Monday, October 25, 2010

Forming Healthy Habits

I've been doing this 8 week challenge for 4 weeks now and I've been observing how my habits are forming.  Some form without knowing it, some with much effort, some with continued prodding.

Each week we get a "free day," which originally I wasn't fond of.  In my black/white thinking, I imagine that if a goal is worth keeping, it should be kept continually, not with a day off.  So at first, I wasn't planning to use the free day unless there was some big occasion or extenuating circumstance (like my surgery last week).  But at the end of the first week, I thought maybe a free day wasn't so bad of an idea.

As the weeks have passed, I've seen that the free day is the most telling of all in observing my new habits.  If I'm able to stick to a goal without thinking about it or even wanting to stray from it on my free day, then the healthy habit has been formed.  If I'm hoping to escape that goal or forget about the goal all together, then that goal is still not a habit -- just something I'm working toward.  (And if I'm wishing I had another free day the day after a free day, then I'm in big trouble, which is how it was after the 3rd free day).

Here's how I'm doing with the developing these 10 healthy habits: 

Exercise 45 minutes -- I love to exercise, but have found myself entering slumps of apathy since we moved here a little over a year ago.  I usually work out an hour each morning, but I've found that if I miss a morning due to disturbed sleep or a busier morning, I'd never make it up like I used to.  I'd also be satisfied (not truly, but motivationally) with 3 or 4 days of exercise if the week was crazy.  So I knew this goal would help me get back to the mindset of 6 workouts a week.

I'm there.  Even with my surgery, I did a great Cathe interval workout the morning of my surgery, had my rest day the next day and have either done yoga or some light treadmill walking (or a combination) for my 45 minutes since.  It's back in my brain and even on my free day yesterday, I was eager to get my 45 minutes.  I'm sure once my body has healed and bends better, I'll be back to an hour.

7 Hours of Sleep  -- This goal was actually one of my biggest concerns because I tend to get more like 6 hours of sleep a night.  But my body is falling into this pattern better.  I'm not staying up as late and I'm taking naps when I need them in the afternoon.  Feels great.

Drink 64 oz. water  -- I knew this wouldn't be a problem.  I always drink tons of water.  I'm sure I get that much before noon every day.

No Sugar -- This is about the only reason I look to a free day.  I do like baking.  I alter my recipes to use unrefined sugars and whole grains, but I know that my brain wants to eat just as many healthier cookies and brownies as I would with refined.  I also have a weakness for the variety of Clif bars.  I can eat 3 or 4 Z bars quite easily.  So I've cut back on having those in the home.  Same with the good soy ice creams . (Soy Creamy from Trader Joe's is as good as the best brands and is 1/2 the price).  I know if I have those in the home, I"ll want to eat them.

The habits that have been helping are not buying the Clif stuff or Soy Creamy and are to tell myself that if I do bake on my free day, I can not have any the next day.  That was always the struggle before.  I'd bake quite a bit, then would eat it for the next few days.  That ends up being about 1/2 of my life.  This way, I'm eating it that one day and none else.  Somehow it isn't a struggle.  Nice to see.

No Soda, Junk Food, Fast Food -- I've worked on this so much the past several years that it's not hard for me to stay away from these processed foods.  Yay for that!.

2 Fruit, 2 Veggies -- I could eat a dozen fruits effortlessly every day.  Not so with vegetables.  As much as I love my veggies, I have to tell myself to make them and eat them.  Yesterday was my free day and I realized at the end of the day that I hadn't eaten even ONE vegetable.  When I don't think about it, it doesn't naturally happen.  This I need to work on more and more until it's as natural as the fruit habit.  I've been eating fruits throughout the day since I was a little girl, so I have some catching up to do.  But I have time. And I will say that I do just fine on days that I eat out.  When I look at a menu, I always go for the veggie sandwiches or entree's.  It's at home where I need to prepare the food that I don't do as well. 

Stop eating at 8:00 p.m. -- This was actually my trickiest goal.  I had to set the buzzer many times to remind myself and once had some orange juice without even realizing it after 8:00 (thankfully, I realized afterward that it was my free day and I was safe from losing that point).  But after these 4 weeks, I'm finding that it's not so hard.  I'm aware of the clock and am doing fine.  Last night on my free day, I didn't want to eat anything after 8:00.  I was done.  Made me happy to see how well I'd adjusted to that goal.

Write in journal (or blog) -- As much as I love to talk and write, I have had to remind myself to do this one.  We've been out of town a few weekends and our computer was all trojan-d up for a few days, so I haven't always blogged, but I have written in a notebook or even on spare papers I could find so that I was keeping this goal.  I used to keep official journals in high school, college and early marriage.  That habit has died.  So I'm hoping this will bring it back a bit.  Another 4 weeks will tell.

Read Scriptures or other Uplifting reading -- I'm doing so much better with this one than I was before.  I used to wait till the end of the day to do this and would end up missing it or cheating myself on the time spent.  Now I do it early in the day and relish it.  So wonderful.

Act of Service/Kindness -- This goal seems to be more in the noticing of the act than in the doing because I'm always doing something as a mom or a friend.  And the noticing benefits more than I realized.  It's causing me to pause, realize what I'm doing, why I'm doing it, and to enjoy the process.  It's that living in the moment.  Being present.  Quite nice.

Guess that's it.  The two goals that I don't seem to have as habits yet are the vegetable eating and the not having sugar at all.  I do want to eat more vegetables every single day, but I may allow that sugar goal to include a day every week or two as long as it is confined to that day and the sugar isn't processed and unrefined (headaches and fatigue galore!)  I'll update again at the end of the 8 weeks.  TTFN!

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Grilla Bites

I went to a newish  organic restaurant today for lunch with my friends.  It's called Grilla Bites  and is just wonderful.  There aren't many locations, but here's the website if you happen to have one in your area and didn't know if you should try it or not. 

They have many vegetarian and vegan option.  I had the veggie sandwich without cheese.  There were many other things I was eying on the menu.  Can't wait to go back!

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Wheat Recipes -- Corn Bread

I don't have a picture of this recipe to share (yet!)  So this corn pic will have to do until I make corn bread again.   I tweaked my wheat corn bread recipe from my sister-in-law's No Crumble Corn Bread recipe.  (Mine doesn't crumble either, btw).  I simply changed the white flour to wheat, the butter to oil, cow's milk to soy milk, and the refined sugar to unrefined.  It's pretty heavenly, especially with some chili.  I love it the next morning too, toasted at the top with a little vegan butter.  I mostly eat it plain fresh out of the oven.

Whole Wheat Corn Bread 
1/2 c. oil
3/4 c. unrefined sugar or 1/2 c. honey (you could probably get away with 1/2 c. or even 1/4 c. sugar )
2 eggs
1 c. yellow corn meal
1 1/2 c. whole wheat flour
2 t. baking powder
1/2 t. salt
1 1/2 c. plain soy milk

Mix and bake in greased 8x8 pan for 40 minutes at 375 degrees.

I realized as I typed this that I never make this bread as is.  I always double it.  Here are the doubled proportions if you don't want to have to double them in your head:

Whole Wheat Corn Bread 
1 c. oil
1 1/2 c. unrefined sugar or 3/4 c. honey
4 eggs
2 c. yellow corn meal
3 c. whole wheat flour
4 t. baking powder
1 t. salt
3 c. plain soy milk

Mix and bake in greased oblong pan for 45+ minutes at 375 degrees.

Wheat Recipes -- Fabulous Fall Bread -- Pumpkin, Zucchini, Banana, or Apple Bread

Here are some wonderful sweet bread recipes that I love to make in the fall. This is taken from a Williams- Sonoma Pumpkin Bread recipe, only I've changed the butter to oil, sugar to unrefined sugar and substitute other ingredients for the pumpkin for a variety of breads (all super yummy). I think the magic in this bread is the corn meal/wheat flour mix. It makes for a heavy, gritty, yet sweet bread. And it has less than 1/2 the oil of most sweet bread recipes. My kids love it.

Whole Wheat Pumpkin Bread
2 1/2 c. wheat flour
1/2 c. corn meal
2 t. baking soda
1 t. ginger
1 1/2 t. cinnamon
1/2 t. cloves
1/2 t. nutmeg
1/2 t. salt
2/3 c. oil
2 c. unrefined sugar (you could probably try 1 c. honey and omit the water)
2 c. mashed or canned pumpkin
4 eggs
2/3 c. water
1 c. raisins or currants (optional)
1/2 c. walnuts (optional)

Mix wet ingredients first -- add dry ingredients. Stir in raisins &/or walnuts. Pour into 4 mini-loaf pans or 2 full loaf pans. Bake full loaves at 350 degrees for 1 hour (mini-loaves for about 45 minutes).

You can also make these into muffins -- bake for more like 15-20 minutes.

You can even scoop them onto a baking sheet for cookies -- bake for 8-10 minutes.

Other Options --

Apple Pumpkin Bread -- Add 2-3 chopped apples to pumpkin recipe for a wonderful fall bread.

Zucchini Bread -- Substitute grated zucchini for pumpkin.

Banana Bread -- Substitute smashed bananas for pumpkin. I usually don't use walnuts for the other breads because my kids don't like them, but I always sprinkle a handful of nuts on top of each mini-loaf of banana bread so I can have the nuts and my kids can have the under part without. It looks pretty that way too. 

Pumpkin-Zucchini Bread -- I've even combined the squashes to make a Pumpkin-Zucchini Bread (using 1 c. pumpkin, 1 c. zucchini) - - Super Delicious!