When did THIS become habit?

“When did it become automatic for me to take the stairs?”

That’s what I asked myself when I was taking the stairs down and carrying my gym bag as I leaving work the other night. As I thought about it, I started to ask myself other questions:

“When did it become routine for me to work out over my lunch break?”

“How did it come to be that a salad is a meal for me?”

“When did I stop having to think about getting a half sandwich instead of a whole one?”

“At what point did I start to reconsider a choice to eat Cheetos straight from the bag?”

“When did I start to automatically reach for Baked Cheetos instead of regular?”

All of this happened when I changed my LIFESTYLE. When I stopped looking for motivation and stopped begging for will power.

I’m not motivated to pack my gym bag every morning or to work out over lunch. These happen because it’s become habit. I don’t even think about it anymore. I just pack my bag in the morning and when I see the clock reaching towards noon, I grab my bag and go to the gym.

I don’t get salads or half sandwiches because I have strong will power. I get them because it’s become a habit to get into the deli line. The woman working the line knows what I get and simply asks, “Sandwich or salad?”

I’ve been doing these things for years now. Some longer than others. But in all cases, it’s no longer a question about IF I’m going to do them. It just is. Like brushing my teeth or putting on deodorant.

Don’t get me wrong. It didn’t happen overnight. But, one day at a time I slowly turned into this person who eats salads and fruit for meals instead of Original Chicken Sandwiches and fries. This person who works out over lunch instead of making five unnecessary Target runs a week. This person who wouldn’t even think about taking the elevator. Not because it’s terrible to take the elevator, but because it literally wouldn’t cross my mind.

Sure, I don’t work out EVERY day over lunch, but I no longer ask myself, “Am I going to work out today?” Instead I ask myself, “Am I not going to work out today to do ______ instead?” Sometimes the answer is yes. But working out has now become the standard. Anything else is the deviation.

I’ve got a long way to go still. I’m 18 lbs heavier than I was at my thinnest adult weight and 16 lbs heavier than I’d like to be. But, my life has changed and I’m doing good.

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Give ground beef, take Chex Mix!

Life’s all about give and take.
Give my time at work. Take a paycheck.
Give a penny to the jar. Take a penny from the jar.
Give in and make dinner. Take a seat while you watch your hubby do the dishes.
Give the dogs a walk. Take their slobbery kisses as a thank you.

Today, I giving and taking too. I’m giving up ground beef in my spaghetti sauce and I took Chex Mix with my lunch.

The ground beef in the freezer was specifically for spaghetti night. But I was starving all morning. I drank my smoothie for breakfast. I ate my Zone bar for morning snack. I ate the second half of my banana. I even ate some of my lunchtime grapes. All before my workout. But when I got done working out I was still hungry. Knowing that I’d eaten most of my lunchtime fruit for a second morning snack, I had no choice but to get the Chex Mix right?

That’s what I thought.

So no ground beef for us. Chicken breasts instead. I guess I can’t say I hate that! I actually really like chicken with spaghetti.

That should allow me to stay where I need to be for the day!!

This or That Thursday: Panera

The first time I ever went to Panera Bread was with a co-worker over my lunch break. At the time both she and I were “paying attention” to how many calories we were consuming. Right off the bat I saw the Low Fat Chicken Noodle Soup on the menu and that’s what I ordered. . . in a bread bowl. . . with a Grande Frozen Caramel Cooler. . . with whipped cream.

I was ordering the Low Fat Chicken Noodle soup instead of that Creamy Chicken Wild Rice (which is by the way is frickin’ amazing) so I was good right???

What do you mean NO? Oh, you must have done what I eventually did and looked up the nutrition facts huh? The Low Fat Chicken Noodle soup was NOT my problem. The problem was the 590 calorie bread bowl and the 600 calorie coffee cooler. Yep. That was the problem.

Since that was not cutting it, I started making some changes. First off, that bread bowl had to go. I traded the bowl for the baguette they give you. This trade alone saved me 450 calories!!! At first I couldn’t give up the coffee so I just started cutting the whipped cream which does save 100 calories.

These two changes were good but I knew I had to do one better. Even at 500 calories, that coffee was just too much and it had to go too. This saves me a whole meals worth of calories.

Then, the last time I was there, my daughter ordered the Frozen Strawberry Lemonade!! Yum!! It’s 180 calories that you don’t necessarily need but it’s better than 600 calories you don’t need, right?

Now when I go to Panera, I get the Low Fat Chicken Noodle Soup with a whole grain baguette on the side and a Frozen Strawberry Lemonade. This is still as yummy as the first time I had Panera. The baguette still lets me taste their warm, doughy bread. And the drink is just as fantastic and probably more refreshing when I’m out on the patio on a hot day!!

  THAT THIS SAVINGS
Total Calories: 1320 440 880
Total Fat (g): 26 2.5 23.5
Sodium (mg): 2780 1700 1080
Carbs (g): 237 95 142
Protein (g): 35 15 20

Just look at these savings! Two small changes, no bread bowl and Frozen Strawberry Lemonade instead of Frozen Caramel Coffee, and you’re saving half of your calories for an entire day!! You’re cutting out 90% of the fat. Nearly 40% of the sodium is gone. And 60% of those carbs are out the door!!

As always, I’ll say that I know this is not necessarily a “healthy” meal. Heck, it’s probably not even the healthiest meal Panera has to offer, but it’s sure a lot better than a lot of fast food alternatives and it’s a great substitute for what I was getting!

And beware of the Cinnamon Crunch Bagel!! It is the best bagel ever but it packs a mean punch at 440 calories and 80 grams of carbs for just the bagel!!

I know you want me, you know I want cha

It’s been a LONG time since we’ve purchased pop (or soda if you live anywhere but MN!!) to keep at home. Really it’s been MONTHS!! Maybe over a year even??? I’ll buy a 20 oz occasionally. A few times a week I’ll get a fountain soda with my lunch. Or if we’re out to dinner I’ll get one. But that’s the extent of it.

I know a lot of people don’t think Diet Coke has its place in a healthy life but whatev!! I like it once in a while. I stopped buying it by the case. Now when I drink a pop, I’m fully conscious of the decision. I do it on purpose instead of opening the fridge, standing in front of it for two seconds, grabbing a soda and drinking it without thought.

That being said, I do know it’s not good for me or my family, so we’ve moved on to other beverages.  

Yesterday was one of those “occasions” where I wanted a soda. I was in a consumption kind of mood and it wasn’t just food. After Zumba, I stopped at Target and heck if I didn’t see the 20 oz Diet Coke in the checkout lane eyeballing me!! It was looking at me and singing,

“I know you want me.
You know I want cha.
I know you want me.
You know I want cha!”

Okay. Maybe it wasn’t singing that. Maybe I just had the song left over in my head from Zumba class. Either way the Diet Coke won. I paid for it. Then I drank it.

Chelsea asked if she could have a sip. After telling her no, her asking again, me telling her no again, her asking AGAIN for just this much while holding her thumb and forefinger about a quarter of an inch apart then her marking it on the bottle. . . I let her have a sip. I was really always going to let her. I was just giving her a hard time!!

After her sip she made a face and said, “That’s really sweet!”

It’s good to cut back on something that’s not healthy for you but it’s even better when you pass healthy habits down to your kids!!

Sundays

Sunday is a day meant for relaxation. It’s a day meant for family dinners, quality nap time and. . . toolin’ around at the lake?!?!? Yep!! That’s exactly how we spent our day!

I woke up bright and early with one thing on my mind. Getting out on the lake!! We had made semi-formal plans with my family to get out on the boat on Sunday. When Sunday came, my parents couldn’t make it but we did meet my sister, brother-in-law and nephew at the first lake. My dad had suggested it but it was WAY to small for the boat so we hit up another lake nearby. It just so happens that the second lake is right by very good friends of ours so we called them up. He came out with their three kids but she was working.

We all had a really good time!! The weather was perfect as far as beach weather goes. I like it best when it’s SUNNY and HOT!! Not so hot you can’t breath but hot enough where you are forced into the water every so often. And I don’t like a breeze. When there’s a breeze and you’re wet, it tends to get a little chilly. Goosebumps and all are not what I want at the beach!

We spent most of the day swimming and playing around in the water. The kids kept yelling to the guys to “throw me!!!” which meant they wanted to be picked up and thrown as far as they could be into the air so they could splash into the water! Very funny!! There was tubing and deep water diving off the boat too. Chelsea taught the other kids how to wear a life jacket like a diaper which they thought was hilarious and the best thing ever.

When we left the lake we headed down to the bar and grill to visit our friend, the wife and mother of our beach buddies, where she works and to have dinner. I had pretty much the best Italian Panini I’ve had ever before in my life! It was delicious! My husband had a sandwich, I think it was called the Louisiana, that was FANTASTIC. Who knew a bar and grill in this little town would have such good food?!?! We also shared a plate of Potato Skins covered in cheese and bacon with the table.

I know, I know. You may be saying, “Italian Panini, cheese and bacon, umm. . .how is THAT healthy living OR making the right choice?” And that’s before I even tell you about the most amazing frozen, yet super soft, chocolate chunk cookies she gave us!!!

Here’s how. I cut the sandwich in half because it was huge. Then I cut it in half again to make it easier to pick up and less messy. By the time I got done eating 1/4 of the sandwich I knew I would not be eating the whole thing. I did eat half. I ate probably 3/4 of my fries. I ate two potato skins. And I ate my cookie. Now, I’m not going to pretend like that’s not a lot of food. It was. But here’s what: I didn’t eat it all. And sometimes that’s the best choice a gal can make.

Well, that is a close second to the choice to eat that cookie!!

Thanks to my sister, brother-in-law, nephew and friends for making it a GREAT Sunday!!

AND I will be sweatin’ out those potato skins today over lunch followed shortly by eating the other half of that sandwich, with a side of fruit and sans cookie this time!!

Question: What’s your favorite way to spend Sundays? I’m pretty sure this one takes the cake. The only thing I might have changed was to try to get a nap in. I LOVE naps!! No nap meant a great night of sleeping though so it worked out well!