Coloring on the Blank Pages of Life

When I was little I liked coloring books. Know why? Because the “art” was already laid out for you. All I had to do was pick up my crayon and color inside the lines and I had an instant masterpiece. There wasn’t any creativity or real talent involved, just fill in the blanks. Even better was color by number because those told you what colors went in what areas so it was guaranteed to come out looking just perfect. No surprise that I am still a “rule follower” personality type, huh?

I’ve come to realize that for the first time in my whole damn life I’m coloring on a blank page. And it scares the shit out of me.
Life is suppose to follow the plan:
*graduate high school…check
*go to college…check
*graduate said college…check
*get married…check
*get a Master’s Degree…check
*get a good job..check
*buy a house and get a dog…check
*have a baby and live happily ever after…oops.
The plan derailed. No mention of my big fat divorce in that plan.

My coloring book life had a misprint, but I feel like I picked the pages up and stuck them back together as best as I could at that point. I started a new book and a new outlook. This book looked a little more like connect the dots then color by number, but I was learning to be ok with that. I’ve never been one to accept change easily (and that my friends is the understatement of the year) but I had a rough idea of where I was going and I just had to work a little harder to make the picture appear.

Now that there are no more dots to connect and no more pictures to color I’m left with blank pages in my coloring book. For the first time in all of my 30 years I have no clue where I am going or what I am doing. I have a degree and a job. I have the most supportive parents on the planet. But otherwise it’s page after page after page of blank paper. I have no guidelines on where to go. A lot of people would find this really exciting, a “choose your own adventure” situation, to continue this terrible metaphor. Me? I’m scared out of my mind. I feel lost without a plan. I will let go of the anger and bitterness and resentment of not being able to connect all of those dots when I thought I was remaking my coloring book. It gets a little easier as the days pass. But the emotion looming is just the simple fear of the unknown on all those blank pages. I’m not one to travel without a map, and life is a pretty big adventure to tackle without an itinerary.

Detox

Ug. I have fallen off the clean eating wagon this week, and boy does my body know it all freakin over. I decided I wanted to try this really yummy looking recipe for stuffed shells I found on Pinterest (damn you Pinterest!). Well that’s all fine and dandy until I get to the grocery store only to realize that I can’t find any whole wheat shells or even manicotti. Oops. Weeeellll, I guess regular old pasta won’t hurt this once….and then for left overs…and then left overs again….and damn that was good, let me take that for lunch one more day…I swear the rest is in the freezer now. That brings me to later this week. I had a work function that was going to include lunch. We’ve been over before how that makes me mildly apprehensive. I knew that the Board of Directors had had Panera at their meeting a couple of weeks ago, which is an absolute NO for me. The meeting was off site in a church, so I was betting on a repeat catering. I planned ahead with a big breakfast and brought a whole food snack to contribute to the group. And I packed a discrete lunch…kimbap. This is totally one of my newest loves. The Japanese version is called onigiri. I linked to that particular website because the instructions are so clear on how to make them, and I think the video is just smile worthy. Who doesn’t love some Bobby McFarin? Anyway. We ended up at a local restaurant where I was able to order a meal that fit my dietary guidelines without worry. That still left me with 3 delicious kimbaps to devour over the next couple of days. While I love them, they are made of sushi rice. White sushi rice. Add to that I think I had a crescent roll at my parents’ house when I had dinner there (maybe?) and the (are you ready?) Starbucks scone I ordered before I could stop myself this morning and I have hit the overload point on refined crap.

I was already feeling not so hot, but that stupid scone, that I regretted the minute I bit into it, has really thrown me over. I’ve been more sluggish than usual, and feeling tired earlier and earlier. Yesterday was probably the first day I didn’t eat refined grains this week and the only day I’ve been able to stay awake easily until my normal bedtime. I have to wonder if this has anything to do with why I haven’t been sleeping so well lately too. I’m back to taking something every night to keep me asleep, which I haven’t needed in quite a while. I’m practically jittery this morning. And I’m not even going to get into what my digestive system thinks of all this.

It is totally detox time. No excuses about that. This weeks’ shopping list will include lots of fresh fruits and veggies. Detox Salad from Oh She Glows is on the menu. I actually have most of the ingredients already. Just need to pick up the broccoli, cauliflower, and fresh parsley. Also planning on this Quinoa and Sweet Potato recipe I found on allrecipes.com There will lots of lemon water and green tea to complement this as well. I did an extra session of cardio on Saturday, and I need to make sure I up the sweat factor for a while in the gym.

It’s a time to forgive myself for the bump in the road. We all have them. But time to climb back on the wagon and keep moving. Lesson learned. None of this is worth feeling crappy for. A bite here or there is nothing, but the cumulative effect of something everyday builds up quicker than I ever expected.

Any favorite detox recipes would be greatly appreciated as I work to reset my system.

So, It’s Salad For You, I Guess?

I love my job! But like most clean eaters, work functions are not catered to my dietary preferences. That’s ok. While I think it would be best for everyone to eliminate processed foods and chemical additives from their diets, I understand that not everyone believes like me, and I’ve said before, I will not be the food police. Today, my job thanked the management  staff with lunch at Golden Corral.

Even before gravitating to a clean eating lifestyle I was not crazy about the GC.  But, what I am crazy about is that my job appreciates me…and appreciates me enough to say thank you for my hard work by buying me lunch. Not to sound too corny, but in today’s times, just having a good job is awesome, and having a good job where the company wants to do nice things for the employees sometimes is really awesome. And I’m not going to let my preferences stop me from being appreciative of this appreciation.

But…I’m also not going to throw my dietary values out of the window either. I was telling my best buddy about the upcoming meal and the response I got was a laugh and “So, It’s salad for you, I guess?”  Pretty much. But wait? The GC has veggies right? Yes, but to be honest, I don’t trust the likelihood of those green beans having not been treated with a preservative before going into a can, and the good looking broccoli was probably seasoned with a special spice blend that I doubt they would be willing to reveal to me. I did have a salad (with oil and vinegar), and fresh fruit. There were likely preservatives on some of the salad items as well (some places will treat lettuce to keep it fresh longer), but that’s the best choices I could make. Sometimes you are going to have to make the best choices you can make.

Remember that idea that this takes some work? Well, I put a little work into this morning and planned for a light lunch. I had a BIG smoothie for breakfast that I knew would keep me fuller. Then I packed this little goody bag up to take with me today.

Homemade Mixed Berry Muffin, Homemade Granola Bar, Trail Mix thrown together at the last second this morning, Clif Crunch Bar. There was a bottle of water too.

I ended up only eating the granola bar and most of the trail mix. I also keep 1 scoop of the Garden of Life Protein Powder in my office for a snack, so I could have mixed that up if I needed to. (Note: The Clif Bar is not at all a clean food. It’s an indulgence that is mostly organic and I got on a killer sale. Clif bars hold a special place in my heart after I lived on them pretty exclusively while dealing with a non-healing ulcer a while back.)

Eating clean doesn’t have to mean the end of eating with other people. It certainly doesn’t have to mean the end of your manners to be thankful for the opportunities to be appreciated like I had today. It does mean a little more planning and a little more carefulness in the execution. A good time was had by all and I was once again reminded that I am making the right choice to live a healthy lifestyle and eat clean. Once again, it’s all in the positive attitude.

I’m proud that I didn’t let this throw me off track. In the past, something like this would have been a temptation on a diet, too much opportunity to “cheat.” That’s how I know I really have changed my lifestyle. I can go and enjoy an event with other people, at a buffet, and not feel pressured to eat foods I shouldn’t. This isn’t a diet. It’s a life. My life. And I am finally in control of it.

 

I’m Not Going to Lie…This Involves a Little Work.

I’ve been asked a few times lately about what “all this” really takes. My first response is always, what’s “all this”? If you mean taking care of yourself, I’m not going to lie, this involves a little work. But trust me, it’s worth it. Healthy living is a little like college in that you can’t just show up and expect to get the best of the best, you have to put some work into it, and there is a direct correlation between the amount of work you put in and the reward you get back out. The big difference is that you will actually USE what you learn with healthy living unlike the vast majority of us with degrees completely unrelated to our careers. Not that I’m not using my Master’s degree or anything…but that’s another subject.

This takes a little planning. Because I don’t rely on processed foods, I do more cooking now then I have ever done. And seriously, that’s still not much. There is grocery shopping involved and a little recipe reading to make sure I have everything I need on hand. It’s easier to make healthy choices when the healthy choices are available in house. There’s a little prep work. I shared the power bar recipe I’ve been using, and I’ll make a batch of those up every so often to keep on hand. I also hard boil eggs to keep in the fridge for a quick snack or meal. On the weekend I may make a batch of whole wheat muffins with fruit to snack on during the week. I tend to freeze most of these since I can’t eat them quick enough.

There’s a little planning each day too. I’ve always taken my lunch to work so that wasn’t a big change for me. But if you’re accustomed to running out for fast food, you’re going to need to plan. I also plan for snacks. I like to eat. And I like to not be tempted by the candy in the vending machine because when the 3pm I’m-starving-right-now-damn-I-could-eat-my-coat feeling hits every once in a while, I’m tempted. I have to get all this done at night because if I leave it until morning, I just throw whatever in a bag and it never works out.

This also takes a little sacrifice. “I don’t have time to exercise!” Sure you do. I bet everyone could find 15 minutes a day for exercise at home. If you were brutally honest with yourself, where do you waste time? I waste time on the internet. I look at websites, play on facebook, read message boards, watch stupid youtube videos, watch Netflix, and just generally waste time. Who knows what I could accomplish if I stopped wasting time online. Where do I not waste time? TV. I don’t have cable. I own a TV really only because I got left one (crappy) one in my divorce. It hasn’t been turned on in 10 months or more. I don’t say this to sound self righteous, I say this to point out how I made time to exercise. I realized a long time ago that what I was spending my evenings doing was watching TV (which inevitably meant eating snacks) wishing I was healthier. Then the light bulb went off that if I would sacrifice a little of the TV time, I could exercise and maybe actually be healthier. I’ve been told that if I had kids I would understand how hard it is to find time to exercise (hello? self righteous much?) but my response to that is why can’t your children be a part of your exercise? I spoke with a friend today, someone I’ve known for a long time but haven’t seen in years (isn’t facebook great?). She told me that part of her motivation to exercise and be healthy was to set a good example for her son that fitness is important. How awesome is that? Even though her son is a preschooler, she is already wanting him to know how important it is to take care of himself. (I hope you don’t mind I’m talking about you if you’re reading this!)

There may be a little financial sacrifice too. I choose to pay for a gym membership, but my lack of cable service more than covers that. Certainly you can exercise at home without a gym or even fancy equipment. Youtube is an amazing resource for learning new exercises, as are blogs! Special mention to Peak 313 Fitness as my current favorite fitness website/blog. She’s a mom who works out at home with minimal equipment. You may find that your food costs change some as well, I am working on trying to really use my dollars consciously with companies I think deserve them, so I am finding my grocery costs are going up a touch. But you know what, any fruits and veggies are better than no fruits and veggiesDon’t sweat it if you can’t buy organic. Just eat your veggies folks. And whole grains. The way I see it, I may be spending a little more now, but I am cutting my future healthcare costs by staying out of the cardiologist and oncologists offices, and hopefully even my GP’s office.

So, I’m not going to lie. Taking care of your body is not an instant success. You have to put some work into it. It’s not an overnight thing, and if you start out thinking that way you are setting yourself up for disappointment. There is no gimmick. This is a lifestyle, one that is meant to be sustainable, long term.  You CAN do this. The work is worth it.