Yesterday I wrote about lists and how I use them in three main areas of my life - work, writing and household chores. Later I was thinking about how there's an obvious, important area of life missing from that list of three - my health and well-being. I thought it was blog-worthy to note that for my longest stretch ever, I'm still following my New Year's resolution, to eat more healthy foods.
Part of my success has been to not be overly strict. Notice I didn't say "to eat only healthy foods". First, as my mother loves to point out, that would be pretty inconsistent with my nasty tobacco and alcohol habits. But I figure every little bit helps. I have given myself permission to binge on the weekends, and I've decided not to worry about the smoking until I have lost at least (mumbles a number) pounds. The last time I quit smoking for any length of time, I gained 15 pounds in two months. I'm too stupidly vain to repeat that experience right now.
But, I do believe being conscious of the food I select to nurture my body will help offset the negatives of my otherwise unhealthy choices. My primary change in behavior has been to stop buying and preparing processed foods, at least for meals. There's been no Hamburger Helper on the Whitaker dinner table in 2011. I invested in a small freezer and am stocking up on meat when it's on sale. Soon, I'm going to follow through on my intention to purchase organic meat in bulk and fill that freezer up. I am ordering produce from Soggy Bottom Produce, now that they've opened for the year. We are eating fresh and local veggies, and next week they will have strawberries! I've also been loosely following the slow-carb diet recommended by Timothy Ferriss in The 4-Hour Body. I know his books haven't gotten the best reviews, but I think a lot of his advice makes sense. (And who cares???? He is on the best seller list! You can criticize my writing all you'd like after I start making the big bucks, and I promise, I won't care. Until then, please play nice on my blog. :-0)
An important part of these new eating goals is to make yet another list. Not just a grocery list, but a meal plan. So far I really only bother about dinner. For breakfast, I generally eat eggs and spinach, sometimes with beans if there are any left over from the night before. Occassionally I substitute a protein shake. Lunch is either leftovers, a sandwich or maybe canned tuna or cottage cheese. Ken fixes his own breakfast and lunch, so dinner is my only "pressure" meal - the one that used to turn into frozen entrees or ordering a pizza after a hectic work day. Dinner was the meal that needed a plan. Again, I don't worry too much about weekends, but by Sunday night, I have a general idea of what I'm cooking the rest of the week. Here was this week's plan:
Monday - pork chops, rice, brocolli, black beans (I ended up substituting field peas and snaps that were in the freezer for the black beans)
Tuesday - turkey wings, new potatoes & spinach (prepared together in the crock pot) and red kidney beans
Wednesday - Baked salmon, seasoned with Old Bay, roasted asparagus, carrots, and black beans
Thursday - Soup (cleaning out the freezer, or "garbage soup". I used brocolli, rice, a variety of beans, carrots, and part of a London broil from the freezer, and I added some canned tomato sauce and some diced tomato, and a little water. It's really more like what Rachael Ray calls stoup, a cross between soup and stew.)
I'll be honest, I haven't lost as much weight as I was hoping to. But I feel better knowing I've made a major improvement in the number of nutrients we are consuming, versus the number of perservatives. I think I'm saving money on my grocery bill, too - and that's a much welcome added bonus!
It occurs to me that my meal plan illustrates an important part of successfully using lists. I keep it simple and stay flexible. Side dishes, or entire meals, can be swapped around without causing "failure". But having a starting point, a plan, helps me navigate in a satisfying fashion. I need to remember this philosphy with my other "lists" instead of getting discouraged by a few misses here and there.
Final thought....I can't remember exactly where I read this, but did you know you are 80% more likely to do reach a goal if you write it down? Maybe that's some made-up statistic in some crazy self-help resource I studied at some point, but I'd say it's pretty close to accurate in my experience. What would you like to do today? Write it down, and let me know what happens!