Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Making It Work

We are on the home stretch..... spending my last bit of money in the grocery store with a predetermined meal in mind I picked up ground beef, a small can of beans and peanut butter..... I made chili and it turned out great :-) (I didn't add the pb) seem like lots of flavor, I still have quite a bit of basics left, dried beans, rice, barley, flour, bok choy, corn (things I thought I'd run out of). I'm set for the week :-) I don't foresee a need to pick up anything else for the week which is good as my $80 is spent. I am baking my last loaves of bread and can't wait to try it out once it is cooled.

Last week and this week my energy levels have been quite low. I've felt, just exhausted. It has been tiring just thinking about food and cost so often and avoiding temptation. I have lost 3lbs which isn't a significant amount but I don't know if I can directly contribute it to the diet either. I walk to and from work which is about 5.5 km a day. I live downtown and did all my shopping downtown too. As some of you know groceries tend to be more expensive and there isn't much opportunity to buy in bulk which can be costly when on a budget. Sales and coupons are a must.

Why are there no coupons for necessities? Is it because there is subsidies from the government in most of the industries the products are from? Is $2.50 - 3.50 each a reasonable amount for bread, eggs and milk? And what about soy? it comes from a bean, the process (thanks to avid readers and bloggers) I've found out is to boil, de-shell (which is more or less done in the boiling process), strain and add a little sweetener...... does it really have to cost twice the amount of milk?

Today's intake:

snack1: 1 serving barley, 1 serving corn
snack2: 2 servings chili (2 meats and alternatives, 1 veggie)
snack3: 2 serving pasta, 1 serving veg
snack4: 3 servings veg
snack5: 2 bread
snack6: TBD

4 cups of tea, 2 cups of soy, 6 cups of water

Monday, February 22, 2010

My last $20 is spent

On the weekend, I spent my last few dollars. Twenty dollars didn’t get me much, just some oranges, bananas, pears, chicken, bread and milk. Once again it was a longer shopping trip than it needed to be. It took about 90 minutes to make choices between what I really wanted, what I could afford and what is good for me. I wanted to buy tomatoes, lettuce, carrots, cheese, olives, strawberries, blackberries, nuts, yoghurt and procioutto, but my budget wasn’t having any of that.

When I was at the checkout, my cell phone rang and a friend asked me what I was doing. I replied, “Spending my last $20 for the month.” I could feel everyone standing in the lineup staring at me. And as I had calculated in my head, my bill came to $19.32.

I walked out of the store with my four plastic bags disappointed because I didn’t buy anything that excited me. You know that feeling when you leave the shop and you can’t wait to get home to rip into that bag of chips, that smoothie drink, that block of cheese? I didn’t have that feeling. No impulsive purchases for me.

Don’t get me wrong, I am grateful to be eating chicken for the first time all month and those oranges are going to be a welcoming burst of citrus in my mouth, but I have nothing to add spice to my mundane meals. Not even a tip of an asparagus tip to have with my chicken. Some corn would have been nice. Oh, how I love frozen peas too.

Adding some variety to my meals is my main challenge this week. Last year, I did a lot more experimenting with my meal planning. This year, I feel like I’ve been defeated by the rice, potatoes and a busy work schedule. So as I type this I'm scouring the internet for two-ingredient recipes. This evening, I'll probably do some variation on this Slow Cooked Stuffed Cabbage dish. I'll let you know if it turns out and if it doesn't, i'll still have to eat it. Can't throw out food at this stage.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Exercise and Energy Levels

When I did this challenge last year, I did not exercise. I actually stopped working out altogether for the month of February. This year, I have aimed to maintain my exercise routine (doing p90x, ukrainian dancing and playing volleyball)

Up until this past weekend, I was dong alright. My energy levels were fairly high and I was able to maintain my workouts. I also was able to maintain the intensity of each workout, without feeling sore afterwards. This week things took a different turn.

During my regular Monday workout I was doing well until I took a small break in the halfway point. I found it hard to push myself through the remainder and once I finished (2 exercises early) I felt extremely sick. I layed on the bathroom floor for 30 minutes and felt so weak. The following day I was extremely sore. Not just normal soreness, but almost pain. This is not something I have ever felt before. But I can contribute it to the diet and the exhaustion that comes with it.

I guess when doing something like this you cannot push you body to the extreme in multiple ways. I am eating a lot less than I normally would, but pushing my body harder at the same time. It is hard to give up the exercise, but I just don't know if I have the energy to do it.

What I have eaten today:

breakfast: 2 servings oatmeal, glass of milk, and 1 whole wheat bun with 1 serving peanut butter

Monday, February 15, 2010

No such thing as a free ride

Nearly every day someone tries to push free food on us. They seem a bit disappointed, a bit disgusted when we refuse to eat a free pasta, sandwiches, morning donuts and the likes. Low income earners wouldn’t turn down a free meal, they remind us. I don’t argue because that’s not my point.

We are trying to make this a real challenge. We want to experience the physical and mental anguish that those less fortunate face on a daily basis. Sure they may be offered a free meal from time to time, but I’m certain there are longer stretches when they aren’t offered any free meals. We want to experience those frequent, longer periods when our $80 is all you have for the month.

Those same co-workers who persuade us to eat free food also fail to realize that employers who pay their workers minimum wage aren’t likely to provide lunches for their co-workers. There’s a reason why they pay their workers low wages. They can’t afford to pay them more, let alone shell out lunch and donuts. I’ve worked for a small companies and larger companies. Most of my friends work for large corporations. When meetings are scheduled over lunch, lunch is often provided. When your boss wants to show his appreciation for a job well done, lunch is provided. It you’re working for $6 an hour, I highly doubt your boss is going to take you out for lunch to thank you for working overtime that week.

1:50 p.m. It's Family Day today, so I work up rather late and haven't eaten anything yet.
Breakfast: nothing
Lunch: nothing
Dinner: 2 cups of rice and three small beef meatballs.
1 cup of milk, 1 orange

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Working, cooking, cooking, working

As I putter around my kitchen making bread and thinking about what I want to eat, I realize I have to cook...... but I'm hungry now. I do have some premade meals but I prefer to take those to work so I guess that leaves me one choice, I'll cook. 2 more days until I go to the grocery store so my choices are limited I'll make rice and eggs with some vegetables :-) and two cups of soy to tie me over until it is ready.

I have $10.00 to spend for this week ahead, I need veggies, fruit, soy and some meat. That is big streach for $10.00 I hope there are some great deals this week. This must be a very common issue on $80.00 a month. I feel like those commercials were they show someone picking shelter over food. I'm really wondering if I can do it. We will see.

Today's meals

breakfast - 2 servings of wheatabix
snack 1 - 2 servings bread
lunch - 1 serving beans, 1 servings corn and 1 serving bok choy
snack - 1 serving pork
snack - 2 servings soy
supper - 1 serving rice, 2 servings eggs, 1 serving peas
snack - 2 servings bread (once it is done cooking)
6 cups water, 2 cups tea, 1 serving juice

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

I want candy

So my last post was about temptation. Well, it hasn't been going away. I still want candy, and chocolate and cakes. I don't really understand it either. The first time we did this diet, I did not crave all the delicious things I was missing. So why am I this time around? I just don't get it.

I went to a networking event for work tonight. I ate before I went, so I wasn't hungry, but there was so much free food and alcohol. I did not eat or drink anything, but I didn't realize how hard business development and networking is without a stiff drink in one's hand. My how the conversations flow more freely when the inhibitions disappear. Not the case when one is standing within a circle of wine glasses, sipping tap water with a garnish of lemon. It really is a different world altogether. (and yes I did suck that lemon dry)

Aside from these delicious encounters, I have noticed something rather useful. Prices change dramatically in every store from week to week. Now, I always knew that prices change frequently, but I lost all excitement for romaine lettuce when I saw that it jumped from 77 cents a head to $1.68 the next week. Way to go supply and demand and all that economic crap. (insert thumbs down here)

It must be extremely difficult for people to gauge how much to spend each week. Or what happens when you are almost out of money for the month, or are waiting to get paid? Its not like the grocery store is going to offer you its best prices. You really do have to be on top of the flyers all the time. Not to mention having to pay a visit to the stores at least once a week. So who from the working poor really has the time to do that?

What I ate today:

Breakie: 2 servings oatmeal, 1 whole wheat bun with 2 tbsp peanut butter
Lunch: soup(chicken and bok choy - 2 servings bok choy) with 2 servings rice
Snack: Grapefruit and kiwi
Dinner: Shepherd's pie (3 veg, 1 meat), 2 servings rice, 2 servings milk

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Participation: Get in the action, not

Growing up in the 80s, Hal Johnson and Joanne McLeod were the epitome of healthy living to me. Sandwiched between my Saturday morning cartoons, I’d watch their short Body Break infomercials, hanging on to every word they preached. Hal in his short shorts and Joanne sporty her big eighties hair reminded the coach-potato generation that a complete exercise program was important for strengthening our cardiovascular system and building strong bones. Throw in a few tips about following a healthy balanced diet, guided by the Canada Food Guide, and your life was complete, healthwise that is. Whether people choose to live that way or not, few would disagree with Hal and Joanne.

I’ve been trying to exercise regularly while on this challenge but I’m finding that I don’t have enough energy to sustain the required one-hour a day. I had no problems ice-skating on the first day, but of course I was living off the fat of the land, burning off all the junk that I dumped into my body days before the diet started. By Feb. 5, a 15-minute game of laser tag left me feeling light-headed and thankful that I had arrived late and had missed the first two games. Today’s ice-skating adventure lasted 15 minutes before I was defeated by exhaustion, hunger pains and zero tolerance for the winter sport that I normally enjoy.

I can’t imagine how difficult it would be to work a strenuous job where you had to be on your feet all day. I’m lucky I’m a desk-jockey who sits at computer all day. How would one concentrate and stay focused?

I’m determined to figure out a way to fit exercise into this challenge so I’ll have to adjust my diet. I’ll probably fuel up on more potatoes, rice and whole-grains. High on my priority list is meat, if I can afford it. Certainly, I will have to make choices. What’s going to go? Fruits? Milk?

1 cup of oatmeal
1 orange
1 cup of milk

Lunch (I cheated. My explanation to come in my next post.)
mashed potatoes

Baked potato