Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Updates on Me and A Few Lunch Ideas

Update on my injury – I go back to the doctor next Monday.  Hopefully he will tell me I no longer need to wear this awful post-op shoe.  I mean, it is cold outside (it is only going to be in the 60’s today!!), and I really want to wear my super cute boots!  Plus, I have not worn anything brown in the past 5 weeks because apparently they don’t make brown post op shoes….

Update on the Challenge – I CHEATED!!  Haha, I finally had one cheat in the form of alcohol…. Gin and tonic to be exact.  It was yummy and I had a good time with friends!  The funny thing is though that after I cheated, I did not feel the need to extend that bad habit to the next day.  It was one little cheat and I moved on from there.  I think that is one of the main things that I have changed through this Paleo challenge.  I felt prior to the challenge, I would eat something “bad” and then need to continue eating that way the rest of the day or into the next day.  After consuming my gin and tonic(s), I really wanted to eat some pizza or bread or something.  However, when I got home, there was not a single thing non-Paleo in the house.  My after drinking eats were pecans and acorn squash with red onions!  Kinda weird, but they tasted amazing at 3am! 

Update on food for the week - Each week, I try to think of something really unique to make for lunch that is easily transportable to work.  And every week, I end up with the same few items!  Not for lack of trying to add variety, but I think there are a few things that are just easier to pack for lunch.  Omelets just do not transport well.

Lunch Today: Vegetable Soup, Spicy Chicken Stew, and Broccoli/Cauliflower

Here are 5 lunch meals that are great for transporting. 
  1. Grilled chicken salad – I usually grill a load of chicken on Sunday and then eat it throughout the week.  I love a salad with grilled chicken, homemade guacamole, and some spicy salsa.  Yum, yum!
  2. Homemade vegetable soup – This is one of those throw all the vegetables you have in your fridge into a big pot with some vegetable broth and canned tomatoes and you have soup for the week.
  3. Crockpot Leftovers – Anything that you make in the crockpot usually will feed two people for a few days.  Put the leftovers into single serving containers and grab and go in the morning.
  4. Roasted Veggie Bake – If you do not want soup, but still want a big heaping pile of vegetables, make a veggie bake.  I usually will throw in squash, eggplant, tomatoes, onions, peppers with a whole slew of herbs, fresh if I have them.  Again, put these in single serving containers and you are all set.
  5. Turkey Burgers – You can make a huge batch of these and put them in plastic bags.  Heat them up or don’t, they still taste wonderful.

~ Savannah FitNut aka Morgan McNeal

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Living is Awesome

I am taking a short break from talking about nutrition or fitness.  Last Wednesday night, my husband and I went to see a Louis CK comedy show at the Savannah Civic Center.  It was hilarious!  Definitely recommend going to see him live if you get the chance.

Anyway, as he was going through his show and all his jokes, he started talking about how awesome it is just to be living, and even if sometimes you think your life sucks, it is still awesome that you have a life.  He explained we get to eat, meet and interact with all these other people, and have sex and everything great that comes with living (his terms may have been a little more crude, but you get the point). 

Living IS great and we often forget that fact.  I sure have forgotten that these last couple weeks.  I told myself I would not focus on what I could NOT do with a stress fracture, but instead what I COULD do.  It sounded good and I tried, I really tried.  Some days, it worked, but some days, I just wanted to put on my damn running shoes and run a few miles!   But I didn’t.  I have been following the doctor’s orders and staying off my foot as much as possible.  I started doing Yoga twice a week and found a really good Pilates studio.  I forgot how much I missed Pilates until I started doing it again.  It is an awesome workout and really makes your muscles burn, especially those core muscles.  It definitely makes me want to pursue additional training opportunities, so I can start teaching again.

Forsyth Farmers' Market
I also have been able to bike downtown, visit the farmer’s market, and cook a whole lot.  I have enjoyed all those things.  It is absolutely beautiful riding my bike in downtown Savannah and sitting outside drinking a cup of tea.  The weather is beautiful.  So this is where I focus on how great it is to be living.

I go back to the doctor on November 5, so 10 days, 3 hours, and 23 minutes, haha, I am not counting!  I may or may not get clearance to start running again, but lucky for me, there are so many other great things to do in life.  Take advantage of all your opportunities and enjoy every day, even the sucky ones!

~ Savannah FitNut aka Morgan McNeal

Monday, October 15, 2012

Paleo on a Budget

A question that often arises when discussion of the paleo diet comes up is the cost.  Is Paleo expensive?  You are eating fresh fruits, vegetables, lean meats, fish, raw nuts, high quality fats and oils, and on top of that, trying to buy organic and local.  My answer to this question is that following the Paleo diet CAN BE expensive, but it certainly does not have to be.  I think you also need to put it in perspective.

Below is a copy of my receipts from grocery shopping at the local grocery store chain and a little stop at the health food store.  I also went to the Farmer’s Market on Saturday and spent $30.  Total spent on groceries was $142.94.
Grocery Receipts

With all my groceries, I made food for the entire week.  I made egg muffins, homemade larabars, butternut squash soup, tomato kale soup, ratatouille bake, zucchini cakes, shrimp primavera with spaghetti squash, carrot fries, apple breakfast pudding, guacamole, tilapia with red pepper pesto, chicken curry, filet with mashed cauliflower, and turkey burgers.  Assume 7 days in week, 3 meals/day (even though this also includes snacks throughout the day too) for 2 people, average cost per meal per person comes out to $3.40
Ratatouille bake

Now think about eating out.  At Starbucks, if you were not following a Paleo diet, you may order a medium coffee, a bagel, and a banana.  Total cost would be approximately $6.43.  How about lunch?  Grab a salad at Panera…. Average cost is about $9.  Dinner?  Not sure if there is anywhere you can go and get dinner for less than $10.  Even if you were not eating out and buying regular groceries (regular = non-Paleo, haha!), your price per meal would probably be around $3 or $4, the same as following the Paleo diet.

Here are 5 tips for eating Paleo on a budget. 
  1. Buy local produce as much as you can.  I bought about 7 lbs of product at the farmer’s market for $15.
  2. Frozen fruits and vegetables are perfectly acceptable.  They are easy to use for soups and side dishes for any meal.
  3. Buy items in bulk when you know you are going to use it before it goes bad, you will be able to freeze it, or you can share it with your friends! J  Also, a lot of times, when grocery stores have items on sale, it is cheaper to buy the smaller size.  Check the price/ounce on items!
  4. Online grocery shopping is perfectly acceptable.  Try out www.vitacost.com.  They have coconut milk for $2/can, almond flour, dried fruit, nuts, etc.  Shipping is free if you spend more than $49… which is pretty easy to do.  Use Amazon too!
  5. Eat what is on sale.  You do not have to become a major couponer or a ravager of every grocery stores weekly ad, but take a minute either before you go to the store or as soon as you get there to check out the circular.  You will be able to see what produce, meats, and fish are the cheapest that week.  Buy those!
Paleo does not have to be expensive.  I have heard a saying along the lines of “Buy good food now for your health, or pay your medical bills later, your choice.”  Unprocessed, whole foods are the way to go!  And it will not cost you an arm and a leg!

~ Savannah FitNut aka Morgan McNeal

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Are you a Yo-Yo?

My friend emailed me and asked me to blog about yo-yo dieting.  According to Merriam-Webster, “yo-yo” refers to “a condition or situation marked by regular fluctuations from one extreme to another.”  In other words, we try to follow Paleo as much as we can: eating lean meats, lots of vegetables, and a little bit of fruit, but then we go off the deep end, and down 3 beers with a cheeseburger and fries.  We all are a yo-yo dieter at some point.

Here is the story of my friend:  He tries to follow a strict Paleo diet, but works in an environment where sweets are endless.  Every other day is someone’s birthday or baby shower or retirement party, and because apparently the only available item to serve at parties is donuts and candy, this type of food is prevalent in their office on a daily basis.  This scenario probably sounds familiar.  I swear people look at me as if I have sprouted another head when I tell them I do not want a cookie or a piece cake.

So what should you do?  Eat candy and donuts Monday through Friday and take off on the weekend?  No!  Pretend you do not have a sweet tooth and sit and sulk while everyone else enjoys delicious chocolate?  No!  Avoid partaking in the treats, but then devour a whole bag of Oreos on the weekend by yourself?  No!  Have delicious Paleo treats and/or meals that satisfy your sweet tooth?  YES!

Here are 5 meals/snacks that are Paleo, but will surely satisfy your sweet tooth. 
  1. Paleo Chocolate Coconut Milkshake – Throw a ripe banana in the freezer for 20 or so minutes, then blend banana, some raw cocoa powder (no exact measurement required), some unsweetened shredded coconut, and cold coconut milk to cover all those ingredients.  Blend it all together and enjoy your Paleo Chocolate Coconut Milkshake.
  2. Ginger Apple Shredded Pork in the Crockpot – recipe borrowed from Paleomg.com – Basically, pork, onion, apples, cinnamon, ginger, etc. – Throw it all in your crockpot!  Full recipe can be found here (I omitted the honey and it still tasted amazing): http://paleomg.com/honey-ginger-apple-shredded-pork/
  3. Paleo Pumpkin Not Pie – ½ cup of canned pumpkin, ½ cup of unsweetened applesauce, a dash of pumpkin pie spice, and almonds on top
  4. Sweet Potato Casserole – Bake your sweet potatoes, whip in some coconut milk, cinnamon, nutmeg, and throw toasted pecans on top.
  5. Berries and Milk – Throw some dethawed blueberries in a dish with cold coconut milk, and add a heaping spoon of almond butter.  Yum, yum!

There are plenty of sweet Paleo snacks and meals, but these are five of my favorites.  They are all super easy to make, guaranteed to satisfy your sweet tooth, and all can be pre-made and brought to work…… so while everyone is enjoying their chocolate cake, you can enjoy your Paleo Chocolate Coconut Milkshake!

~ Savannah FitNut aka Morgan McNeal

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Planning is Crucial

When it comes to adhering to certain food guidelines aka the Paleo Challenge rules, planning is the most crucial part.  If you do not plan, you are bound to be put in a situation where your food options are very limited.  Some of those scenarios include traveling, maybe a Saturday or Sunday when you have a million errands to run and will not be home for hours, or simply a late night at work in which the last thing on your mind is what you are going to cook for dinner.

It is easy to say “Just be prepared,” but that is not always easy and planning does require some forethought.  I thought I would share my top 5 planning rules to ensure I am not out and about and starving, ready to drive through at Wendy’s and eat an entire bowl of chili with a Frosty (not mixed together, always eat the Frosty first! J).

This cooler would be great to use riding around Savannah!

The 5 Keys to Ensure Good Food is in your belly:
  1.  Have a cooler – It does not have to be huge, think oversized lunch bag.  Pack up some cut-up veggies, fruit, and some protein.  Tuna pouches are my go-to, but I also try to have some grilled chicken breasts in the fridge at all times for a quick snack to grab.
  2. Pack more than you think you are going to need.  My husband is a bottomless pit, and he gets hangry (hungry + angry = hangry) very quickly.  You can always throw the food you do not eat back into the cabinet or fridge when you get home.
  3. Understand that convenience stores have awful choices when it comes to healthy food.  Their beef jerky has sugar, their nuts are roasted in weird oils, their dried fruit is not just fruit, and water is about the only beverage you can buy.  Again, do not even put yourself into that position where you are roaming around a convenience store because you are starving looking for a “Paleo friendly” option.
  4. Know that the “healthy options” offered at fast food restaurants are not the least bit healthy!  Do not count on those as food options – You will end up being very disappointed and/or starving.
  5. Put some time into making lots of food to have on hand when hunger strikes.  In the book “Well Fed,” the author discusses their Sunday Cooking WOD.  My husband and I do this weekly – we set aside a few hours on Sunday and make food for the week – homemade beef jerky, larabars, cut-up veggies, cut-up fruit, egg frittata, etc.  It makes it that much easier during the week when we are packing our lunches for work or just coming home hungry.

So, there it is, hopefully some helpful tips for meal planning.  It is not always easy, but it is worth it.

~ Savannah FitNut aka Morgan McNeal

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Trudging Along…..

Week #1 complete… that is week#1 of my estimated 4-6 week recovery, so only 3-5 weeks to go.  I must say it kinda stinks being injured.  I was able to bike twice last week on the stationary bike, but it just does not give me the same feeling as running or Crossfit workouts.  However, I trudge along.

I am still completely cheat free for the Paleo Challenge.  I think my injury has made it easier to follow the diet.  My husband and I went out to eat once this weekend, and I was able to order a grass-fed burger, no bun, and a side salad.  Also, I traveled for work this past Wednesday and Thursday, but stopped at the grocery store and loaded up on healthy Paleo eats.  I also am not allowed to drink alcohol while on the prescription steroids for my foot, so no wine or beer.  Boo!  I was really looking forward to that one glass of red wine per night treat allowed per the challenge rules.

I decided to make a list of the top 5 worst things and 5 best things about having a stress fracture.  Here they are.
My lovely crutches!

The 5 Worst Things about Having a Stress Fracture:

  1. Trying to “limp run” to answer my phone when I left it upstairs
  2. Having a black shoe I have to wear with every outfit.  I have a really cute brown sweater I wanted to wear this weekend!
  3. Admiring all the happy people running – Honestly, it seems everyone smiles when they are running – Did I not notice this before or is my mind playing tricks on me and they are really not smiling?
  4. Being called “Peg Leg” by Coworkers
  5. My husband threatening to take my picture on the seated grocery scooter – I decided I would use my crutches instead.

     The 5 Best Things about Having a Stress Fracture

  1.  Not feeling lazy for sitting around all day reading endless Paleo blogs.
  2.  Seated Dishwashing – You should try it!
  3.  All the magazines I can read while on the Stationary bike
  4. My husband’s willingness to wait on me and help with the household chores
  5.  The fact that this injury is temporary and as long as I follow the doctor’s orders and stay off my foot, I will get better and be back to running and Crossfitting in no time!
~ Savannah FitNut aka Morgan McNeal