For the Health of It

Carbohydrate is a dirty word. Who knew that a simple carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen molecule could cause so much frustration in twelve days? As you may remember, last week after going to the doctor for the first time in eight years, I was diagnosed with Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome and chose to adjust my diet and lifestyle in place of medication. The choice itself was a little outside of my usual operating procedure, usually, I would opt for the most direct route to a solution, and in this case it seems as though that would be medication. That is, if you assume the solution is to just relieve the symptoms and side effects of my hormonal imbalance.

On the surface you could categorize relieving symptoms as a success, but if you take a deeper look into the route that landed me in the position to make this choice in the first place, the solution is not just to stop the symptoms. The solution is to live so that the cause of the symptoms is eliminated and the only way to do that is to overhaul my lifestyle. While I am surprised at my initial choice, I am proud for choosing the journey instead of the easy fix.

There seems to be a cycle that anyone goes through when trying to change their lifestyle, specifically when trying to move to a healthier diet. In my experience it has looked like the following:

  • EXCITEMENT: “Yay! I’m going to do this!”
  • PREPARATION: Search healthy foods and recipes on Pinterest, shop, take pictures of meal prepping. “Look at me being healthy!”
  • INITIAL PUSH: High self-control, trying new things, feeling good, continue researching. “No cake for me! I’m being healthy!”
  • WHINY: Limitations begin to get boring, tracking food intake is frustrating, you’re starting to miss old foods. “I miss french fries!”
  • ONE BAD DAY WON’T KILL ME: The downfall as I gorge and eat a bag of fun sized Kit Kats and half a pizza for dinner. “Ugh. I’ll start again tomorrow.”
  • OVER IT: Back to old habits. “It’s too much work. I just want to live my life”

This has been my process for the countless times I’ve taken it upon myself to attempt making a change. Always back where I started, even after losing thirty pounds. The slow road to gratification in an attempt to lose weight is not enough to sustain my motivation. Food tastes too good, laying around in my pajamas all day is too comfortable, and getting take out is just too easy to replace it with cooking all day, everyday.

All of that seemed to change when I had a medical professional looking me in the eye telling me it was now affecting my health in noticeable ways. Not that it COULD, not that it WILL, but it IS affecting my body’s ability to function properly. Changing my habits no longer required as much intrinsic motivation, I had a tangible reason to hold onto that keeps be from moving beyond the WHINY phase. It doesn’t matter if it’s boring, frustrating, or not as delicious, it is necessary.

The direction I was given was to try a low-carb diet and incorporate exercise into my daily life. I took my preparation phase seriously, looking for information in PCOS, the purpose of carbohydrates, standard foods for a low-carb diet, and recipes that could replace the carbs in the meals I typically make for dinner. Week one was about figuring it out and finding some things I like, week two has been about solidifying the process. I dabbled in the whiny phase this week, but the difference is, instead of coming home and digging through Justin’s side of the pantry, I drank some water and dove into making dinner. One small choice at a time, that’s how I’ll be keeping myself out of the ONE BAD DAY WON’T KILL ME zone.

One of the reasons I was able to avoid digging through our stock of junk food was because I had put together a delicious recipe earlier in the week and was excited to make another batch. One for dinner, and one for Saturday morning breakfast. Below is my recipe for Baked Eggs with Sweet Potato Hash, please keep in mind that I create meals as I go so I do not have exact measurements.
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Saturday Traditions & Lazy Sundays

EJFP ChaptersIt’s a rainy Sunday here in Metro-Detroit. A gray, calm, quiet Sunday. This weather makes me feel cozy and happy. It’s a time to just sit back and relax, to not worry about a growing to-do list, to enjoy and recharge.

Yesterday was a more productive day, a little more active than usual. After spending the morning watching Netflix with Justin on the couch, I decided to make a menu for dinner with my parents. Usually, we make the quarter-mile trek to their house, for whatever meal my mother has chosen that weekend, but when she texted to see if we were coming over I decided to instead extend the invite for them to come our way. She seemed excited to not have to think about dinner for the day, and I was excited to get creative myself.

I spent some time on Pinterest, thinking of things to make. While brewing my second cup of coffee, I looked at the Detroit Red Wings game schedule on our fridge and suddenly I felt inspired. Hockey Snacks! A tradition in our family that occurs several times each winter, a variety of appetizer type of foods sprawled out on the coffee table in the living room while we watch a hockey game together. It’s one of my favorite family traditions. I had never been behind the scenes for a hockey snack dinner, so I was pumped to take it on. I searched for over an hour to assemble my menu and grocery list.

I came home from my pilgrimage to Kroger to a clean house. Justin had spent the hour making sure the house was clean and presentable for my parents to arrive in a few hours. All I had to worry about was the menu. I started with dessert and worked my way backwards through the list of appetizers. Making up my own rules as I went. Three hours later I was 3 episodes of One Tree Hill deep, out of counter space, and my parents were walking through the front door. I went non-stop for over three hours and was baffled by how much organization it took to pull it off, but it was all done: Taco Pie Rolls, Meatball Bombs, Baked Potato Slices, Mini Italian Subs, Banana Bread Muffins, and Mini Apple Pies. I was impressed with myself. I still am, quite frankly. I gave my mom props for pulling this off several times during the hockey season, it’s quite a feat!

We spent our evening snacking, watching hockey, chatting, playing with Bruno, and relaxing. I was very grateful to have the ability to host my parents so my mom could have a day off. I even sent them home with leftovers so Dad had Sunday dinner. I went to bed shortly after they left, exhausted but happy.

So, for today, I am grateful for this gray Sunday. I spent my morning tracking my friend who was running the Detroit Free Press Half Marathon, watching Sunday Today and Meet the Press, sipping on coffee, and snuggling with my puppy. I have my laundry going, a clean kitchen, and full fridge as I continue along my lazy Sunday path. Go ahead and rain, Mother Nature, I’m loving it!

Chef Spaz

I am, by no means a chef. I can hold my own in the kitchen but usually that comes from my inclination toward improvising in the kitchen. I tend to have a very difficult time following a recipe. I don’t know why, but I get flustered, something gets burned, I don’t know what some of the words mean, and I end up stressed and sweaty by the time I sit down. Whew, following a recipe is a workout!

Lately, it seems like there are an abundance of services that send you materials or products in a monthly box – usually a subscription service. I’ve been curious and interested in about 98% of them but never could justify the cost in our household budget. In an effort to experiment and try new meals in the kitchen, I’ve been most interested in the meal service subscriptions, but still, I’ve never fired the shot and tried any of them.

Enter our super awesome neighbor.

Last week, I got an interesting text from our neighbor, offering me a “complete meal” but she needed to explain and that she was in the backyard. I debated whether or not she seemed like a the type to order a mob hit and then ventured toward the back of the house. She had received three HelloFresh meals that she wasn’t going to be able to use and was offering me one of them, I went for the beef stirfry.

A little nervous about what I was getting myself into, I put the meal into the fridge and gave myself a few days to work up to it. On Sunday afternoon, after three days of very little activity, I decided I needed  a good workout and went to the fridge for the HelloFresh meal.

hellofreshI followed the directions the best that I could, and for the record, the meal turned out very well even though I have no idea how to mince garlic, peel and prepare ginger, or how to chop bok choy. I only slightly burned the beef after becoming distracted by the slicing of vegetables, and only ended up with beef marinade on half of my body. While I felt like a supreme spaz, I managed to make a pretty decent meal. The directions were clear and had a few pictures to aid in the process, the recipe incorporated a couple of new foods into my world (bok choy, ginger, and jasmine rice), and gave me a new meal to add to my rotation.

Overall, I would say that the experience was a success. And yes, I was sweating when I sat down to eat. While I still don’t think that I could justify room in our monthly budget for a regular subscription, I do think that services such as HelloFresh could provide a solution for those that don’t have the time to shop on a regular basis and are looking to make smaller amounts of food. I was excited to have access to new foods, with very specific instructions on how to use them, it will undoubtedly be a source of inspiration as I plan meals in the future.

Lucky for me, that super awesome neighbor dropped off four more meals last night and I have a whole fridge full of new foods to try this week!

One box subscription service tried – 10,000 to go.