Willow

I've developed a food mantra that I wanted to share. It's simple enough that it's a good thing to "set intentions" around, and it helps me shift my focus. This helps me know i'm not going to starve myself because - well, if I'm depriving myself I'm going to feel awful.

"My body is not a trashcan." (This is a slightly modified version of what Jack Lalanne was told.)

And while it sounds terrible, it has helped me realize I care about my body, and if I'm feeding my body trash...I'm going to feel like garbage.

I was on Weight Watchers for two years, I enjoyed the program but it didn't work for me. I don't think tracking was maintainable for me long term. I know people that have made this into a religion. By tracking calories they tell me that they are able to eat everything, yet they still have to fight.

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By lifting weights and focusing on macros/calories it is allowing me to control how my body looks and get to a desired lean body shape that I have always wanted.

This is through personal devotion and hard work. Not by buying into hype, the products that will "give" you the chance to circumvent the actual aspect of this, well, you are only cheating yourself. At first I hated the taste of oatmeal, well, there was a problem but it was easy to fix. At first I had to force myself to choke it down. But was this a problem with the food or with who I had become. After a while I realized that it wasn't the food. I just expected this mental stimulation from the food that the junk was giving me. I expected it to be sweet or salty, but it was strange, after I had eaten oatmeal for a while I started to feel great. I had tons of energy and I want to get out and be active. Also I learned that I was responsible for preparing the food. Making it taste the way I wanted.

And my whole prespective shifted.

Your body runs off what you put in. Why would we throw extra salt, fat, and a bunch of other stuff we don't need to our meals?

Willow

I guess I am just spending a lot of time thinking about what food has meant to me my whole like. Both my parents grew up pretty poor.

My family is not poor, we're your typical middle class American family (both my husband and I work), but I love some of the simpilist dishes you could imagine, particularly the stuff I grew up on.

We are all healthy and happy and I have the piece of mind knowing that we are eating home cooked meals. Thouh I think I made it sound simplier than it really is. I actually put a lot of effort into making things as healthy as I can.

My mother did the same thing but she never counted a calorie, or looked on the nutrion facts. I really don't think that they had them when we were growing up. But we were also happy and healthy. I think that the trick might be making extremely simple meals. But she really never had to count calories. She simply choose the right foods to eat.

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I think mainly because she didn't have the option to spend a small fortune on chips, candy, and soft drinks. When we had them it was as a treat, and it actually was a treat for us growing up.

I make sure my childen see it as that as well.

My new co-worker, she told me that coffee was bad for you and plus she didn't like the taste. The same went for tea, though she "would" drink it with sugar and milk. She thinks that water is a fad and prides herself on the fact that she has gone without drinking a glass of water in over a year.

Last week she had five kidney stones removed. Five, and they were all over an inch. Three of them were between one and two inches. That is what happens when you only drink the fun beverages.

She is twenty-two years old by the way.

Willow

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I enjoy keeping track of this stuff and it just seems natural to me to get an idea of what I need when I am going to do something. This can be simple, but when it is more complicated I tend to make lists. Lists are a lifesaver and a great way to keep track.

They also give you an idea of where you can make adjustments.

My friend and her husband have two children, for reference my family is the same size and age.

When we go shopping things look very different.

I make a plan for the meals for the week. I know what I need to buy and how much things will cost. My friend will just wonder the store and throw things in her cart. She usually has to go shopping more than once a week because she hasn't bougt everything she needs to prepare the meals.

For example, I sit down every Sunday evening and make a rundown of what I will need. Shopping is done on Saturday so I have a whole week to adjust or add to the list. Her grocery bill is easily $400 or more a week.

Mine, well take a look for yourself, this week I will be making:

  1. Pizza, veggies & dip: $1.94/person
  2. Hamburger night (half veggie burgers) & veggie cheese stuffed potatoes: $2.42/person
  3. Tacos & burritos: $1.75/person
  4. Curried chickpeas, coconut-spinach dal, naan & hummus: $1.07/person
  5. Pork chops, mashed potatoes, peas & carrots: $2.10/person
  6. Vegetable and Lasagne and garlic bread: $2.44/person
  7. Sunday dinner, roast beef, yorkshire pudding, roast potatoes & mixed veggies: $2.43/person

Dinner will cost us less than $60 for the week. These are all wholesome home cooked meals. I am not pinching pennies. In fact I try to get higher quality bio veggies and the works. So many people want to save on everything possible there's a point where your quality of life starts to go down so you can have money for when your old.

My friend tells me that I am frugal. Well, I don't spend $150 a week on drinks. The biggest budget breaker I have found is drinks, milk, oj, really anything other than water easily costs $0.50-$1.00 per 16oz glass (technically 2 servings).

People need to realize that being frugal isn't just about saving money. It's also about how much value you can add if you're willing to make an effort and plan well. For me adding a lot of expensive drinks is not adding value. And my family is a big cranberry juice fan and I can get two gallon containers for a reasonable price.

Willow

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I do a five-week meal plan for our dinners, and prep our lunches for Monday - Thursday on Sunday.

In the beginning our slow cooker was a life saver! On days I knew we were going to be out all day, I threw something together in the crock pot.

Since then I have evolved and now my meals are planned out ahead of time.

Now the way I do the meal plan is pick seven meals, then draw up a rotation list of four meals per week (the other three are leftovers, restaurant, or throw something together on a whim).

Each meal is only repeated three times, so you're not having exactly the same thing week after week.

Figure out what you can do ahead (mix chicken and marinade ingredients together and freeze, make huge batch of pork taco filling in the crockpot and freeze in smaller packets) and which ingredients will stay good the whole month. Calculate out your shopping list for all the things you can buy ahead of time.

Shopping and prepping are a huge day, but a lot of your prep is done! Then week to week, all you have to do is purchase your fresh ingredients and get things out of the freezer.

I got started with a book called "A New Way To Dinner".

It teaches you that with a little prep on the weekend there is minimal cooking during the week - just combine ingredients.

They feel like fancy/sophisticated recipes but they are easy to throw together (e.g., cook pasta, stir in the tomatoes you roasted on Sunday and corn and basil and you've got "Penne Pasta with Blistered tomatoes and corn".

My daughters love it.

Willow

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I tend to use lots of checklists and todo lists to a make sure things get done, and offload having to think about, and worry about them constantly.

Which lets me get straight to work.

Recently I've been just having coffee first thing in the morning and then making breakfast later or going out.

Yet, for me personally I try not to fall into a routine, otherwise I'll expect it and rely on it too much. Like if I always make coffee every morning, then I suddenly run out, or am too busy, I feel kinda shitty for the rest of the day. For me, every morning is a little bit different, mostly depending on how late I was working last night, who's still at home when I wake, where I wake, etc.

I know I'll use any little interruption as an excuse to procrastinate so I have worked out a routine. It goes like this: I start my morning with meditation, the doing some exercises, breakfast while listening audio book, after breakfast and then I will start working.

  • Set an alarm for 9:40pm. This alarm is a "heads up -- it's getting close to bedtime" alarm. I've got 10 minutes to finish up my digital activities. Then brush teeth and prep for bed. Looking at a screen right before bed contributes to insomnia, so I spend the next 15 minutes reading a book. Not a kindle... an actual book. Also on my laptop I've got f.lux installed, so the screen temperature matches the time of day (apparently helps with sleep transition as well).
  • Lights out at 10:15pm
  • Alarm wakes me up at 5:50am. I snooze for 5 minutes, using those 5 minutes to let the morning light wake me up gently, sitting up to let blood flow from my head.
  • Meditate for 15 minutes. Skipping morning meditation is like a surgeon skipping his hand-washing before surgery: he's likely to infect the next person he touches.
  • 10 minutes of core and aerobic exercises, to music.
  • Grab a protein shake and breakfast quinoa I made the night before. Munch and shower.
  • I prioritize my day in Workflowy: what are the most valuable tasks I can get done today? Usually small effort / big impact tasks top the list. Stretch goals? What's on my todo-list but I'm NOT gonna get to today? Call that stuff out.
Willow

I know people that don't eat breakfast. It just isn't that important to them. BUT it is the best way to jump start your body. Even when I was less healthy, didn't care, and wasn't taking care of myself (I'm a former smoker) I would smoke my first after breakfast, it was always breakfast and a cup of tea before having a cigarette. If I didn't then I'd usually feel a little light headed.

Now I believe in taking care of myself, and a balanced diet and a rigorous exercise routine.

Some people I know will just throw in a protine shake and call it finished. Real food sources are always better than supplements, so if you can eat a good breakfast, I would do that over drinking a shake. Because it does more than add an energy source, it provides you will a lot of different benefits. And natural food sources are almost always better than artificial ones.

My morning routine also includes personal care.

In the morning, if my face is a little puffy, I'll put on an ice pack while doing my stomach crunches. I can do a thousand now.

After I remove the ice pack, I use a deep pore cleanser lotion. In the shower, I use a water activated gel cleanser. Then a honey almond body scrub. And on the face, an exfoliating gel scrub. Then apply an herb mint facial mask, which I leave on for 10 minutes while I prepare the rest of my routine.

Then moisturizer, then an anti-aging eye balm followed by a final moisturizing protective lotion.

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