Category Archives: health

Confession of the week

I have a confession to make.

I ate meat every day this past week. Chicken x three meals, then ham and potato soup, and the worst was the most delicious chili burger I’ve ever tasted in my entire life. God it was so good that just thinking about it makes me salivate.

But at the same time it’s been really awful too. My stomach certainly took a beating especially since I’ve primarily stuck to a vegetarian diet over the last six months and my general level of energy has been a bit off keel. It always amazes me to see how my diet impacts my mood and general well-being.

Sunday was the perfect opportunity to get back on the bandwagon though. In general, I haven’t felt like cooking and the very thought of taking a trip to the store just wasn’t appealing (hence the reason I raided my freezer where obviously most of what’s in there are the fixings for meat-based dishes). The biggest challenge I face with a vegetarian diet is the time it takes to prep and plan for dishes throughout the week but on Sunday I decided to man up and in the end I’m really happy with the baked lentil and spinach stuffed shells I made.

This meal was the perfect excuse to use up the rest of my lentils and homemade marinara sauce. The recipe calls for canned lentils but I’ve always had trouble finding those in the store and it’s really not that much more of a hassle to cook your own. I’m also no fan of reduced-fat cheese of anything so I ended up using regular ricotta. Other than that I didn’t really make any additional modifications to the recipe. Big deal, I know.

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It’s certainly a meal high in fiber and an added bonus is the combination of my love for cheese and carbs. Plus, it makes for pretty great leftovers! 

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Life as I know it

The title may sound poetic but I promise you it’s not. Life has just been busy so I figure the best way to get everyone up to speed is to recap the last month and a half of my life in one full swoop.

Really exciting, I crossed two things off my 30 before 30 list:
1. Set up a retirement account. I feel very grown up having a financial advisor who does everything and anything I need him to. We’ve decided to be “aggressive” in the market and while he warned me I may not like him some months I warned him I would probably never even notice.
2. Be a vegetarian for 30 days. Surprisingly, going vegetarian was really easy. The only difficult aspect was having to plan my meals so far in advance and ensure there were vegetarian options available when I was on the road traveling for work. In fact, now that my 30 days are up I’ve actually decided to stick to the new diet. It’s now been six weeks, which is also the amount of time you need to build – or break – habits.

Going vegetarian has meant spending a lot of time in the kitchen trying out new recipes. I honestly can’t think of a meal I made and didn’t like these past six weeks but here are a few recipes I tried and absolutely loved:
1. Spring rolls – I didn’t follow this recipe at all but it was what I started with. I ended up using a basic cole slaw mix and instead of eating it raw with the rice paper, I sautéed the mixture in various seasonings. A very easy recipe albeit a bit time-consuming but they were oh so yummy!
2. Hummus spinach bake – I actually didn’t use a recipe for this. I happened to be using one of those input the ingredients you have into a computer generator and it lists different dishes you can make. Out of that came a plate of hummus and sautéed spinach topped with shredded cheese. I put it in the oven on 350 for about 15 minutes. It was nice and bubbly and paired well with the pita chips and carrots I already had on hand.
3. Zucchini pizza boats – They don’t make for great leftovers since zucchini contains so much extra water but they were fantastic straight out of the oven. Plus there are a ton of variations for toppings. Variety is nice!
4. Stuffed peppers – I love peppers and anything that goes in them. Quinoa is my new favorite super food and these are perfect for grilling out with friends. I have found that Mexican is the easiest vegetarian go-to dish for me.

I had a few other health related goals for the month. One goal was to complete all of my outstanding health exams and another was to beef up the exercise routine. A few things worth mentioning:
1. $500 later it turns out I am, in fact, still healthy. Go me!
2. I tried two new fitness classes: a hip hop dance class and Krav Maga. Not only can I booty bump with the best of em’ but I also found a socially acceptable way of releasing my inner rage. If Krav Maga didn’t cost $150/month I would definitely get a membership.

So you don’t think I’m two-dimensional talking about health and fitness, I did have a few fun things going on this past month and a half. At the top of my list:
1. A few friends and I spent a weekend in the Old Cabin at Blue Jay Farms, which we all know is my favorite Missouri get-away spot! Of course Miley dog joined us. I love make your stomach hurt bouts of laughing and I have plenty of those moments with my home girl Lizard. See below. We made an oriental themed dinner, played a new card game, swam, read, hiked to a waterfall, and picked blueberries. I love that place!

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2. I hadn’t seen my Mom since Christmas so I’ve been missing some quality mother-daughter time. Over the 4th of July weekend my parents decided to come down and visit for about a week. We spent time boating at the lake, visiting family and friends, watching movies, snuggling, and dancing/drinking our butts off at the winery. It was a fabulous time and I’m missing them already!

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3. Oh yeah, Dad finally sent me the pictures of our trip to El Salvador. I’ll aim to get those up at some point once I sift through the 2,000+ photos but here are a few teasers.

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And of course I wouldn’t be me if there wasn’t a little bit of self-introspection thrown in the mix. A few self-revelations:
1. Attitude up! I wish I could coin this phrase but I actually learned it at a sexual harassment training I went to for work. I say it all the time now. It serves as a good reminder that we all have the power to change our dispositions. When you’re stressed, feeling overwhelmed, and just consumed or surrounded by negativity it helps to keep things in perspective and to remember that you have the power to keep a positive attitude and mind. It’s sort of like Gretchen Rubin’s think happy, be happy motto.
2. How to live a life of well-being. Martin Seligman proposed a scientific model of happiness and well-being called PERMA. Essentially it states that in order for one to live a flourishing life, there are five basic motivations behind any decision or action made: positive emotion, engagement, relationship building, meaning, and achievement. People do their best work and are happiest when these five elements are being met. I could dedicate an entire blog post to this particular concept as I’ve become enthralled with the scientific model so much that I’ve begun incorporating it into my work culture and everyday life. My poor colleagues have been subjected to team building exercises this past week but I actually think they enjoyed them. If anything I can tell it brought us all closer together (R and M – meaningful relationships). Anyways, I’ll save you the rambling – go check it out!

While this post certainly doesn’t capture everything that went on the past month and a half, I feel a little less overwhelmed jumping back into the blogging world. I keep waiting for my time to free up and devote to writing again but the truth is I just need to make it a priority again (more on that later).

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Filed under 30 before 30, blogging, cooking, family, goals, happiness, health, personal growth, self-introspection, vegetarianism, well-being

Going vegetarian: the motivating factor (for me)

One of my goals for the month is to go vegetarian. Since I announced this particular feat on my 30 before 30 list I’ve gotten a lot of questions about why this is a goal of mine. Usually the questions come from my judgey, meatatarian friends and family (whom I love and adore) making statements like, “But, it’s grilling season, what are you thinking!?” and, “We are visiting in a month, we want to eat meat!”

While most everyone’s first inclination is to think going vegetarian is about animal rights and environmental benefits, for me it’s really only about the health benefits and the opportunity to discover new flavors/experiment in the kitchen. Research shows a diet filled with veggies, fruits, grains and nuts tends to be lower in saturated fat than a meat-based diet and higher in fiber and antioxidants as well. In fact, the American Dietetic Association released a position paper that said appropriately planned vegetarian diets are “healthful, nutritionally adequate, and may provide health benefits in the prevention and treatment of certain diseases.” I think there are a lot of different motivations for going vegetarian (all of them valid points) but the motivating factor varies depending on the individual. For me, it’s the holistic nutrition element that piques my interest.

There are quite a few different kinds of vegetarian diets out there. I am erring on the less extreme side and opting to only cut meat, poultry, and fish from my diet. That means I still plan on eating dairy products and eggs to ensure I don’t miss out on essential nutrients. The official name is a lacto-ovo vegetarian and I think the majority of people who are vegetarian fall into this category.

Armed with a list of good sources of nutrients from a plant-based diet, a vegetarian cookbook (I can still participate in grilling season!), and new cooking utensils I’m ready to get started. Who knows, it could be a complete lifestyle change for me as well but I’ll be sure to chronicle my adventures (and perhaps misadventures) on going vegetarian here.

 

 

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June: Health

While May was a whirlwind, exciting month I feel like my overall health took a beating. Really, I blame Sonic’s half-price milk shakes (which I am obsessed with) and my lack of control for the downward spiral but hey, you only live once! It’s a new month now and that means it’s time to regroup and refocus my efforts on health.

After a blah health regimen for the past two months, my mind and body are begging for some much-needed attention. I can feel the constant lethargy, lack of motivation, and poor digestion on a daily basis now which is especially disappointing after treating those ailments through diet (and ultimately succeeding). If I’ve learned anything this past year it’s that health and fitness are hard  and falling back into old routines happens often if you don’t make the relationship with your body a priority. But it does get easier and I’m especially looking forward to my June goals to get my butt back in gear!

Go vegetarian for the month. This particular goal is on my 30 before 30 list. Since I’ve mentioned it, I’ve gotten a lot of questions about why I’m choosing to go vegetarian. For the sake of brevity in this particular post though, I’ll just say my decision is purely based on the health benefits of a vegetarian diet and not about the mistreatment of animals. Although, if you’re interested in the latter part, the book Animal Liberation by Peter Singer is what first inspired me to try vegetarianism when I was 18. Disclaimer: it’s kind of graphic.

Keep a food journal. I’ve always been a firm believer that what you eat directly affects how you feel. With my interest in holistic nutrition, I wanted to keep a food journal to document my bodies reactions to various foods. I got the idea after returning from my trip to El Salvador. While there, I didn’t eat any dairy products yet when I returned home, my body reacted adversely. I think especially with going vegetarian for the month, I’ll be trying a host of new foods and spices so the journal will come in handy in building that relationship with my body and understanding what works for me and what doesn’t. Instead of having another hand-written journal I decided to use the MyFitnessPal app. While its intention is to track calories for weight loss, I plan to use it more for recording foods, my bodily reactions, and to track exercise routines. Counting calories is not a priority for me and really, I get kind of bothered that the app counts calories for fruit and veggies. I don’t care how many calories an apple has – EAT IT! I’ll get off my soap box though.

Schedule and complete all of my outstanding health exams. For being health conscious, I tend to always put off my yearly health exams in part because I don’t have dental or vision insurance and in part because health care (even when you have health insurance) is just plain expensive. While I originally planned to use the small amount of money left over from my student loans to travel I am instead choosing to be responsible. In addition to getting my teeth cleaned and eyes checked, I also need to get my ear canals cleaned (I’m prone to ear infections) and schedule my last follow-up exam to a colposcopy I had a year and a half ago (my biopsies came back normal the last two visits, so one more and I’m a free bird!!!).

Set up my retirement account. Financial health is equally important to my overall well-being so I’m reaching out to a local financial advisor to set up my retirement account, a goal which also happens to be on my 30 before 30 list. It’s really not all that exciting, but a task I need to stop putting off!

Beef up the exercise routine. I still maintain at least 30 minutes of cardiovascular exercise a day (and then some) but my regimen isn’t all that exciting anymore. I used to have a healthy balance between running, walking, Zumba, and hot yoga but for the past couple of months, I’ve stuck mainly to brisk one hour walks a day with Miley or trail hiking. Don’t get me wrong, I really enjoy my walks/hikes (that won’t go away) but I could use a little more excitement so it’s not so monotonous. This month, I’m aiming to take a hip hop Latin dance class, ride my bike more, and get back into Zumba and hot yoga classes.

I could come up with a hundred more health goals, but these are my top priorities for the month as I try to defeat my impending sluggish-ness. Bring it on, June!

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March highlights

If you haven’t been able to gather from my absence in the virtual world, life has been a bit hectic in the Wallace household. I feel like this entire month passed by with the snap of a finger and yet surprisingly for having felt completely exhausted almost the entire month, I still managed to accomplish the majority of my goals.  Here are some of the highlights of my month of well-being:

  • I loved reading Drop Dead Healthy by AJ Jacobs. Not only did the book make me laugh out loud on more than one occasion, but it reminded me that being healthy isn’t just how you look on the outside, but how your body functions on the inside. It also served to remind me that health is holistic. While exercising and eating right (when I’m not in cookie monster mode) is a big part of my life, I also need to give equal attention to my mental and emotional health. If anything, I got a few ideas from the book on what to include in my own health regimens and I’m excited to start incorporating them into future monthly goals.
  • The inspirational bedroom transformation is not complete but is certainly coming along. Not only did the room get a complete paint re-do, but I’ve been working on some decor projects as well. I bought a bright, cheery, and super fun rug that adds a healthy dose of spunk to the room. I also started a craft project that turns wooden block letters into yarn art (sounds weird, but looks way cool). I will admit I have yet to finish this particular project particularly because my loathe of crafting gets in the way of me actually finishing it, but considering some of my goals for April I figure I can carry this process over into next month. I’m also teaming up with a painter friend of mine who does phenomenal, original work for a reasonable price. The room needs a little bit of art in it and she’s my go-to girl so this particular item will be another thing I carry into next month as well. I keep having to remind myself that evolving is about relishing in the process and not always marking things off my to-do list. But while I like this rule of thumb for my year of self-improvement, I sometimes think I use it as justification for procrastination (more on that later).
  • Between all the hustle and bustle, I still managed to carve out a lot of friend time this month. In particular, I hosted a couple of girls nights, a St. Patrick’s Day themed game night dinner party. and a few Skype dinner dates with my friends who aren’t close by. I have to say the friend love (and booze) was definitely overflowing this month for which I am extremely grateful.
  • Also super exciting in the name of friend love – since I started writing more hand-written notes to my friends and family, I’ve been getting letters in return. This month alone, I’ve received four letters and I LOVE getting mail.
  • Meatless Mondays have been my new favorite health regimen and something I’m going to continue to do. It usually means I end up going meatless for most of the week (no wonder there are health benefits) but I love that it makes me get outside my comfort zone and experiment in the kitchen a bit. Plus, it adds content for the blog and I can’t complain about that, especially considering my lack of other substantial content lately.

So there you have it – another month bites the dust! I almost feel like I could continue well-being part deux into April, but now that Spring is finally in the air I’m getting into nesting mode, which means I need to take advantage of the organizing and purging mood I’m in. Stay tuned for April goals!

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March: well-being

After a tough February and what I know will be a trying March, I wanted to focus on my overall well-being this month – both emotionally and physically. Achieving overall well-being is an ongoing process (I mean, you are constantly at the whims of life) but I do know what good well-being feels like and I don’t feel like I’m entirely there right now. Knowing that though keeps me motivated to keep at the practice – which also happens to come at the start of a new month.

As you know, each month I set out actionable goals relative to my three intentions for the New Year. Below are the specific goals I’ve outlined for March and how they relate to each over-arching desire.

Find joy and fulfillment in creativity.

  • Read a new book. Every month I choose a new book to read. This month it’s Drop Dead Healthy by A.J. Jacobs. I chose this particular book because it’s about the ultimate pursuit of health: a well-lived life. I found that fitting for my month of well-being and it comes highly recommended by Miss Liz.
  • Transform my bedroom into an inspirational haven. I carried this particular goal over from February as I still want to put my creative energy into creating a space that reflects the things I love, desire, and want in life. I want my room to be a source of inspiration to me so I’m hoping I can carve out more time to actually work on this project this month. And if I don’t – well, I’ll carry it over to the next month!

Give more love.

  • Write hand-written letters. I always enjoying getting mail and I know my friends do too. Considering I now have a pen pal and several other friends scattered across the states, I plan on sitting down and writing some old-fashioned hand-written letters. Not only does it get you back to basic communication, but hand-written notes seem more personal and heartfelt than a quick email to say hi so I’m really looking forward to writing these.
  • Host a holiday brunch. I usually aim to host a potluck dinner every month, but I want to switch it up this time and host a holiday brunch. In particular, St. Patrick’s Day is coming up and I’m dying to host a breakfast gathering where everything is GREEN. Not only is it cute, but it seems fun too. And I really love breakfast food.

Live a balanced life.

  • Meatless Mondays. I originally planned on doing a weekly health challenge but I really didn’t want to set myself up for failure considering everything I have going on this month. Instead, I opted to choose one aspect of the health challenge and incorporate that into my weekly health routine. Meatless Mondays sounded the most appealing not only because it means I get to try out new recipes in the kitchen but also for the many health benefits it brings. In particular, going meatless once a week can reduce your risk of cancer, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and obesity. Given my fear of cardiovascular disease and cancer, I’m game.
  • Use a quiet day. While at some point I would love to try a meditation retreat, I can’t quite carve out the time this month so instead I plan on using a quiet day. Similar to my technology-free day, I’m looking forward to the solitude and quality reading/journaling time I’ll get.

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February: singlehood

A new month means a new theme and this month it’s about celebrating singlehood. With it, singlehood brings freedom and independence and I plan on embracing both over the next coming weeks. We all know February brings ample opportunity for single ladies (and men) to get down about not having that special someone in their life but I don’t plan on being one of them. Rather, my focus for the month is to have a passionate love affair with myself. I firmly believe you can’t begin loving someone else until you take the time to heal and love yourself first. And that’s exactly what I intend on doing this month.

As you know, each month I set out actionable goals relative to my three intentions for the New Year. Below are the specific goals I’ve outlined for February and how they relate to each over-arching desire.

Find joy and fulfillment in creativity.

  • Read a new book. This month I am choosing to read a classic, The Great Gatsby, by F. Scott Fitzgerald. I chose this particular book mainly because it’s outside of my preferred genre of reading. I also chose it because when I was reading book reviews I came across one in particular that called the book, “…the quintessential story about the love of being in love,” and I was hooked.
  • Transform my bedroom into an inspirational haven. All of my home improvement projects or home purchases usually go to the areas of the house where guests congregate like the living room, dining room, kitchen, and guest room. I hardly ever splurge on the one area that’s used solely by me: my bedroom. Taking a page from Liz’s month of self-love I want to put my creative energy into creating a space that reflects the things I love, desire, and want in life – I want my room to be a source of inspiration to me so I’m definitely looking forward to getting started on this project.

Give more love.

  • Write Valentine’s Day cards. Who says Valentine’s Day is reserved for romantic escapades? I fully intend on celebrating and sharing the mad love I have for my close friends and family. I also intend to spoil myself because I love me too. Which leads me to my next point.
  • Take a wellness day. Looking at my schedule for February, I already know I’m going to be susceptible to feelings of burn out which usually leads to me waking up on the wrong side of the bed at some point. I’m pretty good at recognizing the need to take some time to recharge when I’m stressed and I know I’ll need it this month. I have a trip planned to visit my good friend TJ at the end of the month so it’ll be a perfect opportunity to relax and recharge my positive attitude. I have no specific plans set other than to see where the wind takes me. And a gift certificate for a massage and pedicure.
  • Praise singlehood. In the grand scheme of life, singlehood is short-lived. I am self-admittedly not an expert on relationships and have little experience in the serious relationship department as compared to others but I do remember thinking things like, “I wish I had the bed to myself!” or, “STOP SNORING!” among others. For the single ladies (and single men too) I think it’s easy to get sucked into a negative mindset in February. I mean love is literally being shoved down your throat around every corner and it goes on for 14 straight days. Sometimes, February just serves as a constant reminder that you don’t have what appears like everyone else is basking in the glory of. But you know what? Singlehood is pretty awesome too so in light of my positive attitude, I plan on writing a list of all the reasons I love being single.
  • Go on one date a week. I am a busy hermit, there’s no way of getting around it. I was recently telling a colleague of mine a story and he stopped me mid-sentence and said in a I-feel-sorry-for-you tone, “You need to get out and date, Lindsay.” Although I’m pretty sure he was joking, I took it kind of hard (obviously so since I’m still talking about it three months later). So, it’s time to take matters into my own hands since I’m not finding anyone in my current social circles. At the last potluck dinner I hosted I asked my friends to set me up on blind dates with anyone they thought I might be remotely interested in – or even not interested in (I need to fill a quota here people, haha). I’ve got one lined up so far and another in the works. I’m actually kind of looking forward to them. Heck, maybe I’ll even give speed dating a try!

Live a balanced life.

  • Reach out, forgive, purge, and let go. I am queen of harboring resentment towards people who intentionally hurt me, especially when they show no remorse or offer an apology. Forgiveness has never been my strong suit but I also realize that harboring those kinds of feelings just prolong stress and negativity in my life. Ultimately those kinds of feelings take a toll on my body and promote unhappiness. We don’t have control over the way people treat us, but we do have control over how we process the hurt and move on. I can’t say that I will actually reach out to those who have hurt me recently and in the past, but I do plan on going through old mementos and purging memories I haven’t been able to let go of. I want a clean slate and my intention in doing this project for the month is that it will reduce some stress and unhappiness I feel at times thereby promoting my overall health, especially in mind and spirit.
  • When at home, wear my glasses. Another aspect of my health that I ignore are my eyes. I have horrible vision; without contacts or glasses, I can’t even see what I’m typing on the screen in front of me. My issue is I hate wearing glasses and as a result I take my contacts out maybe two or three times a month and only while I’m showering. My eyes never get a break and I often times suffer from dry, itchy eyes because of my lack of proper eye care. SO, I am going to attempt to wear my glasses more and make the effort when at home that the contacts go in the solution and the glasses go on the face.

Here’s to a happy, fulfilling February and of course to all my fellow single ladies out there. Put your hands up!

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