post today, as I am playing catch up. I hope to have next week’s haul posted next weekend. I mostly shop at Aldi now for all of my grocery needs. It’s super cheap and they have a lot of natural/organic products – a lot of things resemble Trader Joe’s products (check out the peanut butter below!), but are a bit cheaper. That’s a win in my book because I am a sucker for TJ’s. If I can’t find something at Aldi, it’s probably not necessary to have. Though, there are a couple of items that I can’t live without, so an occasional trip to Kroger or Target will happen.

 

Produce: bananas, spinach, 1 lb mini bell peppers, 2 lbs nectarines, 2 avocados, 1 seedless cucumber, 3 zucchini

 Dairy: 1/2 gallon organic soy milk, 2 Greek yogurts, 2 dozen eggs

Other: whole wheat tortillas, green pea crisps, 2 lb chia + flax peanut butter, 70% organic dark chocolate, 1 can organic chickpeas 

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Total: $28.50 – Those eggs were a steal at 69 cents/dozen!

Dairy/Refrig: cottage cheese, garlic kale hummus, plain Greek yogurt

Other: organic coconut chia granola, everything pretzel slims, 85% dark chocolate, sponges, dish soap

Produce: bananas, 1 lb strawberries, mushrooms, 1 seedless cucumber, 3 zucchini

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Total: $24.31 – (photo wouldn’t turn!) I don’t feel like I got as much food compared to the previous haul. With the yogurt being almost $4 and having to buy sponges and dish soap, it adds up quickly. That being said, the yogurt usually lasts me 2 weeks.

My budget is set really low, about $120-150/month. This doesn’t include most of my dinners or meals out. My boyfriend and I usually cook dinner together 2-3 nights a week and then eat out about 1-2 other nights. On the nights we don’t cook or eat out together, I usually have something simple like an egg scramble with toast or leftovers. Those are nights when I don’t get home from work until 8 pm, so simple is good! My breakfasts, lunches, and snacks vary, but are usually plant-based because it’s cheaper and a good way to load up on the nutrients!

 

I am more than just a body.

This topic has been heavy on my heart and mind for a long while.

Recently, within in the past couple of months, I’ve been seriously working on letting go of the eating disorder/exercise addiction that still seems to haunt me. I had an eating disorder, more specifically, anorexia nervosa, in high school. Ever since then, I’ve struggled with thoughts on food and exercise. There have been ups and downs, highs and lows, along the way, but I’ve never followed through on healing my mind.

I am not underweight or at a physical medical risk, so it may not be obvious that I deal with disordered thoughts/behaviors regarding food and exercise. But I do. I can’t look at a meal and not see the grams of macronutrients or calories. I think about food often, and if I let myself, I will feel guilt after eating a little more than I intended or eating ice cream and a cookie after a full meal. I am a body.

I love to move my body and exercise, but sometimes I fear what will happen if I don’t exercise x amount of times each week. I fear that if I take a break from structured exercise, I will like not exercising and never want to do it again. I know these thoughts are irrational and I know that my body needs a break to rest and recover, but sometimes the urgency to get that workout in wins over.  I am a body.

Sometimes, I will look at myself in the mirror and scrutinize myself. I will prod at the lack of chiseled abdominal muscle. But, I work so hard. I workout regularly. I eat well. Why doesn’t it show?, I think to myself. Then my brain jumps to what more can I do to see my abs. I will start tracking my macros again. I will strength train 3-4x a week and do interval training 2x. Oh, and I will do yoga 1-2x, for my mental health. All the while, knowing deep down that these habits make me more stressed, tired, unhappy and reserved. I am a body.

No. I am not just a body. I am much, much more than flesh, muscle, fat, fluid, and bone. I have more to offer than just my physical form. I have values and character that reflect so much more, so why do I hold tight to my physical identity and not tend to acknowledge my inner self? That answer to that question I am still figuring out. Though, I know a lot of it has to do with holding onto my physical identity and not changing my habits or thoughts about food and exercise.

Until now. I’ve decided that the only way to embrace who I really am and not just exist as a body in my mind, is to act in the way that I want to be. I’ve stopped tracking food. I am working on eating intuitively, really listening to what my body wants and needs, regardless of the nutritional content and what workout I did that day. I am spending more time on things that bring me joy and give me purpose. I am having meaningful connections with people. I am reading more. I am comparing less. I am thinking a lot more, but not about food or exercise. I am thinking about what I really want out of life. What do I want to do, where I want to go, how I feel, how others feel. I am sitting in the icky moments when negative thoughts creep in about food and exercise. I am letting them creep in, recognizing them, and letting them pass. I hope that with more time and less acknowledgment/fixation, these thoughts will become less and less. I am working with a therapist and writing, both of which are helping a lot.

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Rewiring my brain after 8 years feels tedious and impossible sometimes, but I know it is worth it. I want to live a life that reflects my values, passions, and beliefs. The only way to get to where I want to be is to work for it. I didn’t develop an eating disorder over night and I sure has hell won’t be able to recover in one day either. I am proud of where I am at now, even thought it isn’t exactly where I want to be. I have grown through this experience and it has influenced me to want to help others with similar struggles.

I am a body, yes. But, I am also a compassionate and vibrant woman, daughter, girlfriend, and friend.

An aside: I was hesitant to post about this because I don’t know who will read it. It’s tough being a fitness professional and trying to live up to society’s standards. I am sure many people think I have all of my shit together. I don’t. There’s also a stigma associated with people who have disordered eating/exercise patterns. I don’t want to be worried about or judged. I just want to be seen as a human being who struggles sometimes, but is working on bettering myself. I hope opening up about my struggles will aid my recovery. I no longer want to hide this part of myself, but instead, I want to embrace it and allow myself to grow into the woman I know that has been stuffed inside for far too long.  

 

6 Months Later…

Last time I blogged, it was November and I was telling you all about how much my life had changed in a year. Here I am 6 months later, doing the same thing. I guess 6 months is better than 12! I have the blog itch again and I think it’s because there is a lot going on in my life and brain currently. I’ve also been very hesitant to blog because I am not sure that I want to be judged based on my writing, my life, or my struggles. I decided to say “F-it” and write what I am feeling because I think it’s a great way for me to express myself and something to look back on down the road to see how I’ve grown. So, what’s been happening?

Today I just finished up my last exam for my last nursing prerequisite class, Microbiology. It felt SO GOOD to finish that class. This semester has been tough for a lot of reasons, but juggling two jobs and an online class wasn’t as easy as I thought it would be. I didn’t put as much effort into the class as I usually would, but my goal was just to pass so I could get into my nursing program. Of course, when I start nursing school in August, my number one priority will be school and not my job(s). This thought honestly terrifies me because I don’t like not having a steady income. Being a second-degree student isn’t going to be easy financially, so I’ve been trying to really hone in on my budget. I’ve thought about doing another grocery budget series on here because it will keep me accountable and it will keep me up to date on the blog! I think a lot of people could benefit, too.

Onto the topic of jobs…this week is my last week as a Patient Transporter because next week I will be starting a new position at a new hospital as a nursing assistant! I am so excited to start this new role, as it will prepare me for nursing school/clinical. I like to be one step ahead, so this is perfect. I am still doing personal training, but that will likely be put on the back burner once nursing school starts. I want to keep a couple of clients and maybe a shift at the hospital, but school will take most of my time. Thank goodness for school loans.

In my last post, I spoke about relationships and how I was in the dating game for a while, but happy with taking my time to find someone who really met my needs in a relationship. I don’t want to write too much, just out of confidentiality for the person, but I met someone (we will call him J) the day after Christmas and I couldn’t be more happy or satisfied as I am now. I honestly wasn’t thinking I would get into a relationship before or even during nursing school, but I am glad that I met J because he’s been a great addition to my life. I realized that when I was going through my dating period, I was trying to make relationships work that were taking away from my life and my true self. With J, I feel like my life feels more complete. Being with him doesn’t add stress or worry. He’s like the icing on the cake of my life, adding some more sweetness. :) We’ve already had some great adventures together, but there is more to come this year! This weekend we are going to Red River Gorge for lots of hiking and staying in a cabin for my birthday. This is MUCH needed because we’ve both been very busy with work/school. It will also be nice to hit the reset/relax button before I transition into my new role at the hospital. In July, we will be going to Colorado for a week – camping and exploring with his friends. I am pumped! I’ve never been, but it’s been on my travel list and possibly a place I would like to move to. I can tell this is going to be a fun summer and it will all be here before I know it because time. flies. by. Jeez. How is it already May?!

Finally, there’s something else I wanted to touch on relating to body image/food/fitness, but I figure that should have it’s own post. I really do hope to get to it this week because it’s been on my mind a lot lately. For now, this update is a good way to clear my head so I can write fully about the other topic.

Lots of newness, lots of change – life is great.  Until next time!

 

What happened in a year.

I’ve decided to come back to blogging for a bit. Who knows how long this will last, but I have been wanting to write, so write, I will. A lot of time has passed since I last spoke on this little sliver of the interweb that I inhabit. With a lot of time, comes a lot of change. Here’s what has happened in the past 10 months…

In March, I ended my almost three-year relationship with my boyfriend. Not to get too personal, but a lot had changed between us. We were growing as individuals and, in turn, growing apart. March was one of the toughest months for me – emotionally and financially. I moved out of the house we shared and found a two-bedroom apartment right down the street from the studio I work at. For the first few weeks, I felt alone. I was scared that I wouldn’t be able to support myself on my own. However, I also felt freedom and excitement for a new life. I formed new friendships and explored the city a bit more. I went on lots of walks and found freedom in going to new places on my own. I had lots of single-lady nights where I would grab dinner to go, rent a Redbox movie, and sip wine in my bed at 8 pm on a Friday night. Sometimes I felt sad that I didn’t have my familiar, my other half, but other times I knew it was just what I needed. It was the perfect time for me to find my individuality again and take steps toward what I wanted, without thinking of someone else. Sounds a bit selfish, but time alone was necessary for me to figure out myself. When I was in my relationship, I feel like I sort of put my own needs on hold so that I could hold the relationship together. However, the more I held on and tried to stitch it up, the more exhausted and empty I felt. Sometimes you gain more when you let go.

Eventually, I found a roommate (on craigslist, of all places) and I picked up more clients at the pt studio. I was feeling more stable, financially. Then, I started dating again. I found some failure in dating; I found some success. This little corner of my life is still a work in progress, but one that I am comfortable with. I’ve enjoyed meeting new people and figuring out what I want and don’t want out of a relationship, what I like and don’t like in a potential partner. It feels really good to take my time in finding someone who can be my life buddy. It’s also shown me that I am my best self when I put myself (not my partner) as my #1 priority. I hold onto my individuality, my healthy habits and routine, and the things that make me unique and attractive to another individual. During this season of dating I’ve heard more than once from a guy that what they liked about me was how different I was – that I was unique, had a warm heart, and felt real. I’m not trying to toot my own horn here, but hearing this from them wasn’t anything new (I know my personality and the values I live up to)…it just made me realize that this a whole lot of what they see and care about. Not just my outward appearance, my taste in music, or my career success. Hearing that from multiple people also helped me realize that you can’t just fall for someone because they see the good in you. You’re always going to have the good in you. Do they have the good in themselves? Are they someone you would say the same thing to? What about them attracts you? Maybe this is a topic for another post. Here’s the lesson in all of this: YOU DO YOU. Don’t try to impress, persuade, or change a person to get their attention, affection, or attachment. Being yourself is the most attractive quality that you can have. But, also don’t fall for compliments or attraction from others so easily. They can like those great things about you, but you have to ask yourself, do you feel the same way about them?

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In September I took a little solo, self-love sabbatical trip to Portland, OR. I was only there for three days, but it was such a great experience. Not only was I completely on my own, I got to slow down and just soak in the city and culture. This trip was much needed. I was craving independence and a change of scenery and pace. Portland was just that. The people there are so friendly. Bikes rule the road. You can find kombucha on tap and a coffee shop on every corner. Green and lush everywhere! A foodie’s paradise. Portland is my spirit city and the trip confirmed that I will most likely be living there in the near future.

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Over the summer, I started thinking about going back to school to finish my degree in Dietetics. After some thought and positive influence from a few close friends, I decided to pursue a degree in Nursing. I start my last prerequisite course, Microbiology, in January, and if all goes as planned, I will begin an accelerated, 21-month nursing program in August of 2016 at IUPUI. I cannot wait to begin to this new life avenue. Since October, I’ve been working in a hospital as a Patient Transporter so that I can see what it will be like working as a nurse and in a medical facility. I get to witness so much every day and it only makes me more excited and sure that nursing is what I want to do. Being a personal trainer is definitely a fun, flexible, and rewarding job, but I want to do more to help others. As a nurse, I will be helping patients who are helpless, severely sick,  young, old, alone, hurting, and so on. Not to mention, there are so many different paths I can take with nursing. I have thought about a future in traveling nursing or even the Peace Corps. The first step, though, is to get started on the nursing program! One foot first.

And that’s how I am taking the remainder of this year – with one foot first. It’s a constant process, but I am getting better at letting go of a master plan and perfection. I will be writing more on this soon, but it feels so great to just slow down and see what comes my way as I take small steps forward. No time to look back and it takes too much energy to look too far ahead. I found this the other day, and it’s my current life motto: “When you have one foot in the past and one foot in the future, you are pissing on the present.”

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Homemade [& versatile] Hummus!

I’ve been making a batch of this almost every week because it makes for a great snack, spread, or dip. AND you really can’t go wrong with hummus. Unless you are crazy and don’t like it. Then we can’t be friends.

Basic Hummus Recipe

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  • 15 oz. canned garbanzo beans, rinsed & drained (or 3 cups cooked from dry)
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1-2 tsp. garlic, minced
  • juice from half a lemon
  • salt & pepper to taste

Directions: Add everything to a food processor and process until smooth. Depending on the power of your food processor, you may need to add more olive oil or a bit of water to get things going.

If you want to spice up your hummus, try some of these flavor combinations:

  • cumin + chili powder
  • fresh cilantro + lime juice [instead of lemon]
  • italian seasoning + red pepper flakes + parmesan cheese
  • fresh basil + sun-dried tomatoes
  • curry powder + cilantro

Healthy Eating on a Budget: Week 4

After this post, I will be up to date on my HEB posts. I usually go grocery shopping on Thursdays or Fridays (just depends on when I run low on food). This week, I went on Thursday and only needed to stock up on a few things.

Dry Goods

IMG_1641  Bran Flakes cereal & 12 Grain bread 

Produce 

IMG_1640 bananas, strawberries, frozen chopped spinach 

Dairy 

IMG_1639 1/2 gallon organic soy milk, part-skim ricotta cheese, coconut-vanilla greek yogurt, dozen eggs

The Total

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Meals 

IMG_1661 everything bagel w/ cream cheese & fried egg + cukes, red bell pepper & homemade red pepper hummus 

IMG_1658Saturday morning pancake breakfast w/ strawberries

IMG_1654 A frozen Asian noodle bowl my mom gave me that I doctored up with edamame for protein and avocado for healthy fats 

IMG_1653 snack of bran cereal, sunflower seeds, choc chips, banana & pb

IMG_1650 toast with basil aioli & fried egg + cucumbers, red bell pepper & hummus

IMG_1648  my early AM breakfast on M/W/F before work: breakfast cookie dough cereal topped with banana, strawberries, & chocolate chips  

IMG_1645 black beans, sweet potatoes, fried egg, avocado & salsa – such a quick, delicious, & cheap meal!

Healthy Eating on a Budget: Week 3

Welcome back to another week of HEB! Week 3, to be exact. I can’t believe how fun and [relatively] easy this has been . Sticking to a tight budget isn’t always the most fun for a person who is a self-acclaimed foodie, coffee-shop connoisseur, and Whole Foods bar addict. However, I have learned that keeping a tighter budget has made me appreciate the little things in life. Here’s what I got from Aldi last week:

Dry Goods

IMG_1599 100% whole wheat bread, everything bagels, over 2 lbs peanut butter (be still, my heart), Pinot Grigio wine, mini semi-sweet chocolate chips

Produce

IMG_1602  3 lbs. oranges, 2 bell peppers, bananas, 2 lbs. pears, 2 avocados, 1 lb. cucumbers

Dairy

IMG_1600 Reduced-fat cream cheese, dozen eggs, 1/2 gallon almond milk 

The Total:

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Under budget again! I didn’t buy as many vegetables as I would have liked, but I have some frozen stuff still. Here are some meals I made with my haul this week:

The Meals

IMG_1614  2 egg scramble with leftover mushrooms & onions + 2 slices of bacon   

IMG_1633banana chia seed oatmeal topped with pb, chocolate chips, & coconut butter 

IMG_1637toasted everything bagel – 1/2 cream cheese, 1/2 basil aioli & fried egg + red bell pepper strips

IMG_1612snack time is often pb&j and/or pb&banana on whole wheat 

IMG_1608 everything bagel – 1/2 homemade hummus & cucumber, 1/2 smashed avocado & fried egg + leftover cucumber slices