Over the course of the past few years, it has been a solid source of frustration to me. I will often feel like I've made progress, only to have another life hiccup and take steps backwards. I suppose that's how life is for everyone, but it seems like for me, it happens more often. Because of how my life is, I've given up on the idea that I will be a strict Paleo eater. I hate to sound like a naysayer and I know that I'm going against everything that CrossFit preaches, but the bottom line, for me anyway, is that I'm just not able to devote enough of my time to it. Eating healthy takes some consorted effort and dedication at first until it becomes natural. For me, the fact is that I simply do not have the time. People say, "Cook on the weekends." I say, "I work every weekend." People say, "Have your meals delivered." I say, "There's a reason I work a second job!"
Right now, for me, it is not feasible to spend the time in the kitchen, finding recipes that I like, playing around with ingredients, and generally devoting the time to it that it needs. Now, having said that, that also does not mean however, that I spend my nights eating McDonald's and chowing down on pints of ice cream. (Although to be fair, it is SOL season and my sugar intake has spiked drastically because of stress, however, this is unusual.) I try to make the best choices that I can, when possible, and I also try to put myself in the best possible situation to BE successful. It's kind of like what I was saying the other day in my blog about "The Serious Factor". You want to put yourself in the best position possible to BE your best and DO your best. Sometimes, you'll get amazing results, and sometimes you'll fall a bit short because, well, that's life and we don't always get what we want. But putting yourself in the BEST position possible to be your best and be successful in your endeavors is key.
So, if you're like me..... then I know you feel like nutrition can be your enemy. If you work two jobs, 12 hour shifts, or have 3 kids and FEEL like you work 4 jobs.... here are a few things that I do (and am TRYING to do) that may help you in the same way they have at least HELPED me get started on the right track. I'm human, and I am constantly trying to figure this all out. I do sometimes fall off the wagon, I make mistakes, and sometimes I flat out get to the point where I just don't care. I'm not perfect. But these are some things that are helping to keep me completely "out of the weeds" as we say in the restaurant world. They keep me from getting so far off the path that I can't find my way back.
1.) The microwave omelette maker (aka The Best $5 I Ever Spent)
Over Christmas, I was shopping for my sister's rubber bakeware that she wanted (it's actually really cool, you should look that up too!) when I spied a little thing hanging off the side of a rack. It looked interesting and it was $5. It said it was a microwaveable omelette maker. Now, I'm someone who is out of my house and either at the gym by 0515 or at work in my classroom by 0700. I also happen to live with 2 roommates, so making a lot of noise in the morning to make breakfast is out of the question. So that leaves me a few options. Don't eat breakfast (negatory, I need food and get cranky), make something that doesn't take a lot of noise like oatmeal (also negatory for self-explanatory reasons), or eat on the way (feasible, but not as healthy and also pretty $$$$$$ when you eat out EVERY day). So I thought, what the heck, and I threw it in my basket. I gave it a test run that night and was pretty impressed with it. It worked as indicated and now it allows me to make an omelette at SCHOOL every morning. I make it work. I keep some already scrambled eggs (which you can make yourself and place in one of the jugs that tupperware designed for liquids, or you can buy them already scrambled at the grocery store, which is what I do), one green pepper, one red onion, some mild cheddar cheese, and individual packages of "Number One Guacamole" in a lunch bag. It's easy to tote around or leave in the fridge and then I just replace as needed. It's a great way to keep me from stopping to buy a bacon, egg, and cheese somewhere and spending more money, and it's also really healthy too. Well, minus the cheese, cause that's not Paleo, but everything else is. I'm not a mushroom person, but it would be easy to put any them, or any other vegetable or meat in there if you wanted to. I tried for awhile to do bacon, but I kept forgetting it at home, so I just stuck with the veggies. But the omelette maker works either way! If you just put the veggies in raw, they will cook while the egg cooks in the omelette maker. In the microwave it takes about 4 1/2 minutes. It's seriously great and keeps me on track for breakfast. Not to mention, if I forget my lunch, it never hurts to have more protein and good fat for lunch! Double bonus! Clean up on it is also easy as it pops apart and is dishwasher safe (in the top rack). Definitely worth the $5 investment! Or if you have a sink and can wash it at work, it's small and keeps easily in a desk drawer. I also keep a paring knife in the lunch bag to cut the veggies at work or you could also prepare them at home if you have the time.
2.) Power Supply
Here in DC we have a company that will deliver Paleo lunches, dinners, and recovery meals to local affiliates that have a large enough interest in their service to make the delivery worthwhile. While the service is somewhat expensive, you are paying for the conveinance and the fact that you don't have to buy groceries anymore. I began by doing lunches and dinners for 5 days, but that was too much for me. I felt locked in and also, it was wicked expensive. So now, I have them deliver lunches for 5 days. If I don't happen to care for one of the lunches that gets sent, I make an omelette or I will try to find a way to eat part of it with something else. Since they come prepared and pre-packaged, I literally don't have to do anything with them, except decide which one I want to eat, and usually heat part of it. it's nice because I have now almost guaranteed that I will eat healthy for breakfast and lunch, but it still leaves room for me to cook if I want at night too. It's a pretty sweet set-up! If you are near a major city, I would suggest at least googling it and looking to see if something like that exists. If you're not, then stick with the omelette maker for lunch too! :P
3.) Invest in a good blender and a coffee maker
For me, staying away from Starbucks is HARD. I really like my fru fru coffee drinks like the lattes and mochas. But, unfortunately, there is a TON of sugar in those things. Have you ever actually LOOKED at the nutrition ingredients? In a Venti white mocha, there are 75 grams of sugar. 75! That's literally almost your entire day's worth of carbs in your morning coffee! Whoa! Now, not all their drinks pack the same punch, but knowing what we know about carbs and why we gain/lose/hold weight, it would seem to make sense to steer as clear as humanly possible. So, I recommend investing in a coffee maker. It doesn't have to be a $100 model, but spend about $30 and invest in one that allows you to set a delay, so that you don't have to even worry about your coffee in the morning! And, if you are like me and are a serious sugaraholic and need some flavor to your coffee, try coffee creamer. I know, I know, I KNOW it is not Paleo. But, if we're talking the difference between 50 grams of sugar from the syrup and about 6 grams from the Hazelnut creamer I use, I'm ok with that. Really. I know it's not perfect, but I get my coffee, I can drink it on the way to work, and it helps to keep me sane. If you want to be a little more hardcore then me, try almond milk. As far as I can tell, it's friendly since it's not actually dairy, and it only has 1 gram of carbs per serving I believe, so long as you get the unsweetened one. Either way, it's still better than Starbucks!
Secondly, invest in a good blender. Fruit smoothies are your friend! We're in berry season right now, so this is even MORE of a reason to get a good blender. I know what I said earlier about roommates and noise, but as far as I'm concerned, weekends are game on. I made eggs on the stove today, some bacon, and added in some carbs with a fruit smoothie. I had to buy a new blender because my roommate threw away the rubber part of my blender that actually seals the blender closed on the bottom, so I had to invest in a new one. And, let me tell you, the Ninja is seriously kick ass. It doesn't allow you to choose a speed like a normal blender, but seriously, it's the easiest blender to work. You put it on, make sure it's locked and press down on the handle so it turns on. To turn it off, let go of the handle. Pushing at intervals pulses the blender and there are 3 full sized smoothie cups that you can also use to make and then take smoothies. It's seriously awesome. Clean up is easy because the blade pops out (no unscrewing), the container is plastic (no worries about chipping or breaking glass) and everything is dishwasher friendly! Hellz yeah! I made smoothies today with fresh berries, some frozen, and almond milk. They came out awesome! And, the straws that I had from my Starbucks plastic cups fit perfectly into the smoothie cups. It seriously is almost like fate. But the blender comes with other blades to make different types of dough, and it says if you use it in pulse mode, you can use it as a food processor, so making something Paleo, like cauliflower rice, would be super easy to do and clean up! It's seriously worth the money. It was a little bit more then my $50 Oster blender from before, but I'm definitely happy with it. The biggest difference that I noticed is that I didn't have to do any scraping of the sides. If you're a smoothie person you know what I mean. Stop, scrape, blend. Stop, scrape, blend. Didn't have to do it at all! It was AWESOME! Not to mention, it's called the Ninja! ;)
4.) Don't keep it in the house!
This is a good rule of thumb for anyone who is trying to eat healthy, whether it's Paleo, Zone, Weight Watchers, WHATEVER. If you know you're susceptible to eating something bad if it's around, then don't keep it around. I will not allow myself to bring tubs of ice cream, bread, soda, or candy into the house. I know that I will eat it without a doubt. If I'm cheating, then I will buy something small and eat it away from the house. One can of soda, one small bag of chips, ice cream AT a restaurant. This helps in two ways. One, because I can't bring it home, and two because it's in a much smaller quantity so it prevents me from falling off the wagon over and over again because I "have to finish the tub" or I "have to finish the bag". It's a small trick, but one that I've found to be particularly effective.
Like I said above, I'm human and I make mistakes. I'm also not perfect. These things help keep me from going back to the way I was.... eating anything that my heart desired, and also eating anything that made me heavy and not healthy. So if any of these sound good, feel free to try them or use them! But also feel free to give me feedback. Did it help? Is there something you think might work better? I like to help others, which is why I share my experiences and thoughts on this blog. Well that and because sometimes people get tired of listening to me talk so much... ;) But I also like to get feedback and get new ideas. So feel free! Let's make it work!