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Saturday, April 25, 2009

Eating healthy on a budget...Going Meatless

I have several friends who swear by their vegetarian lifestyles. I envy their ability to go without any animal products. I have made attempts to go completely meatless, but have failed miserably on numerous occassions. I just like it too much.

Meat does have it's benefits. It's a great source of protein, iron, zinc, magnesium and different vitamins.

It is also expensive and can have a negative impact on our environment. One way to cut back on your grocery bill and reduce the impact on our environment is to go meatless one day a week. Just one! That can't be so hard, can it?

Go to and check it out. There are numerous recipes available for even the pickiest eater. Believe me! My husband is one of them and he is okay with going meatless once a week. So go for it and save yourself some dough!

Eating healthy on a budget...Portion Control

Many of us overdo our portions. I know I do more often than I should. This is not only bad for our health, it is expensive! When we eat more than the recommended serving, we are eating up our money. The first thing we should all do is cut back on our portions when we are trying to eat healthy on a budget.

When we go out to eat, it is an automatic that you are going to pay for more than one serving. Cutting back should definitely include eating out less. If you are going to eat out, try to share a meal with someone or box up half of your food right away and take it home with you.

At home, start using measuring cups and food scales. You will begin to get used to what a serving is supposed to look like. You will probably be amazed by how much you have been eating. I know I have been. Journaling is also one of the best ways to track how much we are eating or overeating as well. Just remember to read the food labels to determine the proper serving size and don't forget to look at how many servings are in a container. For example, a bag of granola out of a vending machine is generally meant for 2 or more people.

Shopping healthy on a budget

I will present a series of suggestions for eating healthy on a budget. First, I would like to talk about my favorite grocery store - ALDI. I love this store because it offers great produce and other healthy foods for super cheap prices. I just purchased a fresh pineapple for $1.49, fresh broccoli $1.65, bag of garden salad for $.99, portabella mushrooms for $1.99, strawberries $.99 and 3 colored peppers for $1.29. There were quite a few other things that I purchased as well. I bought cereal, 2 different spices, salad dressing, shredded cheese, 100% juice, etc, etc, etc...and the total was $42.80. I went to another grocery and paid $60 for a lot less stuff!! I normally buy meat, dairy, canned goods, rice, frozen veggies, frozen chicken and lots of other stuff there too. My point is that even in these tough economic times, eating healthy can still be done on a budget when you shop at the right place!

Monday, April 20, 2009

Bring back that euphoric feeling

My lack of exercise brings me to the topic of eating. I have trouble doing things in moderation. I tend to want to focus on one thing with all of my energy. Lately, school and work have been my sole focus. I haven’t given much thought to anything else especially my eating habits. I realize that I can eat the foods that I love as long as I do it in moderation, but I have not done this lately. I tend to binge when I am stressed. I discussed this with a new friend of mine. She is a doctor of natural medicine. She tells me that I need to find something else that makes me happy to give me that euphoric feeling that I am looking for by bingeing when I am stressed. Exercise used to do this for me. Now I am looking for other things as well. I have taken up painting and some volunteer activities to refocus my attention, but I have not done a very good job. I am still eating junk! My husband really likes junk, so I pick him up some Little Debbie’s and realize that I have eaten more of them than he has! Yikes. Excessive eating is not going to give me anything except a bigger butt and it certainly isn't going to help me feel better about myself. That euphoric feeling needs to come from spending time with your friends or family, fun hobbies, a job well done and helping others. So get out there and reclaim that euphoric feeling and can you let me know when you find it?

Stress happens

I have had the same routine for many years. I get up, drink a giant cup of coffee, exercise and then get ready for work. At least I did until a couple of months ago. Then stress happened. I am at the end of my master’s degree and I have been working diligently on my final paper. Instead of getting up and doing what makes me feel good, I have been writing my paper. I have let stress take over my health! I know that getting up and exercising makes me think clearly, it makes me work harder throughout the day and sleep better at night. It also keeps my weight in check which is off the charts lately! I have become lazy because my state of mind was not where it used to be. I let stress take over a longstanding healthy ritual that made me feel great and now I feel lethargic, my stomach is a mess and my pants are too tight! Am I alone? I doubt it. I know that many people let stress get in the way of their healthy habits. It’s time to refocus. Let’s start making exercise a priority again. Schedule it if you have to. I find that marking my calendar with my daily workouts works really well. I just haven’t done that lately. As of today, I am rescheduling my appointment with my health. Tuesday, 5:30 a.m. appointment with my treadmill! Who's with me?

Less truly is more

I used to believe that I had to look a certain way, drive a certain car, or have a certain house to fit a certain part until I read The Millionaire Next Door. I realized that people in big houses driving expensive cars are probably as broke as a joke. The people that save their money and live modestly are the ones that are truly wealthy. Not only do they have the money in the bank, but they also have less stress trying to keep up with everyone else. Look at what’s happened to our economy. So many people felt they needed big houses and expensive cars and it has all come crashing down.

Now, just because I read the book doesn’t mean that I am a financial expert or that I changed right away. My husband wasn’t quite ready to make those changes and he brought home the bigger paycheck and took care of the bills. So, I let things go. I talked about it from time to time, but the changes didn’t begin to occur until last year when he lost his job. We realized very quickly that we couldn’t live the way we had been and survive. We sold things that weren’t necessary and cut back where we could. He found another job within six months that paid about $20,000 less per year. We have continued to find ways to cut back. Each time we cut out another expense we get really excited. It feels really good and there is a lot less pressure to find ways to pay for these things. This has encouraged us to save more money and be more cautious of every expense.
Why is this important? Because our lifestyle choices make a huge impact on our overall wellness. Again, I am no expert in this area. I just think we all need to take a look at the reasons we want things and re-evaluate. Are our choices making us happier and healthier or are they weighing us down? Just give it some thought.

Failure is not an option

Someone asked me the other day what I would do if I couldn’t fail. My first instinct was to think about doing something that would make me lots of money. Why is that? I believe it’s because we are taught to want more money and more stuff. After truly considering this question for awhile, I realized money was not what I wanted. I want less. I don’t mean less money exactly, but less stuff and less work. I want to be able to enjoy my family and the simple things in life more. It occurred to me that what’s important to me isn’t financially motivated. I want to be healthier, less stressed, more spiritual and more connected to my family. I also want to help improve the lives of others. I believe that financial security will follow.