Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Monthly Challenge: Pescatarian Diet

This month I decided to challenge my diet and try something new: for the month of November, I would live the Pescatarian life (no meat except fish)!
Why did I decide this? Well aside from my decision to engage in regular monthly challenges (more on this later!) it had to do with that ever annoying fact of life: vacation weight.
At the end of October, Kris and I finally went on a trip we’d been talking about for years: road tripping down from Toronto, through the US, and back.
we hit Cleveland, Chicago, Louisville, Nashville... we saw a lot, drank a lot and ate a lot... too much in fact.  
Vacations always mean letting your health slide a bit, especially when it comes to food; but after a week of rest-stop fast food joints and fried everything, I was missing veggies.  Not only did I not look great, but I didn’t feel great either.
So on our drive home I made my decision: I would eat a pescatarian diet for the next month to see how it made me feel. My goals were simple:
  • Shed those vacation pounds
  • Force myself to eat more veggies
  • Diversify my cooking
  • Give my body a pre-holiday-season break
Once I had made my decision, I decided on a few easy rules.
The first was the biggie: even though I was allowing myself to eat fish, I could only do it a few times a week. The point of this challenge was not to replace chicken with fish. But with no-nuts and a boyfriend who doesn’t like chickpeas (or black beans, or lentils), there’s only so many sources of protein available.
The second rule was that I wasn’t going to impose my new diet on anyone. If you’re making a full life change, you should let people know ASAP, but I wasn’t about to make my family and friends lives more difficult for the few food interactions we may have together in a single month. 
Finally, I had a hard and fast mantra that just because pizza can be vegetarian, it doesn’t REALLY meet the requirement of “more veggies”. Skipping meatballs with pasta? Same deal.  My last rule was to try new things and add MORE veggies, not just remove meat.
So how did this little experiment go? Let’s start with the successes! 
  • I lost weight! I have never lost vacation weight that quickly in my life (and then some!). My face looks thinner and I feel AWESOME.  
  • My gut health is on point. Not to get too gross but my life is even MORE “on the reg”, Plus I'm not bloating! 
  • I shook up my cooking. I probably could have done more, but I did manage to eat a metric ton of broccoli, rediscover parsnips, create delicious stuffed mushrooms and perfect my homemade jalapeño salsa Fresca! 
  • A few slip ups. Because I didn’t broadcast my new diet, I ended up eating a few pieces of chicken (2 meals to be precise) at Kris’ parents. Again, I’m totally ok with that versus the alternative, especially since they’ve already stopped cooking beef to accommodate my 2017 resolution
  • Not enough food! My first few days I was pretty hungry because I forgot that you have to eat so many MORE vegetables to get the same calories as you would from a small piece of chicken. There was an incident where Kris only used half the broccoli we had in a stir fry, and while he was happily eating his chicken on the side, I was mentally blowing up his head with my mind, because I get hunger rage
  • Restaurants are BORING. I have new respect for my vegetarian friends, the no meat options at restaurants are terrible, even the added option of fish often didn’t help. I often had only 2 or 3 things to choose from. Terrible. 
  • I felt a little left out at my family birthday dinner. We went for Indian food (my choice) which is a vegetarian delight. But while I was munching away on paneer dishes, everyone else was chowing down and sharing the wider assortment of food that smelled SO good. It was still a great night though!
So, would I recommend going Pescatarian? 
Am I going to make a life commitment: No
While I am happy with how I feel, and really enjoyed trying new things, I’m not connected with the idea of giving up meat all together. I definitely feel more confident in my ability to eat meat free though, and will try to continue to do so more days a week then I don’t. 
But I frankly am looking forward to more restaurant variety again... and also rotisserie chicken!
Have you ever challenged yourself to a particular diet? Do you live a pescatarian, vegetarian, or even vegan lifestyle? Are you basically a carnivore and think I’m nuts? Let me know down in the comments!! 
xxox, Laura

Sunday, November 26, 2017

Organization Tip of the Week: Pre-pack Your Gym Bag!

If there's one thing I excel at, it's making excuses not to go to the gym.
Seriously. I can talk my way out of a workout session when I'm 5 minutes away with nothing to do. Laziness will just creep RIGHT in.
On the other hand, I LOVE going to the gym. You'd think I wouldn't make excuses, since I enjoy it as much as I do... but I think that may just be the human condition. We make excuses to avoid the things we like (because Netflix?).
So of course the trick is, finding a way to remove the possibility for excuses: If you can't talk yourself out of it, you'll go, plain and simple.
I do this in three distinct ways:
  1. Attend a gym in a convenient location - I literally walk past my gym on my way to work and on my way home. Right past the front door. It's hard to ignore it when it's staring you in the face
  2. Schedule the workout - if you treat it like a dinner date, or a doctors appointment (whatever works), you're more likely to go. If you can schedule to MEET someone there, even better!
  3. Prepack your gym bag.
Every minute you spend trying to organize yourself to get out the door to the gym, is another opportunity to make an excuse not to actually go.
"Oh... my sports bra is in the wash... and I wore my shoes outside the other day, gym's hate that... and I have that event tonight so I'd have to get ready at the gym... I just won't go"
Or worse, you can overcome ALL of that... get to the gym... and realize you don't have any gym socks in your bag (it is embarrassing how often I used to do this).
To avoid the possibility for excuses (or forgotten gym socks) pre-pack your gym bag, not just the night before but for the week! Add organizing your gym bag to your list of Sunday tasks that start you off right on Monday: if you can grab your bag and go at any moment, you'll be in better shape (literally and figuratively!)
Here's what my gym bag looks like on a Sunday:
  • 5 pairs of gym socks
  • 2 sports bras
  • 2 workout tops
  • 1 pair of workout pants
  • 1-2 extra pairs of underwear
  • 1 Empty waterbottle
  • Some energy options (granola bars, Gu, single serving protein powder packs)
  • my lock
  • 1 pair of running shoes
  • a small army of hair ties and clips
  • face wipes & moisturizer
  • travel shampoo bottle
  • small hair brush
  • deodorant
  • basic makeup (cover up, mascara, blush)

Ok, I KNOW that looks like a lot of stuff, you're thinking "I don't want to carry all that around", but lets face it, you probably have about half this stuff floating around in your purse right now. Not only is it not as heavy or as bulky as it seems, but it means you can leave your bag in the car or at the front door and be ready at a moments notice to get your sweat on.
So channel your inner boy scout and BE PREPARED! No more excuses!
How do you prepare for your workouts? Are you guilty of making excuses? Let me know in the comments below!
xxox, Laura

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

New Year, New Look, New Blog

You may have noticed that things are looking a little different around the blog...
Let's start with the most important news: Today is my 29th birthday! 
With 30 looming (oh how it LOOMS!) I decided that it was time to reevaluate my blogging life and decide what I wanted out of it.
Did the blog I was writing still reflect me? Did the path I started down nearly 4 years ago have me pegged into writing posts that I didn't love? What did I really want to SAY!?
When I started my blog (Cook, Wine and Thinker), I wasn't really asking myself any of these questions. The blog had a fun name, I talked about food, I occasionally rambled, but mostly I just enjoyed myself. 
As I kept up writing more and more, I found myself without any kind of niche, target or audience... I was writing to write (which was great) but I felt so AIMLESS.
Most people who know me will tell you, I am not so great at being aimless. In my day-to-day life I'm excessively organized. In fact my 9-5 (8-6?) job is as a Project Manager; I LOVE my job! So aimless wasn't working for me any more.
So I went into my cave and thought about turning 30. I thought about the things I wish I had known at 23 to kick start my adulthood into a more productive gear; I thought about how staying fit isn't as easy as it once was; I thought about my goal to de-stress; I thought about the many many many mistakes I have made along the way.
And so, the blog was reborn into a place where we can celebrate our achievements and failures. Where we can try new things, try to keep ourselves moving forward, motivate and laugh about what went wrong.
Today I am 29 years old. I have everything and nothing figured out.
Welcome to Successes and Messes.