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Challenge update

Check out my “You Are What You Eat” guest post over at Carrots ‘n Cake!

So, last week, I challenged myself to write  7 letters or cards to people I hadn’t seen or talked to in a while. How did I do?

Well…I managed to get out 4 but after that bunch, it was hard to keep it up. However, those people were very glad to hear from me, so not all was lost and it was still very rewarding for me.

What’s new for this week? I HAVE NO IDEA 🙂

I was thinking, coming up with a new challenge every week is getting rather…well, challenging! Ha.

Since July 1st is just around the corner, I thought, why not make the jump to monthly challenges? Great idea!

Plus it gives me time to come up with one 😉 Unless you all can make a suggestion?

Hope you all are having a good week so far. I’m still being lazy and haven’t bought new batteries for the camera yet but when I do, there will be more pictures again!

Good night..

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Another new challenge

I made it through that no ice cream challenge, no sweat! In fact, I don’t think I’ll be having ice cream anytime soon. Maybe I’ll reserve that for a special weekend treat? I don’t want to keep it in the house anymore, that’s for sure 😉

So, what shall I challenge myself with this week? Before I get to that, let’s look back at all the challenges and see if they have stuck.

#1 – No Calorie Counting – I have only counted calories maybetwice since this challenge began on May 4th! The times I have, it has not been for weight loss purposes. Once it was just to see if I was “naturally” eating a normal amount and the other was once when I was really hungry and I thought it might’ve been due to skimping (accidentally) on some meals.

#2 – Meal Planning – The past few weeks, this one has been a challenge because Josh and I have had weird schedules, but I’m still doing my best to plan our dinner schedule in advance and keep trying new recipes at home so things don’t get boring!

#3 – Cutting Caffeine – I have reduced my caffeine intake gradually, switched to decaf coffee at home and am finding that I like to drink tea…a lot. I’m also more aware of the foods I eat that contain caffeine. I believe I’ve reduced my intake to at least half of what I was consuming before this challenge. Its still a work in progress but I feel good about what I’m doing now.

#4 – No Weighing – This has been my favorite challenge. It feels less like torture and more like a reward! I have only weighed myself once since this challenge began on May 26th, when before I was weighing myself at least weekly if not daily. I think I will still “check in” from time to time (maybe monthly or even less often) but now that the scale is in the closet, I think about it so much less and its a happy feeling.

#5 – Read More– This challenge has really stuck. While I haven’t read a lot of books since this one began (just 1.5 so far), I’ve been making it a night time ritual to go to bed a bit early so that I can read, which helps me wind down and go to sleep easier. So much better than TV!

#6 – Limit ice cream consumption– This one really was easy. Just bringing it to my attention through the blog has helped me deal with it. I love ice cream, which is exactly why I shouldn’t eat it every day. It takes the spontaneity out of it and when its kept at home, it becomes a mindless dessert for me. If I’m going to eat ice cream, its going to be special and I’m going to truly enjoy it. I’m thinking 1x/week is plenty.

So, here we are, lucky number 7. I also just had my 700th post a couple of days ago, lots of 7’s!

What’ll it be? Drumroll…

Letter writing!

I am a big fan of email, Facebook, Myspace, etc. Those mediums are very quick and convenient, however, there is just something about receiving a card or letter from a friend or family member that just makes it that much more special. There are a lot of people I can think of whom we haven’t seen in a while or even talked to recently. So my challenge this week is to write one letter (or card) for each day of the challenge to someone we haven’t seen or spoken to in a while.

After this week passes, I think a reasonable amount of cards or letters would be 3-5 per month. So long term, that is what I’m going to shoot for.

I’m mailing my first one today, this is going to be fun!

Strange challenge

The reading challenge I posed to myself last week went decently. I managed to read every day during the week but once I hit Saturday, I was simply too busy and wired to sit down with my book. But I figured, 5 out of 7 days is pretty darn good considering I’ve been known to go for weeks without reading anything (other than blogs of course)!

This week, I decided to go a different route…I am already a day behind, but this one will just have to run Tuesday to Tuesday. Although, as I’ve stated before, this “Weekly Challenges” of mine are not meant to last only a week. They are meant to show me that if I can do (or not do) something for an entire week, chances are I can do it long term.

Anyway, back to the different route. I usually don’t like to exclude or deny myself things but lately I’ve had too much ice cream! Yes, I’ve tried different types (dairy and non-dairy), flavors and alternate between store bought and true ice cream stores such as Graeter’s and Bruester’s. But every day or even 5 days out of a week is just too much. Ice cream needs to be a once or twice a week treat only!

So, I’m challenging myself to abstain from ice cream for seven days. After the seven days, I will eat ice cream again but only once or twice a week maximum. I think the best way to do this will be to not keep it in the house, even though it is tempting in this summer heat to eat ice cream for dinner every night.

I also want to point out that eating ice cream every day is not necessarily a “bad” thing. What is wrong is that its become a “habit” and I’m not getting the same amount of enjoyment out of it as I would if it were an occasional treat. Do you see the difference? I want to truly experience and savor my treats not have them become routine or boring. Because for me, when things get too routine or boring, in my food world, I am not satisfied and therefore go back for something else.

So there you have it folks, Challenge No. 6 – Cut back on ice cream consumption. Here we go!

Hope your Monday was fabulous and that your Tuesday will be the same.

June Challenges

Happy Monday everyone 🙂 Hope you all enjoyed your weekend, I sure did.

I cannot believe it it already June! 2009 is flying by me. That’s how you can tell you are getting old, right? Ha. Its also the start of a new week, which over here means it is time for a new Weekly Challenge!

The weigh in challenge from last week was a huge success. I was only tempted once, yesterday, and since I had put the scale up in the closet that kept me from doing it. This morning I woke up and until I started thinking about my weekly challenges, I hadn’t even thought about my weight! So I think this is working 😉

Unfortunately, I had kind of a caffeine “binge” this weekend (by which I mean I had two cups of coffee Saturday morning, a soda and dark chocolate Saturday night and 1 cup of coffee yesterday morning) but I’m drinking tea today and I’m back to monitoring my intake so its no big deal whatsoever.

However, my weekly dinners at home have been planned (even some lunches!) and I haven’t counted a single calorie, so in most respects, the challenges/changes are going quite well.

So, what’s going to happen in June?

Well, starting today, I’m going to READ MORE!

I like adding stuff as opposed to taking stuff away, so this one should be really fun. I have FOUR library books at home right now that have already been renewed once, two of which are due back this week, so I’d better get on it. I’m also a few months behind on all my magazine reading, I have a subscription to Health, Fitness, Shape and Women’s Health, so they are piling up quickly 🙂

The plan is that every day this week, I need to devote (at least) 30 minutes to reading! Reading is a healthy behavior because it gets you away from the kitchen/food, away from the television and for me, its a great way to wind down and relax before going to sleep. In fact, I do most of my reading in bed 🙂

Tonight, I’m going to try and get through a good chunk of “French Women For All Seasons” which I finally started a couple of weeks ago, it is due back on Thursday night so lets see if I can finish it!

Hope you all have a great day 😉

Challenges, changes, etc.

All of my challenges are still going strong!

No calorie counting, mucho meal (well, dinner) planning, moderate and steady caffeine reduction and best of all NO WEIGHING! Thanks everyone who responded both on my post about no longer weighing myself and the Melissa Joan Hart story. I appreciate all of your responses 🙂

I love giving myself a new thing to focus on each week. I find that taking things one small step at a time is the best way to make them permanent changes. If I had in that first week, at the beginning of May, said to myself “Starting today, I’m going to not count calories, plan every meal, stop drinking caffeine and not weigh myself” all at once, I would’ve freaked out and been very unsuccessful at most of those things.

On the caffeine front, I have been alternating coffee with tea (both caffeinated) in the mornings. Yesterday morning, I had coffee with milk and this morning, I had Earl Grey tea. Then the rest of the day is caffeine free tea like peppermint or chamomile (my favorites). I have a lot of new brands and flavors to try so the possibilities are endless. I haven’t had any dark chocolate and have had exactly two sodas (ew, I know!) since the caffeine challenge began 10 days ago.

I have still cut back quite a bit from my original intake and I’m not having any weird withdrawal symptoms. I will continue the every other day approach for a while, then gradually switch to every 2 days and then gradually make my way into half caff or decaf coffee land. Because I really do love the TASTE of coffee and couldn’t give it up completely, no way.

Here’s another interesting development…I know I have touched on this once or twice before. But, I have not had a single bite of meat since last Thursday?! That’s a whole week! I have just found myself not wanting it at all. I haven’t avoided it or chosen junky foods in order to not eat it. I’ve just been eating lots of veggies, fruits, grains, nuts, beans, etc. and haven’t had the need for it. I’ve often called myself “The Accidental Vegetarian” and I believe I have become her again for a while. But you know what’s funny, I feel great! I might have to keep this up.

Since I’m still in Beatles mode, here is a random pic of Paul McCartney related to the subject…

Here’s the neat thing about blogs. It was almost exactly this same time last year (it was June 14th) that I wasn’t eating meat and noticed. Hmm…

My husband hates it when I do that because meat to him is like peanut butter to me, can’t live without it. But I’ve noticed that I can live without it, plus it saves money because meat by far is the most expensive thing we buy at the grocery store. And, even though I don’t do it for ethical reasons alone, there’s always that to think about too. So, why not? We’ll see.

I’m also trying to get out of that “I have to have this with that” mentality which is how I end up eating meat in the first place. I thought for a long time that you had to have meat with dinner. Well, heck, if I’m in the mood for it, I could have cereal for dinner! Its all about balance and every day does not have to be perfect.

This morning, I had a green monster and then packed my lunch which contained no vegetables. Oh well, I thought, at least I’ll get them in at dinner, totally forgetting I’d already had some with breakfast. Its important to get the appropriate number of servings for each food group but not necessary to force yourself to add something to a meal that you really don’t want to eat. So my lunch remained veggie free!

Hope you all are enjoying this short week! I still have lots to share with you (I’m so behind) so stick with me 😉

Challenge #4…what’s next?

A few weeks ago I decided to give myself weekly “challenges” in the form of changes that I would eventually like to make permanent in my lifestyle. Here are the previous three in case you missed them:

1. No calorie counting

2. Meal planning (trying new recipes)

3. Caffeine awareness/reduction

Its amazing to me that I have not slipped up once in any of these things. Well, the caffeine has been challenging and is sort of still in the experimental phases. Right now I am drinking green tea instead of coffee at work!

And now…number 4, it’s going to be a tough one!

4. No weighing

JUST SAY NO!

JUST SAY NO!

Now obviously its not going to be hard for me to go an entire week without weighing myself, the real challenge is going to be extending it beyond that week. My weigh fluctuates in a 7 lb range (147-154) up and down and I’m always wearing the same clothes, so I don’t think going up and down a pound or two here and there is something to really monitor even on a weekly basis. If a problem arises, it will become obvious to me by how I’m feeling, my clothes getting tighter, etc.

We all know how discouraging the scale can be. So, when I get home today, the dumb thing is going in the closet!! I don’t even want the temptation to step on it right there in my face. Its true that I would like to eventually lose a few more pounds (tone up if you will) but I would rather judge that based on how I feel, how my clothes fit and just by observing myself. Not by that number.

So there you have it, I’m taking the fourth step toward my ideal life and it feels so great 🙂

Happy Tuesday!

p.s. Hangry Pants is having an Element Bar giveaway, go check it out!

Adventures in caffeine reduction

Happy Thursday blog readers 🙂 I can’t believe we’re already on the downward slope of this week!

So, today is Day 4 of my caffeine acknowledgement challenge and subsequent attempts to reduce my overall intake and eliminate dependency altogether.

Yesterday (Day 3), I had my normal 1 cup of coffee in the morning but then, in the afternoon, I had a cup of decaf chamomile tea. The only difference I felt was that I was not quite as “alert” as I usually am when I drink caffeinated, but I had no headaches or erratic mood swings that I know of 😉

Day 3 total = 141 mg caffeine

Day 2 total = 186 mg

Day 1 total = 236 mg

I also had a cup of decaf peppermint tea at the girls’ night potluck. One thing I did not know is that both chamomile and peppermint are herbal teas and thus naturally decaffeinated requiring no removal to take place. Even cooler! Those are my two favorites anyway.

As you can see, I have already reduced my daily intake by almost 100 mg since Monday!

Today, I have had a cup of coffee already and at this moment am contemplating some tea. I still have two bags of Sugar Cookie Sleigh Ride left over from the holidays so I think I will use one of those…decaf!

Tomorrow (Friday, yay) I will most likely repeat today but on the weekend, I’m going to try English Breakfast tea in the mornings and see how that goes. If I can make that change, even just on the weekends, it would mean 40 mg of caffeine vs. 130’ish. WOW.

**Once again, I want to point out that I am not against caffeine. I am a huge coffee and tea lover with no plans to give them up. What I am doing is an experiment, meant only for me, and not trying to get you to stop drinking it yourself. Caffeine does have some AMAZING health benefits and when taken in moderation, it can be very good for you. My consumption had just become borderline (over moderation) and I wanted to nip that in the bud before it got too far. Thanks!

Day 2 Caffeine Challenge

Yesterday went very much like the first day of the challenge (coffee, tea) only I did not have the Vitamin Water with caffeine in it, so I could subtract 50 from my total!

Tuesday’s caffeine total = 186 mg

I think its going to be a very easy transition. Once I use up all of my caffeinated coffee and tea at home, I can easily just purchase decaf or half-caf next time and work my way down slowly. Everything I have done gradually over time has paid off, as opposed to quick, cold turkey methods. And like I said before, I will still enjoy a caffeinated beverage from time to time, I just don’t want to be dependent.

Sorry the blog has been so boring lately, I am working on lots of product reviews coming very soon and I can’t wait for my 5k this Saturday (!!) so expect a full report on that too!

I really do want to get back to food blogging because I have not posted pictures of my food in so long that I’m starting to miss it. However, I don’t want it to become so repetitive that it loses its excitement, so it won’t be every meal or everyday but perhaps just the things I get really excited about, which happens at least once a day 🙂

Thanks for sticking around, lots to come soon!

Day 1 caffeine tally

Let me just say, it was hard to come up with the correct number because there are so many websites out there claiming caffeine amounts and I wasn’t sure which one to go with. For the purposes of this challenge, I have decided to use the Center for Science in the Public Interests (aka CSPINET), since I know that source and find it to be trustworthy.

Here’s what they have to say about caffeine in general:

CAFFEINE
Stimulant: Naturally occurring in coffee, tea, cocoa, coffee-flavored yogurt and frozen desserts. Additive in soft drinks, energy drinks, gum, and waters.

Caffeine is the only drug that is present naturally or added to widely consumed foods (quinine is the other drug used in foods). It is mildly addictive, one possible reason that makers of soft drinks add it to their products. Many coffee drinkers experience withdrawal symptoms, such as headaches, irritability, sleepiness, and lethargy, when they stop drinking coffee.

Because caffeine increases the risk of miscarriages (and possibly birth defects) and inhibits fetal growth, it should be avoided by women who are pregnant or considering becoming pregnant. It also may make it harder to get pregnant.

Caffeine also keeps many people from sleeping, causes jitteriness, and affects calcium metabolism.

The caffeine in a standard cup or two of coffee is harmless to most people. But if you drink more than a couple of cups of coffee or cans of caffeine-containing soda per day, experience symptoms noted above, are at risk of osteoporosis, or are pregnant, you should rethink your habit. Note that some “energy” drinks contain far more caffeine than most soft drinks.”

Using their chart, I broke down my caffeine consumption as follows:

  • 1 coffee mug of regular coffee = 133 mg
  • Vitamin Water (I was shocked!) = 50 mg
  • Black tea = 53 mg

Total = 236 mg caffeine

I managed to stay away from dark chocolate and soft drinks yesterday since I have been overindulging in both lately. I try to stay away from soft drinks 98% of the time because of the artificial sweeteners and they just don’t sit right on my stomach, even if Coke Zero does taste soooo goooood. But I’m a recovering addict right now.

So, how “bad” is 236?

Depending on which expert you ask, caffeine consumption can become a problem anywhere from 150 mg – 300 mg (exceeding that number). In general, 1-2 cups of coffee per day is deemed safe or average. But it would depend on the type of coffee, the strength, etc. for a true number.

Once again, I’m not knocking caffeine. It has many benefits along with drawbacks. I’m just trying to see what if anything, it is doing in my life. I also want to be free of all dependencies (if possible), so learning how much caffeine I consume on average, can help me do that gradually.

What about you…how much caffeine do you get in an average day? Use the list I linked above and tally up your total! Don’t forget, some foods, candies and over the counter medications count too.

Happy Tuesday.

 

Challenge numero 3

Hey folks!

It’s a new week, which means it is time for a new challenge…this week’s challenge will be…Cutting the Caffeine!

As you all have witnessed here at See Sarah Eat (and drink, apparently) I like to drink coffee and hot tea regularly although not truly in excess. I stick to one cup of coffee in the mornings (two on the weekend) and then 1-2 cups of tea in the afternoon and evening, at least one of them being caffeine free.

But we all know that caffeine doesn’t come from just coffee and tea. I do have the occasional diet soda (ick, I’m giving up again, they make me bloat and feel icky) and lately I’ve grown quite accustomed to having a piece of dark chocolate or two almost every day. It adds up!

I’m not totally against caffeine and this challenge is not to cut it out completely, though I have done that before. Instead, this week’s challenge is to be AWARE of how much caffeine I am consuming on average and to start a gradual cut back to a normal and healthy level. A level that would allow me to not be dependent.

I want to get to where its not a big deal to skip a cup of coffee once in a while or have a Starbucks drink one day and not the next without the serious headaches and grouchiness. I want to enjoy the coffee and tea I drink for its taste and antioxidants (which I do) and not for its keeping me awake benefits.

So for today, Day 1 of Challenge # 3, I’m going to go about my normal ways and count up how much caffeine I’ve had. Tomorrow I’m going to subtract one thing and see what difference it makes.

I guess this is really less of a challenge and more of an experiment, but it will still be fun!

Challenges 1 and 2 are sticking. I’m still not counting calories and Josh and I are sticking to our weekly meal plans, preparing ahead of time and having fun by trying new recipes. This week we are going to try another Ellie Krieger recipe, this time for Chicken Parmesan, yum!

Happy start to a new week 🙂