Life is Good – January 29, 2009

The past week has been good. No, I mean really good! I feel like I’ve been given a kick-start after weeks of dragging myself through each day.

It was last week, Wednesday when I began to realize that something had to change. I felt a headache coming on that day. It grew in intensity throughout the day. My headaches always come up the back of my neck. I took some Tylenol a few times, but the headache just got worse. I paid a visit to the chiropractor that evening. Usually, an adjustment makes me feel good, but that evening there was no relief. I went to the gym and tried to run. That was pointless. I finally went to bed and slept until the next morning. That is what it took to shake the headache. The next day I realized that I have felt sluggish for too long and suffered headaches too often lately. But it was more than that. My mood was in the tank and had been for weeks on end. I didn’t even realize how bad I was getting. Being sulky and sluggish was my new norm. The winter always has a slightly depressing impact on me, but this was bad. I needed to do something different.

I used to be very diligent about making balanced meals for the family. Fast food was a rarity. Things started going downhill when I started working outside the home. And it got worse when I went to work full time on this ten-hour a day schedule. There are too many days when we are just scrounging around for anything to fill our stomachs. We eat fast food way too often. My kids often don’t even eat breakfast. Over the past few years, I’ve given up on trying to maintain a balanced diet at all. After the last headache, I knew I had to try harder. I knew better than to get too ambitious. I’ll never be a truly healthy eater. But I realized (again) that I had to make smarter food choices. Enough with the cheese popcorn dinners when I’m home alone. Enough sneaking a Diet Coke when the work day is dragging. I went to the grocery store the day after the headache and bought fruit. Lots of it. I bought bottled fruit smoothies and yogurt and frozen fruits to make home-made smoothies. I bought veggies and whole grain bread and ingredients for balanced meals. Of course, I didn’t want to throw the kids into sugar withdrawals. I bought one box of Hostess cupcakes and one box of Twinkies for them.

I almost always bring my lunch to work, but now instead of a frozen meal, I’m bringing fresh salads and yogurt or leftovers from dinner the night before. I’m snacking on fruit or cheese and crackers instead of chocolate.

I thought the kids would balk at the lack of sugar and fat in our food supply, but what I quickly found out is that if I chopped up fresh veggies and offer some dill dip, they’ll eat that instead of Cheetos. If I slice an apple, they’ll eat it. They won’t eat one whole, but they’ll eat slices. And a home-made yogurt smoothie is almost as good as a bowl of ice cream!

Dinner was another story. I leave the house for work shortly after 6:00 a.m. and don’t return until 5:30, except for Thursdays when I’m off. The kids are often gone to work or volleyball practice even before I get home. I solved the dilemma of how to make sure they had a hot meal when I wasn’t even home by making good use of the crock pot as often as possible. We may not be able to eat together, but I can still make my kids a hot meal. I can put some meat in the crock pot before I leave, then just call home later and ask someone to make potatoes or bread and a vegetable. It’s not ideal, but better than fast food, pizza … or cheese popcorn. When I’m not using the crock pot, I shoot for a one-dish meal or something that can be prepared ahead of time.

And then there was the issue of exercise. I run every week, but I had no schedule to speak of. I’d go two days in a row, then it would be four (or more) days before I found my way back to the gym. It’s so hard to stay on track. Life gets in the way. But I decided to try really hard not to go more than two days between gym visits. I’ve been there four out of the last seven days.

Within the past week, I’ve noticed a major difference in the way I felt, both physically and emotionally. I woke up last Saturday and already felt so full of energy and had a noticeably positive attitude. It made me realize the truly negative impact my bad habits can have on my well-being. There have been many times in the past I’ve decided to make healthier choices, but this is the first time I’ve seen direct and positive results. I think I stand half a chance of sticking with it this time.

And besides, as it turns out, my family actually likes my cooking! Go figure!

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26 thoughts on “Life is Good – January 29, 2009

  1. I think eating right and trying (as much as life will allow) to eat as a family are incredibly important. I agree it is not always easy but I think the benefits are worth it. Go girl :)

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  2. Sounds like a darned good game plan to me!
    I use our crockpot a lot and also, like to make one-dish casserole type things too. But for me, it’s more because it makes cooking so much easier and gives me more time to spend either online, or working on my embroidery projects. But too, the two little ones here are so darned picky, that often casseroles -especially those with noodles or macaroni -are easier to get them to eat too and if I am anything it is all in favor of anything that’s easy!

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  3. Looks like an excellent start. The hardest thing about making a change to your lifestyle is taking the first step. Once you start down the path, it becomes easier. It’s easy to fall into a pattern of bad habits due to lack of time and simplicity. I feel that changing your diet is a big part and getting plenty of exercise (even if it is just walking) is another key factor. It doesn’t need to be major change, even small steps will get you down the road. The one who benefits the most is you

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  4. Trying to leave you a comment… My work computer here wouldn’t let me comment on your blog yesterday. I hope it will let me because I just have to get my daily fix of TTQC!

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  5. Look at you , Woman!!

    Those dishes look good!

    Yes a balanced diet and exercise will give you more positive energy. I know I’m not getting enough exercise when I start getting depressed.

    Plus your job has been busier as you’ve said. That probably helps!

    I proud of you!!!!

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  6. Pingback: Just Another Day in Paradise – Jan. 29, 2010 « Oscars Tavern

  7. I’m glad you figured out how to start feeling better Terri. Eating healthy and excercise is always awesome!

    I use the crock pot a lot as well. You don’t have to “babysit” while it cooks and everything comes out tasting delicious! :-D

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  8. Yay for you, Terri! I’m telling you, if you stick with it, you’ll feel consistently better all the time! And you’ll help your kids create good habits too! Keep up the good work! :)

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  9. “Being sulky and sluggish was my new norm. ” That’s how Ive been feeling as of late. You have TOTALLY inspired me to eat better and get more exercise. I’ve been slacking off for far too long.

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  10. I wonder why I hate to exercise, but yet it has so many benefits. I don’t have time to think about food, but yet you’ve written about the benefits of thinking about it. Hmmmm. Good post.

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  11. I know that when I eat poor food for too many days I quickly start to feel bad so I’m sure that lots of fresh fruit and veg is bound to be helping both your mood and your health . It’s good to take the bull by the horns and instigate changes for the better.

    BTW your meals here look really tasty. :)

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  12. That fast food will kill you, so it’s good not to eat it much except as an occasional “treat.”

    > making good use of the crock pot

    The crock pot is my primary cooking method. I usually make something for us on Sunday that lasts through Thursday, which I can do since there’s only two of us. I use it for roasts, Chicken Cacciatore, Tom Kha Gai, chili, spaghetti sauce….you name it.

    If the weather’s nice, I grill. Sometimes I use a wok for stir fry. But the crock pot gets the most use.

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  13. Fantastic! Amazing how quickly you can feel the effects of what you put in you :-) I’m pretty healthy for the most part (except for my beer obsession) but my body always tells me when I need to make changes.

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  14. I’ve been feeling sluggish too. I keep putting off the exercise but will be hitting the treadmill tonight while I watch TV. (peer-pressure helps!)

    Now I need to find something healthy to eat, while my boys enjoy some mac-n-cheese.

    Way to go!

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  15. Hm…maybe that’s what is wrong with me. I’ve been in this bitter zone for the last month or so. I’ve been thinking it’s because work is so slow and so annoying.. I haven’t changed my eating habits much, but I do need to start exercising more.

    I LOVE white cheddar popcorn. LOVE IT.

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  16. Good for you! I know first hand how hard it is to make these decisions and stick by them. For me, it’s an ongoing effort, deciding day after day to do better.

    It really does make a difference though, doesn’t it?

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  17. Wow… after reading this post and looking at those pictures, I’m hungry. De-I had better watch out!

    Maybe that’s what I need to do. I’m generally in a pretty pleasant mood, but I’m tired a LOT. As in… more than normal. Maybe I should give your tactics a shot.

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