Thursday, January 20, 2011

it's about time

At 18 I skipped away to college, excited for the adventure that awaited me.

A good education. A social life.

I'd grown up in a small town (ok, I didn't even live in a town--I lived in a field), and spent the last few years doing all the same things with all the same people, and I was ready for something new.

Spread my wings and fly, as the greeting cards would say.

While living the college life, I realized that I had absolutely no interest in preparing any meal that involved more than using the microwave. I ate a lot of Marshmallow Mateys, even more Ramen noodles, white bagels with whatever I had to schmear on, and those little pizza bite things….I don't even know what they were called--as long as they were on sale 2/$5, I had them stocked in my freezer(labeled with my initials of course).

And those were the things I ate if I felt like "cooking". If I didn't, there was always a Hostess Cupcake twin pack to grab on the go, and the 10:00 Jr. Bacon Cheeseburger-run from my high school days, became a midnight Jumbo Jack and large milkshake run.

Are you guessing where this is going??

Yes, this is how I gained 12 pounds my freshman year.

The first semester I actually didn't gain much--I played intramural basketball and even took an aerobics class (I got college credit for aerobics… cool is that?!)

It was the second semester that was my downfall…….which also happened to be when I met Robby (no offense honey).

for a dance. we dressed like this. why? oh why.
wendys copy

First of all, physical activity of any kind came to a complete stop. Have you ever been to Rexburg Idaho in the winter? It's terrible--you loose all desire to live, let alone get out and move. The most physical activity I got that winter was playing ping pong in Robby's apartment…..does that count?

Robby was "rich", (= he had a job, at the mall), so we could actually
eat at "real" "restaurants" , like "JBs".

At midnight of course.

But still, this wasn't my downfall.

My roommate and I had this brilliant idea that would not only save us on our grocery bill, but provide us with a most delicious lunch.

We would take turns buying chips, canned chili, cheese and salsa (and really--the only thing I bought in addition to this was milk, cereal, and $1 cardboard cookies), and have nachos every day for lunch.


Every day.

And we did.

We would come straight home from math, and whip up our fancy little dish.

Do you think I'm kidding? "You didn't eat nachos EVERY day", that's what you are thinking.

Ask my other roomy Courtney (the health major!), if it's true--she will be happy to tell you how gross we were (we just talked about it last week).

Every day.

So daily nachos for a semester+ping pong level activity+money bags Robby taking me out to "restaurants" that served ranch and gravy on everything = 12 pounds, which divided itself evenly behind my face and my derriere.

And with all that, Robby still proposed….now that is true love my friends.

So what was the problem here? Living off of processed foods. check. No exercise. check.

What both of those boil down to is lack of time and/or laziness.

So where can we find more time? We can't. Believe me, I've looked. doesn't even have I'm pretty sure buying more time for yourself is not an option.

Instead we have to prioritize.

When you think about it, shouldn't taking care of yourself be waaaaaaay up there on the top of your list? 

It should. Move it up there, right now.

We find the time to fit so many other things into our day (The Bachelor, facebook, looking for missing socks, etc), we should schedule some time in there to better ourselves.


The Gym.
Here's my big gym schpeel.
I am not a big gym-exercise-fan.
I would much rather be outside, in the sunshine, being active and not surrounded
by people with matchy outfits.
+ The gym is open aaaaalllll the time.
You can fit exercise into your schedule this way--whether it's at 5:30 before work, mid day, or late night--it's there for you.
+ You'll make friends. You'll either go there with friends, meet friends in the classes, or become friends with the instructors. Friends = accountability. You feel like you HAVE to go.....because you're a good person and don't want to let your friends down. right?

Don't have a gym? No problem.
Find something else you can do with a group of people. 
walking group.
running group.
_______ group.
Pick a time. Get together and do something active with your friends.

Schedule exercise into your week. 
Write it down. 
In pen. 
Schedule other things around your workouts. 

Don't feel guilty for taking time out of your day.
Its hard sometimes, especially for those of us who are mothers, to take time to do something for ourselves. We are so used to going going going, all for our family, we tend to be the first one's we forget about.
But if you're exercising, you'll be:
-happier (really, even if you hate it during, you'll be so glad you did it)
-less stressed
-a better mom/dad/friend/employee/student/I feel the need to include everyone so please insert yourself here.
-healthier, healthier, healthier. in every way.

And the healthier you start to feel, the less you will crave foods that are terrible for you.

Food that is Fast. But not Fast Food.
I posted a few quick meal ideas in last weeks post
here are a few more that can be made up quickly so you don't find yourself reaching for fake pizza wrapped up into a "bite".

Get out your crock pot. 
I am not a fan of your typical "crock pot meal", most of which are heavy on the cream of something soup. But there are some very simple things you can throw together in a few minutes in the morning, and have a hot dinner ready when you get home. 

Chicken Tacos. 
-a few chicken breasts (put them in frozen--easy!)
-one can of black beans (drained and rinsed)
-one jar of organic salsa.  Do I care that the tomatoes and peppers used in the salsa are organic? I really don't. But organic salsa contains, only a few things--tomatoes, peppers, onions, garlic, and maybe a few spices. Non-organic is going to get you extra preservatives and what not that you don't want.
Cook on low all day, and when you're home, shred the chicken,  spoon it into some tortillas with cheese and there you go.

I'm telling you right now, you don't even need a recipe for soup.
In the morning, open your crock pot, throw in some chicken broth, onions, garlic, any veggies you have on hand (carrots, potatoes, winter squash, canned tomatoes, beets, rutabagas (ok, you probably don't have this on hand, but it's really good in soup)), add some beans or chicken, salt and pepper, and a few dried Italian herbs, let it go, and you'll have soup later. Soup you totally just made up.

A few more throw together meals:

Look for a good organic ravioli or tortellini in the refrigerated section of the store.
Again, organic, not because I insist on only eating organic flour and cheese, but because it comes with out all the extra junk. I can identify every ingredient on the label.

Costco sells a good butternut squash ravioli, which takes 5 minutes to cook.
After it's cooked, I throw it in a pan with a few TBS of browned butter + a sprinkle of sage or thyme, and some toasted walnuts or pine nuts
it's reeealllllly good, and really easy too.

Breakfast Burritos.
posted here.
If you have a bit of extra time add potatoes+guacamole.

This weeks challenge is to Prioritize. 

 Get a pen and your calendar, 
schedule yourself a few workouts. 
Call your friends and ask them to join you.

When you know your day will be full, with little time for making dinner, plan ahead. 
Have a loose meal plan for the week (I love this notepad), so you know what you have that can be prepared quickly.

Take time out of your day, for yourself and for your family.

Good luck!

and try not to eat nachos every day for lunch, because that will get you nowhere....or actually it might get you married, but I think that was just a coincidence.

I'd love to hear your healthy, quick, go-to meals!

week one
week two

bonus points: I read Food Rules by Michael Pollan in less than an hour. I recommend it. 
I'm currently reading his In Defense of Food book and thoroughly enjoying it also.
Every now and then I share an easy meal idea on my FB page (here), come join the party.

edited to add:

I am LOVING all your comments and helpful tips!! I'll be sharing my favs on my facebook as well!

*disclaimer. When I say I grew up in a field, I did actually live in a home. We are not that backwoods.
**disclaimer: I use the term "throw" a lot. "Throw it together", "throw it in the pot". Please do not take this literally. Or do, but don't hold me accountable. 


Lula. said...

I am the first to comment... that's kind of exciting! I DIDN'T prioritize my day and I am up late trying to get things done... instead I am blogging. Yikes.

You are such a good motivational speaker. I just have to ask though... are you watching The Bachelor?? Best season ever.

Charlotte said...

Hi there - good post!

I've never commented on your blog before but I read it pretty much daily, love your recipes, your pictures and your healthy food ideas.

I've just joined the gym, last Friday in fact, and I am doing exactly what you say - writing my gym 'dates' in my diary even day so its an appointment I have to keep.

So far so good.. I'm currently laying on the sofa with sore abs from the yoga class I've just been to!

Thanks Sheena - appreciate the encouragement :)


Herr Janosch said...

In the first year of univerity I used to eat pizza eyery day. Now I know better: sport and healthy food are my friends! Even if I am not in the mood for it I try to exercise. It makes me feel better every day.

Kelly said...

so, so true! I am struggling right now to take care of myself/exercise, and I pulled a muscle in my back because of it! Caring for little people is physical and if you don't stay in shape it can take it's toll on your body!

sheena said...

don't tell.

Unknown said...

oh so hard to stay on my running schedule here in sunny (not) colorado. but i have been longing to sign up for a gym-the treadmill is calling my name!

some of the quick things that I eat are
*blended smoothies (frozen berries, handful of spinach and a little milk, add honey if not sweet enough)
*chicken salad sandwhiches, with cucumbers and almonds of course. I would say they are better then paradise bakery's.
*grilled chicken salads-yum!
*homemade caeser salad pizza (not the fastest meal)just make a salad on top of homemade dough add chicken good to go!
*stuffed bell peppers is my husbands fav.
lets hear some more ideas sheena! i love the recipes.

Valley Girl said...

I also think people forget to look around their HOUSE as a prospective "gym". Do you have a stair case? Do you have a long hall you can to lungs down? A wall for wall sits? A TV for a work out video? You can check them out at the library, bring a new one home every week to keep things interesting. There just is NO excuse (I hate that). I like to give myself a one pass day every week. I save it for that day when all goes wrong, I'm at the end of my rope and one more thing will just do me in. That way there's no guilt. It's my "pass" day. I know I'll get it done tomorrow. On good weeks I don't use it on Monday =) but hold on to it till the end of the week.

P.S. The bread you made is a thing of beauty...really there is NOTHING more beautiful than home made bread. YUM.

P.S.S. And this is how life is so unfair...if I had eaten the same college diet right along with you I would have gained 30 that ALL!!??!!?? So unfair.

Shannon said...

You are so funny. I love that pic of you and Robby in the dating years. Oh the things we do in college. I made me some chili mac (which I used to eat for dinner all the time my freshman year of college and consisted of 2 packages of prepared Easy Mac plus one small can of chili mixed and eaten with Tostitos Scoops) the other day and it was disgusting. Wow. I don't know what I was thinking!

Anyway, my favorite easy easy healthy meals are:
-fajitas (chicken, onion, a couple peppers, and seasoning with tortillas and cheese)
-tilapia with veggies(rinsed and sprinkled with garlic salt and dried basil then cooking in a pan with a little EVOO)
-chicken stir fry (chicken, frozen stir fry veggies served over rice)

Tara said...

I looked at the photo right off, but I had to READ your post to figure out who your friend was! haha

stephchows said...

I totally schedule everything around my workouts... have for years and don't plan on ever changing :)

Lindsey Jaye Parry said...

Your post didn't say anything about what a rebel you were in college?

Midnight food runs? How was that able to go down with a school-wide curfew?

I hope your kids never read this.

Katie said...

i am making those chicken tacos TONIGHT! thank you for the easy recipe. my favorite easy recipe is: taco soup!

melissa said...

1. yikes, rexburg.
2. the first time i made the biscuits from scratch for a meal that calls for rolling chicken up in tincan biscuits it took like an hour and my mom was like, "was that really worth it?" and i was like "YES." it totally is.
3. for fastness i also like to break up mealmaking throughout the day, if i want to make something that takes longer than 15 minutes. like i make the dough earlier for pizza, or something.
4. you had wendy's outfits??!

A Beautiful Life said...

haha! if i eat nachos everyday will my hubby want to renew our vows? haha! i've learned this, being the mom of 4 that i HAVE to just MAKE time for myself. i just have to do it, and usually if i don't do it in the morning, it gets too hectic in the afternoon/dinner time, SO i am trying really hard to set aside the time everymorning to make myself healthier.
I also started making 2 week menus which helps on the grocery budget and dinner insanity. It's ok if i don't make the certain dinner on that certain day, but it's nice knowing i have all the ingredients for any of the meals i've chosen so if something comes up i can just do something else real easy!

Unknown said...

I am currently reading Michael Pollan's The Omnivore's Dilemma.
It's a terrific and terrifying read. All we eat is corn.
Again thank you Sheena. Feeling super motivated!

summer said...

the best thing that ever happened to me (in terms of exercise) was getting an insurance plan that will cover the cost of my gym membership, as long as i go a certain number of times a month. requirement= brilliant!!!!!! now i am forced to get out of my warm house, in the dead of winter, when i haven't showered, and EXERCISE. i do it because i have to, or else we'll pay (literally). but once i'm there, of course, i LOVE it. and i'm so happy!!

my favorite fast meal is eggs, (which a farmer is delivering to me every week.. my dream come true), scrambled, sprinkled with cheese, and put on toast. it always tastes so good and doesn't require any thought whatsoever!

sheena said...

Melissa: I had a roommate that worked at Wendy's. bonus in 1000 different ways.
Lindsey: I know, I hope they don't come take my diploma away for admitting this publicly.

Ang said...

we make our bread every sunday for the week. it feels good knowing exactly what is in it (and what's not!). But since its homemade, it doesn't have preservatives to keep it around too long so we've had to think up of lots of meals using sandwich bread. Quick ones, of course since I too have yet to discover where one can buy extra time. ;) Some favorites:

- Paninis: the possibilities are endless! you can go from something as simple as smoked chicken with cheese & mustard (the hubby's classic) to apples with black beans & smoked gouda(the kitchen is your lab!)
- Grilled cheese & soup: similar to paninis, but much simpler (and oh so good with roasted red peppers tucked in there!)
- Pizza Bread: Grab a slice of bread, spread some pizza sauce on there & throw on whatever veggies/meat [precooked - think leftovers!] you have kicking around. Top with a sprinkle of cheese & stick under the broiler until cheese is melted.

Super easy/yummy/quick!

Rose @ Eat, Drink, and Be Meiri said...

This post is full of awesome.

Anonymous said...

No recipes to share currently because i'm lazy and won't go look, but there are some things that helped us to eat better...

I like to
#1. If you have a free day, I'm a HUGE fan of making healthy things in bulk and freezing for easy access when your in a rush. All the recipies you posted could be frozen AND grabbed when you're on the go, or warmed up for an easy meal.

#2 MEAL PLAN! You'll never make great healthy meals until you start planning. Last minute hunger makes for last minute runs through the drive through. PLAN PLAN PLAN!

#3 Don't buy unhealthy stuff. I sounds like a no brainer, but you can't eat it if you don't buy it. And you won't resort the the candy in the cupboard instead of making something when your desperately hungry.

and ten times over. sechedule AROUND your exercise. YES YES YES! You will ALWAYS have a reason to cancel, so DONT DO IT!

Anna said...

I love your idea of scheduling workouts and writing them down. (And then crossing them off when you're done! Yippee!).
I love Michael Pollan but I haven't read Food Rules yet. Gonna have to pick up a copy.

D-dawg said...

Sheena- what years were you at Ricks? I was there too, probably close to the same time. Also, you and Robbie are the same as me and Dave when it comes to looks and I had to laugh at that picture. You guys do look like you're 14 and Dave and I did too. Then we got engaged and it was like children all excited to get married. Our engagement pictures, if you didn't know us, you would think we are 16. Hilarious. I gained about 12 that first year too and it all went to my face. I was basketball head.

Kimber said...

I absolutely love this post! It's perfect for my life right now: 19 credits, work, and way too many extras things in my life lead to no time to work out or eat good meals sometimes! thank you so much! gave me that burst of motivation :)

Melanie Flinn said...

Too funny! I ate pasta everyday because it was "fat free". Then I started studying nutrition and came to my senses. I have healthy recipes & eating tips on my blog Stop by and visit if you'd like!

Erin Starks-Teeter said...

I agree, Costco's butternut squash ravioli is divine.

LobotoME said...

great tips!

gina said...

I ate nachos for lunch EVERY DAY at Ricks too! (well it was ricks when i lived in rexburg) Then I would walk across the street to volleyball practice with a bloated belly. I could have avoided the 10 pounds I gained my freshman year, but I ate like crap! I love this post by the way.

Burk Family said...

Sheena! I love that you are normal and that you are a foodie because I am totally that way. I just like knowing I'm not alone!! Everyone seems to think I'm a nutcase. I wanted to share my favorite fast breakfast because usually our mornings are insane. I got it from cooking light like a year ago. The night before in a large bowl (it boils up) combine:
1/3 C steel-cut oats
2 T pearl barley
1 1/4 C water
That's it! Put in fridge overnight and cook only 6 minutes in the 'cro. Makes a little more than 1 cup. So fast and takes...what, 30 seconds to put together? Awesome. Thanks for the recipes. I'm gonna try the chicken taco one manana!

Amanda said...

thank you for reminding me that the gym is my friend. not that i need reminding this week since i've been seeing my friend for that past three days. :) it totally sucks and then you go, work out, and you say "huh, it wasn't so bad after all!"

thanks also for posting these awesome easy meals. it's great for a college student/wife like me who doesn't want to eat nachos all week :)

* Taci * said...

Please take me under your wing. I'm 30 as of 2 weeks ago so that's roughly a decade of just idiotic fast food and junk food reverie. I'm petite and have always been called skinny (which isn't usually meant as a compliment) the problem is that I"m squishy now and that's not that big of a deal- I already caught a husband (haahahah) but I'm TIRED ALL THE TIME. SOOOOOOOOO tired. And I don't want my kids eating this way. Where do I start?
I'll check out the books you mentioned. I DO plan meals and we don't eat out much but I can't get into the Organic thing much. It seems so expensive. I love canned fruit and veggies too so you can feel free to school me on that.
I'll obviously be web stalking, err I mean, "following" you from now on too. THANK YOU FOR WRITING FOR US!