3 Life Lessons I Learned from a Rollerblading Accident

I recently took a tumble. This tumble involved me, rollerblades, the pavement and not enough protective gear (according to my 5 year-old nephew). I’ve always had an obsession with rollerblades. As a kid I was convinced that living on hills with bumpy roads that made your jaw jiggle as you rode down them was not a good enough reason to not rollerblade. Instead, I tentatively, slowly weaved myself down the hills then clunked back up the hill to do it all over again. You would think that all of this practice rollerblading on hills would translate into me being a fairly functional rollerblader on flat roads. Well then, you would be wrong.

tim_is_fabulous__gif__by_carabaosrock-d6f87iy.gif

Since my body and running don’t get along, I recently got the spark to try rollerblading again. I love being able to just put on shoes and go for a run, but my hips and knees don’t get the same rush my brain does. According to a physical therapist I saw, it’s because my wide hips were made for giving birth not for running. Personally, I would like to think my hips are made for much more than giving birth, but that’s neither here nor there. Needless to say, I didn’t go back to see him again. In my logical mind, rollerblading was a great substitution for running. You know what I didn’t take into account? Falling on rollerblades hurts way more than falling while running.

A couple weeks ago, when the weather finally dipped below 100 degrees, I decided it was an ideal time to strap on the blades and hit the pavement (literally what I did).  With the help from Kevin, I made it out of my front door and decided it was best to walk down the grass instead of the slightly downhill driveway, safety first. The last words I heard Kevin say were, “call me if you need me to pick you up” and I laughed at him because why in the world would I need to be rescued?!

IMG_2042.PNG
Back when I aspired to be bad ass rollerblader

Then this happened… I was cruising down the bike lane praying no cars were at the four way stop, because I realized I had 0% confidence in my ability to stop. Phew, no cars, let’s try to slow down. “Ah you’re leaning back and are going to eat it, just roll through.” I seemed to be getting into a rhythm and my glutes were starting to burn. I felt like a semi-legit rollerblader. I was approaching the park, so I looked up to see the view. BIG MISTAKE. I should have kept looking down to see the crack that was clearly waiting to destroy me. Boom. Just like that my knee banged the ground, then my chin, my head and apparently every appendage on my body hit the pavement in some way. Of course, there was a car full of people nearby to witness my YouTube worthy tumble, but none of them had their phones out ready to record and make me go viral. For about 30 seconds I considered rollerblading home, then I had to suck up my pride and call Kevin to come rescue me.

In the two weeks since my rollerblading disaster, I realized that I learned the following life lessons from this debacle:

It’s OK to Fail

As I stood there laughing at myself for falling and trying to push down the frustration, I seriously considered rollerblading back home. Why? Because I didn’t want to admit that I failed. Looking back on it, rollerblading home would have been incredibly ridiculous. The reality is that I tried rollerblading and it didn’t work out. Do I need to try it again and “not give up”? Not if I don’t want to. Honestly, I’m planning on selling the rollerblades. I’ll stick to walking and biking. I tried it and failed, that’s OK.

I don’t feel like we are taught to fail or even how to handle failure. Rather, we are taught to not give up and are rewarded for succeeding, but not always for taking a chance on something. It took me a whole year to get the courage to start this blog, because I was worried it would fail. Finally, I realized that it didn’t matter if it failed, but it did matter if I passed the opportunity to do something I enjoy in fear of failing. Imagine how many opportunities we let slip by in life because we fear that we won’t succeed. Instead of trying so hard to avoid failure, let’s shift the focus to improving how we react to failure. Life is an experiment, let’s learn from it.

You can’t force healing (physical or emotional)

As I sit here typing this post, two weeks post-eating-pavement, I am still experiencing pain. My chin still has a knot on it and is sensitive to touch. I can deal with that though, I don’t need a chin to be active. However, I do need my hips to function and it seems like I pulled something in my hip when I fell. Awesome.

I was convinced that I’d be able to return to my normal workout classes a week after the fall. Where’d I get this time frame from? Oh, I just made it up. One week sounded like a decent amount of time to heal. Well guess what? Two weeks have gone by and I still haven’t returned to my normal workout schedule. It’s incredibly frustrating, but I’ve realized that we cannot force physical or emotional healing. We must give ourselves time to heal and respect that we can’t rush this process. In the grand scheme of things, these 2 weeks that I have been out of commission are such a small amount of time in my life. ”It’s not a big deal, be patient. It’s not a big deal, be patient. It’s not a big deal, be patient.” This phrase is currently on repeat in my head, so I stay sane.

Sometimes you need to rely on others for help

Guess what makes life easier? Leaning on your support system and asking for help when you need it. Guess what isn’t always easy? Asking for help. It’s OK to need and request support. We don’t have to do this crazy thing called life alone. Knowing when you need help and actually requesting it can be difficult. We can’t expect other people to read our minds and know what we need. We need to communicate. As I was lying on the ground in our living room icing my knee and my chin, feeling all sorts of frustrated, I had a 30-minute conversation with myself about making dinner. I had something delicious planned and didn’t want to lie on the ground for the rest of the night, but making dinner at that moment sounded miserable. Finally, I asked for help. Of course, Kevin didn’t actually expect me to make dinner. But in my head I was letting us both down until I came to terms with the fact that making dinner just wasn’t on the table, so I asked for help and the world didn’t come crashing down. Life lessons man, they even happen when you’re lying on the ground cursing the rollerblading gods. Speaking of which, do you need some rollerblades? I think I know where you can get some used ones (with no bad luck attached) for a good deal 🙂

My Wellness Vision

I’ve almost completed the certification process to become a Health and Wellness Coach and finally did something I was supposed to do at the beginning of the class. I am typically not a procrastinator and cross items off my to-do list a little too enthusiastically.  The problem with this task, developing my Wellness Vision, is that I haven’t been inspired by my own vision.

To be honest, I also don’t have that great of an imagination. I wasn’t the type of kid that loved “pretending” and it’s even harder for me to do it now. Believe me, I wish I had that playful, fun side, and could enjoy acting like I’m a dog and crawling around the floor. I swear kids always want to pretend they are dogs. Since imagination isn’t second nature for me, the thought of imagining what my Wellness Vision could be was quite intimidating. Do you want to talk about your wellness vision? Let’s do it! I could help you brainstorm all day, but please don’t ask, “Well what about you?”

Needless to say, the fact that this task has been hanging over my head since December was driving me wild. I didn’t want to just write something to say I did it though; I wanted it to be meaningful and applicable to my life. I’m delighted to share that I finally wrote my Wellness Vision. What finally inspired me? My computer wouldn’t let me log on at work Monday morning.

As I sat there staring at my computer screen, wondering why Monday hated me, I thought of my Wellness Vision and my brain finally kicked into gear. At work, we use the 8 Dimensions of Wellness model to explain to students how to find balance in their lives. I realized that I needed to combine the 8 Dimensions of Wellness and my favorite word “intention” to develop my Wellness Vision. Once I got a pen and pad of paper, the words began flowing and my terrible handwriting couldn’t keep up.

This vision contains reflects my current stage in life, but I imagine my Wellness Vision is fluid and I will edit it as life changes. I encourage you to explore your own Wellness Vision (even if it takes 8 months). As uncomfortable as it can be, internal reflection does wonders for our health and wellness.

wellness

My Wellness Vision

I am living my life with intention in the following dimensions of wellness:

  1. Physical
    • I am nourishing my body with foods that give me energy and make me feel good.
    • I am positively recognizing my body for what it can do, not how it looks.
    • I am choosing to do exercise that makes my body and mind feel good.
    • I am engaging in preventive behaviors and seeking medical advice when needed.
  1. Emotional
    • I am honoring my feelings by giving myself time to recognize, understand and work through them.
    • I am seeking peer and/or professional support when necessary.
  1. Spiritual
    • I am actively exploring what’s meaningful to me.
  1. Occupational
    • I am satisfied, happy and challenged by the work I am doing.
    • I am working to live, not living to work and have boundaries set between my work and personal life.
  1. Financial:
    • I am consciously spending my money and focusing on experiences rather than material items.
    • I am making financial decisions that positively impact my family and my future self.
  1. Social:
    • I am choosing to have connections with individuals that add value to my life.
    • I am regularly engaging with my social network while also dedicating alone time for my mind to rejuvenate.
  1. Environmental:
    • I am spending time outside and disconnecting from technology to reconnect with nature.
    • I am embracing the mantra “outer peace=inner calm” by only keeping items around me that add value, I have an emotional connection with or use regularly.
  1. Intellectual:
    • I am engaging in situations and discussions that challenge my internal and external biases.
    • I am keeping an open mind and always seeking new information.

My motivators are my health, well-being, family and friends.

The strengths I can draw on to help to realize my vision are my self-awareness, intrinsic motivation and passion for self-improvement.

My challenges are external influences, the desire to do too many things and living in the future instead of the present.

My strategies that will help me realize this vision and meet the challenges are revisiting my Wellness Vision regularly, developing short and long-term goals and sharing my vision with my support network.

 

 

 

How I Got Tricked into Joining a Crossfit Gym

When people ask me if I miss living in San Diego, I usually stare at them with a dumbfounded look on my face as I wonder who would even ask that question. If you’ve ever been to San Diego, even on vacation, you understand. It’s an amazing place. Of course I miss the beaches and the weather, that’s a given. But, one of the things I miss the most is the countless exercise options. Yes, there are tons of opportunities to move your body outdoors (especially with the lovely weather), but I’m mainly referring to group exercise classes.

You see, I’m a group exercise junky. I fell in love with group exercise when I first attended a Step Aerobics class with my mom when I was 16. I was easily the youngest and most confused in the class, but I absolutely loved every aspect of it. I love the community aspect the classes create. I love when everyone groans and moans together about the instructor throwing them a curveball, like another set of burpies even though you’ve already done like 1,000. Instead of giving up, you come together as a class to complete the challenge and congratulate each other after. I enjoyed group exercise classes so much that I eventually found myself on the other side, as the instructor, getting the eye daggers as I threw curveballs the the poor, sweaty souls in my classes.

712c7853-fb3f-4f36-b985-7307613e3408
One of my favorite group fitness experiences, teaching at So Cal Fitbody Bootcamp!

When we decided to move back to Davis, one of the first things I looked for (besides trying to find us a place to live of course) was a gym with classes. Needless to say, Davis’ gym game is nowhere close to San Diego’s. There is a huge gym on campus, so I decided that I would just workout on my own. Although it was extremely convenient, my motivation and excitement towards exercise dwindled.

I decided to start looking into other options and while mindlessly scrolling through Facebook one day, an advertisement for Get Fit Strength and Conditioning popped up on my feed. It’s like the Facebook gods were giving me a gift (also sorta creepy).  I signed up for a trial month and was extremely excited to get started with something new. I walked through the front door and checked out the whiteboard for the days’ workout and immediately realized I had just signed up for a Crossfit membership.

I tried Crossfit for the first time in 2011. Crossfit wasn’t nearly as popular then, so I had no idea what to expect. All I knew was that there was a new class available in Davis, so I had to try it.  The coach had me do a 10-minute workout then spent the next hour talking to me about the Paleo diet. It really irks me when people talk to me about food and diets while I’m exercising. I truly enjoy exercise and love the way it makes my body feel. I like to focus on that when I exercise, not what food I should or should not be eating. Instead, please tell me how I can change my form to lift heavier weights and become stronger. Unfortunately, this initial experience with Crossfit really set me off from trying it again.

handstand
Being upside down terrifies me, but I’m quieting the voice in my head and learning to get used to it one day at a time.

Needless to say, I was a little shocked when I found myself at another Crossfit style gym. I was already there though and needed to exercise for my mental health, so I gave it a go and guess what? I absolutely loved it! I loved it so much, in fact, that I signed up for a membership and consider this gym my community now. These workouts challenge me in a whole new way. I am using muscles I didn’t know I had and am getting stronger every week. Every day we focus on how to improve our movements to get better at what we are doing, not how we can burn more calories to change the way our bodies look. The coaches truly care about each individual and their progress. Also, the coaches seem like real human beings, not some superhero fitness people that live crazy, unrealistic lifestyles. On my first day, someone turned to me and asked my name. That rarely happened in a class in San Diego. Everyone supports each other and doesn’t talk about how they feel guilty for their latest “cheat day”. Instead, we motivate each other to push our limits and support each other when we listen to our bodies. Now that’s what I would call motivating.

piggy-backs
Literally supporting each other
lunges
Some of the kids of parents in class joined us for a round of lunges!

The biggest challenge in trying these new workouts is learning to quiet the doubtful voice in my head. I believe I am very good at self motivation and believing in myself, but I do still doubt my abilities from time to time. Do I think I can really lift this bar with weights above my head? Can I really deadlift more than I weigh? It’s incredibly easy to let these voices get the best of you and I have before, but it’s most rewarding when you learn to prove them wrong.

The lessons I am learning in the gym are transferring into other aspects of my life. I’m finding that I am more confident in my ability to accomplish tasks at work and am more willing to tackle challenges I was hesitant to confront before. For example, I officially turned in my parking permit and am a full-time active commuter (woohoo!). Will it be hard to do it on a daily basis? Yes. Do I think I can do it? Yes. Do I think it will benefit my body in the long term? Yes.

 

Rope.JPG
When I first walked in and saw this I dreaded the day we would have to climb it. Now, I look forward to it as long as I have long pants on. The feeling of being at the top is incredibly exhilarating.

 

 

2017 Intentions Reflection: Active Commuting

Disclaimer: If you have a terrible commute, this post might make you hate me. Read with caution.

Let’s start this post with some upfront honesty. I live less than 2 miles from my work aaaaaand I pay for a parking pass. Phew, it feels good to get that off my chest. Now before you begin to judge, let me explain. I went to college where I am currently working and biked 90% of the time (the other 10% of the time I begged my roommates with parking permits for a ride). I remember getting to class just drenched in water from biking in the rain. I have scars on my legs from the lovely combination of a city policy to pile your yard waste in the street and my refusal to spend money on a bike light. Safety clearly wasn’t very high on my priority list during my college years.

Basically, when I began working and knew that I could afford a parking pass (one of the many perks of adulting), I said screw biking in the rain and the hot as hell summers- give me that parking pass! Speaking of those insanely hot summers, it’s really hard and uncomfortable to dress “business casual” when it’s over 100 degrees out. My go-to summer work outfit includes a dress or a skirt. Guess what’s difficult to bike in? Dresses and skirts.  Are you starting to understand my reasoning yet?

You’ll be happy to know that my inner physical-activity-loving self felt guilty about having a parking pass ever since Day 1. Do I feel guilty when I happily arrive at work not soaking wet during the winter months? Not one bit. I feel content being warm and dry. But most days, I feel pretty lame about driving. I should let you know though, that I don’t always drive. I frequently walk or bike during the fall and spring when the weather is ideal. Thinking about that just frustrates me though, because I realize that I’m paying for a parking permit and not using it to its capacity. Therefore, I’ve decided that I need to cut the cord and just give up the parking permit altogether.

During the last few months, I’ve been working on a literature review at work to determine how my work will be focused for the next 3 years. I am looking up research and best practices within the last five years related to my content areas: physical activity, nutrition and bike helmets. While searching for ways to increase physical activity levels, the concept of active commuting came up multiple times. I’ve always known that walking or biking to get places was better than driving, but who knew people referred to it by a cool term like “active commuting”?

img_0195
White Lightening and I are going to be spending a lot of time together.

Research and science is my jam. I love it. As I was reading more and more about active commuting my guilt for having a parking permit grew immensely. In a recent study from the United Kingdom, researchers assessed data from 18,000 commuters, collected over a 10 year period. Not surprisingly, they found a positive relationship between time spent walking to work and well-being. They even found that individuals’ happiness levels increased significantly when their walk to work increased by 10 minutes. As you may expect, the same cannot be said for drivers. Another study highlighted the fact that commute lengths are linked to a sense of time pressure. People driving feel more stressed when their commute is increased, but active commuters don’t experience the same stress.

When I actively commute to work, I feel like I’ve done some positive for my health and this motivates me to tackle the day. When I’m irritated that I have to sit in yet another meeting, I look forward to spending 30 minutes walking home and giving my body the movement it deserves. Therefore, I’m going to take the plunge to bike in the rain and the 100 heat, possibly even the wind storms (yuck). Instead of making excuses about why I shouldn’t give up my parking pass, I’m going to create opportunities and change my attitude. I’m going to put a fender on my bike, purchase a tire compressor, download some audio books and happily hit the road. My goal is to officially cut the cord on Friday, February 24th and allocate the money I’ll save from not paying for a dang parking permit to my retirement account (more adulting). I’ll keep you updated on how this goes. Hopefully I don’t add more scars to my legs…

Why Lowering the Bar Blog Dropped Off the Face of the Earth

You may have noticed that Lowering the Bar Blog dropped off the face of the earth after getting my feet wet in the blogging world in 2016. Why? The simple answer is that life happened and I didn’t enjoy being on my computer after work. Summer is generally slower time at work (less meetings, more planning), so I am stuck inside on my computer for most of the day. I didn’t love the idea of hopping back on my computer after work. Instead, I went on walks where I continuously told myself that walking in 98 degree weather isn’t that bad or on an adventure with my husband to the batting cages or driving range. I just wanted to be outside.

However, I really enjoyed writing for this blog, so I spent some time trying to dig deeper and understand why I lost total motivation to post. Eventually, the light bulb went off and I realized that I was trying to make this blog into something that I don’t necessarily enjoy. I read a lot of blogs (editors note: seriously a lot of blogs) that post recipes and photos of food. I love reading these blogs and drool over the beautiful photos, but I really, really don’t enjoy taking my own photos of food nor writing recipes. I appreciate food photography and the time and effort that go into it, but I have zero patience or passion for it. After creating something in the kitchen, I want to eat it, not stare at it through my phone screen. I also don’t own a legit camera, which disqualifies me from the food photography club.

Creating recipes also isn’t my favorite thing to do. It takes the joy out of cooking for me. I rarely follow a recipe as written unless it is for baking or an international food that I am not very familiar with cooking. I am a fairly creative person and cooking allows me to express that quality. I like to choose spices based on how I’m feeling, add my own twist and basically just do whatever the hell I want. Sure, there are cooking rules like letting your meat come to room temperature before cooking and letting it rest after cooking that should always be followed, but I like just trying things to see what happens. When I am in this zone, I rarely remember exactly what I did (not wine related). The thought of actually having to slowly add salt with a measuring spoon until I reach the perfect recipe worthy amount, then writing this down on a piece of paper sounds terrible. Rather, I grab a pinch or (more often) a bunch of salt out of our salt jar, throw it in the food, and hope it was the right amount. Sometimes this method doesn’t work very well with red chili pepper flakes…

So, what does all of this mean? I promise there is a purpose to this rant. I am going to make this blog something I enjoy rather than try to fit into a mold of what my mind thinks it should be. I won’t feel sorry for the terrible photos of food that I post. I won’t feel guilty for posting a recipe without exact measurements, but I will write about what truly inspires me and gets me all worked up. Some weeks I may post our weekly meal plans and other weeks I may post about things that drive me crazy, like food marketing to kids. Basically, I’m going to let loose at Lowering the Bar Blog. There may be no rhyme or reason to the posts and some may even be posted week’s apart (gasp!). I just want to write and share my thoughts about health, wellness and life with you. I invite you to come along for the journey, but you have to promise you won’t hold me to any blog standards; because I’m Lowering the Bar for my blog standards.

Get Movin’ Pal

It’s safe to say things got a little crazy around here the last few weeks. There was lots of traveling for work and play, birthdays, wedding events, work events, family BBQ’s and not enough blogging. During the first week of the craziness, I was trying to find time to set aside to write a post. I would look at my schedule and convince myself I could squeeze in some time here and there. Then I asked myself, why am I doing this? As much as I enjoy writing, having some “me” time and just walking or reading to keep my sanity sounded much better. So I said, let’s lower the bar and take a break. But guess what? I’m back!!

Luckily, I have a pretty awesome job where I get to constantly learn about health and wellness. During this recent crazy time in my life, I attended the annual American College Health Association conference in San Francisco. Basically, I spent 5 days nerding out about new health and wellness research and best practices in college health promotion. I soaked up tons of new information and ideas, but the main thing that stuck with me was the negative impact sedentary behavior has on our bodies and how we can motivate individuals to decrease sedentary behavior.

The majority of public health campaigns have focused on increasing physical activity. That’s great! But it’s not enough. We need to reduce sedentary behavior. Sit less, move more. This really hit home for me. Sure, having a sweaty, heart pumping workout for 60 minutes is awesome, but you know what’s not so awesome? Sitting for the rest of your day. I’m not saying that your exercise doesn’t matter, but research is showing that it does matter less if you are sedentary for the rest of the day.

But Shantille, I have to sit at work for 8 hours a day. Yes, many jobs (including mine) require that we sit for most of our work day. Unfortunately, we can’t really get around that. However, even small increments of movement such as standing up during a phone call or meeting can add up and reduce the deleterious effects of sedentary behavior has on our health. The conference schedule had 30 minute breaks between sessions. My first thought when seeing this was, “Can’t we have shorter breaks and just get done earlier in the day?” By the end of the week, I realized that I really actually enjoyed those longer breaks, because it gave me time to move. Rather than sitting and perusing social media or email, I told myself to go walk. I ended up logging about 16,000 steps a day…at a conference! I was shocked.

We need to stop saying we can’t. Instead, we need to capitalize on opportunities or find opportunities to move. Prioritize your health. Since coming back from the conference and adjusting to being at a desk most of the day, I have some tips that I started using to reduce my sedentary behavior:

  • Schedule an alarm on your computer to go off every hour to tell yourself to get up and move for 5 minutes. You can go on a short walk around the building, go refill your water glass, do some stretches, go say hi to a coworker, head up and down some stairs. Just move for 5 minutes.
  • Request walking meetings with your coworkers. I take notes on my phone when I do this and email them to myself.
  • Instead of calling a coworker in the same building, walk to their office.
  • Subscribe to UCLA’s Move Mail! You get emails sent to you at 10am and 2pm daily with office friendly exercises: http://www.recreation.ucla.edu/fitwell#168711080-movemail
  • Are you in charge of planning a long meeting or training? Schedule stretching/walking breaks into the agenda.
  • Lead by example. Ya sure, people might think you are weird when you are the only one standing in a meeting. Eventually though, you will start to influence others. You will be that annoying “healthy” person. Embrace it.
  • Invite others to take 15 minute walking breaks with you. I am terrible about taking my 15 minute breaks. I get caught up in something and completely forget. If I schedule a walk during my break with a coworker then I’m held accountable and take my break to move.

Do you have any tips that you use to be less sedentary during your work day? I would love to hear about them below!

My Meal Planning Mentality

Recently, I was asked to write a full post about meal planning and the steps I usually take to make sure we have mostly nutritious, homemade meals throughout the week. Everyone approaches meal planning differently, but I have found this routine to be the most efficient and doable for us.

  1. Find a method that works for you. I used to write everything down, but now I use Google Drive to record our meal plans. I created a template that I insert the meals, sale items and grocery list into weekly. I love this method, because Kevin can also see the meal plan whenever he wants, and I can access it from my phone for grocery shopping. I’ve had way fewer “Crap I forgot the list moments!” since I started using this method.
  1. Start small. When I first began meal planning, I only planned my dinners. I was in grad school, so I had a more flexible schedule when it came to breakfast and lunch. Eventually though I realized that life would be a lot easier if I also had a plan for breakfast and lunch. Since I already had the hang of planning dinner, adding two more meals wasn’t that overwhelming. For breakfast, I just plan a few options for the week then determine what I eat based on how I am feeling and what my morning schedule looks like. For lunch, it usually depends on if we have leftovers from dinner. In case we don’t, I also make sure to buy salad ingredients, so I can throw together quick veggie packed lunches the night before.
  1. Set a budget. I love grocery shopping and could easily do some serious damage and spend countless hours perusing the aisles. However, I also enjoy saving money, so I go into the store knowing how much I want to spend. Our grocery budget ranges from $60-$75 weekly. This is guaranteed to cover our breakfasts, lunches and dinners Monday-Friday and breakfast during the weekend. Lunch and dinner during the weekend are a wild card depending on our schedules. I usually spend about $60 on my main grocery haul then we may run to the store for other odds and ends throughout the week, which occasionally pushes the budget up to $75. My breakdown is about $15/protein sources, $20/fruits and veggies, $10/dairy products and $15/for odds and ends, but it really varies based on what we already have.
  1. Look at your schedule. The first thing I do is check our schedule for the following week and plan our meals around our lives. It seems intuitive, but I didn’t do this when I first started and there were multiple times I would have a lengthy recipe planned for a night I was in class till 8pm. It was not ideal.
  1. Shop your kitchen first. I despise throwing food away and buying food that I already have, so I always scan our pantry, fridge and freezer before writing down the items I want to buy from the store. I try to plan my meals around these ingredients, rather than picking a meal that requires that I buy a ton of new ingredients. This helps save money and reduces food waste.
  1. Check the ads. I am pretty sure there is some techy app for this, but I still love the good ole’ grocery ads and look forward to their arrival every Wednesday. One time we didn’t receive the ads on our normal day, and I was convinced Kevin was pulling a prank on me. He’s smarter than that though and knows not to mess with me and my grocery ads. My point is, the grocery ads are gold. You will save a ton of money if you base your weekly meals on the sales. I also use the ads to determine when I will stock up on certain items. Once you have your sale items that you want to buy, add them to the list of food you already have in your kitchen.
  2. Choose your meals. This is likely the most difficult and time consuming part of meal planning. You could easily spend hours looking up recipes. We have developed a pattern that helps me save time choosing our meals.
    • Make a bigger, versatile meal on Sunday and/or Monday. My cooking motivation is at it’s peak during the beginning of the week, so I try to make bigger meals that give us lots of leftovers I can use for lunches or in other meals throughout the week. It usually involves some sort of meat, a plethora of roasted or grilled veggies, potatoes or a grain.
    • Theme a night. Let’s be real, sometimes you just get tired of meal planning. We’ve found that having a themed night makes the process more exciting. We go through different phases and are currently on “Restaurant Meals” (Kevin’s idea). Once a week we are trying to recreate our favorite restaurant meals at home. This is a great way to get out of your comfort zone and learn new cooking techniques!

      FullSizeRender (2).jpg
      Our first restaurant creation was one of Kev’s favorites- Philly Cheesesteak!
    • Know your tendencies. By the time Thursday night rolls around, I could really care less about making some fabulous meal. I want to be in and out of the kitchen in 20-30 minutes. I’ve learned to only plan very simple meals like salads, omelettes, sandwiches, etc. on Thursday nights. If I had something extravagant planned, we would likely end up at a restaurant.
    • Making balanced meals that fit your needs. Personally, I don’t like eating big dinners. I prefer to eat a larger breakfast and lunch to fuel my body throughout the day. Kevin, on the other hand, prefers the opposite. In order to meet both of our needs, I make ½ our meal veggies (and sometimes fruit), include a meat or seafood for protein most nights then have a quick grain source for Kevin like pita bread, naan or rice, if he wants it.
  1. Go shopping! For me, this is the most enjoyable part of the whole process. The important part here is to stick to your list. It is so easy to throw that random item in the cart that you don’t really need. Doing this multiple times will lead to me blowing the grocery budget. My strategy to combat this is to do one lap around the store only getting the items on my list, then I allow myself to go back and get those spontaneous items. Usually, my basket is so full at this point and my arm feels like it is going to fall off, so I just decide to go checkout. (Side note- Use a basket if you are only shopping for 1 or 2 people. You will buy less and get an arm workout.)

So, about 1000 words later, you have some insight into my meal planning mentality. While it does take more time than calling for takeout, I believe it is worth it in the long run. It saves us money and ensures that we are eating a more balanced diet.

Want to chat more about meal planning? Please feel free to leave any questions or comments below!