52 Weeks to Wellness

I dream of being the perfect consumer, living an eco-friendly, healthy, environmentally-conscious life. I’d like to rid my own world of dangerous chemicals and food products that contribute to issues within the food industry AND my body, and find a way to do most actions just a little more care and information. I’d love to be one of those people who only eats local, organic, clean, paleo, antibiotic-free foods and buys products that support the local economy and are good for the environment and my body (I totally realize what a yuppie I sound like right now…)

But, as I reflect on my own habits I realize that there is a LOT of change needed, and I simply can’t do it all at once. As I’ve learned with my weight-loss efforts, change takes time and considering the sheer number of issues that a consumer must face, it really isn’t possible to do it all at once. So I’ve decided to compile a list of 52 habits I’d like to adopt each week for the next 52 weeks in order to make my personal universe just a little more healthful. I will tackle one habit a week and once I do I won’t go back to my old ways. Here I go (in no particular order and with corresponding money signs to denote whether the goal will require a financial investment):

  1. Begin going to the farmer’s market and purchasing only grass-fed, local, antibiotic-free and non-factory farmed meat.
  2. Buy only local (no more Mexican or Latin-American produce with the exception of certain tropical fruits).
  3. Build or buy a composting unit and begin composting. $
  4. Spend time researching the chemicals in ALL my makeup products and research eco-friendly, healthier alternatives.
  5. Spend time researching the chemicals in all of our beauty products (hair sprays, lotions, shampoos, etc.), research eco-friendly, healthier alternatives and compile a list for future purchases.
  6. Begin making my own deoderant!
  7. Invest in glass tuperware and recycle all of the plastic ones we have. $$
  8. Buy new, BPA-free water bottles (a few of them) and commit to never buying a plastic bottled water bottle again.
  9. Replace all Teflon pans with stainless steel or copper-coated pans. $$$
  10. Toss every product that has triclosan and replace with healthier alternative.
  11. Buy spray bottles and begin making my own cleaners, ditching the heavy chemical products found in stores.
  12. Spend time learning about seasonal farming, and committing myself to only purchasing food that is in-season.
  13. Clear pantry and stop buying any foods with synthetic preservatives or coloring.
  14. Invest in indoor plants for every room. $$
  15. I love candles BUT I don’t like that many contain dangerous chemicals. Research beeswax or soy-based alternatives.
  16. Research safe, eco-friendly, at-home dry cleaning alternatives.
  17. Switch to a biodegradable, fragrance-free, non-toxic detergent for clothes.
  18. Educate myself on the proper way to dispose of things such as batteries and toxic waste so I do so in the future.
  19. Find a more eco-friendly, healthful option to plastic wrap, ziplocks and foil.
  20. Take time to educate myself more about recycling and the list of items I may or may not be able to recycle.
  21. Switch to organic produce for all “dirty dozen” foods from here on out.
  22. Commit to buying all-organic dairy (right now we do organic milk and eggs, but are “ify” on butter, kefir, yogurt, etc.
  23. Plan out the most cost-effective way to get local, organic produce, dairy and meat.
  24. Become much more careful about wasting electricity. Spend time researching how to lessen my footprint when it comes to electricity use.
  25. Invest in a reusable cat litter-“filler-upper.” Our local petstore has a bin of litter, which you fill up with a bucket, reducing waste. $
  26. Finally ditch the paper towel habit (or at least set up specific rules for using them) and switch to using “bartender rags” for cleaning and dusting.
  27. Invest in paper napkins. $$
  28. Get rid of our microwave (put it outside in the garage and reserve it for rare occasions where I’ll need to reheat for a party).
  29. Educate myself on the fish industry and commit to buying sustainable, healthful fish.
  30. Make vegetarian, no-cook meals once a week.
  31. Invest in eco-friendly organic cotton and/or bamboo towels made with plant-based dyes. $$$
  32. Research accessible, cost-affordable recycled toilet paper.
  33. Get in the habit of turning off the water when brushing my teeth.
  34. Unplug electronics when they aren’t in use.
  35. Buy organic, sustainable sheets & pillow covers $$$
  36. Update our pillows with organic, non-chemical ones. $$$
  37. Make it a habit to carefully monitor towel-use (we tend to toss towels after only one or two uses) and invest in an outdoor towel rack so towels dry faster.
  38. Begin washing out own cars at home (instead of taking it to the car wash).
  39. Start prepping produce more efficiently to avoid unnecessary spoiling.
  40. Plan out my meals every Sunday, so less food and money is waste (and gas from unwanted trips to the store).
  41. Make sure every single bill is paperless and recycle all junk mail.
  42. Cut back to only indulging in added-sugar once a week in a small amount.
  43. Commit to buying less STUFF. For every one thing I buy, I need to get rid, giveaway or recycle something else.
  44. Get down to my healthy weight (long-term goal!) and eat much less food everyday.
  45. Wear a healthy, chemical-free sunblock everyday.
  46. Floss everyday and brush twice a day.
  47. Switch to a healthier, chemical-free toothpaste.
  48. Commit to eating vegetables at every meal (including breakfast).
  49. Purchase bicycles. $$$
  50. Use my hand-held earpiece instead of putting the cell phone directly against my head.
  51. Make the car a phone-free space, and yes, that means no fiddling with the iPhone to find a song, using it for navigation, etc. We survived (better) without these “useful tools” for decades, and we should do that again.
  52. Commit to everyday movement/exercise, at the very least adopting a regime for stretching.

Sage & Butter Filet Mignon with Yam Fries and Asparagus

Wow this blog has gathered a lot of dust! 6 months worth of dust… my excuse has always been that I don’t have enough time, but I finally admitted to myself that since I spend hours watching Real Housewives of Beverly Hills (judge away) and staring vacantly at Facebook, I have no excuse. Since I last posted we moved to a (way better) apartment closer to L.A., I started grad school and the boyfriend and I traveled to Rome and Sicily in December (major food post to come). Things have definitely been on the up and up and I am now settling into 20 days of spring break (thus, the rekindling of this site!). I’m hoping to infuse this blog with some broader topics though as I move forward (because there is more to life than grub) so be on the lookout for posts on fitness, music, health, DIY, fashion and general rants. I’ll first start by posting an easy recipe from last week.

As some friends and family know, I’ve been slowly leaning towards eating more and more Paleo (a.k.a. “the caveman diet”) and for a solid two weeks I was following Whole30, which is an even stricter version of Paleo where you only eat high-quality meat & fish, vegetables, fruits and certain fats like olive oil, seeds and nuts for 30 days. Well, I didn’t make it to 30 days. I technically didn’t make it past four days, but I’m going to be delusional and not count a certain night of excessive drinking post-performance. It just didn’t happen, alright?

I nonetheless feel amazing while eating Paleo and the more I research, read and experiment the more it makes sense. For the first time in a LONG time a lot of my stomach issues disappeared and I am now 10 pounds away from weighing what I did in highschool. How do you like them egg rolls? My only complaint is that we (non-cavemen) have unfortunately been conditioned to have something called variety. So, I am trying to figure out how to eat paleo “most of the time” while being able to dip into my fav non-paleo meals without getting too cray-cray. I mean, a life without pasta and wine is not a life.

With that said, let’s talk about STEAK:

Filet mignon is seriously my favorite cut of beef and is one of the many perks of eating Paleo. It melts in your mouth, is tender and soft and is a super low-maintenance cut. All l I did was salt & pepper it and then seared it over high heat until rare. I took some fresh, chopped sage and simmered it on low heat with a couple teaspoons of clarified butter (also know as “ghee”). I chopped up some yam fries and sautéed some fresh asparagus with shallots and olive oil, and had dinner ready in 20 minutes.

[I always cut the ends off my herbs, stick them in some water and cover to keep them fresh throughout the week.]

Oh, this is making me nostalgic. Lately I’ve been indulging in a little too much sugar, and half and half in my coffee, and spaghetti, and Trader Joe’s appetizers, and bites of the boyfriend’s Del Taco quesadillas, etc…. and the result is, I don’t feel too snazzy. I’m planning to return to the “straight and narrow” starting on Monday. I’d start back up tomorrow but we are visiting the fam for brunch and while I am a strong woman, I don’t know if I can (or really want to) pass on my Dad’s amazing waffles. Before I head to sleep though, look! I bought some new Asics so I can look cool at the gym again. My old running shoes had holes in them (yes, plural) and they squeaked. I was getting some funny looks from the little old ladies at the YMCA. But now I’ll show them!

Let’s Get STEAMY

The New Year is a time for all of us to reflect on our lives, contemplate our achievements and failures, look into the future and pledge resolutions for making us better people, and to LOSE WEIGHT!

Just kidding! ( but not really…) On New Year’s Day the whole nation realizes that eating Halloween candy, stuffing, English toffee and buttered rums nonstop for three month’s causes some unflattering bulges and a serious case of lowered self-esteem due to ill-fitting pants. I personally did a decent job this Fall up until December 10th. Then, I just went crazy and ate star-shaped sugar cookies for breakfast. It was like Hansel and Gretel in my apartment for three weeks. But now the fairy tale is over, I’m 5 pounds heavier, and it’s time to shift back into a more veggie-centric eating plan.

This leads us to today’s dinner: “A boring, vegetable soup.”

At least, that’s what I thought as I lifelessly began chopping carrots. But, surprisingly enough, it wasn’t boring and turned out to be quite tasty and filling. Plus it is  worth 1 Weight Watcher’s point a cup.

To make a tasty soup, all you need to do is throw a mix of your favorite vegetables into a soup pot. I used broccoli, celery, spinach, carrots, zucchini, onion, garlic, red pepper and cauliflower. Pour in enough chicken stock so that the vegetables are covered and then bring it to a boil. Once it boils, turn the heat to low and let it simmer for 10-15 minutes. Season with thyme, lemon juice, pepper and (lots of) sea salt. You can also add in some noodles or rice if you need your carb fix.

What is YOUR favorite low-calorie dinner? I’m taking suggestions for upcoming posts. In addition to the vegetables, I’m starting up Pilates again, which I’m really happy about! I’m so sore I can barely manage to do basic functions. No matter how much walking or running you do, nothing will leave you more sore than a Pilates class.

Now I’ll leave you with this hilarious, and kind of inappropriate, “morning warm-up” workout video. I had visions of myself making a video of me attempting this, but then I realized I would live a life of shame from then on… so I decided against it.

Pedometer frustrations

Yesterday I clocked in at 7,060 steps, although I’m starting to think it was all a lie. I bought two new pedometers yesterday at Target: one was in the 99c bin, and another, which I’ve used before, was about $6 and the only other one they had that clips on. I kind of wish I could find a watch pedometer, although that would mean I would have to wear some presumably bulky,  sport watch all the time to get accurate readings each day.

The pedometer is important to me because it’s a good gauge as to how much I’m walking. I’m making time for cardio each day– about 45 minutes worth for now– but it’s also important to just always make sure that, working out or not, I walk a certain amount.

But I ran a test where I wore both pedometers and walked 50 steps. One of the pedometers read 10 steps…. and the other 21. SO, I’m a little confused and I think I need to go to Big 5 and invest in a better one, so I don’t log in at 7,000 and it’s actually 11,000 or 2,000…….

Even dogs use pedometers these days… except I look half as cute with mine on.

A pound of love

It happened as I thought it would:  a pound of See’s chocolates later and I’m convinced I definitely gained more than a pound during the past two days of debauchery.

Let me re-cap my “cheat day” (which turned into “cheat days”) as of Sunday–

Breakfast was comprised of onion bagels, whipped cream cheese, fresh blueberry pancakes, cheesy scrambled eggs, coffee and chocolate truffles from TJ’s.

Then Dhiren pulled out the pound of chocolates from See’s, which made me unbelievably happy (though, not as happy as the gorgeous ring he bought me!!!) 

I love Valentine’s Day– the only day where you can binge on decadent chocolates  served in a big, pretty heart-shaped box (although now I realize that the heart alludes more to heartburn you endure later than love).  For dinner we went to El Torito, where I packed in about 8 freshly made flour tortillas (served with honey butter), 2 huge peach margaritas, a shot of tequila and fish tacos.  MMM.

I don’t regret it, but I definitely feel the mental challenge of climbing back “on the wagon.”  But tomorrow I’m beginning my fitness regime at Newport Beach–one hour of walking at 7AM and I’m planning my meals out now to avoid temptation and having to make any decisions:

2 eggs, tomatoes with olive oil and salt & pepper
15 almonds & a cheese
Arugala salad w/ 1/2 c. of Indian lentils
non-fat Greek yogurt w/ 15 blueberries
turkey burger and asparagus

I’m also going to sport my pedometer to make sure I hit 10,000 steps and up the water intake.  I’m determined to lose 2 pounds by Friday morning damn it and I need to meet my weekly goals in order to hit my target weight by my senior recital!