Tag Archives: healthy eating

How I Self-Care

In my line of work, people talk a lot about self-care to ensure that you do not forget to take care of yourself while being so wrapped up in taking care of others. Now that I have worked at my job for over a month, I have started to notice changes in my self-care routine. My nightly journal entries are often rushed. Sometimes there are long lazy lines my pen made as I started to doze off mid-sentence. If I exercise twice in one week, then it’s considered a good week. I eat unhealthy food late at night. My body struggles to recover from staying up all night for work. I find that I spend most of my days off inside, behind a computer screen. It has been weeks since I have done something for fun with friends. My job is going great, but my self-care is not. 

All of the self-improvement goals I thought were firmly implemented into my life have been thrown off balance by my new employment. There are a little more than three months until I turn 24 and, by then, I want to be on the right track in terms of my mental and physical health, my social life, and my rate of creative output. Hence, I think it is fitting that I update my goals to reflect my self-care goals. I want to be able to work full-time and also really focus on my own well-being.

The following are preliminary ideas I have for a quality self-care routine:

1. Pack healthy food to bring for work. With my current schedule, there are five meals I have to eat at work per week (one lunch, three dinners, and one breakfast). The breakfast is pretty easy to skip or to get away with just eating a piece of fruit, so it’s really those three dinners and one lunch about which I’m concerned.
a. Bring a healthy entree, but also bring healthy snacks in case there isn’t time for a full-            blown meal.
b. Make a salad from the salad bar and eat a vegetable side dish to satisfy your appetite               long enough before you get a break.
c. If the dessert looks like it’ll be really worth it, then eat a few bites or half of it.

2. Make plans with people for your days off. Find the people in your social network who may be free at any time during your free days and make a plan. See a movie. Get coffee. Get lunch. Go bowling. See a play. Something.
a. If no one is free, plan out your day doing something that is productive. Clean your                    room. Go to the bank. Go to the doctor. Complete a task that has been looming over                your head.
b. Additionally, make plans to do something that just makes you feel good. This can be              watching a TV show or lying outside or going for a bike ride. You name it. There are                  ways to be absolutely happy and content that are not dependent upon others.

3. Exercise as often as you can. Something I have discovered about myself is that I feel so good after a workout. It gives my whole day a brand new, shiny outlook. Based on my current schedule, my exercise schedule should be Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday before lunch, and then Saturday during my break at work.
a. Sign up for a fitness class on your day off or before 1:30 on weekdays to meet new                   people and peer pressure yourself into the workout.

4. Leave work at work. In other words, be completely present in work while at work, but leave it behind during my days off. Beyond a few sentences on how my day at work was, it should be out of my mind so I can relax.
a. Check work email once a day, but not before bed! This should reduce the frequency                of work-related dreams.

5. Use overnights for creative output. I’ve already started a few experimental writing projects during my two overnights so far. I would love to continue this, as the overnight is a time when I’m not supposed to be doing anything else. I can’t exercise or go outside. It’s the perfect time to sit behind a screen and write something!

6. Use those 66 hours well. Sometimes, it feels like I’m working ALL the time, but it’s not true. I did some quick math and discovered that I have 66 awake hours per week that I can use in whatever way I want!

Homemade Pizza Bar

You know how some people do make your own ice cream sundae “bar”? Well, my family enjoys creating our own individual homemade pizzas every once in a while because it is cheaper and much healthier than ordering pizza out. My mom usually makes the dough, a recipe she has been using for many years (it came with the pizza maker). This Saturday, we enjoyed a wealth of options for our pizzas: mozzarella cheese, cheddar cheese, feta cheese, mushroom, green pepper, onion, spinach, tomato, or jalapeno. Of course, there were also several other items to add a special kick to pizzas like minced garlic, crushed red pepper, and cayenne pepper. The sauce pictured below is my favorite homemade recipe, which I’ll undoubtedly post here in the future.

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carolynpizza

 

Pop it in the oven until the crusts are perfectly browned and you have yourself a custom-made pizza!

Portobello Mushroom Burger

Do you know what tastes amazing and satisfies my appetite perfectly? A portobello mushroom burger, of course! Does this look good to you?

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The prep time is about an hour total, but you don’t have to marinate as long if you don’t want to. This is the perfect meal for when you’re in the mood for something healthy, filling, and relatively simple to whip up. This recipe serves two, but you can customize it if you’re cooking for fewer or more people.

You will need:

2 whole portobello mushrooms
2 pieces of whole wheat bread
Hummus
Spinach and/or other leafy greens
1/4 cup EVOO
4 cloves of garlic, minced
4 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
3 tablespoons chopped onion

Instructions:

1. Place your mushrooms on a plate with the ridged inner part facing up.
2. Combine onion, garlic, olive oil, and balsamic vinegar in a small bowl.
3. Pour the mixture evenly over the mushrooms and let them marinate for an hour (half an hour works, too).
4. Heat a lubricated skillet on medium.
5. Put the mushrooms and the garlic-EVOO-onion-balsamic vinegar mixture into the skillet.
6. Flip when necessary. When the mushrooms are cooked evenly, you’re done!
7. Toast the bread, then spread hummus on top and add the leafy greens.
8. Place the mushroom on top.
9. Scoop remaining onion/garlic/liquid on top of the mushroom.
10. Voila! Enjoy with a knife and fork for a non-messy dining experience.

Veggie Lover

As a vegetarian who occasionally moonlights as a pescetarian, I have a surprisingly low appreciation for vegetables. Yes, I eat them every day. Yes, I often choke my way through them. Part of my mission in becoming a healthy person is to truly integrate vegetables into my regular diet. This means I need to eat many more servings. In fact, the USDA recommends between five and thirteen servings of vegetables per day. I know I don’t get remotely enough of that into my 112-pound body every day.

One of my attempts in getting myself to really enjoy eating more vegetables has been to create a pretty presentation and to photograph it. That’s just what I did earlier this week. Can you say food porn? 😉

IMG_9809What do you do to motivate yourself to eat veggies? What’s your favorite way to prepare them?

 

Acai Bowl

Have you ever heard of an acai bowl? Have you ever tasted one? If not, you’re in for a treat! I had my first (and only) acai bowl when I was at a health bar in Honolulu two months ago and I’ve been craving them like crazy ever since. After not finding any being sold around Chicago, I decided to make my own. Follow these easy steps and you’ll be able to enjoy this popular Brazilian treat:

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You will need:

1 packet acai berry puree (I used the Amafruits brand)
1 banana
Half cup frozen raspberries and blueberries (or any other)
Dash of fruit juice (i.e. apple, cranberry, orange)
Fresh strawberries
Drizzle of honey
Quarter cup granola

1. Mash up the frozen acai puree into smaller chunks, then deposit contents of the packet into a blender or food processor.
2. Add half the banana, half cup of frozen fruit, and dash of fruit juice to help with the blending. If you have a powerful blender, the fruit juice is not necessary.
3. Blend until the contents don’t have chunks. Be careful not to over-blend (I actually did) because the mixture will take on the consistency of soup more than like frozen yogurt.
4. Pour into a bowl (or three if you want to share tastes with anyone else). Garnish the top of the bowl with granola, fresh strawberries, blueberries, and the rest of the banana. Drizzle with honey and voila! You’ve just made a fresh acai bowl.

Warning: You may become addicted to this sweet frozen treat, but not to fear! It’s very healthy and low cal as long as you don’t overdue it on the granola or honey.

Braised coconut spinach with chickpeas

IMG_9770Does this look good to you? If so, I’m going to tell you exactly how to make it! I found this amazing recipe here on treehugger.com. I adapted the recipe below to my own tastes, which I recommend you do, as well!

Ingredients:

2 teaspoons of extra virgin olive oil
1 small yellow onion (or half a large yellow onion)
2-3 teaspoons minced garlic
0.5 cup sun-dried tomatoes, chopped
2 tablespoons lemon juice
Pinch of red pepper flakes (optional)
1 15-oz can of chickpeas/garbanzo beans, drained
1 container spinach (to taste)
14 oz coconut milk
1 teaspoon salt (to taste)
1 teaspoon ground ginger

1. Heat the oil in a pot on medium-high heat.
2. Add the onion and cook for five minutes, or until slightly browned.
3. Add garlic, sun-dried tomatoes, and red pepper. Cook for three minutes and stir frequently.
4. Add chickpeas and cook on high heat until chickpeas start to golden and are covered in the mixture.
5. Add spinach one handful at a time while stirring constantly. Wait for it to wilt until adding more incrementally.
6. Pour in coconut milk and add in salt, ground ginger, and lemon juice.
7. Bring to a simmer and cook for ten minutes more, being sure the chickpeas are sufficiently warmed.
8. Feel free to taste the coconut milk mixture and add more of any ingredient (namely, salt and lemon) to your preference.

Enjoy! I bet there will be leftovers, too. 🙂

My Measurements

Today, July 19, 2013, I’m taking my measurements. I know that the scale doesn’t tell the full story. My ultimate goal is to have a BMI of 20.0, but BMI is calculated using weight and doesn’t take into account muscle. So, I’ve decided that I’m going to also look to my measurements for signs of progress! I decided I’d do this while the measuring tape was out because I was doing bra-fitting measurements. Side note: My band size was 29 and their smallest is 30; no wonder none of those Victoria Secret bras never fit me quite right!

Chest: 32 inches (I hope this doesn’t get any smaller!)
Waist: 25 inches (goal: 24)
Hips: 36.5 inches (goal: 34)
Thighs: 21.5 inches (goal: 19)
Upper arm: 9.5 inches (goal: 9)

Here is the website I used to help me find my measurements. I’m not trying to lose a ton of inches, but I do have a few goals in mind. If you’re curious to find your ideal measurements based on height, check out skinnythigh.com that tells you the ideal range. I have a small body frame, so my ideal would be the smallest measurements included. I don’t know how doable it is to reduce some of these (like hips), but I’m going to exercise and eat healthy. Any improvements will be superb!