Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Eating healthy when you're super busy

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Today marks the last day of my 30 day self-imposed clean eating challenge. How did I do? I'd say fair --- maybe a B+. I admit I had a few days [7 days] of, do I  dare say, "cheating" and I gave in to some of my cravings ---- particularly *salty snacks* but I kept it to a minimum. I feel better and actually lost 6.5 lbs. in the process. I plan to continue for at least another week to make up for those 7 days and then try my best to incorporate the clean eating habits more into my life.

If you want to get started on clean-eating but don't know how to begin, here are just some of my tips when you want to eat healthy but stay frugal especially when you're super busy.

Eat at home.
This is a no-brainer. It is obviously less expensive than going out all the time. Plus if you plan ahead, you'll avoid having to go to *fast food* restaurants which are mostly unhealthy anyways. Don't get me wrong, hubby and I still go out maybe once every two weeks to have happy hour and even that is half-priced. I go for easy-to-do- recipes as well and I try to pick ones where I'll have leftovers for the next day. Crock pot cooking is your friend!

Make a grocery list every week.
I usually use Sundays as my chore day. It's the day that I do my laundry, cleaning and grocery list among other things. I figure out a menu plan for the week and items needed for cooking that week. I hate having to go to the grocery store more than once so I try to make sure that I have everything including staples like milk, bread, eggs, yogurt, fruit and the like. It goes without saying that if you want to lose weight, you need to make healthier choices when it comes to your menu. So easy on the carbs and processed items --- go for more vegetables and fruit. If possible, buy in bulk for items that you eat a lot of such as tuna, peanut butter, dried fruit, nut mixes and oatmeal.

Make smart choices when going out.
I try to look at the restaurant's menu online so I can give myself a head's up of what they serve and what I'm going to order. Most places include the calorie info on their menus so you have a choice of whether to get the 1,000 calorie burger and fries or the 400 calorie (3 oz) steak with steamed veggies. It's your choice.

Easy on the alcohol.
Alcohol [well drinks] can be packed with "empty" calories. So be careful when you want to indulge. I prefer eating [rather than drinking] my calories. Wine is the "best" choice if you stick with a 5 oz. serving (that's amounts to less than 1/2 a can of pop)..whether it's red or white.

My drink of choice is a vodka soda (vodka, club soda, lime) which has about 80-100 calories or a classic mojito which is about 200 calories.

Plan ahead.
If I know I'm going to be out and about for a long period of time, I bring a snack with me. I usually pre-portion my snacks into small serving size Ziplock bags so that they're ready to go. It varies from crackers, pretzel crisps, pita chips or a piece of fruit like a banana or an apple. I'll also bring a small protein bar if I'm headed somewhere after the gym. Don't forget to bring drinks, too. Brew your own coffee, tea or lemonade and if you work 8 hours a day, invest in Tupperware and bring your lunch and snacks!

Eat every 3 hours and drink plenty of water.
This helps keep your blood sugar even so that you're not famished and overeat by meal time. Keep snacks under 200 calories as much as possible. And never, never skip breakfast!

Don't forget to get some physical activity in.
I know it's hard and we all have busy lives. But if you do some sort of aerobic activity at least 30 minutes a day, that's all it takes to get yourself on the right track. You can do it early in the morning before you start your day or in the afternoon when you get home from work. You don't have to be a member at the gym. You can workout at home with DVDs or go online -- there's tons of online workout sessions like BodyRockTV and Jamie Eason's LiveFit Trainer. You can take it outside, go to the park and run or power walk with a friend. The key is making it a part of your schedule and incorporate it into your lifestyle.

I hope I've given you some insight and even small changes that you can do to help yourself get on the right track of health. Keep it simple and don't deprive yourself of a happy, healthy and frugal life.

* These tips are based on my experience. You always have a choice --- you can take charge of your own health!

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